Maine is a state of superlatives, and you can add some of the best trout fishing in the Northeast to that list.
From mountains climbing more than 5,000 feet to remote wilderness areas without roads for miles to rocky beaches crowded with summer tourists, Maine has perhaps as much sheer variety of landscape, wildlife and natural beauty as any state in the nation.
The brook trout fishing is legendary, and a photo of a native, wild brook trout in a beautiful Maine stream is an iconic New England image.
Anglers chase browns, rainbows, and lake trout in rivers and lakes throughout Maine’s 35,385 square miles every year.
We narrowed this list to the 13 best lakes, rivers and ponds for trout anglers and gave you all the information you’ll need for a memorable day on the water.
Maine’s Best Trout Fishing Rivers
The Androscoggin takes an unusual path, beginning on the western state border in Umbagog Lake, flowing through New Hampshire, then returning to Maine and flowing southeast through the state into Merrymeeting Bay.
The upper Androscoggin from New Hampshire into western Maine features trophy-sized brown and rainbow trout along its route.
Rainbows and browns exceeding 20 inches are not uncommon closer to Umbagog Lake, where the upper river also is on our list of best trout fishing streams in New Hampshire.
However, as it flows downstream into Maine, rainbow trout become more prevalent than brown trout, and rainbows in the 14- to-18 inch range aren’t unheard of. Brook trout also live in the Androscoggin.
As the river continues across Maine it slows and becomes a popular smallmouth bass and northern pike fishery. So if you’re after trout, fishing it in the areas around the communities of Gilead, Bethel, Hanover and Rumford will give your best shots at rainbows.
Access: U.S. 2 follows the most productive trout fishing water in the upper Androscoggin River from the New Hampshire border downriver to Rumford. The highway provides various access points, including trailheads and other public lands.
At various points in the state’s history, the Crooked River has been stocked with brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon.
Wild brook trout have also called the headwaters home for years, and the Crooked hasn’t been stocked with brookies for some years now.
It is perhaps most famous for the Atlantic salmon that live in Sebago Lake and use the river to spawn every year. These bright silver fish have become an angler favorite in Maine, and Sebago is a popular lake to target them.
Stonefly nymphs and streamer patterns like the gray ghost or the muddler minnow are popular flies on the Crooked. Biologists have tagged spawning Atlantics measuring as long as 26 inches.
Native brook trout are a big draw on the Crooked, but the spawning Atlantics are certainly a bonus.
Access: The Crooked merges with the Songo River in Sebago Lake State Park, and anglers can use Park Access Road in the park to access the Songo/Crooked as it flows into Sebago.
Farther upstream, Sebago Crooked River Campground Road, which runs through Sebago Crooked River Campground, offers more wadeable access. From where the river emerges from Songo Pond, Route 35 parallels the stream.
Below the Wyman Dam, which separates Wyman Lake from the lower Kennebec, brown trout are plentiful.
Depending on rainfall amounts, the Kennebec can be an easily wadeable river in spots, making it an attractive destination for fly anglers.
A 12-mile section of the river, farther upstream, runs through the Kennebec Gorge, and while this is a beautiful section to float, it’s difficult to access on foot.
However, the lower river runs right through the towns of Hallowell, Augusta, Gardner, and Farmingdale, making for easier fishing.
Browns of 5 pounds and larger aren’t unheard of in the stretches of the river that run through Waterville and Fairfield. The state often stocks several thousand legal trout in the spring, specifically below the Williams Dam.
Access: River Road, or Route 201A, hugs the Kennebec River in Madison, and this stretch is some of the best brown trout water the river has to offer. Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon are more plentiful upstream and browns are more plentiful downstream.
The upside of fishing the Rapid River in Maine is you have a chance at an absolutely enormous brook trout.
Camp records along the Rapid have shown anglers repeatedly catching 3-plus-pound brook trout, with five-pounders in the mix, in the upper section where it flows out of Lower Richardson Lake.
The tough part is access for anglers, with most parts of the river itself a hike away from the nearest public roadway.
Carry Road runs north of the river, but you’re still going to have to hike a few hundred feet at the very least to get streamside. The Rapid River Conservation Area surrounds its inlet into Umbagog Lake and also is only accessible on foot.
However, the limited public access diminishes the number of anglers and allows for the brook trout to reach the sizes they do, so there’s a cost and a reward.
If you’re on the fence, consider that the Rapid has a population of landlocked Atlantic salmon, too.
