AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists are preparing reports that may help anglers in the weeks ahead. Here’s the most recent report:
“We are getting a lot of calls and reports that things are going well for anglers,” said DIF&W fisheries biologist Greg Burr.
Burr did say that early on, with the deep snow and slush, people were having difficulty getting out to different areas of some lakes, but as conditions got better, anglers were getting out to their favorite spots.
Most places Down East have at least 8-12 inches of ice, with some locales having more. Burr cautioned anglers that there are some treacherous areas, however, with recent warming.
“Anglers should use caution,” said Burr. “Old ice fishing holes and areas around rocks have opened up. Anywhere there is moving water such as saddle areas, inlets and outlets can be dangerous as the ice has deteriorated. Around shore, there are pockets of water between the shore and ice. It’s hard to get on the ice in some places, and people should use caution.”
Burr added that with colder weather on the way, things should get better in a hurry.
While the ice may be below average for this season, the fishing has been very good.
“People are excited on Schoodic Lake. There’s a new stocking program there and anglers are catching brook trout in the 14- to 16-inch range, and even some trophies in the 18- to 22-inch range. Anglers are also catching some nice salmon,” said Burr.
Tunk Lake also has been producing, with togue in the 26- to 30-inch range and 22- to 23-inch salmon being caught. Anglers have also had good success for salmon at Beech Hill Pond and Cathance Lake.
Anglers are also excited about rainbow trout in Jones Pond in Gouldsboro. People are still figure out the best way to get rainbow trout, but some are having success. There are also some nice browns in the 16- 20-inch range as well.
Inconsistent weather has kept most anglers off Moosehead Lake.
“On opening weekend, there weren’t many anglers in Rockwood and Lily Bay as the temperature didn’t get above 10 [degrees],” said DIF&W fisheries biologist Tim Obrey. “And last weekend’s rain also kept people in.”
Obrey will be out on Moosehead this weekend gathering information on how successful anglers are. Creel survey censuses — surveying anglers about what they are catching and how quickly they are catching them — provides biologists with excellent information on how to better manage fisheries on a waterway.
“Anglers have been going out on foot or by ATV fishing near shore and they are having some good fishing,” said Obrey.
Many anglers are gearing up for the Moosehead Lake Derby which begins Friday, Jan. 24, and Obrey expects a big crowd that weekend. The three-day togue tournament has a $1,500 first prize, $500 second prize, and $250 for third place.
“There’s a lot of other prizes as well. Anglers can bring in their small fish and are entered into a pool for prizes, there’s also a big door prize from Indian Hill Trading Post,” said Obrey.
Anglers who are interested in participating should check out the Natural Resource Education Center Facebook page at NREC Moosehead for the most up-to-date information.
“There hasn’t been a lot of fishing pressure on Moosehead yet this year, so the fishing should be fantastic,” added Obrey.
“We had some great ice to start the season, but with the snow and then the rain, our aerial counts of anglers have been very low due to the weather conditions,” said Nels Kramer, DIF&W fisheries biologist.
Fisheries biologists will do aerial angler counts to determine fishing pressure. The information gathered is useful when determining how many fish should be stocked in a waterway or whether to adjust regulations.
Anglers who have been out fishing are doing well.
“Matagamon and the Scraggly area has produced some good fishing for brook trout. We are also getting very good reports out of Pleasant Pond in Island Falls,” said Kramer. Anglers out on Schoodic, Seboeis and Cold Stream Pond also are having luck with brook trout, though not as many as salmon and togue.
“A lot of people aren’t trusting the ice, so they are fishing close to shore, and they are catching primarily brook trout,” said Kramer, who added that once the weather gets colder, he expects to get a lot more reports about good fishing for salmon and togue throughout the region.
“Once everyone feels more comfortable with the ice and we get a little snow, anglers will be fishing a little further off shore, and they’ll be catching lake trout,” said Kramer.
News in Aroostook is that anglers are catching salmon, but the weather has made travel difficult on snowmobile trails and lakes.
“There have been a lot of anglers on Long Lake, it’s pretty accessible,” DIF&W fisheries biologist Frank Frost said. “We measured one salmon over seven pounds and measured several others that were in the four- to five-pound range. We got a lot of reports of salmon in the 18- to 20-inch inch range that were released.”
With the rain, Frost urges caution on area roads.
“The roads can be treacherous. The woods roads, camp access roads, they all are very slippery,” said Frost. “Area lakes are down to glare ice and the trails are soft with water everywhere.”
The Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby is Jan. 25-26, and Frost says that is the busiest weekend of the year on the lake.
If you are looking for an area to try that hasn’t been heavily fished, Frost suggests the Musquacook lakes and the Allagash Waterway.
“The Musquacook Lake chain and the Waterway haven’t been fished a whole lot, so as soon as the roads improve, anglers should have some good luck fishing there,” said Frost.