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Styles of Fishing

A fishing boat on a beautiful lake in Maine.

A fishing boat on a beautiful lake in Maine.


The key to successful fishing in Maine involves a basic knowledge of when, where and how to go after certain species. Of course a stroke of that elusive fisherman’s luck is needed as well. Not all fish act alike, but most respond to daily and seasonal temperature changes. Outfitters throughout the state offer equipment and can provide helpful advice on local hot spots and proven methods. A review of the basic styles of catching fish will be helpful in determining the best method for your level of skill.

Bait and Bobber Fishing

Bait and bobber fishing is the simplest way to go fishing. All that is needed is a basic rod, simple reel and line, a plastic or cork bobber, some hooks, a few feet of monofilament line for use as a leader and perhaps a few light sinkers. Bait and bobber fishing can be enjoyed on the coast or on freshwater, from a dock, the shore or by boat.


Casting is another simple form of fishing. Using either lures or bait, casting is done with spin-cast, open-faced spinning or baitcasting gear; in other words, just about any simple rod and reel will do. This method is most effective when smallmouth and largemouth bass or pickerel are in freshwater shallows, and even for mackerel and pollock along the coast. Live bait, swimming lures and surface plugs may be used for casting.


Trolling is when live bait or lures are trailed behind a moving boat, sometimes on the surface, sometimes at great depth. An effective and simple rig to use when fish are near the surface is an open-faced spinning reel loaded with 8- or 10-pound test line and a light spinning rod that is 6-7 feet in length. A tiny swivel should be tied to the line to prevent twisting, and a streamer fly or small lure is attached to the line and trailed about 25 yards behind the boat. These lightweight rigs are used for brook trout and salmon in spring and fall and for bass and pickerel in summer.


Fly-fishing is a classic method of enjoying fishing. While fly-fishing involves a certain level of skill and an understanding of the rhythm and processes of nature, the reward is worth the effort. Maine outfitters are well versed in providing beginners with instruction and supplies. Fly-fishing can be enjoyed in both saltwater and freshwater.

Click here to view Maine Freshwater Fly Fishing Guides.

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is a great way to enjoy a day of fishing even when the lakes and rivers are frozen, and it’s as easy as taking out the ice auger and rigging a line through the ice. Local outfitters and Chambers of Commerce can provide information on ice safety and fishing hot spots.

Click here to view Maine Ice Fishing Guides.

Catch and Release

Catch and release is a good practice for anglers of all ages and skill levels since it offers the excitement of fishing with little harm to the fish population. One way to “keep” your catch is to photograph your fish before returning it to the water. If you are releasing the fish you’ve caught, please take care to gently remove the hook and return the fish to the water. Keep in mind that you should wet your hands before handling any fish. When at all possible, fish that are being released should remain in the water.