One of the last remaining wild rivers in America and the kind of fishing water serious trout and salmon anglers dream about, the Rapid River is nothing short of spectacular. Situated in the heart of 22,000 acres of Public Reserved Land, Richardson Tract, in Maine’s Western Mountains, reaching the Rapid River will require some effort. You’ll need a boat, canoe, float plane or a long drive over gravel roads and a brisk hike through wilderness pathways.
The 3.2 miles of wild brook trout and landlocked salmon waters are reserved for fly fishing only and novice anglers may find the raging white water and deep, flat pools a bit daunting, but for intermediate and expert fly anglers this may be considered heaven on earth.
Public access is reached via Andover to a public boat launch on Lower Richardson Lake. Anglers may tie up at Middle Dam, on the western shore, at the headwaters of the Rapid River. A footpath and carriage road run parallel to the river for its entire length, from Middle Dam to where the river empties into Lake Umbagog on the New Hampshire border.
Stop by the two cabins made famous by Louise Dickinson Rich, in her book, “We Took to the Woods,” the 1942 best-selling account of a young woman and her new husband who moved into the wilderness to raise their family.
While anglers can easily reach brook trout and salmon holding pools from the boulder-strewn shorelines, there is precious little room for back casts and fly anglers will need to perfect their roll casting skills or don chest waders. Only anglers experienced in wading white water should attempt venturing more than knee-deep in the Rapid due to the river’s obvious namesake.
Anglers can expect to connect with native brook trout averaging 1-3 pounds with larger fish possible and landlocked salmon 12-20 inches. Special regulations apply and anglers should review Maine’s Open Water Fishing Laws & Rules. Guides and lodging information can be obtained through the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.