Kennebec River Fly Fishing
Skowhegan/ The Great Eddy
Located just five miles south of the shop lies the Skowhegan Gorge and the “Great Eddy”. A real “Diamond in the Rough”, this section receives relatively little pressure and boasts a surprisingly strong population of stocked brown trout with some rather large fish caught each year.
Although somewhat “Urban” like Shawmut (i.e., Route 2 passes within sight of the river), the river in Skowhegan offers adequate parking, good shore fishing, some wading and good access for small watercraft (the preferred method!) at the public boat launch just west of Wesserunsett Stream.
Being at the bottom of a mile long gorge, The Eddy remains surprisingly cool and very well oxygenated throughout all but the warmest of periods. Additionally, although not as heavy as some stretches, The Eddy does see some solid hatches including tiny BWO’s which hatch through early winter.
The biggest issue in regard to The Eddy is the limited wading access. Is The Eddy worth a try? I personally think so and as such, when my time is limited I stop by, jump out, and throw a few casts!
While t he Eddy is not a “Destination”, in and of itself, it can be a great stopping off point for anglers heading north whom are running out of daylight and want an alternative to the often crowded Shawmut Dam fishery (especially on Friday nights!)
Fairfield/ Shawmut Dam
Very popular with local anglers from central/southern Maine, aggressively promoted by local sports writers and newspapers, and touted by the Maine DIF&W as a “World Class Brown Trout Fishery”, Shawmut Dam is one of the most heavily fished waters in the state.
While not our primary destination (Skowhegan to the Forks is), effective spring 2004 wel will be offering some level of guided float trips on the Shawmut section of the Kennebec. Our intention is to take advantage of the early hatches found at Shawmut as well as some level of late fall floats for BWO’s (November after Solon has closed.)
As with most rivers, the hatches on the Kennebec start downriver and move their way up. As such, we will follow them to ensure that our customers are at the right place at the right time! Shawmut is as far downriver as we will go for trout due to the distance and urban nature of the lower fisheries. The exception however is striped bass, which one must in fact fish for where they are found!
The float trips in Shawmut are short in distance but the driftboats allow us to access water not normally accessible to the wading fishermen. If Shawmut is your destination, we will let you know if we feel that it is a viable option. Otherwise, we may suggest to you that you consider Shawmut as an option when the hatches warrant it.
For the unguided angler staying in the area or passing through on their way north, Shawmut offers adequate parking, good public access, relatively safe wading conditions, strong hatches, and decent populations of both stocked and hold-over brown and rainbow trout (some over 20′”).
Madison/ The Pines
Just outside of Skowhegan (“Skowvegas” to the folks from up north!), the river runs southwest and away from Route 201. It is this section that the Kennebec is furthest away from 201 and as such, out of hearing distance from the procession of log trucks coming down from the north.
In Madison at what is known as “The Pines”, we have what is arguably the finest “Walk-In” Brown Trout fishery in the entire state with a semi-remote setting, diverse and reliable hatches, phenomenal growth rates, ample parking and easy wading (in all but the highest water).
Between the large pool just downstream of The Pines (The Powerlines) and the lower dam in downtown Madison, there are almost two miles of continuous riffles, pools, runs and drops which with the exception of a few popular spots, receive little if any fishing pressure.
With the abundant Stoneflies, Caddis, Mayflies and Sculpin available, the fish (Mostly Browns with the occasional Rainbow or Salmon) in this section have a Length-to-Weight ratio that is as good or better than any other section of the river.
With no current regulations to protect these fish, I can’t help but wonder what we could have if the state adopted a progressive management policy? Fortunately for all of us, many anglers in the area see the potential of this fishery and as such, limit their kill!
Solon/ Carratunk Falls
Above the upper dam in Madison, the river runs through a rural and semi-remote wooded area with limited shore side development, ancient Native American petroglyths, and abundant wildlife including Eagles, Ducks, Beaver, Otter, Deer and the occasional Moose.
As in Madison, the river in Solon is far enough away from Route 201 to be out of hearing range of the log trucks! With Browns, Rainbows, Brook Trout and Landlocked Salmon, and 5+ miles of driftable water, this section is arguably the finest “Float” fishery in all of New England!
Although walk-in access is somewhat limited, there is a good stretch of easily waded water located off the Route 201A bridge (especially at the Evergreen Campground!) In addition, although wading can be tricky (but not dangerous), there is public access at Carratunk Falls.
