The Penobscot Region is located in the east central part of the state. The eastern edge of the region borders on New Brunswick, Canada. As the name implies, the majority of the region lies within the Penobscot River drainage. This region is probably the most diverse in the state in terms of both land terrain and fisheries from the high lands and trout ponds of Baxter State Park to the low lands and bass fisheries of the lower Penobscot River
Penobscot River is considered one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the eastern United States. The area from Old Town to Medway offers approximately 60 miles of fast action for smallmouths in the 10 to 15 inch size, with bass up to 20 inches a possibility. The exciting aspect of the fishery is the fact that it always seems to produce good fishing right through the summer. In spite of the Penobscot River’s close proximity to a state highway, the opportunity to see bald eagles, ospreys, great blue herons, deer, otter, and other wildlife add another dimension to the trip. Float trips down the Penobscot are a way to relax, see the river and all its wildlife, and catch a bunch of scrappy smallmouth bass. There are public boat ramps and carry sites situated every few miles along its length.
West Branch Penobscot River
West Branch Penobscot River supports a world class landlocked salmon fishery from Ripogenus Dam to Ambajejus Lake. The area below Sourdnahunk Deadwater is managed by this regional office, above the deadwater through the Greenville Regional Office. The West Branch is known for its large landlocked salmon, some fish weighing over five pounds. Because of the dynamic nature of the West Branch, there are different regulations suited to a particular section of river, but fishery regulations to enhance the size quality are the norm. There is a popular spring troll fishery commencing April 1 at the Sourdnahunk Deadwater for over wintering salmon. A private log haul road, the Golden Road, runs adjacent to much of the upper section of the river and provides access to the entire stretch, while the area below Abol Bridge is more remote and access is less available.
East Branch Penobscot River
East Branch Penobscot River from Matagamon Lake to the confluence with the West Branch supports fisheries for brook trout, landlocked salmon, and smallmouth bass. The wide variety of habitat types offer a myriad of fishing experiences throughout the system, from fly fishing for brook trout and landlocked salmon in the upper reaches to spin fishing for bass in the area below Whetstone Falls. Special regulations designed to enhance the brook trout and salmon fisheries have been implemented within the East Branch system, and results so far have been very encouraging. The preferred method to experience the East Branch fishery is to take two or three days and float the river from Matagamon to Whetstone. There are enough authorized campsites to accommodate campers most any time during the season. A large commercial campground located just below Grand Matagamon Lake is an excellent starting point for those anglers who prefer to make day trips to various sites along the river. Day use access is from both the north from the Grand Lake Road and from the south via the Stacyville Road.
Penobscot River Hatch Chart
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park contains a many trout ponds and streams that produce a wide variety of numbers and sizes of trout. Several of the waters lie within easy walking distance of the park road system however, many more require walks of several minutes to hours to reach. Regulations also vary widely according to the type of trout fishery that each pond can produce. Ponds that grow large numbers of small trout have general law regulations while ponds that produce larger trout in fewer numbers have more restrictive regulations. One pond, Lower Fowler Pond, in the north end of the park is open to catch and release fishing only. Wassataquoik Lake in the center of the park is one of the few remaining waters with blueback trout (artic char).
Sourdnahunk Lake on the western boundary of the park is probably the most productive brook trout lake in the state. Although the trout do not usually grow to large sizes, 10” to 12” average with fish up to 18”, there are many trout in this lake. The lake is currently open only in the open water season and is restricted to fly fishing only with a five fish, 10” minimum length bag limit. There is a public campground on the southeast shore next to the outlet where boats and canoes may be rented and launched. A public launch is accessible from the Baxter State Park perimeter road.
Several more nice trout ponds are located in the Katahdin Iron Works area such as Horseshoe Pond, Little Lyford Pond and East and West Chairback Ponds
Landlocked salmon are the predominate cold water fishery species in the region. Several lakes produce exceptional salmon fishing during both the open water and ice fishing seasons. Probably the most consistent and notable salmon fishery is East Grand Lake in the headwaters of the St. Croix River on the border with Canada. This lake continues to produce good numbers of large, healthy salmon. The lake also contains a smaller population of larger sized lake trout, lake whitefish, and cusk. Access to the area can be slow and difficult, especially in the winter, because of the road system beyond Lincoln. Once at the lake the easiest public access points are at Greenland Cove in Danforth off Route #1 and at Davenport Cove in Weston also off Route #1. There are also a few other smaller, more remote access spots around the lake. There are several sporting camps on the lake that cater to fisherman and can provide guide service.
