The colder weather doesn't mean it's time to stop fishing. In Maine, we love ice fishing. Fishing on frozen lakes with friends and family is one of the best ways to have fun and hopefully catch dinner in the winter. The choice of bait is wide open. You can go after tasty shore-dwelling salmon, lake trout, brook trout, cusk, smelt, whitefish, and even whitefish.
In wintertime, Maine ice fishing is prevalent. The weather is cold enough for the lakes to freeze, and the fishing is excellent. In addition, it is an excellent activity for family or friends.
Ice fishing competitions are a great way to spend a winter day in Maine. They offer training where one can learn the ropes, and there are often prizes. In addition, these events bring together the community to share the joys of ice fishing and enjoying the winter in Maine.
Many Maine ice fishing guides offer new anglers the opportunity to get out on the ice without much experience. I recommend using a guide if you are new to ice fishing.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about ice fishing in Maine, from where to fish to the best bait to use and even some tips on keeping yourself warm.
When Can You Ice Fish in Maine
Maine offers plenty of ice fishing opportunities for anyone who loves to get on the lake in the winter.
Maine is open from fall when the ice forms until December 31st for all fish except trout, salmon, bass, and tongue. From January 1st until March 31st, ice fishing is open for all fish.
Types of Fish Ice fishing in Maine
Maine has plenty of species of fish to offer during the winter months. Fish species include landlocked salmon, brook trout, lake trout, winter smallmouth bass, northern pike, musky, chain pickerel, white perch, crappie, yellow perch, largemouth bass, white sucker, lake trout.
I have listed below the different types of fish for popular ice fishing locations in Maine.
Moosehead Lake: lake trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass, and landlocked salmon.
East Grand Lake: lake trout, brook trout, landlocked salmon, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, white perch, eel.
Sebago Lake: northern pike, largemouth bass, black crappie, white perch, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel.
Allagash Lake: salmon, lake trout, brook trout, burbot, northern pike, lake whitefish.
Portage Lake: northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass, landlocked salmon, brook trout, yellow perch, white crappie.
Eagle Lake: rainbow trout, brook trout, landlocked salmon.
Long Lake: northern pike, walleye, crappie, lake trout, brook trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, channel catfish.
Sabattus Pond: largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, chain pickerel, white perch, yellow perch, black crappie.
Lake Wassookeag: largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, brook trout, lake trout, landlocked salmon, brown bullhead, American eel, white perch, yellow perch, white sucker.
Best Maine Ice Fishing Spots and Lakes
Maine offers some of the best ice fishing in the U.S. East Grand Lake, Moosehead, and Sebago Lake are the best lakes. Fish in these lakes are usually winter trout, perch, and pike. Below I have listed all my favorite Ice Fishing hot spots in Maine.
- Moosehead Lake is my favorite and one of Maine's most popular lakes to ice fish. Located in southern Maine, Moosehead Lake offers some of the best ice fishing in the USA.
- East Grand Lake is a famous ice-fishing lake in the middle of Maine. Anglers come here to catch a variety of fish every winter. The most popular species to catch are bass and brook trout.
- Sebago Lake is a popular place for ice fishing if you enjoy catching large trout. It's such a big lake that it sometimes won't completely freeze. The best time to go there is in February. When the weather gets warmer, the fish bite much better.
- Allagash Lake, located in northern Maine, is a great remote lake for ice fishing. Located on the Allagash Waterway, Allagash Lake is fully stocked with trout, salmon, and pike.
- Portage Lake has excellent ice fishing offering large trout and salmon that can reach up to ten pounds.
- Eagle Lake is very popular for its salmon, brook trout, and rainbow trout. Eagle Lake is very popular among locals during the ice fishing season. Many smaller lakes flow into Eagle Lake, including St. Froid Lake, Cross Lake, and Square Lake.
- Long Lake in Sinclair, Maine, is very popular for Ice fishing during winter. Long Lake hosts various fish and has a very welcoming local town nearby.
- Sabattus Pond, located in southeast Maine, offers excellent ice fishing. Fish are fully stocked, and the upkeep is one of the best. The main fish here is the pike, which weighs up to 20 pounds!
- Lake Wassookeag is located in Dexter, Maine, and offers lots to do during the winter season. This beautiful lake offers fantastic ice fishing with a large variety of fish. Lake Wassookeag is split into two parts with a dam in between. Each lake has its own rules, which you can find here.
Tackle and Clothing
Having the proper clothing and fishing tackle for your ice fishing trip is crucial for having a good time. There is nothing worse than feeling cold. It makes the trip miserable.
I have listed below all of the vital clothing and tackle I take when Maine ice fishing.
Clothing for Maine Ice Fishing
I always dress for the cold with many thermal layers. Being too hot is never a problem because you can take layers off. However, getting caught out and being too cold is never a good experience.
- Insulated boots so your feet don't get cold.
