The ice fishing season in the northern region of the state was extended on Monday, March 25 after Governor Janet Mills signed a bill that gave Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso the authority to extend the season when conditions permit.

Due to unusually cold March weather and excellent ice fishing conditions, Camuso extended the ice fishing season in the northern region of Maine through April 21. Waters in southern Maine already are open year-round to ice fishing and open water fishing unless closed by special rule.

“Extending the ice fishing season in northern Maine not only provides anglers with more opportunities to fish, but it also provides continued economic opportunity for the many small businesses that anglers support,” said Mills.

Under extension enacted by Camuso, waters open to ice fishing as of March 31 in the north region will continue to be open from Monday, April 1 through Sunday, April 21. All rules and regulations for those waters that are open to ice fishing in the north region will remain in effect.

Any waters that are not open to ice fishing will remain closed, and tribal waters are excluded from this ice fishing season extension.

“The current ice fishing season closes on Sunday, March 31, and open water season begins Monday [April 1]. With weather conditions currently more appropriate for ice fishing than open water fishing, I am grateful for Governor Mills’ support for extending the ice fishing season in the northern zone,” said Camuso.

Currently, waters in the south zone are open year-round to ice fishing and open water season unless closed by special rule. This provides those in the south with fishing opportunity no matter if there is an early or delayed spring.

April 1 also marks the traditional start to the open water fishing season in the northern region of the state.

Ice conditions can change rapidly during the spring, and anglers should be reminded to always check the condition of the ice before heading out.

“While it’s a good idea any time of the season, it is especially important now to test the thickness of the ice using an ice chisel or ice auger in several locations on the lake or pond,” said Major Chris Cloutier of the Maine Warden Service. “Conditions can change rapidly this time of year, and ice that forms over flowing water and currents, especially near streams, bridges and culverts, can be particularly dangerous.”

Many anglers often access waters surrounded by land that is privately owned. During the spring, unpaved roads can be muddy or soft, so anglers are reminded to be respectful, and avoid damaging roads.

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