Spring Fishing Report

Sebago Lake Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor James Pellerin, 3/18/24

Where to fish: Most of the lakes and ponds in southern Maine experienced ice-out by mid-March, so many anglers will have already been fishing by the time this report hits the press.  For early season lakes and ponds, I would suggest focusing your efforts on lake trout and salmon lakes in the region such as Auburn, Kezar, Sebago, and Thompson Lakes as some of the more popular ones with both species available. Mousam Lake, Great East, and Colcord could also be good bets as lake trout are relatively abundant and you may even pick up a salmon or two.  Stream fishing is generally a bit slow in the early season but will pick up as the water temperatures warm to around 50°F (about the time the alders leaves break bud) and as the hatchery trucks get rolling throughout April/May. Interestingly, some of the coastal stream brown trout stockings tend to fish relatively well in March and April, so you may want to give the Royal River in Yarmouth, the Ogunquit River in Ogunquit, or the Mousam River in Kennebunk a go.

Fishing tip: If you’re going to fish for salmon or lake trout in the earlier part of the season, I would recommend trolling live bait, smelt or shiners, and pass on the trolling lures and flies until the water gets a bit warmer.  In addition, be sure your bait is trolling correctly, check and clean debris frequently, and go slow (~1mph) until it warms up.

Reminders: Water is still very cold, wear a life jacket. Go slow and be observant, as there tends to be a lot of floating debris (i.e. logs, lumber, etc) at ice out that can be dangerous and/or damaging to your watercraft. If fishing streams, be careful wading during high flows. A wading staff and a life preserver are not a bad idea.

Belgrade Lakes Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Jason Seiders, 3/22/24

Where to fish: Where to fish: Lake St. George (Liberty) – Ice fishing pressure was quite low this winter, so Lake St. George should produce some spectacular fishing this spring. Our fall survey indicated some great salmon growth and condition, with a lot of fish at 20+ inches!

St. George River and Medomak River – These two coastal rivers are heavily stocked with brook trout and brown trout. They provide great, early-season options for those looking to fish flowing water. Trout are stocked at many of the road crossings along each of these rivers, and these road crossings provide great angler access.

The Central Maine and Midcoast areas have several smaller brook trout ponds that are heavily stocked, mainly for the ice fishing season. Many of these ponds received very light use this winter and are likely to have a bunch of brook trout still swimming around. Below is a list of some ponds that could provide good spring angling before they even receive their spring-stocked fish!

  • Ross Pond (Bristol)

  • Levenseller Pond (Searsmont)

  • Dutton Pond (Knox)

  • Tolman Pond (Rockport)

  • Pinkham Pond (Alna)

  • Bartlett Pond (Livermore)

Fishing tip: Water temperatures are still very cold, and fish are still fairly lethargic. Slow down the presentation of your bait or lure. If you’re fishing flowing water, allow your bait to sink toward bottom. Stream dwelling trout are more likely to hug the bottom a bit this time of year, at least until the water warms up and aquatic insects start to emerge.

Reminders: Water temperatures are extremely cold right now. Please use a little extra caution when you’re fishing. If you’re in a boat or a canoe, wear a personal flotation device!  Good luck and stay safe!

Downeast Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Greg Burr, 3/15/24

Where to fish: Due to earlier than normal warmer weather that took the ice out of all the waters in the Downeast region in March, lakes and ponds are ready to be fished for anglers wanting to ply the cold waters in April. 


For early salmon trolling lakes, I recommend the following:  West Grand Lake in Grand Lake Stream, Big Lake in Greenlaw Chopping Twp., Beech Hill Pond in Otis, Green Lake in Ellsworth, Jordan Pond in Seal Harbor, Long Pong in Mount Desert, Tunk Lake in T 10 SD, and Donnell Pond in Franklin.  Most of these lakes were fished lightly during the brief period of winter we had and now have many ready taker salmon to be caught.

For anglers wanting to fish the smaller more tranquil waters in the region, I recommend fishing the following tiny trout ponds:  Simmons Pond in Hancock, Simpsons Pond in Roque Bluffs, West and East Pike Brook Ponds in Deblois, Spectacle Pond in Deblois, Norse Pond in Cutler, Salmon Pond in T 10 SD, Lakewood Pond in Bar Harbor, Witch Hole Pond in Bar Harbor, and Six Mile Lake in Marshfield.  Most all of these ponds were closed to ice fishing and were stocked late last fall.  Due to the early ice outs, they will have had time to warm up and the fish will be active, making them ripe for fast action early trout fishing.

