Snatching Smallies on the Penobscot
A fun adventure up north, with great fly/spin fishing and rustic living
by Dan Kenney
Looking for a great fishing getaway? Well, if you’re a smallmouth bass maniac like me and you enjoy incredible scenery, you should plan a trip to the Penobscot River in Maine.
When I made the trek in early September, I had already fished a good portion of the 109-mile long Penobscot, and I’d never been disappointed. But what brought me back this time was an invitation from Jeff and Mary Arrants, owners of the Penobscot River Cabins in Howland, Maine. Jeff and Mary always get a booth each year at the New England Fishing & Outdoor Expo, and I wanted to return the favor by visiting their beautiful cabins and river setting.
The Penobscot River is the longest river in Maine that flows entirely within the state. Treasured for its natural beauty, challenging rapids and extraordinary fish populations, the Penobscot is an angler’s paradise.
On this particular adventure, my first day up north just happened to be the same day that Hurricane Harvey blew through Maine. Although the torrential rains shut us down on day one, day two was a prolific one, as we were able to reel in a hundred smallies. A lot of people have commented online and in social media that the Penobscot is lacking in big monster smallies. While I would tend to agree with this assessment, I have reeled in three- and four-pound smallies, and even one that flirted with the five-pound mark. But, yes, on average you’re going to find smallies in the range of one to three pounds.
So what’s the best way to fish for smallies on the Penobscot? It’s well known that they love a fly presentation, including poppers, streamers, buggers, clousers, topwaters, but if you’re not comfortable with a fly rod and prefer spin fishing, smallmouth love tubes, no matter what body of water you’re on. I have a full arsenal of rocky ledge tackle spinnerbaits, and the smaller profile loaded for bass-crazy quarter ounce gauge spinnerbaits. These two New England companies make Spinnerbaits that are proven to be killer on the river. Another bait that is super productive is the blue fox vibrax spinners in Gold, Copper or Silver depending on the day.
One important note: If you’re heading to the Penobscot, be aware that there are rocks and boulders by the tens of thousands. You’ll want to have an aluminum boat, a drift boat or a canoe or kayak setup—unless you have the ability to go out and drop $30K on a jet boat!
Until then, God Bless and Go Fish!
FORECAST BY: Dan is an avid angler and host of the television show “Go Fish with Dan Kenney.” The television program airs via the Charter Spectrum network and is seen on YouTube at youtube.com/gofishdanshow. Dan also runs the New England Fishing & Outdoor Expo. Dan wears Typhoon polarized sunglasses on all of his fishing adventures.