Maine, often called the "Pine Tree State," is a haven for fly fishing enthusiasts seeking pristine waters, stunning landscapes, and abundant fish populations. From tranquil lakes to rushing rivers, Maine offers a diverse range of fly fishing opportunities catering to beginners and seasoned anglers. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the top 20 places to fly fish in Maine, along with essential gear recommendations and additional facts to enhance your angling experience.
Best Fly Fishing Locations in Maine
Maine's pristine landscapes and abundant waters make it a dream destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. From the remote allure of the Allagash River to the dynamic seacoast, the state offers a tapestry of angling experiences that cater to diverse preferences. Here's an in-depth look at the top fly fishing locations in Maine, each with its unique charm and fishery:
1. Allagash River
Flowing through the North Maine Woods, the Allagash River is a testament to unspoiled wilderness and exceptional brook trout fishing. Its crystal-clear waters wind through dense forests, creating an immersive experience for anglers seeking the elusive brook trout. Spanning approximately 65 miles, the river's size ensures plenty of room for exploration and an escape into the heart of Maine's wilderness.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Allagash River, Maine:
2. Androscoggin River
The Androscoggin River, with its accessible stretches winding through picturesque valleys, offers diverse fly fishing opportunities. These waters, spanning around 170 miles, cater to brown trout, rainbow trout, and smallmouth bass. From lively riffles to calm pools, the Androscoggin's changing character provides fly fishers of all skill levels with ample chances to test their techniques.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Androscoggin River, Maine:
3. Crooked River
Oxford County's Crooked River showcases a mix of brown and rainbow trout fishing against rolling hills. Its meandering course covers roughly 40 miles, allowing fly anglers to explore deep pools, inviting runs, and captivating riffles. As you cast in this serene environment, you'll find yourself immersed in both the beauty of nature and the thrill of hooking into spirited trout.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Crooked River, Maine:
- Muddler Minnow - Size 6
- Holy Grail-Tungsten - Hairs Ear - Size 14
- Flashback Hare's Ear -Natural - Size 18
4. Dead River
The Dead River is renowned for its annual salmon run, a thrilling event that draws anglers seeking the excitement of migrating salmon. Its challenging currents and powerful fish create a unique experience. The river extends approximately 42.6 miles, offering ample opportunities to connect with these migrating salmon as they journey through Maine's wilderness.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Dead River, Maine:
5. Fish River
The Fish River provides the ideal habitat for brook trout and landlocked salmon in Maine's northern reaches. Its cold, clear waters wind through scenic landscapes, inviting fly anglers to pursue these vibrant species. Covering around 70 miles, the river's remote and tranquil setting enhances the sense of escape and connection with nature.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Fish River, Maine:
6. Kennebago River
Known for its exceptional dry fly fishing, the Kennebago River's legendary hatches draw anglers seeking the art of delicate presentations. This river's length of about 30 miles is characterized by brown trout rising to well-placed flies against the backdrop of dense forest canopies. Its pristine surroundings create an almost meditative angling experience.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Kennebago River, Maine:
7. Kennebec River
The Kennebec River, spanning around 170 miles, boasts a versatility that caters to various angling preferences. From upper reaches teeming with brook trout to lower stretches harboring striped bass and Atlantic salmon, its expansive course offers something for every fly angler. The river's diverse ecosystems reflect Maine's natural diversity.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Kennebec River, Maine:
8. Little Ossipee Pond
Little Ossipee Pond offers a unique twist on traditional fly fishing by targeting warm water bass species. This calm pond, covering about 560 acres, invites anglers looking for a unique challenge.
You can access this body of water through a boat launch located along Route 5 on the western side of the lake. The lake is well-known for its popular fishery, mainly for rainbow trout, brook trout, and landlocked Atlantic salmon. The state actively maintains this fishery through an annual stocking program.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Little Ossipee Pond, Maine:
9. Magalloway River
The Magalloway River, stretching approximately 48 miles from Lake Umbagog, is renowned for its brook trout and landlocked salmon. With its pools and riffles, anglers of all levels can enjoy fishing in this pristine river. As you wade through its clear waters, the beautiful surroundings enhance the excitement of a successful catch.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Magalloway River, Maine:
10. Moosehead Lake
Moosehead Lake, Maine's largest lake covering about 120 square miles, beckons fly fishing enthusiasts seeking grand adventures. Its vastness and varied underwater habitats allow for species such as salmon, trout, and bass to flourish.
