Compiled By Mark Latti with IFW Fisheries Biologists
Region A – Sebago Lakes Region
In the southern part of the state, IFW fisheries biologist Francis Brautigam says he is seeing more families out fishing this time of year.
“We are seeing an increasing number of families ice fishing, particularly for warmwater species such as bass and perch, which offer more action for anglers,” says Brautigam.
Brautigam noted that Long Pond in Naples and Harrison is seeing increased use by ice fishing families. While there are salmon in the 13-16 inch range and brown trout as well in Long, families are targeting perch.
“Long is loaded with white perch, and quite a few anglers are having success targeting and harvesting white perch,” said Brautigam. “They are pretty easy to fish for, you should use small baits suspended 5-10 feet off the bottom. Long Pond is a good one for that type of fishing.”
Family and kids may also be interested in the March 8 Kid’s Ice Fishing Derby on Lower Range Pond, sponsored by the Kittery Trading Post and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. It’s a good way to introduce children to ice fishing if you have never fished before as there will be experienced anglers helping out the kids. For more information, please visit icefishingderby.com.
In spite of all the snow, lake travel has been good, as the brief spell of warmer weather packed down much of the snow before the recent cold front. However, there is still some slush in some areas so be aware.
Also, while the big bay in Sebago has set up, ice conditions are treacherous on the bay. Heavy snow covers a thin layer of ice making fishing and travel on the bay risky. Anglers should fish the areas closer to shore that are safe.
Region B – Central and Midcoast Area
This time of year, many anglers in Region B are turning to warm water fish such as bass, perch, pickerel and others.
“Many of these fish are staging to spawn, and they are more active,” says IFW fisheries biologist Jason Seiders. “You can find them in shallow, weedy areas near inlets, sometimes in 2-5 feet of water.”
If you are looking to catch bass, what type of bass you want to catch will determine where you should fish.
“This is the time of year when we see lot of large bass caught through the ice, both smallmouth and largemouth. They are in their prespawn feeding mode, and they are really susceptible to ice fisherman,” said Seiders. Look for smallmouth in rocky, deeper areas, and you will have success for largemouth in those shallower, weedy areas.
Seiders also mentioned what a valuable resource this bass fishery is.
“It takes 20 years to grow a bass that is 18-20 inches. While it is a great opportunity to fish for them, if you are not keeping the fish, please catch and release the fish quickly,” said Seiders. “Once those fish are gone, it takes a long time to replace that fish.”
Seiders said anglers are still jigging for perch everywhere. Many anglers are now using electronics, but if you don’t have a flasher, Seiders said to set up traps with small bait, and once you start to get flags, start jigging in that area.
“Everyone has their favorite…jigs with cut bait, waxworms. Anything from a Swedish pimple to a marabou jig seems to be working,” said Seiders.
Region C -- Downeast
West Grand Lake is still offering some fast fishing.
“There’s been some good catches of salmon in the 18-21 inch range, lots of togue in great shape in the 18-22 inch range, and a lot of whitefish,” said IFW fisheries biologist Greg Burr.
Anglers who are catching whitefish are using small smelts and small shiners, or jigging with cut bait on small jigs.
“Whitefish can be very finicky. Cameras show that sometimes they will nose or bump the bait, then all of a sudden, hit the bait,” said Burr, who said a few years back, some winters there would be a whitefish village set up in Junior Bay, with up to 40 shacks in one area.
“It’s still there, but on a smaller scale. People would spend their whole weekends in the shacks,” said Burr.
Anglers will find good travelling on West Grand, with 20-24 inches of ice. However, be aware that there are pockets of slush. Traveling on lakes and ponds closer to the coast is even better.
Burr also added that bass are getting more active and starting to bite, as we get later in the season. The key to success in winter bass fishing is finding their wintering areas.
“Bass can be pretty dormant. Some lakes are full of smallmouth, but you won’t catch them unless you find the overwintering areas,” said Burr.
Region D – Rangeley Lakes
Up in the Western Mountains, anglers are still fishing, just not as much during the week.
“We see a drop in ice fishing pressure during the weekdays this time of year. Of course, this cold snap that won’t go away is part of it, and these high pressure fronts don’t correlate with angler success,” said IFW fisheries biologist Bobby Van Riper.
“On the weekends, we still see pretty good crowds on Chain of Ponds, Clearwater and Porter, and anglers are still catching fish there,” said Van Riper. “We are still seeing fish, but anglers are putting in a little more time to catch them. With the extremely cold weather and the bright sunny highs, you don’t get a lot of feeding activity.”
