100 Best: Kennebec River
Location: Central Maine
Type of stream: Tailwaters
Angling methods: Fly, spinning, bait
Species: Brook, brown, and rainbow trout; sea-run browns, landlocked salmon, smallmouth, shad, striped bass
Supporting Services: Waterville, The Forks
Short take: Best dammed stream in Maine
Handicapped Access: None
Closest TU Chapters: Kennebec Valley, Somerset
The 230-mile long Kennebec is really a series of nine sequential tailwaters which together create one of the most diverse angling destinations in the country. Want to wrestle with landlocked salmon? May is the month. Browns and rainbows? May through September. Brookies? Ditto. Should you be toting a 16 – gauge double for pa’tridge come fall, keep your 8 weight handy ‘cause you can chase landlocks and strippers ‘til mid-October.
With the removal of Edwards Dam in 1999, a mighty achievement by a coalition that American Rivers, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Trout Unlimited and its Kennebec Valley Chapter, Atlantic salmon have returned to the river. In the fall of 2011, 57 adults were counted at the fish trap on the Kennebec at Lockwood Dam in Waterville.
Shawmut Dam provides the downstream most tailwater fishery for stocked browns and rainbows. Heading up stream, you’ll find nice stocked browns in the mile-long gorge below Weston Dam in Skowhegan. Further upstream, Wyman Dam’s discharge comes from the bottom of the impoundment. The plume of cool water has created ideal habitat for wild rainbows.
Above Wyman Lake, the Kennebec takes on that classic riffle, run, pool look of a great trout river. Trout populations are not as robust as in the Bingham mileage or below Shawmut Dam. This is primarily landlocked salmon and brook trout water with a smattering of nice sized ‘bows and browns. Though fishing can be very dangerous due to releases from Harris Dam. Most anglers intent on landlocked salmon and trophy sized brookies make their way up to the outlets of Moosehead Lake.