Maine’s ice out vigil begins and how you can help

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When I checked my email inbox and saw the message from The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry titled “Maine Lake Ice Out Dates Updated” I just about swooned. While I’m sure ice fishermen would disagree, I look forward to this yearly event that signifies the coming of spring. More importantly, I yearn for the approach of the open water fishing season and the pursuit of my favorite spring and summer pastime – bass fishing.

Ice out? Already?

We’ve seen generous amounts of snow throughout the winter of 2016-17. With that much snow layering Maine’s lakes and ponds, the quality and depth of the ice is affected. The result is ice that is porous and soft.

The department estimates that in areas typically averaging four feet of hard ice late in the season, an actual 24 – 30 inches of softer ice is being realized. A good winter notwithstanding, the department notes that unless we see a late season cold snap, we can expect ice out about the same time we do every year.

What exactly is ice out? I’m glad you asked. Generally, ice out is defined as the date you can navigate unimpeded by ice floes from one end of a body of water to the other. There could be some residual ice along shorelines or coves, but not enough to stop passage through the lake or pond.

How you can help

The Bureau of Parks and Lands ‘Ice Out Dates for Maine Lakes’ web page tracks ice out conditions in lakes and ponds throughout the state. The page is continually updated on a daily basis Monday – Friday during spring.

You can help keep the page as accurate as possible by sending a quick email to Timothy Thurston when the ice goes out in bodies of water in your area. Make sure to include the name of the body of water, the town and the date of ice out. Remember to stick to guidelines for ice out so there is uniformity in data submitted to the bureau.

A great resource

Once ice out begins and reports start filtering in, you will be able to sort by date, town or lake name at the table on the bottom of the page. There is also a simple text search box available. When you visit the page, don’t forget to sign up for the ice out updates by entering your email in the box located in the upper right hand corner of your screen.

This a great resource for fisherman seeking many cold water species that become very active during this time. There is no need to chance a trip hauling your boat to a lake still partially frozen. The information is right there at your fingertips.

While I await the next email from DACF and the very first entry to show on the bureau’s ice out page, you can bet I’ll be lubricating reels, waking up the outboard and organizing tackle.

It won’t be long now until we hear the cry…”Fish on!”

John Floyd

About John Floyd

John is a Registered Maine Guide, an NRA Certified Instructor and an NRA Certified Range Safety Officer. He is a former Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged after an 8 year career in 2003. John is the owner of Tucker Ridge Outdoors in Webster Plantation, Maine.