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Real People. Real Advice.

Maine's Hardwater Season - Ice Fishing
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Maine’s hardwater season begins on many lakes and ponds upon the arrival of safe ice. The current trend in global temperatures indicates the ice on Maine’s waters is arriving later and departing earlier. In recent years, the beginning of January often marks the earliest many anglers develop enough confidence to venture out onto the ice. Though obvious care must be taken at all times of year, those critical times near the beginning and end of the ice fishing season mark times when the ice is notoriously unstable. Pond edging choked with cattails and marsh grass, tend to attract much more thermal radiation than clear ice, making crossing these areas dangerous, even after long spells of below freezing temperatures.

Maine boasts a vast number of lakes and ponds that beckon anglers to fish their waters. While I love catching big fish, there also exists a part of me that relishes exploring waters providing nonstop flag-popping action. These destinations offer tons of fun for anglers of all ages, and no better way exists to hook someone new or a child into fishing, as taking them to a spot where the fish are really biting.

Having a great day on the ice is about having fun, being safe and also being comfortable. The older I get, the harder is seems to maintain the same level of excitement and enthusiasm as I once did in my youth, at the prospects of waking before dawn, stumbling into the deep freeze and driving to my favorite ice fishing destination. To combat this problem and continue to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes, I have begun to become very efficient in my expenditure of energy when ice fishing. This includes bringing hot food and drink, a chair, portable ice shack, and on cold days even a heater. These key pieces of equipment ensure that even on the coldest and most brutal of days ice fishing, I can stay warm, dry and comfortable, conserving my mental and physical energy and increasing my enjoyment of the experience and the length of time I am able to stay on the ice. Having small children makes these pieces of equipment almost mandatory, as they provide kids with a sheltered spot to warm cold fingers and toes and drink their hot cocoa. As you head out to the ice this winter season, consider reviewing your ice fishing activities for efficiency, as it may mean you spend more time on the ice and catch more fish.

A reporter from TV station WCSH joined me on an early morning ice fishing excursion on Three Mile Pond in Vassalboro recently. Check out the videos here.

The Guide to the Wild

Steve Vose

Steve's specialty is facilitating memorable Maine experiences. As a registered guide, Steve can lead you anywhere anytime and make you feel at home. Equipped with first-hand knowledge and a healthy sense of humor, Steve openly shares the secrets of Maine's wilderness. Rely on him to survey the land and be your beacon for unique and remarkable adventures. Explore more with Steve on his blog, The Maine Outdoorsman.

Editor's Notes:

Maine has many lakes, and a great number of communities host Ice Fishing Derbies throughout the state. Some are geared toward kids, like the “Hooked on Fishing” Kids Derby, perfect for little ones who want to learn the basics of ice fishing. “Hooked on Fishing” is a great way for parents to spend time with their kids, while guiding them in their appreciation for the outdoors.

Wondering how to tell the difference between brown trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon? The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife can help answer some of your questions in these fishing FAQs on their website. You can also find Maine open water and ice fishing regulations online here.

For information on depths, temperatures and types of fish in various Maine lakes, take a look at the Maine Lake Survey Maps to help plan your fishing and camping trip.

Looking to make it a weekend trip? Check out Kennebec Valley’s lodging and accommodations for a place to warm up after a long day on the ice.

Before you head out onto the ice, check the Maine weather by zone, and prepare for the weather at hand.

For additional fishing resources, visit the fishing section of our website.