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Maine's governor makes it easier to go fish

Saturday, March 21st 2020

Maine's governor makes it easier to go fish

Looking for a way to get outside and still keep your social distance? Maine Gov. Janet Mills has added fishing to the options. The governor has directed Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso  to open all inland waters for fishing and to waive the requirement that anglers need a recreational fishing license for fishing on Maine’s inland waters, according to a news release.

The order, which was effectively immediately, will run through April 30, and is intended to encourage Maine people to enjoy the outdoors as we confront the challenges associated with COVID-19.

According to the release, the governor is considering additional measures to make the Maine outdoors more accessible to Maine people. But she did note that all Mainers continue to maintain appropriate physical distancing measures recommended by the U.S. CDC.

“As an avid angler, I know there’s nothing better for the heart and soul than a little fishing,” said Mills. “As we continue to navigate this challenging time together, I hope this order will motivate Maine people to do what we have done for generations: take to our lakes, rivers, and streams to cast a line. The great outdoors is still open. Please enjoy it safely.”

Maine has over 6,000 lakes and ponds, and over 32,000 miles of rivers and streams. With many people home and without many of their normal structured activities, this is a great time to get outside and enjoy Maine’s inland waters.

“During these times, getting outside and enjoying the outdoors is a wonderful way to recharge, while maintaining social distancing practices,” said Commissioner Camuso. “Waiving the requirements for a license will give people more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.”

Any  person (except those whose license has been suspended or revoked) may fish without a license through April 30. This change does not apply to activities which require a commercial freshwater fishing license or permit. Also effective immediately, all inland waters that traditionally open to open water fishing on April 1 will now be open to open water fishing. This change does not open any body of water that is currently closed to ice fishing. All other tackle, length and bag limits and special regulations still apply.

Before heading out, please make sure you let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. If you are accessing a waterway from private land, please treat the land as if it were your own, and leave no trace that you were there.

If you are going to be heading out onto frozen waterbodies to ice fish, please continue to use extreme caution. Use a chisel or auger to test ice thickness in several places. Remember that ice conditions can vary greatly this time of year. Ice that forms over flowing water and currents, especially near springs, streams, bridges and culverts, can be particularly dangerous.

If you are fishing from a boat, the Maine Warden Service is urging boaters to wear their lifejackets. 

In conjunction with MDIFW temporarily waiving the requirement for a recreational fishing license, the Department of Marine Resources also has waived the requirement that saltwater anglers must join the state’s saltwater registry, effective immediately through April 30.

For more information on the rules and regulations on your favorite water, visit

Wondering where to go? Check out the improved Maine fishing guide at This statewide guide features the top fishing destinations in the state, broken down by species, tips on how to catch various species, and even provides advice on how to fish with children. 

The Department stocks more than 1 million fish each year and manages more than 20 species of freshwater game fish. Wondering where fish were recently stocked? Go online at


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