Immediately downstream from East Grand Lake lies Spednic Lake. Spednic is a large, 17,000 acres and 17 miles long, undeveloped lake on the boundary with Canada. Many canoe expeditions down the St. Croix River begin on scenic Spednic Lake. Although most noted for its bass fishery Spednic Lake has produced some large salmon. Salmon fishing on this lake can be quite difficult because of the very diverse nature of the lake and limited salmon habitat so the services of a local experienced guide are recommended. The bass population on this lake collapsed in the mid 1980’s. In 1987 the lake was closed to the taking of bass, and other corrective measures were implemented which have resulted in a tremendous recovery of the bass population in this lake. Even though the very large bass have not returned, the lake is once again providing a very active bass fishery and it is only a matter of time before trophy bass will again inhabit Spednic Lake. The principal access for Spednic is located in the town of Vanceboro.
Other very notable salmon lakes in this region include Pleasant Lake in Island Falls, Pleasant Lake in Kossuth Twp., Lower Sysladobsis Lake in Lakeville Plt., Seboeis Lake in T3 R9 NWP, Duck Lake in T4 ND, West Lake in T3 ND and Cold Stream Pond in Enfield
West Lake has been the subject of several salmon studies since the early 1980’s. This lake has been a very consistent producer of above average size salmon for many years. In some years stocked brook trout can be caught in good numbers. There is a good bass population in this lake however most of these fish are not large. Recent land acquisitions by this Department and the Department of Conservation should help to prevent further development of the shoreline around this lake.
Cold Stream Pond
Cold Stream Pond in Enfield is especially notable for the fishery improvements that have occurred in recent years. The lake was heavily stocked with salmon and lake trout for many years which resulted in an abundance of small fish. The lake trout stocking was discontinued and the salmon stocking was reduced. Eventually the natural reproduction of lake trout increased enough to support a good fishery for lake trout and the growth of the salmon improved greatly. Recent stockings of brook trout have done very well making Cold Stream Pond one of a few lakes where an angler can have good fishing for lake trout, salmon and brook trout.
Pemadumcook Chain of Lakes include North and South Twin, Ambajejus, and Pemadumcook Lakes located west of the Town of Millinocket, and impounded by North Twin Dam. One of the larger lakes in the region at 18,300 acres, the Pemadumcook Chain offers anglers good fishing for stocked landlocked salmon and lake trout, as well as wild populations of lake whitefish, white perch, pickerel, and cusk. The West Branch is the major tributary to Ambajejus Lake and has a profound influence on the fish populations in the Pemadumcook Chain. In the spring, there is a very popular dipnet fishery for smelt as they enter the West Branch of the Penobscot at the northwest corner of the lake. The waters in the chain are accessed by improved trailer ramps at South Twin Lake and from the dike at Ambajejus.
Scraggly Lake in T7 R8 WELS is a very picturesque lake on public lands in the north end of the region. An unusual occurrence has taken place here in recent years. Salmon were introduced into the lake in the 1960’s and the fishery was maintained by annual stocking. In the early 1990’s investigations revealed that a substantial amount of natural reproduction had taken place and that there were actually more wild than stocked salmon present in the lake. Because of the large numbers of fish the growth rate dropped dramatically and stocking was discontinued. Investigations in 1997 showed that natural reproduction is continuing to produce many salmon and growth continues to be poorer than normal. The increase in salmon numbers appears to have adversely affected the brook trout population. The lake is, however, very attractive, undeveloped, and has several remote, water access camp sites.
Schoodic Lake is located in the western part of the region, in the Piscataquis River drainage. The lake was managed for a stocked landlocked salmon fishery and an abundant, wild, slow growing population of lake trout for many years. Because of the slow growth of both species , management strategies changed in the early 1990’s. Landlocked salmon stocking was discontinued, spring yearling brook trout stocking was started, and an effort was made to bring the wild lake trout population under control through liberal length and bag limits. These changes combined with the establishment of a smelt population through smelt egg transfers has turned Schoodic Lake into a very popular fishery. Lake trout size quality has improved dramatically in the last few years, and the stocked, spring yearling, brook trout have gone a long way towards pleasing area anglers. Access is provided from the Brownville side at Knights Landing, and a unimproved landing in the Town of Lakeview.
Smallmouth Bass Lakes too numerous to mention them all are spread throughout the region. South Branch Lake, Nicatous Lake, Pushaw Lake, Caribou Long and Egg Ponds, Baskahegan Lake, Upper and Lower Hot Brook Lakes, East Branch Lake, Pleasant Lake, Mattawamkeag Lake, and many others offer the bass fisherman unlimited opportunities in the region. Some of these lakes offer the opportunity to catch larger bass in the three to five pound category, and other lakes offer large numbers of bass in the ten to fifteen inch size class. Access varies with the particular lake, and ranges from hand carry to improved trailer access for larger boats.