Click the links below for the most up-to-date fishing news and suggestions from Maine’s fisheries biologists.
Sebago Lake Region
From Fisheries Resource Supervisor James Pellerin
Places to go: Thankfully, the summer doldrums are over with much of the heat behind us. The warm, dry conditions this year made stream fishing tough for coldwater species and many of our smaller streams dried up or were considerably warmer, which certainly impacted our wild trout populations here in southern Maine. Lake and pond fishing held up reasonably well for both warm and cold water fisheries, and those targeting cooler water reported some decent catches of trout and salmon. We had some good reports of rainbows in the 16-22” range from waters like the Range Ponds and Stanley, and some of our local brown trout lakes produced similar sized fish and even reports of fish in the 5-7 pound class. While salmon fishing on Sebago remained slow for most of the year, several anglers reported some decent catches in very localized areas in the late summer/early September. The lake trout fishing on Sebago was very good for the entire season, one local guide reported over 800 fish boated with most being lakers. In addition, my brother landed his personnel best for Sebago with a 37-inch, 16.4 pound laker!
Fall is finally upon us, my favorite time of year and a great time to fish. As the water cools, cold water fish will become more active and our hatchery staff is preparing for another round of stocking. Many of these fall stocked fish are larger fall yearlings (12-14 inches long) or adults (16-18 inches long). While most of these fish stocked in our lakes and ponds are largely intended for winter anglers, fall anglers get the first crack at them as most lakes and ponds in southern Maine are open to year-round angling. There are some exceptions, so be sure to consult your lawbook or our more interactive regulations mapping application, Fishing Law Online Angling Tool (FLOAT). In addition, anglers should be aware that after September 30 most of the lakes and ponds in southern Maine that are managed for put-and-grow salmonids revert to artificial lures only (ALO) and catch-and-release for trout and salmon. Lakes and ponds aren’t the only game in town for southern Maine, several rivers and streams are also open in the fall or year-round with many of these receiving fall stocked trout. A few of the more popular ones include: the upper Androscoggin River (Gilead/Bethel), the Upper and Lower Mousam River (Acton/Kennebunk), the Presumpscot River (Windham), the Royal River (Yarmouth), and the Saco River (Buxton/Saco). On the last three of these waters, anglers should target the tailrace areas below the dams, as these are the primary fall stocking locations.
Outlook on the fall season: We find fall fishing to typically be quite light in the region on most of our waters, and we assume many of our anglers are busy shifting over to hunting related activities and fall chores. But remember, you can’t currently hunt on Sundays, so give fall fishing a try and maybe you’ll get hooked!
Belgrade Lakes Region
From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Jason Seiders
Places to go: Little Pond (Damariscotta): Little Pond is the best brook trout fishery in central and midcoast Maine. Trout growth here is incredible. The average size brook trout weighs around three pounds, and we see numerous fish approaching and exceeding five pounds. Little Pond has restrictive regulations, so consult the lawbook before you go. It’s a great opportunity to catch the trout of a lifetime!
Kennebec River (Forks): October is a beautiful time to fish the upper Kennebec. The landlocked salmon fishing can be very productive, and quality-size brook trout take on gorgeous spawning colors. An additional bonus is the opportunity to hunt for grouse if the fishing slows down. There are numerous access areas along this long stretch of river, but wading can be tricky due to changing river flows. You can check the predicted river flows at Safewaters.com, a site maintained by the owners of the hydroelectric projects on the Kennebec River.
Sebasticook River: The Sebasticook River is a tremendous smallmouth bass fishery and it really lights up this time of year. Millions of juvenile alewives begin a downstream migration to the ocean, and they become food for numerous fish along the way. Fishing with jigs is always productive, but topwater lures can be the most effective. There are numerous access points along the river in Pittsfield, Burnham, Clinton, and Benton. It’s a great place to catch a lot of fish, with an occasional 19-inch plus bass mixed in.
Outlook on the fall season: The past few months have been incredibly dry. We’re seeing many small streams that are extremely low to completely dry. Many of our popular coastal streams, such as the Medomak River and St. George River, are so low that it could make fall stocking impossible. Keep a close eye on our updated stocking report to see if your favorite water has received fish this fall.
Reminder: This is a great time of year to get out on the water. To me, the lack of biting insects and the colorful foliage make fall fishing that much more enjoyable. Central and midcoast Maine waters receive far more stocked fish in the fall than in the spring, so fishing trips can be incredibly productive. While you’re enjoying the Maine outdoors, please respect private landowners. I know I say this a lot, but it’s a problem in this region, and it’s the primary reason that we lose access to some of our favorite waters.
