Key Species: Lake trout, landlocked salmon, brook trout, white perch, cusk
Best Way to Fish: boat
Best Time to Fish: May and September
MAG: 50, D-1
Description: Chesuncook Lake, formed by Ripogenus Dam, is Maine’s third largest body of fresh water. Three distinct sections of the lake are connected. The main stem is known as Chesuncook Lake, the lower body as Caribou Lake, and a third appendage as Ripogenus Lake. The total acreage is 26,200, with a maximum depth of 150 feet. Chesuncook Lake runs in a northwest-southeast direction and prevailing winds can cause large waves and whitecaps. Do not stray far from shore unless you have a large boat (16 feet minimum) and a dependable motor.
This is a semi-remote lake, with a few cottages at the southern end. Marine fossils can be found along the shore near Ripogenus Dam, at the extreme southeast end of the lake. Gero Island, at the head of Chesuncook Lake, is maintained by the Maine Bureau of Public Lands. The daily bag limit on landlocked salmon is one fish, with a minimum length limit of 16 inches. Camping is available.
Fishing index: Try for brook trout in May, in the north and south ends of the Caribou Lake section. Troll slowly near shore, using Jerry’s smelt, Edson tiger light, red-gray ghost, or black ghost. Anglers using bait take trout by drifting with worms or night crawlers.
Salmon fishers do well around Sandy Point, on the west side of the Chesuncook Lake section, and around the mouths of the many brooks and streams that enter the lake.
Large tandem streamers are effective here. Use any pattern that represents a smelt, especially gray ghost, redgray ghost, supervisor, and nine-three. Joe’s smelt and Jerry’s smelt are also productive when trolled.
White perch can be found in all parts of the lake, especially the south end and at the north end around Gero Island. For perch, begin in about 30 feet of water and drift, with a worm or night crawler on bottom. You can also take perch with rubber-bodied lead-head jigs and small Swedish Pimples. If you want to take an occasional whitefish while white perch fishing, stick to the small Swedish Pimples. You may want to put a bit of worm on the treble hook of the Swedish Pimple as an incentive. In summer, lake trout will hold in and along the deep north-south trench that extends the length of Chesuncook Lake. Using a downrigger or lead-core line and a set of lake trolls, slowly troll with a large shiner, smelt, or small sucker riding just off the bottom.
For cusk, try night fishing in any shallow area. Use a dead minnow, a night crawler, or a gob of worms. Prop your rod securely to prevent a large cusk from pulling it into the water.
Directions: Roads to Chesuncook Lake are part of the North Maine Woods Multiple Ownership-Multiple Use Management Area. From Maine Routes 15 and 6 in Greenville, take the Lily Bay Road north to Kokadjo. From there, head north on the Sias Hill Road to the Sias Hill Checkpoint, where you must
Rising nearly 100 feet from its base, Rip Dam holds back the waters of Chesuncook Lake, Maine’s third largest lake. Below the dam is a wild and scenic gorge formed by the West Branch of the Penobscot River.
stop and register. Continue north, following the signs for Ripogenus Dam, and go straight to the Greenville Road. Follow the Greenville Road to the intersection of the Golden Road, and turn right at the south end of Caribou Lake. Continue on the Golden Road and turn left at the checkpoint for Ripogenus Lake, where you will find a boat ramp and campsite. It is 42 miles from Greenville to Ripogenus Dam. You can also take Interstate 95 to Millinocket. From Millinocket, take the Golden Road to the West Branch.
For more information: To reserve a campsite, contact the North Maine Woods office. You should also request one of their pamphlets, and you are strongly advised to purchase a map of the area, obtainable at the checkpoint or from Great Northern Paper. The map will show all authorized campsites where no fire permit is required, as well as campsites where a fire permit is required. If you plan to stay at different sites in the area, contact the Northern Region Headquarters of Great Northern Paper in Island Falls seven days a week.