Old News Archive

January 9, 2007 - Fishing Report

January 09, 2007 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine

Although a few die hard ice anglers are trying to get out there and do some fishing, it’s been pretty tough to find "safe" ice and in many cases any ice at all in southern Maine. Regional staff checked out several ponds throughout the region over the weekend; in general ice conditions in York and Cumberland County were virtually non-existent. Smaller sized ponds located in Oxford County are the best bet of finding ice until things cool down and set-up.

Based on our observations, most larger lakes were still almost entirely open water, and smaller ponds in the northern part of the region had up to 4" of ice. However, many of these small ponds also had areas of thinner ice and or no ice, and often the edges had melted or broken up, similar to how it looks in March! As expected, most of the ponds visited had no or very few anglers present on them, the busiest was Halls Pond in Paris with a dozen or so anglers. The day we checked anglers had caught a few advanced fingerling brook trout (8-10"), but had reported catches of fall yearlings (11-13"), and even a few brood brookies earlier in the week.

Most anglers have been playing it safe, and many are even fishing in very shallow water (3 feet or less) just in case they fall through the ice. Although anglers are anxious to get out there and do some fishing, ice conditions are very poor and anglers need be extremely cautious out there or wait until conditions improve. The fish will still be there and it’s not worth losing your life !

We also want to remind anglers that we have several year round fisheries in the region, which may satisfy the urge to get there on the ice until the lakes can button-up and become safer to fish. The Presumpscot River is open from the outlet of Sebago Lake downstream to tidewater, but be sure to check your law book for special regulations that apply to the various reaches. The upper section by Rte 35 in Windham is heavily stocked and typically provides the best fishing opportunities, but it may be worth checking some of the other less crowded sections of the River.

The Saco River is also open year round and we have beefed up fall stocking programs below most of the dams to improve fishing opportunities. The best bet on the Saco would be to target tail water reaches below the Skelton and Bar Mills Dams. The Royal River in Yarmouth from Bridge Street to tidewater has a similar section open to angling and is stocked in the fall with both brook trout and brown trout, and anglers report catching an occasional sea-run brownie. Speaking of sea-runs the tidal sections of the Mousam, Oqunquit, and Salmon Falls Rivers are all stocked with larger sized trout (mostly browns) in the 11-13" range each fall, and provide some fantastic fishing opportunities for southern Maine anglers. In addition, anglers are occasionally rewarded with a "true" sea-run. Although rare they do exist, and the largest reported in the last few years was an eleven pounder caught by an angler striper fishing at the mouth of one of the rivers! Good luck and be safe.

-Jim Pellerin, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region B - Central Maine

The current conditions are not looking good for ice fishing opportunities in central Maine. Anglers are reminded to use extreme caution when considering venturing out onto any body of water. Die hard anglers my want to consider breaking out their open water tackle. Waters that are open to year round fishing may be a safer and a more productive winter pastime than ice fishing for the time being. Consult your 2006 Open Water Fishing Regulations booklet for waters that are open from January 1 to December 31.

Some of these waters for the central Maine area include:

Kennebec River – From Madison to tidewater, brown trout fishing can be very productive this time of year with large streamer flies or smaller minnow type lures retrieved slowly. The Shawmut / Benton stretch has been stocked with 1000 fall yearling browns this past fall and could give anglers additional action in the winter months. Smelts can also be taken in the lower reaches of the Kennebec by either snagging or retrieving small tipped jigs.

Sebasticook River - From Ft. Halifax Dam in Winslow to its confluence with the Kennebec River: single-hooked artificial lures only; daily bag limit on salmon, rainbow and brown trout: 1 fish; minimum length limit on salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout: 16 inches.

St. George River – From Lake St. George outlet (Liberty) to head of tide in Warren.
550 fall yearling brown trout have been stocked below Sennebec Lake in Union and 1000 fall yearlings were stocked in Payson Park in Warren.

Nezinscot River – Turner – from the Turner Mill Dam to Meadow Brook, artificial lures only, all fish must be released alive at once; From Meadow Brook to the Androscoggin River, daily bag limit on bass: 1 fish, on trout: 2fish.