Van Riper said that’s pretty typical. “Once the cold weather breaks, we will see more activity.”
Van Riper did say they are getting some good reports from the Chain of Ponds on the quality of fish that anglers are catching.
The dam on the bottom pond was repaired, and a new fishway placed there four years ago. Fish now can go in and out of the pond into the river to breed and forage, and it has meant bigger, healthier fish in the Chain of Ponds.
“We have heard from anglers that the quality of the fish they are catching is better. The numbers are about the same, but they are catching nicer fish,” said Van Riper.
Region E – Moosehead Region
On Moosehead Lake, anglers are still having success.
“It’s been pretty steady up here,” said IFW fisheries biologist Tim Obrey, “Catch rates for trout have been pretty typical of what we have seen the last couple of years.”
Now that March is here, some of the lakes such as Allagash, Lobster and First Roche have closed, but there are still plenty of waters to fish.
“Anglers out on Sebec have done well for togue, and they are still caching plenty of salmon up on Chesuncook,” said Obrey.
Catch rates have also been good on Manhanock in Parkman. The pond received a good stocking of brook trout this fall, and anglers have been catching some big bass as well. “It’s a really good fishery,” said Obrey.
Lake travel is good. Some slush for snowmobilers, and on most lakes, the snow is getting a little too deep for ATVs.
Region F – Penobscot Region
In Region F, fishing on East Grand Lake is picking up.
“Early in the season, we were getting reports of slower fishing, but the last few weeks, anglers are doing well on lake trout and with some good fish in the 3-5 pound range,” said IFW fisheries biologist Nels Kramer.
On Junior Lake, anglers are reporting good catches of both whitefish and salmon, and anglers are seeing whitefish in Scraggly as well.
In some parts of the region, anglers are targeting perch. If you are looking for some perch for a fish fry, Kramer suggests heading to Saponac Pond or Eskutassis Pond.
“We do see quite a few people heading out for perch, and they’ll get not only perch, but the occasional bass as well,” said Kramer.
Region G – Aroostook Region
“Anglers are having good luck out on Madawaska, catching brook trout,” said IFW fisheries biologist Frank Frost, “The trout are biting extremely well.”
Madawaska offers some fine brook trout fishing and easy access. “It’s close to Caribou, has good access, and it’s a good place to take the kids,” said Frost.
Snowmobile travel in the area has been good, with easier travel further north, as the latest storms have dumped more snow in the southern part of the region.
“Traveling is better in the north than in the central and southern part of the region where there is lots of slushy, deep snow on the lakes,” said Frost.
Fishing pressure always drops off on Long Lake as the season progresses, but there are still big fish to be had there.
“There’s not as many anglers out there, but there still is the opportunity to catch big salmon,” said Frost, who said over the years, large salmon have been caught throughout the lake.
Anglers who are eyeing something smaller might want to try smelt fishing in the region. Frost said that smelt fishing has been good on Eagle Lake, St. Froid and Portage. Mornings tend be the best time to smelt fish those lakes.
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Compiled By Mark Latti with IFW Fisheries Biologists
Bangor, Maine – January 15, 2014
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has extended the Fiscal Year 2014 application deadline for new enrollments in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to February 7, 2014.
CSP is an important Farm Bill conservation program that helps established conservation stewards with taking their level of natural resource management to the next level to improve both their agricultural production and provide valuable conservation benefits such as cleaner and more abundant water, as well as healthier soils and better wildlife habitat.
“We are pleased to provide this additional time to allow more Maine agricultural and forestland producers to apply for this important program that rewards their long term commitment to conservation,” NRCS State Conservationist Juan Hernandez said.
CSP emphasizes conservation performance by providing higher payments to producers who achieve high levels of conservation. In CSP, producers install conservation enhancements to make positive changes in soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, plant resources, animal resources and energy use.
Eligible Maine producers can enroll in CSP through February 7, 2014 to be considered in fiscal year 2014. While local NRCS offices accept CSP applications year round, NRCS evaluates applications during announced ranking periods. Applications received after February 7, 2014 will be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2015.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help potential applicants determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and potential payments. For the checklist or for additional program information, visit the Maine NRCS website at www.me.nrcs.usda.gov, or contact your local USDA Service Center/Natural Resources Conservation Service, listed online at http://offices.usda.gov or in the telephone book under United States Government, Agriculture Department.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Compiled By Mark Latti with IFW Fisheries Biologists:
Welcome to the 2014 ice fishing season. We will be providing these reports to you every two weeks through winter into the beginning of March.
