From staff reports

Open-water fishing season opened a week early Thursday when Gov. John Baldacci signed an emergency law for all lakes, ponds and brooks — except those with specific opening-day regulations that start after April 1.

“People have been anxious to drop their lines given that ice fishing season ended too soon in some parts of the state, with many lakes and ponds experiencing early ice-out conditions,” said Roland Martin, commissioner for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “We’re happy to provide this opportunity to anglers, and remind them to be mindful of early spring cold-water conditions by being safe.”

Bag and size limits contained in the 2008-09 open-water fishing law book will be in effect. A new fishing law book that combines ice fishing and open-water fishing rules, including several new regulations, becomes effective April 1. The law book is available where fishing licenses are sold.

Open-water fishing season historically begins April 1, but unseasonably warm weather has opened up waterways throughout the state.