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February 2, 2016

The ground hog didn’t have much good news as concerning ice fishing this morning when he got up and we’re experiencing much the same as this winter’s warm spell is record breaking and has done much damage to whatever ice we did have. So much of this news is negative, including the news that the hugely popular Great Meredith (NH) Rotary Ice Fishing Derby has been postponed for a couple of weeks and that is with the condition that good safe ice will be available.

Dan Seufert, UNION LEADER Correspondent reports: “The unusually warm temperatures this winter and the corresponding lack of ice have prompted the organizers of the Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby to postpone the event for two weeks.”

“The derby had been scheduled for Feb. 13-14, but late Friday Rotary Club officials decided to postpone it because there’s so little ice on which to fish. The Derby is now set for February 27-28, said Donna Ulbricht, the Rotary’s executive secretary.”

“The 2016 New England Pond Hockey Classic is still set for this weekend, though it has been moved to smaller Lake Waukewan, which had ample ice covering as of Sunday.” (Ed. Note—this is probably not the good weekend to ice fish Lake Waukewan!)

 “Lake Winnipesaukee, where the event is usually held, still has very little ice and ice-in has yet to be declared. The only other time that this has happened was in 2001. This winter may be the second time, according to Dave Emerson Aviation in Gilford, who declares ice-in and ice-out each winter.”

“Emerson said his flight over the lake on Thursday showed less ice than previous flights. Normally, the ice expands and hardens during late January and early February.”

“We actually lost some ice,” Emerson said. “The open areas have broken up in large patches and moving around from the wind we’ve had the last few days. Given the current forecast for next week, it’s apparent that we will be losing ice and not gaining it.”

“Though the derby allows fish caught on any New Hampshire lake, we know a lot of our anglers like fishing Winnipesaukee, and there’s just not much ice there.”

Master New Hampshire Guide Tim Moore of Portsmouth reports: “I'm not sure what's tougher, finding safe ice to fish on, or the bite. It seems like we are working hard for every fish we catch. Less ice equates to more anglers per acre of ice. This is probably why the bite is so tough, more pressure. None the less, our clients have been catching their share of Winnipesaukee's world class white perch. Basins around 30' deep have been giving up decent catches on silver tiger colored Clam Blade Spoons.”

“Many panfish ponds have great ice and good access. There is no shortage of ponds to fish. Ice conditions being what they are, I'm still reluctant to name any particular places. Anglers should be checking for themselves. I was appalled to see a truck drive across the ice in an area I had just fished which had 8" of ice. Don't take chances out there people. It's not worth it. (

We had some very positive news from George Taylor at Taylor’s Trading Post in Madbury, heard by the very popular fishing spot—the Bellamy Reservoir.

“There’s still six inches of ice on much of the reservoir but you really have to be careful and check the ice. There’s open water down by the culvert so we wouldn’t suggest fishing anywhere near where there is running water.”

“The fishing over the weekend was terrific—we actually ran out of bait. Lots of smallish crappie, but if you moved around and were patient there were also a lot of larger crappie and some nice largemouth bass, pickerel, tons of small yellow perch and even an occasional catfish!”

“Over at Willand Pond in Dover they’ve been hitting the crappie pretty good and also some nice rainbow trout with at least one over 20 inches was caught.”

“At Pleasant Pond in Northwood there’s been some great fishing with mostly rainbow trout being caught, but we hear that there are also brook tout, some nice smallmouth bass and white perch. This pond has excellent access and parking at the Fish and Game’s property and also toilet facilities.”

“Don’t take a chance and drive a car or truck out onto the ice there, and we’d even avoid taking a snowmobile or ATV out on any of the lakes in our region.”

George also reports that any ice that had been formed on Great Bay and its tributaries has gone out and also that there have been no reports of smelts being caught anywhere in New Hampshire.

Our contacts at Dover Marine Sports say that the conditions for fishing the open water special catch and release fly-only section of the Cocheco River in Dover are not conducive to good fishing. “High water with some color and even floating ice patches have just about shut down this very popular place. But the other similar catch and release fly only section of the Lamprey River below the Wiswall Dam in Lee probably would be a better choice.

Good word about Willand Pond, virtually in sight of their store is that some nice rainbow trout have been taken and a few crappie. For crappie in numbers it was the Bellamy Reservoir that brought the most praise and if you were patient and didn’t mind wading through a lot of small ones there were some lunker crappie to be caught.

MAINE: Master Maine Guide Stu Bristol of Lyman spends a lot of time out on the ice. He claims he’s fishing but his great on-the-ice cooking seems to be a lot more productive than his actual fish catching! But he’s pretty aware of what others are doing and filed this report with us: “Anglers were more than pleased by the weather over the weekend. For the first time this winter anglers had solid ice on most of southern Maine lakes and ponds and there was very little wind. Caution is the rule still, as the winter continues to be open. Plenty of bare ground and that also means possible bad ice conditions.”

