Ice anglers looking to find a safe place to fish on the traditional opening day of the season might want to consider a trip north, as the superintendent of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway reports that there is some fairly thick ice on the waterways lakes and ponds.
In much of the state, ice fishing is allowed as soon as safe ice forms. In the Allagash waterway, the season still begins Jan. 1, as used to be the custom statewide.
Matthew LaRoche, the waterway’s superintendent, said rangers checked the ice on Sunday and found between 8 and 12 inches of good ice on Telos Lake, Round Pond, Chamberlain Lake, Allagash Lake and Churchill Lake.
That ice is not consistently thick, however, and caution is warranted.
“The south end of Chamberlain Lake skimmed over for the first time on Dec. 1,” LaRoche said. “However, the middle of the lake did not freeze until the third week of December.”
Rangers will continue to monitor ice conditions and will post on the waterway’s conditions and alerts page on Maine.gov.
The waterway’s rangers remind snowmobilers that they shouldn’t assume ice is safe just because they see another snowmobile track leading across a lake or pond. Instead, check the ice as you progress.
They also encourage people to fish with a buddy, and leaving a travel plan with someone at home is also encouraged.
“We usually have a good crowd out ice fishing on the first weekend of the season,” LaRoche said. “The native brook trout is usually excellent when the season first opens.”
Closer to Bangor, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife fisheries biologist Wes Ashe spent some time checking central Maine anglers over the weekend, and advised abundant caution.
“The ice was sketchy, but it doesn’t stop people [from fishing],” Ashe said.
Further south, a child fell through the ice of a Scarborough pond on Monday. The boy was rescued by a neighbor and taken to a hospital for treatment, according to CBS affiliate WGME.
The Maine Warden Service offered up the following ice safety tips:
— Never guess the thickness of the ice. Check the ice in several different places using an auger or some other means to make a test hole and determine the thickness. Make several, beginning at the shore, and continuing as you go out.
— Check the ice with a partner, so if something does happen, someone is there to help you. If you are doing it alone, wear a life jacket.
— If ice at the shoreline is cracked or squishy, stay off! Watch out for thin, clear or honeycombed ice. Dark snow and dark ice are other signs of weak spots.
— Avoid areas with currents, around bridges and pressure ridges. Wind and currents can break ice.
— Parents should alert children of unsafe ice in their area, and make sure that they stay off the ice. If they insist on using their new skates, suggest an indoor skating rink.
And the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife offered up some potentially life-saving tips for those who fall through thin ice:
— Don’t panic
— Don’t try to climb out immediately — you will probably break the ice again. Reach for solid ice.
— Lay both arms on the unbroken ice and kick hard. This will help lift your body onto the ice. Once on the ice, roll, don’t walk, to safety.
— To help someone who has fallen through the ice, lie down flat and reach with a branch, plank or rope or form a human chain. Don’t stand. After securing the victim, wiggle backward to the solid ice.