Old News Archive

February 13, 2007 - Ice Fishing Report

February 13, 2007 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine

A noticeable increase in fishing activity was observed over this past weekend, and with little snow accumulation, travel conditions are excellent on most waters. Foot travel has been unusually good for this time of the year, although that may change with an approaching mid week storm. Ice thickness remains variable, but is generally running between 9 and 12 inches in depth on most mid-size waters.

Our regional survey this winter continues to focus on catchable brook trout waters, which continue to offer productive good fishing for those anglers that have figured out how to effectively target these trout. Rule number one is to down size your bait: small shiners and worms are the preferred bait for traps, but those willing to jig with 1/8 ounce or smaller rubber jigs will realize even better success. Rule number two is to focus on shallow water, generally less than 10 feet and typically set tight to shore along points and areas with hard bottoms. Rule number three is to set near tributaries and outlets, but be careful advancing on ice in the vicinity of inlets and outlets, as thinner ice is probable near areas of flowing water.

Thomas Pond in Casco continues to offer some nice brook trout and we finally received reports of anglers catching some of the many retired brood salmon that were stocked there last fall. Wilson Lake in Acton has also provided steady brook trout action for those who have taken the time to embrace the aforementioned three rules. Good brook trout fishing is still to being observed on many of the smaller ponds like Littlefield pond (Sanford), Otter Pond #2 (standish), Hobbs Pond (Norway), and Worthley Pond (Poland) to name a few, but many anglers have shifted to larger area waters with improving ice conditions.

We have received lots of good reports from most of the area salmon lakes, including Panther Pond (Raymond), Kezar Lake (Lovell), Moose Pond (Bridgton), and Long Lake (Naples/Harrison) to name a few.

Reports from Thompson Lake (Poland/Oxford) suggest good fishing for smaller size lake trout (14 to 20 inches), and while we probably sound like a broken record on this point, the jig fisherman are catching the lake trout!

At the end of my scheduled survey last Saturday, I headed over to Sebago, where the parking lot at the Station was filled with vehicles. I spoke with a number of anglers; many were just getting set up for cusk, which is typically fished for in the evening. The cusk fishing has been fairly consistent, and while I didn't hear of any unusually large cusk or great catches of cusk, anglers seemed content in catching two to four each evening in the 2 to 3 pound range. Some fat lake trout were also apparently iced earlier in the day by jig fishermen.

Ice thickness in the "Station" ranged from 3 to 10 inches. Thinner ice conditions were more common place towards Indian Island, although a large camp settlement has formed on the ice along the west shore, just due west of Indian Island. However, just a short distance to the north, directly off Harmon's beach there was only a skim coat of ice. From what I could observe there appeared to be ice set up from Jordan Bay to the Station, but I didn't see many shacks south of Brown's Point on Jordan Bay, suggesting thinner ice conditions to the south. As for the "Big Bay", there is virtually no sign of ice in the lake's largest basin, although we still have two weeks before the Sebago Derby.......although the windy conditions and pending weather does not offer very good ice making conditions.

Perhaps what is considered the largest ice fishing derby in York County is scheduled for this Sunday (18th) on Little Ossipee Lake (Waterboro). This well run event is organized by "F.E.T." (Fish Extraction Team), which is a dedicated nonprofit group devoted to raising money for some great causes. Derby cash value prizes of $5,500 in the adult division and $800 in the youth division, in addition to lots of door prizes makes this fun event. A Department sponsored "Hooked On Fishing Not On Drugs" program for youth is also part of this event, allowing children that want to learn how to fish the opportunity to receive instruction and equipment to fish for the day. Additional information regarding the derby can be found online (www.fetinc.net). Also keep in mind that this upcoming weekend (17th & 18th) is free fishing weekend, which means the public may fish on these two days without a fishing license.

-Francis Brautigam, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region B - Central Maine

With a little reprieve from the bitter cold temperatures of the past weeks, many anglers returned to the ice this weekend. Many of these anglers were kept even warmer due to the constant running after high rising flags. Both coldwater and warmwater species seemed hungry for baited hooks.

While on the ice, I have the opportunity to have many informal discussions with hundreds of anglers. It’s always interesting to hear their views and to express the Department’s position. Another interesting aspect of these encounters is that we hear where the fishing is hot. Although, sometimes I’m sworn to secrecy, the following reports are from unselfish anglers willing to share the ice with others for a good day of fishing.

