The Dead River and its North and South Branches in western Maine offer anglers a variety of options both for fishing methods and environments in which to fish.
The North Branch originates in the Chain of Ponds near the Canadian border and flows southeast to Eustis and Flagstaff Lake. Populations of wild and stocked brook trout attract anglers to the North Branch. Route 27 follows the river closely along much of its course, providing good access for fishing. The lower 10 miles of the North Branch can be canoed, an opportunity to cover more water during a day of fishing.
The South Branch originates in Saddleback Lake near Rangeley and flows northeast to Stratton and Flagstaff Lake. It is also noted for wild and stocked brook trout. For about half its length Route 16 provides convenient access where it follows the South Branch closely. A day trip by canoe down the lowermost 7 miles above Stratton is an opportunity to get away from the road and fish water less frequented by anglers.
The main stem of the Dead River flows from Flagstaff Lake north then east for 24 miles to The Forks, where it enters the Kennebec River. Water stored in Flagstaff Lake provides season-long flows to the river downstream.
Stocked and wild brook trout and landlocked salmon, and an occasional wild rainbow trout, attract anglers to the stretch of river immediately downstream from Flagstaff Lake. Wading is possible in the upper reaches of this section, but the long deadwater above Grand Falls is most effectively fished from a boat or canoe.
Below Grand Falls most of the Dead River is both wild and remote. The area immediately below the falls, accessible by vehicle after a long drive over gravel road network, is a very scenic location to fish for brook trout and landlocked salmon. Below this section, access to all but the last few miles is limited and difficult. The pocket pools and runs that characterize the lowermost reaches of the Dead River can be accessed from Route 201 in The Forks. This section is suitable for wading anglers seeking the brook trout, landlocked salmon, and the occasional rainbow found here.