Where to Fly Fish in Maine
This page contains a very large and general overview to the fly fishing opportunities in the state of Maine. You will find a lot of basic information on the larger fisheries in the state, including lakes and rivers, including links to books by expert authors. It should be enough information to get the average fly fisherman (and spin fisherman) started on their research for planning weekend trips, or extended vacations. Its by no means exhaustive. We dont pretend to be an expert in the area, but if you take the time to scroll through everything, we think it can help.
Maine stands out among other areas as a sanctuary for fishing lovers, still rugged, beautiful and unspoiled. Nearly 6000 lakes and ponds and 32,000 miles of rivers and streams along with some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Variety is but one of the rare pleasures Maine has in store for all fishermen. Whether it’s the silvery, lighting-like acrobatics of a Landlocked Salmon “tail-walking” at the end of your line, the powerful, deep-fighting surge of a heavy Squaretail or the explosive smashing tactics of a fighting Black Bass-its all here in Maine.
The Upper Kennebec and Dead Rivers offer some of the best fishing to be had in the Northeast!
The North and South Branches of the Dead River come together at Flagstaff Lake and leave Flagstaff as the main stem of the Dead River. The Dead River can provide some excellent remote fly fishing for rainbow and brook trout along with landlocked salmon.
The Kennebec River originates with the East and West Outlets of Moosehead Lake. The West Outlet is a poor sister to the East outlet, but can provide some good fishing at times. The East Outlet is a wonderful fishery in it’s own right, producing fantastic fishing for landlocked salmon and brook trout.
The Outlets come together at Indian Pond, and the Kennebec River emerges from Indian Pond, passing through Harris Dam (a peak generating facility) and through the Kennebec Gorge, famous for white water rafting. This section offers remote, hike or float in fishing for brook trout and landlocked salmon.
At The Forks, the Dead and Kennebec rivers meet. There is a lot of easy access in this section, but it is lightly fished. The river is wider here and there are beautiful sweeping runs and pools. Landlocked salmon and brook trout are plentiful and the occasional large brown trout is caught.
At Caratunk, the Kennebec flows into Wyman Lake, a 14 mile long lake that produces landlocked salmon, brook trout, lake trout, splake and smallmouth bass. Below Wyman Dam in Moscow, the Kennebec becomes a wonderful wild rainbow trout fishery along with landlocked salmon, brook trout and whitefish.
The river flows down through Bingham to Solon at the Williams Dam. Below the Williams Dam, the river becomes a classic tailwater with steady flows and hatches. Brown trout show up in this section and become the predominate species, though there is a strong mix of other salmonids, especially landlocked salmon.
The lower reaches of this section also produce fine catches of smallmouth bass. The Kennebec next flows into Madison and below the Madison Dam there is an approximately 2 mile stretch that has some of the finest fly fishing for brown trout anywhere!
As the Kennebec heads toward the sea, there is great fishing below the Skowhegan Dam, the well publicized Shawmut Dam, and Waterville Dam. Below Waterville, the Kennebec becomes a wonderful striped bass fishery. There are also sea run brown trout and shad in this section.
Hatches can be good to prolific on the Dead and Kennebec Rivers. Stonefly populations are large. Caddis hatches are strong all season long. The most important mayfly hatches are blue winged olives. Spring hatches of Ephemerella olives(#14-16) are great and we have a low level of Baetis(18 and smaller) that have spring and fall peaks. Light Hendricksons are another dominant species along with sulfurs and mahogany duns. Please feel free to contact us for specific hatch information.
The Androscoggin River is a big and powerful river, although at first glace it may seem quite tame. The Andro is home to some mighty big fish as well. It offers many varieties, you have your chance at browns and brookies, bass, and even the occasional landlocked salmon or rainbow trout. The most likely catch in the area of Gilead is Brown Trout. I like to fish the area near the mouth of the wild river. Park on Route 2 and walk down the wild for about a quarter of a mile and you will meet the Andro. This is difficult water to fish, the current in the middle is very strong. I like to fish the seam that is created by the flow of the Wild River into the Andro. Just before dusk, tons of fish stack themselves up here for a feeding spree. Try a light cahill here, that has worked best for me. These fish are very picky though, and your presentation must be perfect. June is the best month for fishing the Andro here, although I have experienced good fishing right through August.
