Fishing Report

Click the links below for the most up-to-date fishing news and suggestions from Maine’s fisheries biologists.

Maine's fishing regions

Maine Region ASebago Lake Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Jim Pellerin

Places to go: As we move into summer, water temperatures begin to heat up and it is a great time for anglers to shift their focus from coldwater species like trout and salmon to warmwater species such as bass, perch, and pickerel.  Warmwater species are typically more abundant, easier to target, and less finicky eaters than their coldwater counterparts.  These traits make them a great resource for introducing new adult anglers or children to the fun of fishing, so mentor another and bring them fishing.  While shallower, weedy areas of almost any lake will produce some action for largemouth bass, pickerel, and yellow perch a few good bets include: Lake Arrowhead in Limerick, York County; Little Sebago Lake in Windham/Gray, Cumberland County; and North and South Ponds in Greenwood, Oxford County.  For white perch, search for schools of rising fish at dawn and dusk and a good old worm hung under a bobber will usually do the trick.  The hard part is staying with the schools of perch as they move.  Smallmouth bass will often hang about on gravelly/rocky shorelines, particularly drop-offs and other deeper areas as the season progresses.  The Androscoggin River from Rumford to Brunswick provides some great smallmouth bass fishing opportunities, either fishing from shore or even more productive fishing by canoe or car top boat which can be launched at a number of launch sites along the river.  The Mahoosuc Land Trust has developed an interaction trail guide of launch sites along the river  for canoeists and anglers.

Update on the season so far: We have had mixed reports from anglers so far. Due to COVID-19 concerns, hatchery fish were stocked out  earlier than normal, , but  an unusually cool and wet spring resulted in a slow start to the fishing season that was not anticipated.  Early reports were that anglers could not catch or find the stocked fish; however, as things warmed up, the angling improved. This was followed by an unusually warm and dry June, which are not preferred conditions  for our coldwater stream fisheries, particularly if these conditions persist into the summer.  However, these lower flow conditions do concentrate the fish, making it easier for anglers to locate and catch fish.  In addition, we observed and heard reports of a tremendous uptick in angler use with many new or novice anglers getting outside to enjoy Maine’s fishery resources.

Fishing tip: For those dedicated coldwater anglers, there are still good lake and pond fishing opportunities around but to be successful you may need to change tactics, waters, or locations.  Some knowledgeable anglers would even argue that once our area lakes thermally stratify then many coldwater fish become easier to target and more concentrated as they seek out limited areas of cold, oxygenated water.  For this region most anglers fishing from a boat will want to target water in the 15-25’ depth range beginning July 1-September 15.  Lures or bait can be trolled effectively at these depths with downriggers or lead core lines. With bait you will still want to troll relatively slow but lure anglers can go a bit faster (2-4 mph).  For stream fisherman, cold mountain streams for wild brook trout are an option or even some of the cold, tailwater fisheries to the north of our region make a good summer outing.

Reminders: The increase in outdoor use related to COVID-19 is great to see and exciting for the Department, but a few reminders:

Be respectful of landowners and other recreational users.  One traditional, privately owned boat launch was recently restricted to car top only use in response to a display of disrespectful communications and behaviors by an inconsiderate boater.

Maine Region BBelgrade Lakes Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Jason Seiders

Places to go: Gould Pond in Manchester: Gould Pond currently supports a robust stocked brook trout population, so the fishing here should be really good. We have seen individuals over 16 inches long, and they are healthy looking. In addition, if the trout fishing slows down you can fish for largemouth bass along the shoreline. Largemouth numbers are really high in Gould, and you can watch them make leaps trying to catch dragonflies!

Bowler Pond in Palermo: The opportunity in Bowler is similar to Gould Pond, a lot of stocked brook trout! Again, if the trout fishing slows down you can fish the shoreline for bass. The pond is loaded with smaller-sized smallmouth bass. It’s a great opportunity for a newer angler or kids because it should be a lot of action!

East Pond in Smithfield and Oakland: East Pond has quickly turned into a bass fishing destination. Anglers will find good numbers of both largemouth and smallmouth bass, with some trophy-sized individuals. Additionally, East Pond is a great spot for large pickerel and black crappie.

Update on the season so far: We have heard great reports from around the region about a variety of species on a variety of waters. Bass fishing has been hot, when the wind allowed folks to fish! Brook trout waters in the region have produced some great fishing and we have seen some pretty large fish.
The water is warming quite rapidly, which will send a lot of lake dwelling species seeking deeper, cooler water. Trout and salmon in lakes will spend most of their time at depths of 20 feet or more, where the cooler water can be found. Bass have either finished nesting or they are really close, so they will start seeking drop-off areas near cooler, deeper water. Evening is a great time to fish for these predators. Bass and trout will readily feed in the evening, searching for food along the surface. Once the wind dies down, surface plugs can be very effective for bass. For trout, dry flies in the evening can be productive, especially now that we have our large mayflies hatching out in the evening hours.

