Our Finest North Country Trout Rivers
September 29, 2010
Northern New England's trout action heats up this month, with thousands of miles of prime trout rivers and streams waiting to be fished. Our selection of proven hotspots will get you started. (June 2006)
For moving-water enthusiasts, June is when trout season really gets underway across northern New England. The reasons are obvious, and river fishermen across the region know them well.
Although legally fishable on opening day (generally in April), many trout runs are too high and silty throughout April and much of May. Also, largely due to cold water temperatures, the fish will be lethargic and have yet to reach peak feeding activity.
By early June, however, water levels have normalized. Trout are hungry and active, and some of the best river fishing of the open water season is at hand.
Despite its relatively short 5.9-mile run from Middle Dam on the west shore of Lower Richardson Lake to Umbagog Lake on the border with New Hampshire, the Rapid River offers some of the finest native brook trout angling in the Northeast. The brook trout inhabiting the river and Pond-In-The-River, located about one-half mile below Middle Dam, are believed to be a unique strain indigenous to the upper Androscoggin watershed.
The Rapid River and "Pond" are restricted to fly-fishing only, and all brook trout must be immediately released.
Brookies are possible throughout the river, but some of the best water is found at the head of Pond-In-The-River, and especially upstream of where Lower Dam once stood at the lower end of the pond. Wading the upper area can be a challenge and fishing is limited, but there is a lot of accessible water upstream of Lower Dam. Fishermen should be sure to check the current fishing regulations summary. Much of the pond is closed to fishing in July and August, and a stretch of river between the remnants of Lower Dam to the head of Long Pool is closed after Sept. 15. Both areas are open to fishing in June, however.
Unfortunately, the Rapid's unique brook trout are being threatened. Smallmouth bass were illegally introduced to Umbagog Lake around 1986 and have since moved upstream. Efforts and studies are underway to address the situation and protect the trout fishery, but fishermen are presently encouraged to catch and remove as many bass as they can. There's no size or bag limit on bass in the river or pond.
The Rapid River is a bit off the beaten track, but access is possible by boat from South Arm, where there are a public boat launch and limited-parking area past the South Arm Campground.
Lake conditions are usually good in June, especially early and late in the day, but keeping an eye on the wind is always advisable. Access is also possible from Route 16 east of Wilson Mills via a dirt road. The dirt road is gated short of the river, requiring a hike. Fishermen should be mindful that this is a private road and park in a way that doesn't block passage.
Camping facilities are available at South Arm Campground. For information, call (207) 364-5155 or (207) 364-5154, or visit their Web site at www.southarm.com.
Forest Lodge -- once owned by Louise Dickinson Rich, author of We Took To The Woods and My Neck Of The Woods -- is now owned and operated by Aldro French who offers lodging, meals, guide service and a fly shop, all within view of the river.
For information, call (207) 650-3890 year-round, or (207) 392-3333 November thru April 30. You can log on to Aldo French's Web site at www.rapidriverflyfishing.com. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're looking for bigger trout waters, few in western Maine are hotter right now than the Androscoggin River between Gilead and Bethel. Once a flowing cesspool, the river has been rejuvenated and now offers some of the best trout opportunities in New England. The 26-mile stretch offers both browns and rainbow trout, with specimens from 18 to 20 inches possible.
The minimum length limit on all trout is 12 inches, but from April 1 through Aug. 15, all fish between 16 and 20 inches must be released. The daily bag limit is two fish. Check the current fishing regulations summary for other details.
One of the great attractions of this stretch of river is that it offers something for everyone. While fly-fishing is popular, artificial lures are also legal. This is big water, but many areas may be waded. There is good fishing from shore and sandbars, especially in June once water levels have stabilized in the West Bethel-to-Gilead section.
"The Andy" also offers the opportunity for some long floats with canoes or small car-top boats. Fishing afloat can take anglers to some secluded areas that are otherwise more challenging to reach.
