Region A – Sebago Lakes Region
The early season cold has made for some excellent early season ice fishing opportunities in the southern part of the state.
“There are a lot of people out already, and there is more than a couple of inches of ice on the smaller ponds. A lot of the bigger lakes are still open in the middle, but the shoreline and coves have frozen over,” said IFW Fisheries biologist Jim Pellerin.
If you are looking for some good early season fishing for trout, try these ponds: The Otter Ponds in Standish, Littlefield Pond in Sanford, Barker Pond in Lyman, Knights Pond in Berwick, Hall Pond in Paris, Moose Pond in Acton, and Worthley Pond in Peru.
If you are looking to take the kids fishing, try Round Pond in Lyman and Lower Hinckley Pond in South Portland
“On some of these ponds, like the Otters, anglers are doing great already,” said Pellerin, who noted that these ponds were stocked with trout that range from 12-15” in length with a few bigger ones as well.
Pellerin advises that if you are looking to fish for brookies, remember to fish shallow, in water that is five feet deep or less. Use small bait, such as worms or small shiners, and don’t be afraid to use a small jig as well.
If you are looking to fish for some rainbows, head on over to Stanley Pond in Hiram, Norway Lake in Norway, Little Sebago in Gray, the Ranges in Poland, or Crystal Lake in Gray. Most of these ponds are a little larger but should have some good ice and fishing for rainbows by the first of the year.
Region B – Central and Midcoast Area
Anglers are having early season success for trout in many different waters in Region B.
“If you are looking for trout, you ought to try Levenseller Pond in Searsmont or Dutton Pond in Knox. They were stocked with brook trout that range in size from ten inches to nearly 20 inches,” said IFW Fisheries Biologist Jason Seiders.
With ice covering the pond now, many anglers might be tempted to try the deeper water at Levenseller, but Seiders says that if you are looking for brookies, stay close to shore in and in shallow water.
“Brook trout cruise the shoreline looking for food, usually nymphs or small minnows. Look for areas that have gravel or rocky bottoms,” said Seiders.
Once you’ve found a spot, make sure you use small bait or jigs.
“Fish shallow with small bait –use worms or small shiners. Don’t be afraid to jig. The key is to be where the trout are, and they are not out deep, they are cruising the shoreline, and they like small bait,” said Seiders.
If you’ve got kids and you want to give them a day catching trout, try Maces Pond and Rocky Pond in Rockport. “Both ponds are heavily stocked with trout,” says Seiders.
Heading away from the coast and towards the Belgrades, you may want to try Salmon and McGrath Ponds in Belgrade, which were recently stocked and also have some nice bass. If you are looking for panfish, East Pond in Smithfield has a popular white perch fishery.
Round Pond and Brettuns Pond in Turner has good access and good fishing. “They were both heavily stocked with brook trout and there are some nice holdovers of brown trout that are in the 20 inch range,” said Seiders.
There are also some nice salmon to be had in Region B. Fall trapnetting revealed a number of 20” salmon at waters such as Flying Pond in Vienna; and in Alford Lake, there were brown trout that tipped the scales at over seven pounds as well as a number of 20 inch salmon. Lake Wassokeag in Dexter also had some good number of large salmon.
Down in the southern coastal part of the region, check out Sewall Pond in Arrowsic for trout and a chance at some big bass, and in Georgetown, Charles Pond was also stocked and should offer some fine trout fishing.
Region C — Downeast
Anglers are enjoying the early season angling downeast, with some excellent early season angling opportunities.
“Lovejoy Pond in T 35, just south of the Studmill Road is a pond that freezes early and was stocked with fall fingerlings and fall yearling trout,” says IFW Fisheries Biologist Greg Burr. Anglers fishing there can expect to catch trout in the 12-14” range.
Over in Calais, you’ll want to try Keene’s Lake for brookies. In Whiting, Indian Lake has a range of sizes for brook trout, ranging from 8-10”, and even some in the 20” range.
