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Camp Ellis, Saco River. Saco, Maine.

Camp Ellis, Saco River. Saco, Maine.

Photo Credit: Maine Imaging


You can go freshwater andsaltwater fishing on the Saco River, which runs from its birthplace in New Hampshire’s White Mountains to Biddeford/Saco in southern Maine, where it empties into Saco Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. You can fish throughout the river for landlocked salmon, brook trout, smallmouth bass and brown trout. Downstream from Biddeford/Saco, where the river is brackish, you can fish for shad, striped bass and mackerel. The entire length of the Maine portion of the Saco River is open to year-round fishing, although creel limits and other regulations vary during the seasons.

New Hampshire Border to Biddeford

The stretch of the riverthat runs from Fryeburg, at theNew Hampshire border,to Buxtoncontainsa series of power and flood control dams.You are advisedto keep a close eye on water levels and flowbecause of the rapidlyrisingwaters below the dams. From Buxton to Biddeford, the water also runs slow and wide with only one set of short Class I rapids that pose no threat to boaters.

In the mid-section of the river between Buxton and Biddeford, you can commonly find smallmouth bass in the four-pound range and brown trout in the six-pound range. You can also fish for landlocked salmon and brook trout. You can access the mid-section just below the Skelton Damin Buxton, at a dirt launch for small boats. You'll also find a canoe/kayak take-outwithno ramp at the Route 5 bridge in Saco, a concrete boat launch on Lincoln Street in Saco, and a public ramp on the Biddeford side at Rotary Park in Biddeford.

In this section of the river, you can also fish for shad that are lifted over the Cataract Dam in Biddeford each spring and spend time in the river as far upstream as Buxton during the summer months. A small number of Atlantic salmon also spend time here, but it is unlawful to fish for or keep Atlantic salmon because of their current listing under the Endangered Species Act. You are advised to examine large trout carefully to determine the difference between brown trout and Atlantic salmon.

Downstream from Biddeford/Saco

Downstream from Biddeford/Saco, the river is brackish and summer anglers enjoy an excellent run ofshad, striped bass, and, at the mouth of the river at the Camp Ellis breakwater, mackerel. If you're a saltwater angler, youmay need to sign up for theNational Saltwater Angler Registry.You may also berequired to purchaseastriped bass angling permit.