Access in general is relatively easy from Route 2, which parallels much of the river. The most popular public-access points will be found at the bridge in Gilead, at Newt's Landing in West Bethel, at Davis Park and Bethel Outdoor Adventure in Bethel, Moran's Landing in Newry and at the public boat launch in Hanover. Several outfitters in the Bethel area offer guiding and float trips for first-time anglers.
For a list of outfitters, as well as information on lodging and other services, contact the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce at 1-800- 442-5826 or (207) 924-2282; or at www.bethelmaine.com. Be sure to ask for the informative and helpful Fishing the Upper Andro guidebook.
Other Maine Options
In addition to big rivers such as the Kennebec River, Maine is blessed with dozens of smaller trout rivers that offer easy access and prime conditions this month.
In the Sebago area, one of the best is the Pleasant River in Windham. The river is stocked with both brookies and browns each year. Fish in the 8- to-12 inch range are common in June before the summer crowd arrives and water temperatures rise.
Route 202 crosses the river south of its junction with Route 115. Falmouth Road and William Knight Road cross the river going downstream.
Route 302 crosses the river west of Fosters Corner, and the river is wider from that point downstream to the River Road. This section is crossed at points by the Windham Center Road, Pope Road and Cook Road, so access is no big problem. Keep in mind that this stretch is restricted to artificial lures only and all fish you catch must be released.
The St. George River is a good bet this month, too. The river rises from St. George Lake in Liberty, travels to tidewater in Warren and offers a considerable amount of good trout water. The stretch from Liberty through Searsmont and Appleton is worthy of note.
The river receives annual stockings of brown trout, and some native brook trout are always possible. A lot of the fish are small, but specimens in the 12- to 14-inch class and larger holdovers are taken annually.
Late May and June feature good water flows and hatches of various mayflies, with caddis taking over afterwards.
Access is relatively easy at points from Route 173 going east from Liberty, from Route 131 south of Searsmont and Route131/105 south to Appleton. Secondary roads cross the river at various points off these major routes.
Some of the boys at Maine Sport Outfitters in Rockport know the river well. For up-to-date fishing conditions and more information, call 1-888-236-8797. Lodging and other services are available in Camden and Rockport. Contact the chamber of commerce there at (207) 236-4404, or visit the agency's Web site at www.visitcamden.com.
This year, Maine's free fishing days are June 3 and 4. On those days, residents and non-residents may fish without a license anywhere in the state -- another good reason to get out there and fish.
For more information on trout fishing in Maine, contact the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at (207) 287-8000, or visit the agency's Web site at www.mefishwildlife.com.
The Androscoggin River has always been one of northern New Hampshire's most productive trout streams, and not much has changed. The section from Errol Dam in Errol to markers at Bragg Bay is managed under Quality Trout Water (QTW) rules, so that it offers an opportunity to catch trout larger than the 12-inch average. In most cases, QTW streams carry special regulations such as reduced daily bag limits, minimum length limits or special tackle restrictions. In this area, the daily limit on brook trout is two fish, the minimum length limit on all trout is 12 inches and fly-fishing only is the rule.
Access to the area is from Route 26 in Errol on the Errol Dam Road. Anglers will find several areas to work a line in about 500 yards of diverse water, including the rapids below the dam and Steep Rips, and the Bridge Rips, at the Route 26 bridge. Wading is possible in June, but do so with caution.
Along with brook trout, rainbows and browns into the 3- and 4-pound class are possible. Bragg Bay is a good spot for rainbows. Canoes may be launched below the Route 26 bridge and there is some wading where Clear Brook enters on the west side off Route 16.
There's also some good water downstream for the next 10 miles or so. Within the Thirteen Mile Woods natural area along Route 16, there is some classic trout water around Wayside State Park. Downstream, the Seven Island Bridge provides an opportunity to cross the river and fish the pools, riffles and glides on both sides of the river. While fly-fishing is popular, lures may also be used.
Several brooks enter the river along the west bank (the Route 16 side) such as Smoky Camp Brook above Wayside Park, Munn Pond Brook below, Moose Pond Brook and Bear Brook farther downstream. This is big water, so wade with caution at all times.
