Ice fishing for smallmouth bass on Crescent Lake in Raymond, Cumberland County, Maine (March 11, 2022)

I love the “vibe” of early-morning fog when ice fishing. It also indicates a total lack of wind!

Crescent Lake covers 716 acres and is located in Raymond, Cumberland County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 B2). Public access is via the hard-top boat launch located right off Route 85 (Webbs Mill Road) next to the small municipal beach. Plenty of parking is available on the road shoulder next to the launch. However, beware that parking space can be more limited after a snowstorm when the shoulder may be plowed in.


The sun has burned off the morning fog but my traps remain in the shadow. At this point, all four traps are also fishing in about 20 ft. of water.


Crescent Lake is part of an interconnected “chain of lakes” (the other two are Raymond Pond upstream and Panther Pond downstream) which all drain into Sebago Lake via Panther Run. The lake is moderately developed and embedded in a wooded landscape. It seems unable to support a viable salmonid fishery even though the state stocks it each fall with 200 short landlocked Atlantic salmon. A probable cause is that the limited layer of cool water at the bottom of the lake experiences a severe oxygen deficiency each summer, which greatly affects the survival and growth of the salmon as well as the abundance of the local population of rainbow smelt, the salmon’s main food source. The other reason is that Crescent Lake is full of competing species, including white perch and smallmouth bass. The latter are the target of my attention this morning. Ice fishing at this location takes place under the general fishing laws. Click here for more fisheries information and a depth map.


This 16-inch bronzeback is the largest of the three bass I caught this morning. The sizes of the fish were rather disappointing.


I arrive at the Crescent Lake boat launch at 5:45 am, and have about three hours to make something happen before I have to turn around to start my work day. It’s a gorgeous early morning: wind-still at 22°F and temps forecast to quickly climb into the mid 40’s. A thick fog hangs over the ice; I love the Impressionistic vibes. My preferred approach to catching late-winter smallmouth bass through the ice is to find a rocky shoreline with 30+ ft. of water nearby. A look at the depth map shows an area with depths ranging from 34 ft. to 10 ft. located along the eastern shoreline within 10 to 15 minutes walking across from the launch. That area will be the base of operation for this morning. It’s been my experience that bass start to congregate close to the bottom in March around these deeper waters in anticipation of their upcoming spring spawning efforts. The goal is to drill four holes in 30+ to about 15 ft. of water, and place a medium-sized shiner about 2 ft. off the bottom. Then, depending on the flag or jig action, move traps and jigging holes around to better target the school below.


View of Crescent Lake from the boat launch by Route 85. I fished the shoreline shown at the upper right-hand corner of this photo.


The walk across Crescent Lake is easy because the surface of the ice is covered by only an inch of fresh frozen snow. The ice itself is an unimpressive 16 inches thick. I drill four tip-up holes over depths ranging from 31 ft. to 15 ft., surrounded by a dozen jigging holes. Which depth will be the “sweet spot” this morning? It takes me about 30 minutes to complete the set up. I get my first flag by 7 am in the trap deployed over 19 ft. of water. When I arrive at the hole, the spool isn’t turning but the bait is gone. I send the jig down but have no takers. I rebait the trap and continue jigging elsewhere, when the same flag comes up again! This time, I set the hook on a small 13″ smallmouth. It’s not much of a fish, but the signal is clear. I drill a new hole at the same depth about 40 ft. away from my honey hole and move the deepest trap over there. I drill a second hole 40 ft. on the other side and start jigging. I soon get a jigging bite in the latter hole and bring up a 15″ smallmouth bass. That’s the confirmation I was waiting for! I string my two remaining traps over the next 30 minutes parallel to the shoreline in 18 to 22 ft. of water (note: it’s imperative to carefully check the depth at each hole), and drill lots of new jigging holes over that same depth range. It’s a lot of extra work, but generates three more flags and an additional 16″ smallmouth bass. My morning has been successful but unfortunately it’s now 9 am and my time is up. I enjoyed my outing, although the size of the bass was decidedly smaller than what I’ve caught in the past in Panther Pond next door. However, I thoroughly enjoy this kind of “active” fishing. The key to catching late-winter bass on a consistent basis is to stay flexible, observe where the bites are coming from, and adjust the location of your traps and jigging holes accordingly.


The results: I caught three smallmouth bass (largest was 16″) in 3 hours of fun, early-morning 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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