Anglers Adam Farrington from Poland and Rene Lavoie from Lewiston show off a beautiful Upper Range Pond rainbow trout. Photo courtesy of Tom Roth

As January throws her icy cloak over the region, ice forms on our lakes and ponds. Although it will be some time until the big lake freezes, numerous smaller ponds in the area are generally safe to fish. There is nothing like drilling that first hole of the year and dropping your bait down the hole in anticipation of what will strike. This is ice fishing season!

Last year, we were on Sebago in late January with plenty of ice on Jordan Bay. Although the Farmer’s Almanac calls for a harsh and cold winter, we shall see if we get out there that soon in 2020. If you are like me, you are chomping at the bit to get in some hardwater angling, so look toward the smaller bodies of water that freeze first.

In Standish, the Otter Ponds are heavily stocked with brook trout and provide some great January ice-angling. Otter Ponds #2 and #4 are the ones to hit. You will catch a mess of smaller trout in the 10- to 13-inch range, but several lunkers in the 16-inch range have been stocked this past fall. This is a great spot to take the kids, as the action is fairly good. I like to bait my traps with a combination of worms, small shiners and artificial bait such as Berkley’s Power Bait, a shapeable dough that comes in a variety of colors. I prefer the orange color with glitter.

Thomas Pond in Casco also freezes up quickly and is stocked with brook trout. This fall, the folks at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife dumped 300 13-inch brookies in the pond, then added 15 17-inch monsters. Thomas Pond also has a good selection of other fish, to include bass, yellow and white perch, sunfish and pickerel, so the flags should be popping. Small shiners, worms and power bait will catch fish on Thomas Pond.

Trickey Pond in Naples is another early hot-spot and it has variety, to boot. Stocked with salmon, brook trout and splake, Trickey is sure to excite any die-hard ice angler. Trickey Pond also holds large- and smallmouth bass and the bass fishery is excellent in the summer months. I’d use medium shiners if targeting salmon and shiners and worms if after brook trout or splake. I would also try jigging a small spoon from the shoreline out to 30 feet, in varying depths, targeting brook trout and splake.

To the North, the Range Pond chain (Middle, Upper and Lower Range Ponds) in Poland host a cornucopia of fish for early season anglers. Stocked with rainbow, brook and brown trout, these ponds freeze early and attract a lot of anglers to their smorgasbord. Several 21-inch rainbows were stocked this past spring and prove to be spirited. Upper Range Pond and Middle Range Pond are stocked with all three trout. Lower Range Pond only gets brook trout and brown trout. Bass are abundant in all the ponds and often show up as winter catches.

Sebago Lake is home base for me and I do most of my fishing on her ice. The lure of whopper lake trout is too much to resist. Generally, Jordan Bay freezes up by February, so you can be sure I’ll be out checking the thickness with my chisel daily. Be safe and let’s have a great start to the ice angling season next month!

Tom Roth is a freelance outdoor writer who lives in Raymond on the shore of Sebago Lake. He has been fishing and hunting in this region for more than 30 years and is a Registered Maine Guide.

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