More info: Fly fishing the Androscoggin
West Branch Penobscot River
The West Branch of the Penobscot River just below Ripogenus Dam if fabled in Maine to be the best landlocked Salmon water in the world. And those who have fished it know why. I took a trip here last summer in August and the fishing was still great. Yo u see, the water here comes from a pipe leading from the bottom of Ripogenus lake and therefore flows cold all summer long, never reaching the high 60’s. This makes for the unusual conditions of consistent fishing all summer long.
There are some huge fish in here, although the normal catch is between 12-14 inches. These fish are beautiful and healthy. There are a number of fine spots all down the river from the damn to the deadwater after Horserace Brook. The land around the river is gorgeous and untouched for the most part.
You are in the middle of land owned by a large paper company on one side and Baxter State Park on the other. With Mount Katadhin looming in the background this might powerful river is a picture come to life.
This area of Maine has so much to offer, it’s definitely worth the trip to get there. Just take to Golden Road northwest out of Millonocket, straight to the damn. If you need a place to stay, and you will, I suggest Pray’s Big Eddy Campgrounds. They provide excellent ac comadation for a very affordable price. So if you can, get yourself up to the Penobscot this spring for some great outdoor beauty and some phenomenal salmon fishing.
East Branch Penobscot River
Although we have little info on this great smallmouth fishery, it shouldn’t be passed up as a canoe/fishing trip. Mr. Bronzeback will fight you to the bone here, and leave you coming back for more.
‘I canoed the river a few years ago with a group. I didn’t have great success above Grand Falls although I did see a couple of large brookies near Haskell Rock Pitch. Below the falls I enjoyed some of the finest Smallmouth fishing I’ve ever had. Pretty much any streamer I used got a smallie. I had particular success with a cone headed muddler. Below Whetstone Falls the river widens and deepens quite a bit so a weighted fly is a must. It’s worth mentioning that if you plan to make a canoe trip out of it, there are four mandatory portages in the upper portion. They are all within a few miles of each other and they’re quite a workout.
- Penobscot River Restoration (www.nrcm.org)
- Fishing the Penobscot Region
- Taking Down Dams and Letting the Fish Flow (www.nytimes.com)
The Rapid River flows from Lower Richardson Lake, which is the lowermost lake in the Rangeley Lakes Chain, down 5.9 miles to New Hampshire’s Lake Umbagog, which is contiguous conservation land and part of the National Refuge of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The Rapid River is one of the few remaining wild rivers in North America, offering some of the best fly-fishing in the northeast – for native brook trout and land-locked salmon. More than 6,000 acres in the vast, pristine watershed surrounding the River and nearby Richardson Lakes are protected by Maine’s federal and state agencies.
St. George River
The St. George River rises from Lake St. George in Liberty, and enters the salt water in Thomaston. The upper reaches, in Liberty, Searsmont, and Appleton, offer good fishing for brown trout, with the occasional brookie in May and early June. There are excellent mayfly hatches, especially red quills, from about mid may to early June. Caddis abound for the remainder of the season, along with the usual array of terrestrials, especially along stretches that border grassy meadows.
The state does yearly stockings of brown trout, and there are quite a few holdover fish – those who know the river catch fish in the 14 to 18 inch range occasionally; in may 2003, a 22 inch, 4 pound brown was taken.
The water warms considerably by early to mid July, and after that time the good trout fishing is early and late in the day. But, there are numerous smallmouth in the river as well that offer good action late in the summer, and some grow to prodigious size.
The river offers riffles, runs and some scattered pools. wading is available in a number of places, but there are a lot of steep banks with poison ivy and land owner permission is advised. streamers and nymphs are the best bet for now. In June during the first or second week a Hendrickson hatch will occur and caddis are plentiful. Think catch and release.
Grand Lake Stream
West Grand Lake has been noted for almost a century for it’s landlocked salmon and is one of the original salmon lakes. Grand Lake Stream also provides excellent fishing for the fly enthusiast. The Stream is two miles of fast water, boulder falls and deep quiet pools.
Abundant in our St. Croix watershed are Landlocked salmon, square-tailed trout, lake trout and some of the best small-mouthed bass fishing in Maine. Few are the fisherman to whom Grand Lake Stream means merely a location on the map of eastern Maine.
