Key Species: brown trout, smallmouth bass, white perch, landlocked salmon possible
Best Way to Fish: canoe, boat, bank Best Time to Fish: May and June MAG: 21, B1
Description: The Great Eddy is a wide spot in the Kennebec River. The men of Benedict Arnold’s ill-fated expedition came through the Great Eddy on their way to attack Quebec. You can easily fish from the bank along Route 2, but the Great Eddy is generally too deep for wading. However, the river can be waded upstream from the Great Eddy, where the water gets riffly and shallow. A boat or canoe will let you cover more water.
The river here is open to year-round fishing. Special regulations include a minimum length on landlocked salmon and trout of 12 inches and a daily bag limit of two fish in the aggregate.
You will find a picnic area and boat ramp at Kennebec Banks, on the Great Eddy. Skowhegan offers plenty of motels, and there is a campground on U.S. Route 2, just past the Great Eddy.
Fishing index: The brown trout fishing here is excellent. In early spring, local anglers fish from shore with night crawlers and take brown trout of up to 4 pounds. From shore, it is possible to take fish by spinning and fly casting, but the biggest trout always seem to show just out of casting range, a frustrating situation.
If you have a boat or canoe, troll upstream from the boat ramp to the head of the Great Eddy, where the water becomes too shallow for navigation. Drift back and cast toward shore. If you repeat this process, you will be able to mark spots where you get a strike and be prepared the next time you pass by. Work both shores in this manner.
In May, profuse hatches of red quills make the surface of the river come alive with brown trout. This spectacle resembles the feeding binges of striped bass in salt water. Try to get as close as possible to rising trout because the strong current will quickly make bellies in your line if you try a long cast. Use a red quill or small dun variant and drift it over feeding trout, being ever watchful of line drag. This is big water and the fish, especially during the red quill hatch, are not too leader-shy.
In most cases, you can easily get by with a 3-pound test tippet. Use at least a 9-foot, 6-weight fly rod and floating, weight-forward fly line.
Downstream from the Great Eddy, the river becomes tranquil. It is dotted with islands, where local residents pick fiddlehead ferns in the spring. These islands are good places to fish for smallmouth bass. Try trolling with small orange Rapalas. Fly fishers can do well by casting and slowly retrieving leech imitations, woolly buggers, and muddler minnows.
Directions: From Skowhegan, take U.S. Route 2 east. Two miles from town, you will see the boat ramp and picnic area at Kennebec Banks, on the shores of the Great Eddy.
For more information: Contact the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Regional Fish and Wildlife Headquarters in Sydney.