Our Finest January Ice-Fishing Waters

Our Finest January Ice-Fishing Waters

Here's where to find hot winter action for trout, bass, pike, panfish and other popular species in New England this season. (January 2008)

Photo by Rod Cochran.

There's no need for New England's anglers to surrender to cabin fever just because the fishing poles are packed away until spring.

New England's waters provide anglers with hardwater opportunities beyond compare. Whether it's a day targeting trophy salmon and lake trout or fast family flags for panfish, the region's icy lakes and ponds have got it going on!

Keeping in mind that an angler can drill only so many auger holes per season, here's a roundup of some of the best destinations for panfish, tiger muskies, and trophy trout and salmon to consider this winter:

CONNECTICUT

The Nutmeg State has over 180 lakes and ponds open to public fishing. Whether it's fast-paced panfish action or trophy game fish that make your flags fly, Connecticut's the place to be. Waters managed especially for trophy-sized largemouth bass and trout abound.

Rogers Lake in Lyme-Old Lyme is a 260-acre natural lake in the Connecticut River drainage. Its maximum depth is 63 feet, with an average of 19 feet. Rogers Lake flows into Mill Brook, a tributary of the Lieutenant River. The lake has two deep basins connected by a shallow area that averages about 6 feet deep.

Each spring and fall, Rogers Lake is stocked with 10,200 catch-worthy brown and rainbow trout. A few big holdover brown trout are caught here each year. Some very large walleyes, left over from a stocking program discontinued in 1999, are still being caught as well.

There are good numbers of largemouth bass too. Rogers Lake is also home to chain pickerel, black crappie, yellow perch and sunfish.

This is a Trophy Trout Lake, and special season, length and creel regulations apply. Be sure to check the current Connecticut Angler's Guide before heading out.

Access is via a town park on the south shore or via a state-owned site on the eastern shore. Take Exit 70 off Interstate Route 95 to Route 1 east for 2.5 miles, and then turn left onto Grassy Hill Road.

Gardner Lake is a 529-acre natural lake in the towns of Bozrah, Montville and Salem. The lake has a maximum of 39 feet with an average of 14 feet. Gardner Lake drains into Gardner Lake Brook, a tributary of the Yantic River.

The lake is stocked both spring and fall with about 7,000 catchable rainbow and brown trout. About 7,500 walleyes are stocked annually and are a common catch, with some exceeding 20 inches in length. Here, too, there are also more large pickerel than average. Largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch and black crappies may also be had. This is also a Bass Management Lake, so special slot and creel limits apply.

Access may be had via the state-owned area on the southern shore. From Route 82, take Route 354 north for one-quarter mile. The access road is on the right.

For more information about wintertime fishing in Connecticut, log on to www.ct.gov/dep/site/default.asp.

Pick "Outdoor Recreation," and then "Fishing."

MAINE

The Pine Tree State has so many lakes and ponds that it can be difficult to decide on the right destination. Last year, new ice-fishing regulations went into effect that allow for the taking of brook trout in Class A designated waters from the time ice forms in December -- assuming that the weather cooperates this year.

Other new regulations are in place, so be sure to check the current law book before heading out.

Ice-anglers won't go wrong heading for the southwestern region of the state, where ponds are stocked in fall, and holdover trout are common. Fish stocked include retired adult hatchery brood trout, landlocked salmon and yearling brook trout.

Waters where some of the larger brood fish are stocked include Little Ossipee Lake in Waterboro, Middle and Upper Range ponds in Poland, Wilson Lake in Acton, Thomas Pond in Casco, Wortherly Pond in Peru, Keoka Lake in Waterford, Mousam Lake in Acton, the Presumpscot River in Windham, and Kennebunk Pond in Lyman.

There are a number of ponds in the region where the habitat is not suitable for year-round trout fisheries. But fall and winter temperatures allow the stocking of catch-worthy trout to create excellent winter fishing opportunities for brook trout.

These include Wortherly Pond in Poland, Barker Pond in Lyman, Otter Pond #2 in Standish, Littlefield Pond in Sanford, Hobbs Pond in Norway, Knights Pond in South Berwick, Cold Rain Pond in Naples, Halls Pond in Paris, and Silver and Sprague lakes in Phippsburg.

New stocking sites for 2006-07 included Parker and Thomas ponds in Casco, Moose Pond in Acton, Horne Pond in Limington, Wilson Lake in Acton and South Pond in Greenwood.

Top picks for consistent lunker lake trout over the past few years have included Great East Lake in Acton, Sebago Lake in Naples and Thompson Lake in Otisfield. (Continued)

All three offer togue in the 16- to 22-inch range, with Sebago's ice-anglers leading the pack.

For salmon tipping the scales at over 4 pounds, this winter try Trickey Pond in Naples, Bryant Pond in Woodstock or South Pond in Greenwood.

For smaller fish but faster action, drill those salmon holes in Long Lake in Naples-Harrison, Panther Pond in Raymond, Crescent Lake in Casco or Kezar Lake in Lovell.

Many of the region's waters see little fishing pressure, even though they offer up some quality brown trout. Avoid the crowds this winter and take a shot at landing brown trout up to 6 pounds from Horne Pond in Limington, Long Lake in Harrison, the Presumpscot River in Windham and Woods Pond in Bridgton.

For information on regulations, destinations, stocked waters and more, interested anglers should log onto www.state.me.us/ifw.

MASSACHUSETTS

Asnacomet Pond is one of the most popular Bay State trout ponds. Also known as Comet Pond, this coldwater fishery covers 127 acres north of the junction of Route 68 and Route 62 in Hubbardston. It's a popular hardwater destination because the pond traditionally freezes early and thaws late.