Down on Mount Desert Island, there are some excellent opportunities for brook trout. Check out Round Pond in Mount Desert, and Lower Hadlock in Northeast harbor. Both were stocked this fall with 12-14 inch brook trout.
For the kids, try Foxhole in Deblois. It’s a kid’s only pond that’s stocked with brook trout. If you are fishing here, use small bait and worms, or small silver lures for jigging.
There’s also a few new fisheries you may want to try out downeast, including Phillips Lake in Dedham and Spring River Lake in T10SD, just north of Tunk lake.
“Phillips Lake gets quite a lot of use, and anglers wanted more opportunity. So after a thorough review, this fall we stocked it with brook trout to augment the togue and salmon fishery,” explained Burr. “We can’t enhance the togue or salmon population without impacting the smelt population, so a ‘put and take’ brook trout fishery will enhance the species diversity without putting a lot of pressure on the forage base.” 700 brook trout were stocked there this fall, and the stocking program will be evaluated over the coming years.
“We did the same thing at Spring River Lake,” said Burr. “We had been stocking the lake with brown trout, which tend to have slower catch rates. Anglers were catching browns and some salmon that dropped down, but again, anglers were looking for more opportunity. We think the addition of 400 fall yearling brook trout should really augment the fishery, and over the next few years, we will be evaluating the program.”
Region D – Rangeley Lakes
It’s been cold in Region D, and even before the sub-zero cold we had last week, anglers were already out fishing their favorite early season spots. Ice conditions continue to get better, and most of the small ponds now have 5-6” of ice.
“There are a number of popular early season ponds that received stockings of 12-14 inch brook trout this fall,” said IFW Fisheries Biologist Dave Howatt. “Anglers should check out Crowell and Norcross Ponds in Chesterville, Ellis Pond in Roxbury, and Fahi Pond in Embden.” Most of the ponds have very good access (Fahi requires a bit more effort), and along with the trout, there are also strong bass, pickerel and perch fisheries.
Howatt mentioned that a lot of other ponds will open on January 1, including Mount Blue Pond in Avon.
“Mount Blue Pond is an interesting place to try. It was opened to ice fishing for the first time last year. It saw moderate activity, and the fishing for splake was fair. This year, we upped the splake stocking from 200 up to 500.” Howatt said it will be interesting to see if this draws more anglers, and if anglers have more success at Mount Blue Pond. There is also a decent smallmouth bass and white perch fishery at Mount Blue.
Other waters that you may want to try after the New Year include Clearwater Pond in Industry, Porter Lake in Strong, and Wilson Pond in Wilton. All three of these waters are in Franklin County, have easy access, and offer decent winter angling for brook trout, salmon, and togue. If you are looking for more of an adventure this winter, you could try the Chain of Ponds in Chain of Ponds Twp for brookies and salmon or head to Spring Lake in T03 R04 BKP WKR for brookies, salmon and togue.
Region E – Moosehead Region
Anglers looking for early season action in the Moosehead Lake Region should target smaller, shallow waters that tend to freeze early.
“Ponds like Fitzgerald Pond, Prong Pond, and Shirley Pond are good early season choices in the Greenville area,” said IFW Fisheries Biologist Tim Obrey. “These ponds are all stocked with fallyearling brook trout in the fall that range from 12-14 inches.”
“Brann’s Mill Pond in Dover-Foxcroft is another good bet, and a great place to take the kids. The pond has white perch, bass, and pickerel to keep the action going all day in addition to the fall stocking of brook trout,” added Obrey. “Access is very easy as the main road runs very close to the pond.
Other ponds that you may want to try for some early season action include Harlow in Sangerville and Manhanock Pond in Parkman. Both ponds are stocked with brook trout, and white perch are big and abundant. There are some monster bass in this pond but they must be released.
One other water, while not small or shallow but always freezes early is Big Wood Pond in the Jackman region
“Big Wood freezes earlier than most of our larger waters,” says Obrey. “This pond is stocked heavily with splake and brook trout in the fall. In fact, this year we had a few extra brook trout in the hatchery and Big Wood Pond anglers will reap the benefits. The fishing is always fast and furious in early January on this pond and this year should be even better.”