“Long Pond in Parsonfield was the place for salmon although the fish taken at daybreak were small, in the 14–18-inch range. Kennebunk Pond anglers did well on smallmouth bass in the 1-pound range and some nice 18–20-inch brown trout were hauled through the ice. A few of the derbies went off over the weekend but no whoppers reported down this way. In my travels I noticed almost every party I counted on the ice had small children and dogs, and that’s always a sign of plenty of fun even when the fish aren’t cooperating.”

“Crappie anglers were active on Wadley Pond in Lyman and Shaker Pond in Alfred. Fish were rarely over the 1-pound weight but farther north in Sabattus Pond in Greene the crappie anglers hit a bonanza with double digit catches of fish in the 2-pound plus range as well as plenty of northern pike in the 18–30-inch range.”

Dave Garcia at Naples Bait on Long Lake reports that there was a great opportunity for some real trophy landlocked salmon and trout fishing at the Presumpscot River that actually flows out of Sebago Lake.

“This is a catch and release, fly-only regulated river but you’ll find some classic water for fly fishing and there are some real trophy salmon and trout to be caught. It’s one of the few places in Maine where you can catch an honest-to-God native landlocked salmon and even an occasional native brookie.”

“Conditions on this river make for good fly fishing when the river flow is right and there usually isn’t that much competition from other anglers, especially on week days.”

Garcia also noted that the moving water under the bridge there at Long Lake provides a good opportunity for fly fishing even though, joke-fully, it’s sometimes called the world’s shortest river; it’s just a small area that’s a bottleneck that creates the flow but isn’t a river.

We’re lacking information about the big Sebago lake but we do know that the lake has yet to freeze over because of its shape and size. There’s a strong wind usually blowing that often prevents the lake to freeze until late in the winter and sometimes it never does completely freeze over.

Greg Cutting at Jordan’s Store in East Sebago loves to ice fish for the big population of togue (Maine-speak for lake trout) that this lake supports but last year his luck wasn’t as good as it has been in years past.

“You’ve really got to get out there and try different depths and spots as there really is no regular place that you can count on to hold lots of togue. They move around with the baitfish and with the new population of landlocked alewives a lot of where to find the togue depends on where the big schools of alewives are.”

KTP’s own, Donna Beyer with the latest states,” New England’s winter that isn't, continues. There are fishable ice reports of 3 1/2" inches up to 8" inches in the region, but the ice is extremely variable, even from spot to spot on the same waterbody, and with the temperatures, can change in the course of a few hours. Please use great care, and remember conditions can include moving water, wind, rocks and springs.”

“Reports from successful fishermen, mostly west and north, indicate some good fishing- fat bass, crappie, perch and pickerel, along with some nice white perch in the lakes region. Rainbows seem to be busiest for trout fishermen, with brook trout doing well. I was shown a pic of a beautiful fat salmon from a Maine lake, but was sworn to secrecy as to which one. I also saw a very pretty rainbow from southwestern Mass, but sorry, failed to note the waterbody.”

“Most people have probably heard that the Meredith Rotary Derby has been postponed two weeks by now, with the organizers hoping for more seasonally appropriate weather. This does present a good news/bad news scenario as it now conflicts with the Sebago Derby. Crystal Lake has announced cancellation of their popular contest, sadly. I have heard Long Lake went off as scheduled, but no results yet.”

Pete Santini at Fishing FINatics in Everett is counting the days until he heads south to skipper a charter boat for offshore species in the southern warm waters off the Galapagos Islands. But he still remains excited about the local fisheries and can often be found chasing the flounder and stripers in Boston Harbor.. 
“Right now the freshwater fishing in our area has been good as this state has a great trout stocking program. At this point in time, according to our sources, the hot spot for nice rainbow trout has been at the culvert outlet of Horn Pond in Woburn fishing the open and fast running water. Recently there have been some rainbows up to 20 inches taken there!”

“This has always been one of my favorite fishing spots, even in the winter and these fish will hit flies, lures and most kinds of bait, with eggs and Power Bait probably best. Small metal lures and spinners are also a good bet. So far there’s been some rainbows caught there that are worthy of being put on the wall!”

Pete also told us that there’s always holdover schoolie stripers holding around the dam and locks there at the Charles and Mystic Rivers but they are not good quality for eating and really not in that good of shape to put up much of a tussle once hooked.

Because of the inherent time restrictions of gathering fresh, up-to-date information, editing and 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 and tackle dealers, well known successful anglers and state and federal fisheries and natural resource law enforcement officials. We also welcome and use reports forwarded to us by fishermen that use this report. ~ Kittery Trading Post Fishing Report Editor

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