Region A - The Sebago Region
Although southern Maine supports the State’s largest human population and associated development pressure, wild brook trout still inhabit over 50% of the stream drainages in southern Maine. Coastal drainages tend to support fewer trout streams, while the abundance and quality of brook trout streams improves as one travels inland and northward from the coast. Smaller, groundwater fed streams that remain cool provide year round habitat for all life stages of brook trout, and offer season long fishing opportunities. While these small streams can be very productive, they often prove challenging to fish. Moderate to larger sized rivers and streams are generally too warm during the hot summer months to support trout throughout the fishing season. Successful anglers target these larger waters on a more seasonal basis and/or search out areas of cool water refugia.
Most stream dwelling brook trout are less than 9 inches long, although it’s not unusual for stream anglers to catch trout up to 13 inches in length. Many small streams support an abundance of wild brook trout, yet they commonly experience low exploitation by anglers. Consequently, low angler use and harvest do not warrant special protective fishing regulations beyond that already provided under general law. The greatest threat to stream dwelling brook trout is associated with land use development and encroachment.
A large network of state, town, and private roads support the state’s largest human population. An abundance of roadways generally offer the angler good stream access opportunity, however these roadway crossings are not legal points of public access without the consent of the abutting landowner. Landowners own to the bottom of a stream (to the center of a stream channel), so it is imperative that anglers comply with any use signs posted by the landowner. There is a long tradition of public use of private lands in Maine, but only at the discretion of the private landowners, so anglers must be respectful of private property rights.
Wild brook trout also occur in a number of lakes and ponds; most as drop downs from small receiving tributaries. However, their contribution to pond fisheries are largely insignificant due to the prevalence of abundant competing and predatory warmwater fish. The wide spread illegal introduction of native and nonnative fish has dramatically transformed lake and pond fisheries in southern Maine, making them less suitable for fish like brook trout. Consequently, wild brook trout pond fishing opportunities are primarily limited to small existing impoundments on groundwater fed streams, where conditions are less favorable for warmwater fish. Pond fisheries for wild brook trout include Spicer Pond (Newfield), Cold Water Brook Pond (Kennebunk), and Kennebunk Plains Pond (Kennebunk). Six to twelve inch brook trout may be caught in these small impoundment fisheries, where special restrictive fishing regulations have been adopted to protect these regionally uncommon fisheries. All of these ponds may be accessed across state conservation lands owned by MDIFW.
Region B – The Central Maine Region
Anglers who seek wild brook trout in lakes and ponds are pretty much out of luck in Region B. Nevertheless, there are many opportunities to catch brookies in this part of the state. In 2011, the Department stocked 112,602 spring yearling, fall yearling, and fall fingerling brook trout in Region B lakes and ponds and 28,243 brook trout fry in Augusta-area streams as well to create different angling opportunities. That’s a lot of fish! Most of the stocking program consists of spring yearlings however. Although many of these fish are taken in the spring fishery, in many cases escapement is sufficient to provide decent fall and winter fishing and even some larger holdover fish the following summer.
Region B brook trout waters with significant escapement include Adams Pond in Boothbay, Bowler Pond in Palermo, Little Pond in Damariscotta, Spectacle Pond in Vassalboro, Swan Lake in Swanville, and Tyler Pond in Manchester to name a few. Decent brookies, 12 to 16 inches, are possible in any one of these waters and a few 3+ lb fish are taken from some of them every year. In fact, one of our ponds gives up a couple trophy brookies every year. Now, we’re not going to tell you exactly where this pond is located. Suffice to say that it is within an hours drive of the city of Augusta – good luck!
Trout fishing in Region B’s brooks and streams is not without its pleasures either; virtually all of these fisheries are based on wild populations. Maine anglers zealously guard the location of their favorite brook trout “hole” and so we hesitate to be very specific. However, the names of a few drainages whose tributaries and/or mainstems have fishable populations of brook trout include: Martin Stream, Turner; Cathance Stream, Bowdoin; Eastern River, Pittston; Fifteen Mile Stream, Albion; West Branch of the Sebasticook River (north of Great Moose Pond), Dexter; Bartlett Stream, Montville; Passagassawaukeag River, Belfast; and Marsh Stream, Frankfort.
Region C – The Downeast Region
The Downeast/Acadia Region has a smattering of wild brook trout ponds located across its diverse geography. These pond populations generally have low numbers of wild trout with only a few exceptions. Anglers looking to try their luck at native pond brookies should set their sights on four possible tracks: the very northern edge of the region just south of Route 6; the interior, situated along Route 9; the coastal plain along Route 1; or the coastal islands.