As soon as the ice is out in the spring, trolling is the order of things on waters such as West Grand Lake, Big Lake, and Pocumcus Lake. Grand Lake Stream itself is one of the most premier fly fishing streams for landlocked salmon country. May and June is the enthusiastic fly fisherman’s ‘Happy Hour’ on the stream as well as the many lakes and ponds that cover this area. No matter what your fishing preference is, the Grand Lake Stream region offers a variety of waters and species bound to make your fishing experience memorable .
Grand Lake Stream has the most concentrated number of Registered Maine Guides than anywhere else in the State of Maine.
The section of the Presumcot River along route 35 in Windham is heavily stocked each spring with an abundance of Brook and Brown Trout as well as Land-Locked Salmon. Also note that this area is FLY FISHING ONLY.:) These fish can get fairly big, however the average catch is about 10 inches for all species, not a bad catch though! Along with the heavy stocking comes heavy fishing pressure, especially early in the season. This is also the only time of the year I would recommend fishing here, as the water warms to well past 70 degrees after the first of July. So come early and get a good spot at the big pool just on the downstream side of the route 35 bridge. There is a chance for some appreciable fish if you know how to get ’em here, but the big ones are tough, they’ve seen most every thing after the first couple weeks of the season and they seem to smarten up fast. Good luck and tight lines.
Most people, along with myself, fish the Fly Fishing Only section of the Pleasant River just up from Windham Center. The river is stocked each spring with Brook and Brown Trout in the 8 – 12 inch range. I would suggest tackling this river early in the year, as it seems that most fish are caught before the first of July when the temps heat it up and the fishing slow. Try again in October. Try fishing streamers in the big pools by the bridge and also at the pool below the small falls downstream. This has been most productive for me. Also I’ve had luck fishing dries at dusk, especially elk wing caddis and blue-wing olives, sizes 14-16. As the season goes on you may find better luck with nymph patterns, however, as I mentioned before, fish the Pleasant before the month of July as fishing slows considerably then. Good luck and tight lines!
The Crooked River offers some of the finest landlocked salmon fishing in southern Maine. Considered by many to be the finest river in southern Maine for landlocks, the Crooked gets considerable fishing pressure initially in the spring. But after June, pressure dies down, and so does the fishing unfortunatley. But if you do fish the Crooked you have your shot at some fine fish that can get up to the and 6 pound range for salmon and 2 pounds for the occasional brookie. The waters between Scribner’s Mill and Bolster’s Mills is loaded with excellent holding pools and is some really beautiful water. This water will hold fish all summer long but can be difficult in the really hot and dry months of July and August. In these months you are more likely to contact with the smaller fry and must be very careful in handling these young fish you want them to become the 5 and 6 pounders someday, don’t you?
Allagash Lake can easily be called the gem of the north Maine woods. It was ranked by the Maine Sportsman as one of Maine’s top ten trout waters. Just the scenery alone is well worth the trip in, but add to that the fantastic fishing for native brookies and you have something very special. Getting to Allagash Lake is no easy task though. First of all Allagash Lake is located in the North Maine Woods about 80 road miles(most of which is gravel) north of Greenville on Moosehead Lake. You must pay a fee to enter the NMW’s checkpoints into this area. Once you get close to the lake the work begins, there are several access points. The first one is the canoe launch on Allagash Stream about 4 miles above the lake.
The other water access point is Johnson Pond also about 4 miles above the lake. Access to the lake from these points is usually fairly easy but remember there is absolutely no road access to the lake so you must drag your canoe back up stream to the put in points. These access points are located on the northwest side of the lake.The other two access points are not any easier. They are located on the south end of the lake. Both are portage trails that are a mile long. The first of these is The Carry Trail on the far south end of the lake. The second access trail is to the Islands campsite on the southeast end of the lake. A canoe carrier with wheels makes access to these two point much easier.Once you are in on Allagash Lake there are eight campsites located at various points around the lake. These campsites are maintained by the Allagash Wilderness Waterway Rangers and there is a fee to stay in them. The only lodging in the area is three miles south of Allagash Lake at Loon Lodge on Round Pond.Fishing is usually best at two times of the year.
