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Fly Fishing the Kennebago River

Thu, 09/09/2010 - 16:43 -- jmaslar

The Kennebago River begins in several ponds between White Cap and Snow Mountains near the Quebec/Maine border in the Township of Seven Ponds. The river flows along a course of riffles, pools and pocket water with some bogs for about 12 miles until it reaches Little Kennebago Lake and then Kennebago lake. Leaving the lake, the kennebago continues to flow into and end at the Cupsuptic Lake. The Kennebago is noted for its wild brook trout populations and for landlocked salmon. Cold, clear water and a good smelt population serve to provide a good salmon population.

The upper section before Little Kennebago Lake has some modest brook trout populations, but only four miles are accessible. The gradient is not too steep on this tree lined stream, so the current is not too strong for wading. The lakes provide good dry fly fishing as well and they can be fished from float tubes.

Below Little Lake Kennebago the stream changes, becoming larger and harbors much larger brook trout, many that weigh in at one pound and some that exceed 5 pounds.

Fishing the Kennebago River:

The salmon reproduce as many as 15 000 per year and they can grow to 4 pounds and over. The wild brook trout population is excellent also and they are capable of reaching a few pounds as well. So the size of these fish must be respected. A six weight system will serve you well for the most part. Anything lighter than six weight would pose a risk to the loss of these beautiful fish. You will not want to loose a trophy trout or salmon because you were under equipped in terms of tackle and gear; and that can not be said about all streams!

The season however, is quite short as fishing does not get underway until after Memorial Day due to the ice cover. The entire stream is fly fishing only and is catch and release from August 15 until the season closes. For the most part, the Kennebago can be waded and the ponds can be fished from float tubes or boats.


Spring does not start here until Mid May or later with the best fishing in June. The salmon will move upriver from Cupsuptic Lake in June and July. The early season fly fishing is done mostly using streamers, nymphs and wet flies. On hot, dry summers the salmon will migrate from the stream and seek the deeper cooler waters of the lakes. The brook trout will hang in the deeper pools of the stream or retreat to the lakes.


As August approaches the brook trout will return and the Second run of the salmon will occur in September. With the catch and release designation, the fishing pressure remains light causing this to be an excellent time to fish the Kennebago River.

Geographical Location: 
Type of Stream: 
Freeston Medium size
Wild Brook trout, wild brown trout and landlocked salmon
Northwestern Maine
Nearest Town: 
Rangeley, Maine

Access is very limited and access to 4 miles of the upper portion will be by an old logging road. There is a road along the 10 mile middle portion of the river with a parking area at a gate four miles above Rt. 16. However there are some camps that provide good access as well.        

License and Other Information: 

State of Maine Fishing License

Weather Service


Note: The "Perfect Fly" lines of flies are recommended for the Kennebago River and they are available from the TroutU Store.

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