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  • Writer's pictureMax Augliere

The Ultimate Guide For Spearfishing In Maine

Updated: Nov 5, 2023


New England Spearfishermen rinses off his catch.
Rinsing off some freshly speared fish.

Maine's 3,500 miles of coastline is known for producing world class seafood, and for those seeking adventure, spearfishing is an exhilarating way to harvest that seafood yourself. In this spearfishing guide, we'll tell you what gear you'll need, where you can go, and what you can target, keep reading if you're interested. You can also get 15% off any spearfishing gear at www.Northernspearfishing.com by entering the discount code "Mainespearing" at checkout.

 

Is spearfishing Legal in Maine

Spearfishing is legal in Maine for both residents and non-residents if you possess a saltwater fishing license. While Maine.gov does not specifically mention spearfishing on their website for marine regulations, we spoke with their department of fisheries and learned exactly what those regulations are. If the species is "hook and line only", then this means that you can not spearfish for that species. For example, Striped Bass are noted as being "hook and line only" therefor you can not spearfish Striped Bass in Maine.


What fish are legal to spear in Maine

  • Pollock

  • Haddock

  • Cod

  • Black Seabass

  • Winter Flounder

  • Atlantic Mackerel

  • Bluefish

  • Cunner

 

Where to go spearfishing in maine

When you're spearfishing in Maine, finding good shore fishing is a good start, as long as the diving conditions are safe. The ocean in Maine has strong tides, swells, and currents, so be careful. Use tools like Windfinder to find days where winds are low or offshore and the swell is minimal, and use US Harbors to find tide slack tides. Always scout a spot first from shore and observe the conditions, entry and exit points, boat traffic, and wave activity before getting in, and most impoetabtly

Nubble Lighthouse

Picture of Nubble Lighthouse

Nubble lighthouse is a popular spot for SCUBA diving, so be mindful of other divers in this spot and keep your distance. The cove is often sheltered from wind and waves, and Pollock and Winter Flounder are often seen here. The middle of the cove drops down to about 70 feet.


Acadia National Park

Picture of Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park has amazing dive sites to choose from like Otter Cove, Little Hunters Beach, Bass Harbor Sea Wall, Pretty Marsh, and others. Find a protected cove that looks like it has good visibility and calm water, and give it a shot. Most of the areas we listed are about 30 feet to the bottom.


Portland Head Light

Picture of Portland Head Lighthouse

Another popular diving area, Portland Head Lighthouse can be a productive spot for spearfishing with species like Winter Flounder, Black Sea Bass, Cod, Haddock, and Pollock. The current here can be strong, so dive it at slack tide and give yourself time in the water to familiarize yourself with the current before getting into your spearfishing.

Saco Bay Bidderford Pool

Picture of calm Bidderford Bay, Maine

Bidderford Pool is a popular swimming area because it's often protected from wind and waves. Flounder, are seen here, as well as Stripers, though you're not allowed to spearfish the Stripers. The visibility here averages 10-15 feet and the depth goes to about 35 feet.




 

Maine Spearfishing Gear

In order to spearfish in Maine, you'll need, fins, a mask and snorkel, a thick wetsuit, gloves and booties, weight belt, dive flag, and speargun or polespear. The water in Maine is cold, it averages about 65°F in August and 36°F in March. You'll want a 5mm or 7mm wetsuit, and we recommend the Neptonics Quantum Stealth, as well as their booties and gloves. We wrote a quick and comprehensive guide on all the gear you would need to start out spearfishing, if you're interested you can read that here.


Are There sharks in Maine?

Maine is home to some 23 different species of sharks. Yes, that includes the Great White. Maine's first fatal shark attack was in 2020 off Bailey Island. Maine.gov releases a report each year tracking Great White activity. In 2022, 29 buoy receivers recorded 1,042 detections, from 60 individual Great White Sharks. The highest number of sharks were detected at Hermit Island and Ragged Island, and the highest months for for Great White Shark activity in 2022 were July and August. Spearfishing has risks, and you're more likely to get hurt from falling and slipping on rocks than being bitten by a shark. But it's still important to understand all of your risks before entering the water, and doing your best to mitigate those risks. Here's a video of Daniel Mann, an excellent spearfisherman with a great Youtube channel, spearfishing Cobia in the presence of Bull Sharks.


