National Parks 7 min read
DIY Guide to Fly Fishing in Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park in a place of juxtaposed contrasts everywhere you look. Freshwater lakes, ponds, and streams overlook sweeping forested vistas to the north, whereas southerly views and fisheries overlook the Atlantic Ocean.
Hikers and campers trek the many trails of Mount Desert Island that wind around the mountain itself, while lobster and fishing boats motor their way out to the open sea to haul in traps or the catch of the day.
Verdant evergreens and hardwoods on the western side of the island create a sense of peaceful isolation as you survey the sleepy coastline wilderness of southern Maine.
About Acadia National Park
With a short drive to the seaward side of the island, you find yourself among the busy coastal town of Bar Harbor with Winter Harbor and Sorrento just across the bay.
Most tourists in Acadia National Park aren’t there for the fly fishing, but as the glaciers receded from this island mountain range eons ago they created some of the most diverse fishing waters in the northeastern United States.
From mountain streams to still-water ponds and lakes, there are many species of trout and other freshwater fish to keep even the most avid anglers happy for days or weeks of fishing.
Brook trout, lake trout, brown trout, and the occasional rainbow make an appearance here, and there are any number of smallmouth and largemouth bass to be found in the lakes and ponds of the park as well.
Best of all, you can even land a few landlocked salmon on Mount Desert Island, making it a great place for challenging your freshwater fly fishing skills.
If the freshwater fish aren’t striking, saltwater anglers can also try their luck along the many beaches and inlets along the southern and southeastern shoreline of Mount Desert Island.
There are plenty of mackerel, bluefish, and striped bass for the taking if you head down to the ocean during the late summer and early fall.
Acadia National Park Fishing Map
Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map
Best Places to Fish in Acadia National Park
There are so many places to fish in Acadia National Park that you may not be able to visit them all if you make a short trip. Here are a few of the most popular fishing spots and how to get there.
This is a popular spot for native brook trout. It’s a 28 acre pond in the township of Bar Harbor, and it is easy to access from town. Yearly stocking for Witchhole Pond in the fall is approximately 42 brook trout per acre.
You can fish the pond year round, but internal combustion motors of any kind are not permitted out on the water. Floats, row boats and canoes are just fine though, and you will probably want a watercraft during the summer months when the brook trout tend to stay further out away from the banks.
If you can endure the cold, you can also try your hand at ice fishing here in the winter.
If you came to Acadia in search of legendary landlocked salmon, you need to make a stop at Eagle Lake. This large body of water is three and a half miles of placid lake water, gorgeous views of the mountains, and many shady coves where the salmon like to hangout.
Canoes are the recommended means of fly fishing for salmon here since motors have a tendency to spook these wily lake dwellers. The many coves make casting flies significantly easier thanks to the natural shelter from the wind in this northern nook of water midway between Eagle and Square Lake.
Anglers who visit the lake regularly have reported catches up to 13 lbs., and the brook and brown trout in the lake grow large as well.
Frazier Point and Schoodic Peninsula
Across the water from Acadia National Park are the saltwater fisheries of Winter Harbor, ME, both of which are easily accessible from Route 186 a little south of town.
Whether you are an experience saltwater angler or looking to try out something new and different, Winter Harbor is the place to try your luck.
Mackerel, striped bass, and bluefish are all ripe for the taking here, and if you are already visiting Acadia it’s a short ride by boat from Bar Harbor and only slightly longer by car.
It’s truly one of the best saltwater fisheries in the northeast, and if you are already in the area it’s too good an opportunity to pass up if you’ve never tried saltwater fly fishing.
If you are looking for more of a challenge than the lakes and ponds of Acadia National Park, there are many streams to look for some smaller and feisty brookies that are easier to land than the stocked lake and pond brook trout that are found elsewhere.
Smaller wild trout may not be every anglers favorite catch, but if renting a boat or a float isn’t in budget, these streams are well worth the trip, and most of them are fairly close to the lakes and ponds, too.
Brook trout are plentiful in Richardson Brook (feeder for Bubble Pond), Jordan Stream (which feeds Jordan Pond), Hunters Brook (another feeder of Bubble Pond), Stanley Brook north of Seal Harbor, and Little Harbor Creek east of Asticou.
