Compiled By Mark Latti with Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Biologists
Region A – Sebago Lakes Region
January’s mid-month thaw is but a memory and ice conditions are very good throughout the region. On Sebago, the big bay has set up several times, only to break up during the day when wind has picked up.
“I think if we get a period of wind-free weather, it could set up pretty quickly,” said IFW fisheries biologist Francis Brautigam.
The rest of Sebago is in pretty good shape, said Brautigam, from the station up to the southern end of Frye Island to Jordan Bay. Most of the area has 8-12 inches of ice. There still are some thin areas, so anglers should always use caution when fishing Sebago.
“Fishing for togue on Sebago has been inconsistent. The fish are there, anglers with electronics are seeing them, but they aren’t always biting,” says Brautigam. “One other thing they are noticing is that these fish are sometimes suspended off the bottom. That’s when a fish finder will really help you since that can be an issue when you are fishing in 160 feet of water.”
Brautigam noted that while togue fishing may be inconsistent, it is an “unusually good year for cusk.” Generally, the cusk fishing picks up around presidents day after cusk have spawned, but anglers are getting good catches now. Fishing for cusk is more productive at night, but they are still getting some during the day.
Region B – Central and Midcoast Area
If you are looking to take a child fishing in the midcoast, this is a great weekend to do it, as Wiley Pond, a small 20 acre pond in Boothbay, opens today (February 1). This is a kid’s only pond, open only to those under 16, has a two trap limit with a no live fish as bait regulation.
“We put a lot of trout in there, including a variety of sizes,” said Wes Ashe, IFW fish biologist. Most trout are in the 12-16 inch range, but there are many that are 18 inches and above.
Ashe also noted that this season, he is seeing a lot of people out panfishing for species such as white perch.
“A lot of people are out jigging, Maranacook has nice perch, Messalonskee too,” said Ashe. “Long Pond in Belgrade is a good choice as well because it gets very little ice fishing pressure.”
While the brook trout fishing in some of the smaller ponds have cooled off, there’s still some nice fish to be had, particularly on some of the larger ponds.
“The brook trout and salmon fishing has held up on Lake St. George,” said Ashe, “and the salmon we do see there are pretty darn nice.”
Region C — Downeast
Ice conditions are good throughout the region, as most areas have 12-16 inches of ice. West Grand Lake opened today February 1, a date that every ice angler in the region looks forward to.
“Fishing should be terrific for salmon and togue, with the chance of a togue at over ten pounds,” said Gregg Burr, IFW Fisheries Biologist. “There is also a pretty good chance of catching a whitefish. They are throughout the lake, but more are found in the Junior Bay area.
Travel on and around the lake should also be good.
“There’s a good 15 inches of ice or more on West Grand. Traveling conditions are patches of ice and snow, with crusty snow in the woods. People will be able to travel around easily,” said Burr.
Anglers interested in ice fishing tournaments should get ready. The Mount Desert Island ice fishing derby is February 1. It is hosted by the Tremont Elementary School and helps the department thin out the lake trout population on Jordan Pond, but also includes all legal waters on MDI.
Next week is the G&M Family Market derby which includes all legal waters in Hancock County. This is a two day tournament, with a weigh-in each day at the G&M store in Holden. The derby focuses on lake trout, particularly thinning out the lake trout population in Phillips, Beech Hill, Branch and Tunk Lakes. There is a cumulative prize for the largest combined weight of lake trout. Burr said Branch Lake if you are looking to catch a lot of togue.
Region D – Rangeley Lakes
Ice anglers have been busy on Clearwater and Porter Lakes in Region D.
“Fishing has been good for togue recently,” said IFW fisheries biologist Dave Howatt, “People were getting brook trout earlier in the season, and they are still getting some salmon.”
Fishing has also picked up on the Chain of Ponds, located on Route 27 near the Maine/Canada border.
“Anglers are enjoying some good salmon fishing, with the salmon bigger than they’ve been in the recent past,” said Howatt. Howatt credits the new fishway at Chain of Ponds, which allows salmon to migrate into better habitat that allows them to grow at a faster rate as juveniles.
