Jim’s Camps in Bowdoinham on Friday morning. Photo contributed by Katie McPherson

Ice fishing enthusiasts will have to wait a few more weeks before dropping a line after a stretch of warm weather and rain melted the ice on the Cathance River in Bowdoinham last week.

Just after Christmas, temperatures reached a high of 56 degrees, not typical for December in Maine.

Jim’s Camps in Bowdoinham, a winter smelt fishing hot spot, has yet to open.

Owner Jim McPherson said he most likely won’t open until the start of February, from the looks of the weather. Last year, he reported a short season after opening in January and closing in mid-February due to excessive wind and rain.

McPherson said that 10 years ago the weather was kinder and enabled him to open before Christmas. In recent years, the warm temperatures are pushing out his start date and shrinking his ice fishing season, he said.

“I’ve been doing this for 40-50 years, so I’ve learned that you can’t count on having a six- to eight-week-long season,” he said. “You have to prepare for what you get and be happy with that. You can’t change mother nature.”

McPherson has 20 camps he puts on the ice every winter, each equipped with a flattop stove for renters to fry up freshly caught smelt. He said most guests roll the fish in flour or cornmeal and fry it in a pan with bacon grease or butter.

Dwaine Evans of Bowdoinham said he has gone smelt fishing since he was a kid but took up ice fishing five years ago. Evans planned on breaking out his portable ice shack this weekend but was disappointed to find open water instead of ice.

“I’d rather not go swimming in the winter; been there, done that,” Evans said.

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