December 16, 2020 at 10:40 am
We will be operating under new regulations when the ice fishing season opens on January 1st, 2021 on Moosehead Lake. Recently, the brook trout population in Maine’s largest lake has seen significant improvement with many fish in the three to six-pound range caught both summer and winter. It’s truly been an incredible few years. I don’t think anyone can remember a time when we have seen this many quality/trophy wild brook trout come from one lake in Maine. Most of these monster trout are spawning late in the fall into early in the winter in concentrated areas of the lake and are extremely vulnerable to fishing. It’s worthy of special attention and the new regulations are designed to protect and prolong this outstanding fishery.
The regulations proposals were passed this fall after considerable data analysis, internal review, and public input. It’s a long process that began last winter, but it ensures regulations are appropriate and supported. We worked with a local stakeholder’s group, the Moosehead Lake Focus Group, early in the process to get their thoughts on this noteworthy fishery. The regulation proposals passed through several internal reviews including a detailed justification and review of all the available alternatives. We made a number of press releases to let the public know about the possible regulation changes and the rationale behind them. Finally, the proposals went out to the public for comment. It was very encouraging to see the comments. It was clear the public understood exactly what was at stake and they shared the same concerns and desires to protect the fishery as the staff. The response from the public was overwhelmingly supportive. The Department is grateful to all those that participated.
So, let’s get to the specifics so there is no confusion, and everyone knows what to expect as we wait for the first ice to take hold:
Moosehead Lake regulation changes effective as of January 1, 2021:
- All brook trout between 18 and 22 inches must be released alive at once (this applies to ice fishing and open water fishing)
- No minimum length limit on togue (this applies to ice fishing and open water fishing)
- Additional area closed to ice fishing: That portion of Lily Bay Narrows with a west border running in a straight line between 2 red posts, one located on the Lily Bay State Park boundary and the other on Sugar Island to the west of Dollar Island. The east boundary in a straight line between 2 red posts, one located just south of Porcupine Point on Sugar Island and the other on Laker Point near the mouth of Mathews Cove on a line running south of Two-Mile Island.
The rest of the Moosehead Lake fishing regulations remain the same as in 2020 and can be viewed in the 2021 fishing law book (PDF).
Fisheries and Warden Service personnel installed the red posts this fall to delineate the closed area. The red posts are red 2×8 boards attached to trees at the following coordinates:
Porcupine Pt (just a little south): 45.591333° -69.570114°
Laker Pt: 45.588012° -69.541015°
Lily Bay State Park: 45.564398° -69.569763°
Sugar Island near Dollar Island: 45.572967° -69.586561°
Here is a map of the closed area in the Lily Bay Narrows:
Anglers will likely catch these big trout all over the lake and we anticipate another good year in 2021. We had a terrific fall and documented that there are still good numbers of these shore spawning brook trout cruising around the lake. I’ll write more about that in future fishing blogs, including some excellent underwater drone footage. Please handle and release those slot fish (18-22 inches) carefully. Success of the new regulations is literally in your hands. The future for wild brook trout is very promising for Moosehead Lake.