Most of you probably know Trident Fly Fishing is located in the picturesque state of Maine. Lobster, sailing, summer houses, beautiful coastline, tourism, and the largest forest coverage of any state in the US. 'Vacation Land', as it's aptly referred to, weaves grand wilderness and close-knit coastal communities into a state quilt that's pretty dynamic. And, as you may have also heard, Maine has fish. Lots of them.


Once you've decided you'd rather put footprints on a riverbank than hoist sails on a mast, Maine's 35,000 square miles can seem overwhelming. Where's the best place to don a pair of waders and chase down wary salmonids? Like any type of fishing, it depends on the season, conditions, geography and more.


Trident is backed by years and years of Maine fly fishing experience and, as we so often do here at Trident, we want to share that info with you. People have written books on Maine fisheries (some of which we consulted for this blog post) and the information is basically limitless. You could fish Maine for a lifetime without exploring every productive river and riffle. This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list of Maine's angling destinations; we've condensed our recommendations in the interest of readability and navigability.


The following article is broken down by geographical area into five Maine regions: Southern Maine, Mid-Coast Maine, Western Maine, Eastern Maine, and Northern Maine. If you want detailed maps, turn to Lou Zambello's book entitled Flyfisher's Guide to New England. This book is a great resource for most rivers listed here and many more. Lou is a long-time friend of Trident and his book was consulted in the writing of this article.


If you're new to the sport and want some beginner advice, check out Fly Fishing for Beginners from hikingandfishing.com. This article provides great information and solid gear recommendations.


Southern Maine


Most of Maine's population is concentrated in the southern part of the state. Portland is Maine's largest city and brings streams of tourists in the summer. South Portland, Scarborough, Falmouth, Biddeford, York, and the surrounding areas have increased in population in recent years as Portland has become world-renowned for its incredible local cuisine and unique culture.


A short drive outside the greater Portland area, however, opens up a series of freshwater rivers that produce some decent seasonal angling opportunities. Like many watersheds in Maine, the rivers in this region run coldest in May and June. Water temps warm later in the summer and Trout are hard to find on most rivers in July and August.


Southern Maine also offers some stellar saltwater angling opportunities. Coastal marshes and the beaches of southern Maine provide access to migratory Striped Bass that feed on small baitfish and crabs in the spring and fall. The Maine coast gets mostly schoolie Bass with some larger fish mixed in.


Crooked River


Fish
The Crooked River runs 43 miles from Songo Pond to Sebago Lake and is the principal wild trout fishery in Southern Maine. Plentiful spawning habitat means that the Crooked is only lightly stocked to preserve the genetics of wild Trout and Landlocked Salmon.


Seasons
The River is easy to access and provides anglers with the opportunity at some beautiful Trout and Salmon in the spring and fall. The Crooked sees runoff and high flows during the early spring, fishes well during May and June, and runs low and warm during the later summer months. In the fall, the river rises, water temps drop, and fishing again becomes productive.


Patterns
Patterns worth considering on the Crooked include Stonefly nymphs, Caddis imitations, classic Maine streamer patterns (Grey Ghost, Muddler Minnow) and attractor dry flies.


Presumpscot River



Fish
The Presumpscot is, in many ways, diametrically opposed to the Crooked. The 'Sump' flows out of Sebago Lake into Casco Bay and is characterized by heavy fish stocking efforts and few-to-no wild fish. The state stocks Brook Trout, Brown Trout, and Landlocked Salmon and, while some fish do holdover, the Sump is mostly a put-and-take fishery.


Seasons
The Presumpscot is known for its many dams. Dams often mean year-round cold water, however, the Presumscot is characterized by shallow water depths and little elevation drop. As such, the river fishes well when stocked in May and June and again in the fall. Anglers fish sections of the Sump in the winter but fishing isn't as productive and fish are hard to fool.


