Short and swift is how many describe this freestone river - and they are not wrong. Although it’s only 6 miles long it is widely considered the best native Eastern brook trout river in the US. Surrounded by dense forest and scores of lakes, the Rapid is part of the Androscoggin watershed and river system, an area known for outdoor sports and recreation. Aptly named, the river drops over 800 feet from its start in Lower Richardson Lake to its end at Umbago Lake, the steep incline accounting for its abundant whitewater.
Despite its short length, fishermen think of it in three sections – the Upper Dam, Middle Dam and Lower Dam. Getting to the Upper Dam requires a half-mile hike but the trek is worth it. Here there are large numbers of both brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon to be found in the deep water. Below Middle Dam (below Lower Richardson Lake) you’ll find fast pocket water that can be easily accessed by local roads and trails. At Lower Dam, water backs up into a 500-acre pool known as Pond in the River, providing access to the river’s finest fishing, the 2.5 miles between the Dam and Umbagog Lake.
Once stocked with Atlantic salmon, the salmon have successfully adapted and breed on their own, to the extent that now they are all wild. With the exception of Pond in the River where boats are necessary, the Rapid is a wading river. By New England measures, the season tends to start early, typically opening on April 1 and fully active by mid-May. September is considered the best time to fish. Brook trout in the 12 to 16 inch range are plentiful although 18 -20 inchers are not that uncommon. Salmon tend to average 12-14 inches. Fishing is restricted to barbless hooks and fly fishing only. Brook trout are restricted to catch–and-release only. Salmon is limited to 3 fish with a 12-inch minimum.