Fly Fishing on the Kennebec River

acadia195In Greenville, Maine, population roughly 1700, there isn’t much to do besides hiking, hunting and fishing. The economy centers on the tourists drawn to Moosehead Lake and the logging industry. There are no movie theatres, outlet malls or theme parks here, but they do have one attraction you might want to try – peace and quiet.

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And what better way to spend a serene day of silence than fishing? Early morning found us on a float boat drifting down the Kennebec River, fly rods in hand. The day was shockingly cold, a sudden drop in temperature from the prior week. The sun danced behind the clouds, stingy with its warming rays. Several other fishers were out, braving the chill out in their waders, flicking their fly lines back and forth.

acadia189My first cast was rewarded with a bite. I quickly reeled in a landlocked salmon barely larger than a minnow. I thought the quick response would set the stage for the day. I was wrong. It seemed that hours passed between strikes, during which time we continued down the river, following the sun in its course across the sky. My next – and last – catch was a speckled trout.

acadia190You might think we were feeling defeated, but we weren’t at all. We traversed a gorgeous stretch of the Kennebec River. The leaves were changing, the water sparkled, mountains loomed magnificently in the distance, and our guide was great, managing to keep us dry even as we bumped our way across class three rapids. For lunch, he pulled the boat ashore, broke out a butane grill and proceeded to cook a feast of chicken, steak, mashed potatoes, pasta salad and more. He even brought Oreos for dessert! While not the most fruitful fishing trip, we still had a blast thanks to Chris at Kennebec River Anglers.

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Learning to Fly

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The last of the morning mist was still melting off the surface of the river. The chorus of the birds welcoming the day blended melodically against the soothing tones of rushing water creating a memorizing effect. I’m standing there, hypnotized by the moment…..until a mosquito bites me on the neck, bringing me swiftly back to reality. And the reason I’m here in the first place. Today, I’m learning to fly.

     Fish, that is. I’ve fished plenty of times before, but this is different. Intricately wrapped flies instead of bait. Casting with light-weight plastic tubing you pull out by hand instead of fishing line released by a reel. No, this is a sport that takes much more skill than the fishing I’ve done in the past.

     So we launch bright and early on a raft into the Deerfield River, thankfully leaving the mosquitoes back on shore. The day is sweltering from the start, but we find a deep inlet of cool water at the bottom of a small drop off, so there’s a swift current sweeping by. And the fish love it. Looking at the surface of the water, you can tell by the ripples and channels where the fish want to be, and although my casting skills with fly line are far from perfect, I manage to work my line over, left right, left right, back and forth until I manage to get my fly in the current, and every time I’m rewarded with a strike.

     Every time a rainbow trout at the end of my line, and the dance begins. You see the strike, you pull the rod back to set and hook the fish, and you start stripping the line in. The fish fights, the rod bends, you give it some line back and let it run a little. Let it tire itself out. Strip the line in again; bring it closer and closer until its head is up and you can swing it boat side to scoop it up in a net. Unhook and release, then begin the dance again.

     Once the sun was at its zenith, we moved down the river and tried floating flies as we glided over the gentle rapids. Not as much luck as the inlet, but a completely different fishing experience, well worth the try. And considering the luck we did have, I’m sure that had it not been so hot, we would have been pulling them in just as quickly as in the inlet. But the rapids were shallow and probably hot – my skin was sizzling in the heat despite the constant reapplications of 50 proof sunblock.

     Fly fishing was a great experience. I had a fantastic time and I’m sure this is the first of many trips. I’m planning on investing in a pair of waders and exploring the local rivers, and I’ve researched a couple of mountain hikes in Maine that lead to good fishing spots, so I can combine some of my hobbies. I’m even looking forward to trying my hand at tying a few flies!

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