Ice Fishing Report

 
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February 14, 2006 - TRC


Ben Hooper with his catch. Congratulations !Remember, everyone, the 44th Annual Schoodic Lake Ice Fishing Derby this weekend !!!
February 14, 2006 Ice Fishing Report

Region A- Southwestern Maine

A good week of cold Maine winter weather can do wonders for ice thickness on
lakes and ponds with marginal ice cover, but this kind of weather can also
make folks over-confident in their trust of the ice. The three ponds I
have been visiting this season on my creel census rounds have been making
ice at a decent rate over the last week or so. It is not uncommon to find
12-14 inches of solid ice on Norway Lake, Hobbs Pond, and Twitchell Pond,
which is making anglers and folks with toys a little more comfortable.

On the Southern end of the Region ice is also being made but due to the past
universally treacherous ice conditions, dangerous pressure ridges, thin
spots, and open water can still be found in abundance. First hand knowledge
of the potential results of misplaced trust in ice comes from assistant
regional fisheries biologist Jim Pellerin. Jim assisted some folks this
weekend as they pulled their four-wheeler out of a broken pressure ridge on
Little Ossipee Lake in Waterboro. We recommend that people intent on
traveling on the ice remain vigilant despite the ice-making conditions. The
ice on the larger bays of Sebago Lake broke up for the third time this past
weekend reports Carrol Cutting. There is no word at this time on the ice
conditions at the Sebago Lake Station in Standish.

Jim also reports a 3 pound, six ounce rainbow trout caught on Kennebunk Pond
in Lyman by Travis Lutz of Saco. This beautiful bow was caught as a result
of the stocking of "unscheduled" fish that were raised in excess of the
needs of our experimental rainbow trout performance study. Jim has observed
several other rainbows of this size, which range from three to four years of
age.

According to my creel census efforts, Norway Lake and Hobbs Pond in Norway
continue to produce pickerel and yellow perch while Twitchell Pond in
Greenwood still gives up the occasional Brown Trout and sometimes a decent
mess of white perch. I observed three anglers with about a dozen 12-inch
perch, which were apparently caught within about 15-20 minutes on jig
sticks. This catch was incidental to their trip and was caught to burn time
while their traps did the "real" fishing for the coveted brown trout.
I
personally find a dozen foot long white perch to be much more palatable than
a single 18-inch brown. To be honest, I expected Twitchell Pond to be the
slowest of my three census ponds in terms of both use and catch. However,
this small, scenic pond has surprised me with a fair amount of use and a
decent overall catch rate. Stay safe!


-Brian Lewis, Fisheries Biologist Specialist

Region B - Central Maine

Over the past month, I received two emails asking that I include some hot
spots where the fishing has been good recently. One reason that I don't
always do that is that I believe that the purpose of these weekly fishing
reports were to provide information to the public on our programs, studies,
and projects. Also, there are there are many good outdoor writers in this
State that provide that information quite regularly. Also, there is a risk
in directing people to a spot because as we all know, the fishing can be
very good one day and poor the next so by passing along information doesn't
always guarantee good fishing. Region B also covers a huge area stretching
from Bangor to Auburn and from Livermore to the coast, and I am not always
sure how far anglers are willing to travel, so I don't want to provide
information for just part of the region. Good fishing to one person may also
not be considered good fish to the next, and 'luck' in fishing on a single
water may vary from one angler or party to the next. So, one might have had
luck that might be called 'good', but another might have been skunked.

If you are headed out this week, we have recently received reports
of good fishing for the following species in these bodies of water:
Landlocked Salmon - Wassookeag Lake, Dexter; Brook Trout - Round Pond,
Turner; Lake trout - Swan Lake, Swanville; Brown trout and White perch -
Great Pond, Belgrade; Pike - Sabattus Pond, Greene; Bass - North Pond,
Smithfield.

Remember to check the ice before venturing out. Even with the recent
cold weather ice conditions remain marginal in places, this past weekend a
snowmobile went through the ice on Great Moose Pond.


