5 hot destinations for early ice fishing
For most anglers, ice fishing preparations are still under way. Shacks are being readied; tip ups are being checked and ice augers are being uncovered from a mountain of gear stowed in the shed. Most of the state’s waters open to ice fishing are still thickening and anticipation runs high. If you are one of the legions of ice fishing fanatics that simply cannot wait for your local spot to harden over, fear not. Head west young fisherman; December ice fishing is underway in western Maine.
In a recent Inside Inland Fisheries & Wildlife post, IFW Fisheries Biologist Elizabeth Thorndike identified five great ice fishing destinations in the mountains of western Maine where the cold temperatures and shallow waters make for an excellent early ice fishing debut.
Norcross Pond – Chesterville, Franklin County
Approximately 122 acres in size, with a maximum depth of 24 feet, Norcross Pond holds largemouth bass, white perch, chain pickerel and stocked trout. The most recent stocking of brook trout was comprised of 900 fall-yearling trout averaging 13 inches in length.
Norcross can be found on page 20 of the DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer and is accessible by a gravel launch on the Ridge Road.
Crowell Pond – Chesterville, Franklin County
At 211 acres in size, Crowell Pond is nearly twice the size of Norcross but half as deep with a maximum depth of 10 feet. Because of the shallow nature of Crowell, it is primarily a warm water fishery with plentiful vegetation that creates ideal habitat for largemouth bass, chain pickerel and white perch. IFW does stock this pond with trout for anglers wishing to pull brookies through the ice. The recent stocking included 1,150 brook trout.
Crowell Pond is accessed from Route 41 and can also be found on page 20 of the Gazetteer.
Sandy Pond – Embden, Somerset County
Sandy Pond is reasonably deep, maxing out at 41 feet. Its shoreline is lightly developed and the pond encompasses 107 acres. In anticipation of the ice fishing season, Sandy Pond received 200 spring-yearling brown trout in addition to the 250 brook trout stocked. Smallmouth bass and white perch are also likely to be taken through the ice.
Without a public access facility or boat ramp, you’ll need to get on the ice from the pond’s outlet on the Fahi Pond Road. You’ll find Sandy Pond south of Embden Pond on page 20 of the Gazetteer.
Fahi Pond – Embden, Somerset County
Just across the road and east of Sandy Pond lies the 196 acre Fahi Pond. Not nearly as deep as Sandy, Fahi Pond reaches a maximum depth of 11 feet and boasts a robust marshy riparian zone that is prime habitat for chain pickerel and white perch; it also attracts other wildlife as well. While not a sustainable cold water fishery, IFW stocks trout for hard water anglers – this year to the tune of 350 brook trout. Fahi is also known for fast fishing.
You can get on the ice from a DFIW maintained carry in boat launch on the southern end of the pond off of Eames Drive. Like the previous waters, you can find Fahi Pond on page 20 of the DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer.
Harvey Pond – Madrid, Franklin County
Consider Harvey Pond if you are introducing ice fishing to youngsters. Measuring 10 acres in size and bottoming out at 8 feet maximum, Harvey provides a great opportunity for kids to catch fish with IFW stockings of 200 fall-yearling brook trout. As an even greater incentive, 25 retired brood brook trout were released in Harvey, averaging 18-20 inches in length. Any young angler that hooks one of these specimens will have a tale to last a lifetime.
There are no boat launches or improved access sites on Harvey but you can make your way onto the ice at the southern end of the pond from Route 4.