Check the Acadia National Park website for more information on how to get to these lesser known fisheries.
Best Time to Fish in Acadia National Park
Lakes and ponds can be fished year round in Maine, but stream, river, and brook fishing is limited to April 1st through August 15th unless otherwise specified for specific counties in Maine.
Acadia National Park has no such restriction, though only artificial flies and lures are permitted August 16-September 30. If you plan to go for stream-bound brook trout, your best time of year to visit is definitely between April and October, but keep in mind that there is no stream fishing permitted from October 1st through March 31st.
Given the intense cold of Maine winters on the coast though, most anglers are unlikely to want to make the trek to Mount Desert Island anyway.
Any angler who wants to land some big landlocked salmon or lake trout in Acadia National Park needs to visit the park earlier in the fishing season from April to June if they plan on fishing from the banks.
Otherwise, most anglers best bet for landing any big freshwater fish is to rent or bring your own boat. There are no restrictions on what type of boat you can take out on the water at Eagle Lake and Square Lake, but you will want something quiet as you approach the salmon during their peak season in the summer.
Canoeing, kayaking, or floating are all great ways to make sure you can get up close and personal with the trout, bass, and salmon for decent fly fishing if you do decide to stick to the lakes over the streams.
Acadia National Park Fishing Tips
The gear you pack for your fly fishing trip to Acadia National Park largely depends on if you are going stream fishing or lake fishing, and what time of year you plan to visit. Waist-high waders or chest waders and a 9-foot rod with 4-weight line are perfect for stream fishing in the spring and early summer.
Keep in mind that the vegetation overhangs the banks during the warmer months, and you may have to adjust your casting accordingly. Wading boots should be more than adequate for most of the streams in the park, but you will definitely need a pair of hip waders if you want to fish from the banks of the lake or pond.
Speaking of pond and lake fishing, you will definitely need some heavier gear for float and boat fishing out on the water. The specimens of landlocked salmon and lake trout are much larger than what you will see in the streams and smaller ponds. A 6- or even 7-weight fly rod and line is best. You will need to make sure you bring some good weighted flies for attracting the lurkers beneath the surface.
Best Flies for Acadia National Park
The trout and landlocked salmon in Acadia National Park are not too fussy, especially early in the season. Simple attractor dry flies, nymphs and streamers will all work.
You’ll do well to carry patterns for the most common hatches in Acadia including:
- Black Flies
Acadia National Park Fishing Regulations
Maine or Acadia National Park regulations apply throughout Acadia National Park. A license is required to fish anywhere in the state, whether it is a one-day or one year pass.
The Northern and Southern counties have both freshwater and saltwater regulations that all anglers must know and abide by to be welcome to fish in the state of Maine.
The basics are fairly simple: two fish of any species possession limit per angler per day. Artificial flies and lures only during peak season.
Even within Acadia National Park itself though, fishing regulations and seasons can vary widely, and they are updated on a regular basis to help preserve fishing populations.
Be sure to pick up the most recent edition of the Maine Inland Fishing Laws to make sure you are in compliance when you make your trip to Mount Desert Island.
Trip Planning Tips
The two closest airports to Acadia National Park are in Bangor and Portland. It’s only an hour down from Bangor to the park, whereas Portland is closer to 2 or more hours away depending on traffic during tourist season.
As far as accommodations are concerned, you can’t throw a rock in Bar Harbor without hitting three or four bed and breakfast places, all of which are in gorgeous restored 18th and 19th century restored home on the water or in town.
The more adventurous can take advantage of the many campgrounds found throughout the park itself, and there are several RV parks within driving distance of both Bar Harbor and Eagle Lake.
Additionally, if you prefer more traditional accommodations, Bar Harbor has a Hampton Inn, a Best Western, and many motels and cottages that are close to popular fishing spots and don’t cost an arm and a leg to rent even during peak season.
If you are looking to save on your stay but are not a fan of camping, you can also check into local listings for Airbnb rentals and private vacation rentals on Mount Desert Island near Bar Harbor or in Trenton on the other side of the bridge leading to the island.
Depending on when you plan to go, you may score an inexpensive stay with just a few clicks.
Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in America
Feature image by Chandra Hari