Even with the cold weather, early season ice conditions can be tricky, so take care. “We’ve had some pretty cold days over the last week which will help make ice but caution is the rule of the day. No fish is worth a dip in the water this time of year,” said Obrey.
Region F – Penobscot Region
Ponds and even some lakes are buttoning up in the Penobscot region, but even with the spell of cold weather we experienced, remember, there are no guarantees with ice, so be careful and check the ice before heading out.
“We have a number of lakes and ponds that tend to firm up early,” said IFW fisheries biologist Nels Kramer, “and we stock a number of them with both fall yearling and adult brook trout.” Fall yearlings average about 12-14 inches, and the retired brood stock adult brook trout are generally in the 17-20 inch range.
Some of the waters you may want to try early this season include: Middle Oxhead Pond (T40 MD), Perch Pond (Old Town), Wiley Pond (Patten), Silver Lake (Lee), Upper Pond (Lincoln), Trout Pond (Lowell), Smith Pond (Millinocket), Norton Pond (Brownville), Flatiron Pond (T3R9) and Falkner Pond (Weston).
You may also want to try Lower Shin and Upper Shin Ponds (Mount Chase), Hay Lake (T6R8 WELS), Cold Stream Pond (Enfield) and Upper Cold Stream Pond (Lincoln). Check the regulation book on these waters, as they have special S-Code regulations for the early part of the season.
Kramer and the Region F fisheries crew were out trapnetting this past fall, and were encouraged with the results
“We have high expectations for both salmon and togue fishing at a number of waters that will be opening on the 1st of January, including Schoodic Lake in Brownville, East Grand in Danforth and Cold Stream Pond in Enfield,” said Kramer. “Matagamon Lake should also have very good fishing for trout and salmon. Anglers should also do well at Scraggly and I expect to see excellent splake and salmon fishing at Nicatous Lake (T40 MD), Cedar Lake (T3R9 NWP) and Seboeis Lake (T4R9 NWP).”
The region also has some excellent “Kid’s Only” ponds that you may want to try with some young anglers.
“We always encourage any adults who enjoy ice fishing to consider taking a kid along. We have a number of “Kid’s Only” ponds that have been heavily stocked with big trout and we’d love to see young anglers experience the thrill of hooking and landing a 12” to 18” brookie,” said Kramer.
If you are looking for a “Kid’s Only” pond, try Jerry Pond (Millinocket), Pickerel Pond (T32MD), Edwards Family Fishing Pond (Lincoln), Harris Pond (Milo), Little Round Pond (Lincoln) and Rock Crusher Pond (Island Falls).
As always, anglers should check their fishing rule book and if any anglers would like more information, or need to have questions answered, please call the Regional Fisheries Office and ask. The Penobscot Regional Office number in Enfield is: 732-4131.
Region G – Aroostook Region
This year, the winter weather is cooperating for ice anglers and there are no shortages of places to fish.
“This is looking like a more normal year. By January 1st, we should have ice nearly everywhere,” said IFW Fisheries Biologist Frank Frost.
Many of the smaller lakes and ponds already have five to six inches of ice. “Even some of our bigger lakes are starting to close in,” said Frost, who noted that most of the larger lakes had ice around the shore.
Anglers looking to catch some trout or splake have a variety of ponds they may want to try early this year.
Arnold Brook Lake in Presque Isle and Scopan Lake in Mapleton should offer some good fishing early, and if you are a little further south in Region G, Drews Lake in Linneus and Nickerson Lake in New Limerick. All of these waters have good numbers of catchable trout. You also have the chance to catch some larger splake in Scopan and Drews.
“All of these were stocked with fall yearling trout, but there are also some adult brood trout that are up to 20 inches,” says Frost. Frost added that the St. John River in Van Buren also holds good number of catchable trout. He cautions anglers to be careful when heading out onto any body of water, including the St. John.