The trek with the most choices is the Route 9 interior option with many wild trout ponds located just below and above this scenic and meandering road that traverses the rolling hills and mountains of interior Hancock and Washington Counties. Waters such as Big Burnt Pond, Clifton, which has some of highest densities of wild trout in the region, as well as Hatcase Pond, Dedham and Debec Pond, Jellison Hill Pond, Dutton Pond and Halfmile Pond, Amherst. Progressing east and located just north of Route 9 are Halfmile Pond, Aurora; and Rift Pond, Great Pond Plantation.
Heading further north and located just south of Route 6 are Upper and Lower Flood Lakes,which are small but produce brookies up to 14 inches and occasionally larger.
Anglers can also cruise along Downeast’s coastal plain and/or visit the coastal islands and try for wild brookies in Goose Pond on Swan’s Island or the handful of wild brook trout in the ponds on Mount Desert Island such as Little Long Pond, Seal Harbor; Upper Hadlock Pond, Northeast Harbor; or Echo Lake, Southwest Harbor. Anglers could also travel just up off the coast and trek east on Route 182 to Narraguagus Lake where anglers sometimes catch wild trout up to 18 inches in length.
The best wild brook trout fishing opportunities of the area lie within the region’s trout streams and rivers. Downeast’s trout streams and rivers will rival most areas of the state both in numbers and size quality. These opportunities can both be found in the interior or coastal areas. Moving from west to east across the region anglers will find that most all the streams on Mount Desert Island have wild brook trout, most of them small but plentiful. The same can be said for many of the coastal streams that visitors will cross on Route 1 heading from Bucksport to Calais. The larger rivers and their tributaries is where the action for bigger brook trout can be found. Places such as the Middle and West Branches of Union River above and below Route 9, as well as the upper reaches of the Narraguagus River and the West Branch of Narraguagus River. Not to mention the Pleasant River accessible from both Route 9 and Route 1. As you head more into the interior of Washington County other high quality wild trout waters are the Mainstem and West Branch of the Machias River, Crooker River, Old Stream, Fifth Lake Stream, Hobart Stream, East Machias River, Denny’s River, and Chandler River.
Region D – The Rangeley Region
The northern half of the Rangeley Region has long grown some of the largest brook trout in the state and in the country. From west to east, the Rangeley lakes have had a reputation for big brookies since the 1800’s. Some of the waters that still produce big brook trout include B Pond, the Rapid River, Mooselookmeguntic Lake, Aziscohos Lake, Beaver Pond, Magalloway Plantation, Kennebago River, and Tim Pond. Of these, Mooselookmeguntic and Aziscohos are thousands of acres in size and are best fished by trolling. Bald Mountains Camps are located on Mooselookmeguntic Lake. The Cupsuptic River is refrigerator-cold year round and has a wonderful fishery for plentiful, if relatively small, wild brook trout. Many of these waters are limited to the use of flies only.
The Rapid River is a world-famous catch and release water for brook trout. Lakewood Camps at Middle Dam is located at the head of the Rapid River. Beginning in 2010, several area ponds also became catch and release waters; these include Mountain Pond, Little Swift River Pond, and Quill Pond.
There are many more lakes and ponds in the area that have wild brook trout populations, though not necessarily of trophy size. Many of the wild brook trout waters located in the northern sections of Oxford County and Franklin Counties are accessible only by foot, through membership in private clubs, or through patronage of sporting camps open to the public. These include Bosebuck Mountain Camps on Aziscohos Lake, Tim Pond Camps, and Grants Kennebago Camps.
Moving to the east, there is a cluster of wild brook trout ponds near King and Bartlett Lake. These ponds are accessible by foot. East of these, not far from the Kennebec River, is Pierce Pond. Some of these waters are stocked, but many are not. State-record brook trout have been caught from these waters. Access is by foot, or by staying at Cobbs Pierce Pond Camps or Claybrook Mountain Lodge. Helen Pond has been designated a Remote Pond by Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission. Pickerel Pond was designated a catch and release water in 2010.
East of the Kennebec, there are a number of ponds in the Chase Stream Township area that grow trophy-size brook trout. Access is by gravel roads and short foot trails. The nearest accommodations are at The Forks which – with surrounding towns – serves as the headquarters for a thriving whitewater rafting industry. There is also good wild trout fishing in the Kennebec River, the Dead River, and Cold Stream.
State parks in the Rangeley Region include Rangeley Lake State Park and Mount Blue State Park in Weld. The State of Maine maintains a number of campsites on public lands in the Rangeleys, and there are many private campgrounds, inns, hotels, motels, and bed-and-breakfasts. In addition, the Maine Hut and Trail System maintains lodges in the Flagstaff Lake area, and the Appalachian Trail bisects the Region from southwest to northeast.
