Fishing in Maine

The natural beauty of the unbroken forests and rocky beaches of the Pine Tree State provide a stunning background for a saltwater or freshwater fishing adventure.
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About Maine

Maine is the northeasternmost U.S. state and also the least densely populated state east of the Mississippi River. It’s known as the Pine Tree State, which is appropriate since more than 80 percent of its land is forested. Maine is famous for its spectacular, rocky coastline dotted with lighthouses and lobster shacks. Its inland forests are home to plenty of moose and black bears. Maine has thousands of miles of rivers and streams and hundreds of freshwater lakes, including the largest lake in New England, Moosehead Lake. In the streams and lakes, anglers can chase trout, landlocked salmon, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, and muskie in spring and summer. In winter, ice fishing for these same species is extremely popular. Maine also has almost 230 miles of ocean coastline as well as thousands of offshore islands to explore. Try surfcasting along the coast for striped bass or bluefish, or climb on a boat and head offshore if you are looking to tie into a bluefin tuna.

Fishing Types

Surf fishing—casting from beaches, rocks, and piers--is a great way to experience the saltwater fishing in coastal Maine. Striped bass, bluefish, and mackerel are the species most commonly caught in the surf. If you’re itching to head offshore, try one of Maine’s many charter boats or, alternatively, a “head boat,” a vessel that takes a large number of anglers out at once for an affordable offshore excursion. Most harbors along the Maine coast offer charter fishing; choose a smaller skiff to fish the tidal zones for stripers, or sign on with a bigger boat to target bluefin tuna and thresher sharks. Maine also has abundant groundfish such as haddock. Check out the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) for information on saltwater fishing regulations. For freshwater fishermen, Maine’s wild, unpopulated interior has miles of small streams where wild brook trout still abound, and fly fishing for these native fish has a devoted following here. Many anglers prefer to troll a quiet lake for trout and salmon. Of course, spinfishing and casting for bass, muskies, northern pike, and other lake-dwelling species is also a great way to fish in Maine.

Targeted Fish Species

Maine’s freshwater fish include brook, brown, rainbow, and lake trout, landlocked salmon, splake, arctic char, cusk, whitefish, largemouth, smallmouth, northern pike , chain pickerel, black crappie, muskie, white and yellow perch, bullhead, and various types of sunfish. Offshore, you could hook black sea bass, herring, bluefish, bluefin tuna, cod, haddock, halibut, mackerel, spiny dogfish, striped bass, or winter flounder. Mako and thresher sharks also cruise Maine’s waters.

Fishing Techniques

Stalking wild brook trout with a fly rod in Maine’s small streams requires stealth and patience, but landing one of these colorful native fish is worth the effort. Of course, spinning and baitfishing works for trout and other species as well. An often-used technique on Maine lakes that hold trout and salmon is slow-trolling a streamer fly on a fly rod. During the winter, use tip-ups to target perch and pickerel through the ice. A variety of techniques can be successful when surfcasting, including retrieving lures and bucktails through the breakers or baitfishing on the bottom.