-Jim Lucas, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist


Region C - Downeast

Prior to yesterday's snowstorm, ice conditions were hazardous on most
medium-large Downeast waters. Most lakes near the coast sported only several
inches of ice along with sizeable areas of open water. Biologist Greg Burr
surveyed Long Pond on MDI on Saturday, and checked only one angler. Several
coves and shoreline areas were fishable on 3-4 inches of ice, but the bulk
of the lake had just skimmed over. He also checked Echo Lake, but observed
no anglers. Anglers should be very careful this week...stay close to shore
on good ice, and don't take any chances. The long range forecast is
favorable; it seems likely that ol' Man Winter will finally deliver the
coldest weather of the winter next week. If so, that will give ice fishermen
their long delayed, and eagerly anticipated, window of opportunity.
Cathance Lake has provided good salmon fishing for 17-19 inch fish,
along with some 3-4 pounders. A retired warden, Francis Reynolds, recently
landed a fine 20 inch brookie there. Speaking of brook trout, a group of
guys enjoyed good action for 12-16 inch squaretails at Alligator Lake. Some
anecdotal information suggests the wild brook trout at Alligator are "coming
on", perhaps in response to a combination of favorable stream flows in
recent years and a low salmon stocking rate. Under new regulations, an
angler can keep one brook trout over 14 inches AND one 14-16 inch or over
20-inch salmon. Because we didn't stock the lake with salmon in 2004 due to
a slowdown in growth, salmon fishing has been very slow as there are no age
III fish available. Nonetheless, the lake supports a decent number of 3-4
pounders, and it is worth a try later this month. With the lower than normal
winter use, I expect some fine salmon will be boated in May.

Limited early season reports from West Grand have been favorable.
Some nicely shaped 20-21 inch salmon have been landed along with the usual
17-18 inchers. Three pound togue are common, along with some 4-5 pounders.
Togue fishing is often best on an overcast, low pressure/falling barometer,
light wind type of day. If you can get away for a day with such conditions,
go for it. While success is not guaranteed, the odds will be in your favor.
A friend of mine recently lost a BIG togue after playing the fish for 7-8
minutes when his 14-lb test leader broke at the hook. Every winter, West
Grand yields some 10-20 lb lunkers, and I am one of many who believe the
lake probably holds some 20-30 pounders. Knowledgable anglers who fish for a
big one with their jig sticks typically attach their lures to 20-lb test
line. I expect the lake will see a burst of activity next week during school
vacation.

-Ron Brokaw, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

Colder temperatures have firmed up ice conditions though lack of snow makes
for slippery going in many places. Fishing success is in the 'winter
doldrums' category, which means spotty at best. Our creel clerk did check
several brown trout on Webb Lake this past weekend. Webb Lake has been
surprisingly good this winter.

On a personal note, my Dad passed away this past week. I mention this
because he was a Game Warden from 1949 to 1973, and because of the
surprising number of his 'clients' who attended the funeral. One fellow
introduced himself to me as having been charged by my father with killing a
moose out of season. "That was in 1972. I dragged it 3 miles to my house."
I remembered the story. My father simply followed the drag marks to his
house and found the evidence. More surprisingly, the minister who
officiated at the funeral had been summonsed to court - along with his
brother - many years ago for filling a five gallon bucket with smelts. "The
judge said, 'the next time you get that many smelts, stop at my house to
drop a few off', but he fined me anyway." And even the funeral home
director (who was once a registered guide) had been 'pinched' by my Dad on
East Grand Lake for not having a fire extinguisher in his boat. And there
were more stories of a similar ilk. If there were hard feelings, time had
softened them.

Warden Dennis Burnell reports that a 19 lb. lake trout was caught at Spring
Lake in Somerset County on January 28. The fish was 37 inches long and was
caught by Mrs. Leonard Bolduc of Peru. She caught the fish on a jig stick
and it took her 45 minutes to get it up through the ice.


-Forrest Bonney, Regional Fisheries Biologist


Region E - Moosehead Region

Don't let anyone tell you that you need to travel out of state to have good
fishing. Big fish or lots of fish, take your pick, we've got it all in
Maine. While the weather has not been very good for ice fishing, those that
have made the effort to get out have had some excellent results. Anyone who
keeps "his ear to the tracks" has heard of the two massive salmon caught
in
Long Lake last week. Congratulations to Diane Michaud and Keith Ouellette
for catching some of the nicest looking salmon ever caught in Maine, perhaps
even world records through the ice. A picture is truly worth a thousand
words. Congratulations also to the Fisheries Staff in the Ashland Office for
a successful fisheries management plan at Long Lake.

