St. Croix, Penobscot, and Kennebec Rivers
The rivers of Maine have a long history and some of it is still visible today in areas that we fish. The free-flowing St. Croix, Penobscot, and Kennebec were highways for the first commercialization of the interior of Maine. Timber was the treasure and most of the original growth of tall pines were cut for ships masts and spars. The trees, some of the measuring over a hundred feet in length, were floated down the rivers to be fitted on fast clipper ships. The rivers were dammed for power and the flow became more regulated. Still, in the spring the "winter's work" of fallen second growth timber, mostly spruce, was floated down the rivers to the mills to make paper and other timber products. With the mills came pollution and, even after the great log drives ended, the mills prospered up and down the rivers, providing jobs but fouling the waters.
One by one the mills have closed down and the ones that remain open are regulated by local, state, and federal clean water statutes. What has happened to these rivers over the past thirty years is a true testament to the fundamental self-preservation instincts of mankind. Year after year the quality of the water in these and other Maine rivers has improved. At the beginning it was not much but, over time, the cumulative changes have allowed for a rebirth of the river fisheries. No longer are the rivers the spawning grounds of large numbers of Atlantic salmon (although there is much work being done to re-establish this fishery) but the rivers are extraordinary smallmouth bass fisheries. The word "extraordinary" is not hyperbole either. The rivers really earn that description.
Fishing some of the fast water sections of these rivers has brought many a boat and motor to ruin. Maine is famous for growing rocks and they seem to collect in the most inconvenient places in our rivers. Propellers, whole lower units, and sometimes even boats are routinely sacrificed to the Granite God.
"Navigational Difficulties" explain why the fishing is so good on those stretches of river. Being on fast moving water is not something to be undertaken lightly. This is also the reason that there are so few guides that work these rivers. "Local knowledge" is a must and experience working this sort of water is a requirement. The rewards of fishing with a knowledgeable Registered Maine Guide can, however, be outstanding.