Where Can I Fish?

There’s nothing better than a day of fishing on one of Maine’s high-quality rivers, streams, brooks, lakes, or ponds in Maine, and SAM and NEXTera Energy Resources want to help you experience it. NEXTera’s great staff includes fisheries biologists and others who do some of the state’s best fisheries research and provide water access (including boat launches) on several Maine rivers. Check out the sources of information listed here for great how-to fish and where-to-fish advice – and get out there and fish today!

Start your Maine fishing adventure at the website of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife where you can get information including recent fish stockings. And check out the new Maine Fishing Guide

Fishing Maine’s extensive saltwater? The Department of Marine Resources offers news releases and lots of links to interesting projects. Throughout the summer, check out Bruce Joule’s excellent advice about where the fish are biting and lots of useful data and other information.

Wondering where to launch your boat? The Department of Conservation provides an excellent list of boat launch facilities You can search the site by town or county, body of water, and tidal or freshwater.

Maine Public Reserved Lands
The state has an excellent map on their website of Maine Public Reserved Lands and there uses.

North Maine Woods
A region of over 3.5 million acres of top quality commercial forest land. Included within its boundaries are two of the most famous wild rivers of the Northeast – the St. John and the Allagash. North Maine Woods completely surrounds the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.
It is an organization. Landowners – big and small, corporations, individuals, and families have joined with Maine’s natural resource agencies in a partnership to solve today’s problems and plan for the future.
It is a spirit. Past and present; people and nature meet here. Men and women who make their living from the woods and those who relax here love this area. And through North Maine Woods, they work together to see that while they take forest products, fish, wildlife, and pleasure from this great region, they take nothing that will make it any less in the future than it is today.
Their website provides all the information you need on access, fees, maps, camping, simple rules and more.

Fisheries Projects and Reports

We are blessed in Maine to have three beautiful rivers flowing from the mountains down to the sea. Over the years, there have been times when the rivers were not as beautiful as they are now. We can be thankful to all the citizens who have worked diligently to spearhead the cleaning efforts. In some cases, these efforts have taken years of dealing with large and small corporations, citizens whose land abuts the river and boaters.


The Androscoggin River

The people along the Androscoggin River have worked assiduously to restore that river. Those workers describe their river as “the beautiful and mighty Androscoggin River…”


The Penobscot River

I cannot describe the Penobscot Restoration more eloquently than the people themselves have on their website: “The Penobscot River Restoration Project is an unprecedented collaboration between hydropower company PPL Corporation, the Penobscot Indian Nation, seven conservation groups, and state and federal agencies, to restore 11 species of sea-run fish to the Penobscot River, while maintaining energy production.”

Maine Fishing Initiative

Maine anglers demand and deserve better fishing. The goals, objectives, and tactics of the Maine Fishing Initiative can deliver better fishing and a stronger fishing economy.

The initiative is inclusive for all anglers and constructed on sound science. It has brought anglers of all interests together from bait dealers to fly fishers and both salt water and inland water anglers, and including all segments of the fishing industry: wholesale and retail businesses, guides, sporting camps, tourism officials and others.

Links & Resources:

L.L.Bean Fly Fishing School

“Any angler will tell you there’s always something to learn—casting methods to refine or beautiful places to discover. L.L.Bean Adventures allow anglers at all levels to select the courses, private lessons or guided fishing trips suitable to their skills and interests.”

Maine’s Youth Fish and Game Association

“The Maine Youth Fish and Game Association was established for the purpose of promoting the love and respect for the Maine outdoors by the youth of Maine and extending to these youth, the treasures of experience in the outdoors.”

Maine Fishing Initiative
Created and Coordinated by the
Fishing Initiative Committee of the
Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine


  • Create great fishing statewide
  • Double fishing license sales
  • Triple the economic contribution of recreational fishing


  • Recognize the quality of fishing experiences in Maine and protect that quality.
  • Make it easy to fish.
  • Maximize fishing opportunity.
  • Manage for big fish.
  • Maximize the economic value of fish and fishing.
  • Make native and wild fisheries the highest priority for sustainable management.
  • Secure appropriate access to all Maine lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.
  • Establish accountability for fisheries managers, decisions, and policies.


Maine anglers demand and deserve better fishing. The goals, objectives, and tactics of the Maine Fishing Initiative can deliver better fishing and a stronger fishing economy.

The initiative is inclusive for all anglers and constructed on sound science. It has brought anglers of all interests together from bait dealers to fly fishers and both salt water and inland water anglers, and including all segments of the fishing industry: wholesale and retail businesses, guides, sporting camps, tourism officials and others.

