Copyright 2018 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Penobscot River Maine
The Penobscot River is the largest river in the state of
Maine. It flows from near the Canadian line for almost
350 miles. The river has several species of fish that
can be taken on the fly but the trout and landlocked
salmon fishing is best. It exist in the East and West
Branches of the Penobscot River.
The East Branch starts as a small streams that flows
from East Branch Pond. From there it flows into
Matagomon Lake and Grand Lake Matagomon. Part of
this upper section of the river flows through Baxter
State Park and is very remote. Below Grand Lake
Matagomon, the river is wide and easier to access. The
flows depend on the releases from the dam.
The West Branch of the Penobscot River is one of the
best landlocked salmon streams in the United States. It
flows from the East arm of Seboomook Lake. From the
dam there it flows into Chesuncook Lake and
Ripogenous Lake and continues on from the
Ripogenous Dam. This river has water falls, whitewater
and very deep pools. Some sections have long runs
and beautiful sections of riffles. It has native brook
trout in addition to its salmon. It's a very beautiful
The section of the river from the Ripogenus Dam to
Abol Bridge is just one of the most popular sections for
fly fishing. The Ripogenus Gorge holds wild landlocked
salmon and brook trout. In many sections of the river
the water falls and pools that are deeper than one's
head prevent wading. Most of the fishing there is done
The salmon season kicks off with the smelt run. It is
difficult to predict the exact time it starts but when it
does, fishing can be fantastic.
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Photo Courtesy of Dennis McCarthy
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight for trout, 6 to 8 for
Dry fly: 9 &12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Streamer & Salmon 0-2X
Best Fly Rod:
Perfect Fly 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 weight rods
For 4 to 9 wt. fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Loon Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Penobscot River Fishing Report:
05/04/14 The season has started but we have
no reports from anyone fishing. The river is
currently flowing high (42,000 cfs) and cold.
Fishing Report Updated 08/31/18
(Bottom Of Page)
Fly Fishing Guide to the Penobscot
The fishing first and foremost depends on
where you are fishing. The water varies
drastically. The river is near Maine's highest
mountain, Mount Kathadin. It is sometimes
visible in the background. The stream flows
mostly through forest. The area is known for
its wildlife which includes eagles, bear, deer
This isn't a very easy river to fish. It has just
about every type of water that's imaginable.
You could use about every techniques and
method of fly fishing that exist in the river
depending on where you fished and what
you fished for.
Although the season starts the first of April,
the ice may not be melted at that date. It is
usually a little later when the smelt run gets
underway before the fishing gets hot. During
the smelt run, salmon usually take streamers
that match the smelt eagerly. This can
provide some of the Penobscot River's best
The West Branch section below the
Ripogenus Dam downstream to the Abol
Bridge is a very rough stretch of water. It
provides great wild, landlocked salmon
fishing but is tough to fish by boat or from
the bank. It also provides some great
brook trout fishing. The water changes
from large rapids to long sections of riffles
and runs with deep pools between
sections. This section of the river has a lot
of white water rafters but they don't bother
the fishermen as much as you would think.
Kayakers and rafters out number anglers
by a large amount.
The water in the West Branch stays cool
all summer long. Even though there are
many rapids and sections of water that is
impossible to wade, there is also sections
that are easy to wade. This is a big river
and one could wade for days and not fish
the same section twice. Beware of the
areas that are dangerous to wade and
beware of the releases from the dams on
the rivers. They can change the flows
The season starts the first of April but the
early season can be unpredictable.
Fly fishing the Penobscot River normally
gets good about the first of May.
Summertime continues the best season for
Early Fall can be good.
Penobscot River Hatches and Trout
Most of the mayfly hatches occur from May
into the first half of June. The middle of June
starts some huge and prolific caddisfly
Little Black Stoneflies are the first hatches to
occur on the Penobscot River. The problem
is that they are usually all gone by the
opening of the season.
There are several species of Little
Blue-winged Olives that hatch during the
year. They start in April and usually a peak
around the middle of May. These last through
most of June and then slack off until about
the middle of August. They fall hatches last
through September. There's a Great Olive
Winged Dun locally called the Hexagenia
hatch that starts about the middle of June
and can last through most of July.
Quill Gordons start hatching about the same
time the season opens in April and last until
the middle of May. Hendrickson mayflies
hatch about the same time or from about the
first of May through the first week of June.