Reminder: As always, please feel free to contact a fisheries biologist with any fishing question you might have. We’re always happy to help!

Maine Region CGrand Lake Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Gregory Burr

Places to go: By July lake surface waters will have risen to over 70 degrees, which means coldwater fish species such as trout and salmon have primarily sounded to deeper depths.  They will come up on occasion to feed on the surface on specific insect hatches as well as on some schooling bait fish near  the surface, only to go right back down into the colder depths where the temperature is more preferable.  Most lake anglers fishing for lake trout, salmon, splake, and brook trout in July use down riggers and lead-core line to get to cooler water that hold these species.  Trolling with these methods with live bait and lures are the preferred techniques for mid-summer salmonid fishing.  These fish will be found 10 to 35 feet under the surface with lake trout being even deeper as the summer progresses.  Good lakes Downeast to fish in July are Tunk Lake, Jordan Pond, Echo Lake, Donnell Pond, Branch Lake, Green Lake, Beech Hill Pond, Hopkins Pond, Cathance Lake, and West Grand Lake.

Anglers wanting to fish for warm water species such as smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white perch, and chain pickerel will find that these fish are very active in the shallow warmer waters around the rocks, weed beds, and lily pads.  Summer fishing for these species can be great fun for kids and newcomers as these species can readily caught by actively casting using surface plugs or lures from shore, dock, or from a canoe, kayak, or boat.  Also fishing with a worm and bobber can very effective for warmwater fish and can give children hours of enjoyment catching sunfish, bass and perch.  Some waters to fish include : Toddy Pond, Alamoosook Lake, Scammon Pond, Hamilton’s Pond, Big Lake, Meddybemps Lake, Third Machias Lake, Crawford Lake, and Pocomoonshine Lake.

Fishing tips: For dyed in the wool small pond brook trout fishermen I recommend “nymphing” the small trout ponds from a kayak, canoe, or float tube in July.  As these ponds set-up and stratify, trout will contain themselves in the "thermocline," which generally is located 8 to 15 feet below the surface.  Casting a weighed fly line with a nymph or small streamer, allowing the fly to sink down into the thermocline and then retrieving with a slow steady rhythm is the key to success.  Count as your line sinks and try retrieves at different counts.  When you find the right count that takes your line down to depth where the fish are, repeat that count each time before you start your retrieve and you will have good action.  The small trout ponds I recommend are:  West Pike Brook Pond, Pineo Pond, Spectacle Pond, Mic Mac Pond (these are all in Deblois), Halfmile Pond in Aurora, Halfmile Pond in Amherst, Jellison Hill Pond in Amherst, and Simmons Pond in Hancock.

Maine Region DRangeley Lakes Region

From Fisheries Resource Biologist Liz Thorndike

Places to go:  Horns Pond is one of my favorite places in the state to fish for brook trout, it provides adventure with every step and cast. The pond sits on top of Bigelow Mountain between “the horns,” hence the pond’s name and to fish this three-acre pond you will have to hike nearly four miles. If you enjoy hiking and fishing, add this water to your bucket list! You will feel as though you are out west. With the pond nestled just off the Appalachian Trail and between cliffs, Department pilots are not able to stock this pond by air, instead the pond is stocked every June with brook trout fry (~3” long) by backpack – yes, the trout get a free ride up the mountain. Don’t worry though, you are not fishing for those small recently stocked trout but rather the larger trout stocked  prior years and you won’t be disappointed with the action as the trout are always hungry on top of that mountain! Bring water shoes if you want to wade out onto the shallow rocks or a float tube if you have one. The water is great for any level fly angler, trout will slurp dry flies all day but spin casters will do just as well with a small brightly colored spinner.

Spencer Lake in Hobbstown Township provides a great fishery for someone looking to fish both cold or warmwater fishing in the same day. The lake provides great lake trout and salmon fishing for those interested in trolling and the smallmouth bass fishing is very fast action during the month of July and August.

Webb Lake in Weld boasts not only a spectacular view of Tumbledown Mountain and surrounding mountains but provides anglers with options of catching a large brown trout lurking in the depths or salmon and brook trout that are  the perfect size for dinner. The lake also offers bass fishing for those looking to cast along shore.

Update on the season so far: The fishing season started out great but these unusually hot, dry, and sunny days are taking a toll on more than just human activity. Rivers and streams are abnormally low this time of year and have made fishing difficult, but the larger lakes are producing fish as they normally would. There have been many reports of smaller ponds having some great evening hatches so don’t be afraid to get off the beaten trail.