Asnac

omet Pond is stocked with browns, brookies and rainbows each spring and fall. Most of the trout caught here are recently stocked.

But occasionally, anglers will land big holdover brown trout. Infusions of brood-stock salmon offer a shot at trophy-sized salmon.

Despite more than 50 percent of the shoreline being developed with year-round and summer homes, the pond remains scenic, with good access.

Shoreline access extends up the southeastern shore from the paved ramp off Route 62. Access may also be had off the town beach entrance off Route 68.

For lunker largemouth bass, head to Benedict Pond in Great Barrington-Monterey. This western-district pond is small and shallow, covering 35 acres at an average depth of 5 feet and a maximum of 8 feet. The pond is inside Beartown State Forest, and the shoreline is undeveloped other than the beach and boat ramp. Access may be had about 1 1/2 miles north of Route 23 off Beartown Road.

Many waters in the Bay State are stocked with northern pike and tiger muskellunge. These two fierce fighters are usually stocked at 3 to 12 inches, and take up to five years to reach their minimum-length limit of 28 inches. That means this year's hardwater anglers will want to drill holes in waters stocked in 2002.

Five years ago, Mascopic Lake in Tyngsboro and Dracut got an infusion of tiger muskies.

It's been part of the stocking program for many years now, and Mascopic should give up some real trophies through the ice this winter!

Largemouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow and white perch and sunfish will keep the flags flying, too. Because of heavy recreational use over the summer, most game fish here are taken through the ice.

The shoreline is heavily developed, except for the southwestern shore within Dracut State Forest.

Whether it's a day targeting trophy salmon and lake trout or fast family flags for panfish, the region's icy lakes and ponds have got it going on!

Access may be had through a Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife site on the extreme eastern side of the lake. Head toward the lake from just about any street off of Willowdale Road to find great spots to access the ice.

Be sure to check the current rules and regulations before heading out. Visit www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw and select "Hunting and Fishing," and then "Fishing."

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Many of the Granite State's waters are stocked with winter anglers in mind. At most, anglers can take trout through the ice or in open water. At specially designated "Lake Trout Lakes," anglers are restricted to ice-fishing only from Jan. 1 through March 1. Be sure to check the 2007 New Hampshire Freshwater Fishing Digest before heading out.

Hardwater anglers may want to double their pleasure by drilling auger holes at some of the fisheries managed for both bass and trout that have no closed season on trout.

Chocorua Lake in Tamworth is a 222-acre, two-story fishery where anglers can expect to pull rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch and sunfish up through the ice. Chocorua's average depth is 12 feet, with a maximum of 27 feet. Access can be had near the bridge at the south end of the lake.

Wentworth Lake in Wolfeboro spans 3,097 acres. This lake averages 25 feet in depth, with a maximum of 80 feet. Wentworth is home to flag-worthy rainbow trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, chain pickerel and white perch. Access may be had along the shoreline inside Wentworth State Park.

Crystal Lake in Gilmanton is a 441-acre, two-story fishery. The average depth is 16 feet, with a maximum depth of 53 feet. Hardwater anglers here can target rainbow trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch and sunfish.

For access, take Route 140 to Crystal Lake Road and continue about a mile.

Stinson Lake in Rumney is a 350-acre, two-story water averaging 35 feet deep, with a maximum of 77 feet. Stinson is best known for giving up rainbows, lake trout and smallmouth bass through the auger holes.

Take Route 25 to Main Street, then go 0.4 miles to Stinson Lake Road. Access is 4.1 miles in on the right.

Laurel Lake in Fitzwilliam is a 180-acre, two-story fishery, with an average depth of 15 feet and a maximum of 46 feet.

Laurel Lake is home to rainbows, brown trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass and chain pickerel.

The access road changes from paved to gravel, is moderately steep and provides poor turn-around opportunities -- so be sure you can drive out onto the ice without getting stuck!

There is space for parking along the roadway, provided the snow banks aren't too deep. Take Route 12 to Route 119, and then go straight on Laurel Lake Road.

Tewksbury Pond in Grafton is a 47-acre coldwater fishery best known for giving up brookies, rainbows and brown trout through the auger holes. The pond averages 25 feet in depth, with a maximum of 50 feet. Access may be had off Route 4.

Lake Memphremagog, at a whopping 5,966 acres, touches shore in the towns of Coventry, Derby and Newport. This is a premier destination for taking rainbows, browns and lake trout through the ice.

Rainbows and browns must be at least 10 inches long to keep, and landlocked salmon must be over 17 inches. Memphremagog also gives up plenty of largemouth bass.

To get there from Exit 27 off I-91, take Route 191 west to Route 5 south. Turn left onto Coventry Street. Access is one-half mile down on the left.

The Northeast Kingdom town of Westmore is home to 1,653-acre Lake Willoughby. There's a length minimum of 10 inches here on rainbows and brown trout. But not to worry -- Willoughby, at 300 feet deep, is home to some of the largest lake trout in Vermont! Growth rates are also excellent on some very hefty brown trout. Reach the lake's eastern shore via Route 5A.

Lakes Seymour, Memphremagog and Willoughby are open to ice-fishing from the third Saturday each January through March 15, and each has a daily creel limit of two fish total -- trout and/or salmon.

Be sure to check current ice-fishing regulations before heading out.

For more information, contact the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, 103 South Main Street, Waterbury, VT 05671-0501. Visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com, or phone (802) 241-3700.

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