Find Your Ideal Fly Fishing Destination in Maine: Expert Tips and Top Locations in ME

If you’re wondering what Maine fly fishing has to offer to fly anglers, the answer is a lot! With more than 5,000 streams and rivers running through the state, as well as miles of Atlantic coastline, Maine is an excellent location for fly fishing.

Whether you’re a local or you’re planning your first fly fishing trip to Maine, you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied all year round.

You can cast a rod for all sorts from wild trout to salmon, pike, musky, and warm water species like smallmouth and largemouth bass, plus even some giant bluefin tuna and great striper fishing. As you can see, Maine has some great fly fishing opportunities

So if you’re wondering what gear you’ll need to fly fish in Maine, what the best flies are, or where to find the best fishing holes, read on! We’ve put together this essential guide to fly fishing in Maine to make it easy for you.

Don’t miss our other fly fishing location guides at Fly Fisher Pro!

Best Spots for Fly Fishing in Maine 

Looking for the best fly fishing in Maine? Here’s our rundown of the top places to cast a fly rod in the state from rivers and trout streams to scenic lakes.

Roach River

Roach River

If you’re looking for the perfect spot to fish in northern Maine, the Roach River has got to be it! This superb river teems with large brook trout and landlocked salmon as it flows out of Moosehead lake.

The wild brook trout get to about 10 inches in length on average but you can catch large brook trout and landlocked salmon up to 3lbs.

Roach River is designated as a fly-fishing-only section, making it it’s a pretty peaceful spot to visit. Just be aware that it’s catch-and-release only here and the fishing pressure is minimal so you won’t see many anglers on the banks.

You can have a lot of fun trout fishing or salmon fishing on the Roach and this river fishes best for land-locked salmon in early spring and fall, while the brook trout fishing is year-round.

There are plenty of shallow riffles and deep pools to fish on this river and the healthy landlocked salmon and trout populations are high, so you’re almost guaranteed a good day.

Where To Fish On The Roach

There is easy public access to the river near the dam or from the nearby logging road on the north bank. See the map below for a great fishing spot to start at.

Good Flies For The Roach

Penobscot River

Penobscot River

The Penobscot is one of the major waterways in Maine, flowing for 350 miles from Twin Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, and it offers ample opportunities to every fly fisher to target native fish.

If you want to fly fish for landlocked salmon or brookies, make a trip to the Penobscot River – it’s one of the top fisheries for them in the state (perhaps in the whole USA?!).

This rapid river has both shallow and deep sections, so make sure you check where the best fishing spots are located before you head out. Some stretches of the river are particularly dangerous, so take extra care, especially when wading.

The fishing season runs here from April to September, but the opportunities for landlocked salmon are best in the spring and fall.

You’ll also avoid the crowds that flock to the fly fishing lodges here over the summer fishing season to hit the water and try their luck at the huge numbers of landlocked salmon.

Certain spots are suitable for wading and it’s not hard to find a great spot for shore fishing. You can also set out in a kayak or drift boat to reach more areas of the river, especially when the water levels are high.

Where To Fish On The Penobscot

Trophy fish can be found anywhere from the upper river to the lower river. Most fishing occurs on the upper stretches if you’re looking to wade – see the map below – while the lower reaches are great for drift boats.

Good Flies For The Penobscot

  • Yellow Marabou Sculpin streamer
  • White Marabou Sculpin streamer
  • Mayfly imitations
  • Caddis imitations
  • Stonefly imitations

Mousam Lake

Mousam Lake

If you’re more into lake fishing, then head to Mousam Lake. This 900-acre lake is not far from Stanford and is home to brown, brook, and lake trout, as well as white perch, crappies, plus large and smallmouth bass and overall 20 different species of fish, can be found here.

The smallmouth fishing is excellent and the trout regularly reach between 16-20 inches in length, so if you want to catch fish of trophy size, this is a great place to do it.

There’s something for everyone at Mousam Lake, no matter what kind of technique you like to use from flies to artificial lures. However, you will need to use a boat to get the most out of fishing this lake. 

Fishing from the shore isn’t easy, and good spots are few and far between. If you want to get out to where the fish are lurking, hire a boat or bring your kayak or even a stand-up paddleboard.

Where To Fish On Mousam Lake

If you’re fishing from the shore make sure to do it near the inflow and outflows of the lake, as detailed on the map below. Fishing from a boar is best and you’ll find a few fly fishing lodges around the lake that will organize it for you.

Good Flies For Mousam Lake

  • Big streamers
  • Bass poppers
  • Wooly bugger
  • Nymphs
  • Adams
  • Midges

Nezinscot River

Nezincot River

Nezinscot River near Turner town is heavily stocked with brown trout every year, and you’ll also find healthy brook trout and smallmouth bass populations here. 