Messalonskee Stream – Below Union Gas Dam to the confluence with the Kennebec River. Daily bag limit on salmon, trout and togue: 1 fish; minimum length limit on salmon, rainbow trout, and brown trout: 16 inches. Maximum length on salmon and brown trout: 25 inches.

All brooks, rivers and streams that lie between the head of tide to the Atlantic Ocean are open from January 1 to December 31. Some of the more popular waters include:

Cobbosseecontee Stream in Gardiner.
Damariscotta River in New Castle.
Medomak River in Waldoboro.

-Scott Davis, Fisheries Biologist Specialist

Region C – Downeast

Eastern Maine winter anglers hoping to launch the 2007 ice fishing season can identify with the hopes and disappointments of space shuttle astronauts whose eager anticipation of a launch has been repeatedly delayed by the weather. The most common theme of early 2007 has been from anglers having a heavy dose of pent-up energy from lost fishing opportunity from the 2006 ice fishing season, nicknamed “the winter that wasn’t”. These anglers are eagerly awaiting safe ice, which refuses to form at regular daytime temperatures above 40º F!

Warm January temperatures have prompted inquiries about fishing opportunities for year-round openwater fishing. The Downeast Region has two opportunities. They are the Orland River in Bucksport from the outlet of Alamoosook Lake down to the dam in Orland, and the Union River from Graham Lake dam down to the Ellsworth dam (Leonard Lake dam). Both rivers were stocked with fall yearling brook trout in the 14-16" range, with 150 fish for the Orland River and 250 fish for the Union River.

Most larger and deeper lakes in Hancock and Washington Counties still have whitecaps instead of ice. Small ponds have only 1-3” of ice. Patience until safe ice forms is a major ingredient in the recipe for those who want to survive until spring fishing is here.

The handful of reports we have received indicates that ponds that received retired hatchery broodstock brook trout will be producing some fun fishing for fish over 2 pounds. Many of these ponds also received sizeable stockings of fall fingerling (6-8”) brook trout that should provide good action, especially for those who use worms instead of live bait. Here is the list of ponds that should provide some early fishing for brook trout enthusiasts:

Hancock County:

Lower Hadlock Pond, Northeast Harbor - stocked with 1,375 fall fingerling brook trout 6 - 8 inches and 25 retired brood stock brook trout 16 - 18 inches.

Bubble Pond, Bar Harbor - stocked with 600 fall fingerling brook trout 6-8 inches and 25 retired brood stock brook trout 16 - 18 inches.

Jacob-Buck Pond, Bucksport - stocked with 200 spring yearling brook trout 8 - 10 inches and 50 retired brood stock brook trout 16 - 18 inches.

Second Pond, Dedham - stocked with 2,550 fall fingerling brook trout 6-8 inches. Anderson Pond, T 10 SD - stocked with 475 fall fingerling brook trout 6-8 inches. Craig Pond, Orland - stocked with 1,100 fall fingerling brook trout 6-8 inches and 75 retired brood brook trout 16 - 18 inches.

Echo Lake, Mount Desert - stocked with 2,500 fall fingerling brook trout 6-8 inches.

Washington County:

Indian Lake, Whiting - stocked with 6,000 fall fingerling brook trout 6 - 8 inches and 75 retired brood stock brook trout 16 - 20 inches.

Keenes Lake, Calais - stocked with 4,000 fall fingerling brook trout 6 - 8 inches and 50 retired brood stock brook trout 16 - 20 in.

Montegail Pond, Centerville - stocked with 2,500 fall fingerling brook trout 6-8 inches and 25 retired brood stock brook trout 16 - 20 inches.

Goulding Lake, Robbinston - stocked with 1,100 fall fingerling brook trout 6 - 8 inches and 25 retired brood stock brook trout 16 - 20 inches.

Keeley Lake, Marshfield - stocked with 1,500 fall fingerling brook trout 6 - 8 inches.

