South Branch Penobscot River

Key Species: brook trout Best Way to Fish: wading

Best Time to Fish: May and June MAG: 48, D-3

Description: This remote branch of the Penobscot River is largely overshadowed by the better-known sections. Thus, you can count on quality fishing with little competition. The stretch of river below Canada Falls Lake flows through a small but scenic gorge. A maintained campsite is located at Canada Falls Lake (Site 70).

Canoeing is not practical, but it is easy to fish the river from the bank or by wading. Note that some spots are too dangerous to wade when the water is high. There are several special fishing regulations. From April 1 through August 15, the daily limit on trout is two fish, and the minimum length is 6 inches; only one trout may be longer than 12 inches. From August 16 through September 30, artificial lures only may be used, and the daily limit is one fish.

Fishing index: The river is crooked and has many small islands, each offering choice spots to cast for brook trout. The water immediately below the dam is fast, but brook trout are common on the edges and in the few eddies. Farther down the stream, the river quickly drops through a series of deep pools and swift runs. Streamer flies and bucktails, especially Edson tiger light bucktails, are highly effective when fished on a sinking line. This river is usually too swift for effective nymph fishing, but if you hit a hatch of red quills toward the end of May, you might take fish on red quills, Hendricksons, or small dun variants.

The average brook trout here will measure 10 to 12 inches, but much larger specimens are present. The author once hooked a 4-pound brook trout that he had to chase downstream for a considerable distance. Nevertheless, this is not a large river when compared to the West Branch of the Penobscot or the Kennebec River. You will get the most pleasure if you use relatively light tackle. Use at least a 3-pound test leader.

Directions: From Rockwood, on Moosehead Lake, head west on Maine Routes 15 and 6. Cross the Moose River in the Rockwood Strip. Follow the main road (unpaved) to the 20 Mile Gate. Watch for signs for the 20 Mile Gate. Stop at 20 Mile Gate, register, and follow the signs to Canada Falls Lake. The road takes you to a campground just above the dam. Begin fishing downstream, on the left side of the river as you view it from the dam.

For more information: Contact the Moosehead Lake Vacation and Sportsmen’s Association or the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Regional Office in Greenville.

South Branch Penobscot River Photo Gallery

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