As a fly shop situated in South Portland, Maine near the coast of Casco Bay, a lot of what I get asked about are the fly fishing opportunities right here in the greater Portland area. With Portland being in the very southern part of Maine, we do not have the plentiful native and wild brook trout and landlocked salmon waters that our northern part of the state holds. But, our endless saltwater fishing opportunities for striped bass combined with some great options for freshwater trout and bass give local anglers plenty to keep them busy!
The following are very general areas and recommendations and are intended to give you an understanding of what this area can provide. Keep an eye out for future articles regarding specific species and areas to target in southern Maine. Also, if you have any questions please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the most popular species to target in southern Maine. The vast majority of the striped bass in our local waters arrive via their annual migration. Beginning in early spring, they work their way up the east coast from the Chesapeake Bay, past the tip of Long Island, Cape Cod, and eventually arrive in Maine. Like most fish, their behavior is very dependent on water temperature, so when the local inshore temps hit around 50 degrees (F), we are confident that the first push of striped bass have arrived. This usually equates to about mid-May on the calendar.
Their first destinations are generally the estuaries and tidal rivers. This provides them with a good food source and more comfortable water temps. So these are the places where anglers should try and focus their attention during the early parts of the season. As the water temps rise and more/different bait arrives to this area, the stripers start to spread out. Some will still reside in and along the rivers and estuaries, but later most will be prowling along the beaches and rocks. This then starts to really open up the game and provides plentiful areas to fish. Your favorite beach which you frequent with an umbrella and cooler can also be one of the best places to land a big striped bass!
As mentioned above, the trout fishing in southern Maine is very different than it is in the northern regions. This is because a vast majority of the fisheries here in the southern part are stocked. Below is a map provided by the state which details this very well:
Within the immediate South Portland area, there are two rivers which are stocked regularly and provide good fly fishing opportunities. Those two are the Royal River in Yarmouth and the Mousam River in Kennebunk. If you are willing to travel a little further, the Presumpscot and Pleasant rivers which run in and along Windham and Westbrook are also good options. The Presumpscot is probably the most heavily stocked river in southern Maine. Further, seeing as it's in a fairly populated area, it's also likely the heaviest fished river in southern Maine. So FYI, you will usually not be alone on the river. The species stocked in all these river systems vary from brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, and landlocked salmon.
You can stay updated on the stocking here: Maine Current Fish Stocking Report
Smallmouth Bass & Pike
Every year, fly fishing for smallmouth bass and pike in southern Maine gets more and more popular. We have some great bass and pike water around here and for those who don't want to trek 3 hours (or more) to the northern region for wild trout, some of the best smallmouth bass fishing can be found right here in our backyard. The Saco, lower stretches of the Penobscot, and the Androscoggin are all rivers which are close and have great fishing (the Androscoggin also holds good shots at pike). For those who prefer stillwater smallmouth bass fishing, both big and little Sebago Lake can produce some opportunities, especially in the shallower areas. Also the Belgrade Lakes region is becoming a hot spot for bass and pike. Further, many of the small ponds in this region can hold largemouth and smallmouth bass as well.
Written By: Josh Thelin
Photos By: Andy York (main image), Josh Thelin (striped bass image)