Just mention the words “West Branch” to a Maine fly fisherman and he knows you are talking about the West Branch of the Penobscot. One of Maine’s premier land locked salmon fisheries, the west branch of the Penobscot is also one of Maine’s most beautiful and rugged rivers. Mount Kathadin, Maine’s largest mountain , stands like a sentinel overlooking the river. Driving along the Golden Road and catching your first glimpse of Kathadin will quicken your heart beat, you are in God’s country.
Moose, Black Bear and Deer are abundant, it is not unusual to see a half dozen Moose in a single day. On a recent trip along a five mile stretch of the Golden Road we saw two Moose, two Bucks and three Black Bear. Moose photo safaries bring as many people here as Salmon fishing
The West Branch is a big, brawling river in a hurry to get downstream. The river is peppered with class IV and class V rapids, the crib works below the Telos Bridge are something to behold. All this fast water and rapids bring rafters. Whitewater rafting is big business on the west branch, somehow rafters and fishermen peacefully co-exist here. The spectacle of a raft full of teenagers crashing down the river can provide an entertaining break in an afternoon’s fishing.
This is McKay Power Station, below the Gorge, this pool can give up some very nice Salmon. It can be fished from either shore, Where these anglers are fishing requires a bit of a hike and a climb down a fairly steep drop. Smelts can be swept through the turbines and dumped, dazed, into the out flow where large salmon await their arrival. I used to fish here a lot when I was a younger man, nowadays I leave it for the younger guys. A word of caution, flows from the power station can raise the water level very quickly here, if you hear the sirens you’d better get out of there pretty quick.
This is my friend Jeff Bellmore, a Master Maine Guide, netting a salmon for a client on a downstream section of the river
This is Little Eddy, I caught my first west branch salmon here about 17 years ago. this is a wonderful pool but difficult to fish from shore. The opposite shore is easier to fish and is accessible by a trail. The best way to fish this pool is from a canoe but it can be very dangerous. If you venture out here you better know what you are doing. The current is fast and strong and the section below is a boneyard of rocks. That being said, an evening on Little Eddy with rising Salmon is other worldly. Not for the inexperienced or weak of heart. (I haven’t fished it in years)
As I mentioned, the west branch attracts not only fishermen but occasional beautiful young ladies. Here an angler tries to concentrate on fishing while a young lady relaxes on a rock at Sourdnahunk Falls.
This is the ledge above Holbrook Pool, this is a very good spot for drifting a nymph or floating a dry fly. salmon lay in the glassy pocket water behind rocks.
Another view of Sourdnahunk Falls, This is a spectacular and beautiful pool, a nice pebble beach and good riffles and pocket water downstream. A good pool to swing a wet.
Another view of Holbrook Pool, this is my old friend Jim McLarty, now deceased, fishing his favorite pool on the river. Jim’s ashes were sprinkled here. Jim liked this pool for good reason, he once landed a seven pound salmon here. While we scrambled for a camera, Jim landed the fish, slipped it quietly back into the river, tapped his forehead and said “I don’t need a picture, I’ll have it forever in here”
This is me a hundred years ago, in a nice baby blue wading vest, what was I thinking?
And this is what brings us here, beautiful land locked salmon.