Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fly Fishing Maine: Kennebago River

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Floating the Steep Bank Pool in early June.  Heavy rains produced chocolate, high waters, but big wild-native Chubs were very active. 

Some say the the Kennebago River is divided into three sections.  I don't disagree, but for the angler, the river has two major sections; the upper and lower.  The mid-point between the upper and lower is called Kennebago Falls; or, at the dams (technically, this is not the mid-point of the river).  The upper section begins at Big Island Pond and flows into Little Kennebago Lake.  Due to locked gates, this section is difficult to access, but it is possible. From little Kennebago Lake, flowing downstream, the water enters the much larger Kennebago Lake. The water between the lakes and below Kennebago Lake, can be fished by walk-wade and floating anglers.  However, a quick word about access.  Much of this area is controlled by Grant's Camp.  In other words, if you are not sure where you have walked, you may be ask to leave private property, or waters serviced by Grant's Camp guides.  If you want to fish the upper section, you can access the river via Tim Pond Road (you'll have to park and walk in; or some ride their mountain bikes).  Finally, the lower section, from the route 16 bridge to the first gate, or Steep Bank Pool, is the lower section.

Floating the Kennebago River.  I am in my Waster Master, one man float boat. 

Lower Kennebago River Facts

Location:  Rangeley and Oquossoc Maine area. Google Maps:  https://goo.gl/maps/OZoTC
Fishing Season: April 01 to September 30th.  Please visit http://www.eregulations.com/maine/fishing/
Special Rules: Fly fishing and catch-n-release only, on barbless hooks.  Please see special rules at http://www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing/laws/
Licensed Required: Yes, general fishing only.
Walk-Wade: Yes.  When water flow is normal, this is a very easy river to walk-wade.
Floating:  Yes.  Length of float is about 4 miles. 
Entrance Fee: No.
Camping: Yes. Search nearby options in Oquossoc or Rangeley.
Length:  30 Miles.  
Origin:  Near the Canadian border; a handful of ponds and streams.
Termination:  Cupsuptic and Mooselookmeguntic Lake.
Depth:  During normal flows, you should be able to walk across the river.
Access: Via Route 16, take Boy Scout Trail Rd.  Follow dirt road to the end, until you come to a locked gate. About 300 feet before the locked gate, there are several paths that lead to the river.  If your are floating, and if you have two vehicles, park your second vehicle at the route 16 bridge. The bridge is located just past Boy Scout Trail Road.   If you only have one vehicle, your looking at a 2.5 mile walk back to your vehicle.  FYI, I have always gotten a ride from another angler. 

Maine has over 600 different species of Mayfly's, but today, stone flies were hatching (yellow sally's). 

Why Fish the Lower Kennebago River
  • Access:  Between route 16 and Steep Bank Pool, this is one of the easiest rivers to access. A short drive from Oquossoc.  
  • Native Species:  Wild Eastern Brook Trout, Land Locked Salmon and Wild-Native Chub.
  • Wildlife:  Throughout the season, expect to see moose.
  • Structure: Steep Bank Pool is arguably the deepest pool, with depths of over 10ft.    
  • Hatches:  This stretch of water has a great variety of bugs!

Tough conditions for Brook Trout and LL Salmon.  The LLS typically show-up the 1st week of July.  I made the best of my early June trip and poor conditions = my first double of native wild Chub.

How to Fish the lower Kennebago River

Please visit http://firstcastflyfishing.blogspot.com/p/new-england.html

Final Word

If you frequent the Rangeley area, the Kennebago River should be on your bucket list.  A word to the wise, if you want to be successful on this river, be mindful of seasonal conditions (water flow). Water temps and flow can make the difference, not necessarily the flies you choose to fish with.     

Thanks for reading.  I hope you enjoyed this post.

Gone Fishing,