As we approach the traditional start of the ice fishing season, conditions vary across the Moosehead Lake Region. Anglers have been fishing the smaller ponds for a week or two. Many of these ponds are stocked with fall yearling brook trout that average 12-14 inches as well as some retired brood stock that could exceed 18 inches. Water like Fitzgerald Pond, Prong Pond, and Harlow Pond have all seen some early season success. Of course Moosehead Lake is mostly open water at this time with a little ice in the smaller coves. Reports from up north indicate that the ponds and lakes have frozen over but with only a few inches of ice. A fresh coat of snow can be very deceiving so anglers should be extremely careful. No fish is worth the risk of a dip in the lake this time of year.
This winter marks the 6th year of the Moosehead Lake Togue Derby. The derby was created in an effort to assist the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife manage the coldwater fisheries in Maine’s largest lake. In 2008, the wild lake trout population was in the midst of a boom and while normally more fish is desirable, in this case, there were too many mouths to feed in Moosehead Lake. The main forage fish, rainbow smelt, was very scarce and the growth of togue and salmon was suffering. Togue regulations were liberalized and the derby was created to help bring more anglers to the lake and harvest the plentiful togue. In just 3 years, anglers had removed more than 85,000 togue. This allowed the smelt population to rebound resulting in fat, healthy salmon and togue. Money raised from the derby is donated to several non-profits including the Natural Resource Education Center at Moosehead, which has a Fisheries Internship/Enhancement program. This program funds college interns and other research projects that directly benefit the fisheries in the Moosehead Lake Region. Over the past 5 years the derby has raised thousands of dollars for charity, increased the number of winter anglers for local businesses, and is helping IFW reach its management goals for the lake. So, mark your calendar and please come join us this winter on January 25-27th!
Submitted by: Tim Obrey – Regional Fisheries Biologist