Page 11 - WCM 2023 Winter Flip
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  stove or grill for heat inside an ice shack. Fires must be off the ice, and ashes can’t be dumped in the water or snow on the lake. That said, there’s nothing like making smores on the ice! You’ll stay warm, fed, and busy while you’re waiting on your next flag.
Looking for a place to go? Fortunately, there are over 150 lakes and ponds just in Oxford County alone. With just a quick online search (or if you have access to the Maine Gazetteer), you will be able to find options that are closest to you, or near the area that you’ll be staying. You can also access the MDIFW website and search the fishing regulations section
to make sure your chosen waterbody is open to ice fishing. A few of our local favorites in western Maine include: Ellis Pond in Roxbury; North or Round ponds in Greenwood; Lake Christopher in Bryant Pond, Lake Pennesseewassee in Norway; Kezar Lake in Lovell; Stearns or Moose ponds in Sweden; or Lovewell Pond in Fryeburg, just to name a few. The Bridgton and Naples areas also have numerous waters to fish in the south, and there are scores of ponds scattered to points north. MDIFW stocks many of these waters with brook, brown and rainbow trout, and splake, as well as landlocked salmon to add to your fishing success, and the locations are listed on the website. Make sure anyone age 16 or older has a fishing license before heading out. You can easily get one using your phone or other device. Just think,
for about the price of two lift tickets to the local ski mountain, you can buy everything you’ll need to fish for the entire ice fishing season, and make countless memories with friends and family!
If you are looking for a unique fishing adventure, try ice fishing for cusk at night. Cusk are the equivalent of a fresh water cod, and are called “burbot” or “ling cod” in other regions. The traditional way to fish
for them is with either live or dead shiners, right on the bottom of deep, cold-water lakes. We often head out in early evening to set up, and once our traps are in the water, we return to the shack to sit around
the heater to play cards and enjoy some snacks and beverages. Cusk don’t typically trip the flags, so about every 20 minutes we walk to each trap and check to see if we’ve had any luck. Cusk are excellent eating, and make an amazing chowder. We’ve enjoyed some of our most amazing starry lit evenings on the ice, in exquisite quiet winter darkness, fishing for cusk.
My family has spent countless weekends fishing, sometimes spending the entire day out there. These are, by far, some of my favorite days on the ice. There is nothing more enjoyable than having three generations enjoy the great outdoors together, especially when grandkids light up the same way you did when you were a child. Years ago, our youngest son Orion
would fish in a t-shirt, despite the 10-degree days and howling winds. He’d spend most of his time running after flags, or building forts, and playing other games in the snow. Rarely could we ever get a jacket on him. Our 3-year-old grandson now does the same thing.
I guess hardy kids make resilient adults! At the end of our day, everyone is tired, and occasionally burned from the sun’s rays. And after the gear is put away, we typically end up cleaning fish in the kitchen sink, and then enjoy an over-the-top fresh dinner, regardless of what the catch of the day was.
As a registered guide, I always love to take new people out to experience the excitement. Many times I get calls or emails weeks later with questions about what to buy for equipment, or where to go for the next “big catch.” To me, that’s success! When you share your passion and skills to help build the self- confidence of a new angler, that’s what guiding is all about. I’ll bet pretty soon, your new favorite saying will be FLAG UP! Y

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