Echo Lake- good salmon and lake trout fishing with salmon up to 23 inches and lake trout in the 5-7 pound class. Remember Echo Lake is opened only during January and February, so you only have a couple of weeks if you’re interested in fishing Echo Lake.

Flying Pond-has yielded good catches of average sized brown trout with a few brookies thrown in.

Cobbossee Lake- has produced good catches of browns with a few measured in pounds instead of inches.

Sabattus Pond- remains the most popular northern pike water in the Region. Again this year people are catching lots of pike, unfortunately most of these pike are under 6 six pounds.

Lake St George- The fishing is a little slower this year than in previous years but some good size salmon are being caught, although these salmon are not huge they are very handsome fish.

I’d like to thank Dave Basley and Derrick Cote, biologists from the Ashland Regional office for the great trip I had last weekend to assist with their creel survey of the Allagash Waterway. For those people who have not traveled north to fish these waters, they are certainly missing a unique opportunity. Fishing for native brook trout and lake trout can be fantastic, you can not say enough about the wilderness experience. You may also see things you have never seen before, I witnessed a fishery biologist measure and weigh a snowshoe hare, I didn't get the full story but I bet it's a good one. Winter access is relatively easy and there are a number of good sporting camps in the area for guides and lodging, so plan a weekend and head north.

-Jim Lucas, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region C – Downeast

Early reports from anglers’ perennial favorite, West Grand Lake, which opened on February 1, indicated good fishing for salmon and togue, along with some lake whitefish and cusk. Travel conditions have been good. Warden Wayde Carter worked the lake recently and reported 16-26” of ice and no pressure ridges yet.

Tunk Lake in eastern Hancock County is now frozen. This 220-foot deep lake is usually the last to freeze in eastern Maine because it takes so long to cool down its immense volume of water. Togue are the primary fish caught by anglers, and we encourage harvest there (3 togue, 14” minimum length) to thin out a very abundant population. Some anglers have caught landlocked salmon over 20” in recent weeks.

Anglers are having good success on lake trout at Branch Lake in Ellsworth with parties catching multiple fish. Both Molasses Pond and Green Lake are giving up some nice, fat salmon. Finally, our staff has been conducting a winter creel survey at Fitts Pond in Eddington and Lower Springy Pond in Otis, finding a good level of success for our splake programs there.

With school vacation week upon us, family ice fishing trips will produce some excited kids chasing tipup flags, interspersed with trips to the campfire to cook some famed red hot dogs and warm up with a cup of steaming hot chocolate.

-Rick Jordan, Regional Fishery Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

The guys checked an assortment of fish around the region during recent surveys. Some nice lake trout were taken at Embden Lake (up to 22 1/2") and Hancock Pond (24 1/2 "). Anglers caught a number of splake in the 16" range at Wyman Lake, along with some salmon and brook trout. They also checked a few brookies at Chain of Ponds. There is more than a foot of ice in most places, but traditionally treacherous places like thoroughfares still bear watching. We don't have any hot spots for smelts this winter - usually anglers are able to jig them in numbers at Embden, Clearwater, or Wyman.

Much of our winter work involves writing up the work we've done during the previous field season. To date we have completed reports on the Rangeley Lake fishery, the Cupsuptic River brook trout restoration project, and the C Pond bass removal project. These reports are available to interested anglers from us (778-3322) or through our Augusta office at 287-8000.

-Forrest Bonney, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region E - Moosehead Region

This past weekend, the troops were out in full force searching for anglers and fish. The poor ice conditions we had in early January kept many anglers as well as our staff from venturing too far on our survey waters. The waters we are conducting creel surveys on this winter include Moosehead Lake, Chamberlain Lake, Telos Lake, Round Pond, and Lobster Lake. With the cold weather we’ve had for the past month, it seems that we are about where we should be on ice conditions. We are finding that ice thickness is ranging from 18 to 24 inches in most places around Moosehead Lake. However, anglers should still be cautious of those areas that are notorious for bad ice !

This past weekend we were able to make up for lost time by covering Moosehead Lake from Greenville to Rockwood and even northward to Seboomook and Northeast Carry. We encountered several parties fishing and most were having great success at landing our abundant supply of 14 to 18 inch togue. We were able to collect data from nearly 150 of these fish. We are still encouraging anglers to keep these togue in the 14 to 18 inch range.

We visited Lobster Lake on Saturday and found very little fishing activity. It was vintage Lobster Lake fishing, slow fishing but some hearty anglers just waiting for that big togue or salmon.

