March 17, 2010

Derbies produce impressive catchesOUTDOORS

Now Most

— REGION A -- SOUTHWESTERN MAINE

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

Anglers were fired up for the 9th annual FET Fishing Derby, which was held on Little Ossipee Lake during President's Day weekend.

Ice conditions were a little messy with a layer of slush sandwiched between the solid ice and a thinner upper-crust/ice layer.

These conditions forced derby organizers to prohibit the use of cars and trucks on the ice, and may have been partially responsible for the slightly lower turnout than prior years. Nonetheless, there was a good turnout, a relatively good catch, and all seemed to be having a good time.

The following is a list of some of the top prizes and winners:

n First place, adult: Garon Mailmen, $3,000, 5.76-pound largemouth bass; second place, adult: Brian St. Onge, $1,000, 5.28-pound largemouth bass; third place, adult: Bob Heywood, $750, 5.19-pound largemouth bass.

n First place, children: Jacob DesRochers, $100 Savings Bond and Sony PlayStation, 2.79-pound landlocked salmon; second place, children: Zachary Brislin, $100 Savings Bond and Ipod Nano, 2.49-pound landlocked salmon; third place, children: Christian DuPaul, $100 Savings Bond and portable DVD, 1.72-pound landlocked salmon.

FET is a nonprofit group with the mission ''to promote fishing and more specifically ice fishing as a fun inexpensive family winter activity. Other major goals involve maintaining habitat and practicing ethical fishing tactics that will allow fishing to grow and prosper as a fun family-orientated activity.''

Money raised by the event will be donated to HOFNOD, Inland Fisheries Division for Fish Management and Conservation of Southern Maine Waters, Waterboro Park and other local charities.

For more information and to view past and current photos see www.fetinc.net and www.lakesidemarket.net.

Although many anglers prefer to ice fish in relative solitude, many of these same anglers also enjoy a day or two of the hustle and bustle of a well-organized derby event. And the odds of winning something are much better than your typical lottery.

Whatever your preference, the point is to get outdoors and enjoy the day and all that Maine winters have to offer.  

-- Jim Pellerin, fisheries biologist, Gray

REGION B -- SIDNEY AND BELGRADE LAKES

By now most ice anglers have noticed in the 2008 ice fishing regulations booklet that ice fishing is now open 24 hours a day.

In short, except as otherwise provided by law, if a particular water is open to ice fishing, it is open around the clock.

Some anglers have taken advantage of this new regulation, while others have questions regarding the practicality of the regulation.

It may be helpful to examine some of the advantages of night fishing. Perhaps, most importantly, is the fact that some species such as perch, crappie and smelts are much more susceptible to night fishing than others.

The best way to take advantage of these species is to place a well-secured light source facing downward into a hole. If you don't have a waterproof light, hanging it over the hole works well too.

This will attract a variety of microscopic plankton to the light source. Be patient for the plankton to appear. The longer the light source has to penetrate into the water, the more abundant the plankton will become.

In a relatively short time, the light also will attract smaller fish that feed on the plankton. As the feeding activity of the smaller fish increases, it will attract larger fish, anxious to feed on the smaller fish.

It's recommended to drill your fishing holes in close proximity to the light source prior to placing the light to start attracting the plankton. This will prevent the fish from spooking once they start feeding.

Jigging with a small Swedish pimple or similar lure tipped with a piece of worm is the preferred method.

The predatory fish will see the flash from the pimple if you jig it just on the outside perimeter of the light.

This technique will be more productive in waters that have an abundance of warm-water fish species. As examples, try some of the following waters: Unity Pond in Unity, Indian Pond in St. Albans, Messalonskee Lake in Sidney, Sebasticook Lake in Newport, Hermon Pond in Hermon, and Woodbury Pond in Litchfield.

-- Scott Davis, fisheries specialist, Belgrade Lakes

REGION C -- DOWNEAST

Last week was February vacation for elementary and high schools, and children all over the state were looking for ways to enjoy their time away from the classroom.

One of the best wintertime activities is ice fishing. To get children hooked on fishing it's best to take them to lakes and ponds where they will have fast action.

We suggest outings to waters with fish that bite readily, such as chain pickerel, which eagerly come to baits placed a foot and a half off bottom.