- Waterproof pants with insulation to keep your legs dry.
- Thermal socks keep your feet warm and snug inside your boots.
- Thermal gloves, so your hands stay warm. Fishing is tough and painful with cold hands.
- Insulated rainproof jacket to keep your body insulated from the wind and weather.
- Hot hand warmers for rapid heat of your hands and body.
Fishing Tackle for Ice Fishing
Here's a list of fishing tackle I like taking with me when going on an ice fishing trip.
- A jigging rod is a small fishing rod. Bait is dropped into the hole instead of cast.
- A spinning reel is used with a jigging rod.
- Ice fishing trap is a device that comes in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Ice fishing traps have a flag on top which moves and stands up when you have a bite.
- Ice picks in case of an emergency to climb out of the water.
- Sounder is a depth finder, so you know how deep the water is and find the perfect depth to fish.
- Variety of jigs for jig fishing.
- Ice fishing sled for transporting equipment and tackle easily.
Ice Fishing for Trout in Maine
I generally believe that trout focus on small forage fish in winter, so baits that flash silver attract them best. Jigs and spoons are the best bait for this kind of fishing. A double rod setup that's allowed and legal is the most effective way to catch the trout in winter. One rod with live bait or jig was set up on a tip-up, and the second with a spoon fished up and down reasonably aggressively.
Ice Fishing for Musky and Pike in Maine
To catch bigger fish, I usually use live baits, sunfish, shiners, and other similar baitfish to attract these beasts, assuming local law allows their use.
You will need bigger hooks, a heavier line, a steel leader, and a stronger tip-up for equipment. Using heavier gear going after Pike and Musky will give you the best chance of success.
Take tools like a hook remover to help you remove the hook and protect your hands to prevent getting bitten by a pike.
Ice Fishing for Bluegill, Crappie, Perch, and Sunfish in Maine
Jigs and spoon baits are my go-to baits for catching crappie. For bait, use minnows, wax worms, or prepared baits. If possible, fish 15 to 30 feet deep. Adjust the depth as needed.
I always use Jigs if I'm fishing on the bottom and spoons higher up in the water.
Get Your Maine Fishing License
Anyone 16 years or older must purchase a fishing license to fish.
Fishing licenses can be purchased online or at most town offices. You are required to keep your license on you while you fish. If purchased online, a copy saved on your mobile phone is acceptable.
Always check the fishing laws and rules for the area you will be fishing as the rules change throughout the state.
Fishing on frozen lakes is more dangerous than typically in the summer. There is a risk of hypothermia if the correct measures are not taken.
Check with locals if it's safe to go out on the ice. Only go out on a lake if the ice is thick enough for ice fishing. Ice should be at least four inches thick; otherwise, it's not suitable to support the weight of someone walking on it.
If you have no experience with ice fishing, hire a guide to help you navigate the ice and keep you safe.
Safety is paramount when you go ice fishing. Plan your trip and check weather forecasts to prepare when you arrive.
Try to go out on the lake with someone. If you go alone, tell a friend or family member where you are going and take a phone so you can contact them if needed.
Being safe will make your trip much more enjoyable.
Popular Questions People Ask About Ice Fishing in Maine
Here is a list of questions that many people ask about ice fishing in Maine.
How late can you ice fish in Maine?
You can Ice fish in Maine until March 31st.
Can you fish in Maine in the winter?
Maine has excellent ice fishing in the winter. Spending time at frozen water lakes is an excellent opportunity to have a good time and hopefully catch a meal in the winter.
Can you fly fish in the winter in Maine?
You can fly fish on George river all year round, even in the winter. Fishing is allowed on this river all year and makes excellent winter fishing.
Can you ice fish Moosehead Lake, Maine?
Ice fishing on Moosehead lake is prevalent and a big part of history in Maine. The lake has many beautiful views and cozy lakeside cabins. Moosehead Lake is a great place to come for your winter fishing fun.
What is the best month to ice fish in Maine?
March is the best time to ice fish in Maine. The weather has warmed up slightly and is much more enjoyable to fish. The best month to ice fishing in Maine.
How thick is the ice in Maine?
Ice on Maine lakes has to be over 4 inches thick to be safe for Ice fishing and walking on. 5 to 6 inches for snowmobiles and ATVs. 8 to 12 inches thick for cars.
Can you ice fish in northern Maine?
Yes, ice fishing in northern Maine is a very popular sport. Many people from around the area and out of state come to northern Maine each year to experience ice fishing.
Ice Fishing in Maine this Winter
I hope this guide gives you some great ideas and inspiration for your next trip to Maine this winter. Hopefully, after reading this guide, you are motivated and excited about going to Maine ice fishing. It should make for an enjoyable vacation and a great time getting away from it all.
Please share it with your friends and family if you enjoyed reading this guide.
Check out my crappie night ice fishing article for more ice fishing information to help you while you are on the ice this winter.