Maine Salmon Trip? (Help!) [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Maine Salmon Trip? (Help!)

03-01-2002, 10:28 AM

The past few years, I've been getting my Dad Fly Fishing related gifts (Christmas, B-day, Fathers-Day), such as guided trips, rod, reel, etc. So, with his 69th Birthday a little more than three weeks away, I asked "What do you want to do for your Birthday Dad?" Well, basically, this was my answer:

Maine-Trip (

As best as we can figure my Dad has not fished this place since 1953! Also, I'm a complete Idiot when it comes to Trout/Salmon on the Fly. So, I'm looking for information about Fishing, Lodging, Locations, Flies, Lines, etc.

Also, I'm Concerned about the Warm & DRY winter we're having & wondering how this will (may) impact fishing. My dad seems to recall that Late May -- Early June is a good time to go???

Any help appreciated; Post or Email.

Also, anybody interested in Getting group together???

03-01-2002, 10:58 AM
We've been going to that area for many years. The best time is shortly after ice out which is usually in May - but may be earlier this year. As usual, we often hear that "we should of been here last week" or "it will be better next week". Water level and flow definately affects where the fish are in the river. Talked with some people at a recent sportsman show and they said that this area of Maine has had good snow though. The easiest way in is from Millinocket - paved most of the way to the Ripogenus Dam. There are a few campgrounds with facilities and many other places to camp (tent or trailer) that are run by the state (outhouses only). There are also some camps (cabins) in this area - Prey's and Snow's are two I can think of. It is big water. A canoe or boat are a big plus, but there are plenty of places to wade. Trout and landlocked salmon, but we target mostly the latter. We have been told by a fish and wildlife guy that there has been a large decrease in the smelt population in the last few years and it has impacted the number and size of the fish. Most salmon are <18 inches but are thrilling to catch - deep fast runs, aerobatics, etc. I usually use an 8 weight, due to the size of the river and the frequently windy conditions but a 6 is ok. Mostly wet flys but there is dry fly action in many areas if you are in the right place at the right time and many there fish drys exclusively.

03-01-2002, 12:19 PM
greg - I sent you a pm.

we were there last year the weekend before memorial day (the weekend after iceout) - no bugs, good weather, good fishing.

good luck

Tod D
03-01-2002, 12:35 PM
For the past 12 years or so, I've been doing a spring & fall trip to the Rangely region for brookies & landlocks. Haven't fished the Penobscot since 1993. Few thoughts that echo kcsme's:

- flies - 'traditional' maine streamers (love this site:

& any of the standard trout wet flies work. As kcsme alluded to, smelts are a major food source so 'silverside'-type flies are big (though as he indicated, their numbers appear to be down in the Penobscot region). Nymphs & beadheads can be deadly. For hatches, probably worth putting a call into Bean's or the Fly Fishing Only (FFO) Shop (believe they're in Fairfield, ME) to see what's happening, etc.

Re tackle, I've tended to use 4-6#s, though when the wind kicks up I'll go #7. 'Traditional' streamer fishing would probably call for a floating line, though I'll use a sink tip or interchangable heads quite often.

In the spring, we tend to camp and do a lot of logging road 4x4 driving. Fall, we usually rent a cabin as it gets a bit chillier in late Sept.

Last spring at Rangely, our fishing was mixed. Tough conditions on the rivers as flows were down and crowds up (e.g. Rapid on a Wednesday between Middle Dam and pond in river - no fewer than 35 people. Might as well have been at the outlet at Sebago on a Saturday). Lakes were a different story. Absolute banner days trolling tandem streamers (on fly rods) and sewn smelts. Big, fat brookies and salmon - the latter as acrobatic as they come.

See if you can come across a copy of the Maine Sportsman (& grab a Delorme's atlas & gazeteer if you don't have one already). While I sometimes find the regional articles can get a bit too rah-rah (Come here now! Fishing's great!), they tend to have good food-for-thought ideas, lodges & campsites, and I like Ken Allen's and Harry Vanderweide's (sp?) articles.

Best of luck.

Brian Haddock
03-02-2002, 05:57 AM
Check out

03-02-2002, 06:19 AM

I have always wanted to get back there, really a beautiful region which I went through in 1977 with my new bride on a fall New England car trip from NJ. Actually I have a picture I took of the river hanging in my office at work.

I did have my fly rod with me, did fly fish in New Hampshire White Mountains the next day, but wished I had stopped on the Penobscot now in retrospective.

It was October though and I think the trout and salmon season was closed there. Do not recall seeing any fisherman on the river.

Good luck, hope that area is still as beautiful as it was when I was there, I would think so.


03-02-2002, 02:32 PM
Indian Rock Camps in Grand Lake Stream has nice camps and fantastic LL salmon fishing. You can be guided the are several outfits there. The general store has everything you'd need.
There is no camping at all in the local area of the stream only sporting camps. Out in the Rangely Lakes regions also excellent. The Rapid river up that way has both large and plentiful brookies and LLs.

