AUGUSTA — Good news, Maine anglers: Spring fishing is coming early, and you might have better results than expected at this time of year.

Maine’s open-water fishing season begins Thursday – two weeks ahead of the usual April 1 start – in response to the unseasonably warm weather and lack of ice, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife announced Wednesday.

“Many lakes in southern and even central Maine are completely ice-free. The lower-than-average snowfall also means that rivers and streams are at low springtime flow levels, making for easier fishing,” the department said in a media release. “Anglers are likely to find more fish available in waters that were stocked last fall. Poor ice conditions meant less time for ice fishing, leaving many trout and salmon that normally would have been caught in the winter still there for spring anglers.”

The bumped-up opening day does not apply to waters with special opening dates that start after April 1, however, or change any policies for water bodies that are currently open or closed to ice fishing.

With water temperatures life-threateningly low, department officials cautioned fishermen who head out in boats to wear life preservers to improve their survival odds should they end up in the water.