Even if the weekend arrives and you haven’t yet bought your fishing license, you can buy it online and print it at home by going to: https://www.informe.org/moses/ . The whole transaction only takes a few minutes, and your name will be entered as a potential winner of a free classic Rangeley boat at the end of the year.

So once the ice gets safe, pack up the kids, the gear, and the food, then head out for a fun day on the ice. One family, which just started ice fishing this year, reported catching so many fish that the kids can hardly wait for the next trip. These fun memories shape the interests and activities of a lifetime for young and old alike.

-Rick Jordan, Regional Fishery Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

The frustrating wait continues, as ice conditions in western Maine haven't improved much since late December. There is fishable ice on a few small, shallow ponds, but for the most part winter anglers aren't doing much except hoping for cold weather to arrive. Lufkin Pond in Phillips, Wentworth Pond in Solon, and Roxbury Pond in Roxbury all have a few inches of safe ice - Lufkin and Wentworth are providing some fast action for splake and bass, while Roxbury anglers have picked up a few big trout from earlier stockings. Conditions on the region's larger lakes range from completely open to a few inches of good ice in shallow isolated coves. Be sure to check the ice before venturing onto these areas on foot, and please remember that motorized travel on any lake in western Maine is downright foolhardy.

For those with an itch to fish, a few river reaches are open to year-round open water fishing. In Region D, these include the Kennebec River from the Abenaki Dam in Madison (the lowermost of the two dams in Madison and Anson) to Weston Dam in Skowhegan. Regulations during the winter period are the same as those applied during the open water season. And new this year, the entire Androscoggin River is open year-round from the New Hampshire border to tidewater. Regulations remain the same during the winter months, except that trout and salmon must be released alive from October 1 to March 31. Also, there's a new catch and release section extending from the New Hampshire border downstream to the bridge crossing at Gilead. Fishing in this reach is restricted to single hook artificial lures. If you're hardy enough to participate in these winter fisheries, remember that water temperatures are only in the 30's. Use care launching boats at icy landings, and watch for slippery rocks and ice floes - a dunking this time of year can be uncomfortable at best, and at worst it can cost you your life.

Winter anglers have petitioned the Department to open Pleasant Pond in Caratunk to ice fishing. A public hearing will be held on January 11 at 6:30 PM in the Quimby Elementary School in Bingham. If you can't attend the hearing, please consider expressing your views in writing by January 26. These should be sent to Andrea Erskine at 284 State Street, State House Station 41, Augusta, ME 04333-0041.

-Dave Boucher, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region E - Moosehead Region

Thin ice is not an issue that should be taken lightly by anglers fishing in the Moosehead Lake Region. We are seeing unsafe ice conditions across the entire region and anglers should not be venturing out on any body of water without first checking the status of ice depth. At best anglers can expect some fishing close to the shoreline and will be limited to coves and shallower areas on our larger lakes and ponds. Individuals traveling on regional waters should avoid traveling over deep basins and remember that lake conditions can change daily.

Since there is still a lot of open water in the region we are getting some calls from anglers inquiring if open water fishing is allowed. Open water fishing is not allowed. If you are unable to get out on the ice and cut or chisel a hole, then you are out of luck. The only open water opportunity in the Moosehead Lake Region is the Piscataquis River from the dam in Guilford downstream to the Atkinson-Sebec Bridge, which is open to open water fishing from January 1 – December 31. Fishing is restricted to artificial lures only and the daily bag limit on trout is two fish with a minimum length limit of 6 inches.

Regional staff began its annual winter creel census sampling this past weekend. Tim Obrey and I went to Chamberlain Lake. We found traveling condition limited to Round Pond, Telos Lake, and area of Chamberlain Lake off the trailhead to the Chamberlain Lake parking lot. The handful of anglers we interviewed were experiencing some nice catches of brook trout along the shoreline and anglers should expect lake trout and lake white fish catches to pick up as soon as ice conditions improve.