Right after iceout in mid May fish are near the surface and the action is often great. Trolling streamers like Joe’s Smelt is usually very productive. The other time when Allagash gets hot is from mid-June to the second week of July. This is the time of the large green drake hatches and if you hit the hatch right you will not find any better fishing. The rules and regulations for the lake are quite strict. Artifical lures only (flies or lures) with only one hook. Limits on fish are 2 brook trout with a slot limit. Trout need to be 12 inches to keep but only one over 14 inches. For lake trout you can now also keep two fish but they need to be 18 inches. The only type of watercraft allowed on the lake is canoes and kayaks. For more information on this lake you can contact The Bureau of Parks and Recreation at (207)941-4014.
The “Remote Ponds” scattered throughout the Kennebec valley from Pleasant Ridge all the way to the Canadian border vary radically. While one pond may be less than 10′ deep, a pond less than a mile away may be more than 30′ deep. As such, ponds different ponds fish best at different times of year. While Pond-A may “Ice-Out” in early-May, Pond-B may not be free of ice until mid-May.
The same holds true for summer fishing where one pond may warm up and be all but done by mid-June, and another pond may peak in early to mid-July just in time for the “Hex” hatch. At some point in the summer, the surface temperature in most ponds reaches a level where the fishing really slows down. Even though the hatches may continue, the fish may not come to the surface due to the uncomfortable temperatures.
More info on Remote Ponds
In depth articles on Maine fisheries
- Androscoggin River Fly Fishing
- Aroostook River Drainage Fly Fishing
- Blue Shark Fishing in Maine
- Downeast Maine Fishing
- Fly Fishing the Remote Northern Maine Ponds
- Hatch Chart for Saco River , ME
- Kennebec River Fly Fishing
- Moosehead Lake Region Fishing
- Penobscot Region Fishing
- Rapid River Fly Fishing
- Small Mouth Bass Fishing in Maine
Regions of Maine to Fish
Key to the Map
- Aroostook County
- Moosehead Lake Region
- Penobscot Region
- Rangeley Lakes Region
- Central Maine Region – The Kennebec valley region will make any fisherman happy. It holds excellent Salmon, Trout and Bass fishing. Salmon fisherman look no further than Long pond in the Belgrade lakes and If its Northern Pike you want well you have come to the right place. Pike in the 10-15lb class are common with a number of 20lb pike caught each year. North pond is host to the Record Pike weighing in at 31lbs 2oz. There are also many small Brook trout ponds that produce some nice Brookies.This region is also home to Basin pond, where the state record Splake was caught.The state record for Blueback Charr (Trout) was also caught in Basin pond, only a few lakes in the state contain Bluebacks..Other lakes in this area include Bigwood in Jackman, Moxie pond, Emden lake, Wesserunsett lake and many others.
- Downeast Region
- Sebago Lakes Region
The Rangeley Lakes Region is an accessible wilderness as vast as it is beautiful. It is the home of world-class trout and salmon fishing in sparkling lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers surrounded by forest-clad mountains, a place of such extraordinary beauty that the angler does well to attend to his fishing.
Years ago this Region was noted strictly for its excellent trout fishing. Later, salmon were introduced to many waters so that now it affords fishing for both popular species. The ice usually leaves the lakes and ponds early to mid-May. When this happens, there is excellent fly fishing in both lakes and ponds. During spring fishing, anglers troll or cast with streamers and bucktails. The streams are slow until the first of June after the spring run-off.
Fly hatches afford some of the finest fishing available. The first hatches come off approximately late May and early June, depending on weather conditions. This hatch is flying ants, redish-brown in color. Second, the Caddis, happens about mid-June. The third, May flies, start in mid-June and go to about July 10th. After this date, regular mixed hatches occur.
A few of the waters are Rangeley Lake, Mooselookmeguntic Lake, Cupsuptic Lake, Dodge Pond, Tim Pond, Little and Big Kennebago (The largest fly-fishing-only body of water in the Northeast,) the Richardsons, and Aziscoos Lake. The Region is over 1,500 feet above sea level.
Sebago Lake Region
Maines most southern region is home to the states second largest lake, Sebago lake. Right after ice out fisherman flock to Sebago lake in search of a lunker Landlocked Salmon and Lake Trout. The state record Landlocked Salmon was caught in Sebago lake, 22lbs 8ozs. For fun family fishing try Mousam Lake alittle northwest of Sanford. Mousam lake is stock annually with Brown trout, Brook trout and Lake Trout. Presumpscot river is a good spot for wading fly fisherman in early spring. Parts of this river include fly-fishing only and catch and release fishing on Salmon. All ways check fishing regulations before fishing any Maine waters.
