Last week Gov. Janet Mills and Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife commissioner Judy Camuso announced an early opening of the state’s open-water fishing season and said that until April 30, no fishing licenses would be necessary.
Despite the snowstorm that dropped several inches on parts of Maine, the question for many may be this: Where can I find some water that’s not covered in ice?
Luckily, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has for years provided a resource that puts that kind of information at the fingertips of those looking to boat or fish on the state’s inland lakes and ponds.
The DACF has begun regularly updating its statewide ice-out list, which contains valuable information to help point anglers in the right direction. And despite the recent snow, that list provides evidence that spring is, in fact, upon us. Late last week, just two lakes or ponds were listed. As of Tuesday morning, 14 waters were on the list.
Lakes closer to the coast, or in southern Maine, generally thaw sooner than those farther inland or in northern Maine.
Among those listed as at least mostly ice-free:
— Biscay Pond in Bristol and Bremen
— Crystal Pond in Washington
— Gardner Lake in Whiting, Marion Township and East Machias
— Hamilton Pond in Bar Harbor
— Long Pond in Southwest Harbor
— Pemaquid Pond in Breman, Damariscotta and Nobleboro
— Rocky Pond in Orland
— Round Pond on Mount Desert Island
— Seal Cove Pond in Tremont
— Sebago Lake in Standish, Casco, Raymond and Sebago
— Somes Pond on Mount Desert Island
— Togus Pond in Augusta
— Tunk Lake in T10 SD and T7 SD
— Washington Pond in Washington.
Both Sebago and Tunk lakes are not entirely clear of ice, according to the list, but portions of those waters are fishable.
Another option, though it’s one without a handy statewide map to serve as a guide, is to look for flowing water like brooks and streams. When brooks dump into lakes and ponds, those inlets are among the first spots people can fish each spring.
A Tuesday trip to Green Lake in Dedham showed that one such spot — Mann Brook — is flowing freely through the woods, and has already begun to erode plenty of shore ice at the inlet. Those desperate to toss a lure or fly into open water can find plenty of spots just like that at many eastern Maine lakes.
Anglers should use caution, as recently thawed lakes and ponds will remain dangerously cold for weeks to come. Boaters should wear life jackets, and those fishing from shore should expect slippery conditions to prevail through Maine’s notorious mud season.
And remember: If you encounter any other anglers while you’re out and about, be sure to respect their space and adhere to social distancing guidelines: Don’t get closer than six feet apart.