Kennebec River, Bath

Key Species: striped bass, bluefish

Best Way to Fish: boat, bank

Best Time to Fish: late May through September

MAG: 6, C-5

Description: This is a powerful tidal river with many rips and backwaters. Boats smaller than 14 feet are not recommended, since the river can become dangerous during high winds and when the tide is running. You can fish from shore near the state boat ramp in Phippsburg. This site is also a great place for wildlife viewing. Seals, a variety of shorebirds, and bald eagles are common.

Fishing index: This section of the Kennebec River is a world-class site, offering by far the best striped bass and bluefish angling in Maine. Striped bass and bluefish can be found from the boat ramp in Bath all the way down to the open ocean at Popham Beach.

Striped bass anglers should begin by searching for flocks of gulls, an indication that stripers are on a feeding spree. Sometimes you can see frantic bait fish being driven out of the water as they are herded and slaughtered by stripers.

If you manage to get within casting distance of a school of feeding stripers, you can take fish with either spinning or fly tackle. Any spinning lures that you would use for largemouth bass will also take stripers, but soft plastic minnow-shaped lures are best. Fly fishers can have great sport with poppers. Be sure to give your popper plenty of action.

Do not worry about presentation at this point; your main concern should be to get the lure in front of the fish as soon as possible, because a feeding spree can end as quickly as it begins. If no surface activity is evident, try trolling with Rapalas or Rebels. Anglers using live eels as bait can fish on bottom by anchoring in deep water in the middle of the river. An electronic depth finder is helpful for this type of fishing. Most school stripers will weigh between 3 and 8 pounds. Larger fish often top the 36-inch minimum length requirement. The smaller fish enter the river in late May, the larger fish about a month later.

Bluefish are attracted to the river by migrating schools of menhaden. The most common method of fishing for bluefish is to troll with Rapalas and Rebels. Bait fishers often use menhaden, dead or alive, for bait.

Directions: From U.S. Route 1 in Bath, take High Street north to a sign for the state boat ramp on the right. The ramp area will be crowded on weekends in July and August. An alternate ramp is located about 7 miles south of Bath, just off Maine Route 209 in Phippsburg. Both ramps offer plenty of parking.

For more information: Contact Kittery Trading Post. These people have all the answers, so be sure to stop in if you are entering Maine from the south.

An angler casts for striped bass on the Kennebec River near Bath. Many boaters cruse the river, watching for telltale signs of surface activity. Feeding frenzies can be wild and furious while they last.

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