Page 10 - WCM 2023 Winter Flip
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 could be harvested daily. Today, Maine boasts some of the best angling opportunities of the past century because of these efforts. Western Maine provides a great amount of diversity from countless species, and also unique opportunities in both large lakes and small ponds. Within each water body, the types of structure and water quality vary, and that lends itself to excellent fishing for a wide range of fish species here. If you are new to ice fishing, I suggest starting out with a pond designated as a “warm water fishery.” You’ll typically enjoy a busy day of chasing flags, catching perch, crappie, pickerel, and bass, and the occasional brook trout. These species are fairly easy
to catch, and there’s nothing like a school of white or yellow perch to keep you running! Cold water lakes typically tend to provide quality over quantity, and can make for slow fishing at times. If you’re new to ice fishing, or you’re introducing the kids to it, start in an active fishery to “set the hook,” so to speak.
Before heading out, you’ll need to check the ice conditions. Just because others may be fishing in an area, never assume the ice is safe until you’ve checked it out yourself! The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has some excellent information on their website ( regarding ice
safety, and a host of tips to stay warm and safe while ice fishing.
So how do you get started? One trick that I have found for the new angler is to watch where people
are fishing and return the following day and find the holes that they used. They’re likely to be frozen over, but a small hatchet or ice chisel should do the trick to re-open the holes. A few tip-ups or a jig rod, a dozen shiners or artificial lures for jigging, and you’re in the game! An ice shack can be a great addition, and there are now plenty of pop-up type shelters that are simple to use. But if the weather is mild, a milk crate or camp chair, and a small sled to drag your things around will make things plenty enjoyable.
Planning is key, and food and a thermos of coffee or cocoa is a must. Bring a frisbee or ball, and even let the family dog tag along. Keep it fun, and as long as the kids are warm and fed, they’ll likely have a blast. If you start by setting the bar too high, or fish a spot with little activity, the interest soon wanes. Keep trips short to start, and work from there. Extras like a small grill or a fire bowl for a campfire, or even a propane heater, will add a great deal of comfort. Make sure propane heaters are rated for indoor use, and pay close attention to carbon monoxide warnings. And never use a camp
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