Patterns
The Presumpscot is best attacked with a solid collection of nymphs including Stoneflies, Caddis, Mayflies, and Midges (winter). Streamers including a Wooly Bugger and Muddler Minnow can be productive in the fall and early spring.


Guides
Magalloway Guide Services


Royal River



Fish
Known as a year-round fishery, the Royal River flows from Auburn through Yarmouth and into Casco Bay under the I-95 bridge. Rumors of sea-run Brown Trout encourage winter angling when water conditions allow. The Royal also gets heavily stocked in certain sections with smaller Brook Trout.


Seasons
Brook Trout generally get stocked in April and May and the most productive fishing happens in the springtime. That being said, the river maintains a healthy flow into the winter months and is known as a year-round fishery. Damns provide large plunge pools that conceal fish and allow them to hold over even in warm water conditions.


Patterns
Streamers work well in deep pools during the warmer months, think Wooly Buggers and conehead patterns. If you see fish rising, chances are they're eating small Mayflies or Midges. Sea-run fish are known for chasing down bright, flashy streamers, so if you believe in the sea-run rumors I'd start there.


Guides
Magalloway Guide Services


Mousam River


Fish
The Mousam is another river that flows into the ocean in Southern Maine and has a tidal section (the lower section). As a tidal river, sea-run Trout (Brookies and Browns) are occasionally caught in the lower section as well as Stripers and Shad. The middle and upper sections are stocked with Brook Trout and Brown Trout.


Seasons
The Mousam can legally be fished all year. That being said, winter fishing on the Mousam can be nasty (weather) and unproductive. Stocking occurs in April/May then again in the fall. Fall fishing can be quite productive on the middle and upper sections of the river. During the warm summer months, Smallmouth Bass and other warm-water species are plentiful and entertaining to catch on a fly rod.


Patterns
Stripers feed on a variety of baitfish in the lower tidal section of the Mousam. Try a Clouser Minnow or a Ray's Fly. Sea-run trout also feed on baitfish patterns including a Mickey Finn or Barnes Special. Fish in the upper sections should be targeted using attractor nymphs like a Prince Nymph and Mayfly patterns.


Striper Fishing on the Coast



Fish
Maine's most well-known saltwater species, the Striped Bass, is best targeted in Southern Maine. Bass migrate up the east coast and Maine sees decent populations of schoolies (smaller fish) and some large spawning Bass. Fish are plentiful south of Portland in marshes, estuaries, coastal structure, and river mouths. The Saco River and Kennebec River are well-known for decent populations of Stripers.


Seasons
The best fishing in Southern Maine happens in June and again in the fall. Fish are generally inactive during the warmest summer months but the fall run brings higher numbers of fish that are more active. Some anglers will argue that catchable populations of Stripers hold over in brackish rivers on the Maine coast but I've never fished them in the winter.


Patterns
There are multiple fly patterns that are popular for Striped Bass. Some of our favorites here at Trident are the Clouser Minnow, Lefty's Deceiver, a Surf Candy Fly, Hollow Fly, Flatwing, and a variety of crab flies. If you need Striper advice or fly recommendations, we've got some true fanatics here at Trident... call anytime.


Guides
Diamond Pass Outfitters
Coastal Fly Angler

Mid-Coast Maine


A trip up historic Route 1 takes you through Bath and Wiscassett to Maine's Mid-Coast region and the towns of Rockland, Camden, Boothbay, Searsport, and more. These picturesque coastal towns are characterized by small populations, heavy tourism influence, and beautiful coastline. Mid-Coast Maine isn't well-known for fly-friendly fisheries. That doesn't mean they don't exist, however.


A small collection of rivers in Mid-Coast Maine are worth writing about here. This region is my home region (I grew up in Camden) so I have intimate experience with each of these rivers. Trust me, these rivers are (at times) as productive as the finest fisheries in the state. The allure of western Maine often overshadows the Mid-Coast region but if you know where to look, trophy fish can be found.


