Early Season Ice Fishing Opportunities Abound In Region D In Western Maine

ArrayDecember 14, 2018 at 4:23 pm

By MDIFW Fisheries Biologist Dave Howatt Winter has come early to western Maine. Ice thickness is steadily growing on many of our waters, and the conditions continue to get better and better. Many Regional waters are open to fishing under Special Season Code A, which begins the ice fishing season for all fish species on December 1. Please make sure to check any ice before heading out fishing. In northwestern Maine, over 21,000 large (most over 12”) fall-yearling trout and salmon, specifically 14,416 brook trout, 3,800 brown trout, 1,650 salmon, and 1,180 splake, were stocked into 26 Regional waters that are open to ice fishing in the 2018-2019 season. Catch rates for these fish normally average about 1.2 trout per angler with an average length of 13.8 inches. Anglers can also catch large wild lake trout and smallmouth bass on some of these waters. A few of these stocked waters are open only to persons under 16 years of age. Harvey (175 trout) and Toothaker (250 trout) Ponds in Franklin County and Tibbetts (150 trout) and MacDougall (100 trout) Ponds in Somerset County offer unique opportunities for young anglers to have the place to themselves. Twenty-five of the brookies stocked into Harvey Pond were retired brood stock (fish that are nearing the end of their life and are no longer viable for hatchery production) and average 16” in length. Some of these waters have become popular places to fish in the early part of the winter season. Other retired brood stock brook trout were stocked into Crowell, Norcross, and Wilson Ponds, as well as Porter and Spring Lakes. These very large fish (286 total) are always popular and can provide lasting memories. Additionally, a combined 140 adult brown trout were stocking into Lufkin, Mount Blue, Wentworth (Ironbound) Ponds and Wesserunsett Lake. Anglers looking for a new adventurous fishing experience might try Lower Shaw Pond (T03 R04 BKP WKP, Somerset County) located north of Flagstaff and Spring Lakes. This water was experimentally stocked this fall with 150 of the fall-yearling brook trout. Accessing this water in the winter will provide a unique opportunity and will likely involve toting gear in by snowmobile. It is expected that some of these fish will survive and provide a springtime fishery as well. Lower Shaw Pond also contains some very large chain pickerel. We have winter surveys scheduled that will begin on the January 1 season openers at Embden, Hancock, Haley, Lufkin, Mount Blue, and Sturtevant Ponds. Surveys on Fahi and Sandy Ponds in Embden, Somerset County will begin in early December to evaluate the stocking success of the 500 brookies and 200 brown trout recently added to these fisheries. All of these waters are being evaluated to determine the success and popularity of various stockings throughout the last few years. These angler interview surveys provide valuable information and on many waters they are our best evaluation tool to continue providing the best angling experience possible.