The Kennebago is a diverse river that is broken into three sections. From its outlet up river to the bridge it is a meandering river with cut banks and sand bars, deep pools, separated by shallow riffles. The middle section between the bridge and the dam, I call the upper pools. As the gradient increases the flow increases. This middle section is a series of twenty plus pools separated by fast pocket water. This is where the run of salmon settle into for the summer and fall.
The “upper river” is the stretch between big Kennebago Lake and Little Kennebago Lake. It is a beautiful stretch of only a couple miles that is made up of riffles and cut banks. This upper section is mostly brook trout that come up from Kennebago Lake and is best fished in the spring and fall when the water is cooler.
The word Kennebago means “land of sweet flowing water” and to the fisherman who likes classic deep pools and beautiful scenery, it doesn’t get any sweeter. It takes the Kennebago longer to get fish in it in the spring than the other rivers. The trout seem to come up first, showing up at Steep Bank Pool by the end of May. The well known guide “Skeet” Davenport always said that you could expect salmon at the dam pool no sooner than the 4th of July.
Water flow and temperature are everything on the Kennebago. The more high flow there is in the spring, the more fish will come up the river. As long as the water temps stay in the sixties the fish will remain active. The highlight of my spring fishing every year is hooking into those first salmon up the river. They are crazy and wild as they attack streamers swung thru the current. I have guided many sports on the Kennebago over the years and I love getting them into these “fresh” fish. It is often their first experience with landlocked salmon and always leaves a lasting memory.
The lower section, from the outlet up river to the bridge, is the section most fished by the general public. This stretch of river includes the famous Steep Bank Pool and it is the pool that most fisherman new to the area will first visit. From the parking area at Steep Bank you can walk up or down the river and find solitude and plenty of fishable water. Steep Bank Pool is a deep hole in the bend of the river where fish will hold up, waiting for a flow of water to take them safely through the long stretch of riffles up stream. This is a busy pool during the summer months, but well worth the time if you check it out and no one is there.
The upper stretch of the river is above the dam between Kennebago Lake and Little Kennebago Lake. This is a quiet flowing river with riffles and cut banks. There are few salmon in this section but it is full of smaller brookies. This is a great place to take beginners as the small trout are very willing participants.The bridge at Little Kennebago has a great pool below it that holds some nice brookies most of the summer. There is also a popular boat launch by the bridge where you can put in a canoe and venture up into Little Kennebago from.