Moosehead Lake is a captivating coldwater lake in Piscataquis County, Northwestern Maine. It proudly claims to be the largest lake in Maine, the second-largest in New England (surpassed only by Lake Champlain), and the largest mountain lake in the eastern United States. Resting peacefully in the mostly untouched Longfellow Mountains, this majestic lake also serves as the primary source of the Kennebec River.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Moosehead Lake, Maine:
11. Mousam Lake
In southern Maine, Mousam Lake provides a tranquil sanctuary spanning approximately 982 acres. This serene lake is teeming with a diverse range of warm water and coldwater species, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and rainbow trout.
Stretching over seven miles in length, Mousam reaches an impressive maximum depth of 98 feet, boasting an average depth of 17 feet and above-average water quality. Divided into two distinct basins, namely "Upper" and "Lower," the Lower Mousam Basin offers a convenient public boat launch, while access to the Upper Mousam Basin is available through a culvert located near the foot of the lake.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Mousam Lake, Maine:
12. Penobscot River
Steeped in angling history, the Penobscot River covers about 109 miles and maintains its reputation as a catch-and-release Atlantic salmon fishery. Fly anglers seeking the thrill of pursuing these majestic fish will find their passion rewarded in the river's deep pools and runs.
The Penobscot's diverse sections offer various challenges, from the rapids and pocket water of the Lower Penobscot to the untouched wilderness of its upper reaches. In addition to Atlantic salmon, anglers can also find brook trout, brown trout, large- and smallmouth bass, as well as white perch in the Penobscot's waters.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Penobscot River, Maine:
- Parachute Adams Indicator - Size 14
- Last Chance Cripple - BWO - Size 20
- Hot Wire Caddis - Olive - Size 14
13. Presumpscot River
Situated near Portland, the Presumpscot River provides convenient fly fishing opportunities. Its accessible spots cater to brook trout and smallmouth bass. With its length of around 25 miles, this river demonstrates how nature and urban life can coexist harmoniously. The river flows through the towns of Standish, Windham, Gorham, Westbrook, Portland, and Falmouth and eventually empties into Casco Bay at Falmouth. Maine State Route 35 bridges the river between Standish and Windham.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Presumpscot River, Maine:
- Copper John Black - Size 12
- Flashback Pheasant Tail in Gold - Size 18
- Kaufmanns Stimulators in Yellow - Size 16
14. Rapid River
Rapid River is a 6.0-mile-long river located in the northwestern region of Maine. It flows from Lower Richardson Lake to Umbagog Lake, forming the final segment of the Umbagog Lake and Androscoggin River watersheds. This expansive watershed encompasses Lower and Upper Richardson Lakes, Mooselookmeguntic Lake, Cupsuptic Lake, and Rangeley Lake. Cupsuptic, Kennebago, and Rangeley rivers serve as the primary tributaries that converge into Cupsuptic Lake.
Rapid River lives up to its name with class III–IV rapids along most of its length, making it a great spot for playboating and riverboarding. Fly anglers are drawn to its swift-flowing waters, where they can challenge spirited trout against the backdrop of a wild landscape.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Rapid River, Maine:
15. Roach River
The Roach River, located in Piscataquis County, Maine, is a picturesque waterway. It stretches approximately 19.1 miles in a westerly direction, meandering through a series of interconnected ponds. The flow sequence begins at Fourth Roach Pond, then continues through Third Roach Pond, Second Roach Pond, and First Roach Pond, ultimately merging into the majestic Moosehead Lake.
The river is home to smallmouth bass, as well as native brook trout. The area's abundant wildlife and pristine environment make the Roach River an ideal destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. With its easy access points and relatively shallow waters, anglers of all skill levels can find success here.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Roach River, Maine:
16. Seacoast of Maine
Maine's seacoast presents saltwater fly fishing opportunities, adding a dynamic marine element to angling. Species like striped bass, bluefish, and Atlantic cod offer exciting challenges against the backdrop of crashing waves and tidal currents. This extension of fishing beyond freshwater highlights the state's diverse offerings.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Seacoast Of Maine, Maine:
- Sand Eel Fly - Size 1/0 and 2
- Surf Candy - Size 2/0 and 3/0
- Slump Buster with Cone in Black - Size 6
17. Sebago Lake
As Maine's largest lake, Sebago Lake covers about 45 square miles and offers opportunities to pursue landlocked salmon and lake trout. Its expansiveness allows for different fishing techniques while appreciating the lake's beauty.