For information on lodging and other services in the area, contact the Umbagog Chamber of Commerce at (603) 482-3906, or log on to www.umbagogchambercommerce.com. For fishing gear and information on river conditions, call the L. L. Cote Sports Center at (603) 482-7777.
The Androscoggin River from Wheeler Bay down to the sawmill dam in Berlin offers some good fishing for lunker browns. But the stretch downstream, from the sawmill dam through Gorham and Shelburne to the Maine border, offers more diverse water and better odds for bigger fish at this time of year.
Despite the presences of several dams, there are long stretches of rapids, riffles, riffles and large pools. The entire stretch is classified as a Wild Trout Water (WTW). This means that there is no closed season, but all fish must be immediately released. Also, fishing tackle is restricted to single barbless lures and flies, or hooks with all barbs pinched.
Fishing for trout, which includes brookies, browns and rainbows, is not allowed between two hours after sunset and one hour before sunrise.
North of Gorham, the best access is from Route 16. But east of the junction of Route 16 south and Route 2 East, the best access is via the North Road, which is about three miles east of the junction in Shelburne. Turn left over the river near the hydro dam, and turn left again onto Hogan Road, which travels close to the river upstream toward the dam above Peabody River.
This is just one good spot for brownies and 'bows. Downstream, the North Road travels into Maine and offers some access to some productive rapids, pools riffles and islands that divert the flow.
Fishermen will find campgrounds and various lodging facilities in the area, as well as a host of other services. For information, contact the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-367-3364.
As for fishing tackle, the Gorham Hardware and Sports Center should have just about everything an angler needs. Reach them by calling (603) 466-2312.
OTHER NEW HAMPSHIRE OPTIONS
The Granite State is home to miles of productive trout water, from small runs to major rivers, and June is a prime time to explore them. The Mohawk River along Route 26 in Colebrook, a good spot for brookies and rainbows, is managed as Wild Trout Water.
Farther north and south is the Connecticut River between the Connecticut Lakes in Pittsburg and below the Canaan Dam in West Stewartstown and Lyman Falls Dam in Columbia. The areas below the two dams offer classic waters for monster browns and rainbows. Each is managed as Quality Trout Water, and special rules apply.
In the White Mountains region, the Saco River from its mouth to North Conway, along with the Ellis and East branches of the Saco that converge at Glen, and the Swift River, which joins the Saco at Conway, should be hot producers this month.
Another great choice is the Pemigewasset River below the Eastman Falls dam to the Route 3/11 bridge in Franklin.
Farther south, check out the Contoocook River in West Henniker, the Souhegan River from Greenville to the Route 31 bridge in Wilton or the South Branch Ashuelot River from East Swansey to Farrar Pond Dam in Troy. Many of these runs are short but offer some exciting action.
For more information, contact the New Hampshire Fish and Gam
e Department at (603) 271-3361 or visit www.wildlife.state.nh.us.
With over 7,000 miles of moving water, the Green Mountain State has a great deal to offer trout fishermen this month. Good trout water will be found in virtually every region of the state, and they vary in size from tiny Green Mountain brooks to classics like the Batten Kill and large rivers like the Connecticut River along the border with New Hampshire.
There are some prime brown trout opportunities in the upper Missisquoi River above North Troy, reachable from Route 105 via the River Road in that town, in the Clyde River near Derby Center and in the Passumpsic River between Lyndonville and East Barnet. The stretch may be accessed at various spots along Rout 5.
For rainbow trout, try the Lamoille River from Wolcott to Johnson along Route 15; the Winooski River from Middlesex to North Duxbury (best reached from Route 2 and the Dog River near Northfield along Route 12A and 12).
The Dog River also holds some nice browns, but the clear water makes its inhabitants wary, even in June.
For more information on trout fishing, contact the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department at (802) 241-3700, or visit the agency's Web site at www.anr.state.vt.us.vt/fw/fwhome. Be sure to ask for a copy of the Fish Vermont Map and Guide.