**Georges River Trout Unlimited does a lot of work in this area and is a great resource for anglers traveling to the Mid-Coast. Find their website here.**


St. George River


Fish
The St. George winds its way from St. George Lake in Liberty into and out of several ponds and eventually finds its way to the ocean. Mostly a put-and-take fishery, the river is stocked with Brook Trout and Brown Trout and offers some phenomenal Smallmouth Bass fishing in the lower reaches during the summer months. Browns approaching 20 inches aren't rare and Brook Trout are plentiful and healthy as well.


Seasons
The St. George is stocked in both the spring and fall/winter and fishes year-round in some sections. Most anglers characterize the river as a put-and-take fishery and I'd agree for the most part, especially public access areas. Private sections of the river that get less pressure are home to holdover Brown Trout that reach the mid-twenty inch class and hide in deep troughs to stay cool in the summer. Most productive fishing happens in the spring and fall but the river gets stocked in October in Union and can be fished year-round.


Patterns
Productive patterns include streamers like a Wooly Bugger or a Black-nosed Dace. The river also sees decent populations of Stonefly nymphs, Caddis, Mayflies, and midges. Fish larger bright streamers in higher water and focus on the outlets of the various ponds on the river. The section below Sennebec Pond may be the most popular stretch and for good reason. Try hiking downstream to get away from the crowds and to find deeper water.


Ducktrap River


Fish
The Ducktrap is a small stream that runs from Belmont to Lincolnville and shelters small wild Brook Trout. No stocking trucks or stringers of fish here. The Ducktrap is perfect for anglers who prefer wild fish and small brook fishing. Brook Trout average 8-10 inches and are entertaining on a 2 or 3wt fly rod.


Seasons
This is a small stream that requires a bit of walking to access. Flows are healthy in the spring but dwindle to a trickle by the end of the summer. The fishing can be quite productive in the late fall if the season is particularly rainy. I'd stay away from the Ducktrap in the warmer summer months and during the bitter heart of winter.


Patterns
Like most wild Brook Trout fisheries with relatively little pressure, fish will eat almost anything on the Ducktrap. Attractor dry flies often entice Brookies laying in pools or shallow riffles. Nymphs and small streamers can be used, too, but a well-presented dry fly often does the trick.


Megunticook River


Fish
The Megunticook River flows from Megunticook Lake in Lincolnville to the ocean in Camden. The Megunticook watershed is perhaps most well-known for the productive Rainbow Trout fishing but it's also home to a healthy population of Brook Trout and Brown Trout. Fish in the river are a mix of stocked fish and fish that fall over the dam from the lake. The river has two sections; the upper section is slow, wide, and shallow and the lower section is fast, small, and characterized by short riffles and productive pocket water.


Seasons
The lower river is open year-round. The upper river freezes during the winter months. The best fishing occurs during the spring months of May and June when Brook Trout and Rainbow Trout can be found in small water on the lower river. The lower river gets stocked again in the fall and Brook Trout fall victim to well-presented streamers. The river is relatively small so these fish get pressured in the spring and fall. The upper river is home to large populations of Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass during the summer months that can be targeted from a canoe or kayak.


Patterns
Streamers and nymphs work well if you're fishing for trout on the lower river. In the springtime after stocking occurs fish below the second dam feed ravenously on midges in foam and bubble lines. Streamers fool the largest Rainbow Trout in the river and it's not uncommon to catch multiple 20-inch Rainbows in one day in the early spring. If you need more info about the Megunticook watershed, feel free to call Trident. I grew up on the Megunticook and have fished it for 10+ years.


Western Maine


Western Maine shelters a storied history of remote wilderness, mountainous terrain, and some of the state's most fabled trout rivers. This area has little human interference and is a great option for the enthusiastic angler who prefers to fish for multiple days and sleep in a tent. Dirt roads, logging, no cell service, and small general stores. Sounds old-fashioned, doesn't it?


