Aroostook River offers prime trout fishing

Bill Graves, Special to The County
3 years ago

The entire month of June offers top-rate brook trout fishing all along the Aroostook River, perhaps the most dependable and constant action of the entire season. Best of all, regardless of your style of fishing — worm rigs, fly casting, tossing lures or trolling — everyone will catch trout and often some large ones. 

Another plus to this waterway that begins from creeks and marshes beyond Oxbow, is that along its long meandering pathway the Aroostook runs through or near at least a dozen towns and villages before entering Canada at Fort Fairfield.

While a canoe or small boat helps anglers explore more water, it’s amazing how many fish are caught from boat landings, roadside shorelines and even residents’ backyards just by casting from the river bank. There are several maintained boat ramps with parking in various communities and dozens of rough roadside launch sites from two-tracks and field roads from secondary and paved highways along each side of the river’s route.

Until the region suffers a week or more over 80 degree days the trout will remain well dispersed throughout the entire river. Recent cool nights, moderate days and intermittent rain will keep the fish from schooling in the deep holes and creek inlets for at last two or three more weeks. Folks who wish to spend a half hour or so casting from any shoreline near a road, should look for an eddy, brook mouth or small island close enough to reach with lures or bait.

Wading stretches of the Aroostook River this month allows anglers to cast steamers or dry flies if trout are rising, It’s likely anglers will catch several bragging size trout like this beauty caught by the author. (Courtesy of Bill Graves)

Worms always work, trout respond quickly to the smell, motion and appearance of their most common natural food. For slow water runs, like bogans, backwaters and eddies, a fresh earthworm on size 6 hook with a small sinker 6 to 8 inches above the hook and a foam float or plastic bobber will work. The bobber is attached 2- to 4-feet up the line depending on water depth, and then it’s a “bait and wait” game. I suggest recasting to a new location if there’s no action within five or ten minutes.

Anglers who prefer more active fishing can cast and retrieve a worm baited hook through likely pools. If there’s a bit of current to the water, adding a moderate size sinker allows the bait to be “bottom bounced”, presenting the worm to trout over a greater stretch of river. Some fishermen add flash in the form of a spinner above the hook, silver and gold are good options, but I actually prefer a pearl color spinner, which are a bit more difficult to find, but well worth it.

Casting lures from the river bank also works well, proven trout takers include an original Eppinger red and white dardevle, a Luhr Jensen Super Duper in silver/red and a Al’s goldfish. These lures should be 1 ½ to 2 inches in length and about ¼ ounce in weight. For trolling however, the water usually is deeper averaging 3- to 6-feet and requires large, heavier lures, about twice the size of casting models.

Some of the best holding pools on the Aroostook River require chest waders to fish properly, but a dozen trout on a floated dry fly can be the reward, like this one about to be released by Bill Graves. (Courtesy of Bill Graves)

Sutton Spoons are difficult to find but size 8, 44, and 88 are perfect on current water levels and all silver or dual-sided silver/copper lures are sure bets. A copper, pounded mooseleuk wobbler produces action year after year. Use S-shaped trolling maneuvers up and downstream to cover more water and change speed, motion, and depth of the lures trailing behind.

I’m a big fan of trolling streamer flies on the Aroostook River, not tandem like those used on lakes, but single hook patterns in size 4 or 6 that measure 1 ½- to 2-inches in length. A gray ghost, Miss Sharon, magog smelt, black nose dace or Herb Johnson special will all catch trout. I highly recommend brining a 5- or 6-weight dry fly rod with a floating line along in the boat. There are bound to be insect hatches throughout the day all this month, and anchoring to cast to rising brookies is fun, fast and furious surface fishing. Try a light Cahill, blue dun, Hendrickson, Henryville special or a gray slim Jim dry fly in size 14 or 16.

Any sportsman living between Houlton and Fort Kent can be fishing some section of the Aroostook River within a 45 minute drive at the most. Cast from shore, float a boat or don a set of chest waders after mid-June to reach hundreds of productive runs lined with big brookies. Twelve and 14-inch fish are common and a bunch measure over 18 inches, now that’s a tug of war to remember on a light dry fly rod.  The Aroostook River is in prime condition this month for all styles of fishing, visit soon.