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:
Sebago Lakes region
January’s midmonth 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 DIF&W 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,” Brautigam said. “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.
Central and midcoast
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 Feb. 1. This is a kids-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, DIF&W fish biologist. Most trout are in the 12- to 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 has 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.”
Ice anglers have been busy on Clearwater and Porter Lakes in Region D.
“Fishing has been good for togue recently,” said 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.”
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 leaderboard.
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-pound, 28¼-inch fish taken in the Rockwood area. Second place went to Chris Young of Greenville with a 3.47-pound togue and third place went to Sandra Cooper of St. Albans with a 3.37-pound 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. Longtime 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, or 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/NRECmoosehead) and the Moosehead Region Chamber of Commerce ( http://www.mooseheadlake.org/) sometime in the next day or two. Winners can pick up their prizes at the Chamber of Commerce office located in the Visitors’ Center on Rte 15 in Greenville. Congratulations to all the winners and a big thank you to all the sponsors.