As always, feel free to contact your regional fisheries office. We’re more than happy to help you plan a successful fishing trip, and we love to talk about fishing! Good luck and stay safe.
Grand Lake Region
From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Gregory Burr
Places to go: As lake and river waters cool, coldwater gamefish become very active Downeast in October. This is an exciting time of year for both hunters and anglers looking for a diversity of outdoor pursuits. At the top of my list is fly fishing for salmon at the famed Grand Lake Stream. In October salmon will be entering the stream to stage for spawning later in the month and the angling can be fast as salmon bust on colorful streamers. This year for the first time the stream’s fall fishing season has been extended to October 25. This is an extra five days of opportunity for anglers to catch these fat sassy salmon that have spent the summer feeding on smelts in the deep depths of West Grand and Big Lakes. Anglers coming to this area should also not overlook salmon fishing in West Grand Lake, either for fly fishing or casting above the dam for salmon or trolling the lake for salmon and lake trout. West Grand Lake is open to fishing until October 20.
I also recommend trolling for salmon at Cathance Lake in Cooper. This lake is sparsely populated and is surrounded with beautiful hardwoods that bursts open with color in October. This lake is open to catch and release for salmon and brook trout through the fall.
In Hancock County anglers can enjoy trolling and casting the shoreline for pre-spawn salmon and lake trout at places like Beech Hill Pond and Phillips Lake as well as for brook trout and salmon at Long Pond and Echo Lake on Mount Desert Island.
Also, don’t overlook the brook trout fishing opportunities on the small brook trout ponds like Long Pond and King Pond in Great Pond Plantation and Tilden, Salmon, and Little Long Ponds in T 10 SD.
My fall fishing tips are these: Fish in front of inlets. These freshets will attract spawning fish. Also, fish with colorful flies and lures such as the woods special, Montreal, Barnes special, and chartreuse or bright orange Rapalas.Tight lines!
Rangeley Lakes Region
From Acting Fisheries Resource Supervisor Liz Thorndike
Places to go:Before you put your fishing gear away in preparation for hunting season or start dreaming of winter sports, think twice – October in the western mountains can be an excellent time of year to fish as waters cool and trout become active. If you’re staying in the Eustis area, Little Jim Pond is a small pond known for quality sized brook trout. With easy access it is worth slipping a canoe in for even an hour. If you’re looking for a more adventurous trip, Little Beaver Pond in Magalloway Plt is a great water for potential fast fishing, trout average anywhere from 8-14 inches. A five-minute walk down an angler trail will lead you to the western shore. If you’re looking to get in some last-minute wading, an often overlooked river is the South Branch of the Dead River. The river runs alongside Route 16 between Rangeley and Stratton and receives an annual fall stocking of brook trout.
Outlook on the fall season: The fall season so far has been off to an interesting start, with waters so low anglers have found themselves fishing uncharted territory as their old haunts are too low. However, that hasn’t stopped many anglers from having great fishing trips, especially those who chose to head out on larger lakes and ponds.
Reminders: While out fishing during this drought, don’t forget to take note of where those key rocks, structure, and substrate are you often don’t see – it may give you a new favorite fishing spot for future years. Remember now that hunting season has begun anglers are sharing the woods and water with another user group, be respectful – we’re all looking to enjoy our time outdoors.
From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Tim Obrey
Outlook on the fall season: The fishing season is winding down here in the Moosehead Lake Region. Many of our waters close at the end of September to give our wild and native fish a little break during their spawning season. It’s an important time in their life cycle, and we need to let them do their thing. We can’t complain. The fishing has been pretty good this year.
Places to go: There are still a few places for anglers to wet a line. Probably the best options are the East and West Outlets. These fisheries are predominately hatchery origin fish and the fishing can be very good in October. The hatchery truck has dropped off some nice fall yearling brook trout that usually run 12-14 inches. The salmon fishing is pretty good too. This is the time of year for flashy streamers that attract and agitate the big fish. Moosehead Lake needs to be drawn down by the end of the month so the flows in these rivers in October are typically very good for fishing.
Normally, I would recommend the Piscataquis River as a good October fishery. The river runs along Rt 15 with great access and we stock it each fall with big, beautiful brook trout. However, this drought has really put a crimp in our plans. The current flow in the Piscataquis River is at an all-time low! At this point, there are more rocks than water, so the stocking will have to wait. Keep your eye on this spot if we finally get some rain this month. I’ve seen some good fishing here on Halloween.