It’s a river full of quiet, shallow spots and fast-flowing riffles, allowing you to find the perfect spot to drift a fly. It’s up to you whether you fish from the shore wading or from a kayak – all of these methods are possible on the Nezinscot River.

You can fish this river in all seasons, but make sure you’re aware of the local fishing regulations. It’s catch-and-release only here with a daily bag limit of two trout per angler so that the river can remain an environment where the trout thrive.

Where To Fish On The Nezinscot River

A great place to start fishing this river is at the map link below. This spot provides easy access and you can work your way up or down from there.

Good Flies For The Nezinscot River

  • Prince nymphs
  • Copper Johns
  • Pheasant tails
  • Midges
  • Adams
  • Elkhair caddis
  • Streamers

Kennebec River

Kennebec River

The Kennebec River stretches for 170 miles through Indian Pond and Forks Township where the Dead River joins it. It then grows bigger and flows into Wyman Lake in Moscow and finally to the Atlantic.

Many fly fishers are drawn here for the variety of species on offer. You’ll find healthy brook trout and landlocked salmon populations, as well as browns, and even rainbow trout – a rarity in this state.

The brookies in this river are known to grow over 20 inches and push 5 lbs, and it’s renowned as one of the best brook trout rivers in the country. The rainbow trout also grow big too, one fish hit 31 inches and on average they push 14-20″.

There are many fantastic spots for fly fishing on the Kennebec River, but with so much river to choose from, it can be a little tricky. All the fish upriver from Salon are wild native fish and these upper reaches are best for the brookies.

While the lower tailwaters are excellent winter and summer trout and landlocked salmon spots as the regular flow ensures the right water temperature.

However, if you’re after brown trout, get yourself to the Solon section. There’s a 7-mile stretch here which is home to large volumes of big browns, and it’s not too far to drive from Portland. You’ll have a better chance of success if you fish from a boat on this section of the Kennebec River.

Where To Fish On The Kennebec

Being such a long and diverse river, you have a ton of options on the Kennebec. For the great brookie fishing, head to the spot on the map below. It’s a lovely wadable section where you’ll find lots of fish and it’s fed out of Indian Pond.

Good Flies For The Kennebec

  • Yellow Marabou Sculpin
  • Dark Marabou Sculpin
  • BWO
  • March Browns
  • Terrestrials
  • Midges

Rapid River

Rapid River

The Rapid River is one of Maine’s hidden gems, as the best fly fishing section of the Rapid River measures only 3 miles.

But when you visit this river, you’ll soon see why it’s a must for any fly angler looking to fish for wild brook trout. The brookies can weigh up to five pounds here, and skilled fly fishers are drawn in for the experience of fishing this remote, challenging river.

Located near the town of Rangeley, you can fish here between April and September. However, Rapid River isn’t an ideal destination for beginners.

Firstly, it’s necessary to hike a fair distance to reach the most productive spots. Secondly, this river is rated as being moderate to difficult to fish. We recommend that you save this location until you’ve got plenty of experience casting and achieving that perfect presentation!

Where To Fish On The Rapid

Sitting between Umbagog lake and the lower richardson lake is a huge stretch of incredible pocket water that is stuffed with huge brook trout and landlocked salmon. It’s a serious hike to get there but you will be rewarded.

See the map below for the stretch and you can work out the best road access and hiking path from there.

Good Flies For The Rapid

  • Sculpins
  • Clousers
  • Articulated streamers
  • Wooly buggers
  • BWO
fly fishing in maine

Maine Fishing License

If you’re aged 16 or over and you want to go fly fishing in Maine, you’ll need a fishing license. They are widely available at convenience stores, fishing stores, and town clerks all throughout the state. You also have the option of buying online if that is more convenient for you.

A resident season fishing license costs $25, or you can go for the one-day license at $11. If you’re visiting from out of state, you can expect to pay $64 for the full season license.

You can also choose between a 7-day license, a 3-day license, or a 1-day license, depending on how long you’ll be staying.

Double check the full requirements and info here before you buy.

fishing regulations maine

Maine Fly Fishing Regulations

You need to be aware of the fishing regulations on the lake or river where you’re planning to fly fish. Make sure you look them up before you set out on any fishing trips, so you don’t break any rules. The regulations can vary from location to location, so don’t miss this step.

The things you need to find out are the open season dates, the daily bag limits, and which fish you are allowed to catch. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife have put together a helpful PDF guide – you’ll find sections covering all of these topics. Another useful resource is the IFW Department website.

Recommended Fly Shops In Maine

Whenever you’re fishing a new river, stopping at the local fly shop for advice and some local patterns is a must for success. Here are some great fly shops in Maine.

Great Fly Guides In Maine

If you’re not a very experienced fly angler or want to get the best advice, booking a guide is the best way to go. They’ll teach you how to fish the rivers, what flies work, and you can quiz them about all the other rivers to fish.

