February 2, 2018

IFW Ice Fishing Report For February 2, 2018

For Immediate Release: February 2, 2018

IFW Ice Fishing Report For February 2, 2018

Region A – Sebago Lakes Region

If you are wondering where the fish are really biting, look no further than Sebago lake.

“Sebago is really hot, just about everywhere you can get on the ice, you are going to catch some togue,” said Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife fisheries biologist Jim Pellerin.

While the big bay hasn’t frozen over yet, anglers are catching fish from Jordan Bay all the way down to the station. And they are catching a lot of lake trout. One angler landed over 300 togue over the first few weeks of the season on Sebago.

While on Sebago last week, one lucky angler got a little more than they bargained for while jigging for togue. Reeling his line in, he thought he had a fish, but it was acting funny. As he reeled in, he reeled in another person’s fishing line. Pulling that line in hand over hand, he pulled up a jig pole! As he went to pull in the rest of the line, he realized he had a fish on the end of the line attached to the jig pole he just retrieved, and he pulled in a nice togue! Luckily, there was a name on the jigging rod that previously was 120 feet down on the bottom of Sebago, and the rod was returned to its happy owner.

Nearby on Tricky Pond, anglers are getting some nice catches of splake and salmon, including one five-pound salmon and a five pound splake. Pellerin says there are more of those in there, as they trapnetted and released several salmon over seven pounds this fall. Salmon and splake are showing rapid growth in Trickey.

There are some nice brown trout being caught on Long Pond in Parsonsfield, Little Sebago and on Sabbathday. In fact, one angler caught a 4.75 brown trout that measured 22 inches on Long. And looking for brook trout? There still are some brook trout in the 8-14” range that anglers are catching on the Otter Ponds.

Over on Stanley Pond in Hiram, anglers are catching some good rainbows, 18-20 inches in length, jigging through the ice.

If you are targeting rainbows, Pellerin says to fish in water ten feet deep or less. Worms and crawlers are good bait, as well as the smallest minnows you can find. If you get a strike, don’t wait to set the hook as rainbows tend to spit out the bait.

Region B – Central and Midcoast Area Looking for some fast action for some hard-fighting fish? Head over to Swan Lake in Swanville where anglers have been busy catching lake trout.

“These togue are averaging 21-25 inches, and fisherman are catching a bunch of togue both by jigging and using traps,” said MDIFW fisheries biologist Jason Seiders.

The department extended the ice fishing season on Swan Lake this year, extending the season past the traditional end of February closing date. Seiders is hoping to see some anglers keep more lake trout.

“We are hoping that anglers will harvest some more lake trout, and that by lengthening the season, we will start to see some faster growth in the salmon and togue there,” said Seiders.

If you are looking for browns, head over to Spectacle Pond, where anglers have been having some excellent luck fishing for brown trout, catching fish that are several pounds. Spectacle has a regulation of a one fish, 18” limit for brown trout, and that regulation is producing some monsters there.

Echo Lake and its robust smelt population are turning up some football-shaped salmon, including several over 20 inches long.

“We netted the lake this fall, and we trapped and released some gorgeous salmon,” said Seiders, who also noted that over on Alfred, they are catching some trophy browns and a number of salmon over 18 inches.

If you are looking to take the kids fishing, you’d be hard pressed to do better than Rocky Pond in Rockport. This youth only pond is located right along Route 17, providing excellent access, and is stocked full of brookies.

“We are getting some really good reports of some excellent fishing. It’s just a great opportunity for kids to catch a ton of brook trout,” said Seiders.

Region C -- Downeast

In case you hadn’t heard, its February, and Downeast, that means West Grand Lake is now open to ice fishing. West Grand is one of the premier waters in the region, and anglers flock to it every year when it opens due to the high number and large size of the landlocked salmon there.

“The fishing should be very good. The salmon on West Grand that we saw this past fall showed good growth, and when the hatchery staff were netting, they caught more salmon than they ever have,” said MDIFW fisheries biologist Greg Burr.

Another attractive option on West Grand is the fishing for whitefish.

“You’lll want to try Junior Bay for whitefish. Fish right off the bottom with small bait, or jig with some small hooks tipped with a bit of bait,” said Burr.

If you are looking for salmon and togue, you may want to try Branch Lake, Green Lake, Beech Hill Pond and West Musquash Lake. Branch is producing togue in the 7-10 pound range and Green Lake togue are tipping the scales in the 8-10 pound range. Beech Hill is producing salmon over 20 inches and togue in the 8-10 pound range as well.

Tunk Lake has also been fishing well, with good numbers of togue, salmon and brook trout. Salmon are over 20 inches, and some of the togue that are being caught are ten pounds. Anglers are doing well targeting brook trout along the shore. Careful fishing the northern end where ice can be a little treacherous.

Region D – Rangeley Lakes

In the western mountains of Maine, there are some excellent opportunities for ice fishing.

“We worked the Chain of Ponds, but there weren’t a lot of people. We stocked quite a few trout up there this fall, and with the first few weeks being brutally cold, there’s still plenty of fish up there,” said MDIFW fisheries biologist Dave Howatt.

One added bonus for Chain of Pond anglers are the new regulations on salmon. It used to be general law, but now you can keep up to three salmon, with a minimum length limit of 12 inches and with one over 16 inches.

“Not everyone is aware of the new regulation. We want to see some people keeping some of the smaller salmon to help the remaining ones grow a little faster,” said Howatt.

Clearwater and Porter Lakes ae very popular this time of year. Over on Porter, anglers are catching salmon, brook trout, and togue. Fishing has been fast there, with anglers chasing lot of flags. Clearwater may be a bit slower as far as the number of flags, but Howatt says the size of the fish that they are getting there has been impressive. “There’s really been some high-quality fish there, its hard to find a fish under three pounds,” said Howatt.

