January 11, 2018

MDIFW Fishing Report

For Immediate Release: January 11, 2018

MDIFW Ice Fishing Report For January 11, 2018

Region A – Sebago Lakes Region

Cold weather has been holding people back, but those that braved the cold at the beginning of the month are doing well ice fishing on southern Maine waters.

“There’s been very few people out…most lakes and ponds have 8 inches of ice and those that are out are catching fish,” said IFW fisheries biologist Jim Pellerin.

Biologists interview anglers for creel surveys throughout the year to gather information they will use to manage the fishery. In southern Maine this ice fishing season, expect to find IFW fisheries staff out on Little Sebago, Long Pond in Parsonsfield and Sabbathday in New Gloucester.

“Most places we check, there are five to seven parties. Last weekend, there were hardly any,” said Pellerin.

One early season hot spot is the Otter Ponds in Standish. “There was no one there on New year’s weekend,” said Pellerin. The good news? The light early season use means there’s still plenty of trout in the Otters.

On Sebago, while the big bay has not set up, there is 3-5 inches of ice from the Station to Jordan Bay. “That’s the earliest I’ve ever seen that section freeze in my 21 years,” said Pellerin. Anglers have been fishing there, and having good luck for togue, nothing huge yet, but some nice fish in the slot limit.

With early season use low, anglers who are targeting trout should have good results the new few weeks. Pellerin advises using smaller baits for brook trout and rainbows, and don’t forget to bring a jig rod. Jigging with small spoons can be an excellent way to entice a wary trout.

Region B – Central and Midcoast Area

Now that temperatures have moderated, if you are looking for a place to go salmon fishing, you have a number of choices in Region B.

“Maranacook is a good choice for salmon. We trapnetted the lake this fall, and the number and size of the salmon we trapped was excellent, including several over five pounds,” said IFW fisheries biologist Jason Seiders.

Another spot you may want to try is Echo Lake. “You may not get as many salmon as you do at Maranacook, but the size quality of these salmon are the best in the region. There’s lots of fish in that lake that are over five pounds,” said Seiders.

Put Parker Pond on your ice fishing list as well. It used to be open only during the month of January. Due to some management-driven regulation changes, now not only can you fish there throughout the season, instead of the one salmon over 16 inches, you can keep two salmon over 14 inches.

Those looking to catch a few trout may want to try Pinkham Pond in Alna. This small pond was stocked this fall with trout that averaged 13 inches in length, along with some larger trout over 18 inches.

Other small ponds that offer fast fishing this time of year include Levenseller Pond in Lincolnville, Sewall Pond in Arrowsic and Charles Pond in Georgetown.

If you are looking to get off the beaten path, and try something new, take a look at Spectacle Pond in Augusta. Located in the department’s Garcelon Wildlife Management Area, Spectacle offers an undeveloped shoreline and some really nice brown trout.

Region C -- Downeast

“People are itching to get out ice fishing,” says IFW fisheries biologist Greg Burr.

Early season creel surveys Downeast are similar to those in other regions – bitterly cold weather means not a lot of fishing pressure.

“We saw ten parties on Hopkins and four on Beech Hill,” said Burr. “Those numbers are usually much higher.” On Hopkins, anglers had a decent number of brook trout, and a few lake trout as well.

On New Year’s Day, Beech Hill had just frozen over and anglers were starting to get a few togue. Most anglers weren’t venturing too far out, waiting for the ice to thicken before hitting some of their favorite deep water spots.

Lakes in the region were frozen over by the end of last week, with the exception of Tunk Lake. People were even fishing Jordan Pond, which hasn’t had safe ice for a couple of years, and anglers were catching some nice salmon.

If you are looking to catch a few salmon, along with Jordan Pond, you should visit Beech Hill Pond, Branch Lake and the southern end of Tunk (while we wait for the main part of the lake to freeze). For brook trout try Phillips Lake and Spring River Lake. Anglers searching for togue ought to try Beech Hill, Branch, Tunk, West Musquash and when it opens on February 1st, West Grand Lake.

Region D – Rangeley Lakes

Like everywhere else in Maine at the start of January, it was frigid in the Rangeley Lakes region for the start of ice fishing season.

“We went to the Chain of Ponds, Porter and Clearwater Lakes, and checked approximately 50 anglers,” said IFW fisheries biologist Liz Thorndike. “That was low for opening day. On a good opening day, we will have over 200 anglers.”

Those who were out there fishing, were catching fish some decent fish, and in good numbers.

“We saw an 18.5 inch brookie on Porter, and quite a few salmon, all of them over 18 inches,” said Thorndike.

Norcross and Crowell Pond located in Chesterville are good bets right now. Crowell Pond was stocked with 1,150 brook trout and Norcross Pond with 900; those trout average 13 inches in length. You will also have a chance for some largemouth bass, white perch, and chain pickerel.

You may also want to try a couple of ponds located in North Anson. Sandy Pond received 250 brook trout and 200 spring-yearling brown trout. There’s also bass and white perch there too. Fahi Pond, across the road from Sandy Pond was stocked with 350 brook trout and is known for its fast fishing for white perch and chain pickerel.

And if you want to get the kids hooked on ice fishing now that it is finally warmer, consider Harvey Pond in Madrid. This pond is 10 acres in size with an average depth of 5 feet and was recently stocked with 200 fall yearling brook trout. An additional 25 retired brood brook trout (18-20 inches) were also stocked, giving anglers a chance at a trout they won’t soon forget.

