Ice-Out Time

Variety is the salt of angling. In the Moosehead Lake Region, the angler can find a variety of angling opportunities. There are various fish species to pursue and most can all be found in the same place early in the season. After a long winter in the Moosehead Lake Region we hear the welcome sound of the words “Ice-Out”. Snow melt and spring run-off are changing angling opportunities daily. Our many ponds and lakes are preparing to produce some of the fastest fishing of the open water season shortly after ice finally leaves the region.

Lake trout fishing strategies change with the season. Usually one has to seek the depths of the lake to find them. Lake trout typically seek a constant water temperature between 40-52 degrees F which most of the open water season is 25′ – 95′ below the surface. But lake trout move into shallow water at ice-out. There is a window of opportunity when smelt begin their spawning activity and run up brooks and streams to spawn. Lake trout primarily feed on smelt year round and a large smelt streamer like the traditional Grey Ghost tied in a size 2 often fool lake trout as they feed on spawning smelt. There are many fly patterns that imitate the rainbow smelt like the Magog Smelt, Mitchell Creek Maribou or Joe’s Smelt. Spawning smelt in our region have a lavender hue along their lateral line during spawning season. Any large streamers tied with some lavender bucktail mixed in will be quite effective. A full sinking line is a must. Lake trout, landlocked salmon and brook trout alike will all be together while the spawning run continues for about a week, typically starting the last week of April through the first week of May. Anglers can find some fast fishing on Moosehead Lake, First Roach Pond, and Lower Wilson Pond if they are target early season smelt runs.

There are many places where fish gather for this event. The mouth of rivers and streams like the mouths of the East Outlet, Moose River, and Roach River are prime at ice out. Also the Mouth Ragged Stream where it enters Caribou Lake near the Golden Road. And if you are adventurous the mouth of Allagash Stream where it enters Allagash Lake is a sight to behold at ice out. Find a body of water that has a population of smelt and you’ll find smelt at the mouth of most every stream that runs into that body of water.

Many of the season’s largest brook trout are caught along the shores of  Moosehead and other ponds and lakes the first two weeks after ice out. Traditional trolling methods using fly rods and sinking lines, towing tandem smelt streamers can prove extremely effective. Big brookies are taking advantage of this once a year opportunity to dine on smelt traveling the shore in search of a stream to spawn in. Concentrate on the the zone where you can see bottom on one side of the boat and not the other. We always say if you don’t need a new prop for the motor you’re not in the zone. A big canoe or a small boat is the best vessel for working coves near the mouth of streams.

It’s usually been a long winter and there’s is two week window of opportunity that revolves around the smelt runs when streamer fishing mouths of streams and  river can produce some very fine fishing. There’ll be time to chance the hatches but at ice out dries aren’t the answer.

We have an excellent selection of tandem and large single hook streamerat our On-Line Catalog.