When you want the inside scoop on fishing in Maine, you ask a local. And that’s just what we did when it was time to let you know about the abundance of fishing experiences in Maine. We asked Maine resident and lifelong angler, George Smith to share his love of Maine fishing to give you a better idea why we think Maine should be at the top of your fishing bucket list.

We’ll turn it over to George to tell his story…

Fishing in Maine will make you very happy!

by George Smith

When my grandson Vishal was 6 years old, we fished a favorite pool on a small stream near my north woods camp. V had not learned to cast a fly yet, so I cast, then handed him the rod to set the hook and land the native brook trout that live here. We began catching trout immediately and after removing the hook from the first 8-inch trout, I handed it to Vishal and encouraged him to release it.

George's Dad, Ezra Smith, proudly shows off his brookie.
George’s Dad, Ezra Smith, proudly shows off his brookie. Photo credit: George Smith

Well, he reared back and tossed it like a football out into the stream. “Well, V,” I said, “I guess I need to give you a bit more instruction!” Fish number two got a much nicer release. After we’d landed about two dozen trout, he caught a beautiful 13-inch fish, carefully released it, then looked up with those big eyes and said, “Grampy, we’re both very happy.” Boy, he got that right! 

I have been blessed to have fished in some fabulous places including Montana, Alaska, Quebec and Labrador. But I am hooked on fishing in Maine, partly because I love brook trout and my state has 97 percent of the remaining native brook trout habitat in the country. When I’m up to camp in the north woods, fly fishing for brookies keeps me busy.

The brook trout is a Maine state heritage fish, and is protected in more than 500 ponds that have never been stocked. Yes, that’s right, 500 ponds full of native brook trout!

At home in central Maine, I like to use a light spinning rod to catch smallmouth bass. Despite Maine’s reputation for native brook trout, twice as many smallmouth bass as brook trout are caught here each year. Many of our lakes, ponds, and rivers are full of smallies.

There are lots of places to fish. Maine has 6,000 lakes and ponds ranging from 1 acre to 75,000 acres, and 5,000 rivers and streams flowing for 37,000 miles. And no, I have not been able to fish them all! 

I can fish a lake, pond, brook, and stream without leaving the 10 acres surrounding my Mount Vernon home. I especially love fishing the Kennebec and Androscoggin Rivers in my kayak. Fifty smallmouth bass are routine in a half-day of fishing there. And there is a remote pond in one of our nearby public lands where I’ve stashed a canoe. You can catch a smallie on nearly every cast and I have never seen another angler fishing there.

While some of our best rivers and lakes can be crowded when fishing is at its best, there are thousands of places you can fish alone. Imagine this: an old log cabin, on the shore of a remote pond full of brook trout, surrounded by old growth forest and conservation lands owned and protected by The Nature Conservancy, and you have it – cabin, pond, woods, hills, and trout – all to yourself. Well, you don’t need to use your imagination because this place exits at Big Reed Pond (T8 R10). The cabin is owned by Igor and Karen Sikorsky of Bradford Camps and is available to folks who are staying at Bradford on Munsungan Lake.

Or how about this fishing adventure? Linda and I mustered out early one Saturday morning to fish with Mike Pilsbury, a guide with Kennebec River Angler, who dropped his raft over a cliff into the Kennebec River Gorge for an amazing morning of catching brook trout and landlocked salmon. We had the gorge to ourselves all morning, amidst spectacular scenery, with eager fish taking our flies.

I encourage anglers – especially on their first Maine fishing trip – to hire one of our terrific guides. You will learn a lot and fish in some amazing places. And, stay in a traditional sporting camp if you can. It’s a very special experience.

Perhaps you like ocean fishing. I can have my boat in the ocean in an hour and a quarter, to catch mackerel, striped bass, bluefish, and sharks, among the dozens of species available up and down our 3,000 miles of coastline. And did I tell you about those sea-run brook trout in some of our rivers and streams? A Maine fishing trip of a lifetime might include both coastal and inland fishing.

Fishing in Maine is a lifelong passion for most of us. When my 91-year-old Dad, Ezra Smith, was in the Hospice Unit at the Veterans Administration hospital at Togus, I got him out six times in a wheelchair to the edge of a small pond on a dammed up stream that passes through the hospital campus, to catch brook trout. The first time we tried this, it was brutally hot, and I told Dad not to expect to catch anything. And he caught a beautiful 12-inch brookie on his first cast! Dad caught fish every time we got out there.

Check out his photo here; it’ll tell you all you need to know about my passion for fishing. It’s hereditary, for sure. I can promise you just one thing: if you fish in Maine, you will be very happy!

George Smith served as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine for 18 years and has been a full time writer for the past four years, focusing on outdoor and travel news. You can access much of his work at www.georgesmithmaine.com.

For information on fishing in Maine and more advice from locals, visit the fishing page of the Maine Office of Tourism website. 

Note: Click on the image above or the link below in order to access downloadable versions of the photos.

Ezra Smith

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