AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists are preparing reports that may help anglers in the weeks ahead. Here’s the newest report:
Sebago Lakes Region
In the southern part of the state, DIF&W fisheries biologist Francis Brautigam says he is seeing more families out fishing this time of year.
“We are seeing an increasing number of families ice fishing, particularly for warmwater species such as bass and perch, which offer more action for anglers,” he said.
Brautigam noted that Long Lake in Naples and Harrison is seeing increased use by families. While there are salmon in the 13- to 16-inch range and brown trout as well in Long, families are targeting perch.
“Long is loaded with white perch, and quite a few anglers are having success targeting and harvesting white perch,” Brautigam said. “They are pretty easy to fish for, you should use small baits suspended 5-10 feet off the bottom. Long Pond is a good one for that type of fishing.”
Families also may be interested in the March 8 Kid’s Ice Fishing Derby on Lower Range Pond, sponsored by the Kittery Trading Post and the DIF&W. It’s a good way to introduce children to ice fishing if you have never fished before as there will be experienced anglers helping out the kids. For information, visit icefishingderby.com.
In spite of all the snow, lake travel has been good, as the brief spell of warmer weather packed down much of the snow before the recent cold front. There is still, however, slush in some areas, so be aware.
Also, while the big bay in Sebago has set up, ice conditions are treacherous on the bay. Heavy snow covers a thin layer of ice making fishing and travel on the bay risky. Anglers should fish the areas closer to shore that are safe.
Central and Midcoast Area
This time of year, many anglers in Region B are turning to warm water fish such as bass, perch, pickerel and others.
“Many of these fish are staging to spawn, and they are more active,” said DIF&W fisheries biologist Jason Seiders. “You can find them in shallow, weedy areas near inlets, sometimes in 2-5 feet of water.”
If you are looking to catch bass, the type of bass you want to catch will determine where you should fish.
“This is the time of year when we see lot of large bass caught through the ice, both smallmouth and largemouth. They are in their pre-spawn feeding mode and they are really susceptible to ice fisherman,” said Seiders. “Look for smallmouth in rocky, deeper areas, and you will have success for largemouth in those shallower, weedy areas.”
Seiders also mentioned what a valuable resource this bass fishery is.
“It takes 20 years to grow a bass that is 18-20 inches. While it is a great opportunity to fish for them, if you are not keeping the fish, please catch and release the fish quickly,” said Seiders. “Once those fish are gone, it takes a long time to replace that fish.”
Seiders said anglers are still jigging for perch everywhere. Many anglers are now using electronics, but if you don’t have a flasher, Seiders said to set up traps with small bait, and once you start to get flags, start jigging in that area.
“Everyone has their favorite … jigs with cut bait, waxworms. Anything from a Swedish pimple to a marabou jig seems to be working,” he said.
In the western mountains, anglers are still fishing, just not as much during the week.
“We see a drop in ice fishing pressure during the weekdays this time of year. Of course, this cold snap that won’t go away is part of it, and these high pressure fronts don’t correlate with angler success,” said DIF&W fisheries biologist Bobby Van Riper.
“On the weekends, we still see pretty good crowds on Chain of Ponds, Clearwater and Porter, and anglers are still catching fish there,” he said. “We are still seeing fish, but anglers are putting in a little more time to catch them. With the extremely cold weather and the bright sunny highs, you don’t get a lot of feeding activity.”
Van Riper said that’s pretty typical.
“Once the cold weather breaks, we will see more activity.”
Van Riper did say they are getting some good reports from the Chain of Ponds on the quality of fish that anglers are catching.
The dam on the bottom pond was repaired, and a new fishway placed there four years ago. Fish now can go in and out of the pond into the river to breed and forage, and it has meant bigger, healthier fish in the Chain of Ponds.
“We have heard from anglers that the quality of the fish they are catching is better. The numbers are about the same, but they are catching nicer fish,” Van Riper said.