One of the premiere fly fishing destinations in the state, Rangeley, Maine, has a rich history dating back to the mid-1800s when it first became a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking the region's abundant fish and game. The town's population grew as tourists began to flock to the area. The Rangeley Lakes Steamboat Company was also established to provide transportation to the many remote lakes and fishing spots in the region. Over the years, Rangeley has continued to attract visitors from around the world, drawn by its stunning natural beauty and rich history. Today, the town is a popular year-round destination, with outdoor recreation, cultural events, and historical landmarks all contributing to its appeal.
The rivers that bring more fishermen to the area than any others are the Rapid River, Kennebago River, and Magalloway River. Known for their consistent brook trout fisheries and seasonally available Atlantic Salmon, it is no wonder these rivers draw most of the traffic. The Rangeley River, Cupsuptic River, and Dead River are also popular places for fly anglers. We will dive into each of these Rivers and the opportunities they offer to visitors.
Fly Fishing the Magalloway River
Originating in the higher elevations streams along the Quebec border, the Upper Magalloway, situated above Azischohos Lake, is a pristine, undammed section of the river that is home to large brook trout and landlocked salmon. This area is best fished in spring and fall when caddis and blue wing olive hatches are at their peak and the fish are subsequently more active. Much of the Magalloway River between Parmachene and Aziscohos Lakes is faster water which can be tricky wading for many anglers. The fishing around the Camp Ten bridge becomes much easier for shorebound anglers and those using small watercraft.
Fly Fishing the Lower Magalloway River
The Lower Magalloway River flows from Azischohos Lake through town and into Umbagog Lake on the New Hampshire border. This Tailwater fishery attracts more anglers than any other section of river. Fall landlocked salmon runs and trophy brook trout fishing keep anglers returning each year. Even in the summer months anglers can find hungry trout in the Magalloway Tailwaters. This stretch of river has plenty fast pocket water and riffles with only a few actual pools, making it a perfect spot for nymph fishermen who can break down the individual current seams. When the insect hatches peak in the shoulder months, don’t leave home without the dry fly box.
The section of the river from the dam to the bridge on Route 16 offers the best accessibility to anglers. and healthy due to the availability of food. Further south, the river slows down and widens, with long stretches of riffles, cut banks, and pools. Bigger fish can often be found in the larger pools in this section, especially during the summer months. Swinging small streamers is a great way to get their attention. Ghost and smel patterns are perfect when fished at the right depths.
Fly Fishing the Rapid River
The section of the Rapid River available to visitors of Rangeley runs from the Lower Richardson Lake Dam to Umbagog Lake just West of Town. Many anglers choose to fish just below the Middle Dam as access is plentiful and the fishing is always good. Landlocked Salmon and Brook Trout can always be found here. Before the River dumps into the “Pond In The River” it runs through the Chub Pool where anglers can find more congregating trout and salmon throughout the year. Caddis hatches are the most consistent on this stretch from late spring into summer and again in the fall. Bulkier caddis patterns and stimulators are great options throughout the year when fish are looking to the surface. Don’t be afraid to skate these flies, especially in the fall when brook trout and salmon are on the move for their spawn.
Fly Fishing the Kennebago River
The Kennebago River flows south just Northwest of Rangeley and offers anglers the opportunity to catch brook trout and seasonal Landlocked Atlantic Salmon. The upper section of River below Kennebago lake consists of mostly brook trout. Here anglers can find excellent dry fly action in the shoulder months with good hatches of mayflies, caddis, and stoneflies.
Lower Kennebago River Fly Fishing
The section of river below Kennebago lake is known for it short sections of fast runs and riffles followed by its longer slow pools. Many fish state in these log deep pools when things are slow on the river. In periods of heavier hatches and during the spawning runs, brook trout and salmon will move closer to the heads of the pools and back of the tailouts to feed. Dry flies and streamers are excellent choices at these times.
Rangeley River Fly Fishing
The flat runs and riffles of the Rangeley River fish very similar to the upper stretches of the Kennebago River. Smaller brook are common and can be found in just about all of the likely holding spots on the river. Small caddis patterns and BWO imitations are a must have from late spring through fall.
Dead River Fly Fishing
Dead River is known less for its fly fishing as most of its visitors travel to the river for a sight at Grand Falls. Seasonal Landlocked salmon runs arrive each spring and fall providing a good activity for sightseers on their visit. Brook trout are present year round but not quite in the numbers seen on nearby rivers.
Cupsuptic River Fly Fishing
With limited access, the Cupsuptic River is a good destination for anglers looking to have the river to themselves. While trophy size brook trout are uncommon here, there is an abundance of smaller brookies roaming the waters. These fish are easy to deceive on a variety of fly patterns and a great place for beginners to cut their teeth.
If you're planning a fishing trip to Rangeley, Maine, be sure to do your research beforehand. Check the local fishing regulations, obtain the necessary permits, and familiarize yourself with the area. With the right preparation and knowledge, you're sure to have an unforgettable fishing experience in the Rangeley Lakes Region. Maineiac Outfitters is a great source for all visitors. For more information about the fly fishing opportunities around, check out our articles on Fly Fishing Greenville, Fly Fishing the Allagash Waterway, and Fly Fishing Maine.