Here are the best chain pickerel waters in Down East Maine, guaranteed to give children tight lines all day long: Seal Cove Pond in Tremont, Somes Pond in Mount Desert, Scammon Pond in Eastbrook, Orange Lake in Whiting, Chalk Pond in Beddington, Pocomoonshine Lake in Princeton, First & Second Chain lakes in T 26 ED, Gardner Lake in East Machias, Upper West Bay Pond in Gouldsboro, Bog Brook Flowage in Beddington, Spectacle Pond in Osborn, Graham Lake in Otis, Rocky Pond in T 22 MD, Georges Pond in Franklin, Flanders Pond in Sullivan, Upper Patten Pond in Surry, Holbrook Pond in Holden, and Fields Pond in Orrington.

For lake trout anglers I recommend going to West Grand Lake, where the action has been fast for trout between 17 and 23 inches with occasional fish above 10 pounds.

Speaking of lakers over 10 pounds, Green Lake in Ellsworth has produced more than its share this winter and still is a good bet for larger togue.

The main portion of Tunk Lake recently froze over and anglers started fishing it in earnest. The fishing has been fast for lake trout between 15 and 22 inches. However, last weekend's warm weather and rain have set safe ice conditions back, so anglers are urged to exercise caution when fishing Tunk Lake. Be particularly careful near the outlet, any tributary streams, around rocky shoals and points and in the deep areas in main part of the lake.

Take a child fishing and have safe week.

-- Greg Burr, assistant regional fisheries biologist, Jonesboro

REGION D -- WESTERN MOUNTAINS

Another week with another winter storm as we end school vacation week.

In the last week, we have started to see lake trout catch rates increase at Porter Lake in New Vineyard and Clearwater Lake in Industry along with some lunkers still being caught in Pleasant Pond, Caratunk (11.5 pounds on Feb. 16) and a 5-pound lake trout caught in Porter.

Oaks Pond in Skowhegan and Wentworth Pond in Solon are still producing nice splake and brook trout even with decreased fishing effort. The trick with both of these ponds is to move your traps around. If you are not catching fish, it's a good indication that you should move your traps to other areas around the pond.

Wilson Pond in Wilton is still producing salmon and some lake trout.

Travel on most of the ponds in the region is somewhat difficult, making snowmobiles and snowshoes the best choices.

Due to the recent combination of rain and snow, there are areas on Porter, Clearwater, Wentworth and Wilson lakes that have 2 feet of snow along with a thick layer of slush and water under the snow.

Also, since the severe winds a week ago Monday, lake travel on Porter and Clearwater lakes was very rough due to the drifts. The combination of these two factors and the low temperatures over the weekend caused many ice shacks to blow over and freeze in the slush.

I observed several concerned fishermen chipping and elevating shacks on lakes across the region (this includes me).

The best advice I have is to keep tabs on your shack and anticipate that you may have to do some jacking and blocking when you go out to fish.

Hopefully, we will get some more cold weather this week to harden up the snow and slush and make travel easier for people walking as well as those using four-wheelers.

I also expect lake trout fishing to pick up over the next few weeks. The good fishing should continue into March.

Fishermen should be sure to respect landowner rights when they access ponds, and take care not to litter. If you do see bottles, cans or trash on the ice, do yourself and other ice fishermen a favor and pick them up.

-- Ethan Tracy, fisheries technician, Region D

REGION E -- MOOSEHEAD LAKE REGION

The ice fishing continues be very good throughout the region. Anglers are still catching lots of togue in Moosehead Lake.

We encourage folks to come out and take advantage of the very liberal bag limits. Remember, starting this winter, the daily bag limit is two lake trout over 18 inches and there is no size or bag limit on lake trout under 18 inches.

These regulations may only be around for a few years, so now is the time to give Moosehead a try. You really can't go wrong selecting a place to fish. Lake trout are abundant throughout the lake.

The word trickling in from up north indicates some of our other waters are fishing just fine. We've had reports of excellent fishing on Allagash Lake. It seems the brook trout and lake trout are biting well. Lobster Lake is a little slow, but one party reported catching an 8-pound laker earlier this month.

Both Allagash and Lobster lakes are only open in February.

Scattered reports from Chesuncook Lake have also been positive. We saw some pictures of a nice catch of salmon from Chesuncook Lake last week. The salmon appeared to be in very good shape, which may be an indication that our liberalization of the bag limit is starting to have an impact.

The salmon were getting very thin a few years back due to stockpiling after we implemented special restrictive regulations. It was a clear case of too many mouths to feed and not enough food.

