The upper northeast region of the US offers a wide variety of fish species as well as some of the best ice conditions available. Between ice forming in early December and melting in late March, there are ample opportunities to get out and enjoy ice fishing. Here are some some of the best places to go ice fishing in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire.
Ice Fishing in Maine
Maine offers some of the best and least pressured ice fishing in New England. There are tons of places to fish, tons of fish to be caught, and not many anglers. Due to the seclusion and sometimes challenging climate, many water bodies in Maine are untouched throughout the winter. Jigging for panfish with a tungsten jig and soft plastic is one of the most productive ways to tackle uncharted water. Get your ice fishing gear out and explore numerous lakes and ponds in Maine on the hard water that do not even have a boat access ramp.
Our Favorite Ice Fishing Spot in Maine: Sabattus Pond
Sabattus Pond, in Sabattus, Maine is a 1,973-acre pond with a maximum depth of 19 feet that plays host to trophy pike and smallmouth bass. Sabattus also holds healthy populations of largemouth bass, pickerel, white perch, yellow perch, and black crappies. A great tactic for Sabattus is to cover a lot of water with tip-ups rigged with a jumbo shiner to lure in trophy pike. Similarly, a large jig head with a shiner on an ice rod fished around the bottom will also produce. While you wait for a big pike, jig smaller tungsten jigs tipped with plastics around weed beds to fill up a bucket of panfish.
Ice Fishing in Vermont
Vermont is home to several inland lakes and ponds that offer phenomenal ice fishing opportunities. Panfish are a favorite of the locals due to the diversity in species and the sheer quantities of fish available. If trophy sized fights are what you are after, the Lake Trout in Vermont are a fantastic opportunity. Lake Trout ice fishing is most popular in late winter when they move in shallow and feed aggressively. Vermont is our favorite New England ice fishing locale due to its vacation friendly nature while still sporting plenty of low-pressured opportunities.
Our Favorite Ice Fishing Spot in Vermont: Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain is a large glacial lake nestled between Vermont and New York. It is 314,000 acres and spans roughly 124.9 miles north to south. Champlain is home to more than 80 species of warm and cold-water fish including largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, lake trout, brown trout, landlocked salmon, perch, carp, steelhead and bowfin. Panfish on Champlain will bite just about any ice fishing bait and tip ups in the shallows are sure to produce pike, pickerel, and bowfin. Lake Trout is the prized ice predator on Champlain, and can be caught jigging big baits like saltwater tubes and jigs in long swoops. Fish through a lot of holes across various depths (20-60 ft) jigging all throughout the water column.
Ice Fishing in New Hampshire
Like Maine and Vermont, the ice fishing in New Hampshire can be very rewarding. Panfish are a favorite of anglers as they are the easiest to target through the ice, with smallmouth a close second. For panfish, ice jigs and soft plastics or a live bait presentation will work all day long. Jig with soft plastics or more aggressive fish off the bottom. On a tougher bite, try dead sticking a small minnow on or near the bottom. For bass, target rocky flats with boulders near deeper water, looking for fish on the flasher as you go. Once you locate fish, jig near the bottom until they react, then slowly work the bait up to trigger bites.
Our Favorite Ice Fishing Spot in New Hampshire: Lake Winnipesaukee
Lake Winnipesaukee is roughly 45,440 acres in size and is the largest lake in New Hampshire. Sporting 264 islands, Winnipesaukee is known for holding trophy white perch and smallmouth bass. Winnipesaukee is home to several species of fish including largemouth and smallmouth bass, pickerel, yellow and white perch, crappies, salmon, rainbow trout, brook trout, lake trout, bullpout, cusk, and whitefish. The vastness of this lake makes it more of challenge. Hold tight to the transitions along shoreline and near islands. Fish altering depths between 15-30 ft along major structural features for big smallies.