If you haven’t purchased your license yet, 2104 licenses are available online at www.mefishwildlife.com. Also, the 2104 fishing lawbook is also available where you buy your licenses or at your favorite sporting goods store.
Anglers should also be aware of a new law that bans the use of lead sinkers that are shorter than 2.5” in length OR if they weigh less than an ounce.
As always, please consult the law book before fishing your favorite water, and stay safe while out on the ice.
Region A – Sebago Lakes Region
The cold weather has many anglers taking advantage of the early season opportunities for brook trout. There is a variety of lakes and ponds in Southern and coastal Maine that allow the use of live bait and the harvest of trout prior to January 1.
“We are encouraging people to fish waters that are labeled “D” in the rule book. These are managed for early winter opportunities for brook trout,” says IFW fisheries biologist Francis Brautigam.
With so many options, Brautigam says you may want to prioritize.
“When I think about ice fishing over the course of the winter, I tend to think of what types of fish are available as the season progresses,” says Brautigam. “Brook trout get caught early, so these “D” season waters are a great place to kick of the season.” Try the Otter Ponds in Standish, Worthley Pond in Poland, Halls Pond in Paris, Moose Pond in Acton and Simms Pond in Newfield.
“Species like lake trout provide season –long fishing, so there’s no need to rush to get out for togue. Most togue lakes freeze up later anyway.”
“After brook trout, I’d target splake and salmon. Waters that have either splake or salmon you want to fish early. Rainbows are slow biters, and fishing tends to be more consistent throughout the season,” says Brautigam.
Brautigam also noted the department is testing several new strains of brown trout in region waters; checking to see if they may provide more action for anglers. The department will be survey anglers on these waters to determine if these different strains of brown trout provide better fishing.
York county ice anglers who want to introduce their children to fishing would be well served to try out the pond at the York County Fish and Game Club in Lyman. This a youth fishing/complimentary license pond, and provides excellent opportunities for young anglers.
Region B – Central and Midcoast A
Ice anglers are active in Region B, taking advantage of the cold weather and recently stocked ponds.
This past year, Region B biologists reviewed their stocking data, and are reallocating fish to smaller waters where they expect anglers to have more success.
“Anglers are doing well at McGrath Pond in Oakland,” mentioned IFW fisheries biologist Jason Seiders. “We stocked it heavily with brook trout, and people have been fishing.”
Anglers also may want to head over to Jamies Pond in Manchester, as this season, it is now open to ice fishing.
“That’s another pond we stocked with ice fishing in mind. There’s three age classes of brook trout in Jamies Pond,” said Seiders. The season on Jamies opens on January 1, expect to find trout from the fingerling size up to four pounds.
Anglers will also want to try Dutton Pond in Knox, and Sanborn Pond in Brooks. Those two ponds were also stocked with multiple ages of brook trout, and also some retired brown trout broodstock. Seiders said that some of the brown trout weigh up to ten pounds.
Young anglers will also want to mark February 1 on their calendars to head over to Wiley Pond in Boothbay. The department worked with the Boothbay Region Fish and Game Association to reopen the pond to ice fishing and it will be open to youth anglers/complimentary licenses with a two line limit, and no use of live fish for bait. The pond was heavily stocked this fall, and should provide fast action for young anglers.
Region C -- Downeast
This season, Downeast, anglers will have opportunities they haven’t seen in years.
“We just started stocking rainbow trout in Jones Pond in Gouldsboro,” said IFW fisheries biologist Greg Burr. “This is the first stocking of rainbows in this area since 1979. People are very excited.”
Jones Pond is open now, but it is artificial lures only, and catch and release for all trout. Starting January 1, anglers will be able to keep rainbows.
“People who are familiar with fishing through the ice for rainbows say that the best way to fish for them is with worms. A lot of times they don’t respond well to shiners,” said Burr.
Parents who want to take their kids fishing this holiday break, should head over to the youth waters at Foxhole Pond in Deblois and to the Penobscot County Conservation Association in Brewer. At Foxhole, there are three different ages of stocked trout, including some very large brood stock. Burr mentioned that there is a local taxidermist that has done many mounts over the years for kids who were lucky enough to catch one of these large fish.
If you are looking to catch a large brood stock salmon, try these lakes: Pleasant River in Beddington; Mopang Lake in Township 29; Lower Springy Pond in Otis; Brewer Lake in Orrington; and Hopkins Pond in Mariaville. Many of these ponds also have stocked trout as well.
Landlocked salmon anglers will want to check out Cathance Lake in Cooper, Branch Lake in Ellsworth, Gardner’s Lake in East Machias, Long Pond on MDI, Beech Hill Pond in Otis, Donnell Pond in Franklin and Tunk Lake in Township 10 SD.
