Weekly Fishing Report
Ice fishing has ended for many anglers and most bait and tackle shops are gearing up for spring open water fishing. Careful ice anglers are still finding fishable ice in many northern small lakes and ponds. Late season ice fishing offers some of the best fishing of the entire winter. Less fishing pressure on trout ponds makes them prime for some late season action. Shallow water rainbow and brook trout fishing is a favorite of many anglers who enjoy fishing in shallow water with live shiners or smelt on tip ups. In southern New England, less ice and more open water is affording anglers a chance to get their fix of spring trout, panfish, and bass fishing.
Panfish anglers will also enjoy excellent late season action as species, such as black crappie and white perch, feed aggressively and often to prepare for the spring spawn. Low light periods cause plankton to rise from the substrate, which attracts baitfish and panfish. Basins are a key area for late ice panfishing. Small pin shiners on tip ups work well, but many anglers opt for a sonar flasher and jig rod to take advantage of the often-non-stop action. Small tungsten jigs, such as the Epoxy Drop or Snow Drop jig from Clam Outdoors, tipped with spikes or plastics will prove deadly for suspended panfish early and late in the day. Take advantage of early mornings and cloudy days to catch some of freshwater’s most delicious and fun fish.
The countdown to open water fishing is down to a number of days. Many anglers have already made the switch from winter to spring fishing. Maine’s Sebago Lake has no closed season on lake trout. As long as you can access boat ramps, you can fish most areas for lake trout in open water prior to April 1. Trolling live smelt is deadly, but will likely provide many salmon, which are illegal to take until April 1. Jigging bucktail jigs, tube jigs, and spoons near the bottom in water from 20’ to 80’ will often offer up good catches of lake trout, just as they do through the ice. If you’re itching for some spring fishing, now is a good time to scratch that spring fishing itch and dust the cobwebs off the long rods.
In New Hampshire, lakes managed for landlocked salmon and lake trout close to ice fishing after March 31, but open to the taking of landlocked salmon and lake trout through open water on April 1. As long as you can find open water, you can fish…and the fishing is usually good. New Hampshire also has many trout ponds with no closed season. These lakes get stocked with trout in the fall (or earl in the winter) for ice anglers, but don’t always get fished out. They often see several weeks at the end of the ice fishing season with no fishing pressure due to unsafe ice conditions, making them prime candidates for some early spring fishing whilst you wait for the regular trout season to open, and the stocking trucks to start rolling.
When venturing out onto the ice this time of year, treat the ice as you would early in the season, as it often melts as inconsistently as it forms. As snow melts, the water will eventually drain through the ice, creating soft honeycombed ice. Check early, check often, stay safe, and be sure of the regulations as you make the switch from ice to open water fishing.
Because of inherent time restrictions of gathering fresh, up-to-date information, editing & producing this report in a timely manner, occasional errors or marginal information may slip by us. We try our hardest to provide accurate information. We urge readers to use this report as a tool to increase their fishing pleasure and not to rely on as their sole resource. First or second hand information is offered by fishing guides, commercial fishing charters or party boats, bait & tackle dealers, well-known successful anglers and state & federal fisheries and natural resources enforcement officials. We also welcome and use reports forwarded to us by fishermen that use this report. - Kittery Trading Post Fishing Report Editor