June 23, 2024

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Maine Fishing season: The complete guide

Reading Time: 11 minutes

With more than 2,000 square miles of inland water and almost 3,500 miles of Atlantic coastline, too, Maine is a fishing paradise. The Pine Tree State offers year-round freshwater and saltwater angling opportunities. But Maine’s fishing seasons aren’t that simple. So before you decide to wet your line in its rich fisheries, you should get familiar with what’s biting when, along with some regulations.

Photo taken by Super Fly Charters

In the following sections, we’ll try to help you prepare for your Maine fishing adventure by outlining the most popular fish species and their availability throughout the year. Before focusing on what each month hides, let’s take a look at what you can expect from Maine’s fishing seasons in general.

What can I expect from Maine’s fishing seasons?

In theory, you can always catch something when fishing in Maine. But in reality, each fish follows a different season. In other words, some species may be up across grabs the entire year, whereas others have closed seasons and times when they’re less available. More often than not, your target will follow a season. So, if you have a specific fish in mind, make sure you know when it’s available.

The same goes for certain regions in the state. If you want to go lake fishing fish in counties like Aroostook, Somerset, or Franklin, you’ll only be able to do so between April and September. That’s because inland fisheries in the North Zone are closed for all fishing from October through March.

South Zone counties follow the same rule for rivers, streams, and brooks. Their lakes and ponds, on the other hand, are available for year-round fishing and boast excellent ice fishing. Sounds complicated, eh? Well, that’s why we’re here.

A group photo featuring six anglers standing on a charter fishing boat during the summer and posing with a Lake Trout they caught on a half-day angling trip in Maine
Photo taken by Bucks Bass And Beyond

To check if the freshwater fishery you want to check out is in the North or South Zone, go to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website. For more information on saltwater seasons, visit the Department of Marine Resources site.

Meanwhile, we’ve prepared an overview of the most popular fish species in Maine and their month-by-month availability for you. Take a look at the two tables below and find out when the season of your target fish is at its peak.

Freshwater Fishing Calendar

Species Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct* Nov* Dec*
Smallmouth Bass Weak Weak Weak Good Good Great Great Great Good Weak Weak Weak
Brook Trout Weak Weak Weak Good Good Great Great Great Good Weak Weak Weak
Lake Trout Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great
Landlocked Salmon Weak Weak Weak Good Great Great Good Good Great Closed Closed Closed
Northern Pike Great Great Great Good Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Great

*Note: The fishing season for all inland fisheries in the North Zone is closed between October 1 and March 31. Angling is open during these months in the South Zone’s lakes and ponds but not in rivers, streams, and brooks.

Saltwater Fishing Calendar

Species Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Striped Bass Weak Weak Weak Weak Good Good Great Great Good Good Weak Weak
Atlantic Mackerel Weak Weak Good Good Great Great Great Great Great Good Good Weak
Bluefin Tuna Weak Weak Weak Weak Good Good Great Great Good Weak Weak Weak
Sharks Weak Weak Weak Weak Good Good Great Great Good Good Weak Weak
Pollock Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great
Cod Closed Closed Closed Closed Closed Closed Closed Closed Great* Great* Closed Closed
Lobster Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Great Great Great Good Good Weak

*Note: Cod season in the table reflects the Recreational Management Measures for the Gulf of Maine and so differs from the Georges Bank Recreational Management Measures.

When is Maine’s best fishing season?

Late spring and fall are generally considered the prime times for angling in Maine. But the best season for fishing depends entirely on what makes you tick. If you find thrill in ice fishing, then winter will be the best season for fishing in Maine for you, for example.

You can check out what each month has in store for you and then decide which season is your favorite. To go to a specific month, use the list below and find out what awaits you in Maine whenever you plan on visiting.


Two anglers wearing warm winter clothes while standing in front of greenery and a snow-covered shoreline on an ice-covered lake, while posing with a Northern Pike caught during an ice fishing trip in Maine
Photo taken by Jim Neville Outdoors

The beginning of the year is usually synonymous with drowsiness. While that might also be the case for fish species such as Bass, Trout, Tuna, and Sharks, there are two underwater residents that are pretty active in Maine in January. These are Northern Pike and Pollock. And with these freshwater and saltwater VIPs biting, January angling here looks promising.

Winter Pike are ambush predators and they’ll still be lurking around rock piles under the ice. Lakes that provide favorable ice fishing conditions and hiding spots for Pike include Great Pond and Messalonskee Lake. As for Pollock, early winter is the ideal time to jig for them in the Gulf of Maine. This is when they feed aggressively and vehemently attack live bait. So, if you want to warm up, Pollock will make you break a sweat for sure.


An ice fishing angler wearing a warm winter jacket and a cap while squatting on a frozen and snow-covered lake, as he proudly poses with a Pike caught in Maine
Photo taken by Topwater Guide Service

Unlike January, February is more demanding in terms of locating the fish. This is the time of the year when almost all species head for the depths, and finding them can be slightly more challenging. But it’s not impossible. It just means that February will make you work before you land trophy catches like Pike, Crappie, Bluegill, Perch, and Lake Trout.