The initiative will be taken directly to the angling community – as well as the state’s decision-makers – in a major outreach, education, and action project, recognizing that state government can’t lead this, anglers must lead. Results will be measurable and regular progress reports will be issued.

Supporters will be aggressive in bringing these issues to the general public and the Maine legislature. Significant effort will be made to inform and activate anglers in this comprehensive effort to build a better fishing future for all.

Fishing experiences on beautiful Maine waters ought to be enjoyed by every Mainer. It is our goal to get everyone out on a lake, pond, river or stream, enjoying his or her outdoor heritage.

Most importantly, we know that better fishing will contribute substantially to Maine’s economy, particularly in rural areas of the state where this is so desperately needed.

Over the last two decades many residents and nonresidents have given up fishing in our state. Fishing license sales peaked at 310,278 in 1990, and dipped all the way to 261,753 by 1997. Since then sales have averaged 271,452.

From 1993 to 2005 Maine lost 30,000 nonresident anglers. Using the estimate of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that a nonresident angler spends $500 per trip, the loss of 30,000 nonresident anglers costs Maine’s economy between $15 and $25 million a year.

We believe the loss is much greater. States that invest in and manage their fisheries wisely have seen the sales of fishing licenses increase. For example, during a period when Maine’s nonresident fishing license sales decreased by 28 percent, Montana’s nonresident fishing license sales increased by 19%!

Every survey taken by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine has demonstrated why the state is losing anglers. Surveys of SAM members have consistently found 50% or more rated fishing as only fair or poor. When asked what single thing SAM could do for them, many members ask for better fishing.

Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife commissioned its own scientific poll in 2001. Dr. Christian Potholm of Command Research found that nearly half of those who fish freshwater reported that the quality of fishing in Maine over the previous five years had declined. Specifically, 47% said fishing had declined, 23 reported that fishing had improved, and 24% felt that fishing had stayed the same. That same year, DIF&W reported that overall revenue was off pace, “largely due to a continued slow down in resident fishing license sales.”

We believe these problems are caused, in part, by: a lack of accountability (including financial accountability) for fisheries biologists and their management plans and policies; an under funded and unresponsive fisheries management system and staff; and an inability of anglers to interact with DIF&W in a positive way in order to help resolve the problems.

Maine can and must do better. We have waters that match any in this country or Canada in beauty and opportunity. We just don’t have the fishery. But we could. And we must.


These tactics are suggestions from anglers that would help achieve the goals and principles of the Maine Fishing Initiative. At this stage, they are only ideas. They have not been adopted or endorsed by SAM or SAM’s Fishing Initiative Committee.

