St. John River
From Fifth St. John Pond north to the Village of Allagash, the upper Saint John River offers anglers the opportunity to experience several days of backcountry canoe travel in Maine’s north woods. For more than 100 miles the river flows through undeveloped forest, where road access to the water is very limited. Due to the difficulty of the rapids encountered in several stretches, this trip is best accomplished by experienced canoeists. Novices should utilize the services of a guide.
Although the upper St. John was noted as a wild brook-trout fishery, muskellunge introduced into Quebec waters of the drainage in the early 1970’s are now the dominant fishery in the river. Fishing for native brook trout is limited to the many cooler tributaries found along its course.
The upper St. John is very wide throughout much of its length, requiring a good flow of water to travel downstream without the need for dragging and portaging. As flows in the St. John are entirely dependent on runoff, the best time to schedule the trip is associated with spring runoff, which occurs from May through the middle of June. After mid June, easily negotiable flows usually occur only after significant rain events, limiting the ability to schedule a trip well in advance from July through October.
The lower St. John from Allagash Village to Hamlin, where the river enters Canada, flows past the forests, farms, and small towns in the very beautiful St. John Valley. For 70 miles it comprises the International Boundary between Maine and New Brunswick.
Muskellunge and smallmouth bass have replaced brook trout and landlocked salmon as principal fisheries in the lower St. John. Both species provide season-long action. In August, the Fort Kent Musky Derby has become a very popular annual event.
The lower St. John is fished most effectively from a boat or canoe. There are many access points to it as Maine Route 161 follows the river closely from Allagash to Fort Kent, and U.S. Route 1 parallels the river for the entire distance between Fort Kent and Hamlin.