Why drift boat fly fishing?
Our drift boat trips are so popular because they are easy, fun and productive. There's no wading in fast currents on slippery rocks, you are securely seated or standing supported by thigh braces as Wayne expertly positions you for optimal casting to holding fish.
His knowledge of the river and oarsmanship keeps putting you onto fish that are beyond the reach of wading fishermen, particular spots that have proven to hold good fish on many past trips, and those that are promising given the conditions of the river today.
After a few casts or a hookup, Registered Master Maine Guide, Wayne will let the drift boat ride the current to another riffle, current seam, pool or protected pocket and reposition you to best present your fly, often to a visible fish. This is the most productive way to explore Maine's best rivers.
Where is the best fly fishing by drift boat in Maine?
Two great rivers in the Moosehead Lake region are consistently productive for fly fishing Maine's Brook Trout and Salmon, the East Outlet of the Kennebec River and the West Branch of the Penobscot River. We offer float trips on both.
East Outlet of the Kennebec River
Cold waters tumble from the dam at Moosehead Lake and flow down between tree covered banks and gorge like ledges for three and half miles until the river enters Indian Pond. This stretch of water is pristine, without camps or docks along the shore and few fishermen below the upper stretch. It holds a special fly fishing only regulations with a one fish over 14 inches limit for its Brook Trout, Salmon and occasional Lake Trout (which we call Togue).
Stocked Brookies around ten inches may seem a pleasant nuisance but hold-overs average 15 inches or longer. Salmon average 16 inches and can get into the 20 inch plus range. It is not uncommon to hookup with 15-25 fish on a float, it is uncommon to only get a few and we've never been skunked.
Though it is relatively short in length, this productive stretch would take two days to hit every spot Wayne knows and many people do book for two days. Especially when the hatches are on and the dry fly fishing is fast and furious. Deep cuts along the bank, gravel bars and pocket waters provide a varied and ever changing menu for the fisherman.
West Branch of the Penobscot River
We fish two sections of this famous salmon river covering over four miles below Ripogenus Dam. Each has its own special character. The dam release and time of year will determine which section is preferable at the time. The lower section warms up sooner and has earlier hatches.
The West Branch is known as one of the very best salmon rivers in the Northeast. This is a larger river of all wild trout and salmon yielding some truly trophy fish. It is still possible to tie into spectacularly colored native brookies up to 20 inches and wild salmon that reach over 26 inches. These are bruisers that will weigh 5 or 6 pounds and really stretch your line.
Water temperature and time of season dictate which sections are most likely to be productive. This river continues to produce throughout the summer months, often in the late afternoon and evening and we may suggest a later departure to fish through the evening hatch.
When to take a drift boat trip?
Seasonality: The region is blessed to have clear waters and strong hatches as well as very active feeding on early season smelt in the rivers. Streamers are productive early on and your guide will provide some reliable patterns for you to try. As the days warm in May we start to see good hatches of Blue Wing Olives, Quill Gordon and Hendrickson mayflies.
Once the mayfly hatches have peaked in mid June, and the river temperature climbs into the 60's, it becomes primarily a caddis fishery with some hatches of mayflies fishing well into early July. After that, it is all caddis, stoneflies and terrestrials. Local favorites are used because they reliably produce but sometimes a fisherman will find that a new pattern or one he may have used out west, will stir the appetite or curiosity of our trout and salmon.
River Flow: There are times when the dam releases will make or break the trip. Since we have several options, there is usually a good choice that can be made. Having guided on these rivers for over a decade, your fishing guide, Wayne, will suggest the float trip option that is most promising based on current conditions.
How we fish the rivers
Our drift boat is a Hyde 17 footer with casting stations front and rear. Wayne mans the oars from a central seat and positions the boat for easy casting from either a seated or standing position. Padded thigh railings make your stance secure and the flat floor makes for problem-free line management.
The Hyde will easily accommodate a physically challenged angler safely and in comfort. Storage lockers can hold fully rigged fly rods and waterproof cubbies protect electronics and cameras.
Early in the season we will be swinging streamers and nymph fishing. Sinking lines and sink-tip lines are needed to get smelt imitations down to the fish. Stonefly, mayfly and caddis nymphs are fished with a floating line. As the hatches start to appear in late May, we will keep an eye on changing conditions and use floating lines to present emergers and dry flies.
After mid season, terrestrials and caddis hatches dominate the top water opportunities and nymphing remains productive. Wayne is highly proficient in all the necessary techniques and a skilled instructor. Whether you are a beginner or old hand he is always doing everything possible to assure your success and enjoyment.
Typical day – What to expect on your drift boat trip
We will leave the lodge at 7am or meet elsewhere if desired. By 8am you'll have enjoyed watching for moose, deer and bear and having launched the boat, you'll be getting your gear ready for the start of eight hours on the river. Our first hour's efforts will let me determine the right techniques and patterns for the morning conditions on the river and dial-in the most productive plan based on river volume, weather and seasonal peculiarities. Having done these trip over a hundred times, it should be easy to figure out pretty quickly what they want.
The start of the day is always pleasant and exciting. The mist rises from the water's surface and we drift through sun warmed pockets of air laden with the scent of balsam firs...then someone yells, “Fish on!”
After working the river, catching fish and taking pictures or video, we will pull ashore for a hot cooked lunch.
Sitting at the portable table and enjoying a menu tailored to meet your dietary requirements and desires, we will keep an eye out for action on the river and changing conditions. After lunch we may get into a mid-day hatch or find a hot nymph pattern.
Wayne will diligently work at getting you into the action as you drift down to the takeout point. We will end the drift in late-afternoon and shuttle back to the lodge or pickup point. At some times the fishing is better late in the day and we may opt to depart later in the morning and return later in the evening. In either case you can count on a full day's fishing.
Confidently book a float trip now
We hope that this information has answered many of your questions. Feel free to give us a call for any additional information. We suggest you book as early as possible to assure availability during you visit. We look forward to helping you create memories of a great fishing trip to our area around Greenville, Maine.
Visit our fishing pricing page for rates and options.