03-07-2002, 12:22 PM

Thanks, for the info. so far, please keep it coming. I've been quite Busy at work & I'm STILL in the midst of a Kitchen Remodel, so I have not had a lot of time to follow up on these leads, but it sounds good. I'm starting to get the feeling that there is A Lot More fishing up that way then just that one strecth of river from my original Post!

Sprocket, I didn't get your PM, my email has been Flacky. Could you re-send? Thanks

O.K. Let me Pose a couple of specific questions & see If I can't breeth some life back into this thread?

(1) Would a Yak, Canoe, or small tin boat be worth bringing?

(2) I think a place with Cabins may be preferable to tent camping due to poor weather potential?

(3) Specific Patterns? Note, I only tie SW flies & I'm not very knowledgable about FW patterns.


DFix pointed out to me that we have met, you're the Guy who drove down from Maine for that Cpt. Ray RI outing early Last Spring (April). Well, there must be some more Maine Guys on the Board (Aaron, etc.?), feel free to chime in!

03-07-2002, 01:00 PM
grego: A canoe or kayak would be very usefull if you are going to fish the west branch. The small boat will be less usefull unless it has a motor. The current is too strong in many areas for rowing a boat but the small boat could come in handy in some spots such as the horserace deadwater, below the nesournehunk (sp) falls or at big eddy where you could row out a bit and anchor. The canoe or kayak can be paddled in the current in other areas that the boat could not. We use a 12 foot fiberglass boat with a 4 hp motor and cover quite a bit of water with it, but there are many areas with plenty of water depth (no rapids) where the motor can not advance us against the current. The Snows camp I mentioned before is on a pond where any of them could be used and there are many other ponds in the area where they could come in usefull. Wouldn't take the boat out on the lake above ripogenus dam though, as it is frequently quite ruff. The Prays camps are on big eddy and little eddy I think.

Cabins are definately prefered to tents. I would make reservations fast to insure you get a place. The weather is all over the place in late may and early June. There usually is still snow on katahdin and fresh snow falls on the mountain while we are there. We have had it rain, freeze solid overnight and then hit near 90 all in the same week and gone from freezing cold and wet to cutting off the legs on pants to make shorts and taking a quick dip to cool off (I think my heart stopped beating for a few seconds since the water was so cold). More often than not there is some rain and it is cool (40's and 50's) and often windy at this time of year. You need to be prepared for any weather and bring a variety of clothing to layer and remove as necessary. Good rain gear is a must if you want to fish.

Flies are predominantly streamers/wet flies: I have had the most success with wooly buggers, black nosed dace, smelt patterns. There are also two general stores where they sell flies - one at the bridge on the way in from millinocket and one before the dam. Both are within reasonable driving distance and have a variety of wet and dry flies that succeed in the area.

Tod D
03-07-2002, 02:28 PM

Re #3, check out the link in my earlier post for some nice streamer patterns. Also, the book on Carrie Stevens (Hilliard is the author, father & son team) is a beautiful book w/ terrific patterns & pics. Also, I think Bates (?) has a book on traditional maine streamers. As a general rule, the majority of Maine waters have smelt populations, so any of the traditional streamer smelt imitations are decent wet fly bets.

03-07-2002, 02:36 PM

Thanks, great Info.

I agree on making reservations Soon. My Dad & I are going to try to get some Local Info. at the Wilmington Show this weekend; from either Local Guides and/or Maine Rangers (if they're there?). I know that Late May is Traditionally The Time to Go, but I'm thinking about moving up a week or two because of the Mild Winter. I'm hoping that the Local info we may get at the Show will help with that decision. Basically, whatever I do will be a Gamble w.r.t Weather.

After I get more Info. & start putting my research together, I'll book a place.

03-07-2002, 02:40 PM

You Posted While I was Typing, Thanks!

Tod D
03-07-2002, 08:38 PM
Greg - no problem; hope info helps. We'r expecting baby #3 in early June so my spring Maine trip is out this year. Living vicariously through this post...

03-08-2002, 10:22 AM
If you plan to do any canoeing in the Ripogenus area you should be able to navigate ok keeping to the eddies and side flows. You'll definately want warm clothes an always have a PFD in the spring- unless we don't get rain, right now we're at natural flow releases. You'll want one pf those e-z release anchors on the bow of wht ever craft you're in. They make all the difference in mobility and for quick. I don't have the actual name of the anchor system but it is basically a clinch cleat that grasps the rope and has a quick release for dropping the hook. Really a must for fast water.
I'll be at the Wilmington show Sunday afternoon, manning the booth. If you're there check in with me.

03-10-2002, 09:55 AM

I went to the Show on Saturday, so I missed you. Guess I'll try to pick your brain via email or Posts! The Maine Rangers have a Great Botth set up in the First Row; they were very helpful with local info, especially wrt the Mild Winter. Got free maps, camping guides, etc.

BTW: I Missed the Casting Clave, heard it was great. But we Had A Great (HUGE) meal at Kitty's! Great Social event for about 20 Board members, included some very well behaved kids (a tribute to good parenting!). At least when you remodel your Kitchen, you have the Excuss to Eat Out A Lot!! My wife really enjoyed meeting some board people; now she can put some Faces with Names.

