Aroostook County has a wide variety of fishing opportunities all year. In the spring and summer, our lakes are perfect for trolling and spin casting. In the summer and early fall, fly fishermen enjoy the small ponds and streams found all over the County. In the winter, ice fishing on our large lakes keeps locals and visitors entertained, even as the wind chills their bones.
Due to habitat loss across much of the east coast, Aroostook is the last stronghold of native brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in the eastern United States. Often caught on a fly, brook trout size varies greatly based on the body of water an angler is fishing; a previous state-record brookie came from Aroostook County and weighed 8lb, 8oz. (It was superseded in 1997 by a stocked fish in southern Maine, and many County natives still consider our wild fish to be the record.) Brook trout are characterized by their green back, bright orange bellies (during spawning season), colorful spots, and square tail. They can be caught all over Aroostook County in our large lakes, small ponds, rivers, and streams.
Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) is sometimes referred to as blueback trout; they are found in only 14 waters in Maine, four of which are in Aroostook County’s Deboullie Township. Smaller than their brook trout cousins, Arctic charr have much lighter, silvery coloration, mild yellow spots, and a forked tail. The current state record charr also came from Aroostook County; it was 25.4 inches long and weighed 5.2 pounds.
Lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), also called togue, are among the longest-lived and largest freshwater game fish, often living 20 years or more and attaining sizes of over 30 inches and 10 pounds. Most reach 18- to 24-inches long and weigh 2 to 4 pounds. They are closely related to brook trout, but are not as brightly-colored and have a forked tail. They can be found in many of our larger lakes preying on smelt and other forage like aquatic insects and smaller fish.
Introduced to Aroostook’s Fish River watershed in the late 1800s, landlocked Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) have since become a favorite of anglers from ice-out in the spring through the first part of the summer. Salmon are found in large, deep lakes around the County, and the fishing is stronger in many of those than it’s been in years, thanks to the work done by our local biologists with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the relatively light pressure by fishermen. Salmon fishing starts strong right at ice-out every year (around the beginning of May) and stays that way until mid-June, when the water warms up and salmon slow down. Sixteen- to eighteen-inch fish in our lakes typically weigh one to two pounds, but three- to five-pound fish up to twenty-five inches long aren’t uncommon, and a lucky angler might catch one up to eight pounds.
Common in many waters in the southern part of the County, bass and other warm water species favor areas with lots of cover like woody debris, weed beds, and rocks. In the spring and summer months, smallmouth bass are found in shallow rocky areas or off rocky drop offs in 5 to 15 feet of water, while their largemouth cousins prefer more vegetative shallow areas or weedy drop offs.
The muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), more commonly known as Muskie, is an aggressive sport fish that closely resembles a much larger northern pike or American pickerel in both appearance and behavior. The Muskie, like other pikes, is an ambush predator; however, this fish can reach lengths between two and five feet and weights of over 66 pounds. Artificially introduced into the St. John River watershed, anglers now seek the large fish as trophies or for sport. Muskies are known for their strength and for their tendency to leap from the water in stunning acrobatic displays. One of the fastest growing events in the region is the International Muskie Derby held each August in the town of Fort Kent.
Winter in Northern Maine: Ice Fishing
In the winter, fishing in northern Maine takes on a new twist - ice fishing!