In terms of its sheer variety and natural beauty, it’s tough to top Maine when it comes to ranking fishing states.
From arctic charr to brook trout to striped bass, the number of species you can catch in this one state is remarkable.
But with the potentially brutal and freezing Northeast winters, about a third of your fishing calendar is going to be through the ice if you’re a freshwater angler living in the state. Many outdoorsy Mainers relish the winter months and see them as an opportunity to get in on the state’s potentially great ice fishing.
Whether you’re new to Maine winters or looking to expand your horizons and chase new species on different bodies of water this year, fishing the following bodies of water once there’s safe ice is a great way to start.
After checking out the best ice fishing lakes Maine has to offer, we’ll link you to a simple guide to ice fishing tips at the bottom of this article.
Maine’s Best Ice Fishing
This massive lake in Central Maine would take up the majority of some smaller states. But in a state as colossal as Maine, Moosehead Lake is only one on a list of incredible lakes to go ice fishing.
At more than 75,000 acres, Moosehead Lake is a major attraction for ice anglers after January 1.
The gigantic lake holds lake trout, brook trout, landlocked Atlantic salmon, and cusk (burbot).
A popular event here is the Moosehead Lake Togue Derby with Ricky Craven. Nascar fans know that Craven is a former driver. He’s originally from Newburgh, Maine, and he attends the derby every year.
Anglers can compete for everything from tickets to sporting events to a big cash prize.
Togue, or lake trout, are incredibly abundant on Moosehead, and the derby began as an effort to control populations.
Be sure to read up on fishing regulations restricting the harvest of some species.
Lily Bay State Park in Beaver Cove offers a public launch area with good winter access for ice anglers.
Sebago, at more than 28,000 acres and with spots as deep as 316 feet, is one of Maine’s most popular ice-fishing lakes.
With landlocked salmon and lake trout, not to mention smallmouth bass and brook trout, Sebago Lake features some of Maine’s favorite fish. Your best access point to get on the ice at Sebago will be the Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife launch on Route 302 near Raymond.
Lake trout are often called togue in Maine, and there have been reports on Sebago of anglers catching as many as 50 togue in a single day on the ice. If that doesn’t get you out there, we don’t know what will.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, Sebago Lake also is among the best trout fishing spots in Maine even after the ice thaws.
East Grand Lake
All the way up in Northeastern Maine, straddling the Canadian border, beautiful East Grand Lake can definitely be worth the long drive.
The lake, at more than 16,000 acres, has plenty of structure and forage for a host of different species, but East Grand is most known for its lake trout, landlocked salmon, and smallmouth bass.
East Grand Lake (also called Grand Lake) reaches depths of 128 feet and is the headwaters of the east branch of the St. Croix River.
According to state documents, the population of landlocked salmon in the lake is one of the strongest in the state.
You might have an odd catch of a cusk or a whitefish to go along with the more prized species. Smelt are a popular forage fish on the lake and a good choice for bait.
Another lake that’s a hike off the beaten path and features some beautiful scenery, Allagash Lake is in the northwest quadrant of the state.
Allagash Lake features brook trout, lake trout, whitefish, and burbot.
Much of the shoreline offers pristine forest views, and Mount Katahdin is visible in the distance.
It’s worth noting that special regulations prevent anglers from using a motor of any kind (auger or snowmobile) on Allagash Lake. You can drive a snowmobile to the ranger station at the southwest corner of the lake and hike from there.
The special regulations give the lake a wilderness experience unlike many of the more popular bodies of water on this list. Live bait is prohibited on the lake as well.
Want a chance at the biggest cash prize a Maine ice angler is likely to win all winter?
Register to fish the Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby during the last full weekend in January.
Part of your $15 entry fee supports cancer research, and at last check, annual derby contestants have claimed a total of more than $45,000 worth of prizes.
One intriguing thing about this derby is you can enter and fish a host of different water bodies in the St. Agatha area, but Long Lake right at the town itself is often a good bet.
If Long Lake is having a down season, Eagle Lake next on this list is another excellent option some years, as are Square Lake and others.
Need proof that the region’s lakes are worth traveling to? There have been five different derbies in which the winning brook trout has weighed more than 3 pounds, and the winning lake trout has bested 10 pounds in the last 15 years.
One spot that should allow ice anglers to access the lake is the public picnic area and boat launch in St. Agatha, on Main Street (Route 162) between Gilbert and James roads. Birch Point across the lake on the east side is another option.
The longest in the Fish River Chain of Lakes, at more than 20 miles, Eagle Lake is near Long Lake and both are near the Canadian border.
Eagle Lake offers incredible fishing opportunities. The state boasts that the lake supports incredible populations of both landlocked salmon and brook trout, as well as great lake trout.
Not many Maine lakes offer conventional anglers a shot at rainbow smelt, but Eagle Lake is one of them. At more than 5,000 acres, there’s plenty of shanty room on the ice, and spots in the lake can reach depths of more than 130 feet.
Old Main Street in the community of Eagle Lake, near the turn in the lake on the western side, has a public boat ramp available for ice fishing access.
This 170-acre lake in the Rangeley Lakes region of Western Maine offers excellent ice fishing for yellow perch as well as some stocked brook trout.
Yellow perch numbers are good here, an the species is among the most agreeable fish to bite under the ice. Small natural baits as well as smaller artificial lures most effective for these tasty fish.
Haley Pond also is stocked each spring and fall with a modest number of brook trout. The fall planting often occurs in about October and is typically made up of larger fish, many of which should still be available after safe ice forms.
Haley Pond is in the community of Rangeley near the much-larger Rangeley Lake, but the latter and a number of other lakes in the region are closed to ice fishing.
Besides Haley Pond, other options for ice fishing in the Rangeley Lakes area include Loon Lake, Sandy River Ponds and Lincoln Pond, according to Amanda Laliberte of the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust.
Little Ossipee Pond
If you’re looking for a lake to fish early in the season before the larger bodies of water freeze up, check out Little Ossipee.
Located about 30 miles west of Portland, with a perimeter of only 12.7 miles, the lake is fairly easy to bounce around for anglers who don’t like staying in one spot.
One intriguing element about Little Ossipee Pond is that it has quite a variety of species, from landlocked salmon and brook trout to smallmouth and largemouth bass and pickerel.
Little Ossipee Lake Beach off the Sokokis Trail offers ice fishing access.
This pond, close to Lewiston, offers a promising option for anglers looking for easy ice-fishing access.
The pond is never deeper than 20 feet, so you know the fish in here are within jigging range at all times. While Sabattus features bass, crappie, and pickerel, northern pike are the main draw.
A healthy alewife population gives these big predatory fish the sustenance they need to pack on the pounds. As a result, anglers land double-digit specimens every year.
Martin’s Point Park off Shore Drive on the pond’s southwestern side offers access.
The stocked brown trout in this southern Maine pond are the primary draw, with 10-plus-pound fish reported every season.
It’s worth noting that fish in the 2- to 4-pound range are much more common.
There are islands in the pond, and fishing through the ice just off of them can be productive.
The best access is off West Shore Drive, which, not surprisingly, runs along the pond’s west shore.
Catch More Fish
Now that you know WHERE to go ice fishing in Maine, do you know HOW? We have a guide to ice fishing techniques, tips, and safety information to get you started or to increase your chances of having a successful and fun time on the ice.