Region E – The Moosehead Region
The Moosehead Lake Region has a long history of drawing anglers to the shores of its bounty of lakes and pond, as well as the banks of its endless miles of streams and rivers in search of wild brook trout. Brook trout are native to waters throughout the region. Of the more than 6,000 lakes and ponds throughout the State, over 1,200 are in the Moosehead Lake Region. Of those waters, 243 are on either the Maine Brook Trout Native (A) or Wild (B) List. With forty-six percent of the brook trout lakes and ponds on the A list and thirty-five percent on the B list, the Moosehead Lake Region has more wild brook trout waters than any other region of the State and there are still over 140 waters larger than 10 acres that have not yet been surveyed. Also, let’s not forget about the more than 4,000 miles of stream and river habitat that drains the region with many of them supporting wild brook trout populations.
Moosehead Lake, central to the region, is a popular destination for both winter and summer anglers targeting wild brook trout. Anglers can find many accommodations in Greenville and Rockwood while angling in the area. There are three major river fisheries associated with Moosehead Lake. The Roach River in Kokadjo is fly fishing only, catch and release and is best known as a September fishery for pre-spawning adults entering the river. The East Outlet, a popular heavily fished river, produces summer-long, fly fishing only for brook trout before flowing into Indian Pond. Many wild trout ponds flow into Indian Pond and into the Kennebec River downstream from Indian Pond. Some of the more noteworthy ponds are those that lie in the headwaters of Cold Stream, to the east of Parlin Pond. These ponds are accessible over gravel roads and require anglers to hike in. Wild brook trout thrive in these fly fishing only waters due to the absence of competing species. The third is Moosehead Lake’s largest tributary, the Moose River, which originates near the Canadian border to the west of Jackman, and all of its headwater streams offer fishing for wild brook trout. There are numerous small trout ponds throughout the Moose River drainage that are accessible over gravel roads or by trail that are awaiting discovery by those willing to get off the paved highway. To the east of Jackman, the Moose River flows into Brassua Lake before entering Moosehead Lake. This section of river can be quite good for wild brook trout especially in the early spring and fall. The river below Brassua Dam is noted for wild trout fishing from June to September.
To the northwest, north, and northeast of Moosehead Lake, the West Branch of the Penobscot drains a largely forested area that is managed by the North Maine Woods, Inc. Access is granted over gravel roads with road use and overnight camping fees. The North and South Branch of the Penobscot, above Seboomook Dam, along with their associated tributaries, all provide opportunities for wild brook trout angling. Numerous small ponds within the drainage offer good trout fishing, with only the exception of a few that are not supported entirely by natural reproduction. Larger lakes like Penobscot Lake, Canada Falls Lake, Long and Dole Ponds, and Seboomook Lake are all managed for wild brook trout. Additional opportunities can be found for anglers seeking out brook trout in the section of river below Seboomook Dam. To the south of the section of the West Branch below Ripogenus Dam lies Rainbow and Nahmakanta Lakes. This area provides many opportunities for hike-in remote pond wild brook trout fishing.
To the north of the West Branch sits the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. All the waters in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway are managed for wild brook trout with some of the best quality brook trout fishing the region has to offer. Anglers can launch a boat to fish Round Pond, Chamberlain Lake, and Telos Lake, but to get into Allagash Lake, anglers must hike or canoe more than a mile to access the lake. These lakes are also popular winter fisheries for wild brook trout.
East of Greenville, along the road that crosses over Wilson Stream, there are several small wild brook trout ponds a short distance from town. Secret, Salmon, Indian, Brown, and Rum Ponds are regulated under restricted regulations. Salmon Pond is catch and release and all of them are restricted to artificial lures only, since spin fishing is allowed it is possible to fish from shore. Continuing east of Greenville over gravel roads to the area managed for recreation by the KI-Jo Mary Unit of the North Maine Woods, are the headwaters of the Pleasant River. Road use and overnight camping fees are collected to access this area. Both stretches of the West and East Branch are excellent wild brook trout streams. The small ponds associated with the headwaters of the Pleasant River are managed for wild brook trout.
As you can see, the Moosehead Lake Region is well endowed with wild brook trout populations and allows for many fishing opportunities. Often times people can be intimidated by the vastness of the area surrounding Moosehead Lake and hopefully this summary will help anglers plan their next fishing trip to target wild brook trout in the area. Due to the endless opportunities to fish for wild brook trout throughout the region anglers should consult the Maine Fishing Regulation Law Book for any water they plan to fish.
