Maine Fly Fishing 6 min read

DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Maine

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

August 8, 2015

Choosing that perfect destination for your next vacation isn’t always an easy process, and if you’re looking for a place to do fly fishing, it is made all the harder thanks to the wealth of locations in the United States.

Maine is a state that is particularly rich in fly fishing opportunities while surrounding you in stunning natural scenery. You’re in for more than 6,000 ponds, lakes, creeks, streams, and rivers, which mean endless opportunities for you. Let’s not forget the thousands of miles worth of saltwater opportunities thanks to the Atlantic Ocean.

Considered part of New England, Maine is known for all kinds of wonderful things just on its own. What’s especially fantastic about the state is that you’ll be able to engage in fly fishing year round. So let’s take an in-depth look at what this state has to offer.

Maine Fly Fishing Map

map of places to fish in Maine

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Places to Fly Fish in Maine

While most states offer fly fishing opportunities of some sort or another, not all have a history as rich as Maine’s. This state has more than 100 years’ worth of fly fishing and because of that the residents have managed to develop their very own unique fly fishing styles and patterns.

In fact, we can get real specific in that today’s modern streamer stems from Carrie Stevens, who was a resident of Maine. The streamer that Stevens created is still used today for landlocked salmon fishing and trout fishing in places like Kennebago Lake and Kennebago River. The streamer is designed to look like a small sized baitfish, which trout and salmon alike love.

The typical fish that you’ll be finding in Maine are landlocked salmon which can get as big as 24 inches, lake trout, and brook trout. Of course there are other varieties, but these are the big ones.

With such a rich history you may expect to find some prime locations, so here’s the good news, you won’t be disappointed in that expectation. Here’s a look at just a few of the top spots among anglers.

Rapid River

Imagine if you had access to what is commonly referred to as the greatest wild brook trout in all of the country. Well that’s exactly what Rapid River is known as and it is located right here in Maine. There is a small catch with this one, and that’s the fact it requires a one mile hike by foot in order to hit the really good water. If you’d rather, you can travel along the river by boat to reach this point.

Rapid River is the perfect example of good things that come in small packages. The river is just over three miles in length, but it doesn’t have to be a massive river in order to offer great fishing. Here the fishing season runs from April all the way through until September and the river it is graded as moderate to difficult as far as the skill level goes. Located close to the town of Rangeley this river has proven popular even with the most skilled anglers. So what will you be catching here? Expect to hook some impressive looking brook trout with an average weight of five pounds. Additional species you can catch here are landlocked salmon. Keep in mind this river is strictly fly fishing only.

Mousam Lake

If you prefer the atmosphere and conditions of a lake then Mousam Lake is well worth checking out. This lake is located near the city of Sanford and is 900 acres in size. There is a massive population of brown, brook, and lake trout to be found as this lake is stocked. Additionally you’ll find smallmouth and largemouth bass, pickerel, black crappie, and white perch making for a diverse offering. If you plan on making a few days stay of it, there are plenty of accommodations to be found including campgrounds. The fishing season is May through September at this lake. It should be mentioned that if you plan to fish from the shore, there aren’t many places it can be done. Ideally this lake is best fished by a canoe or small boat.

Penobscot River, West Branch

There are plenty of anglers who flock to Maine to enjoy fishing for landlocked salmon. If that sounds like you then a great place to check out is Penobscot River, West Branch, which is located near the city of Millinocket. The fishing is rated easy to moderate and the season lasts a nice long time, opening in April and running through until the end of September. With that said, anglers tend to avoid the summer and hold out for spring and fall instead. The fishing tends to be better in those two seasons. The summer can get quite crowded, which in turn can spook the fish and make it a whole lot harder on you. Besides landlocked salmon you can also find brook trout.

This is a great river to fish by canoe or small boat as the water levels can get quite high. As well this one can be fished from shore and there are many excellent areas for wading. You can opt to stay a few days by taking up camp at the nearby campgrounds.

Nezinscot River

If you’re looking for a river that is heavily stocked then Nezinscot River can be an excellent option. Located not far from the town of Turner, you will have no problem at all find brown trout here. Although not as abundant but still plentiful there is also smallmouth bass and brook trout.

Enjoy fishing year-round in this river but keep in mind it is artificial lures only, and there are catch-and-release regulations in place, as well as a limit of two trout per person, per day. There are a number of calm areas of the river as well as some rapids that are small and slow in size. This river can be fished by shore, by wading, in a canoe, or small boat.

Best Time to Fly Fish in Maine

In Maine you’re guaranteed to find fly fishing opportunities all year-round. Of course, just like with most locations in the United States some points of the year are better than others. In general you’re going to enjoy the best fly fishing from April 1 all the way through to September 30.

Maine is known for offering four very pronounced seasons in the year. This means you experience a wide range of temperatures. In January the average daily temperatures are as high as 28 degrees and drop to eight degrees. In the springtime months you can expect temperatures between 41-65 degrees during the day, which for many anglers is the perfect temperature. Summer is warm, reaching highs on average of 80 degrees in July, which is typically the hottest month. Then in fall you can expect temperatures that are similar to spring. These temperature dips affect what clothing you will be wearing as well as the technique and gear you want to use.

In Maine you can expect a pretty extensive hatch schedule where hatches are happening as early as March and running through until October. The ones that last the longest are the blue winged olive, yellow stones, tan caddis, and olive caddis. A good rule of thumb is to opt for black stonefly nymphs and blue wing olives if you plan to get out early in the season. In mid-season you are safe with almost everything. Now keep in mind that hatch seasons can sometimes vary from year to year.

Gear Recommendations

As far as your fishing rod goes, it’s best to pick it based on the waters you’ll be fishing in. If you’ve got lots of room to cast, go ahead and opt for the longer length rod in nine feet.

If you’ve got less room to deal with, a shorter rod will be useful. Even if there is a lot of overhanging brushes and tree branches, that shorter rod can prove to be a better option. Be sure that the weight matches up with the length of the rod so they are balanced.

Maine is diverse in that you can fish from the shore, you can wade in the waters using chest-high waders, fish by float, or boat. It gives anglers a chance to try a variety of options and pick the style they feel most comfortable with.

Best Flies for Fishing in Maine

When choosing the best flies to use it’s always important to keep the hatch season in mind. Opting for a selection of dry flies can be a good plan so that no matter what the hatch, you’re prepared.

Maine Fishing Regulations

Before doing any fishing you will need to obtain a Maine fishing license. This license must be kept with you, and it is required of all persons who are 16 years of age and older. There are resident and non-resident licenses available. If you’re a resident there are also different options such as just a fishing license versus a combination hunting and/or archery license. You can also choose to get just a one-day (24 hour) fishing license for residents and one, three, seven, or 15-day licenses for non-residents.

Looking for more places to fish?  Check our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing Destinations in the U.S.