Solon has a couple of brown trout ponds that are worth visiting if you haven’t tried them. Baker and Wentworth can produce some big browns. Howatt was at one of these ponds, and an angler showed him a picture of a brown trout that he recently caught that was 27 inches long and weighed over seven pounds.

If you are looking for a bit of an adventure, take a trip up to Spencer Lake. “It’s been great fishing for togue and salmon up there. Every time we go up there, we are seeing people with good catches of togue and salmon – there’s been some fast fishing,” said Howatt.

If perch and pickerel are your passion, Fahi Pond in Embden is quite popular with good access and good fishing.

Region E – Moosehead Region

If you hadn’t heard, this past weekend was the 11th Annual Moosehead Lake Togue Derby with Ricky Craven.

“The weather was pretty good by derby standards and travel conditions were great on the big lake for the three-day ice fishing event. It seemed like the best fishing was on Friday and Saturday morning, then it tailed off as the weekend wore on. NREC sold 728 tickets this year (up 4 tickets from last year’s record) and we had 143 children’s names entered in the youth raffle,” reported Tim Obrey.

The winner of the biggest togue was David Larry of Abbot with an 8.3 pound fish. It was in exceptional shape and almost two inches shorter than the second-place fish which was weighed in by John Gallant of Augusta at an even 7.0 pounds. Jacob Turner of Hermon came in third with a nice 6.2 pound fish.

“Ricky Craven emceed the wild game dinner on Saturday night and helped draw the names of the prize winners. A good time was had by all! NREC would like to thank all the sponsors and donors that make this derby into a terrific community event,” said Obrey.

Aside from the derby, anglers are catching some big trout out on Moosehead, including several in the four to five-pound range.

Obrey said he is eager to check fisherman out on Chesuncook Lake, where starting this January 1, there is no size or bag limit on salmon under 16 inches and a bag limit of 1 salmon over 16 inches.

“We are encouraging people to go there and keep some salmon. There’s so many salmon up there if you put your pack basket in the right spot, they’ll just jump right in it,” said Obrey. “You might, however, just want to bring some bait as a backup.”

Region F – Penobscot Region

In the Penobscot region, things are heating up out on the ice.

“Despite last week’s freezing rain, the ice conditions are pretty good,” said MDIFW fisheries biologist Nels Kramer.

Last weekend, Kramer was in the northern part of his region interviewing anglers out on Webster Lake, Hay Lake, Scraggly Lake and Grand Lake Matagamon.

“We are seeing more activity out on the ice, and people are catching more fish,” said Kramer, “Out on Webster, there were some nice catches of brook trout – it’s definitely worth the trip.”

On Matagamon, anglers are catching brook trout and salmon. “Nothing huge, but some good catches of both,” said Kramer, who added the fishing on Scraggly was similar.

Fisheries staff is also interviewing anglers on Pleasant Lake and Mattawamkeag Lake.

“We saw over 30 parties out on Pleasant…It’s like that every weekend,” said Kramer who added they saw a lot of salmon, with some of them over 20 inches and weighing up to five pounds.

Cold Stream Pond continues to be popular with salmon up to 22 inches, and decent numbers of togue.

If you are headed east over to East Grand Lake, you will be happy to hear that anglers are doing well targeting lake trout.

“One group targeting togue had really fast fishing, and then another person was targeting whitefish and caught his limit,” said Kramer.

There’s also been some impressive catches of salmon, with a good number of them in the 19 to 20-inch range.

Region G – Aroostook Region

The big news up north was the Long Lake Derby this past weekend. The annual derby always attracts hundreds of anglers, and this year there were over 1,100 registrations, a new record, reflecting how quickly the Long Lake salmon fishery has rebounded.

“The derby went really well, saw a lot of nice fish, and we talked to a lot of people about Long Lake and the improving fishery,” said MDIFW fisheries biologist Frank Frost.

Frost said that on Long Lake, they talked to 150 ice fishing parties, with parties averaging four to five people each. That’s over 600 anglers on Long Lake alone.

“Since Mud Brook has been closed to the dipping of smelts, Long Lake is turning around quickly, growing the large salmon its known for,” said Frost.

That’s shown in what anglers were catching. Frost said there were several salmon in the five to six-pound range, including the winner that was over six pounds. The weekend before, one angler, Marc Deschaine, caught a salmon that measured 24.5 inches, but tipped the at a whopping 8.5 pounds.

The growth improvement on landlocks since Mud Brook was closed is readily apparent on three-year-old salmon. When mud brook was open to smelting, these age 3 salmon were in the 16-inch range. Now that it is closed, these age 3 salmon are back to reaching over 20 inches in length, and are in excellent condition.

Along with the improving salmon growth rates, the winter smelt fishery continues to improve with catches increasing since the Mud Brook closure.

Over on Eagle Lake on the Fish River chain, anglers are catching a lot of togue, and good numbers of salmon as well. Anglers may remember that there is no bag limit on salmon under 14 inches, and some anglers are taking advantage of that.

Biologists are also out on Millinocket and Millimagassett Lakes. Use was low out on Millinocket recently, but there were a number of anglers heading out to Millimagassett for brook trout.

Anglers should also take note that on February 15, the ice fishing season begins out on Madawaska Lake. The ice fishing for brook trout there continues to improve and anglers look forward to the opening each year.

The opening of the season coincides closely with the beginning of February vacation for many students, so if you are looking for a spot to go ice fishing during school vacation week, put Madawaska Lake on your list.

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