With health officials discouraging mass gatherings, the woods and waters of Maine are looking even more attractive as go-to destinations.
As the coronavirus news dominates social media, a solitary day of ice fishing on a local pond might provide just the solace you’re looking for.
Late-season ice fishing is possible in many parts of the state (check your ice early and often), and with a bit more sunlight and warmer days, an ice fishing trip can feature nearly balmy weather at this time of year.
The state’s fisheries biologists regularly release their fishing tips, and the latest release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife offers up some great information to help you catch more fish.
Fish River Lakes region
From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Frank Frost:
Season update: Fishing pressure has really dropped off in most parts of northern Maine which is typical for late season. We do however see more parties making trips to the remote areas. One of those areas is the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. With longer days and better weather, large groups will trek north and west this month for some great remote area angling.
Madawaska Lake, which was highlighted in last month’s fishing report, is an easily accessible lake in northern Maine and has seen great trout fishing this season. With an opening day of Feb. 15, the fishing here will be good well into March.
March fishing tip: The high demand for smelts during the ice fishing season often leads to a lower supply at many bait dealers in northern Maine. If you do not have the time to catch your own smelt prior to an ice fishing trip, consider switching to one of the several other common bait species. These alternate baits are more readily available at bait shops, are cheaper than smelt and are usually much easier to keep alive.
From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Kevin Dunham:
Season update: The Katahdin Region is the hotspot this season with fast action for landlocked salmon and brook trout at Upper Jo-Mary Lake (TA R10 WELS). Anglers are having exceptional catches of salmon with several over 20 inches and tipping the scales at up to five pounds. The salmon population at Pemadumcook Lake is showing signs of improvement and catch rates are reflecting that with some healthy fish being caught. Millinocket Lake has been producing some impressive lake trout and that should continue into March for anglers looking for togue.
March fishing tips: Mild March days provide an excellent opportunity to introduce a young angler to the pleasures of ice fishing and create lasting memories. If you are looking to introduce a young angler to trout fishing, the Penobscot Region also has some excellent “kids only” ponds that you may want to try. Those ponds are open to persons under 16 years of age. Adults may assist youth, but cannot participate themselves. Kids-only ponds in the region include Jerry Pond (Millinocket), Pickerel Pond (T32MD), Edwards Family Fishing Pond (Lincoln), Harris Pond (Milo), Little Round Pond (Lincoln) and Rock Crusher Pond (Island Falls). We would love to see young anglers experience the thrill of hooking and landing a 12 to 18-inch brook trout at one of these waters!
From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Tim Obrey:
Season update: Fishing has been very good in the Moosehead Lake Region this year. The winter weather has been excellent for fishing. We’ve had some warm days, light winds, and slush hasn’t been a big issue for most of the season. Get out and enjoy it while you can.
March fishing tip: March is the time of year to whip out the jig stick and try for a big old togue (lake trout). Place your chair facing the southwest, dab on a little sunscreen, and enjoy the warm March sun.
Reminder: All of the spots that have bad ice in January and February are much worse by the end of March. The sun is higher in the sky, warming the shoreline and rocks, and creating thin ice. Most of our impoundments are drawn down to their lowest levels in March to make room for the spring runoff. This means areas in front of dams or at the mouths of rivers will be opening up with the increased flow. For example, the mouth of the Moose River in Rockwood and around the East Outlet on Moosehead Lake can be very dangerous. Know where you are and stick to existing trails.
Grand Lake Region
From Fisheries resource supervisor Gregory Burr:
Season update: Now that the cold weather has finally given us safer ice, fishermen are having great catches of salmon at Long Pond, lake trout at Eagle Lake, and terrific sized brook trout and salmon at Echo Lake. I highly recommend hitting one of these lakes for your March fishing.
March fishing tip: My tip for angling success is to keep checking your bait every 20 to 30 minutes. This not only ensures that you still have bait on our hook but also prompts your bait to move, attracting a strike from gamefish that are in the area. If your bait appears dead or not moving, put a fresh bait on. This can make all the difference to a gamefish that senses a struggling bait fish in the water.
Another tip is to move your traps every few hours if you have not had a flag in the area. Gamefish in the cold waters of the winter may be lethargic and moving in tight feeding patterns. Moving your line just 50 feet can put your bait in the feeding zone of an active predator gamefish. Remember, the more you work at fishing, the luckier you get!