ice fishing for bass: eight proven tactics to catch more of them

Contrary to popular lore, smallmouth and largemouth bass do bite under the ice. In fact, I’ve caught some of my biggest bass that way! But we have to adjust our tactics in response to the wintery conditions. The fish congregate on the bottom and are lethargic and slow. They only eat a small fraction of what they would normally eat in the summer. But here’s the thing: they do need to feed and can therefore be caught.  Below are some ways to catch more bass under the ice.

 

Bass fishing through hard water is a blast!

Bass fishing through hard water is a blast!

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Landlocked salmon fishing on Sebago Lake, Cumberland County, Maine (October 8, 2012)

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Sebago Lake (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 C1) is considered a prime landlock salmon fishery in southern Maine. The state enhances the natural reproduction that occurs in the Crooked River by stocking the lake with juvenile salmon annually in the spring. I arrive in East Sebago off Route 114 at 9:30 am and am picked up at the shoreline by my sons Joel and Jonathan who have been trolling the area since early morning. They have focused their attention above and around the sunken ridge that lays about 1.5 miles to the east of East Sebago. This ridge rises from >100 ft deep and levels off about 35-40 ft below the surface of the water. It’s a fine morning: cool (lower 40’s), mostly overcast with heazy sunshine, and a gentle southwestern breeze. Rain is forecast for late afternoon. The surface water temperature varies from 59° to 61°F, and the fish finder marks fish 15-30 ft down. We’re using downriggers to troll our lures at these depths.  We present spoons of different shapes and colors to figure out what the salmon want today. Jonathan caught an 11” baby salmon on a yellow-colored Mooselook spoon before my arrival. We seriously tease him about it!

 

 

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Ogunquit River, Ogunquit, Maine

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View of the lower reach of the Ogunquit River

The Ogunquit River originates west of Highway 95 in the town of Wells and flows in an easterly direction underneath Highway 95 towards the town of Ogunquit. It reaches the ocean at Ogunquit Beach after flowing underneath Route 1. The stream is accessible either from Route 1 or from the washed-out bridge on Old County Road off Tatnic Road. Keep in mind that parking on Route 1 is problematic. The stretch of river most popular with trout anglers flows for about 1.5 miles between Highway 95 and Route 1.

 

 

 

 

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Trolling for landlocked Atlantic salmon on lakes: 13 tips to increase your catch

Many freshwater anglers view the landlocked Atlantic salmon as the King of Fish. And for good reason: pound for pound, no other species has the power, strength, and stamina of this beautiful creature. Seeing a 24” landlock arch high into the air after it is hooked is a heart-stopping experience! This subspecies of Salmo salar is a dwarf variety of the mighty sea-run Atlantic salmon. Even though the landlocked salmon remains relatively small in size, it has lost none of the superb fighting and jumping qualities of its larger anadromous cousin.

Here are some proven tips to increase your chances of catching these magnificent fighters.

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Trout and salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Somerset County, Maine (May 29, 2012)

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Pierce Pond is a magnificent, remote, 1,650 acre (maximum depth = 185 ft) lake located in the shadow of Pierce Pond Mountain deep in Somerset County in southwestern Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2). It consists of three basins (Lower, Middle, and Upper Pond) which are connected to each other by shallow thoroughfares. The surrounding watershed is entirely forested and forever protected from future development. The whole shoreline is rugged and undeveloped, except for Cobb’s Camp where we’re staying for four days. Several unimproved access points are located in the lower and upper basins.

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Native brook trout fishing in remote ponds in Baxter State Park, Maine

Baxter State Park offers a genuine wilderness setting. Most people know the park for the spectacular Mount Katadhin hike, including the one-of-a-kind Knife’s Edge Trail. Yet Baxter also offers a tremendous variety of outdoors opportunities which I decided to explore in-depth during a five-day hiking/camping/fishing trip with my son Joel in mid-September, 2012. As a serious bonus, the park offers some of the best native brook trout fishing opportunities on unspoiled ponds found anywhere in the state of Maine.

The hike started at Trout Brook Farm, located about 3 miles west of the northern entrance to Baxter State Park at Matagamon Gate (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 51 A1) and was scheduled to end at the Roaring Brook campground (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 51 C1). Click here for downloadable maps of the ponds and the hiking trails on this itinerary.

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Trout fishing on Trout Brook in Baxter State Park, Maine (September 18, 2012)


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Trout Brook in late summer, Baxter State Park, Maine

Trout Brook in late summer, Baxter State Park, Maine

Trout Brook flows roughly parallel with the Park Tote Road (a.k.a. Perimeter Road) in the northern part of Baxter State Park. The brook originates in the western reaches of the park and empties into Grand Lake Matagamon to the east. The substrate consists mostly of coarse sand, pebbles, and cobbles interspersed by many large boulders. The water has a slightly stained color but is otherwise clear and clean.

 

 

 

 

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Pike fishing on Sabattus River, Lisbon Center, Maine (June 23, 2012).


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I’m taking my canoe to fish the Sabattus River just before it enters the Androscoggin River at the boat launch off Route 196 in Lisbon Center (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 6 A1). The Sabattus River starts at Sabattus Pond, which is one of the premier northern pike lakes in the area. The pike drop down the Sabattus River and congregate in the area above the boat launch, which is the spot I’m targeting today.  It’s relatively shallow (< 5 ft), quite weedy, and has little or no current: ideal pike habitat.

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Trout and salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Somerset County, Maine (May 28, 2012)

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Click here for the story of the first two days

It’s day 3 of our annual Pierce Pond fishing expedition. Salvador and I are back on Lower Pierce Pond at 5 am to troll for landlocked salmon and brook trout for 1.5 hrs before breakfast (note: the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife stocks the pond with landlocked salmon in the spring. Check the web site associated with this blog for more stocking details). Even though my fish finder is on, I don’t pay enough attention to the bottom contour and end up wedging my trolling weight in a shallow rock pile. It’s a real mess: the wind blows us off the rock pile, my downrigger is jammed, and our fishing lines are scrambled up. It takes us about 20 minutes to untangle the mess which, to our surprise, yields a 12″ brookie for Salvador. The fish must have taken the Mooselook spoon before we got stuck, but was just too small to trigger the release mechanism on the downrigger. It’s hardly glorious, but Salvador finally caught his first trout!

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Trout and salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Somerset County, Maine (May 26, 2012).

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Pierce Pond is a magnificent, remote, 1,650 acre (maximum depth = 185 ft) lake located in the shadow of Pierce Pond Mountain deep in Somerset County in southwestern Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2). It consists of three basins (Lower, Middle, and Upper Pond) which are connected to each other by shallow thoroughfares. The surrounding watershed is entirely forested and forever protected from future development. The whole shoreline is rugged and undeveloped, except for Cobb’s Camp where we’re staying for four days. Several unimproved access points are located in the lower and upper basins. The state stocks this lake with juvenile landlocked salmon each spring after ice-out. The adult salmon don’t grow particularly big: a 3-pounder is considered a nice fish, whereas a 4-pounder is exceptional. But they are relatively plentiful and do not shy away from sipping flies or pounding on a spoon. The brook trout are all natives and can also reach 3 to 4 pounds.

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