Maine Fishing Laws: Read This Before Leaving Your Home


Maine is home to a wide array of bodies of water that provides anglers excellent fishing opportunities. If you plan to bring your fishing rod and reel to the Pine Tree State for a day of fishing, it is best to learn the different Maine fishing laws to avoid any untoward encounters with the local authorities. Below are some Maine fishing regulations every angler should be familiar with.

Northern and Southern Maine Zones

When it comes to fishing, Maine is divided into two zones namely the Northern Zone and the Southern Zone. The northern portion of Maine is home to native cold-water fish, whereas the southern portion is generally populated by stocked or warm water fish.

Given the difference between the two zones in terms of available fish, there are different Maine fishing laws and regulations that apply in each area. The different management practices in each zone are deemed necessary to ensure the healthy population of fish thriving in the place and provide more fishing opportunities for anglers.

Baits and Lures

There are similarities and differences in the types of baits and lures allowed in the northern and southern portions of Maine. In both areas, Maine fishing regulations allow anglers to use dead baitfish, worms, and artificial lures and flies for fishing. Commercially prepared eggs (e.g. salmon eggs) can also be used as bait, so long as they come from species that do not naturally occur in the area. You can practically use your favorite bass lures or trout lures when fishing in Maine, provided of course that they are not included in the list of prohibited types of baits and lures.

The disparity comes in about live baitfish. Accordingly, the use of live baitfish for angling is only allowed in the Southern portion of Maine as the use of such bait is expressly prohibited in the Northern parts.

The whole state also prohibits the act of depositing any type of meat, bones, dead fish, or any food particles in its inland waters to lure fish. The only instance when this is allowed is when you’re using them to lure baitfish.

Daily Bag and Possession Limits

Maine fishing regulations in both Northern and Southern parts allow anglers a bag and possession limit of 2 fish for certain species like Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Lake Trout. As for Brook Trout, Southern Maine maintains a limit of 2 fish, whereas Northern Maine allows for 5.

Bass anglers will have a grand time fishing in the North Zone since the bag and possession limit is virtually unlimited, as opposed to the South Zone where the limit is kept at 2 fish.

Sea-run Atlantic salmon can also find their way in the inland waters of Maine, but they are not allowed to be fished or harvested as stipulated in Maine fishing laws. This is because this particular fish species is listed as federally endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Should you happen to accidentally catch one, it must be released immediately, alive and un-injured. At no time should sea-run Atlantic salmon be removed from the water, not even for a photo op.

Angling for Migratory Fish

Several species of migratory fish often find their way into the inland waters of Maine. These include shads, river herrings, striped bass, and others. Although angling for these fish species is allowed, general fishing laws, as well as some special rules, apply. Take for instance the case of daily bag and possession limits. For river herrings, the daily bag and possession limits can be as high as 25 fish, whereas for shad and striped bass the limits are 2 fish and 1 fish, respectively.

Free Fishing Days

Just like most other states, there are also free fishing days in Maine. The state requires anglers above 16 years old to have a fishing license before being allowed to fish in its territory. However, during free fishing days, the requirement is lifted and almost anybody can go fishing without the need for a license.

The activity is supposedly geared towards providing families a weekend of bonding and spending quality time together while enjoying the outdoors (hence, it is also called “Free Family Fishing Day”). However, the activity caters to everyone keen on trying out angling without having to purchase a fishing license.

Keep in mind that general Maine fishing laws still apply during the event. Also, anglers whose licenses have been suspended or revoked are banned from joining in the activity.

Fishing Gears and Implements

In Maine, it is considered unlawful to fish other than with a single baited fishing hook and fishing line, artificial flies and lures, and dead baitfish. The use of spears, spear guns, grapnels, gill nets, or set lines is considered illegal.

Certain line restrictions also apply. For open water fishing, anglers are limited to using two lines at any given time. For ice fishing, five lines are set to be the limit.



Q: Do you need a license to fish in Maine?


Yes, Maine fishing regulations require a license for anglers 16 years old and above to fish inland waters and transport them. Fishing licenses can be obtained from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, as well as from authorized agents such as sporting goods stores, town clerks, and others.

Q: Can you night fish in Maine?


Yes, night fishing is allowed in all waters during open season water unless otherwise provided by a special rule or exception. Note that all lines must be under immediate supervision by anglers who set them. Lines set for ice fishing at night must be checked at least once every hour.

Q: When can you start fishing in Maine?


You can start fishing in Maine during April 1st which is when the state is open to open water fishing and inland bodies of water like lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and brooks. Lakes and ponds in Northern Maine are closed to all fishing from October 1-March 31, while those in Southern Maine are open for open water and ice fishing.

Q: What fish are in season in Maine?


Salmon and trout are plenty in local lakes during the months of April to early May. June sees an explosion of smallmouth bass which makes it the best time to bring out your favorite smallmouth bass lures, while July is a favorite among brook trout anglers.

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Fishing for trout, bass, and other fish species in Maine is much more fun when you aren’t worried about breaking any rules and regulations. That said, be sure to familiarize yourself with the different Maine fishing laws to avoid any problems with the local authorities. Remember, these Maine fishing regulations are there to ensure the continuity of fish species to provide present and future anglers more productive and enjoyable fishing opportunities.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!