06 Jun Maine’s Trout Fishing Secret: The Kennebec River Gorge
Why You Have Not YET Heard About Maine’s Best Trout Fishing
We sat down with Kennebec River Angler Owner Chris Russell to explore the unique fishing opportunities in the deep gorges of the Kennebec River watershed…
So Chris, tell us how Kennebec River Angler was started, and what makes your operation truly special?
Mike, Greg and I started working at Northern Outdoors in the late eighties and early nineties and today have over 20 years each of whitewater rafting experience. We quickly became friends due to our fishing problems (only some would deem this a problem). Over time we started fishing the Kennebec and other rivers and actually kept a lot of what we did under wraps. As with most hobbies, things got expensive and we figured we might just have a good enough product in our fisheries to sell and thus support our habits. No one else has ever tried what we are doing because the gorge is a tricky beast to fish commercially, due to high water rafting releases and other factors that sometimes make the river too high to fish, but we knew we had a great product as it is so remote, rugged and provides complete solitude for the time we are floating it. We decided that all these factors were worth it and KRA was born. We also collectively hate fishing in a crowd, so we make the extra effort (ie. up at 3am, meet guests at 4 am, fish till dark) to differentiate ourselves from every other guide service in Maine.
When people think of trout fishing, one might have flashes of rivers in Montana or throughout the west, but what makes the trout fishing where you are in Maine so unique?
The 12 mile section of the Kennebec Gorge is as remote and inaccessible as it gets. Steep canyon walls and lack of road access, plus the fact that at some point the dam is going to release water that raises the level of the river 6 – 8 feet from the level we like to fish, keeps almost all people away. It’s rare to see another angler all day while floating the gorge. The scenery and waterway are gorgeous, raw and untouched.
What type of trout species do you fish for?
Brook trout and Landlocked Salmon, plus we have Rainbow’s and Browns in certain river sections that we guide.
Favorite trout fishing memory?
The first spring of the year we decided to open, I did a scouting run in the gorge and caught at least 30 large brookies, with two of them being 18 inches the other 19 inches. We later went on to have clients catch these same two fish 10 times over two years. Both had very recognizable marks and we ended up naming them Money and The Mutant.
As far as a guiding service goes, how do you guys weave in strong conservation practices?
We are adamant about protecting our fisheries with Catch and Release and are extremely careful while handling and photographing our fish. We pride ourselves on fishing where other guide services refuse to go.
The Kennebec River Angler, official fishing guides for the Northern Outdoors Adventure Resort, operate a number of trips over the course of the year, ranging from 1-2 day guided float trips, an array of drift boat trips, to a wading trip on the Roach River! Whether you are an experienced angler, or looking to try your hand at this sport, you can be confident you will be in great hands with the guys at Kennebec River Angler, as well as be in unforgettable river country! Maybe you too, can catch the legendary ‘Money’ and “Mutant’ brook trout.
Learn more about Northern Outdoors official fly fishing partner, Kennebec River Angler here.