Ice fishing for largemouth bass on Island Pond in Waterford, Maine (March 14, 2015)

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Island Pond is a 166 acre body of water located in Waterford, Oxford County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 10 E5). The focus of my attention this morning is the long but narrow island found in the southern half of the pond. My aim is to put into practice some of the techniques discussed here in order to catch late-winter, pre-spawning largemouth bass. I’m particularly interested in the larger females which are heavy and bloated with eggs this time of the year. I surmise that the shoreline of the island, particularly the half facing west towards the deeper water, represents bass spawning habitat. If I’m correct, then the bass should be congregating along the drop-offs in front of those shallows like they typically do in late winter to prepare for the spring spawn. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. Note that the State has no size or bag limit for bass on this pond. I release all my bass but know from experience that this water body supports a serious largemouth bass population.

 

 

The island is on the left with the drop-off towards the right

The island is on the left with the drop-off towards the right

 

 

I arrive at Island Pond at 7:10 am and park along Island Pond Road across from the island. Earlier this morning, I had trouble finding the larger 4” or 5” shiners I like to use as bait when targeting largemouth bass. I finally found them at the general store in Harrison (located at the junction of routes 35 and 117) after much back and forth driving, which put me about 30 minutes behind schedule. I’m relieved to see that the relative warmth of the last week has transformed most of the snow on the pond into glare ice. That results in much slipping but makes it so much easier to pull the sled! The weather conditions are also PERFECT! The temperature is in the low 30’s, it is wind still, and the sky is overcast on account of a low pressure which is scheduled to blow through the region later on in the afternoon. In my experience, a low cloud deck and an approaching storm is always a winning combination when ice fishing. I am also the only one out on the pond this morning which suits me fine.

 

The final set up with the four traps fishing in 17-29 ft of water

The final set up with the four traps fishing in 17-29 ft of water

I drill my holes away from the island’s shoreline in 17 ft, 26 ft, 32 ft, and 37 ft of water and place all my baitfish 2 ft off the bottom. I have no idea where the staging bass might be located and hence target various depths along the drop-off to let the fish tell me where they are lurking. I also drill a dozen jigging holes all around the area. I get my first flag within 30 minutes in the 26 ft hole. Good! I’m on to something. The spool is running when I reach the trap. I immediately set the hook and bring up a 17” largemouth. I’m waiting for a second signal before re-arranging my traps. It comes 20 minutes later in the form of a second flag and a heavy 19” largemouth bass female from the same 26 ft hole. Niice!!! Houston, we’ve got a pattern! I drill a new hole on the deeper side of my active hole and move the trap in from the 37 ft hole. The third flag comes from the 17 ft hole and yields my third bass of the morning. Great! I drill a new hole between the 17 ft and 26 ft hole and move the trap from the 32 ft hole in this new position. I’m now concentrating all my efforts in water 17 ft to 29 ft deep.

 

 

 

That's the way we like our pre-spawn bass: big and fat!!

That’s the way we like our pre-spawn bass: big and fat!!

Over the next 1.5 hour, this more compact set up results in three additional flags and two more largemouths, one of which is a fat 21.5” (5.5 lbs.) female! I miss the sixth bass when I pull the bait out of its mouth. I quickly lower my Swedish Pimple jig to the bottom and get an immediate hit but miss the fish. Shoot! I keep on jigging and get a fierce hit which results in fish number 6. It’s now around 10 am and the action slows down markedly, as it typically does around this time of the morning. I’ve had a good time so far, and decide to stick around for a bit longer. However, the extra 1.5 hour of fishing produces only one additional bass. It really goes to show that in ice fishing the early bird gets the bite. I also jigged for over 3 hours and only caught that single fish mentioned earlier. One the other hand, all seven flags yielded bass, which is quite unusual considering their habit to drop the bait. I leave the pond at 11:30 am satisfied with my fishing experiences this morning.

 

 

 

The results: I caught seven largemouth bass (measuring from 17” to 21.5”, with the largest weighing a hefty 5.5 lbs.) in 4 hours of fishing.

 

Was the information in this blog useful? I invite you to share your thoughts and opinions. Also, feel free to discuss your fishing experiences at this location.

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