Also, fly anglers, don’t forget to try the early black salmon fishing at Grand Lake Stream after it opens on April 1st.  The first two weeks of April can be fast fishing in the dam pool, so watch the flows, get there early to find a spot, and cast a sinking line with your favorite smelt imitation streamer.

Fishing tip: Fly anglers fishing at the small trout ponds will find quick action for trout using a small Micky Finn streamer fly.

Reminders: My reminder is to anyone looking to travel on the dirt roads into the timber company lands north or south of Route 9.  In mud season from March 15th to May 15th these roads are usually gated and do not allow vehicular traffic until after May 15th.  However, walking on these roads is allowed for those anglers looking to hike into their favorite trout pond.

Rangeley Lakes Region

From Fisheries Resource Biologist Dylan Whitaker, 3/22/24

Where to fish: For a lot of anglers, including myself, April marks the start of open water fishing in the North Zone, which many of our Rangeley Region waters fall under. Normally, I’d highlight some ice fishing and open water fishing opportunities in April but given the unusual winter weather patterns we’ve seen I think I’ll focus on the latter. Ice still covers many of our regional waters as of late March and likely will into early April, and we’ve highlighted several ice fishing opportunities in past blogs. If you’re still ice fishing in early April, just use your best judgement and be safe. If you’re traveling to the Rangeley region to open water fish this April and are curious about ice conditions, Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands records yearly ice out dates online which can be a handy tool. For those lakes and areas that hold ice longer than others, there are often still open water fishing opportunities in areas of flowing water.

Rangeley Lake, Mooselookmeguntic Lake, Aziscohos Lake, Richardson Lake, Dodge Pond, Clearwater Pond, Porter Lake, Embden Pond, Hancock Pond, Varnum Pond and Flagstaff Lake are all good options for those looking to target early open water season salmon. Richardson, Clearwater, Porter, Embden, Hancock, and Varnum also support healthy lake trout populations. All of these lakes are home to brook trout as well. Fishing near flowing water is always a good early season bet, and these areas are typically free of ice first. Trout and salmon are often attracted to increasing flows with snow melt and the food these streams and rivers provide.

Speaking of rivers and streams, the south branch of the Dead River is a good spot to try this spring. Access is easy along Route 16. The Rangeley River is another promising early season fishing spot. Access to the river is a short distance from the Oquossoc center. The river is fly-fishing only but provides opportunity for quality salmon and trout. The Ellis River along Route 5 and the Swift River along Route 17 heading north from Rumford are other easy access options for anglers to try.

Fishing tip: Throw a smelt pattern! Smelt spawn during early spring and fish key into this abundant food source when available.

Reminders: Be mindful of road conditions, and remember April is mud season. The water and weather remain cold this time of year, so bring plenty of warm clothes and wear a PFD if fishing from a boat.

Moosehead Region

From Fisheries Resource Technician Stephen Seeback, 3/26/24 

Where to fish: After a slow start and abrupt end to the ice fishing season due to poor ice conditions in the Moosehead Lake region, anglers can’t wait to hear the delightful words, “Ice-Out!”. Snow melt and spring run-off will begin changing angling opportunities. Many of the ponds and lakes are still covered in ice, but shortly after the ice is out they will produce some of the fastest fishing of the open water season.

Ice-out fishing is a good time to find lake trout, brook trout, and landlocked salmon cruising the shoreline shallows and the mouths of tributaries in search of smelt, as smelt begin to congregate in preparation of their annual spawning runs. Gray Ghost, Black Ghost, Mickey Fin, and a variety of other smelt imitation streamer patterns can be deadly this time of year. Anglers looking to target lake trout should try their luck on Moosehead Lake, First Roach Pond, and Lower Wilson Pond. Landlocked salmon enthusiasts should find good action on Chesuncook Lake, Brassua Lake, Moosehead Lake, Lower Wilson Pond, and First Roach Pond. There also are good opportunities to catch landlocked salmon and brook trout on our local river fisheries at the Roach River, Moose River, East and West Outlets of the Kennebec River, and the West Branch of the Penobscot.

Fishing tip: Once we begin to see an increase in water temperature and a decrease in stream and river flows, we will begin our annual spring stocking of legal-size brook trout. These brook trout are stocked in easily accessible waters throughout the region to create “instant fishing” opportunities. Many of these waters are stocked on more than one occasion to distribute the catch among anglers and to ensure fishing success longer into the season.

