The 5 Best Fish to Catch in Maine This Summer

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: September 9, 2022
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Most people think of lobsters and Maine coon cats when they hear about animals in Maine. However, there is a whole bounty of fish to be caught off the coasts and in freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers in the state. So, why limit yourself? Today, we’re going to discuss the five best fish to catch in Maine this summer. We’ll tell you where to find them and give you some tips on bait and technique when possible!

What Are the Best Fish to Catch in Maine?

As we’ve said, Maine is a great place to catch fish since it has inland bodies of water as well as the Atlantic Ocean off its coast. Some fish are better than others to pursue in these waters, though. We’ve created a list of the best fish to catch in Maine that includes varying types of fish based on the skill required to catch them, their size, and the experience you’ll have while fishing. So, without further ado, let’s get to the list!

1. Brook Trout

Trout vs Salmon - Brook Trout
Brook trout weighs less than 10 pounds.

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The brook trout, or squaretails, might not seem like it belongs on this list. Yet, if you’re familiar with the species, you’ll remember that they were extirpated from many states on the East Coast until they were reintroduced. Maine retains a large population of naturally occurring brook trout.

The waters in this state never had as much heavy industry as those in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. So, if you’re in Maine on vacation, it might be one of the few chances you have to catch one of these fish if you don’t go to stocked lakes.

Brook trout don’t get that large, though. They usually measure between 10 and 25 inches and weigh less than 10 pounds. However, some larger fish can be found.

They usually live in streams, deep lakes, and rivers. You can find them in Roach River, Denny’s River, Magalloway River, and many other areas. These fish are a popular target for fly fishers, especially in late summer. Use small plastic worms with natural colors or live baits like wax worms or minnows.

2. Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass from Lake
Largemouth bass hide in weeds and other aquatic plants.

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Everyone angler knows and loves to fish for largemouth bass. These creatures only weigh a few pounds, measure between 12 and 16 inches on average, and thrive in warm lakes and ponds. The largest largemouth bass ever caught in Maine weighed 11 pounds and was reeled in at Moose Pond.

Several factors make this one of the best fish to catch in Maine this summer, including the fact that they’re widely available in the warmer months and easy for newcomers to reel in. You can find bass in over 300 lakes in Maine, including the famed Cobbosseecontee Lake in the central part of southern Maine.

The best way to find these fish is to go out on a boat or find a good spot on the shoreline. Look for rocky areas that have about 5-15 feet of water and lots of vegetation. They hide in weeds and other aquatic plants.

You can use a wide variety of bait, too. They will eat minnows and crayfish, but they’ll also eat cold cuts, bread, and just about anything else you put in the water.

3. Mackerel

You can catch mackerel throughout the summer season.

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Mackerel are great fish for professional anglers and novices alike in terms of the experience of catching them. They are also one of the best fish to catch in Maine when you’re looking for a meal. You can catch mackerel off the coast in a boat, or you can even catch them from the coastline on a pier or jetty that lets you cast in deep water.

Two places where people catch these fish from the coast include Rockland Breakwater and the Eastport Breakwater. You can find others, but those are very popular spots that are easily found. Otherwise, you can try finding them in harbors and even coastal rivers.

Mackerel is a favored early summer fishing target. However, they may be caught throughout the summer season. You’ll want to use a shiny lure to draw them in, like spoons or a spinner.

4. Landlocked Salmon

landlocked salmon
The landlocked salmon commonly jumps out of the water and tries to escape when hooked.

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Landlocked salmon are a good fish for people that want a sizable catch and an entertaining experience. Once you get one of these salmon on the hook, they’ll jump out of the water and dive to try to escape. It’s an experience that every angler in Maine should have at least once.

Although they stay near the surface in cooler months, you’ll have to pursue them to deeper water in the summer. They go down over 30 feet when the weather is hot. These fish can be found in rivers, lakes, and streams throughout Maine, including West Grand Lake and Moose River, and Roach River.

Your best bet is to use a trolling technique with a downrigger to catch these fish. As for bait, you can use a smelt or a spoon lure. Depending on the time of year you go, you’ll have to use specific bait and techniques.

5. Bluefin Tuna

Southern Bluefin Tuna swimming in the open ocean
Catching the bluefin tuna almost always requires a boat.

©Al McGlashan/Shutterstock.com

Last but not least, we have bluefin tuna. This fish is only caught off the coast of Maine, and it almost always requires a boat. Now, you may be itching to go out and catch one of these fish on your own. However, charter boat operators have the gear, the bait, and the knowledge of where the bluefin tuna reside.

With minimal planning on your end, you can take part in one of the best fishing experiences that the state has to offer! Some places will take you out to catch bluefin tuna and even fillet it for you.

These charters can be a unique experience and put you in a great position to catch a very large species. Of course, they come with different rules to follow, but you’re catching a fish that weighs several hundred pounds. It’s best to have some help!

We’ve looked at the best fish to catch in Maine this summer. You should be prepared to have an unforgettable fishing experience throughout the season. Although some of them are harder to find than others, one or more of these fish should be within your skill level and price range for gear. Always make sure to follow state and federal laws when fishing, and practice good water safety.

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landlocked salmon
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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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Sources
  1. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, Available here: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/fish-wildlife/fisheries/species-information/largemouth-bass.html
  2. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (1970) maine.gov/ifw/fish-wildlife/fisheries/species-information/landlocked-salmon.html#:~:text=Cathance Lake in Washington County,this species in the world