 

Maine Spearfishing Regulations

Picture of Atlantic Cod

Atlantic Cod

Size: Minimum size 22 inches.

Bag Limit: 1 fish per day

Recreational Season: April 1 - 14 and September 1 - October 7

Atlantic Cod are typically found offshore, but occasionally are caught near rocky shorelines during the colder months.

Picture of Haddock


Haddock

Size: Minimum size 17 inches.

Bag Limit: 20 fish per day.

Season: Cannot possess Haddock from March 1 - March 31.

Haddock are typically found offshore, but have been known to venture in to shallower waters in the Spring and early Summer months.

Picture of Pollock

Pollock

Size: No size limit

Bag Limit: No bag limit

Season: Cannot possess Haddock from March 1 - March 31.


Pollock are some of the most abundant fish in Maine. They tend to swim in schools near rocky shoreline in Spring, Summer, and Fall. They will also be in the water column, so if you're diving and looking at the bottom, you may miss them. Pollock also tend to be small, and shooting the fish in the filet will damage the meet, so try to target them in the head and gill plate.

Picture of Atlantic Mackerel

Atlantic Mackerel

Size: No size limit

Bag Limit: 20 fish per day.

Season: Open season.

Atlantic Mackerel are a tradition in Maine. They can be caught from Spring through Summer and into Fall. They are also a schooling fish in the water column.


Picture of Winter Flounder

Winter Flounder

Size: Minimum size 12 inches

Bag Limit: 8 per day

Season: Open season

Winter Flounder begin showing up in shallower water in Spring and stay through the Summer. They are more common around Southern Maine on sandy bottom near rocky topography. Because they stay camouflaged on the seafloor, they are best targeted with a pole spear. Pole spears can are typically much cheaper than spearguns, like this one on Amazon.

Picture of Black Sea Bass

Black Sea Bass

Size: Minimum size 13 inches

Bag Limit: 10 per day

Season: May 19 - September 12, and Octber 18 - Decemnber 31


Black Sea Bass are not as common in Maine as they are further south, but they can be found in Maine's waters. They inhabit rocky, cavernous, sea floors and will often hover next to their home cave.

Picture of Cunner

Cunner (Bergall)

Size: No size limit.

Bag Limit: No bag limit.

Season: Open season. Cunner are a very common and delicious fish. They occupy shallow, rocky bottom and are typically no larger than 10 inches, which means you must have a good shot to preserve the meat quality. This is a great fish to begin spearfishing for.

 

Shellfishing in Maine

Maine has ten different species of shellfish open to recreational harvesting. Each town may have a different ordinance around which shellfish can be harvested, so always check with your local town government. Mussels are only regulated by the Department of Marine Resources, so you can harvest them anywhere that doesn't have a shellfish contamination warning, they must be 2 inches long and you can get up to 2 bushels per day!

Picture of Blue Mussels along shore in Maine

Legal Maine Shellfish to Harvest

  • Soft Shell Clams

  • Hard Shell Clams

  • Atlantic Razor Clams

  • American Oyster

  • European Oyster

  • Mussels

  • Atlantic Surf Clam

  • Mahogany Quahog

  • Common Perriwinkle

  • Waved Whelk

 

Conclusion

For the adventurous at heart, spearfishing in Maine offers a unique and productive way to connect with nature and gather your own food. We encourage you to do it safely, to never dive alone, to be mindful of rod and reel fishermen on the shore, and to give back to the ocean where you can. SpearfishingRI.com offers 1 to 1 guided spearfishing experiences in Rhode Island with the intention of connecting people to our oceans.

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