Ice Fishing

If you love fishing in Maine's Kennebec Valley, there is no need to stay inside during the long winter waiting for open water to return.

Bundle up, get outside and try fishing through a hole in the ice. Head out onto one of the region's many frozen lakes on a sunny winter day with your sled full of fishing gear and the fishing license in your pocket. Find that perfect fishing spot and drill a large hole completely through the ice until you can see open water then pack your lures, jigging rods or tip-ups to catch the fish.

Set your line then keep a close eye on it or watch for the flag on the tip-up to see if you've caught a fish. When your hands get cold, you grab for the thermos of hot chocolate you brought along or head into a cozy shack. With so many fish under the ice and so few fisherfolks above, you are sure to have a great day of fishing!

Many enjoy ice fishing for the solitude of being out on a frozen lake and the challenge of the sport. Others like the friendship and good times found in an ice shack community. Once you get the hang of it sign up for one of the several ice fishing derbies that happen each year around the region.

Ice Fishing Safety Tips To be sure you are safe while ice fishing, it is essential to know a few things about ice.

  • New ice is usually stronger than old ice and supports more weight.
  • Ice seldom freezes evenly. It may be a foot thick in one spot and just a few inches a few feet away.
  • Ice formed over flowing water and currents, or at river bends or nearer to shore, is often weaker and more dangerous.
  • Booming and cracking mean that the ice is expanding and contracting as the temperature changes but does not mean it is dangerous.
  • Schools of fish or flocks of waterfowl can also affect the safety of ice by leaving hard to see holes.*

Ice Thickness Guide One of the most important ice fishing basics is to follow ice thickness guidelines to maximize fishing safety.

  • 2" or less - STAY OFF
  • 4" - Ice fishing or other activities on foot
  • 5" - Snowmobile or ATV
  • 8" - 12" - Car or small pickup
  • 12" - 15" - Medium truck

Note: These guidelines are for new, clear solid ice. Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice to ensure ice safety.

Safety on the Ice The following guidelines can help you make safe choices:

  • Check for known thin ice areas with a local outfitter or bait shop.
  • Refrain from driving on ice whenever possible.
  • Stay away from alcoholic beverages, alcohol makes you colder rather than warming you up.
  • Have the right ice fishing safety gear. Wear a life vest under your winter gear or a flotation snowmobile suit.

IMPORTANT No matter what time of year you fish in Maine's Kennebec Valley be sure you have a valid Maine State license.


Visitor Resources: MaineDepartment of Inland fisheries and Wildlife | Registered Maine Guides | Mid Maine Bass


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