Fishing Reports

We always recommend that you don’t head out on the water until you’ve checked the latest fishing reports. Experienced anglers share the most up to date information on the water conditions and the fish behavior, so you can know how to prepare. Not only will you be able to select the best flies, but you’ll stay safe too.

Here are two resources to find out what’s happening on the local lakes and waterways. First, you’ll find the Orvis fishing reports for many fisheries across Maine. You can also check out the Maine Fly Fish forum to see if any of the users have posted recent fishing updates, too. You can also check out the best fly fishing forums here.

Best Flies

Best Flies for Maine

If you’re planning a fishing trip in Maine, you’ll want to stock up on the most productive flies. Here are some of our top recommendations for fly fishing for native brook trout, bass, landlocked salmon, and more!

The Mickey Finn is an attractor pattern that works wonders for trout in the fall and smallmouths in the springtime. In yellow and bright red shades, it’s incredibly flashy. It might not resemble anything in particular, but the trout go crazy for this across New England.

The copper john fly is another productive fly pattern in New England that closely imitates the mayfly. You can tie it below a dry fly to hit all the sections in the water column and catch more fish!

If you’re going after those native brook trout, you’ll need to be well prepared! They can be fussy when it comes to forage, but you won’t go wrong with an elk hair caddis or a parachute adams. These two classic dry flies look like tasty meals for a hungry native brook trout.

You’ll also want to add some streamers/wet flies to your tackle box, too. Go for the iconic wooly bugger, as it imitates a variety of prey for the native brook trout, including minnows, crayfish, and aquatic insect larvae.

Throw in a prince nymph to drift through the pools, and you’ll be sure to draw those native brook trout out.

See all our recommended fly patterns here.

Maine Fly Fishing FAQ

Is Maine a good fishing state?

Yes, Maine is one of the best fishing states in the United States. There are numerous species of fish to be found in its many rivers, lakes, and coastal areas. The state is home to both freshwater and saltwater fishing, with a variety of popular species including salmon, trout, bass, and more.

Is fishing still free in Maine?

Yes, most of the fishing in Maine is free. The state has a number of public access areas where anglers can fish without a license. However, a fishing license is still required for certain types of fishing, such as for salmon and trout, and for certain bodies of water.

Can you still fish without a license in Maine?

Yes, you can still fish without a license in some areas of Maine. The state has a number of public access areas where anglers can fish without a license. However, a fishing license is still required for certain types of fishing, such as for salmon and trout, and for certain bodies of water.

What type of fishing is Maine known for?

Maine is known for its coldwater fisheries, with salmon and trout being the two most popular species of fish. There are also a variety of warmwater species in the state, including bass, pickerel, and pike. Fishing in Maine is also popular for saltwater species such as cod, haddock, and mackerel.

Do you need a saltwater license to fish in Maine?

Yes, you need a saltwater fishing license to fish in Maine. A saltwater license is required for any fishing in Maine’s coastal waters or saltwater bays, even if you are fishing from shore. A valid saltwater fishing license is required for any angler aged 16 or older.

Which fish are in season in Maine?

Some fish are in season all year round from spring to winter in Maine. These fish species include the striped bass, bluefish, winter flounders, American shad, cusk, pollock, sea-run brown trout, and the Atlantic mackerel and halibut.

Where can you trout fish in Maine?

You can fish for native brook trout all over the state of Maine, but the highest numbers of native brook trout are in the highlands in the state’s interior.

When can you open water fish in Maine?

You can open-water fish in different areas of Maine during varying periods throughout the year. Check this site for up to date information on each specific region. 

What are the best flies for fly fishing Maine?

Some of the best flies for fly fishing Maine waterways include the Copper John, the classic Wooly Bugger, and top dry flies like the Elk Hair Caddis and the Parachute Adams.

If you’re planning on visiting New Hampshire, then you must see our post here for a guide on fly fishing new hampshire.

Wrap Up

The Wrap Up

You won’t be disappointed by the rich fly fishing opportunities Maine has to offer! From the wild brook trout to the salmon, the fly fishing scene is diverse and exciting.

You can fish any time of year from spring through fall – even during the winter if you’re brave enough to head out on the ice!

Now you know the best spots to head to, all you need to do is grab your rod, flies, and fishing gear and get out there for an unforgettable experience!

Found this fly fishing Maine guide helpful? Then we’d love for you to share it on Facebook or Twitter so we can reach even more fly fishers out there!

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Ben Kepka

Hey, I'm Ben, a fly fisherman for over 20 years and also an aspiring blogger. I've been into fly fishing since my graduation from spin fishing when I was 12 years old. I started to help introduce as many people into this amazing sport. Tight lines everyone! You can read more on our about page here.

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