Early in the spring, as dirty piles of snow melt off city streets and lawns remain brown and soggy, anglers begin to take note of area lakes that appear to be losing ice. Those anglers dream of warmer days and relish the thought of spending enjoyable hours on the water with friends.
As April turns to May, however, most of the state’s lakes are ice-free. Up north, that’s not necessarily the case, but in recent days plenty of lakes north of Bangor — including the state’s largest, Moosehead — have shed their winter coats.
No matter where you are — almost — it’s fishing season.
According to the handy website being maintained by the Maine Department of Conservation, among those waters where anglers may have some luck: East Grand Lake, where ice went out on April 27, West Grand Lake (April 24), Schoodic Lake (April 29), Chesuncook Lake (April 30), Moosehead Lake (Wednesday), the Pemadumcook chain of lakes (Wednesday) and Madawaska Lake (Thursday).
According to the DOC site, Long Lake in St. Agatha, one of the state’s fabled landlocked salmon waters, is still not clear of ice. As of Friday, lake-watchers reported that there was still ice in the center of the lake but some open water existed in each end. The on-scene prediction: Ice may go out Monday or Tuesday.
A few weeks ago Gregory Burr, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife’s regional fisheries biologist for the Down East region, checked in with a laundry list of fishing options. The problem at the time: Not much of the water he was talking about was ice-free.
Now, however, it is. And if you’re looking for a spot to fish that’s not far from Bangor or Ellsworth, Burr’s suggestions still make perfect sense.
Let’s start over in Grand Lake Stream, where opening-day anglers are guaranteed open water, but sometimes have to work hard to find fish. That was the case this year, as few fish were caught in the first days of April.
But Burr said there are plenty of reasons to think about fishing Grand Lake Stream in the coming weeks.
“I have ordered 100 or more retired male brood landlocked salmon to be stocked into the various pools on the stream in mid-April to augment the spring’s fishery before the arrival of lake salmon that migrate into the stream from West Grand and Big lakes starting in May,” Burr wrote in a late-March email.
Burr also said that 400 spring yearling brook trout would be stocked in GLS in mid-May.
“These fish are 8 to 10 inches in size and will be scattered throughout the 2.6 miles of stream and will add species diversity to the angler’s catch,” Burr wrote.
Burr said the Orland River between Alamoosook Dam and Mast Hill Road in Orland would provide good early fishing with two 400-trout stockings planned.
Down on Mount Desert Island a number of ponds where ice fishing pressure is light or ice fishing is prohibited provide good opportunities for anglers to fish for stocked trout, he said. Among those: Lakewood Pond, Witch Hole Pond, Upper Hadlock Pond and Bubble Pond. Early season trollers might want to check Long Pond, according to Burr.
Other small waters that hold brook trout are worth consideration, Burr said. Among those: Simpson Pond in Roque Bluffs, Little Tunk Pond in Sullivan, Birch Harbor Pond in Gouldsboro, and Partridge, Ducktail and Trout ponds in Amherst. Burr also listed three ponds that are managed exclusively for use by children: Foxhole Pond in Deblois, and North and South Meyers ponds in Columbia. All were either stocked with trout last fall or will be this spring.
Other waters that kids can enjoy will be stocked in May, Burr said. Those include the Middle River in Marshfield, Clark Brook in Calais and the pond at the Penobscot County Conservation Association clubhouse in Brewer.