Big River, Big Fish: the Androscoggin River

I fished the Androscoggin River on Saturday with the usual motley crew.

It was a perfect fall day; the foliage was in full display, bugs were popping everywhere, and the fishing was great. It wasn’t long before I landed my first fish, a nice brown. Over the course of the next two hours, each of us landed (and lost) many more.

Most of the fish landed early on were browns, with only one rainbow thrown in the mix. They were keyed into the Isonychia hatch, although there was also a blizzard BWO hatch at the same time. Nymphing with large pheasant tails, zug bugs, and soft hackles was the key. Many strikes even occurred on the swing or while stripping the flies back.

My first fish of the day. It hit an olive soft hackle as it was swinging at the end of the drift.

Around 4 or so, the bite really slowed down. We covered water, fished every likely spot, and changed techniques with only one lost trout (or landlocked salmon) and two smallies between us to show for it. Fall fishing tends to be streaky in this regard; the bite can turn on and off with a slight changes in temperature or cloud cover. The upstream dam cutting the flows back could have also had something to do with it as well. Tired but satisfied, we walked back to our cars and drove back to Durham.

Pete nymphing a run (above) and reaping the rewards (below).

The only complaint that I have for the spot we were in is that the bottom is filthy with algae. Every cast or two, we had to clean off our nymphs. It wasn’t as much of a problem in the deeper, faster runs, but it became more of an issue once the flows changed after 4. The worst part about the algae was that it reduced traction and resulted in some nasty (and embarrassing) falls. If you fish this river in the future, I would exercise some caution while wading. A great day can turn bad in an instant if you aren’t paying attention.

Matt and his dad nymphing downstream of me. Both of them caught many fish.

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12 thoughts on “Big River, Big Fish: the Androscoggin River

  1. I have always admired the stretch of river below Errol but never stopped to fish on my way to Rangeley. The size of it is pretty intimidating and seemed more suited to a drift boat. I have seen blizzards of Alder Flys while having lunch on its banks in the spring.

    I have found that studded wading boots and a wading staff have become a must on a lot of rivers I fish. If you don’t want to buy a staff just look for old aluminum ski poles, they work great! Might spook some fish but keep you upright!

    1. Steve, a wading staff or ski poles are an absolute must on the Andro. The size of the river is what kept me away at first, but there is plenty of water that can be safely waded (and some that is better drifted). The local fly shops like North Country Angler and Dan’s Fly Shop in Gorham can point you in the right direction. Some sections have pocket water that is not unlike the larger rivers in Mass and southern NH. Basically, if you can catch fish in the Millers, you can catch fish in the Andro.

  2. Great post!

    Also, the font in the post was changing back and forth, and so, I cleared that up. I also tweaked the title to mention the river, as I think this is our first post on the Androscoggin.

    Hope that doing both was OK with you?

    1. Thanks Jo! The changes look great. I couldn’t figure out what was up with the font since it seemed to be fine while I was typing but appeared wonky once I published/previewed the draft.

  3. Sounds like a great day, Ashu. I am glad you all connected plenty. More and more I use a wading staff having learned my lesson the hard way at the Farmington River. Even if I don’t think I’ll need it, I have a collapsible one attached to my waders in case I get into a pickle in the river. Having it makes wading more enjoyable for me, soon to be 62 and not as spry as I used to be.

    1. That’s a great idea. I think that’s a great way to start “tightlining” nymphs. And, if you’re snagged, you lose the split shot, not the fly….

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