Fishing in Maine: License-Free Zones and Rules

Comprehensive Guide to Fishing in Maine: License-Free Zones and Rules Explained

Fishing in Maine is more than just a pastime—it’s a way of life. With its vast inland waters and rich marine resources, Maine offers a unique fishing experience for both residents and visitors. However, before you cast your line, it’s crucial to understand the rules and regulations surrounding fishing licenses in Maine. This guide will provide you with a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about fishing licenses, license-free zones, and fishing rules in Maine.

Who Needs a Fishing License in Maine?

In Maine, anyone 16 years of age or older is required to have a valid fishing license to fish in inland waters or transport fish taken from inland waters. This rule applies to both residents and non-residents. However, there are exceptions for certain groups, such as military personnel, exchange students, disabled veterans, and Native Americans, who may be eligible for special licenses or complimentary licenses.

How are Fishing Licenses Obtained in Maine?

Obtaining a fishing license in Maine is a straightforward process. Both residents and non-residents can purchase fishing licenses from agents throughout the state, including sporting goods stores, convenience stores, town clerks, and turnpike service centers. Licenses can also be purchased online or directly from the Department office in Augusta. However, it’s important to note that not all town clerks issue non-resident licenses.

Fishing in Maine: License-Free Zones and Rules

License-Free Zones in Maine

While a fishing license is generally required in Maine, there are certain “license-free” zones where you can fish without a license. These zones are typically designated for specific events or occasions, such as Free Fishing Days. During Free Fishing Days, anyone (except those whose license has been suspended or revoked) may fish without a license. However, all other laws and regulations still apply during these days.

Fishing License Fees in Maine

The cost of a fishing license in Maine varies depending on several factors, including the type of license, the age of the applicant, and their resident status. For example, a season fishing license for a resident aged 16 and older costs $25, while the same license for a non-resident costs $64. There are also multi-year licenses and special licenses available at different costs. It’s important to check the current fees before purchasing a license, as they are subject to change.

Maine Lifetime License

The Maine Lifetime License is a special type of license that allows the holder to fish, trap, and/or hunt for their lifetime, regardless of where they live in the future. This license is available for a one-time fee and includes all privileges that the holder is qualified to receive, including hunting, trapping, archery, and fishing. The revenues generated from the sale of these licenses are deposited in a special trust fund that provides long-term financial support for Maine’s fish and wildlife.

Super Pack License

The Super Pack License is a special license available only to Maine residents. This license permits an eligible person to hunt and fish for all legal game and fish species, subject to all of the laws governing fishing, hunting, and archery. The Super Pack License includes various permits and offers one free chance in the moose lottery and entry into a special category in the antlerless deer permit lottery.

Rules and Regulations for Fishing in Maine

Fishing in Maine is governed by a set of rules and regulations designed to protect the state’s fish and wildlife resources. These rules cover everything from fishing seasons and bag limits to gear restrictions and fishing methods. It’s essential for all anglers to familiarize themselves with these rules and follow them to ensure a sustainable and enjoyable fishing experience for all.

License-Free Zones

Maine has several license-free zones where anglers can fish without a license. These zones include:

  • Free Fishing Weekend: The first weekend in June allows anyone to fish without a license in Maine.
  • Saltwater Fishing: If you intend to fish in Maine’s saltwater bodies, you don’t need a license.
  • Youth Fishing: Maine allows youth anglers under the age of 16 to fish without a license.

While these zones don’t require licenses, it’s important to remember that all other fishing regulations and rules still apply.

Obtaining a Fishing License

To obtain a Maine fishing license, you must first research the requirements for the specific location you plan to fish. Some waters may have specific regulations that differ from other areas in the state. Once you’ve researched the rules, follow these steps to obtain a fishing license:

Step 1: Prepare necessary documents

  • Identification: You will need to provide a valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.
  • Social Security Number: You will need to provide your social security number.
  • Payment: You will need a valid method of payment to purchase your fishing license.

Step 2: Purchase the license

  • Online: You can purchase a fishing license online through the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website.
  • In-person: You can also purchase a license in person at a licensed agent or at a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife office.

Step 3: Understand the rules and regulations

  • Review the Maine fishing regulations and make sure you understand the rules and regulations for the specific location you plan to fish.
  • Carry your fishing license with you at all times while fishing, as you may be asked to provide it to a conservation officer.

Free Fishing Days in Maine

Maine offers Free Fishing Days, which are opportunities for individuals, both residents and non-residents, to fish without a fishing license. These days are typically held once in the winter and once in the summer. While fishing licenses are not required on these days, all other fishing regulations, including bag and size limits, gear restrictions, and fishing hours, remain in effect.


Understanding the rules and regulations surrounding fishing in Maine, including the concept of license-free zones, is crucial for anyone planning to fish in the state. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of these topics, aiming to equip you with the knowledge you need to enjoy a successful and legal fishing experience in Maine.


Q: What are the license-free fishing zones in Maine?
A: Maine has a number of license-free fishing zones, where anglers are allowed to fish without a license. These include all inland waters of the state except for those within Acadia National Park, the Kennebec River from the bridge at Route 201 in Caratunk to the head of tide at Augusta, and the Penobscot River from the head of tide at Bangor to the southernmost edge of the Penobscot Indian Reservation.

Q: Can I take fish from a license-free fishing zone out of state?
A: No, you cannot. If you catch fish in a license-free fishing zone in Maine, you must consume them within the state or release them back into the water. It is illegal to transport fish from these zones out of state.

Q: Are there any size or bag limits in license-free fishing zones?
A: Yes, there are still size and bag limits that apply in license-free fishing zones in Maine. Anglers should be aware of these limits and follow them carefully to avoid violating state fishing regulations. Some species, such as brook trout, have strict size and bag limits statewide, while others may have different rules in different areas of the state. It’s always a good idea to check with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for the latest rules and regulations before heading out to fish.

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