The hatches in this section (although possibly not as strong and diverse as those downriver) are reliable, and along with the abundant forage fish, helgramites, etc., are sufficient to support large numbers of trout with some reaching trophy size (mostly Browns).
Between the 201A bridge and the primitive boat launch on the Dump Road in North Anson, there are miles of river with trout scattered throughout the entire length. With miles of river and numerous channels, there is more water than you can effectively fish in a day.
Bingham/ Wyman Dam
Just 20 miles north of the shop in Bingham, you will find Maine’s (and arguably New England’s!) finest trophy “Tailwater” (i.e., Wyman Dam) and one of the only (and unquestionably the strongest!) “Wild” Rainbow Trout fisheries found in the state.
Wade-In access in this section of river is decent and can be found at the Dam, the Powerlines just below the dam on the west shore, off the mouth of Austin Stream and off the abandon Railroad Tracks (now a bike path) just south of the old Gadabout Gaddis Airport.
Please note that wading can be difficult and sometimes dangerous in this section of river due to the frequent and unpredictable (if you are not familiar with the release schedule) dam releases as well as the loose “marble-sized” gravel bottom and slippery rocks.
Bingham is also a very popular Float Trip section with over 3 miles of riffles, runs and braided channels which terminate in the Solon Deadwater above Carratunk Falls which if hit at the right time can offer outstanding dry fly fishing in a “Pond Like” setting.
With heavy pressure from bait anglers, illegal dredging of the primary spawning tributary (Austin Stream), and radical fluctuations in the water levels, this section continues to produce trophy Salmonids. Just imagine what we would have if we provided it with some protection!
The Forks/ Carratunk
Above Wyman Lake, the river parallels Route 201 flowing through an otherwise remote valley all the way up to The Forks offering miles of wade-in fishing for primarily “wild” Brook Trout, Landlocked Salmon, the occasional Brown or Rainbow, and Smallmouth Bass.
Radically fluctuating water levels from Harris Dam require that the angler fish very early or late in the day in order to take advantage of low-water periods. Additionally, like the stretch below Wyman Dam, the angler must be constantly on the watch for rising water.
While not as productive as the river between Shawmut and Wyman Dam, this stretch of river does offer an enjoyable Float Trip (best suited for our raft) through 8+ miles of semi-wilderness continuous riffle water for “wild” native Brook Trout.
Access to the river between The Forks and Carratunk is almost exclusively from the Route 201 side. In addition to a number of popular pools and runs which can be seen from the road (look for anglers and parked vehicles), anywhere a stream enters the river usually holds fish.
This section can also be fished from a canoe launched at the ball field just above the Route 201 Bridge in The Forks. Canoes can be pulled out at the old cemetery in Carratunk, The Hole in The Wall near Northern Outdoors and the public boat launch on Wyman Lake.
With a sound fisheries management policy and improved water flows, this section of river could be New England’s finest “Big River” wade-in and Driftboat fishery. With miles of freestone riverbed and crystal clear water, this could be the “Madison” of the east!
The Gorge/ East Outlet
Above The Forks, the Kennebec River flows through a remote and rugged gorge with limited and difficult access. The Gorge contains populations of “wild” brook trout and landlocked salmon that can attain trophy sizes (and unfortunately, illegally introduced smallmouth bass).
Radically fluctuating water levels from Harris Dam requires that the angler fish very early or late in the day in order to take advantage of low-water periods. Additionally, the angler must be constantly on the watch for rising water (and wearing a life jacket is not a bad idea!).
The Gorge is best accessed via the Harris Power Station near Indian Pond, the foot trail off the old Chase Stream Sluice Loop Road (west side), the “Wooden Stairs” at the Carry Eddy (east side), or by walking upriver from the Ball Field in The Forks.
The Kennebec above Indian Pond is actually two rivers, the West and East Outlets, which flow out of Moosehead Lake and into Indian Pond. Of primary interest to the trout fisherman is the East Outlet which boasts spring and fall runs of Landlocked Salmon. The West Outlet is best for bass.
Most wading anglers concentrate their efforts on the section of river between Moosehead Lake and the “Sandy Beach” just downstream of the highway bridge on the north shore. Additionally, this is a popular Driftboat section seeing increased traffic each year, particularly in October.