March 12, 2015

MDIFW Fishing Report

For Immediate Release: March 13, 2015

Region A – Sebago Lakes Region

With the moderating temperatures, the snow is settling, and getting around on southern Maine lakes is getting easier.

“We’ve got good travel conditions now. There is some slush, but most is frozen,” said IFW fisheries biologist Francis Brautigam. “With the snow and cold, use has been on the light side, so there are plenty of good fishing opportunities.”

In March, Brautigam generally sees a decrease in the number of ice anglers fishing, but with the light use earlier this year, anglers who are looking to enjoy a March day on the ice should see some good fishing.

“In some of the waters where we stocked brook trout, anglers are still catching brook trout,” said Brautigam.

If you are looking to head out trout fishing, you ought to check out Horn Pond in Limington and Lower Range Pond. These ponds received to mid-winter stocking, and there are definitely some holdovers left that will brighten any angler’s day.

Brautigam also noted that anglers are still catching trout on the Otter Ponds in Standish and Barker’s Pond in Lyman. They’re a good bet for some late season fishing.

It’s also a good time for targeting rainbow and brown trout. Both browns and ‘bows are a bit more difficult than brookies to catch, so come March, there’s generally good opportunities to land a rainbow or a brown.

Of course, fishing for bass is also heating up. Lot of bass are in their pre-spawn mode are and are actively feeding, making them a prime target for ice anglers. Remember, there is a two fish bag limit for bass, with anglers only allowed to keep one over 14 inches. This regulation is designed to protect the larger fish as they are better breeders than smaller bass.

Anglers should also be reminded that if you decide to keep a bass, salmon, togue, trout or whitefish, it is unlawful to remove the heads and tails of the fish, and it is unlawful to possess or transport fish dressed in such a manner that the species of fish cannot be identified (unless they are being prepared for immediate cooking). While this isn’t an issue for most anglers, these laws help ensure that only legal fish are kept.

Region B – Central and Midcoast Area

“Bass fishing tends to take off this time of year,” says IFW fisheries biologist Jason Seiders. “Bass are in prespawn mode and are feeding heavily.”

Largemouth bass are going to start moving into the shallow weedy areas of lakes and ponds, while smallmouths will continue to hang relatively deep, generally near a shoal or some type of structures.

“Last year, we changed the regs, allowing anglers to keep smaller bass,” said Seiders. “By keeping a smaller bass instead of a larger one, we can improve bass productivity and the size quality of the fishery.” Seiders noted that it takes about 20 years to produce a trophy bass.

This winter’s weather has certainly decreased the number of anglers out in January and February, and as result, fishing for trout and salmon in the area is still pretty good. Seiders recommends Flying Pond and Pleasant Pond as destinations if you are looking for salmon.

“While we are not seeing a ton, the fishing is still pretty good. The fish on Flying Pond are just gorgeous. The smelt are abundant, and every fish that you catch are full of smelts.”

If you are looking for lake trout, head out over to Swan Lake where the togue numbers appear to be up, but the size quality is still quite good, which is a good indicator that the smelt population is up. An average size togue on Swan is about 21 inches.

Messalonskee and Long Pond continue to hold up well for pan fish. On Long Pond, the average white perch is in the 1 pound range, with some tipping the scale at 2 pounds.

Region C -- Downeast

It’s a familiar refrain, but due to all the snow and cold weather, the number of ice anglers out on the ice was down in January and February. The good news? There are still plenty of fish to be caught.

“Use has certainly been down this winter, and the further away you get from urban areas, the fewer the anglers,” said IFW fisheries biologist Greg Burr, who said that anglers were staying closer to home this winter. “A lot of lakes where access has been limited still has fishing that is similar to the beginning of the season.”

Traveling conditions are much better than they have been earlier this year, so anglers who want to head out ought to try waters such as Mopang Lake, Spring River Lake, Alligator Lake and Upper and Lower Lead Mountain Ponds.

Other lakes and ponds where you should have some excellent March ice fishing include West Grand Lake, West Musquash Lake, Meddybemps Lake, Big Lake, Crawford Lake, and Pocomoonshine Lake.

Burr did mention that with all the snow the Downeast Region has received, parking is an issue at some of these areas. However, the warmer weather this week should help knock down some of the snowbanks.

With many lakes seeing lighter use this season, Burr said anglers should be shy about trying new spots on some of their favorite lakes. A lot of smaller coves haven’t been fished yet this season, and offer some fast fishing to anglers looking to try new areas.

“There’s some good fishing to be had,” said Greg Burr, “The light use this winter not only bodes well for ice fishermen, but also for the spring fisheries as well.”

Region D – Rangeley Lakes

Looking for some late season destinations for salmon and trout? Region D has some excellent late winter options.

“The Chain of Ponds in Franklin County has some nice brook trout and salmon,” says IFW fisheries biologist Dave Howatt. “And Pleasant Pond in Caratunk is good bet for lake trout and a shot at some brookies.”

Other popular late winter/early spring destinations include Spring and Spencer Lakes in Somerset County. Anglers venturing to Spring and Spencer have a chance at salmon, togue and brook trout.

“Any of these lakes are a good choice as they offer some good fishing and the ice is usually in good condition this time of year,” said Howatt.

Region E – Moosehead Region

Similar to other regions across the state, use has been down this year on Moosehead due to weather. While the number of togue caught on Moosehead may be down this year, anglers are catching some good salmon and some nice trout so far this year.

Anglers targeting salmon would do well to try Chesuncook Lake, which has been fishing well. Out on Sebec Lake, anglers are faring well targeting togue. Sebec closes after this weekend, so this is your last chance this winter at some good-sized lake trout.

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. Please remember, all bass caught on Manhanock must be released.

Region F – Penobscot Region

After the cold, snowy winter, last weekend was a breath of fresh air in the Penobscot region as more people were out enjoying the outdoors.

“Last weekend, we really started to see people out on the ice,” said IFW fisheries biologist Nels Kramer. “It was nice weather and the conditions were better for traveling.”

Slush has been a problem in this area of the state, just like every other, but if you stay on established tracks that have hardened up, you can avoid bogging down your machine.

On Upper Cold Stream Pond there were a number of anglers spread out across the ice. Kramer was out conducting a creel census on Cold Stream last weekend, and anglers were catching both togue and salmon. Average size togue on Cold Stream this year has been in the 2-4 pound range, but there were two togue in the 15-pound range that were caught earlier this year.

Other places where anglers are doing well include Schoodic, where anglers have been targeting lake trout. One lucky angler hooked into a Schoodic landlocked salmon earlier this year that tipped the scales at over ten pounds.

Anglers are also having good luck for lake trout on East Grand Lake. “East Grand has been hot. It’s been producing well for togue, and the occasional salmon,” said Kramer.

Region G – Aroostook Region

There’s still plenty of fish and ice to be had up in Aroostook County.

“Anglers fishing the north country the next few weeks should plan to have an auger extension to get through the unusually thick ice layer covering most lakes and ponds,” said IFW fisheries biologist Frank Frost.

In particular, areas blown clear of snow, areas around cleared ice shacks, and plowed roads on lakes and ponds have especially thick ice.

“One area on Long Lake over the weekend had ice that was reported to be four feet thick,” said Frost.

Even though conditions have been colder than normal this past winter, there hasn’t been the deep snow and accompanying slush that generally occurs each winter.

“Travel is very good on northern Maine waters and unless we get some heavy snow or rain in the near future, the remainder of the season should be excellent for ice fishing,” said Frost.

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