The fishing is old-fashioned, too. Brook Trout that reach lengths of over 20 inches populate many remote rivers in this region and Landlocked Salmon are also plentiful and can get quite large. Western Maine still sees stocking trucks and some put-and-take fisheries, however, you're more likely to find wild fish here than in Southern Maine or Mid-Coast Maine. Here are a few of our favorite rivers.


Magalloway River


Fish
The Magalloway River flows into Parmachenee Lake, out of Parmachenee into Aziscohos Lake, and out of Aziscohos Lake into Umbagog Lake. The lakes offer a convenient river breakdown and the Magalloway is often referred to as having three sections: the upper, middle, and lower. The primary target species in the Magalloway are Brook Trout and Landlocked Salmon, some reaching 5+lbs. The fish in the Magalloway are large, wild, and active most of the year.


Seasons
The Magalloway, like any trout river, fishes best in the spring and early summer. The lower section of the river is a tailwater and, as such, holds trout all summer long (yes, even when the weather gets warm). Unlike other aforementioned rivers, the season on the Magalloway is open April 1 through September 31 so winter fishing isn't allowed. Some sections of the river are catch-and-release only and require barbless hooks so check the regulations before making the trip.


Patterns
Similar to the Rapid River, the Magalloway gets a sucker spawn that trout capitalize on. After early spring fishing with streamers, try pale yellow and pale green eggs behind the spawning suckers. As the water starts to warm and bug life blossoms, Caddis, Mayflies, and potentially larger Mayflies (Drakes) are worth fishing.


Guides
Magalloway Guide Services


Rapid River



Fish
The Rapid River, one of the most well-known trout rivers in the state, flows from Lower Richardson Lake into Umbagog Lake. The Rapid is known for producing some of the state's largest wild Brook Trout (some approaching 6-7lbs). Plentiful Landlocked Salmon and a rare few Lake Trout also exist in the Rapid River ecosystem. The Rapid also gets a healthy population of Smallmouth Bass that move in during the warmer summer months.


Seasons
Seasons and regulations are strict on the Rapid River to preserve the fishery: fly fishing only and all trout are catch and release. Portions of the river shut down early (mid-September) to protect spawning Brook Trout. I've purposefully left out some regulatory details to encourage you to look up the regulations yourself (which you should do before fishing any of the rivers mentioned in this article).


Patterns
If you read about the Magalloway River you know the Rapid gets a sucker spawn in the early-ish spring. After ice-out fishing (streamers and smelt patterns), fish pale yellow and pale green eggs behind spawning suckerfish. Stoneflies, Blue-Winged Olives, Caddis, and Midges hatch during the late spring and trout capitalize on these insects after protein-rich sucker eggs become unavailable.


Guides
Maine Fishing Adventures


Androscoggin River


Fish
The Andro is one of the largest rivers in the state and flows from Gilead Maine through Lewiston & Auburn and eventually into the ocean near Brunswick. The state does stock Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, and Brown Trout near Gilead and Bethel and the upper river features the best trout water. As the river winds its way to the coast, water gets warm and slow and the river becomes a Smallmouth Bass fishery. Many anglers float this section of the river in drift boats or rafts and the Smallmouth fishing can be phenomenal.


Seasons
Stocking efforts take place in the Spring and in the fall on the upper river. As a mostly put-and-take fishery, trout are really only catchable in the spring and fall when the water is cold and relatively high. In the summer season, however, Smallmouth Bass are plentiful throughout the river and can be tempted with a variety of streamer patterns. Catching 30+ Smallmouth in one day is not unheard of on the Andro.


Patterns
For trout, fish typical Maine trout patterns: Grey Ghost Streamers, Prince Nymphs, Caddis imitations, and Wooly Buggers. If you're floating the river in search of Smallmouth Bass, upgrade your streamer game. It may be worth considering an intermediate or sinking line and streamers like the Galloup's Peanut Envy, the Ragdolly, and other big articulated patterns.