Region F – The Penobscot Region
A discussion about the wild brook trout resources in the Penobscot Region would certainly have to start within the confines of Baxter State Park in Piscataquis County. Long the exclusive fishing grounds of the patrons of the many sporting camps in the area, this part of the region holds probably 80% of all the wild brook trout pond fisheries left in the region. This area has become the last bastion of these resources because of a policy initiated during the time when most of the anglers visiting these ponds were guests of Kidney Pond Camps, York’s Daicey Pond Camps, Camp Phoenix on Nesourdnahunk Lake or one of the other sporting camps in the region. These proprietors stressed fly fishing only in part to keep the “riff raff” out, but also had the positive effect to keep these ponds from being infested with baitfish. Many of the waters in the Park still have the original species composition that they’ve had for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
A partial list of ponds within the park easily accessible would include Kidney Pond, Daicey Pond, Lily Pad Pond, Nesourdnahunk Lake and the South Branch Ponds. Those ponds accessible with a short walk of less than a mile would include Grassy Pond, Tracy Pond, Elbow Pond, Stump Pond and Sandy Stream Pond. All located in the south end of the park.
Those anglers willing to make a commitment to walk over a mile would be well served to consider Lost Pond, Katahdin Lake, Foss & Knowlton Pond, High Pond, Long Pond, Middle and Lower Fowler Ponds, Jackson Pond, Windy Pitch Pond, Basin Ponds, Hudson Pond and Center Pond. The above mentioned ponds all offer a variety of size qualities, catch rates and fishing experiences.
For those who are not averse to embarking on a long and difficult hike for the opportunity to catch a native brook trout in a stunning setting can do no better than a number of trout ponds in the interior. These waters require a hike of up to five miles or more, over steep and rocky terrain, to places with nothing more than a campsite and maybe a canoe. In the Wassataquoik sub-drainage in the interior, Pogy Pond, Weed Pond, Russell Pond, Deep Pond, Twin Ponds, Six Ponds, Little Wassataquoik Lake and certainly Wassataquoik Lake. Wassataquoik Lake is also home to a robust population of Arctic charr, a rare species of significance.
Opportunities outside the Baxter Park area would include a number of ponds in the Katahdin Iron Works and JoMary Ponds area on the western edge of the region. Most all require some hiking to access, and include Little Huston Pond, Middle Branch Pond, Spruce Mt. Pond, B Pond, Johnston Pond and Cedar Pond.
For anglers looking to fish flowing waters for wild brook trout, some suggestions would include Wassataquoik Stream to the East of Baxter State Park, Nesourdnahunk Stream in Baxter State Park, the East Branch of the Penobscot River below Matagamon Lake, Seboeis River, East Branch of the Pleasant River and both the East and West Branch’s of the Mattawamkeag River. In addition to the rivers and larger streams named above, wild brook trout thrive in many streams across the entire Region. Trout in these smaller streams rarely reach a size greater than 14 inches, and can be hard to find after mid-June as they congregate in or near cold water springs and seeps when stream temperature exceeds 65°F. Typically stream fishing is at its best from ice out through Memorial Day.
Region G – The Fish River Chain
The Fish River Lakes region in the northernmost area of Maine has long been recognized for its wild brook trout fisheries. The Allagash, Fish and Aroostook River drainages all conjure up images of fishing for Maine’s premier sport fish. Even the St. John River with its extensive tributary system continues to provide superb trout fishing for the ardent trout angler looking to fish small brooks and streams.
The Allagash River has long been associated with a wild brook trout resource. That tradition continues today in the river itself and the several large lakes in the drainage, many of which are available to winter as well as summer trout angling enthusiasts. Big Eagle, Churchill, Ross and Spider are all lake names that conjure up images of big brook trout. Visitors to this area have the option of staying at campsites within the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, campsites maintained by North Maine Woods, Inc., or at several sporting camps that cater to anglers in each of Maine’s fishing seasons.
The state owned Deboullie Lake area contains numerous small trout ponds in a very scenic setting. Many of these ponds are fly fishing only and provide anglers the opportunity to fish over abundant populations of wild trout. Most of the area drains into the Fish River watershed that contains numerous brooks and streams teeming with wild trout. The Fish River Chain of Lakes all support populations of wild trout and are a popular destination for anglers. Several of the lakes offer the opportunity for ice and open water angling adventures. Visitors have the option to stay at sporting camps, North Maine Woods campsites, private rentals or several motels in the upper St. John Valley.
The Aroostook River drainage begins in the big woods area west of Ashland and continues into New Brunswick on the eastern border of Aroostook County. As the case with the two previous river watersheds, numerous lakes and ponds support brook trout populations. Two extensive sections of the Aroostook River, one at the headwaters and one in the lower section below Caribou are managed under special regulations to enhance the quantity and quality of wild brook trout. These two sections of the Aroostook River require the use of artificial lures to reduce hooking mortality on trout that are caught and released. Several sporting camps and North Maine Woods campsites are located in the upper Aroostook River watershed. The river flows through several communities in the middle and lower section, all of which offer numerous motel accommodations.
In the eastern sections of central and southern Aroostook County, numerous brooks and streams including Presque Isle Stream, Prestile Stream, and the Meduxnekeag River to name a few, offer angler opportunities to fish for wild brook trout. Various types of commercial enterprises are available for visitor convenience.