From the New Hampshire border to Bath/Brunswick the Androscoggin River is nothing short of a modern marvel. In transition from one of the most polluted rivers in the Northeast due to the timber industry and paper production, to one of Maine’s finest four-season recreation playgrounds, the river is situated smack in the middle of Maine’s ski industry.
The Upper Androscoggin has quickly become known as Maine’s newest trout and salmon destination due to the unique combination of its western river style drift-boat travel and wide, shallow riffle wading.
Anglers divide Maine’s third largest river into two distinct portions. The shorter being the “Upper Androscoggin,” from Gilead, at the New Hampshire border, to Bethel. This section is home to outstanding brown trout and rainbow trout angling. The “Lower Androscoggin,” downstream through Lewiston/Auburn to Merrymeeting Bay where its waters combine with the Kennebec River, is best known as one of Maine’s top trophy smallmouth bass and northern pike rivers. Fish of record-book proportions are regularly taken in the section just downstream from Rumford.
Bethel, long known for its winter ski industry, has quickly become the summer home for a fleet of western-style drift boat guides and canoe and kayak outfitters. Enjoying a day on the river in a double-ended craft, paddled by a Registered Maine Guide is a treat for any angler, and the 1-4 pound rainbow trout and even larger brown trout just add to the experience.
The “Upper Andro” as it is called by locals is one of a few Maine rivers that can be waded easily as well as fished from a boat. Shallow riffles allow anglers to gain access to the deep runs that hold trophy trout. Public access is gained in cooperation with landowners all along the river and parking and footpaths are well marked.
While the lower stretches of river are regulated as “General Law,” the upper portion has special regulations as to gear type and trout and salmon must be released immediately.
In the Lower Androscoggin River from Rumford to Merrymeeting Bay, guides and outfitters feature smallmouth bass and northern pike, two non-native species that were introduced into Maine and have since become extremely popular with anglers. This section of river is a combination of slow, wide stretches with moderate rapids and is more often frequented by shoreline anglers and boaters as opposed to wading.
Smallmouth bass in the 1-5 pound range are common and numerous. Anglers have shown great success using a variety of popular plastic worms, crank baits and spinner baits and fly anglers commonly use surface and subsurface insect imitations as well as terrestrials.
Northern pike anglers are advised to come prepared with steel leaders and medium to heavy gear as some of the pike tip the scales at over 20 pounds.
The entire freshwater length of the Androscoggin River is open to angling year round with various regulations on different sections of the river. Be sure to visit www.maine.gov/ifw/ for details.