Yep, lace up those hiking boots.
It’s worth noting that the Rapid is fly-fishing only, and barbed hooks are prohibited, so this river offers the ultimate challenge with, potentially, the ultimate reward: Not many anglers can claim to have landed a five-pound brook trout, but on the Rapid you’ll have that chance.
Access: Carry Road parallels the river to the north, but it’s a hike to get to the water, so come prepared.
The Roach River is a 6.5-mile-long river dumping into Moosehead Lake that offers Maine anglers another shot at both spectacular brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon.
Between where the river flows out of First Roach Pond and the intersection with Lazy Tom Stream, there is a pool called Warden’s Pool. This one pool has produced a number of large brook trout in prior seasons. Sculpin pattern flies can be particularly successful in the early fall.
Access: Baxter State Park Road crosses the river right as it flows out of First Roach Pond.
Maine residents will tell you that there’s a distinct difference between the Southeastern part of the state, which many New Englanders visit for the Maine experience, and the parts of the state that are much, much farther north.
Fish River is part of the latter Maine. It flows into the St. Johns River, which runs along the border of the United States and Canada. This is as far north as you can fish without a passport.
The stretch of the river that connects Soldier Pond and Fort Kent is heating up for brook trout by June and can give you the quintessential remote Maine, native brook trout fishing experience.
Access: Both the city of Fort Kent Campground and Riverside Park where it flows into the St. Johns offer access to excellent brook trout fishing.
The Magalloway river is a 48-mile-long river in northern Maine. The west branch starts near where New Hampshire and Canada meet Maine’s western border, about a mile inside the U.S.
About two miles south, it combines with the east branch and forms the main stem which flows right to the New Hampshire border along Route 16, west of the town of Rangeley. The river forms Lake Aziscohos north of Route 16.
The Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge covers both sides of the river and crosses the state line separating Maine and New Hampshire.
Creel surveys in the last decade have shown that the state’s catch-and-release regulations are working, and that the size of brook trout released in the river is getting larger. One survey recorded more than 4,500 brookies longer than 12 inches caught and released.
Besides mandatory C&R, state rules also prohibit the use of barbed hooks on the river, which has continued to help brook trout populations thrive. Various sections are governed as catch-and-release only, fly-fishing only, or barbless-hook only, and you can find specific information here.
Access: The Mailbox Pool Conservation Area is accessible off Wilsons Mills Road just east of the Maine/New Hampshire border and provides access to the Magalloway below the Aziscohos Dam.
St. George River
One added bonus about fishing the St. George River which flows out of St. George Lake is that you’ve got brown and brook trout, and then smallmouth bass in the lower reaches.
The St. George flows through Seven Tree Pond, Round Pond and Sennebec Pond before emptying into Muscongus Bay.
For variety, it’s a good all-around choice for a Maine river, and wooly buggers and colorful streamers, especially in the ponds, can entice brown trout up to and pushing 20 inches.
The most brook trout stocked by the George’s River chapter of Trout Unlimited are likely to be added in the Searsmont area, and the Union and Warren sections of the river have often seen heavier doses of browns.
The state of Maine regularly stocks the portions of the river flowing through the towns of Appleton, Searsmont and Union.
As the St. George flows toward St. George Lake in Liberty, trout increasingly share the river with smallmouth bass.
Trout will often offer the best action when it’s cooler in spring and fall while smallmouths will be active in a bit warmer weather in between.
Access: Turn onto Robins Mill Road off Ghent Road in Searsmont to reach the Canal Trail Path, which is a state-maintained trail that mostly follows the St. George. Lake St. George State Park off Rte. 3 in Liberty offers access to the lake, for anglers more interested in smallmouth.
A nice thing about the Presumpscot, which flows out of Sebago Lake and dumps into Casco Bay, is that, aside from having brook trout at landlocked Atlantic salmon in its upper stretches, is that it is stocked by the state with brown trout every year.
Browns to 20 inches and larger can be caught in open water throughout the year, although rising summer water temperatures can make fishing difficult.
Fallen trees and beaver dams on the lower section can give browns a break in the current and are good areas to target with small streamers or spoons in the early fall when fish are more active.
Try switching to nymphs once water temperatures drop and the trout become more lethargic.
A state-maintained hiking trail runs along much of the river’s length, which adds some access. It’s worth noting that the river is regulated for fly-fishing from Sebago Lake to North Gorham Pond.
Once you get below the dam, you can use lures or bait, and keep two brook trout, splake or Arctic charr, in combination.