Fishing tip: If you plan on bringing fish home, be prepared! Bring a cooler or some ice with you, putting your catch immediately onto ice to keep it cool will make a tremendous difference with the quality of the meat.

Reminders: We all want to enjoy our time fishing, be respectful of other anglers and recreators when outdoors. Give space when going by other boaters or anglers wading in a river.
Mainers, with these unusual times we all find ourselves in, remember the local fishing lodges have noticed a reduction in activity. If you have always wanted to stay and fish at a sporting camp, this is your year – give a camp a call and see if they have any openings.
Due to the unusual heat and lack of water, trout are experiencing higher than normal stress levels. If you are going to release your catch, try to minimize handling time and when applicable avoid fishing for trout during the heat of the day.

Don’t forget - July is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy Maine but always be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.

Please remember that the General Law in the north zone now includes “No live fish as bait.” All waters open to the use of live baitfish/live smelts will have the special law code S-11 in the new 2020 lawbook (PDF) or use the Fishing Laws Online Angling Tool.

Maine Region EMoosehead Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Tim Obrey

Places to go and tips: For those that love to fish trout ponds, July means one thing: the Hex hatch.  The biggest fish have been sulking for the month of June and now they start looking up again. They are waiting for that tasty treat on the pond surface just as darkness falls.  This is one of the best times to land a lunker and you can do it on a dry fly.  Everyone has their favorite fly for the Hex hatch.  The Hexes are extraordinarily large yellow/green mayflies. Wulffs and parachute hackle with extended-body are favorites.  I prefer the Sexy Hexy.  It’s the only fly I need in the evenings this time of year. Fish can’t refuse it. It’s almost unfair <diabolical laughing>.

I’m not going to spot burn anyone’s favorite small trout pond, but I can point to a couple places for good fishing, at least for early July.  Rum Pond, just east of Greenville, has a spotty Hex hatch. What I like most about this pond is its not an overwhelming hatch, but instead creates competion and active searching for food.  Trout can be very selective during the Hex hatch in some locations.  You really need to be on your “A” game.  Not so at Rum Pond in my experience.  The fish will work the surface like a dolphin, sucking down everything in their path.  Just lay that Hex pattern about 10 feet in front of them and get ready.  There are some pretty good fish in Rum Pond too. It has a harvest slot limit of 6 to 12 inches, so all the big fish must go back. This regulation has worked very well at Rum Pond and now there are good numbers of fish over 14 inches.  The best access in on the east side where MDIFW partnered with the landowner (Plum Creek, now Weyerhaeuser) and the local Boy Scouts several years ago to develop a trail and campsite on this end of the pond.

I’ve been checking salmon anglers at Chesuncook Lake all summer and the fishing has been pretty good. Overall, catch rates are high compared to other salmon waters. I have seen some nice fish too with several over 20 inches. The fish have stayed near the surface.  Most anglers have been successful fishing with hardware from the surface down to about 15 feet. Fishing pressure is very low so if you’re looking to get away from it all and have some good action, head on up.  There is a no size or bag limit on salmon under 16 inches and we are encouraging anglers to take home some fish.

Normally, rivers like the East Outlet and West Branch of the Penobscot are sure bets in early July.  The extreme dry weather has really impacted even these big rivers.  The hatches are still good. Plenty of caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies. But check the flows before you head out.  Some rivers are down to bare minimum flows due to the lack of rain.  Brookfield manages many of the dams up in this country and they have a great webpage where you can keep up to date on current flows: www.safewaters.com/home

Reminder: Also, I want to note that the trail is closed around McKay Station on the West Branch of the Penobscot just below Rip Dam for safety reasons. There was a rock slide in April and the area is still not totally safe. Anglers and boaters should plan to use the Little Eddy access site this summer for the upper section of the river.

Please remember that the General Law in the north zone now includes “No live fish as bait.” All waters open to the use of live baitfish/live smelts will have the special law code S-11 in the new 2020 lawbook (PDF) or use the Fishing Laws Online Angling Tool.

Maine Region FPenobscot Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Kevin Dunham

Prime opportunities abound in July, particularly for warmwater species.  If smallmouth bass is your target, there is no shortage of destinations to be considered.  Pushaw Lake is handy to Bangor and offers great action for smallmouth bass as well as pickerel and white perch.  There are good boat launches in Glenburn and Orono.  With the recent hot weather and spawning activity, the smallmouth action should be second to none. Pushaw is also gaining in popularity amongst area anglers due to an introduced population of  northern pike .  When you get bored with catching too many bass why not give pike a try!