Speaking of challenges, mid-February features the Sebago Lake Ice Derby. This weekend encourages anglers to go fishing with the state’s Free Fishing Days. Moreover, February is the go-to month for experiencing the thrill of ice fishing. This is the prime time for it, as the ice is at its thickest and the frozen fisheries are at their safest. All in all, February guarantees a memorable fishing getaway for all winter enthusiasts.


A captain standing on a charter fishing boat with two kids next to a US flag and posing with them. while showing off a Striped Bass caught on a cloudy spring day in Maine
Photo taken by Balding Eagle Enterprises

If you haven’t had the opportunity to ice fish yet, then March is your last chance to do so. But due to safety reasons, we recommend not to wait until the last minute to get out there. If you’re unsure how to go about ice angling, please consult a local expert. They know these frozen waters better than anyone and will take you where the fish are biting and ice fishing is safe.

As a transitional month, March also gives you a sneak peek of what the following months will bring. Brook Trout, Cusk, Landlocked Salmon, Atlantic Mackerel, and Striped Bass are just some of the new names that will soon be fully introduced to Maine’s angling scene. If you want to try your luck at Cusk, for example, hit up East Grand Lakes or Lake Sebago and lure them your way using large minnows served at the bottom.


A female angler wearing a pink shirt and a hat poses next to a captain wearing a pair of sunglasses and a blue shirt while holding a fish they caught during the spring fishing season in Maine
Photo taken by Super Fly Charters

What March shyly whispered, April loudly announces. Everything comes to life again and anglers can finally enjoy diversity in both fish species and productive fisheries. However, everything still revolves around freshwater fishing – especially since April officially marks the beginning of the angling season in the North Zone, too. This further means you get the chance to test your skills against Trout, Salmon, and Bass varieties. And nobody wants to miss out on that!

April is an excellent month to try fly fishing for the first time. The second half of the month, in particular, is suitable for fly fishing thanks to smelt. With April’s smelt run in full swing, it’ll be easy to locate the hot bite because Trout and Salmon will be feasting on these bait fish in the shallow streams. As the smelt frenzy winds down in the southern part of the state, you’ll be able to move up north and continue the same pattern in the northern fisheries.


An angler wearing a pair of sunglasses, a cap, and a pair of gloves while holding a big Striped Bass with both hands and posing with it on a charter fishing boat with a rocky shoreline and greenery in the background
Photo taken by Super Fly Charters

Along with early fall, late spring is prime fishing season in Maine. May offers some of the best angling across the state. And we aren’t exaggerating. If anything, we’re probably selling May short. Wherever you cast your line, a brag-worthy specimen will grace the end of it. This goes for both freshwater and saltwater angling. But as the temperatures rise, your saltwater opponents will slowly but surely take over the angling scene.

Striped Bass start to overflow the coastal waters, and you can catch them in numerous bays. However, the estuaries of the Kennebec, Saco, and Penobscot Rivers are the ultimate hotspots. Besides Stripers, you’ll come across Bluefish and Mackerel, too. The Gulf of Maine officially welcomes Haddock – a local favorite – too. And Cod in Georges Bank aren’t lagging far behind either. Often overlooked by the headliners, hard-fighting American Shad also make a big entrance in May, so it’s all about diversity.


An angler kneeling on a charter fishing boat while showing off a Smallmouth Bass caught in Maine during the summer fishing season
Photo taken by Jim Neville Outdoors

Needless to say, fishing in June is on fire! You have plenty of species at your disposal but we recommend going after Haddock, Striped Bass, or Smallmouth Bass. The southernmost region around Kittery is raining Haddock, whereas Casco Bay is teeming with keeper Stripers. Meanwhile, Sebago Lake is a go-to spot for Smallmouth Bass.

To ensure a successful Haddock hunt gear up with a jig lure or clams as your bait, along with a 5-8′ medium to heavy action rod. Striped Bass, on the other hand, will bite just about anything you throw at them. They’ll fall for a variety of lures like spoons, plugs, or lead­headed jigs, and a whole range of baits such as mackerel, eels, worms, or herring. But fresh-cut bunker or menhaden is by far the most effective bait for June Stripers. As for Smallies, feel free to experiment with spinners, crankbaits, and worms.


A snapshot caught at the moment that three anglers are struggling to overpower a big Shark still fighting in the water next to their charter boat
Photo taken by The Struggle Is Reel Charters

In summer, fishing in Maine goes from excellent to exceptional. Freshwater fisheries will treat you to anything from Lake Trout and Brook Trout to Landlocked Salmon and Pike. But Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass steal the spotlight. You’ll find them in Sebago Lake in great numbers, with Smallmouth patroling the shallow waters with rocky structures, whereas Largemouth will meander among weed patches. To outsmart them, use spinners, minnows, jigs, worms, or crankbaits.

Stripers, Mackerel, and Pollock are also going strong in July. So, the odds of you returning victorious from a saltwater fishing trip are high. However, if you truly want to feel glorious, test your skills against some unique opponents. Tuna, Lobster, and Shark fishing seasons hit at their peak in July, and no other species will give you better bragging rights than these three.


