In a manner of speaking, there are two Maines: the rough-and-tumble northern region that’s largely owned by timber companies with large expanses of public land, and the southern section that’s more urban in nature. North or south, the fishing is fantastic for a variety of species in the state’s major rivers.
Prime time for trout on the Penobscot is July through the end of summer, but landlocked salmon and smallmouths the size of overinflated footballs are the biggest draws. Guided trips are the best way to sample the trout and salmon fishing in the West Branch, but there also are lots of access points to fish from the bank or by wading.
The rock-bound waters in the upper stretches require some deft footwork, so be advised. The lower stretches of the river attract more smallmouth anglers who fish from the bank or canoes, typically, with the usual assortment of bass lures. Canoe and kayak rental outfitters are abundant, and some offer tents and much of the gear necessary to set up a riverside camp.
If northern Maine doesn’t seem suited for your family vacation, head south. There you’ll find more of the traditional tourist attractions, including the Maine Beaches region near Portland. Some of the best largemouth, smallmouth and striped bass fishing on the East Coast is nearby in the Androscoggin River, and adjacent waters offer a variety of angling opportunities.
Bonus Attractions: If you’re looking for boat bargains, visit the Old Town Factory Outlet Store in Old Town.
Bangor, home to author Stephen King and downriver from Old Town, is the third largest city in the state (population 32,000) and has the usual supply of small museums and shopping outlets.
It’s about 60 miles from Old Town to the popular shopping mecca of Bar Harbor where you can rent sea kayaks by the hour, and Acadia National Park isn’t far from there.
L.L. Bean’s flagship store is in Freeport along with great outlet store shopping.
Inland, the Appalachian Trail and the northernmost peaks of the Appalachians – including Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park – await hikers and sightseers.
Key Contacts: Maine Tourism, Penobscot River Cabins, Maine Bass Fishing Guide Service, Twin Maple Outdoors, Tracewski Fishing Adventures, Penobscot Guide Service, Maine Outfitter (canoe and kayak multi-day trips), New England Outdoor Center (rafting trips) and Penobscot Adventures Whitewater Rafting.