If you are looking for togue, head to Green Lake in Ellsworth which regularly produces togue over 10 pounds, Branch Lake in Ellsworth where Burr encourages the harvest of togue and there is no size or bag limit on togue under 23 inches, Tunk Lake, West Musquash in Tallmedge, Pocumcus Lake, Phillips lake in Dedham and Beech Hill Pond.
Brook trout will be found at Lakewood Pond in Bar Harbor, Round Pond in Someville, Eagle lake in Bar Harbor, Montegail Pond in T 19, Indian Lake in Whiting, Keely Lake in Marshfield and Schoodic Lake in Cherryfield.
Lovejoy Pond in Township 35 just opened this season to ice fishing, and the trout stocked there this fall are in the 12-16 inch range.
Anglers looking for a little adventure and the road less travelled out to head to three different ponds in Township 10 near Tunk Lake.
“For the people who make the effort to hike into these ponds, it will be well worth the effort,” said Burr.
Region D – Rangeley Lakes
In Region D, there are several options for early season ice fishing.
“Anglers ought to try Crowell Pond in Chesterville, right off Route 41,” says IFW Fisheries Biologist Bobby Van Riper. “We stocked a thousand brook trout there.”
Anglers who are looking for waters to ice fish prior to January 1 should look for waters marked A in the northern counties section of the law book.
Popular early season ponds also include Norcross Pond in Chesterville and Roxbury Pond in Roxbury; others include Parker Pond and Sand Pond in Chesterville.
However, most of the ice fishing ponds in this region open up January 1. One of the more popular destinations early season is the Chain of Ponds north of Eustis on Route 27. The department stocked 1,400 brook trout there this fall. Anglers should remember that this is a flowing water, and the ice can get thin in the narrows and around points.
If you are looking fish some of the bigger waters in the region, check out Webb Lake in Weld, Wilsons Lake in Wilton, Embden Pond in Embden and Wesserunsett in Madison. Smaller waters you may want to check out include Clearwater in Industry, Ironbound in Solon and Wilson’s Lake in Wilton. Another favorite in this region is Spring Lake, just north of Flagstaff Lake in T3 R5.
Region E – Moosehead Region
Compiled by IFW Fisheries Biologist Tim Obrey
Can we declare the end of global warming? Probably not, but we can find some reason to be thankful for the cold wintery weather that enveloped the North Woods in November and December. As the snow birds fled south to warmer clines, old man winter brought the rest of us hardy souls an early ice-in. We have already seen a “flurry” of ice fishing activity on our smaller ponds like Fitzgerald Pond and Prong Pond, both of which are stocked with 12-14 inch brook trout in late fall to provide some early ice fishing action.
To the south of us, Brann’s Mill Pond and Harlow Pond should be fishing well as we approach the traditional start of the ice fishing season. Drummond Pond in Abbot is open to kids only and is also stocked just before the ice forms in the fall. We’d like to thank those individuals that have generously plowed out the parking area at Drummond Pond and Fitzgerald Pond. I’m sure the anglers appreciate it as well.
Of course one of the hottest early season favorites is Big Wood Pond in Jackman. The pond is stocked with splake and brook trout (including some adults) and even an occasional salmon is caught. Access is very easy, with plenty of parking in this friendly town and snowmobile trails onto the lake. This is a terrific place to take the family to catch a limit in January.
We’ve been riding the wave of big brook trout on Moosehead Lake for the past several years. It is unclear how long it will last, but we’ve seen and heard of many trophy trout from Maine’s largest lake recently. The best trout fishing is early in the season and anglers should be tight to shore amongst the rocks. Don’t forget the 7th Annual Moosehead Lake Togue Derby will be January 24th to 26th this year. It is a great opportunity to win some prizes while helping us control the lake trout population in the lake.
As always, check the ice before venturing out in unfamiliar territory. No fish is worth a surprise dip in the lake this time of year.
Region F – Penobscot Region
Like most of the state, ice fishing came early to Region F.
“A lot of years we are wondering if we will have good ice on January 1, but Cold Stream Pond iced up over a week ago, weeks ahead of normal,” said IFW fisheries biologist Nels Kramer who added that a lot of area waters were buttoned up.
Two popular destinations for ice fishing include Seboeis Lake in T4 R9 and Endless lake inT3 R9. There’s good access to Endless by snowmobile. Another option is Schoodic Lake in Brownville. Wintertime offers some very good landlocked and brook trout fishing on the lake. IFW staff will be conducting creel census surveys on Schoodic, Seboeis and Endless this season.
