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Catching Maine's Landlocked Salmon

Best fighting fish in its weight class.

There is a reason the state of Maine named the landlocked salmon "The State Fish". The state's lakes and rivers run cold throughout the year providing the perfect habitat for this species. Abundant bait fish feed this voracious eater and supply it with the energy to bend your rod and drag your reel. Seeing a 18 to 24 inch (larger in some cases) break the surface and dance across the water's top will have your heart pounding.

Fish Specifics


Show me some identification please.

As a registered Maine guide I am responsible for ensuring my clients uphold the state's fishing regulations. A primary responsibility is the proper indentification of any and all fish landed. I have often seen fishermen mistake a landlocked salmon and a brown trout. There are a few telltale differences in body structure. If you are heading out to find yourself a landlocked salmon check out these identifyers and be sure.

Great Salmon Waters in Maine.

Here are a few Maine waters that produce sizable landlocked salmon.

  • Sebago Lake
  • Rangeley Lake
  • Munsungan Lake
  • East Grand Lake
  • Grand Lake Stream
  • Moosehead Lake
  • Square Lake (Aroostook County)

Maine's Landlocked Salmon - When and Where

In this guide's opinion springtime, or more accurately, ice out is the best time to hit the lakes for the landlocked salmon. Maine's glacial lakes remain cold throughout the year providing good catch rates. Ice out has the landlocked feeding close to the surface and aggressively chasing bait fish. The salmon's favorite meal is smelt and during the days just after ice out this species is ravenous and energetic.

Ever hear the expression "salmon chop"? Mainer's know that the weather in spring can often be rainy, gusty and downright cold. So why do Maine landlocked fishermen get excited about this type of forecast? You guessed it, salmon chop. As the rough spring weather riles the lakes surface the salmon can be extremely active. With the combination of some cold ice out water temps and nasty spring weather surface chop, hit the lake (always boat safely).

Maine Guide Tip: Early morning hours have a high catch rate. Predawn and dawn's light one of the best times of day.

Catch A Landlocked Salmon


Landlocked Salmon Lure

This is an excellent landlocked salmon lure.

This is an excellent landlocked salmon lure.

Fish How and With What?

Staying with this article's ice out/early spring fishing timeline the question of how to fish for the Maine landlocked salmon is answered by one word troll. The salmon is close to the surface as the water temperature is very cold. As when trolling for any species adjusting speed and depth should be done continually. Try starting out at 6 to 10 feet deep and a speed (using a gps reading) of between 2.5 to 3 miles per hour. Try trolling near a smelt-run stream's mouth or where the shoreline shows a steep and or rocky lay of the land. If using a shoreline reference point run a zigzag pattern to better increase your strike zone.

Now as to the question of what to use when trolling. Every person has his/her favorite lure(s) and I speak ill of none but I do herald a few that have produced not only numerous fish but also sizable fish. Sewing on a smelt can certainly produce action. Using a lure that imitates bait fish is suggested and Rapala has many that are excellent. Use their silver/black or gold/black shallow running minnow. A spoon lure I swear by is the brass Sutton spoon. When trolling this lure tie it on directly to your line, no swivel, and troll no faster than 2.8 mph. This spoon swims so well you think you have a fish on. Last but certainly not least I always have two types of streamers with me when trolling for landlocked salmon. The grey ghost and the Mickey Finn are always in my arsenal.

Please remember, when trolling with lures any fish you catch should be landed as soon as possible. If possible change a lure to a single hook setup and CATCH AND RELEASE.

Ezine "Northern Maine's Outdoors"

Please let me know how I am doing.


Anthony Altorenna from Connecticut on April 25, 2015:

It's almost that time of year again, and I'm looking forward to our annual trip to fish for landlocked salmon in Maine.

Richard Scott (author) from Presque Isle, Maine on April 21, 2014:

Thanks Sherry. Yes a landlocked is a freshwater fish. They are distant relatives of the Atlantic salmon.

Mr Archer from Missouri on April 21, 2014:

Nicely done. I myself have never sought this species, probably because I have never been in waters which held them. I have enjoyed fishing all of my life and will someday pursue this grand fish (hopefully!).

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on April 20, 2014:

I did not even know about Landlocked Salmon. So, they spend their whole life in fresh water?

swilliams on April 10, 2014:

I found this article to be very interesting, I did not know this portion, salmon chop. As the rough spring weather riles the lakes surface the salmon can be extremely active. Very useful information. I love eating Salmon this is a different aspect in which I enjoyed! Voted up!

Richard Scott (author) from Presque Isle, Maine on April 09, 2014:

Thanks Lisa. Appreciate it.

Lisa Roppolo from Joliet, IL on April 09, 2014:

Informative and interesting. Voted up!

Richard Scott (author) from Presque Isle, Maine on April 07, 2014:

I hope this is informative. I always answer questions regarding my blogs so feel free to contact me directly. Thanks

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