Reminders: Most our stocked ponds are open in October. Check your lawbook for specifics. Fishing pressure is typically very light as many anglers have hung up their fishing rods in favor of the shotgun. But this is a good chance for a little cast and blast. I’ve seen some decent midge hatches in October. Stocked brook trout, salmon, and splake will be milling around the surface, gulping down a fall meal. We get some pretty nice days in October and if you can manage to take the long way home, over a dirt road, you might find a few birds. It should be a very good year for grouse hunting up this way.
From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Kevin Dunham
Places to go: Come October, many folks put away the fishing gear and set their sights on a new hunting season. There really is no need to choose between fishing or hunting; why not both? There are several ponds in the South Zone of Region F which remain open to fishing, as well as harvest, year-round. Flatiron Pond (T3 R9 NWP) provides an excellent opportunity in the fall for 13”-14” stocked brook trout as well as a plentiful population of white perch, as a bonus the pond is located in great grouse country. Another spot to target fall-stocked fish is Little Round Pond in Lincoln. Like Flatiron Pond, Little round Pond also receives 13”-14” stocked brook trout each fall, however, Little Round Pond is unique in that starting December 1 each year fishing is restricted to persons under 16 years of age or persons holding an eligible complimentary fishing license; which makes this a great place to teach a child how to ice-fish. The Caribou, Egg, and Long chain of ponds, also located in Lincoln, is another water with a fall brook trout stocking program. An added incentive here is the chain of warm-water ponds has some sizeable smallmouth bass lurking under the surface and within driving distance of some pretty good bird cover so you could make a day of it.
Outlook on the fall season: While it appears angling activity was on the rise this summer, angler reports for regional waters have been mixed. Prolonged periods of hot, dry weather certainly influenced river and stream fishing success, some smaller brooks in the region basically dried-up completely. Many lakes and ponds warmed dramatically this summer with anglers reporting decreased success rates as fish sought deeper, cooler temperatures and spring holes for some thermal refuge. There are exceptions in every situation, and not all lakes and ponds were miserly, East Grand Lake stands out as one Regional water that continued to produce some healthy salmon and brook trout throughout the season. Reports from Seboeis Lake, Pemadumcook Lake, Lower Togue Pond, and Pleasant Lake were also positive.
Reminder: If you plan on doing some late-season fishing be sure to check the 2020 Maine Fishing Law book as regulations differ between the North and South Zones with many of the north waters, if open to fall fishing, being restricted to fishing with artificial lures only and “catch and release” of salmonids.
Fish River Lakes Region
From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Frank Frost
Places to go: A new rule opens up two Fish River Thoroughfares to year-round fishing with some special restrictions. The thoroughfares connecting Square, Eagle, and St. Froid Lakes remain open after September. Salmon may be harvested under the same special rule during the general season, but brook trout must be released alive (see rule book for specifics). Terminal gear is restricted to Artificial Lures Only (ALO). This new rule serves two important causes: first, it provides some fall fishing in flowing water that anglers have been requesting for many years. Second, the rule will aid in our efforts to reduce the abundant salmon population in Eagle Lake by allowing harvest. Salmon enter these two thoroughfares to spawn in the fall; allowing anglers to fish here at this time will not harm the population but might possibly reduce numbers to healthier levels in Eagle Lake. Anglers are encouraged to harvest their catch if they have a use for the fish.
Nearly all of the stocked waters in northern Maine are open to extended fishing seasons. Essentially any water stocked with brook trout remains open in October and November under Artificial Lures Only (ALO) and all fish caught must be released alive. Consulting the rule book for any of these waters will direct you to those open. There are several stocked waters along the Route 1 corridor between Houlton and Presque Isle. A few of these are Nickerson Lake in New Limerick, Carry Lake in Littleton and Conroy Lake in Monticello. All of these waters have deep water with good water quality so the fall fishing could be very good.
Outlook on the fall season: Due to the extended drought conditions, flowing waters are at record low levels, so these waters could offer difficult fishing this fall if we continue to get little to no precipitation (see photo of Fish River between Mud and Cross Lake). The deeper ponds and lakes are the ones to focus on this fall since they typically have cooler, well-oxygenated water on the bottom and thus are less affected by lack of rain. It will take some extended rain events to bring our waters up to normal levels for fall and early winter.