Kids are encouraged year-round to safely spend time outdoors at the Penobscot County Conservation Association’s pond and trails.
BREWER, Maine — This weekend, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife held its annual free ice fishing weekend.
Anyone and everyone was encouraged to go enjoy what Maine’s frozen ponds and lakes have to offer. At the Penobscot County Conservation Association in Brewer for example, the weekend’s focus was for kids and teens to spend time outdoors and learn how to ice fish..
The properties’ Levasseur Pond in Brewer is open year-round for families with kids to use and enjoy.
“It’s a youth pond but the whole area is designed for the family. We have walking trails and a number of other things so it’s open to the family we want people to get outdoors and enjoy Maine,” Tony Richards said, board member at the association.
“They put the traps in, and then you choose a trap and you gotta patiently wait for a fish. And then once you get a fish the thing goes up,” 10-year-old Becket explained.
During Free Fishing Weekend (February 19-20, 2022) the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says any person (except those whose license has been suspended or revoked) may fish without a license.
The department says that to beat the slush, remember these tips:
- Wear tall, waterproof insulated boots to keep your feet dry.
- Pack a pair of snowshoes to help you stay on top of the snow.
- Especially for kiddos, pack extra gloves and a hat in case they get wet. Rain pants over the warmer base layers will help keep them dry.
Here are some tips for a fun day on the ice:
- Target warm water species such as perch, chain pickerel, and bass for an action-filled day to help first-timers get hooked.
- Bring a warm drink or meal such as hot cocoa, hot dogs, or chili! The experience of being on the ice is what makes ice fishing memorable for many.
- Make sure everyone dresses warm and pack extra mittens, hats, and socks. It’s better to have too many layers than not enough.
- Cards, a football, cornhole, and ice skates makes time between flags just as fun! Or, build a snowman (no extra gear necessary).
- Keep kids engaged with a task. If the kiddo with you isn’t quite ready to set a trap fully on their own, keep them engaged with their own responsibilities. It can be as simple as holding the skimmer, scooping the bait fish, or picking where the next hole will be!
- Focus on the fun. For newbies, it isn’t about a trophy fish… Avoid super long walks, and aim for a half day… anything beyond that is a bonus!
- Leave no trace – Carry out all that you carry in.
- Park in public or designated areas – Don’t block paths or other roads.
- Respect private property – Utilize public access sites or areas where you have permission to park or access.
- Be prepared – Check the weather, bring what you need for the day, and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Take care of your catch – If you are practicing catch and release, do so quickly and responsibly. If you harvest your catch, please bring it home with you.
If you missed free ice fishing this weekend, the Penobscot County Conservation Association says families with kids can come to the Levasseur Pond at its headquarters in Brewer for some ice fishing fun any of these upcoming days, just bring your own traps and bait.