“When we trapnetted the pond, we were seeing salmon up to 17 inches,” said Howatt, who said anglers are now catching some of those 16 and 17 inch salmon.
Howatt also said that anglers were still catching brook on Haley Pond in Rangeley, even during Snodeo weekend.
“I saw two groups catching fish while others were snowmobiling on the pond,” said Howatt. “We are not seeing a lot of fisherman up there, but what groups we are seeing are doing quite well. There’s fast fishing there for both trout and yellow perch.”
Region E – Moosehead Region
By IFW Fisheries Biologist Tim Obrey
It was another windy and wild weekend on Maine’s largest lake for the 7th annual Moosehead Lake Togue Derby. Cold temps and a stiff wind challenged anglers as they vied for top billing on the leader board. Anglers reported having some good catches on Friday and Saturday, but the action slowed on Sunday as the wind switched to the northwest.
The winner for the best togue of the weekend went to Warren Fitzgerald of Dexter with a 6.60 lb – 28 ¼ inch fish taken in the Rockwood area. Second place went to Chris Young of Greenville with a 3.47 lb togue and 3rd place went to Sandra Cooper of St.Albans with a 3.37 lb fish.
The grand door prize was donated by Indian Hill Trading Post and consisted of a pack basket, ice traps, camouflage jet sled with hitch and cover, and a new gas ice auger. Long-time Moosehead angler John McLellan of Lily Bay was the lucky winner.
There were also numerous fish pool prizes which were drawn from tickets anglers received for registering their smaller togue. These prizes include a $250 check from the Natural Resource Education Center at Moosehead (NREC), Irving Gas Cards and many other gift certificates and sporting good items donated from the local businesses in Greenville and Rockwood.
The results for the derby and the fish pool winners will be posted on the NREC Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/
Region F – Penobscot Region
“Things have certainly turned the corner in this region,” said IFW fisheries biologist Nels Kramer. “All the crappy weather and poor ice is gone. Conditions are as good as it gets for travel on the ice with 15-20 inches of with decent snow cover.”
Anglers are getting out on the ice in the Penobscot region. Kramer said that Schoodic has been productive lately, with good catches of lake trout, brook trout and some nice salmon.
“One angler caught an 8-pound salmon,” said Kramer, “and some nice togue as well.” Shacks are set up in the middle looking for togue, and they’ve had some success jigging. Anglers are using a variety of jigs, such as weeping willows, Kastmasters, Swedish Pimples, and jigs with minnows, “talk to six guys about what the best jig is, and you will get six different answers,” said Kramer.
Anglers are also getting excited about the 52nd annual Schoodic Lake Ice Fishing Derby, which is slated for February 15 and 16th, and also includes Seboeis and Ebemee Lakes. It is one of the oldest derbies in the state.
“There are some great prizes, and the organizers are very cooperative with IFW with the prize structure and how the derby is set up,” said Kramer. There are prizes for biggest fish in several categories and also some great prizes that are drawn for anyone who registers a fish into the derby. For more info, check out http://www.trcmaine.org/
Region G – Aroostook Region
In The County, the cold weather has firmed up ice conditions. Traveling is a lot easier, and the fishing has been pretty good, according to IFW fisheries biologist Jeremiah Wood.
“Splake fishing has been very good on Scopan,” said Wood, referring to the lake formerly known as Squapan. “it’s a good fishery but it’s a quiet fishery, not many people take advantage of it.” Wood also noted that the smelt are biting in the Walker Siding area of the lake.
Anglers are also getting smelt on Eagle and Saint Froid Lakes. Bigger fish such as togue are coming a little slower, although there were several five pounders and a seven pounder as well.
Activity on Glazier Lake has also picked up. Poor ice conditions kept most angler off the lake early in the season, but the ice is solid on this border lake, and last week, IFW fisheries biologist Derrick Cote talked to 38 people fishing Glazier.
Wood also noted that it has been fairly quiet on the Allagash Waterway for ice fisherman. Poor weather was a factor for both ice and travel conditions, but it should still be pretty good fishing due to light fishing pressure early in the season.