Aroostook River Drainage Fly Fishing
The “Crown of Maine” remains the last stronghold of Maine’s traditional coldwater species. Natural barriers on the major river drainages have kept warmwater sportfish (black bass, white perch, pickerel) from becoming established in this part of the state. Angling for these warmwater species is limited to a few waters in the East Branch of the Mattawamkeag River and the Main Branch of the Meduxnekeag River in southern Aroostook County. Elsewhere brook trout, lake trout (togue), and landlocked salmon reign supreme!
Wild brook trout are the predominate sportfish in this region. Almost any brook that has coldwater and a gravel bottom contains brook trout populations. The larger rivers and tributaries reknown for their wild trout fishing include the Aroostook, Allagash, St. John and Fish Rivers. Special regulation sections have been established on stretches of many of these waters in an attempt to improve the fishing quality. However, special regulations account for less than 3 percent of the 7,000 miles of flowing waters in this region. Typical size of trout in the smaller brooks is 6-8 in., whereas in larger rivers trout 10-12 in. are more common. As with all coldwater species, it is necessary to fish cool water influences during the warm summer months in order to remain successful in catching these fish. This region contains many opportunities to catch brook trout in larger lakes. As with the rivers and streams, these fisheries are maintained by wild trout populations. Popular summer and winter fishing destinations include lakes in the Fish River Chain and the Allagash River drainage. Brook trout 12-14 in. are common from these larger lakes. Many of the smaller ponds receive annual stockings of hatchery-reared trout to supplement existing natural populations. Fishing quality may vary from fishing for pan-size trout to a few ponds that are managed for much larger fish. Several stocked trout ponds have had the fishing season extended into October under a strictly catch and release regulation.
River fishing for this species is essentially limited to the Aroostook and Fish River drainages. Small river populations supplemented with dropdown fish out of lakes offer an opportunity for spring and fall fishing. Because it is considered a minor sport fishery and to enhance the on-going effort to restore Atlantic salmon, all salmon caught in flowing waters in the Aroostook River drainage must be immediately released alive commencing with the 1998 open water fishing season. Popular destinations for lake fishing for landlocked salmon include the Fish River Chain of Lakes, more notably Fish, Square, and Long Lakes, and headwater lakes of the Aroostook River and its major tributaries. Although average fish size is 16-18 in., four to six pound salmon are not uncommon
Lake Trout (Togue)
Popular lake trout destinations include larger lakes in the Allagash River drainage and Eagle and St. Froid Lakes in the Fish River Chain. Most togue waters afford fishing opportunity in both summer and winter seasons. Size averages 3-5 pounds, however, a few fish over 10 pounds are caught each year.
The Meduxnekeag River drainage in the greater Houlton area provides the only opportunity to fish for brown trout in this management region. A self-sustaining population of browns is found in the main branch of the river, whereas hatchery-reared fish provide a popular sport fishery in Drew’s Lake. The Fish River Lakes management region is 1 and 1/3 the size of the state of Connecticut. Prior planning should include maps showing all of the updated road systems particularly in the North Maine Woods, Inc. area west of Ashland. Summer visitors to this vast area of private woodlands must pass through a North Maine Woods gate. Information on fee schedules may be obtained by calling their Ashland office at 207-435-6213. These gates do not operate in the winter fishing season. Speaking of the winter season, one should consider the Fish River Lakes management region for their ice fishing destination. Snow and ice comes early and stays late in this part of the state. Numerous snowmobile trails afford excellent opportunity to access lakes for fishing trips, or, if the fish aren’t biting, to enjoy the beautiful scenery in northern Maine.