Blue-winged Olives are a great choice in May and June and again in August and September. Streamers that imitate smelt and sculpin can be especially effective for the larger fish looking for a meatier meal.
Access: The Sebago-to-the-Sea Trail runs along the lower section of the Presumpscot, starting at Shaw Park and following it to the Presumpscot River Preserve. The trail follows the river for nearly all of its length, making it a great option for visitors who don’t want to take their chances in uncharted territory.
Maine’s Best Trout Lakes & Ponds
Little Ossipee Pond
If driving as far north in the continental United States as you can and then hiking hundreds of feet off the road isn’t your cup of tea, then maybe a place like Little Ossipee Pond is more up your alley.
Little Ossipee, in southern Maine, is only about a 45-minute drive from Portland and it is regularly stocked with rainbow trout.
The pond reaches depths of up to 70 feet in the eastern arm, and produces some truly thick rainbows every year. At about 1,000 acres (1,005 to be exact), it’s large by pond standards and gives you plenty of water to cover.
Access: Bob Fay Memorial Park on Turtle Cove Road offers a public boat launch on the east side of the pond.
No Maine list would be complete without Sebago, one of the most popular fisheries in the state’s southern region.
Whether you’re targeting brook trout, lake trout, brown trout, or landlocked salmon, Sebago has good numbers of fish. It is perhaps best known for its lake trout and landlocked salmon, along with some very good bass fishing.
Lake trout and brook trout, aren’t technically ‘trout,’ per se, but these char cousins offer a nice variety of species for anglers looking for a mixed bag.
The Atlantics, typically a faster fish, are often targeted by anglers trolling flies between 4 and 7 miles per hour, particularly in shallower water right at first ice out.
Sebago Lake has had its problems with invasive species, like northern pike, that are threatening native populations. But it’s also home to some of the biggest landlocked salmon in the state. The lake has, at multiple times, held the state record.
So, if you’re trout fishing but want a chance to check some other Maine favorite species off your list, Sebago offers a great opportunity to that end.
Its deepest holes are in the northwest corner, with depths to more than 300 feet. Many larger trout will push into deeper water during the peak of summer.
Access: Look for a public boat ramp in Sebago Lake State Park at the northern end of the lake.
Mousam is another popular lake in southern Maine that offers a variety of species including brown trout, lake trout, brook trout, landlocked Atlantic salmon, and rainbow smelt.
In 2010, a 9-pound, 2-ounce brook trout was caught in Mousam, and to this day, it stands as the state record.
The third Saturday in July every year features the Kid’s Fishing Derby, with young anglers earning awards for catching the longest, heaviest and most fish. The lake’s center and southern end have holes plunging as deep as 72 feet.
Access: Just north of where it crosses Deering Ridge Road, Route 109 (Emery Mills Road) has a public launch on the southern end of Mousam Lake.
Maine’s largest lake is a veritable fishing paradise, and it has lake trout, brook trout, landlocked salmon and more. Moosehead has produced brook trout weighing as much as 5.6 pounds, and more than one state-record has come from the lake.
Moosehead itself has more than 400 miles of shoreline to roam if you’re fishing on foot. If you’re in a boat, the western central part of the lake has the deepest holes, some in more than 200 feet of water.
When fishing started declining in the late 1990s, the state responded by increasing the number of lake trout that anglers could keep, which reduced the population over time.
The state also stocked smelt, to provide substantial forage for the game species that were growing in the lake trout’s absence.
The turn of the century saw some of the biggest brook trout caught in the lake’s history. Brookies in the 2- to 4-pound range aren’t uncommon these days on Moosehead, one of the favorites to produce the next state record.
Not surprisingly, this giant lake full of fish in the far northern U.S. also is among Maine’s best ice fishing spots.
Access: Village Road in the Rockwood area and the Greenville Junction area on the southwestern end of the lake are a couple of boat launch accesses easy to reach off Route 6. Lily Bay State Park offers a launch and other facilities, as do other Moosehead Lake Public Land sites.
Whether you’re looking for natural beauty, species variety, or remote bodies of water that will make you feel like you’re the first angler to set foot on them, Maine is an incredible state to chase trout.
Anglers travel from around the country to pursue the state’s native brook trout, and brown trout rivers are almost as popular. Throw in the shimmering silver of the acrobatic landlocked Atlantic salmon and some bright rainbows, and you’ve got a fishery that’s truly unlike any other in the lower 48.