“January 1 marked opening day for ice fishing season,” said Warden Alan Dudley.
While some lakes have frozen solid enough to support fishermen and their vehicles, Dudley said anyone venturing onto the ice should still use caution.
“We’ve had some unusually warm weather. We’ve had days when ice formed, followed by days of melting. It’s always wise to test the ice prior to venturing too far,” said Dudley.
Days before the season opened, Dudley said he’d already checked a few locations.
“I was out on Arnold Brook Lake. It’s frozen pretty good. The water flows slower there, so it freezes up better than places where the water flows faster,” said Dudley.
The faster the water travels, the longer it takes to freeze, Dudley explained.
“That’s why it takes rivers and streams longer to freeze up than lakes and ponds,” he said.
The Presque Isle Stream and Aroostook River still had visibly open areas of water as recently as the first weekend of January.
“Whether a person is walking or traveling by vehicle – be it snowmobile, truck or car – it’s wise to check the thickness of the ice before going far,” said Dudley.
Aroostook County fishermen will notice some changes this year, according to David Basley, regional fisheries biologist, Ashland regional headquarters.
“There are three significant changes in the 2009 fishing season for the Fish River lakes Management Region in northern Maine. Long, Cross, Square and Eagle lakes in the Fish River Chain will be open to fishing for all fish from Jan. 1 to March 31. Bag and length limits on salmon, trout and togue in these waters have not been changed,” said Basley.
The Advisory Council, according to Basley, has adopted the Fishery Division recommendation to have Madawaska Lake (including Little Madawaska Lake) in T16R4 and Westmanland, Aroostook County, remain open to fishing from Feb. 15 to March 31, with no sunset provision.
“The lake was initially opened for three years in 2005 on a trial basis and has developed into a popular winter fishery for area residents. Bag and length limits remain unchanged,” Basley said.
Basley said the Saint John River will be open to ice fishing from Jan. 1 to March 31 from the International Bridge in Van Buren downstream to the Maine/New Brunswick border at the easternmost border of the town of Hamlin.
“General border regulations will apply; see page 41 of the Ice Fishing Lawbook. Species likely to be caught include muskellunge, smallmouth bass, brook trout and smelts,” said Basley.
Officials plan to conduct surveys as the season progresses.
“Biologists from the Ashland office will be conducting weekend surveys on Beau and Glazier lakes throughout the season in 2009. Anglers will be interviewed for trip information and fish kept will be measured and weighed,” said Basley.
Officials use this time to get to know the public and collect much-needed wildlife information.
“As always, we look forward to these encounters with our customers, as the information we gain is helpful in evaluating and modifying our fisheries management programs,” Basley said.
The Warden Service, always looking for ways to promote safety, advises outdoor enthusiasts, especially this time of year, to tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. And whenever possible, travel with a companion, dress appropriately, and carry a cell phone, matches and flashlight.