March Browns start about the first week of
June and last until near the first of July. Light
Cahills start about the first of June and last
on into the middle of July. All of the above are
clinger mayflies that will be found in the
moderate to fast water.
Little Yellow Stoneflies hatch from about the
first of June into the first of July. These
stoneflies are called Yellow Sallies by some
There are several species of Spotted
Sedges and Cinnamon Sedges. These
caddisflies hatch from about the middle of
April all the way through September. There
are also lots of Green Sedges that hatch
during June and July. Imitations of their
larvae, often called Green Rock Worms,
are very effective.
Ants, beetles and grass hoppers are all
important terrestrial insects. These
normally become important around the
middle of July. They can be found along
the streams until as late as the end of
September. Dragonfly nymphs can also be
effective in some areas.
You definitely need streamers to match the
smelt if you fish early in the season. Also
streamers that imitate sculpin work great.
Our Perfect Fly Yellow Marabou Sculpin
and White Marabou Sculpin work great in
this stream according to our customers.
We always recommend our "Perfect Flies"
not only because we sell them but also
because we know they are the best trout
flies you can purchase. If you haven't tried
our "Perfect Flies" yet, be certain to do so.
You will be glad you did. We have specific
imitations of all the insects that hatch on
the Penobscot River.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
05/11/14 Still no reports from anyone fishing
and there's a good reason - it's still too early.
05/18/14 One customer ordering flies but
no reports from anyone fishing this past
week. High water is a problem but it is
warming up nicely and won't be long.
05/25/14 Some more customers ordering
flies for future trips to the Penobscot but
no reports from anyone fishing. Note, due
to the cold winter, all the hatches are
running behind schedule.
06/01/14 Quill Gordon and
Hendricksons/Blue Quills are hatching
along with plenty of BWOs. Caddis should
start any time now.
06/08/14 We don't have any reports from
any anglers catching trout but several
have ordered flies getting ready. Be sure
to check the stream flows.
06/15/14 Water levels are in good shape
and anglers are reporting good fishing
conditions. We had two customers
ordering flies and one reporting excellent
fishing the past two days.
07/06/14 High water levels have been a
problem recently and we have no fishing
07/20/14 Although high water levels has been
a problem at times, the river is fishing very
good. Customers are buying Cinnamon
Caddis and Green Sedges. There are some
Little Yellow Stoneflies hatching.
07/27/14 Water levels continue to be a
problem at times, but other than that,
conditions are good. Two good reports came
in for this past week from customers ordering
08/10/14 Stream levels are near normal
and two good reports of salmon and
brook trout have come in the past week.
08/31/14 Water levels are back near normal
and plenty of trout are being caught. Mostly
09/14/14 Two customers reporting some nice
catches of Brook trout and Salmon this past
week. Cooler temperatures are helping.
10/05/14 Fishing remained very good
except for low water levels at times.
10/19/14 Lots of trout and salmon being
caught.Be sure to check the Penobscot
River seasons. It depends on the branch
and sections. Some are open and some are
04/22/15 Ice out /or runoff underway, The
water is warming - shouldn't be much longer.
05/06/15 The water is warming up fast with
much warmer weather. Look for Quill
Gordons, Blue Quills and Hendricksons to
start showing up this coming week..
05/20/15 The water temperature is in the
low fifties and Quill Gordons, Blue Quills
and Little Black Caddis are hatching.
05/27/15 Look for Hendricksons/Red Quills
to start hatching any time now. Very warm
06/10/15 The water is averaging around 60
degrees and lots of hatches are taking
place. Stream levels falling but a little high.
06/17/15 Caddis starting to hatch along with
the Amer. March Browns, Light Cahills,
Golden Stones, and Little Yellow stones.
07/01/15 Water levels have been a problem
at times but should be getting back in good
shape. Lots of hatches with terrestrials
starting to be important.
07/08/15 Stream levels are back down near
normal. Lots of hatches including little Yellow
and Golden stones, Cinnamon Caddis, and
07/15/15 Great conditions. Our customers
are reporting catching lots of trout.
07/22/15 Conditions are as good as they get.
Lots of trout being caught.
08/05/15 Customers reporting good catches
and great conditions. Lots of caddisflies.
08/12/15 Great conditions continue with plenty
of trout being caught and lots of Little Yellow
08/19/15 Conditions remain good. The stream
is a little low but that should change this week.