In the Moosehead Lake Region we currently have 41 active voluntary record book keepers collecting ice fishing information. The information collected by these individuals influences our management, including stocking and regulations on waters fished by our record keepers. If it were not for these individuals we would have limited information on many of our waters. Given the vast number of waters in the Moosehead Lake Region, it is impossible for Fisheries Biologists in the field to amass an adequate amount of information to monitor the results of management, stocking, and regulations without the help of our highly respected voluntary record book keepers. If you or if you know of other anglers who might be interested in maintaining a voluntary fishing record book, please contact either :
Stephen Seeback Stephen.Seeback@maine.gov,
Tim Obrey Tim.Obrey@maine.gov, or
Jeff Bagley Jeff.Bagley@maine.gov at PO Box 551, Greenville, Maine 04441 or by phone at 695-3736. Anglers with access to the Internet can record their fishing efforts at www.Triptrakers.com.

Over the last two seasons there have been some nice brook trout caught in Moosehead Lake. A trend that is encouraging to both regional biologists and anglers. The coffee shop rumor of a big brook trout being caught on Moosehead Lake this past week is indeed true. This brook trout weighed 6.38 pounds. So don’t let any one tell you that you need to go out of state to catch big fish!

-Stephen Seeback, Fisheries Biologist Specialist

Region F, Penobscot Region

By now most all ice anglers are wondering if they will ever get to drill any holes this winter! We have been fielding calls from ice anglers inquiring about ice (or lack of it) throughout the region. The short answer is NO. As of Sunday, the 7th of January, there is no ice to speak of, anywhere in the Penobscot Region! That's not to say that someone couldn't find just enough ice to chip a few holes to set a line, but these opportunities are very scarce. Conditions change so fast that ice on a particular pond may support foot traffic today, but may not support any weight tomorrow. I would suggest that patience and common sense would be the prudent course. Golf anyone?

While you're waiting for winter, why not try one of the water bodies that are open all year to open water fishing? In the Penobscot Region, Millinocket Stream would be the ticket. The year-round fishing section is located just to the north of the Town of Millinocket in T1R8 WELS, from the Millinocket Lake Dam downstream to the Millinocket Town Line. The Enfield Hatchery stocked 230 large (14 to 16 inches) fall yearling brook trout back on November 27th, 2006. The stream is open to year round fishing per general law provisions, EXCEPT that S-19 (2 trout) is in effect.

-Nels Kramer, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region G – Aroostook County

Warm weather and rain continue to plague the most ardent of ice fishermen. The week long warm weather of last week was followed by a day of rain on Saturday and Sunday was another day above freezing with only the wind chill making it seem colder. We are scheduled to get 4-8 inches of snow Monday that will only contribute to already dangerous conditions as thin ice gets blanketed with a coating of insulating white stuff. Snowmobilers will greet the new fallen snow enthusiatically but should use extreme caution and be very hesitant at crossing any body of water that is covered with snow. We have not had the zero or subzero weather characteristic of January.

Biologists planning to census Big Eagle Lake, Ross Lake and others in the Allagash drainage canceled fieldwork this past weekend in lieu of the warm weather and poor ice conditions. Anglers planning to visit these lakes for the upcoming weekend should check with regional IF&W offices for the latest update of ice conditions. Long, Cross, Square and Eagle Lakes in the Fish River Chain are due to open on January 15 but these large lakes with vast areas of deep water have remained open and any ice present a short distance from shore will be thin and hazardous for travel. Smelt shacks only a few feet from shore on Eagle Lake were removed last week as the ice depressed under the weight of the shacks causing flooding. We have had nothing but warm weather since that time.

Small water bodies have thicker ice but after the rain and runoff from this weekend, they will be dangerous around inlets and outlet. Anglers have been fishing the shoreline of lakes in the Houlton area and at Squa Pan but cautiously and not venturing far from shore.

For those who have been looking forward to the 2007 ice fishing season, I would urge a little more patience for conditions to improve. It will be more enjoyable to yourself and a relief to family members to know that ice is safe for your fishing trip.

-Dave Basley, Regional Fishery Biologist

Submitted by Mark Latti, DIFW

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.