Key Species: rainbow trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass, landlocked salmon possible
Best Way to Fish: wading Best Time to Fish: May and June MAG: 21, D-2
Description: This section of river is a tailwater fishery, one of the few spots in Maine with an ongoing rainbow trout program. Wading is the best way to fish here, although it is possible to launch a canoe downstream from the dam. Special regulations on this section of river include artificial lures only, a minimum length limit on landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, and brown trout of 16 inches, and a daily bag limit on salmon, trout, and lake trout of one fish. Motels are located in the greater Waterville area, and Lake St. George State Park in Liberty offers lakeside camping.
Fishing index: Smallmouth bass were once about the only major sport fish in this formerly very polluted river, but this has changed. While smallmouth bass fishing remains good, brown trout and rainbow trout now provide excellent sport as well. This area is exceptionally good for fly fishers; the river here is easily waded and wide enough for you to get away from shoreline vegetation that might hinder your back cast. If you have a canoe, smallmouth bass be can taken by trolling with small orange Rapalas and by casting with lead-head jigs. Fly fishers take smallmouths by casting black leech patterns and muddler minnows.
Rainbow and brown trout are eagerly sought by fly fishers. In late April and early May, nymphs, Edson tiger light bucktails, single-hooked gray ghost streamers, Jerry’s smelt, and, to an extent, wet flies such as soft-hackle flies take their share of trout. As water temperatures warm and quill Gordons, red quill, and Hendricksons begin to hatch, dry-fly fishing reigns supreme. From late June and through the fall, trout contain their surface activity to the evening hours. Small dun variants, blue-winged olives, and various midges are all effective during the last half hour before dark. Daytime fly fishers might want to stick to a sinking fly line and nymphs, soft-hackle flies, or small leech patterns.
Few anglers, including the author, bother to fish here with anything but flies, but small Mepps spinners would also be effective for the trout, especially the rainbows.
The success of this rainbow trout fishery is attributable to the efforts of the Kennebec Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Since 1992, this group has been releasing rainbow trout into the Shawmut tailwater. Fish over 22 inches long have been taken since then. Trout Unlimited strongly urges anglers to practice catch-and-release when fishing here.
Directions: From Fairfield, head north on U.S. Route 201 and drive about 5 miles, then look for the Shawmut Dam on the right. There is ample parking along the road. Walk down to the area below the dam and begin fishing. You can also get to the tailwater area by taking the River Road across the river from U.S. Route 201. You can see the dam easily from the road.
For more information: Contact the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Regional Fish and Wildlife Headquarters in Sydney.