List of spring stocked brook trout:

Bennett Pond, Parkman; Big Wood Pond, Jackman; Doe Pond, Monson; Drummond Pond, Abbot (family fishing area); Fitzgerald Pond, Big Moose Township; Gravel Pit Pond, Little Moose Township (family fishing area); Hebron Lake, Monson; Kiwanis Park Pond (Dunham Brook), Dover-Foxcroft (restricted to anglers under 16); Moose River, Jackman; Parlin Pond, Parlin Pond Township; Piscataquis River, Dover-Foxcroft and Guilford; Power Trout Pond, Little Moose Township; Prong Pond, Beaver Cove Township; Sawyer Pond, Greenville; Shadow Pond, Little Moose Township; Shirley Pond, Shirley; Snow’s Pond, Dover-Foxcroft; Spectacle Ponds, Monson; West Outlet Kennebec River, Sapling; and Whetstone Pond, Blanchard Township.


Reminders: Many of the season’s largest brook trout are caught along the shore as water temperatures begin to increase. Even the most novice angler can find brook trout that will take an assortment of flies, lures, and bait. Make sure to check the fishing law book to determine which fishing gear is allowed on the bodies of water you plan to fish.

Penobscot Region

From Fisheries Resource Biologist Kevin Gallant, 3/21/24

Where to fish: Rarely do we get an opportunity to open water fish on lakes and ponds in the North Zone on April 1st, but this could be the year!  With the mild winter you may find the ice is already out in a lot of waters in the Penobscot Region.  If the woods roads dry out in time, ponds like Lost Pond in T6R10 WELS, Hale Pond in T2 R10 WELS and Titcomb Pond in T32 ND will provide some good early Brook trout fishing.  B Pond in TB R11 WELS is another excellent choice for early trout and salmon fishing.  East Grand Lake and Deering Lake, both in Weston, will produce some quantity and quality fishing for Landlocked salmon. 

If you are interested in brook and stream fishing, the high-water last year would have been great for brook trout.  Not only did the high water lower the fishing pressure, but it also kept water temperatures down, likely resulting in better survival and growth.  If the water stays fishable this spring, it could be a banner year.

Fishing tip: Seek out some put and take waters like Middle Oxhead Pond (T40 ND), Norton Pond (Brownville) and Perch Pond (Old Town). These are likely to have some leftover fall stocked brook trout that are unlikely to survive the warm water temperatures of the summer months ahead.  Usually, these waters would see enough fishing pressure in the winter to remove most, if not all, of the stocked fish.  This year that is unlikely with the mild winter that saw late ice ins and early ice outs.

Reminders: Even with the early spring, the water will still be very cold!  Wear your life jacket!  Accidents happen to even the most seasoned anglers

Fish River Lakes Region

From Fisheries Resource Biologist Jeremiah Wood, 3/21/24

Where to fish: Despite the late March cold and snow reminding us that we’re not yet out of winter, it still looks like Maine is in for an unusually early spring. With such a low snowpack in the woods, the typical high water spring runoff season we’re all used to is likely to be short and muted. Rivers, brooks, and streams are expected to drop to fishable levels much earlier than normal in the northern part of the state, paving the way for some great fishing opportunities that usually don’t arrive here before May.

The Aroostook River spans a vast and diverse landscape, ranging from wooded uplands in the North Maine Woods to farm country in the heart of the County, and all of it is brook trout water. Fish range far and wide during spring time, taking advantage of an abundance of feeding opportunities before being shut in to cold water tributaries and spring holes for the summer. That can make the trout difficult to find, but when you catch one, it’s not likely to be alone.

Fishing tip: Target deep, slow moving water on cold days, and watch for insect hatches that bring fish to the surface mid-day and evening. Keep track of places where you repeatedly find trout, as they are likely to consistently produce better fishing over time.

Reminders: Brook trout slot limit regulations have changed on many of our waters. The most common change has been a removal of the 10″ or 12″ minimum length, allowing for a wider length range of trout that can be harvested. Be sure to check for regulation changes in the waters you plan to fish this spring.

For more articles about hunting, fishing and the great outdoors be sure to subscribe to the Northwoods Sporting Journal.

Reader Feedback

The Northwoods Sporting Journal is the largest hunting & fishing magazine in the Northeast.