Ice Fishing in Maine
If you ask a typical Mainer if they’d like to go ice fishing, the answer will probably be “Sure, why not?” Or, if they’re part of Maine’s Acadian community, “tankafer,” which, roughly translated, means “might as well.” Ice fishing in Maine is an experience both locals and visitors alike enjoy in winter.
Visitors from warmer climates may struggle to understand why sitting out in the cold watching a hole in the ice is such a popular activity. But a little cold isn’t going to keep Mainers from communing with the outdoors.
You’ll usually start to see fishers heading out on the ice with their augers and lines in mid-January. Once the ice is at least a foot thick, temporary ice shack villages start popping up on popular lakes and ponds.
Getting into ice fishing requires the right tools, including an ice auger for drilling holes, and a skimmer to keep the hole from freezing over. Often, fishing poles get traded for “tip-ups,” that hold the fishing line, keeping your hands free for a bottle of beer or a steaming cup of hot cocoa. Visitors or newcomers who want to try ice fishing without investing in all the equipment can head out with a Registered Maine Guide or rent shacks and gear from local outfitters.
Then there’s the ice shack, a cross between a tree house, camping trailer and tool shed. You can tell a lot about a person by their ice shack. Some are bare bones: tents or boxes just big enough to store gear, a chair and a heater to warm cold fingers. Others are miniature cabins, complete with kitchens, family photos on the walls and antler-decorated front porches like that of our friends in the video above.
Each year many of these ice shack villages host fishing derbies, where fishers of all ages and skill levels compete for the biggest fish or the most fish caught. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife hosts an extensive list of derbies happening throughout the season, as well as regulations and information on Free Family Fishing Days. Another good resource for families is the “Hooked on Fishing” program.
But before you grab your fishing line, watch the video to hear from a seasoned vet on how to make the most of your time on the ice on your next visit to Maine. Tankafer.