Guides
Western Maine Guide Service


Kennebec River



Fish
I decided to group the Kennebec River in with the Western Maine region although it's technically a little more central than the aforementioned "Western Maine" rivers. One of the state's largest rivers and a famous fishery, the Kennebec flows from Moosehead Lake through Bingham, Solon, Waterville, Augusta, and eventually into the ocean near Bath (Popham Beach). The Kennebec is an incredibly dynamic river that's home to a multitude of species including Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Landlocked Salmon, Smallmouth Bass, and Striped Bass.


Seasons
The middle part of the river (below Wyman Dam) features the best trout fishing in part because of stocking efforts. This section gets stocked heavily in the spring with Brown Trout and Brook Trout although fish do holdover. This section is open from April through October. Stripers are plentiful in the lower river in the spring and through the summer and fall and the lower section is open year-round.


Patterns
Streamer fishing on the Kennebec is popular for large holdover Brown Trout in the middle section. In fact, the river regularly gets floated with drift boats and rafts in this section to access the undercut banks with a sinking line and streamer. Regular bug life exists, too, so bring Caddis, Mayfly, and Stonefly patterns in both nymphal and adult stages. Striped Bass will eat Clousers, Ray's Flies, Deceivers, and just about any streamer that imitates a baitfish in the lower river. Remember, the river is wide (200+ feet in some places) and can be deep so choose gear accordingly.


Guides
Kennebec River Angler


Eastern Maine


Eastern Maine isn't well-known for its fly fishing. People generally go east to explore Acadia National Park, one of the most visited national parks in the country. There are a few fly fishing gems worth mentioning in the eastern part of the state, however. I wouldn't recommend traveling east just to fish but if you find yourself visiting for another reason, the following rivers are worth exploring.


Penobscot River


Fish
The East Branch of the Penobscot flows south out of Grand Lake Matagamon until it joins with the West Branch near East Millinocket. Both branches provide famous fishing for large Landlocked Salmon and the occasional Brook Trout. These fish are nearly 100% wild and the Penobscot River system doesn't see any stocking from the state. Tons of food (mainly healthy Smelt populations) help these fish grow to solid proportions.


Seasons
Sections of both branches can be fished all summer long, even in warm conditions. The Penobscot is one of the longest rivers in Maine (in fact, the longest river that starts and ends in Maine) and seasonal regulations differ by section. Smallmouth Bass can be found throughout the river in the warmer summer months and trout and salmon fishing is best in the spring and fall. Campgrounds populate the river and surrounding areas and Baxter State Park is nearby and worth exploring in the summer.


Patterns
The Penobscot, especially the West Branch north of Millinocket, is characterized by heavy rapids, oxygenated water, deep plunge pools, and deep runs. Sinking line and streamers work well here when fish aren't feeding on the surface. Stonefly and Caddis Nymphs can also be utilized productively. The East Branch is generally more remote and trout are less weary so prospecting with a stimulator is always a good option.


Guides
Maine Guide Fly Shop & Guide Service


Grand Lake Stream



Fish
Grand Lake Stream runs from West Grand Lake three miles to Big Lake. The occasional Brook Trout exists and the river system gets decent populations of Smallmouth Bass in the warmer summer months. The largest attraction to Grand Lake Stream, however, is the native Landlocked Salmon. This strain of Salmon is one of 4 native populations of LL Salmon in the US (Fly Fisher's Guide to New England, Zambello). That's a big deal. And the Salmon get pretty large which makes them loads of fun to catch on a fly rod.


Seasons
Angling is, of course, best in the spring and fall seasons when the water is cooler and the fish are active. Fishing can last into the warmer months especially if target times are early in the morning or late in the evening. If the bug life is there, fish will push out of the lake(s) into the river system to feed. Deep pools hold fish year-round.


Patterns
Smaller Caddis Pupa, Pheasant Tail Nymphs, streamers, and Stonefly Nymphs work well on Grand Lake Stream. Like any river, productive patterns depend on structure and fish activity. In deeper holes during warmer times of the year fish are likely on the bottom-feeding on nymphs. In shallow riffles, they may fall for a well-presented Caddis dry fly.


