If you’re wondering what Maine has to offer to fly fishers, 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 a fly fishing trip to Maine, you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied all year round. You can cast a rod for all sorts of trout, salmon, pike, musky, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and bluefin tuna here.
So if you’re wondering what you need to fish, 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.
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Best Spots for Fly Fishing in Maine
Looking for the best fly fishing in Maine? Here’s our rundown of the top places to hit the water, from rivers and trout streams to scenic lakes:
If you’re looking for the perfect spot to fish in northern Central Maine, the Roach River has got to be it! This superb river teems with large, abundant salmon, as well as wild brook trout that get to about 10 inches in length. 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.
You can have a lot of fun casting your rod out across this 50-feet wide river. There are plenty of riffles to fish here, with easy public access near the dam or from the nearby logging road on the north bank.
The Penobscot is one of the major waterways in Maine, stretching for 350 miles and offering ample opportunities to every fly fisher. If you want to fish for landlocked salmon, 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 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.
You can fish 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 here over the summer months 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 boat to reach more areas of the river, especially when the water levels are high.
(See our full review on pelican kayak here)
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 lake, brook, and brown trout, as well as white perch, crappies, and bass. More than 20 different species of fish can be found here, with the trout regularly reaching between 16-20 inches in length.
There’s something for everyone at Mousam Lake, no matter what kind of technique you like to use to cast your flies out there. 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.
Nezinscot River near Turner town receives generous stockings of 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 for you. It’s up to you whether you fish from the shore, by 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. You may only fish with artificial rules on the Nezinscot rather than live bait. Also, 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.
The Kennebec River starts at Moosehead Lake in south central Maine and stretches for 170 miles. Many fly fishers are drawn here for the healthy landlocked salmon populations, as well as the chance to catch a rainbow trout – a rarity in this state. There are many fantastic spots for fly fishing on the Kennebec River, but one of the best is a short section of the river at East Outlet.
Here, you can challenge yourself to catch rainbow trout, brook trout, and landlocked salmon. Make sure you bring a reel that can stand up to the test, as these fish are aggressive and give as good as they get!
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.
One of Maine’s hidden gems, 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!
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.
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.
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.
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 wild brook trout, bass, landlocked salmon, steelhead, 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 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 wild 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 few Prince Nymphs to drift through the pools, and you’ll be sure to draw those wild brook trout out.
See all our recommended fly patterns here.
Maine Fly Fishing FAQ
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 wild 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.
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 steelhead and salmon runs, 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, so all you need to do is grab your rod, flies, and fishing gear and get out there for an unforgettable experience!
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