Dan Tarkinson, founder of Fly Fishing in Maine, casts in the Presumpscot River in Windham in 2020. But there are other waters in greater Portland he recommends. Dan Tarkinson photo

Every avid fisherman has his or her secret spot, waters where they have hooked – if not landed – a big one. They’re not giving those fishing holes up. We know this.

But those who have fished for decades, or just about every weekend, know worthwhile spots that they’re willing to share.

So with the approach of the traditional opening day of open-water season, we asked six of the state’s most committed anglers for a few of their go-to spots. Even though April 1 has not marked the true start to the open-water season in Maine in more than a decade, many people still celebrate it as the start of the fishing season.

Most of the recommended fishing waters below are obscure or overlooked spots where the fish are often biting. We predict even the most experienced anglers will find in this list a fishing hole worth a cast. And we thank these six anglers in advance for sharing the wealth.

Fern Bosse with a wild landlocked salmon he caught in his favorite spot, Azicoos Lake northwest of Rangeley. Bosse, a Registered Maine Guide, wants more people to catch and keep the salmon in the lake to help the over-abundant fishery. Fern Bosse photo

THE FLY TYER

Commercial fly tyer Fern Bosse of Norway recommends two highly productive fisheries – one he’s begging people to fish, and all but assures them a catch.

That water is Azicoos Lake just northwest of Rangeley, where a no-size, no-bag limit on landlocked salmon under 16 inches aims to thin the fishery that is chockablock with wild salmon.

Recently, the state has done more to promote keeping fish to take home and eat in order to help thin numbers of wild fish where there is an overpopulation. But the fishing public is slow to embrace the practice. Bosse hopes they will at Azicoos. And he guarantees it will be worth it.

“You get on that lake and you think you’re up in the wilds of Alaska or the Yukon,” said Bosse, a Registered Maine Guide. “And if someone wanted to get a load of fish to bring home and make a chowder, that’s where they want to be.”

Closer to southern Maine, he said a good lake to try is Thompson Lake between Casco and Oxford, where there are 4-to 6-pound salmon and two convenient public boat ramps at the north end.

THE SPORTING CAMP VETERAN

Ali Winslow grew up in a fisherman’s paradise – at the Orvis-endorsed Libby’s Camp in the North Maine Woods, which her family owns. But now Winslow and her husband, Tim, and daughter, Laurelai, have their own favorite spots. One is the East Branch of the Penobscot River, where fishermen can camp at Matagamon Wilderness Campground, with some of the best fishing just steps away.

“There are a bunch of places to fish there. It’s beautiful. It’s one of the prettiest places. And of course, you can catch wild brook trout,” Winslow said.

Near the Winslow home in Damariscotta, they enjoy Grassy Pond in Rockport. It’s only accessible with a small canoe or kayak, making it a quiet spot for smallmouth bass fishing.

THE RETIRED BIOLOGIST

Every year John Boland fishes the Androscoggin River a half dozen times. He calls it a world-class fishery. John Boland photo

Having grown up in South Portland and worked as a state fisheries biologist for 36 years, John Boland knows Maine’s waters. Today the retired biologist splits his time between southern Maine and the Rangeley region, but still travels to other spots to fish.

Boland fishes the upper Androscoggin River several times a year. He calls it a destination fishery with world-class bass fishing and tremendous fishing for rainbows and brown trout in September. He also points out the river was a favorite spot of the late Lefty Kray, the fishing legend who fished around the world.

Boland recommends the access points near Gilead, especially near the outlet of the Wild River, but there are several others down river between Bethel and Turner, including in Newry and Jay.

“It’s not a secret. But it’s what I call lightly fished,” Boland said. “The fishing is just phenomenal. It offers something for everyone. And you do get some holdover (stocked fish), some even 16- or 18-inches. It’s a quality fishing trip.”

THE FISHING CLUB FOUNDER

Dan Tarkinson started the website Fly Fishing in Maine in 1995 to satisfy a school project at Rutgers University. A quarter of a century later, Fly Fishing in Maine is still going – now as a non-profit that has raised some $100,000 to donate to causes that help anglers learn the sport.

The Portland native recommends the lower Androscoggin River right below the falls in Auburn, where the smallmouth bass action is fast, even in the heat of summer, and the smallies are ample.

For a “quick fix” in the Portland area, Tarkinson enjoys the Pleasant River in Windham off the Pope Road or Windham Center Road. While it’s no secret, there are enough access points along the two roads, you can usually find a spot at the trout fishery that is stocked twice a year.

Evelyn King, shown above after landing a brook trout in Otter Ponds in Standish, recommends the Crooked River in Naples for new anglers. Evelyn King photo

THE EVERY-WEEKEND ANGLER

Evelyn King founded the Maine Women’s Fly Fishers in 2015 and grew it to several hundred members as she helped teach more women in Maine to fly fish. But King also fishes with her husband, Bruce, nearly every weekend of the year. If they’re not traveling to fish the Rangeley region, they’re picking a new water to try in central Maine. Or, in wintertime, they’re ice fishing.

An angler of 50 years, King recommends the Crooked River, one of the Sebago Lake tributaries. It is one of the most important spawning grounds for the wild landlocked salmon in Sebago. Good spots include up along Edes Falls Road in Casco and before Scribners Mill in Harrison.

“It’s especially good after a heavy rain,” King offered. “It’s really good if you time it right.”

A LEADER OF FEMALE ANGLERS

The second angler to lead the Maine Women Fly Fishers started by King, Loren Lachapelle has grown the club’s followers to nearly 1,000. 

The Auburn native became an avid angler after moving to Portland in 2016. Since then, she’s fished a ton in western and northern Maine.

But among Lachapelle’s favorite waters in southern Maine is the small stream where she learned to fly fish: Collyer Brook in Gray. The tiny stream has several good access points and is well stocked with brown trout and brook trout.

“If you check the stocking reports and go after it’s stocked, it’s a really good place – especially for someone starting out,” Lachapelle said. 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Daily Headlines

  • Sign up and get the top stories to begin the day delivered to your inbox at 6 a.m.