Guides
Weatherby's


St. Croix River


Fish
The St. Croix River is over 60 miles long and creates much of Maine's eastern border with Canada. The river is wide and deep in places which is conducive to warm water species like Smallmouth Bass. The St. Croix is easy to navigate in a drift boat or canoe and presents some stellar Smallmouth fishing in the warmer summer months when other nearby streams are too warm for trout.


Seasons
Like many rivers in Maine, the St. Croix conforms to the April 1 through October fishing season in most sections. Check the state's regulations before fishing the river. The best months to fish for Smallmouth Bass are July and August but good fishing exists throughout the season.


Patterns
Take a solid 6wt or 7wt and some sinking line if you're fishing out of a boat. Streamers are the best option for fooling Smallmouth but these Bass also eat Crayfish, Poppers, and more. Smallmouth aren't typically picky in this neck of the woods so don't go crazy with fly selection.


Guides
Weatherby's


Northern Maine


Northern Maine is rugged and unforgiving. Most of the northern part of the state is covered in forest, accessed by dirt roads, and sparsely populated. In fact, this section of the state is home to the famous '100-Mile Wilderness', a section of the Appalachian Trail that winds its way through 100 miles of woods and mountainous terrain.


Northern Maine's remoteness shouldn't scare anglers, however. This region's small population means many of the fish in this part of the state haven't seen an angler in a long time, if ever. There are tons of small creeks, little-known rivers, and hidden gems in this part of the state; I've chosen two of the more famous rivers to write about here but continue to research and explore if you're ever up in that 'neck of the woods'.


Allagash River


Fish
The Allagash is one of the most well-known rivers in Maine in part because of its navigability via canoe and its membership to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. The Allagash is a tributary of the larger St. John River that runs through the northern part of the state and into Canada. The Allagash holds some truly beautiful native Brook Trout.


Seasons
The spring months are generally most productive on the Allagash, especially for trout. During the warmer summer months, trout find colder water in feeder creeks along the river and seek refuge from warmer water temps. Check the regulations before planning a trip and be conscious of the water levels/temps and weather.


Patterns
Brookies can be taken on a variety of typical Maine patterns. Stimulator dry flies, Grey Ghost-like streamers, Caddis, and Stoneflies are all solid options on the Allagash. Fishing out of a canoe or kayak in the early spring allows anglers to access a larger chunk of water and to find more fish.


Guides
Allagash Guide Inc.


St. John River


Fish
The St. John is a large river with a section that runs through northern Maine and a section that runs through Canada. The river holds Landlocked Salmon, a few Brook Trout in the upper reaches, and Musky. Trout populations have decreased since Musky were introduced and, especially in the lower sections of the river, anglers target Musky on both fly gear and conventional gear. The Musky fishery on the St. John is becoming more and more popular and quality fish are routinely caught.


Seasons
Regulations differ along the river so make plans and do your research. Musky are caught in the spring and throughout the summer but parts of the river can get low and warm similar to the Allagash so be conscious of the water levels. Because the St. John is a freestone-like river, rain can greatly affect the water levels.


Patterns
Brook Trout fall for normal patterns including stimulator dry flies and attractor nymphs. Musky prefer a much larger meal, however, and are often fished for with flies that are 5-7 inches in length. Large, brightly colored streamer patterns often fool these big-mouthed predators but don't be surprised if they follow your fly then reject it at the last second. They're finicky. If you want to learn more about Musky fishing, read our article about how to choose a fly rod for Musky here.


Guides
Tylor Kelly Camps


Hopefully, this article provides some info to point you in the next direction. Lou Zambello's book Flyfisher's Guide to New England is a great resource if you wish to gain more detailed insight into any of these rivers. Did we leave your favorite river off of the list? Let us know in the comments below.