The fishing in the West Branch above Chesuncook Lake was also pretty good this fall.

Traveling was good last weekend with just a few pockets of slush here and there, although Monday's rain probably didn't help. But, a few cold nights will set up the snowpack.

-- Tim Obrey, regional fisheries biologist, Moosehead Lake Region

REGION F -- PENOBSCOT

Here we are about midway through the 2008 ice fishing season and what a season it has been. Snow, rain, freezing rain and slush has made ice fishing somewhat challenging at times.

Anglers are picking up some better than average fall yearling brook trout at Molunkus Lake in T1R5 WELS, Upper Cold Stream Pond in Lincoln, Cold Stream Pond in Enfield, Upper Pond in Lincoln, Harris Pond in Milo and Silver Lake in Lee. Fish taken range in length from 12 to 16 inches and are most welcome in those lakes and ponds that might not provide much opportunity otherwise.

The results are in from the 46th annual Schoodic Lake Fishing Derby and they are impressive. Anglers could fish Schoodic Lake, Seboeis Lake and Ebeemee Lake on both Saturday and Sunday.

Estimates from Schoodic Lake on Saturday indicate that about 1,000 to 1,200 anglers were on the ice enjoying a great day. Although no monsters were entered, some handsome fish took the prizes.

All the top slots for togue weighed about 7 pounds, with a 7.1-pounder placing first that was caught by Hazen Conlogue. A 5.3-pound fish caught by Wade Pinkam was entered for the first place salmon, with 5 and 4.4 pounders in second and third.

First place trout was a 2.1-pound splake from Seboeis. The prize for the biggest fish caught by a boy under 16 went to Cody Cobby of Brownville for a 27-inch togue that weighed 5.84 pounds. The prize for a girl under 16 went to Krishanna Cook or Brownville for a 22-inch togue weighing 2.9 pounds.

A Family Fishing Day also was held at Jerry Pond in Millinocket on Sunday. A total of 25 brook trout from 12 to 17 inches were caught, with the largest weighing in at almost 3 pounds. More than 300 hotdogs and gallons of hot chocolate were served.

Kudos goes to The Millinocket Fin and Feather Club for sponsoring this ever-popular event. For some excellent pictures from the Jerry Pond Family Fishing Day, go to http://ffc.50webs.org/fin.html

Jerry Pond is one of the ponds in the region that we stock with fall yearling brook trout and is ''kids only.'' Other ''kids only'' waters throughout the region include Pickerel Pond in T32MD, Upper Pond in Lincoln and Rock Crusher Pond in Island Falls.

Today ends this weekend's 10th annual East Grand Fishing Derby sponsored by the East Grand Snowmobile Club. This derby includes East Grand Lake, Brackett Lake, Deering Lake and North Lake. As in past years, the grand prize is $1,000 cash along with a lifetime Maine fishing license for the Maine resident youth winner. Buy a ticket in your kid or grandkid's name even if you don't intend to fish.

Ice conditions are good on all lakes involved in the derby, with ice thickness from 18 to 24 inches most everywhere. For more information, please call Buck Plummer at 448-7018.

-- Nels Kramer, fisheries biologist, Enfield

REGION G -- AROOSTOOK COUNTY

Hopefully, the rain that fell last week will firm up the surface so that one can walk without breaking through into the foot of slush that had built up.

Although the travel on sled was good on the lakes, anyone pulling a tote-sled that hit slush was very lucky if they escaped without getting stuck.

Once a hole was cut, the water spread quickly and created miserable conditions for tending tip ups. We observed tracked rigs and snowsleds meeting their fate in slush on the lakes we surveyed out of the Scraggly Lake camp.

I have encountered several old acquaintances this winter while conducting our creel surveys. Many of these people we only see during this season and it is enjoyable to get caught up.

We are encouraged to hear that the fishing on Square Lake is apparently improving for size quality on salmon. Eliminating salmon stocking and liberalizing bag limits may be having a positive effect on allowing the smelt population to rebound.

This is our largest lake in the Fish River Chain with a history of excellent salmon fishing. I suggest that anglers who have given up on Square Lake in recent years take a trip before the season ends on March 15.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about a fox that had visited anglers on Millimagassett Lake. I have since received digital photos of this animal from one of the parties that the fox visited. Is he curious or being sly?

-- David Basley, fisheries biologist, Ashland

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