This weekend our staff weighed a trophy splake on the ice that was very
close to the State record. This awesome fish was 32 inches long and tipped
the scales at just over 10 lbs. We hope to get this fish weighed on
certified scales this week to get an official weight. The current State
record is 10 lbs - 3 oz, held by Dan Paquette. Also in the Moosehead Lake
Region, we've seen and heard of many large brook trout from the big lake
this winter. The 6 lb brook trout we radio tagged last fall was caught last
week and we have heard of several other trout over 22 inches this winter.
Back in early January, another 6 lb brookie was taken on Moosehead Lake. In
our very limited travels this winter, we have seen two lake trout in the 12
lb class and several in the 6 lb range. A quick perusal of past weekly
fishing reports from around the State reveal 10 lb brown trout from Walker
Pd, a 10 lb lake trout from East Grand Lake, and a 17 lb lake trout from
Maranacook Lake. These are just the few monsters we see. Many of Maine's
most successful anglers are very discrete and never reveal the big fish they
catch or the locations that they fish...which of course, drives the rest of
us crazy. Some of the trophy fish caught this winter are the result of very
effective fisheries management programs utilizing hatchery fish. The big
salmon in Long Lake was a 10 year-old hatchery fish and the two 12 lb lake
trout and 10 lb splake we checked were also the result of stocking. These
folks obviously have the know-how and a little bit of good luck.

Click on the attachment for a picture of Ben Hooper with his nice catch.
<>
Reports from Allagash Lake indicate that the fishing is excellent with very
good catches of native brook trout, lake trout, and lake whitefish.
Allagash Lake is roughly 4,200 acres and is only open to ice fishing in
February. Access is limited to just a few areas of the lake and motorized
equipment, including augers and snowmobiles, is not allowed on the lake.
Therefore, large areas of the lake will never see an angler during the
winter. Based on past experience, use is low during the weekdays, but peaks
on each of the four Saturdays in February. Fishing can be very fast,
especially opening week. The combination of low angler use, remoteness, and
good natural reproduction makes Allagash Lake one of the most consistent
fisheries in the Region year after year.

Got salmon? If not, then I would encourage you to head to Chesuncook Lake. I
don't make it a habit to advertise a specific fishing location, but salmon
are practically jumping out of the holes at Chesuncook Lake and we need some
of them removed. In the mid- 1990's we increased the minimum length limit
on salmon to 16 inches on Chesuncook Lake in an effort to protect the high
quality wild salmon fishery. Well, it just goes to show you that higher
length limits and low bag limits (or catch and release, for that matter!)
are not always the panacea for creating trophy fisheries. The combination
of good natural reproduction and restrictive regulations created an
over-population of wild salmon within 4 years of the regulation change. We
have seen this same type of response on several other large lakes and even
some very small trout ponds in our region over the past 10 years. We
liberalized the bag limit on salmon to 3 fish and reduced the length limit
to 14 inches and only 1 fish may exceed 18 inches in response to the
increasing salmon population and corresponding decline in growth. This
winter fishing pressure has been very light and therefore we are encouraging
anglers to grab that fry pan, a stick of butter, head north to Chesuncook
Lake, and kill your limit! Your taste buds and your Regional Fisheries staff
will appreciate it.





-Tim Obrey, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region F, Penobscot Region

I'm sure by now that most everyone is tired of hearing about the effect
that the rain and warm weather has had on lakes and ponds across the state,
so I won't bore you with one more gloomy report. It does seem that last
weekend was one of the few "rain free" weekends that we have had this
winter. Ice conditions across the region have improved on many lakes and
ponds, but caution is still justified.

Clerks are seeing a number of good conditioned salmon at Pleasant Pond in
Island Falls and Cold Stream Pond in Enfield. Lake trout are still the
primary target at Schoodic Lake, however a number of chunky landlocked
salmon have been reported from Schoodic recently. Splake continue to be the
attraction at Seboeis Lake in T4R8 NWP, Endless Lake in T3R9 NWP, Cedar Lake
in T3R9 NWP and Lower Togue in T2R9 WELS.

Big brookies are still being caught at Little Round Pond in Lincoln, a
"kids only" pond that is limited to youngsters less than 16 years of age.
Other ponds in the region that are producing trophy brook trout, and are
open to kids only, are Pickerel Pond in T32 MD, Rock Crusher Pond in Island
Falls and Jerry Pond in Millinocket.