  1. Make it easy to fish.
    1. Make rules and fees simple and inexpensive to encourage people to fish.
    2. Simplify fishing rules and remove other barriers that keep people from fishing.
    3. Restructure license fees to reward conservation.
    4. Avoid new rules or license hikes that discourage people from fishing.
    5. Adopt the following Rules Policy: When it is necessary to give a fish population extra protection, bag limit and/or length limit restrictions should be the first method employed to protect fish. Except in extraordinary cases, such restrictions should apply equally to open water and ice fishing. When the desired objective cannot be achieved through bag and length restrictions, then and only then, the next method should be gear restrictions. The method of last resort should be restrictions of opportunity by shortening of the seasons.
  2. Maximize fishing opportunity.
    1. Offer year-round open water fishing, following regulations for sustainable fisheries.
    2. Open all stocked rivers and streams to year-round fishing.
    3. Expand and improve ice fishing opportunities.
  3. Manage for big fish.
    1. Manage for maximum size, everywhere.
    2. Change fishing rules to allow anglers to keep small fish, not large fish.
    3. Manage bass for sustainable populations and big fish where this will not conflict with salmonids.
    4. Manage landlocked salmon for the biggest possible fish in all salmon waters.
    5. Establish an aggressive program for managing smelts and enhancing smelt populations in all salmon waters.
  4. Maximize the economic value of fish and fishing.
    1. Create world-class fisheries to make Maine a destination for anglers.
    2. Create a comprehensive marketing plan for recreational fishing in all four seasons so that Maine fishing can be marketed more effectively.
    3. Implement the marketing recommendations found in the June 2004 DIF&W Review performed by the Management Assistance Team of the International Association of Fish and Game Agencies.
    4. Make stocking programs more efficient and effective, without negative impacts on wild and native species.
    5. Do not stock waters in which wild and native trout and salmon are the principle fishery.
    6. Do not expand rainbow trout stocking until a policy is established to assure that these fish do not impact native and wild trout.
    7. Implement the recommendations of the Hatchery Commission.
    8. Use all large stocked fish as marketing tools.
    9. Use the initiatives on the Upper Androscoggin River and Kennebec River as models for action in other regions, recognizing the effectiveness of collaborative involvement of many groups and businesses and hundreds of individuals to define needs and create and implement plans.
  5. Make native and wild fisheries the highest priority for sustainable management and protection.
    1. Use habitat protection and enhancement to maximize wild fish production.
    2. Actively discourage invasive species and aggressively rid waters of them wherever they negatively impact native species.
    3. Authorize the commercial harvest and sale of illegally introduced species.
    4. Manage the four original landlocked salmon waters to focus on salmon as the priority fishery.
    5. Establish and follow management policies that include regulations that promote sustainable fisheries and assure wild waters remain free from stocking.
  6. Secure appropriate access to all Maine lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.
    1. Provide better information about access to and fisheries in all Maine waters.
    2. Continue to work with the Bureau of Parks and Lands to create Maine’s new 10-year boating and fishing access plan.
    3. Encourage the state to consolidate all boating and fishing access plans in one department.
    4. Focus on securing legal access (and shift financial resources to this tactic) rather than building boat launches, so more access can be achieved.
    5. Match the type of access to the water and desired experience in state plans.
    6. Use SAM’s website to present comprehensive information about fishing in Maine and access to Maine waters.
    7. Work with DeLorme to include more information about fishing and boating access sites and other information about fishing in its Gazetteers.
    8. Conduct a study to identify all legal water access in the state and the public’s rights at those sites, including examining all rights in abandoned rights of ways.
    9. Educate anglers about access rights, issues and needs.
    10. Put up access signs statewide that direct people to access and fishing sites.
    11. Streamline the government approval process for creation of boating launch sites by establishing a by-pass of local ordinances and permits for state agencies.
    12. Offer tax credits to private landowners who provide water access.
  7. Establish accountability for fisheries managers, decisions, and policies.
    1. Create methods of measuring the success of fisheries managers and plans.
    2. Create and implement management plans for every lake, pond, and river that include access and fishery goals.
    3. Establish legislative and public review of species management plans every five years.
    4. Produce accurate and reliable data including fish stocking and license sales.
    5. Establish “red flags” that require action when triggered.
    6. Implement the license sales and reporting requirements of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the most recent audit of DIF&W and achieve the time lines in the audit for changes.
    7. Create a credible stocking policy for all species and assure that all stocking is consistent with the policy.
    8. Establish a public process for proposals to stock new species in any water, with a requirement that the new stocking be consistent with DIF&W’s stocking policy.
  8. Empower and effectively utilize anglers in all aspects of fisheries management.
    1. Schedule annual conferences of anglers, hosted by angler groups, to work on the implementation of this initiative, gather new ideas, and build a coalition to improve Maine’s fisheries and expand fishing opportunities.
    2. Establish SAM’s Anglers’ Congress as an annual event.
    3. Use anglers, sporting camp owners, and guides to collect data and other information and help create management plans.
  9. Establish annual reports on the economic contributions of recreational fishing, prepared by a nonpartisan organization.
    1. Ask the Maine Public Spending Research Group to issue this annual report.
  10. Establish a credible professional opinion poll annually to measure the satisfaction of Maine’s anglers and gather their opinions on critical fishing issues.
    1. Seek funding and partners to conduct this poll.
    2. Submit legislation to require DIF&W to hire a professional pollster to conduct this poll annually.
  11. Establish bi-annual public reports on fishing license sales.
    1. SAM will collect monthly DIF&W Reports and issue a press release twice a year on fishing license sales (if DIF&W does not do this).
  12. Annually evaluate progress on this initiative and issue a report.
    1. SAM’s Fishing Initiative Committee will take the lead in preparing this report annually, beginning in 2009.
  13. Study fishery management programs in other states that are destinations for the nation’s anglers and be open to new and creative ideas that help achieve the goals and objectives of this plan.
  14. Implement the recommendations for DIF&W’s Fisheries Division found in the December 2002 Review of DIF&W’s Fisheries Division performed by the Management Assistance Team of the International Association of Fish and Game Agencies.
  15. Establish consistent and sufficient funding sources to achieve the goals of this initiative.
    1. Dedicate all fishing license revenue to fisheries programs.
    2. Utilize user fees where they can be effective in allowing anglers to pay for what they receive.
    3. Create a tax credit for private entities that invest in improvements in fisheries habitat, stocking, access, or other infrastructure improvements.