03-10-2002, 09:59 AM
Tod D,

I finally got a chance to sit down & check out the Link you gave me; Fantastic! So far I like the Petti & Warner patterns. There's a TON of stuff on that site; any particular recommendations that YOU like for LL's?


Tod D
03-11-2002, 08:26 PM
Must admit I've always been fond of Carrie Steven's gray ghost. Was the 1st fly I ever used fishing for landlocks and caught my first salmon (15") on one - Bathtub pool on the Rangely River.

Few years back, Fly Tyer (spring 99 maybe?) had a great article on 'long lost' streamer patterns that had since fallen out of vogue. One in particular - the Fort Wayne - seemed kind of cool, albeit somewhat garish. Lots of orange, some squirrel fur if I remember correctly. At any rate, tied some up, brought them to Rangely that June caught some great brookies and salmon; brought some to Labrador that summer, caught some more great salmon.

Other than the Ft. Wayne I haven't been particularly inventive on the streamer front. Two springs back, had terrific success trolling a green ghost tandem. Three salmon in three days, all over 4 lbs, right on top. Awesome strikes w/ multiple jumps. Got to love those salmo salars...

03-12-2002, 09:54 AM
A staple fly of mine up here is the hornberg. Excellently versitile fly because you can fish it dry or wet and it can suggest several food species, Small bait fish, emerging caddis. I like the pattern about size12/14 with the lemon duck wing. Also the Goddard caddis is real good when the zebra caddis is coming off late May through June.

03-12-2002, 10:02 AM
I'll second the hornberg - have also had good success with it on the penobscot. beware of the tandem flies mentioned in a previous post since there are restictions on them in many areas of the penobscot.

Tod D
03-12-2002, 04:20 PM
Agree on the Hornberg.

Kcsme's comment caused me to add one caveat: tandems were used trolling on Rangely, where they're allowed. Always check the Maine Regs for the rules regarding any body of water as many of 'prime' spots go beyond the general regulations.

03-12-2002, 07:52 PM
Thanks Guys,

Here's what I've tied so far:

Mickey Finn
Melvin Bay
Grizzly King (minus the JC)
Light Spruce
Black Ghost
Woolly Bugger (beaded & unbeaded)
Maribou Muddler

Here's what on my To Do List:

Grey Ghost
Muddler Minnow
Welch Rarebit
Supervisor (need a substitute for Squirrel)
Edson Tiger (light & dark)

Speaking of Jungle Cock; I'm thinking about getting in on that UK order on that other post, but I really only need a small amount. If someone who is ording a large amount wants to send me 5-10 pairs, I'd certainly be willing to pay.

03-12-2002, 09:30 PM

I'll give you what you need from my order, no worries. Just let me know what size you need and you can have a couple dozen eyes.


03-13-2002, 10:39 AM

Thanks much, 5-10 pairs will be fine!

About Sizes, you are pre-supposing that I know what I'm doing. I can tell you that I'm Tying streamers on #4, #6, & #8 6X tiemco hooks, so what size JC do I need?

Thanks Again. :confused:

03-13-2002, 10:42 AM
Also, I'm having trouble finding a Hornberg Pattern on the Web; I could not find one on Tod's link. If anyone has a link to a Hornberg Pattern let me know, pictures and/or step-by-step prefered!

03-13-2002, 04:34 PM
This is probably a case of my own ignorance, but check out these two pattern Links:

They are both called Hornberg, but clearly two very different looking flies.

I've aslo noted some patterns that are similar in style, size, color, etc, but the materials used are different, and yet they are called the same thing. For example, I've found several Grey Ghost variations.

On the Flip side, I've found patterns that are almost Identical, maybe one ingedient or color difference, and yet it's called a Completely different Fly!

03-13-2002, 11:10 PM
The example of a hornberg in the first link is the fly I use. The second, the hornberg special is more of a grey ghost knock off, not really a hornberg at all.
Here's the recipe.

1. HOOK- Streamer Shank Hook- thin wire #6-#10
2. THREAD - Black 6/0
3. BODY - Flat Silver Tinsel... Tie in at the eye wrap to the bend and back tie off + trim.
4. UNDER WING- Yellow Calf Tail or Buck Tail... 1 1/2 x the lenght of the shank. tie in 1/4 shank back from eye, trim at an upward angle- overwrap tapered end.
5. WING- Lemon Mallard Flank... Tie in each side cupped side toward the shank.
6. CHEEKS- Jungle Cock Eye... Tie in one each side at front of wing.
7. HACKLE- Grizzly Hackle- tie in two tips and palmer them covering the thread wrapping behind the eye. :cool:

Feel free to drop me a PM if you want any other info as the trip draws near.

03-14-2002, 01:30 PM
Grego and Chris: Thats basically the same pattern I tie with two exceptions. I use yellow saddle hackle as the underwing, sized slightly smaller than the mallard flank and similarly cupped. I also have dropped the jungle cock eye and don't think the fish have noticed. As a previous post noted - the grey gost is also an effective patter so the other grey ghost knockoff might be a good one too.

03-14-2002, 03:10 PM
Thanks for the Clarification & the Pattern!