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Maine's Gold-Medal Fish

Maine’s native brook trout are indeed purebreds and among the most prized fish in the United States, drawing avid fishermen since the 19th century. That’s when “sports” from New York, Philadelphia and Boston journeyed to such storied lakes as Rangeley, Mooselookmeguntic, Aziscohos and Kennebago and rivers like the Rapid, Magalloway, Kennebago and Kennebec.

The sports still come from around the world to these legendary waters and stay at classic Maine sporting camps tucked into the great north woods. Others go it alone and spend their days casting from river banks or canoes. Even in the 21st century, Maine is still home to 97 percent of the wild brook trout waters in the eastern United States, according to Trout Unlimited. For fishermen, the allure has not dimmed.

Yet Maine holds other aquatic prizes as well, like a large population of wild brown trout, which are found in waters that haven’t been stocked in at least 25 years, as well as exceptionally rare arctic char. Maine’s 6,000 lakes and ponds, as well as its prized rivers and 3,500-plus miles of coastline make it a special and unique destination for anglers.

Bass fishermen head out onto western lakes in the morning mist. Kayakers might take a small fly rod out on flat water in pursuit of trout or bass. Landlocked salmon is the prize on Maine’s deeper bodies of water, like Sebago and Moosehead. Along the southern coast of the state, fishermen head out onto Casco Bay in their Boston Whalers all summer long, eager to cast for striped bass.

This pursuit of the wild is often born with an early bond between parent and child, a time-honored Maine tradition. Whether the catch is a sunfish, bass, white perch, pickerel or something more exotic, it can be the beginning of a lifelong passion for the sport, passed on from one generation to the next. In Maine, it’s this pursuit of the wild that draws visitors back to the state’s pristine waters year after year.

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