While many Mainers may be lamenting the length of this year’s winter, ice fisherman should be relieved to know that come April 1, the traditional start to Maine’s open water fishing season, you can still legally ice fish on many waterways throughout the state.
No matter what the weather was like, ice anglers used to have to put away their ice fishing traps and ice augers come April 1. But thanks to Old Man Winter’s refusal to succumb to spring, as well as the Department’s efforts to streamline Maine’s fishing laws and expand opportunities, you can ice fish on many lakes and ponds as long as there is ice that is safe to use.
In 2010, the Department went to year-round fishing laws throughout much of the state, giving anglers more waters and longer seasons to fish while simplifying Maine’s fishing law book.
So while others may debate the pros and cons of climate change, don’t put your ice fishing gear away just yet. Go out and check the safety of the ice on your favorite pond, and enjoy another outing on the ice.
In Southern, Central and Downeast Maine, if lakes or ponds are open to ice fishing and open water fishing under general law fishing provisions, anglers can continue to ice fish, unless that lake or pond has a special rule specifying otherwise.
In Northern and Western Maine, you can ice fish in April on lakes and ponds that are designated with the “A” season in the lawbook.
Please, always check the safety of the ice before heading out by chiseling or drilling holes in the ice and measuring. Remember, springtime ice can often be softer than ice in mid-winter, and areas near inlets and outlets tend to open up earlier than other parts of lakes and ponds.
Also, ice fishing shacks still must be removed from all lakes and ponds by April 1, but portable shelters are allowed.
For detailed information on where you can and can’t fish, please consult the 2014 fishing law book, which is available online at www.mefishwildlife.com or at many locations where fishing licenses are sold.