Pleasant Lake in Island Falls is another water gaining in popularity for smallmouth bass anglers, and should provide some good action for bass during July. There are several other options at Pleasant Lake as anglers can also target landlocked salmon, brook trout, and white perch. Landlocked salmon in the 3-4 pound range are fairly common at Pleasant Lake. A state-owned boat launch can be found in the north-west corner of the lake and caution should be used motoring from the launch out into the lake as the area tends to be shallow during dry summers.

Baxter State Park has many excellent wild brook trout ponds.  Though many of these ponds are rather remote and require a hike to get too, the payoff can often be brook trout in the 12-17” range.  Canoes are generally available at these remote ponds, check with Baxter State Park personnel for details.  Two such ponds, Lost Pond and Foss-Knowlton Pond, both in T3 R10 WELS can be accessed via a hiking trail from the Daicey Pond campground.  Both Lost Pond and Foss-Knowlton Ponds are restricted to Fly Fishing Only, with a five brook trout bag limit, 6” minimum length and only one of the trout may be over 14”.  If you’re looking for a trout pond with little to no hiking needed check out Rocky Pond and Round Pond in T2 R9 WELS.  Both are located just off the Baxter Park Tote Road and canoes are available at Round Pond.  Both ponds are stocked with brook trout and general law terminal tackle allowed.  There is a two brook trout, 6” minimum limit at both ponds.

Update on the season so far: So far this season we have received reports of good fishing for black crappie, a recent illegally introduced species, at Chemo Pond in Eddington and Bradley.  Anglers reported catching so many crappie they had to stop fishing because their fillet knife was getting dull!  Lower Sysladobsis (Lakeville, T5 ND BPP) has given up some fine landlocked salmon in the 4-5 pound range so far this summer and anglers able to troll deep should continue to have luck.  Finally, we have received numerous reports that anglers at Nesowadnehunk Lake are routinely catching some beautiful brook trout.  This lake, in T5 R11, T4 R11 and T10 R11, is a Fly Fishing Only water with an abundant brook trout population that is known for its fast action in the evenings during the green drake hatch.  All reports indicate angling this year is exceptional at Nesowadnehunk and the spectacular views from this waterbody are an added bonus.

Fishing tip: Now that the water has warmed up be sure to troll deep enough to get below the thermocline; usually at least 25 feet below the surface.  This is where landlocked salmon and splake will hang out and feed, in the cooler, well oxygenated water.  Down-riggers are ideal as they can place your line precisely where you want to be, but you can still get your lure below the thermocline if using lead-core line.  Just troll four or five colors at an easy speed and you’ll have your bag limit before too long. 

Reminder: Please remember that the General Law in the north zone now includes “No live fish as bait.” All waters open to the use of live baitfish/live smelts will have the special law code S-11 in the new 2020 lawbook (PDF) or use the Fishing Laws Online Angling Tool.

Maine Region GFish River Lakes Region

From Fisheries Resource Biologist Jeremiah Wood

Places to go: August came early this year. The hot, dry weather we Mainers have come to expect later in the summer began its assault on cold water in late May, and as I write this report, it’s been about a month since any significant rainfall event and we’re nearly breaking temperature records every day.
Northern Maine is brook trout country, which makes the fishing up here quite reliant on the presence of cold water that brookies require to survive. Some years we see prolonged wet, cloudy periods where you can find trout most anywhere, while years like this one require an angler’s ability to find cold water in order to find trout.

Right now, and probably for the rest of the summer, trout and salmon will be confined to deep water or spring holes in lakes and ponds, and in groundwater inputs or headwater sections of streams. Our late snowmelt runoff seems to have kept groundwater springs running well thus far, keeping many otherwise doomed brookies alive.

For anglers looking for specific waters to target, Eagle Lake (Fish River Chain) should produce plenty of salmon for those trolling 30 feet or so below the surface. The Meduxnekeag River is a likely spot for brook trout in groundwater inputs and brown trout at night. Further north, the St. John River is producing fast action and big fish for those who can access the deeper holes during these super low water conditions.

Fishing tip: I often like to tell anglers the most valuable piece of equipment they can take fishing this time of year (other than a rod, of course) is a thermometer. A simple handheld fishing thermometer goes for $10-20 most places, and it’s more than adequate to help you find fishing spots. Stream dwelling brook trout feed actively at 60-65 degrees this time of year. I caught trout in a stream this week that registered 70 degrees, but the fishing was slow and most fish kept to the deeper pools. Remember that water temperatures usually peak mid-afternoon, so a reading early in the morning won’t give you an idea of how warm a stream can get. 

Reminder:Please remember that the General Law in the north zone now includes “No live fish as bait.” All waters open to the use of live baitfish/live smelts will have the special law code S-11 in the new 2020 lawbook (PDF) or use the Fishing Laws Online Angling Tool.