There were a couple of notable encounters on the ice this past weekend. One of which was a radio tagged lake trout from Moosehead Lake that was caught in the Rockwood area. Unfortunately, this fish was killed. We were able to recover the tag from the fish and when we tested it back at the office we found that the tag was still working and emitting a signal. This is the second tagged fish to be caught and not released from Moosehead Lake this winter. A third fish from Chamberlain Lake, which we had tagged this past fall was also caught and killed earlier in the season. We are urging folks to release these fish if they happen catch one. The information that we gather through these tagged fish are invaluable towards making these waters even better fisheries.

We were fortunate to interview a couple of parties on Moosehead, which had done very well in the brook trout category. Jeff Eastman of Exeter, ME caught a 3-pound trout and Ken Snowdon of Greenville Jct. caught a 4-pound beauty on Sunday. It was also ironic that I was checking each party at the time when these fish were pulled through the ice. Pretty neat stuff!! Unlike the huge (6.28 lbs) brook trout caught earlier in the seasonby an angler, this time we could gather biological data from these two fish. The presence of these beautiful fish shows once again, that there is no need to leave the State of Maine to search for trophy trout! Take a look at the attached pircutre

-Jeff Bagley, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region F, Penobscot Region

Although the recent cold spell has produced generous quantities of ice throughout the region, it is not safe to assume that ice conditions are fine everywhere. Always use caution and common sense when venturing onto the ice. Anglers are out in good numbers all across the region and are having some good fishing.

Cold Stream Pond and Schoodic Lake are two coldwater lakes where anglers can expect to catch salmon, togue and brook trout. There have been some larger fish; 4-5 lb. salmon, 2-3 lb brook trout, and 10-12 lb. togue taken from these lakes this winter. Several lakes like West Lake, Duck Lake, Upper Jo Mary Lake, Pleasant Pond, and Spring Lake are producing both salmon and trout in good numbers and sizes. Lower Sysladobsis Lake is doing very well with landlocked salmon. The kids opnly brook trout waters are doing very well. Pictures of young anglers with some very nice brook trout often appear in the local newspaper. Other good brook trout lakes are Scraggly Lake and Matagamon Lake. Many of the large brook trout stocked last fall in area lakes and ponds like Silver Lake and Oxhead Pond have produced some very good fishing. Bass, white perch and pickerel fishing has been good and will probably get better as the season progresses and things warm up a bit.

Winter has finally set in with generally good ice conditions and some snow for good traveling. As the days get longer and the sun gets stronger there should be some very pleasant and productive fishing days through the end of the ice fishing season.

-Mike Smith, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region G – Aroostook County

Northern Maine biologists surveyed Long Lake on Saturday February 3rd, the first day of the Long Lake fishing derby. While the catch rates for salmon and trout were down a bit from earlier in the season, fishing pressure was quite high on this day; surprisingly, many anglers were not registered in the derby and were simply out to enjoy a day of fishing. In just under six hours of being on the lake, we counted 474 anglers in 149 parties; fifty-nine gamefish were measured during this time including the largest salmon in the derby at 6 lbs 9.6 ounces. The two winning salmon were well over six pounds and the largest brook trout was 3 pounds 12.4 ounces. Smelt fishing around the lake continues to be quite good; smelt anglers prefer the comfort of a shack when handlining for these small fish and by many accounts the likelihood of a two to three dozen catch is very good.

When conducting our interviews on the ice we ask anglers about their recent trips; at Long Lake we are able to collect many of these "back trips" because of the high fishing pressure that occurs even during the week. It doesn't take long on any particular day to identify days during the previous week that were exceptionally good or bad. The two days prior to the derby proved to be very good fishing days with many salmon and trout being caught and released. One excited angler recounted for me the story of jigging two large fish in his shack earlier in the week - one salmon about 5 pounds and an exceptionally large brook trout that he thought was well over 6 pounds. Fish of this size are difficult to land within the tight confines of a fishing shack...both of these fish broke free and fell back into the lake.

Other reports indicate that splake are being caught at Squapan Lake with most anglers limiting out early in the day. We have also been working at Cross Lake on the Fish River Chain where salmon and trout catches have been very good this winter. Due to very poor salmon growth and survival, we cancelled salmon stocking in 2006. With a strong smelt population and relatively low salmon numbers, growth of salmon has improved slightly. On a recent trip to Cross Lake my family, along with the Hucks of Caribou, caught 12 yellow perch, 5 fallfish, and 3 salmon. Five boys aged 7 to 11 years old were kept busy chasing and tending tipups on this very cold weekend morning.

-Frank Frost, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Submitted by Marl Latti, DIFW

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