East Outlet Kennebec River


The East Outlet is the headwaters of the Kennebec River system where it departs the east side of Moosehead Lake, Maine's largest body of water. It runs about three and a half miles from a release controlled dam into Indian Pond and boasts some of the best landlocked salmon and brook trout fly fishing in all of New England. A fly fishing only section of river with a small allowance of catch and eat fish makes for a higher return, large fish, and typically high catch rates. 


The East Outlet from the dam down to what is known as the beach pool remains open to fishing year around, there are yellow markers to mark the end of the fishable area. From October to April 1st it is catch and release only and is always fly fishing only. Water flow is regulated by the dam and flow rates and schedule can be found at https://safewaters.com/. There are many easily accessible areas for waders to enter the river and fish depending on the flow. There are many deep runs and holes with very fast water making wading dangerous. The shoreline is tight with trees and shrubs strewn with large rocks, one wrong step and you're swimming. Ideal wade flow is basically anything below 1800 cfs. As flow approaches and exceeds 2000 cfs wading is possible but becomes limited. 3000 cfs or higher and anyone will basically stuck on shore.


Running the river in a drift boat is the ideal way to access all of the East Outlet and the many runs and holes unreachable to waders. Drivable access ends at the beach pool (maybe a mile down river), leaving a solid two miles of river below only accessible by foot. In the drift boat, all areas are easily accessible. My ideal flow for running my drift boat is between 1800 and 2400 cfs. This flow hides many of the dangerous rocks lurking just below the surface and makes running the most dangerous stretch, the "sluice", much easier and a lot of fun! This stretch is a class II to III whitewater area easily driftable with a good flow. It is navigated by picking your way through the boulder field and into a large drop through a fun wave train as it exits the narrow pass. 


Float trips begin in mid-May and run until the water temp exceeds 70 (late July and August typically) and then pick back up in September and October. Early season is a phenomenal time to be on the East Outlet as the fish are hungry from the long winter and will chase the abundant smelt into the river to feast. Once temps warm a bit in late May-June the insect hatches begin to erupt. Blue Winged Olives, Caddis, and Stoneflies are the most prevalent and dry fly fishing can be a blast! Nymphs are very productive at all times of the year (pheasant tail, hare's ear, and stones are some of my go to). Streamers early on can be productive, especially smelt patterns, but tend to be hit and miss. As we move into late September and October the river fills with huge fish looking to spawn. This is my favorite time of the year to fish the East Outlet! No bugs, cool temps, and big fish! Nymphs and Golden Retrievers seem to always to the trick!


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published