Kayak Fishing for Maine Smallmouth E-mail
Tuesday, 20 October 2009 14:32

One of my friends, Mike and his brother Sam, have been going to northern Maine the past couple autumns to pursue trophy smallmouth.   This is in the land of trout and salmon and the locals consider bass a trash fish.  For many freshwater fishermen they are treasure.  For me they certainly are.  I love them brown bass as they are one of my favorite quarries.  When I saw pictures and heard Mike’s description of the fishing I knew I had to go.  30 to 50 fish a day with the average weight over two pounds.  Every trip they caught numerous four and five pound fish with an occasional six.  That’s what I call fishing.  So it was set that I’d join them in the fall of ’08.  This would be their third trip.  The accommodations were a camp ground right on the Penobscot River, near some of the best fishing the area has to offer.  Just leave the kayak at the water’s edge and go fishing whenever you wanted.  So I started prepping my travel trailer for the trip.  A week before our departure I got a call from Mike that the camp ground had gone out of business and he was looking into alternatives.  Mike got a hold of a bass fishing guide who fished the area to get some local information and suggestions.  Turns out the guide just happened to have a house he rented in the same general area.  It was a few miles south of the campground and it was too good a deal to pass up.  It turned out to be a very fortuitous thing that we ended up in the house as the week of the trip we drove up ahead of hurricane Kyle.  We were well inland but still got plenty of rain.  Our first day on the water was an extremely wet one.  When it wasn’t raining it was either drizzling or pouring.  It was sure nice to come back to a warm, large six bedroom house with all the amenities rather than a camper.  It rained about half the trip and the clothes drier was especially appreciated.  A fully equipped kitchen with a six burner gas range was nice too as was satellite TV. We certainly weren’t slumming.

Mike Anglo

Mike Angelo with a 5# smallie

The drive up for me from northern New Jersey was uneventful. It took me about 8-1/2 hours.  I was a bit in front of Mike and Sam so I waited by the river.  Then we went to the house.  Charlie, the bass fishing guide, was there to greet us and show us how things worked and where things were.  He also showed me some of the better lakes within the region on a map.  There are a lot of them and hit or miss fishing would take several years to zero in on the better ones.  I took notes and recorded their names.  I knew my fishing companions had only fished the river but I was interested in hitting a lake or two also.  I figured it would be a nice break from dealing with current all the time on the river.  We did try one morning but the wind was howling so we opted for the more protected river.  I never got another chance to hit still waters - maybe next time. 

The first day we launched from the campground and worked up river.  The fish were sitting tight to the grassy banks of shore and the numerous islands.  You had to work for them and ¼ oz. spinner baits with brass or copper blades and 3” storm wildeyes were our best lures.  I tried a 4” Sluggo, but the smallies seemed to have trouble inhaling it.  We all caught a bunch of fish while fishing in the rain.  We didn’t get any monsters but enough three to four pound fish to show me the potential.  I didn’t get any fives but the brothers did. 

The next day Kyle had passed and we had a nice day with scattered clouds and no rain.  We hit another spot where a river joined the Penobscot.  It was about 5 miles south of our lodging.  There was sort of a delta at the confluence of the two rivers.  It was excellent fishing but the current was strong.  We worked our way up the tributary and caught fish at two bridges and along one particular shoreline.  Charlie had told us there was a deep wintering hole near an old chicken coop so we headed up to there.  The fish were still in a fall pattern and spread throughout the river.  I did manage four smaller bass along the shore of the deep hole.  We headed back to the Penobscot and worked upstream as downstream lead to rapids and we didn’t want to end up in them.  We all caught over 30 bass and several pickerel.  At one point Mike got a nice fish and I took some pictures and he said it was a nice five pounder.  I said no way and got out my scale.  Sure enough Mike was right.  These bass were built like footballs and their weights were deceiving.  I realized that I had caught several over four and had released a couple of fives too. 

The third day is when we went to one of the lakes but the wind was howling so we went back to the sport we had fished the day before with similar results.  The boys were getting low on spinner baits and went on a search for them.  They covered quite a bit of territory finding some that would do.  On their foray they found a stretch of water we decided to fish the next day.  It was above a dam and there was very little current.  We got a few fish but decided to pack it in and since the campground spot was on the way back to the house we went there.  I got a nice three plus right off the bat and then another almost four, then nothing.  When I caught up to Mike he had 24 and had just released his biggest fish of the trip, a fish over six.  We were both using spinner baits but obviously they didn’t like mine.  So I bummed one from Mike and headed across the channel to an island.  On two casts I got two nice bass and the island yielded six more.  The lure made a big difference.  Mike headed back down the way we had come up but I decided to explore another series of channels that were on the west side of the river.  This particular area had lots of islands and some of them were a mile in length.  So while we were fishing only a little over a mile of river there were several separate channels between the islands.  Mike said the side I took wasn’t as good fishing, but I was in the mood to see something new.  Mike was right; I only caught one fish, a four pounder at the tail of an island where the current swept over some structure.  It was a very fishing looking spot.  

The next day was going to be my last day as I was going to head over to Vermont for a few days to visit family and do a little fishing over there.  Most of the day the weather was mean as it was raining with thunderstorms and wind.  Then it got very still.  The boys went off shopping and I thought about heading out but I didn’t trust the eerie calmness.  Good thing I went with my instincts as an hour later all hell broke loose.  Strong winds, rain, thunder and lightning.  I’m so glad I wasn’t out in it.  The boys came back and late in the afternoon it got nice enough to venture out.  We got our signals crossed as I went to the campground and they went to the other hot spot by the tributary.  Turns out I made the better choice.  I got 14 bass and a couple of pickerel in two hours and only two were below two pounds.  Most were three and four.  The fish were on wood too.  I only got a couple along the grassy banks.   The wood they were on was trees that were growing along the bank and their roots and stumps formed the bank.  After a while I just moved from tree to tree and didn’t cast anywhere else.  I tossed the spinner bait so it would either bounce off the trunk or land right next to it.  The boys didn’t do as well. 

The next morning I packed up and drove the seven hours to Vermont.  I had a great time and I look forward to next year.  Hopefully I’ll even get to hit some of the lakes too.

 

 

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