We’d been looking forward to fishing in Maine from the moment we planned our River Ramble. We even scheduled it so we’d be in Maine during fall colors. There were three rivers to be fished in Maine that are a part of the Trout Unlimited’s Guide to the Greatest 100 Trout Streams book: West Branch, Penobscot; Grand Lake Stream; and Kennebec. Looking at where these three rivers were located, we knew we were in for an adventure.
Our first stop was the West Branch of the Penobscot River. Bob Mallard, who you’ll read about in a bit, recommended we fish with Boz…. aka… Greg “Boz” Bostater. Greg is the owner/head guide for Maine River Guides. When we contacted Boz and asked him about what section we’d be fishing and where we should setup the SaraLinda, without hesitation he said “Big Eddy Campground”. We looked up the campground and realized three things; First, it was in a beautiful location, right on the river at a very popular fishing spot aptly named, Big Eddy, which is exactly what it was, a huge back eddy on the West Branch. Second, we’d be dry camping. There were no electric hookups for the SaraLinda and no dump station either, but there was potable water so we could fill the RV tank for showers, drinking water, washing dishes and toilet flushes. Third, and something we didn’t fully comprehend until we actually drove to Big Eddy Campground, was just how scary the road was from just outside Millinocket (ME) to the campground. It was a logging road whose primary traffic was oversized logging trucks, primarily going to and from Canada. We found ourselves driving around 30mph, dodging both potholes and the giant trucks to get to the campground. However, once we arrived, it was absolutely perfect…. Boz was spot on in his recommendation.
We had a great time fishing with Big Eddy Boz as well as wading several spots on the river. While the fishing wasn’t “on fire” while we were there, the temps sure were. We had days in late September in northern Maine that exceeded 90 degrees. We wet waded everywhere we went and relished standing in the cool waters as we fished. Boz explained that most of the fish were hiding in the deep, cold waters of the lakes that were a part of the entire Penobscot drainage.
While the fishing wasn’t epic while we were there, our time at the Big Eddy Campground sure was. We had so much fun cooking most of our meals on an open campfire each night and some mornings as you can see from the video above. We hated leaving the area, again for multiple reasons. First, we had so much fun fishing and camping here…. and second, we knew we had to drive the logging road back to Millinocket to head to our next destination, Grand Lake Stream.
Grand Lake Stream (GLS) was incredibly memorable to us for a number of reasons. Before I share more, know that GLS is both the name of the fishery and the name of the town we stayed. The fishery, while again wasn’t fishing well at the time we were there due to the temps, was in a beautiful small section of the river that was easily accessible. Our lodging, since there were no campgrounds nearby, was a cabin at Canal Side Cabins, right in the town of GLS. Our hosts, John and Mary Arcaro, made our stay and fishing so memorable. John was our guide on the river and gave us an incredible day of fishing and fun. John was the epitome of “It’s Not About the Fish”. While he’s a first class, Maine Registered Fishing Guide, he’s also an awesome storyteller, jokester and host, as is his wife Mary. Finally, one more memorable facet of our time in GLS was the Pine Tree Store, the only store in GLS. The store provides a gathering place for everyone in GLS, locals and visitors alike. It is a grocery, tackle shop and restaurant right at the main intersection of town, population 82. We enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Pine Tree Store and loved the hospitality everyone working there showed us.
Our last fishing stop in Maine took us to the Kennebec River to fish with Bob Mallard. Bob is not only a Maine Registered Guide, but also a prolific writer of several books, Fly Fishing America magazine founder/editor and an amazingly passionate conservationist. We learned so much from Bob about efforts to restore native fish populations, especially in Maine. He was also kind enough to share the history of the river as we floated and fished the Kennebec, even ferrying us over at the beginning of our float to see petroglyphs carved into a large rock in the river.
We will definitely be back to fish Maine again, hoping the temperatures on our next trip are more “normal” than we encountered this time. But again, Maine for us was not about the fish as much as it was about the experiences we shared and the people we met, making our time in Maine so memorable and why we’ll be coming back to see them as much as to fish. Can’t wait!