Region E – Moosehead Region

Looking for some good spots to fish early in the Moosehead region? In the Guilford-Dover area, try Brann’s Mill Pond, Center Pond, Manhanock Pond, and Harlow Pond. These ponds are stocked in the fall just before freeze up with fish that average 14 inches and sometimes brood stock when available. Fitzgerald and Prong Ponds in the Greenville area are also favorites in the early season.

“Big Wood Pond in Jackman will be hopping this winter. The pond is stocked with splake, brook trout, and a few salmon each year. This year, due to the drought, we could not stock the fish scheduled for the Piscataquis River in October, so they were redirected to Big Wood Pond,” said IFW fisheries biologist Tim Obrey. “These fish are 12-14 inches and will provide some fast action. “

“If you are looking for a place to catch a salmon then please head to Chesuncook Lake this winter. The lake has an overabundance of salmon and we have just implemented new regulations to help thin them out,” said Obrey. Starting in January, there will be no size or bag limit on salmon under 16 inches and a bag limit of just 1 salmon over 16 inches. “Yes, unlimited salmon under 16 inches! We need to harvest around 2,000 salmon annually and currently we estimate around 400 are removed each year. This is a situation similar to Moosehead Lake with lake trout a few years ago, and we are encouraging anglers to help improve the fishery at Chesuncook Lake by harvesting fish.”

Moosehead Lake should be very good fishing this winter. The smelt population is very abundant and the gamefish are responding positively. According to Obrey, growth is at a peak for brook trout, salmon, and lake trout in the big lake. The salmon we saw in our fall trapnetting were exceptional. Anglers are reminded that you cannot keep salmon until Feb 15th and then they must be 18 inches to harvest. The purpose of this regulation is to allow these fish to grow to older ages and larger sizes.

“On Moosehead, the winter fishing is very good for lake trout and brook trout, while the summer fishing depends heavily on salmon. That is why you cannot harvest salmon until mid-February,” said Obrey , “With good growth and survival, we could see some impressive fish next summer and winter. “

Region F – Penobscot Region

Cold weather has had many anglers hunkering inside since the new year, but this brief warm spell should have anglers out fishing. Interviewing anglers for creel surveys are one way biologists gather information to manage a fishery, and on this January 1, there weren’t a lot of anglers around in the Penobscot Region.

“On January first, we made our loop, it’s a 90-mile round trip and we knew there weren’t going to be a lot of people as it was 15 below and windy,” said IFW Fisheries Biologist Nels Kramer. “Webster Lake, Matagamon, and Hay Lake were pretty quiet.”

Stops that day also included Pleasant and Mattawamkeag, where biologists did collect data from more anglers.

“There were ten to twelve groups out on Pleasant, and they were catching some nice salmon. All of them were fishing from their camps or sporting camps,” said Kramer, who added that Pleasant is one of the better salmon lakes in the region and that the largest salmon they saw on Pleasant that day was 22 inches.

With temperatures moderating for the weekend, Kramer suggested that anglers who are looking to catch some salmon should try Schoodic, East Grand and Matagamon Lake. Cold Stream and Pleasant are also good bets, but anglers should be excited about East Grand.

“This fall, we trapnetted at East Grand Lake, and the landlocked salmon were in the best shape we have seen in 8 years,” said Kramer, “The lake trout there are also doing very well, but the salmon look really great.”

Region G – Aroostook Region

Up in the county, the season is off to a strong start.

On Long Lake, there is ice, but it is highly variable, with thickness ranging from anywhere from 5-20 inches depending on the location of the lake and the snow cover.

Even with the cold temperatures, there still were many anglers out on Long Lake to start the season with over 40 different groups spread out. Out on Eagle, there were anglers out, but either in front of camps or out in their shacks.

On Long, there were several salmon in the four to six pound range. There are still some big landlocks in Long, just not quite as many as we have seen in some of the better years. A tweak in the stocking rates and a new change in the regulations should improve things and bring those numbers of large salmon back.

On Eagle, while there were not a lot of anglers out there, new regulations regarding salmon should attract anglers. There is no bag limit on salmon under 14 inches, and a daily bag limit of two salmon over 14 inches.

“The initial returns are showing some very encouraging signs of improving growth,” said IFW fisheries biologist Jeremiah Wood. “We are seeing more salmon in the 18-22 inch range, more than we have seen in a long time.”

Smelt fishing has been variable on Eagle, with some places better than others.

With the extremely cold weather, there are some anglers who are fishing the St. John River. Ice conditions can be extremely variable on this river, and anglers should take great care if they plan to fish the St. John.

Drews Lake and Nickerson Pond are always quite popular as they have very good access and contain a good number of stocked fish. Drews offers some fast fishing for splake, and an opportunity for some large brown trout. Nickerson is stocked with brook trout in the spring and fall, as well as with some retired brood stock trout that are over 17 inches.

On Scopan Lake, anglers will have ample opportunity for both splake and brook trout, and in Presque Isle, don’t miss out on Arnold Brook lake.

If you are looking for more of an adventure, try Umcolcus Lake in T7 R5. Those that make the snowmobile ride do well there, but bring plenty of bait.

Another remote location that can get overlooked is Big Eagle and Churchill Lake. With angler pressure decreasing, size and bag limits on brook trout were changed in order to increase the size quality of brook trout. Anglers can now keep five trout, with only one fish over 14 inches.

“The new regulations will allow for the harvest of some of the smaller trout, improving growth rates on the remaining trout,” said Wood.

And don’t forget about Upper McNally Pond. This brook trout destination is located right off the Realty Road and provides excellent fishing for brook trout in the 13-15 inch range.

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