I wanted to also mention that the 44th Annual Schoodic Lake Ice Fishing
Derby is slated to be held this year on February 18 and 19, which also
coincides with the Free Fishing Days sponsored by the Maine Department of
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Any person, except those whose license has
been revoked or suspended, may fish on these two days without a license.
This has to be the longest running fishing derby in the state of Maine, as
well as one of the most successful. All the proceeds go to benefit the Milo
Fire Department, as well as a host of local charities. The Grand Prize this
year is a 2006 Arctic Cat Z-370, with all prizes totaling over $12,000! This
is a great event to get the family out and enjoy a great Maine winter
weekend, as well as have an opportunity to catch a few fish. Lake trout at
Schoodic have been running in the 3 to 6 pound category, with fish over 10
pounds reported this winter. For more information, call 207.943.7326, or go
to http://www.trcmaine.org/fishingderby/

-Nels Kramer, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

2006 Pushaw Lake Derby Creel Census Summary
The annual Pushaw Lake Ice Fishing Derby sponsored by the Pushaw Lake Snow
Mobile Club was held February 4-5, 2006. Fishery Biologists from MIFW,
MASC, NOAA-Fisheries and a Sunkhaze Chapter-Trout Unlimited volunteer teamed
up to conduct a weekend long intensive creel survey investigating abundance
and distribution of recently illegally introduced Northern pike in the lake.


Eighty-one fishing parties comprised of 357 anglers were interviewed during
the two-day event. Most fishing activity took place on Saturday, as many
anglers avoided the rainy weather on Sunday. A total of 448 pickerel and 5
pike were caught during the derby. Pickerel ranged in length from 10 to 23
inches and weighed 1 and 3.5 pounds. The five pike, all observed and
confirmed by biologists, ranged in length from 22 to 31 inches and weighed
between 3 and 8 pounds. Four of the five pike were caught in the northern
end of the lake near Whitmore Landing, however the largest pike was caught
in the middle of the lake near Lucky Landing in Glenburn. There were no
pike caught in the southern end of the lake.

On Saturday, biologists tried to revive a pike brought into the weigh
station and surgically implant a telemetry transmitter, but unfortunately
were unsuccessful as eventually the pike succumbed to stress. Attempts will
be made this winter to tag up to ten pike and to track the fish during the
spring in order to identify preferred spawning areas in the lake. This
information will be useful to fishery biologists as they assess the current
status of pike in Pushaw Lake, the potential for pike to move down Pushaw
Stream and into the Penobscot River, and for future management decisions
concerning limiting the pike population in Pushaw Lake and exclusion from
the upper Penobscot River system.

Richard Dill, Atlantic Salmon Commission


Region G - Aroostook County


Fishing effort in the backcountry continues to be lower than normal. The
most recent creel check in the Musquacook Lakes area revealed few angling
groups despite the excellent road and trail conditions. The American Realty
Road that runs west from Ashland is in great shape given the rainy weather
this winter. Lakes in this area are glare ice with patches of very rough
snow - bring ice creepers on any upcoming fishing trips.

A new ice fishing opportunity exists in northern Aroostook County. On
February 15 Madawaska Lake, which lies off Route 161 in T16R4 WELS and
Westmanland, will open to ice fishing for the first time. During 2004 and
2005, we held a series of public meetings, forums, and hearings to present a
proposal for changes in fisheries management. These changes include an
annual stocking of fall yearling brook trout and additional seasons in
October (S 23 code in lawbook) and a winter season from February 15 - March
31. These changes will be in effect for three years.

The shoreline of Madawaska Lake is heavily developed with seasonal and
year-round homes. Anglers who do not own property on the lake are
encouraged to seek appropriate access points so that trespass issues on
private property are avoided. The best access during the winter will be by
snowmobile trail. The ITS trail system runs along the northeast side and
east side of the lake. Several small trails to the south and west of this
trail system will provide access to the lake. Irving Woodlands owns a
significant amount of shoreline on the west side of the lake near the
parking area used for access to Square Lake and on the east side along the
Little Madawaska River. Access across their undeveloped properties is
allowed.

-Frank Frost, Regional Fisheries Biologist


From the Maine Warden Service...The Colonel's Tip

Don't forget that Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License options are always
available at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Not only are
they are great value for the future hunter or angler -- the funds go into an
account that will help the future funding of the department. I have
purchased lifetime licenses for my twin boys, now 5 1/2 years old -- and
will soon be purchasing one for my 1 year old daughter -- no matter where
life takes them when they return to Maine to visit home, hunting and fishing
licenses will be no worry and I'll know - as they will - that going fishing
and hunting will be that much easier. For an application, prices and a list
of what is available please shop online at www.mefishwildlife.com.

-Colonel Tom Santaguida, Maine Warden Service


NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.
 
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