Spring is clearly defined in the North Country. March is still winter, which means ice-fishing rules till the end of the month. April 1 is opening day for open-water angling but it may be weeks before there's enough open water available for boating or casting from shore. May literally bursts upon the scene as the leaves on the poplars become "big as a mouse's ear," which traditionally means it's time to go for trout, salmon and togue.
Ice rules in March and may well rule the waters of Sebago Lake till mid-April. Ice-fishermen take advantage of the extended winter weather by targeting Sebago's legendary giant lake trout. A 22-pound specimen was taken during a February 2014 fishing derby and there are plenty more where that one came from. Fish just off the bottom using cut bait, jigged lures or a lively sucker and keep your lines down from sunrise till sunset. The biggest fish often hit with just minutes of legal fishing time left, so stay put till the last gun is fired.
Even though April 1 is the legal "opening day" in Maine it may be a few weeks before the really good fishing begins. Still, larger waters like the Kennebec River near Augusta provide good fishing for rainbows and brown trout whenever there is enough open water to allow wading and casting. Browns prefer big, meaty flies and lures while rainbows appreciate offerings that are a more delicate. Experiment with dries, nymphs and Wooly Buggers until you find a size-color combination that works.
In May the lid comes off on Maine's open water fishery. Every species that swims in the state is legal game this month and all are readily susceptible to an artfully presented fly, lure or bait.
For pre-spawn smallmouths, the Penobscot River above Bangor has been the premier destination for bass fishermen since the late 1800s. Rent a canoe or kayak in Old Town and drift along shore casting to shoreline cover including logs, rocks, ledges and overhanging brush. The action will continue well into the hot summer months, when the best fishing will occur early and late in the day and at night.
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Suzuki's two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki's Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
TACKLE TOTE VEST
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you're standing in deeper waters. It's adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
Honda Marine's BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
FLEX 'N GO TACKLE SATCHEL
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano's new Flex 'N Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
MSRP, Jacket $249.99-$269;
Cabela's Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There's enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
The new AV Micro is a complete underwater camera system that is the same size as a smart phone. On the boat or off the dock, use it to see where fish are hanging out. 3 1/2-inch diagonal display. Built-in rechargea-ble lithium ion batteries.
BERKLEY TRILENE XL
Berkley says they've improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.
ABU GARCIA REVO SX
Abu Garcia's Revo SX baitcasting reel is now 25 percent lighter than before. The SX frame is crafted of a strong alloy while the handle sideplate are built with weight-reducing C6 carbon. Holds 145 yards of 12-pound mono.
SIMMS WEATHER GEAR
MSRP, jacket $349, bibs $299.
Simms designed its Contender Gore-Tex jacket and bibs for anglers who need reliability when they are motor-ing on the water at 70 mph in rain and wind. Waterproof and breathable. Cuffs are water tight and adjustable.
Anglers like their tools close by. And it's even better if it's connected to you so it doesn't go in the drink. T-Reign retractable gear tethers hold onto your pliers, hemostats or landing net. Several size options. Carabiner connects to D-ring, belt loop or strap, or use the stainless steel clip on belt or pack.