Ice fishing for pickerel on Panther Pond, Raymond, Maine (January 26, 2014)

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Panther Pond covers 1,439 acres and is located in Raymond, Cumberland County (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 B2). Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. My 11-year old nephew Christian calls me up in the late morning to ask if I want to go ice fishing with him. I wasn’t planning on it because I’ve been toiling since 6 am to complete a project for work. On the other hand, I’ve been locked up for too long and need to breathe in some fresh air. I tell him that I can spare a few hours to go pickerel fishing with him on Panther Pond. Our target is the large shallow bay just south of the peninsula called Betty’s Neck. The bay, which has a maximum depth of about 4 ft, is a reliable area for catching pickerel, yellow perch, and even an occasional largemouth bass through the ice. Access to the bay is via a snowmobile trail which starts at Giselle Lane, located off Route 121 just before the pond appears on the right (going north).


This bay is shallow and has lots of pickerel

This bay is shallow and has lots of pickerel



We park the car on Giselle Lane, unpack the gear, get on the ice at around 2 pm and walk right across the bay to the other side next to a small island where the water is deepest. That section of the bay is also bordered to the north by a marshy area and has aquatic vegetation to attract and hold our target fish species. Frankly, I’m not expecting much today because ice fishing action is typically slow in the afternoon. On the other hand, it is overcast and low light is always better than bright light. The temperature is in the high 20’s and it is also wind still. I feel alive just being outside and on the ice!


Christian checks a trap

Christian checks a trap

I drill 10 holes all over the area and place my baitfish a foot off the bottom. We get our first flag while still setting up the traps, which is always encouraging. That flag is triggered by a 14” pickerel. We get two more pickerel flags over the next 20 minutes. I finally complete setting out all the traps. The bite slows down. We walk over to where two other people are ice fishing and strike up a pleasant conversation with them. We then experience an outstanding feeding flurry when 7 flags pop up in about 10 minutes. Christian and I are running ourselves ragged from one end of our fishing area to the other. I have four traps sitting on the ice at one point because I don’t have enough time to bait them before another flag needs tending.




That's one nice (but rather skinny) 22" pickerel!

That’s one nice (but rather skinny) 22″ pickerel!

Christian is having a grand time. He’s still a novice at ice fishing but is quickly learning about gently setting the hook and giving line to the fish during a fight, if necessary. His newly-learned skills are put to the test when he hooks into a really nice pickerel. He controls himself by not yanking the fish through the hole but giving it line and allowing it to tire out under the ice. He’s rewarded by landing a 22” pickerel, the biggest fish he’s ever caught! He beams from ear to ear, overjoyed! I’m thrilled for him because I know that he’ll remember this particular fish for a long time to come…






A young mind is being molded into an ice fisherman!

A young mind is being molded into an ice fisherman!

The feeding flurry stops just as fast as it started and things are quiet for a good hour. We walk around to stay warm, talk fish, lay down on the ice to look at a school of small yellow perch through one of our holes, and make sure that each hook is baited. I’m about to call it quits when we get a mini feeding flurry of four flags over about 20 minutes, which yields the last pickerel of the afternoon. It’s now past 4:30 pm and getting dark. We pack up and leave after a fun time on the ice. We ended up with 16 fish flags, and landed six pickerel plus one yellow perch. Christian rubs in that he caught the largest fish this afternoon, and I’m sure to tell him that he’s becoming one heck of an ice fisherman ; )





The results: I caught 2 pickerel (14” and 18”) and a small yellow perh, whereas Christian caught 4 pickerel (largest = 22”).


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