08/26/15 Good conditions continue. Cooler
weather is helping. There are still hatches taking
place and some good catches being reported.
09/02/15 Thanks to the fast water of the West
Branch, this river is a great place to fish during
the hot weather and it is hot again. Light Cahills
and Little Yellow stones are still hatching.
09/09/15 There is lots of rain in the forecast,
so it may not be flowing well very long. Check
out our Salmon Flies.
9/23/15 The river is in good shape but
remember, this is the last week to fish.
02/10/16 Send us an email and let us help you
plan your next Penobscot River fly fishing trip.
We have taken samples of the insects using
professional equipment. We do not go by trial
and error. email@example.com
04/03/16 The season opened up with Quill
Gordons, Blue Quills, Blue Winged olives and
little Black Caddis soon to hatch.
05/04/16 The ice is gone, water warming up
and Quill Gordons just starting to hatch.
Blue-winged olives and midges are hatching as
well. The water is about 49 degrees but varies
with the location. .
05/18/16 Blue Quills, Blue-winged olives, Little
Black Grannon caddis, Quill Gordons and
Little Brown stoneflies and Hendricksons/Red
06/01/16 Light Cahills, Great Olive Wing
Drakes, American March Browns, Little Yellow
Stoneflies and other insects are hatching.
06/15/16 Stream levels are mostly good and
the water clear. Lots of hatches are taking
place, depending on the section you're fishing.
06/29/16 The Great Olive Wing drakes, or
Hexs, are starting to hatch. Look for them in
the slow water of the pools. Stream levels are
a little low, otherwise conditions are good.
07/27/16 There are still some Great Olive Wing
duns, and lot of Spotted and Green sedges,
and Cinnamon caddis hatching. Customers are
catching lots of trout.
08/10/16 No reports on salmon yet but plenty
of brook trout are being caught. Little Yellow
stoneflies, Tricos, Slate Drakes, two caddis
species, and terrestrial are working good.
08/24/16 Conditions remain good. Lots of
caddisflies are hatching and a few other
insects. Hoppers, ants and beetles are working.
01/18/17 The fishing season is over but it is
never too early to start planning that next fly
fishing trip. Give us a call and let us help.
04/05/17 The season is open but there's still a
lot of ice. Check back with us and we will keep
05/10/17 There are Quill Gordons, Blue
quills, little Brown stoneflies, BWOs, and little
Black Caddis hatching. Stream levels are high.
05/24/17 The discharges and stream levels
are down and in good shape. Lots of insects
are hatching. Conditions are good.
06/14/17 The discharges and stream levels
are down and the river in good shape. Our
customers are catching good numbers of
trout. There are lots of hatching taking place.
07/05/17 The river is in good condition but
there has been a lot of high water levels so
far this season. There are lots of hatches
taking place and customers are catching trout
everytime the levels are down.
07/19/17 There are lots of trout being caught.
Hatches consist of Light Cahills, Sulphurs,
Spotted and Green sedges, little Yellow
stones, Slate drakes and more.
09/06/17 Good reports from customers are
coming in on trout and salmon are starting to
be caught. Now is the time to fish the river.
09/27/17 Good reports have been coming in
on trout and salmon but mostly closing at the
end of this month.
04/20/18 The ice out period has started. It is
usually the first of May before the river gets
into decent shape but a lot depends on the
05/04/18 Stream levels are high but the water
is getting warmer fast. Hendricksons/Red
Quills, Quill Gordons, Little Black caddis, Little
Brown stoneflies, Blue Quills and Blue-winged
olives are starting to hatch.
06/08/18 The river is in good condition with
good stream levels, lots of hatches taking
place, and lots of trout being caught.. Send
us an email for fly recommendations.
06/29/18 We are getting good reports. Send
us and email for a fly and gear list. Stream
levels are good.
07/20/18 Great conditions and lots of good
reports coming in. There are lots of hatches
08/03/18 The stream levels are up but trout
were being caught in good numbers before
the higher levels. It should be down very soon.
08/17/18 There are lots of Spotted sedge,
Cinnamon caddis, little Yellow stoneflies, Slate
drakes and Cream cahills hatching. Trout are
being caught in all sections of the river. It is
currently a little high but falling.
08/31/18 The stream levels are running just a
little below a normal level and good numbers
of trout are being caught. All sections are
turning out trout.