If you want to head a little further north and east, Matagamon Lake, East Grand and Pemadumcook Lake all offer good ice fishing opportunities for trout, salmon and togue.
Perhaps more importantly, due to the cold weather, it looks as though this season, anglers will have a variety of lakes and ponds they can choose from for ice fishing.
“There seems to be a good base for snowmobiling,” says Kramer, “I’m looking forward to a January 1 opening where many lakes and ponds are frozen and you can travel by snowmobile all over the area.”
Region G – Aroostook Region
It may be early in the ice fishing season, but anglers are taking advantage of fishing opportunities at Scopan Lake and Mud Pond in Linneus. Both were stocked heavily with brook trout earlier this season, and anglers are out enjoying the early season ice conditions.
Other ponds for those looking to get out early include Arnold Brook Lake in Presque Isle, and Hodgdon Pond in Hodgdon. Arnold Brook has excellent brook trout fishing and a two trap limit, and Hodgdon Pond is stocked with brown trout.
“We have seen a lot of people out on our early waters and they are catching fish,” said IFW fisheries biologist Frank Frost.
Many in the area, however, look forward to January 1 and the traditional opening of ice fishing season.
“Our ice conditions are pretty good, we have five to nine inches of ice on a lot of our lakes,” said Frost.
Already there is up to a half a foot of ice on portions of Long Pond and Square Pond. That’s good news for anglers, since the past several years, both of those ponds have had somewhat sketchy ice conditions on opening day.
In southern Aroostook, Nickerson Lake in New Limerick has both browns and brookies, and Drews Lake in Linneus offers both browns and splake. Anglers may also want to test Spaulding Lake in Oakfield for brook trout.
Bangor, ME, November 7, 2013 – The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist, Juan Hernandez, has set the cutoff date of Friday, December 20, for submitting applications for conservation program financial assistance in fiscal year 2014. Maine’s producers are encouraged to sign up now for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program initiatives and Conservation Activity Plans, which provide financial and technical assistance to address varying natural resource priorities.
Producers may apply any time as program sign-up is continuous; however, those who submit applications by close of business on December 20, 2013 for the following initiatives will be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2014.
- Financial assistance for the development of Conservation Activity Plans. A Conservation Activity Plan is a specialized plan prepared specifically for a conservation management unit. Financial assistance is available for the development of the following conservation plans: Agricultural Energy Management, Comprehensive Nutrient Management, Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition, Fish and Wildlife Habitat, Forest Management, Grazing Management, Integrated Pest Management, Nutrient Management, and Pollinator Habitat Enhancement.
- On-Farm Energy financial assistance is available for the development of an Agricultural Energy Management Plan, or farm energy audit, that assesses energy consumption on an operation. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations. From these recommendations, NRCS provides financial and technical assistance to implement some of the conservation practices that were recommended.
- NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to help certified organic growers and producers working to achieve or maintain organic certification install conservation practices for organic production. Producers plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns in ways that are consistent with organic production.
- NRCS helps producers plan and implement high tunnels -- steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures that extend growing seasons in an environmentally safe manner. High tunnel benefits include better plant and soil quality, fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment, and better air quality due to fewer vehicles being needed to transport crops.
- NRCS offers funding for irrigation practices on lands with an irrigation history of at least 2 out of the last 5 years. Technical and financial assistance is available to growers for irrigation-related practices such as irrigation water management plans, irrigation sprinkler or micro-irrigation systems, and alternative irrigation water sources.
- Funding is available to assist Maine forest landowners with forest land planning and management of their private forests to improve wildlife habitat, forest health and productivity, and water quality. Eligible conservation practices include, but are not limited to, forest stand improvement, early successional habitat development and management, tree/shrub site preparation and establishment, upland wildlife habitat management, stream crossings, riparian forest buffers, fish passage, forest trails and landings, conservation cover, and access roads..
For more information or to apply for financial assistance, contact your local USDA Service Center:
Knox County: Autumn Birt, Belfast Service Center, 338-1964 x3
Lincoln County: Peter Abello, Augusta Service Center, 622-7847 x3
Additional service centers are listed online at http://offices.usda.gov or in the telephone book under United States Government, Agriculture Department.
NRCS, in existence since 1935, is the lead conservation agency that helps farmers conserve, maintain and improve natural resources through science-based conservation efforts, technical assistance and incentive-based programs. For information on NRCS and its programs, visit www.me.nrcs.usda.gov
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.