Best Way to Fish: boat, canoe, bank
Best Time to Fish: late April through early September
MAG: 22, E-5
Description: This easily accessible lake is managed for coldwater game fish. The hills and mountains that surround Swan Lake give it a wild appearance, despite the seasonal and year-round cottages that dot the shoreline. In November, after the fishing season is closed, local anglers like to stand near the dam at the south end of the lake and watch the landlocked salmon perform their annual spawning ritual. Swan Lake is a heavy producer of smelt, a major factor in the fast growth of the lake’s game fish. Special regulations include a minimum length on lake trout of 23 inches and a one fish per day bag limit. U.S. Route 1 between Belfast and Searsport is lined with motels. Camping is available along U.S. Route 1 in Searsport, and Swan Lake State Park, on the north end of the lake, offers a day-use picnic area and swimming beach.
Fishing index: Swan Lake receives heavy annual stockings of brook trout. Due to the large smelt population, trout and salmon have a high growth rate and brook trout of 15 to 18 inches are common. Swan Lake is not currently being stocked with lake trout, but a small population exists as a result of previous stockings. A deep trench running down the center of the lake is home to this site’s lake trout.
Landlocked salmon fishing can be spotty here, but there is always the chance of catching a trophy fish. Ice-out fishing is best. Troll close to the rocky shoreline, using sparsely dressed smelt imitation streamer flies, Mooselook Wobblers, Flash Kings, or live smelt. Some anglers take landlocked salmon here all season long on live smelt and minnows, using lead lines and downriggers.
In April and early May, anglers line the road near the boat ramp on Maine Route 141. White perch congregate here in the evening and are readily taken on earthworms. Sometimes trout and landlocked salmon show up with the perch, adding an extra touch of excitement. This is a good spot to introduce a child to the joys of angling.
One of the best places for brook trout, even during the summer, is the northeast end of the lake. Underwater boulders provide cover for schools of minnows, which in turn attract brook trout. Anglers using bait take trout on worms and small minnows. Fly fishers often find caddis flies or winged ants on the surface and take fish on caddis and ant imitations. Small leech patterns, fished slowly and with a sinking fly line, also take brookies here.
The water is always cool in this spring-fed lake, so the trout remain active here when other lakes are not producing.
Directions: From Belfast, head north and east on U.S. Route 1, and turn left on Maine Route 141, also known as Swan Lake Avenue. Follow Maine Route 141 past the dam at Swan Lake. The state boat ramp, the only facility on the lake, is located to the east of the dam, along the road.
For more information: Stop at Ed’s Bait Shop on the way to Swan Lake.