The “Pine Tree State” may be known for its blueberries and lobster, but true anglers know that it also has incredible fishing opportunities. From Sebago Lake in Southern Maine to Rangeley Lake in the north, as well as offshore fishing grounds out of Portland, there’s something for everyone. Before you head out for your Trout or Salmon, though, you’ll need to get a Maine fishing license.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Maine fishing licenses, where and how to buy them, what types are available for residents and visitors, and who qualifies as an exemption. So, without further ado…
Who needs a fishing license in Maine?
Every angler aged 16 and over will need to purchase a valid Maine fishing license and keep it on them at all times. There are exemptions where some anglers can get their license for free. We’ll cover that in the exemptions section.
The state employs fishery biologists to manage the increasing pressure on fish populations. It’s especially important to follow fishing rules and regulations, no matter where in Maine you decide to cast your line. Make sure to consult the current fishing regulations ahead of time to thoroughly enjoy your adventure and help conserve fish populations for future generations.
Types of licenses
There are various types of Maine fishing licenses available to both residents and visitors. You can purchase a seasonal license or a fishing permit for just one day – both options are available for all anglers. Non-residents can also get 7-day and 3-day fishing licenses.
Apart from the regular types, Maine offers special licenses for armed forces and exchange students. In addition to that, there is a Lifetime license available for residents and visitors and a Superpack type for residents only. Let’s take a closer look at these below.
Special Privilege Licenses
If you’re serving in the US Armed Forces and are currently permanently stationed in Maine, you can purchase your fishing license at a resident cost. This privilege includes your spouse and dependent children if they reside with you, too.
Mainers on active duty in the US Armed Forces who are permanently stationed in another state are eligible for a Resident Serviceman combination license at a discount rate, along with their spouses and dependent children. You’ll need to verify that Maine is your home of record, though.
Cultural/educational foreign exchange students under the age of 21 can also purchase a resident license if they’re living with a family in Maine.
Maine Lifetime License
There are over 37,000 miles of rivers and over 2,500 lakes in Maine, so it’s only natural for anglers to want to explore them all. The state offers all anglers an opportunity to purchase a Maine lifetime license for younger and senior fishermen. The best part about this license is that it allows the bearer to fish for their lifetime, regardless of where they choose to live in the future.
Maine lifetime licenses are available for all anglers up to 15 years of age, as well as residents aged 65 and over. This license covers various other outdoor activities apart from fishing for senior applicants aged 70 and older.
If you’re a real fan of all things outdoors, you may want to consider purchasing a Superpack license. This type is available for Maine residents only and allows you to hunt and fish for all legal game species.
Information for Residents
There is a selection of fishing licenses available for Maine residents and “servicemen” – those permanently stationed outside the state. As a resident, if you’ve purchased a 1-day fishing license, you can exchange it for a season fishing (or combination) permit. All you need to do is cover the cost difference.
You’re considered a Maine resident if you are:
- Domiciled* in the state,
- A statutory resident who spent more than 183 days or maintained a permanent place of abode in Maine during the entire tax year.
*a person’s domicile is their permanent legal residence.
Information for Non-Residents
As a Maine visitor, you may not be eligible for certain types of licenses. However, you have more flexibility when it comes to choosing the duration of your permit. On top of that, if you had already purchased a 15-day fishing license and fallen in love with the local fisheries, you can exchange it for a season fishing permit at an extra cost of $17.
Full-time non-resident Maine students aged 18–24 can purchase their license at a resident cost. However, this must be done at the main office in Augusta.
Maine Fishing Licenses Cost
|Resident License Type||Cost|
|Season Fishing (16 and older)||$25.00
|Combination Fishing and Hunting||$43.00
|Combination Fishing and Archery||$43.00
|Serviceman Dependent Combination||$20.00
|Serviceman Dependent Fishing||$10.00
|Duplicate (from agent who issued original)||$2.00
|Non-Resident License Type||Cost|
|Season Fishing (16 and older)||$64.00
|Combination Fishing and Hunting||$150.00
Maine Lifetime License
|Resident Age||Cost||Non-Resident Age||Cost|
|5 and under||$150.00
||5 and under
Who can fish without a license?
Maine complimentary licenses are available for resident disabled veterans (honorably discharged from the National Guard or the Armed Forces with a service-related disability of 50% or more.) Non-resident veterans are also eligible for a complimentary license if their home state offers reciprocal privileges. Note that these licenses include a combination of hunting and trapping, as well as fishing, and archery permits.
Enrolled members of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Penobscot Nation, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, or the Aroostook Band of Micmacs are also eligible for a complimentary license. All you need is a certified statement from your governor or the Aroostook Micmac Council.
If you’re a holder of a complimentary Maine fishing license, but need someone to accompany you during your fishing trip, the commissioner may allow that person to assist you without having to get a separate fishing permit. Please contact the Maine Department of Fisheries and Wildlife for more information.
Finally, Maine allows all anglers to fish without a license on annual dree fishing days.
What about saltwater?
When it comes to getting a saltwater fishing license in Maine, there are a few things you need to know. The easiest way is to fish with a charter operator. If you book a saltwater charter with a licensed captain, you don’t need to have a saltwater fishing license.
If you decide to head out without a charter operator, you’ll need to register with the state annually, unless you are:
- Under 16 years of age.
- A holder of a valid Maine freshwater fishing license (not a Lifetime License).
- A Maine resident and plan to fish on July 4th or the weekends of the Memorial or Labor Days.
- Renting a smelt fishing camp from a holder of a recreational saltwater fishing Operator’s License.
- Registered with the National Registry.
- Licensed to engage in saltwater fishing in another state (recreationally).
- A holder of a valid ME DMR Commercial fishing license.
- A member of the Penobscot Nation, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Aroostook Band of Micmac, or the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
- Fishing from a wharf/dock/pier owned by a holder of a Recreational Saltwater Fishing Operator’s license.
You can learn more about saltwater fishing regulations here.
Where can I buy a Maine fishing license?
If you’re planning to buy an inland fishing license and hit the water without a guide, you can choose from one of the following formats:
- Buy your license online.
- From an agent. There are various town clerks, turnpike service centers, and goods stores where you can purchase a physical copy of your Maine fishing license. Make sure to check which stores issue non-resident licenses if you’re a visitor.
- From the Department office in Augusta. The address is 284 State Street, Augusta, ME 04333-0041.
If you’re looking for info on neighboring states, or around the US in general, check out our full list of licensing guides here.
How can I apply for a Maine Lifetime License?
If you’re looking to obtain a Maine Lifetime license, you’ll need to download either a Resident Lifetime License Application or a Non-Resident Lifetime License Application, mail or deliver it in person to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.
How can I obtain a complimentary Veteran license?
A free Veteran’s license can be obtained at the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services Central Office located at (Camp Keyes) 194 Winthrop Street Augusta, ME 04333. Alternatively, you can get in touch with the Bureau at [email protected]
How can I register for recreational saltwater fishing?
There are a few ways to register for recreational saltwater fishing:
- By mail. Download this form, print it, fill it out, and mail it. Please note that you’ll need to include a $1 payment with your application.
- In person at the DMR Augusta office or at any ME Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife appointed license.
We’ve tried to cover everything, but if you still have questions it’s best to get in touch with your local DNR office. Hopefully, you’re now ready to grab your rod, find a guide near you, and start fishing!