Sebago Lake is the deepest and second-largest lake in the state of Maine. It reaches a maximum depth of 316 feet and has an average depth of 101 feet. The lake is the habitat of landlocked salmon. The entire watershed was once submerged in seawater. As the land gradually rose and the seawater receded, the lake became home to the first populations of these fascinating marine creatures.
In addition to landlocked salmon, the lake is also home to a variety of other game fish, including lake trout, brook trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, and northern pike. Some of these fish are regularly stocked by the state, while others have naturally found their way to the lake.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Sebago Lake, Maine:
18. St. George River
The river follows a winding course for 45 miles south to Thomaston. From there, it flows into the estuary and runs about 12 miles southwest to Muscongus Bay, forming the border between Cushing and St. George.
The river offers diverse experiences, ranging from trout to striped bass. In its upper reaches, you'll find plenty of trout and salmon, while its estuary near the coast provides opportunities to encounter stripers and shad. Anglers can easily transition between these different environments, showcasing the unique opportunities that Maine has to offer.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the St. George River, Maine:
19. St. Johns River
The Saint John River is a 418-mile river that flows from Northern Maine into Canada, running along the western side of New Brunswick and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean in the Bay of Fundy.
The St. John River, the longest river in Eastern Canada, boasts one of the largest drainage basins on the east coast, spanning approximately 21,000 square miles. Its tributaries and rapids offer exceptional fly fishing prospects for native Brook Trout. In recent times, the St. John River has gained recognition for its superb Muskie fishing opportunities.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the St. Johns River, Maine:
- Clouser Minnow - Size 2
- Dahlberg Diver - Size 2
- Gurglers - Size #1 - 2/0
20. Union River
The Union River is a 21.9-mile-long river that flows through Ellsworth, the county seat of Hancock County in eastern Maine. It offers opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater fly fishing. In the past, it was referred to as the Mount Desert River.
The river is formed at the north end of Graham Lake, where the East and West branches of the river meet on the border of Mariaville and Waltham towns. From brook trout in its upper reaches to stripers and more near its estuary, this river showcases the state's unique angling opportunities, offering varied experiences across changing landscapes.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Union River, Maine:
What Gear Do I Need to Fly Fish in Maine?
When embarking on a fly fishing adventure in Maine, having the right gear is essential to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience. Here's a breakdown of the equipment you'll need:
- Fly Rod and Reel: A 9-foot, 5-weight fly rod is versatile and suitable for most Maine waters. Consider a heavier rod for larger species or windy conditions. Match the rod with a reliable reel and a weight-forward floating fly line.
- Flies: Carry a selection of dry flies, nymphs, streamers, and attractor patterns. Tailor your fly choices to the specific fish species you're targeting and the time of year.
- Waders and Wading Boots: Breathable waders are ideal for comfort and mobility, especially during warmer months. Sturdy wading boots with good traction are essential for navigating rocky riverbeds.
- Accessories: Bring a fly fishing vest or pack to carry your gear and essentials. Don't forget tools like nippers, forceps, and tippet spools. Polarized sunglasses are crucial for spotting fish and protecting your eyes.
Additional Facts about Fly Fishing in Maine
Is Maine Good for Fly Fishing?
Absolutely, Maine is a prime destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Its diverse waterways offer opportunities for catching a variety of species, from brook trout and landlocked salmon to striped bass and more. Whether you prefer serene lakes, meandering rivers, or saltwater estuaries, Maine has something to offer every angler.
Can You Fly Fish Year-Round in Maine?
While Maine's fly fishing season largely depends on weather and water conditions, there are opportunities to fly fish year-round. Spring, summer, and fall are the most popular seasons, with trout and salmon being primary targets. In warmer months, you can also enjoy saltwater fly fishing along the coast.
What Months Are Best for Fly Fishing in Maine?
The prime months for fly fishing in Maine are typically from April to October. Spring and early summer (April to June) are excellent for trout and salmon fishing in freshwater. As the weather warms up, you can target warmwater species like bass and panfish. Fall (September to October) is another fantastic time, especially for experiencing the vibrant foliage while chasing fish.