Perhaps the most impressive attribute to fishing in the Sebago Region is the wide diversity of opportunities available to anglers. Within a 90 minute drive of Portland anglers can fly fish for brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout, troll for salmon and lake trout or cast for bass. In addition, warmwater species such as pickerel, perch and black crappie abound in many of the area waters.
When the conversation among friends planning a vacation in Maine suddenly turns to fishing, the tone takes on an air of excitement as Maine’s saltwater sport fishery becomes the focus. Maine has long been known for its reputation for having one of the finest saltwater sport fisheries on the east coast. It does not matter if anglers plan on top notch captains or guides, a vacation that includes a day of fishing in Maine can help create the memories of a lifetime.
Freshwater Fly Fishing
However, Maine has also been long renowned for its freshwater fishery as well. And, if a vacation to the coast of Maine is the plan, anglers can take advantage of a fishing opportunity very few places have to offer. Some of the states best freshwater fishing can be found only a few minutes drive from its remarkable saltwater fishery. It is even possible for an angler to take advantage of this fishing experience all in the same day.
For a day of freshwater fly fishing, an angler will probably prefer to bring along a rod and reel of six weight, or smaller persuasion, loaded with a weight forward floating line, backed with about 75 to 100 yards of Dacron backing. The floating line will be needed for casting everything from surface poppers and dry flies, to shallow fished streamers. Also, a spare spool loaded with a sink tip, or full sinking line backed with about 75 to 100 yards of Dacron backing should be included. The sink tip, or full sinking line will be needed to fish the deeper pools of rivers and streams and for dredging the deeper waters of lakes and ponds where larger fish are sometimes found holding on warm Summer days. As for what “flavor” flies to use, this will differ with the switch from saltwater to freshwater.
Types of Fish You Can Catch
Fishing for species such as Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Large and Smallmouth Bass, White Perch, or Landlock Salmon; to name just a few, can fulfill an anglers day with arm tiring results. Just as their saltwater cousins, these freshwater species can be brought to the net and camera with either a fly rod or spinning gear.
What Rods Do You Need?
As for what type of equipment to use, most any spinning rod and reel set-up used to catch “schoolie Stripers” and Mackerel, can double as a freshwater fishing set-up. Naturally, the type of lure or bait used will differ with the switch from saltwater to freshwater.
If fly gear is the choice of equipment, most anglers will choose to fish the saltwater with a fast action eight weight, or larger fly rod, equipped with a reel of reputable drag, loaded with a fast sinking line backed with about 200 yards of Dacron, and carry along a spare spool loaded with a weight forward floating line; also supported by about 200 yards of Dacron backing line.
Hiring a Guide
Of course, the best way to learn the “How”, “What”, and “Where” of either saltwater, or freshwater fishing in Maine, is to hire a Registered Maine Guide, and gain access to his or her years of experience. Most guides, will even supply all of the equipment needed for a day of fishing. Hiring a guide is not only a safe ecological way to explore Maine, but can save an angler precious hours of research time that could be better spent catching fish and enjoying the rest of what Maine has to offer.
How To Books
- Mallard, Bob (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 232 Pages - 12/15/2022 (Publication Date) - Stackpole Books (Publisher)
- Used Book in Good Condition
- Newman, Bob (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 144 Pages - 01/01/1993 (Publication Date) - Down East Books (Publisher)
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Mallard, Bob (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 7 Pages - 10/15/2013 (Publication Date) - Stonefly Press (Publisher)
Maine Fly Fishing Articles & Resources
Five Spring Salmon Rivers
Five rivers to fly fish for salmon in Spring
Where to Saltwater Fish Along Maine’s Coast
The following section includes information about and directions to many of Maine’s saltwater boat ramp and shore fishing sites
Fishing Reports from Maine Council of Trout Unlimited
Reports and discussions with local anglers.
Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop
Down East Maine fly shop; 1480 US Route One, PO Box 69, Cape Neddick, ME 03902; phone: 207-363-9269/9279