A group of anglers including a captain, a mother, and two sons standing on a charter boat and posing with several Lobsters they caught during a cloudy and rainy summer day in Lobster season
Photo taken by The Struggle Is Reel Charters

As in July, August is all about possibilities. So, be it inland, inshore, or offshore, the summer fishing season in Maine equals screaming reels and tight lines! If you want to go lake fishing, prepare for open-water trolling with lead core lines as Landlocked Salmon and Lake Trout hide at 50-foot depths. Smallmouth Bass won’t be in the shallows either but you can get lucky with topwater lures.

Saltwater fishing is flaming hot, too. Cod season is finally open and Lobsters are all the rage. Bluefish dot Maine’s coast following schools of menhaden, whereas Sharks are looking forward to chumming anywhere from the shallows to waters over 600 feet deep. Striped Bass meander the Kennebec region and can’t wait to feed on your alewives. Meanwhile, clashing with titans such as Tuna offshore is almost guaranteed in August. The list goes on and on to include almost every fish that resides in Maine.


A couple posing together holding a Pollock each, with both anglers wearing sunglasses and caps on a summer fishing trip in Maine
Photo taken by Mainely Blue Charters

September is probably the last month to offer a fishing frenzy before everything slows down again. So, don’t miss out on the opportunity to cast your line. Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Pike, Brook Trout, Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Striped Bass, Atlantic Mackerel, Tuna, Sharks, Cod, and Lobster all await you here.

The month of September is also ideal for a Pollock pursuit, and is the first of only two months to go after Cod before the season closes again. The deep waters around Stellwagen Bank are known for an impressive number of fish during this time of the year. If you want to score both Cod and Pollock on the same trip, then Jeffreys Ledge is the place to explore.


An angler standing on a charter fishing boat next to rods, while holding a decent-sized Cod caught in the Gulf of Maine during the open season in fall
Photo taken by North East Salt Water

The fall fishing season in Maine brings major changes to the angling world. October is the month when entire counties in the North Zone close their fisheries until spring. The six counties include Aroostook, Piscataquis, Somerset, Franklin, Penobscot (north of Route 11 and 157), and Oxford (north of the Androscoggin River).

Luckily, there’s always a fish you can catch in Maine. And should you opt for only one species, let it be Cod. Along with September, October is the only month when you can freely pursue Cod off Maine’s coast. They’re bottom dwellers and, as such, they’ll be lazily waiting for you to lower your bait to the seafloor. So, the most effective lures are jigs paired up with plastic worms or clams and shrimps as bait. Head out in the early morning or late evening for the best results.


An angler standing on a charter fishing boat and posing with a Pollock in both his hands while looking directly at the camera on a bright and warm fall day
Photo taken by Mainely Blue Charters

After the eventful summer and fall fishing seasons, winter gradually approaches and the variety of available fish species slowly tails off. This doesn’t mean that angling ceases. On the contrary, some fish are still active. However, many face season closures and some are more difficult to outwit.

Trout, for example, tend to concentrate more on the bottom and they’re more reluctant to chase bait. Therefore, you’ll have to recast multiple times while fly fishing until you hit the jackpot. Bass won’t fall for everything, either, but senkos and spinnerbaits might produce some results. Saltwater angling might be a better bet in November, especially if you’re into Pollock. Not to mention that the cold fronts can surprise you with fresh meat through species like Winter Flounder.


A photo of a child bundled up in winter clothes, wearing a cap, a pair of gloves, and a warm coat while posing with a Bass caught on a frozen lake during the ice fishing season in Maine
Photo taken by Jim Neville Outdoors

With the end of the year just around the corner, Maine is about to be covered in snow and ice. But this is great news as you’ll soon be able to practice ice fishing. Of course, depending on your location and the weather, angling conditions will differ. Southern fisheries will still see free-flowing waters, for example, while northern lakes and ponds will begin to freeze.

For this reason, it’s crucial that you team up with a local ice fishing guide. Not only will they make your safety their priority, they’ll also take you where the hotspots are and provide you with top-notch ice fishing equipment. So, if you want to get the most out of your angling experience during Maine’s winter fishing season, reach out to the pros for help.

Maine Fishing Seasons: An Angling Rollercoaster

A photo capturing a huge Tuna after it was caught and tied to a charter fishing boat, with a captain and his mate getting ready to head back home after a successful deep sea fishing trip in Maine
Photo taken by Special J Charters

By now, you’ve probably realized what we meant by Maine’s fishing seasons not being simple. Sure, you can wet your line any time of the year and you might end up with a fish or two, but in order to land a prize catch or a specific fish, you have to know what the best time to go fishing in Maine is. Hopefully, we managed to paint a picture of what each month can offer and have helped you decide when to book your Maine fishing trip. Tight lines!

Do you have any tips and tricks on when to fish in the Pine Tree State? We’d love to hear from you, so hit the button below and share your thoughts about Maine’s fishing seasons with us in the comments!

The post Maine Fishing Seasons: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Tanya
Title: Maine Fishing Seasons: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/maine-fishing-seasons/
Published Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2023 15:13:00 +0000

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