So Much Water Volume 1 Issue 3 Summer 2015 - Page 40

Rangeley, Maine

Rangeley, Maine could easily be called the “Brook Trout Capital” of the country. Home to the Rapid River, Magalloway River, Kennebago River, Upper Dam, and Kennebago Lake; Rangeley has the finest concentration of high-quality wild native brook trout water found anywhere in the country. Short of going to Canada, if large native brook trout are what you are looking for—Rangeley is the place to go.

Rangeley also has a rich fly fishing history. Carrie Stevens invented her fabled Grey Ghost streamer at Upper Dam. A 6lb 13oz brook trout she caught at the dam took second place in a Field and Stream fishing contest. Herb Welch, a local taxidermist, invented the Black Ghost streamer in Rangeley as well. Both of these flies are still sold in fly shops across the country today.

The Rapid, Magalloway and Kennebago are the three finest self-sustaining native brook trout rivers in the country. All three were featured in my book, 50 Best Places Fly Fishing the Northeast. The Rapid was the only Maine water featured in Terry & Wendy Gunn’s book, 50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish. My upcoming book, 50 Best Places Fly Fishing for Brook Trout, features all three of these, plus Upper Dam, Cupsuptic River, South Bog Stream and Kennebago Lake—all located near Rangeley.

The Rapid River is the crown jewel of the Rangeley region. The now defunct Lower Dam is one of the most recognized landmarks in Maine. The Magalloway is the second finest trout river in the area--President Eisenhower fished there in 1955. The Kennebago is believed to have been the first river in the state to receive a fly fishing only designation—a rule dating back to the 1920’s. Kennebago Lake is the largest fly fishing only lake in Maine, and purported to be the largest east of the Mississippi.

Located in nearby Oquossoc, the Rangeley Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum is home to a bust of White Nose Pete—a mythical brook trout that patrolled the waters of historic Upper Dam. The museum is also home to a mount of an 11lb brook trout caught at Upper Dam in 1897, a restored classic Rangeley Boat, and vintage fishing tackle—including a collection of original Carrie Stevens flies.