WILTON — Brook trout stocked in the fall were taking bait dangled below 8 or more inches of ice by some of the 35 anglers at Wilson Pond Saturday morning for the start of Maine’s winter fishing season.

The temperature was approaching 50 degrees by noon and fog swirled above the ice, which was topped with pockets of an inch or two of water.

State fisheries biologist Dave Boucher said that if temperatures were more seasonably colder, many more ice anglers would normally be on the pond on opening day than the 30 to 35 he saw by noon.

“Probably because of the warm weather we’ve had the past couple of days, people have shied away from this pond,” he said. “On a normal opening day, there’d be at least double that I would say.”

The weather was fine for Dave Tinker of Wilton, who was joined at 6:30 a.m. by his wife Cortany and their two daughters, Brielle, 4, and Avery, 2, and for friend Steve Hunt of North Jay.

Hunt was teaching his two sons, Brett, 10, and Garrett, 6, how to ice fish.

“This is our big event in the wintertime,” Cortany Tinker said. “It’s what we do.”

Saturday was the first opening day in five years that the Tinkers didn’t put their ice shack out. Dave Tinker said he didn’t think the ice was thick enough yet.

Only four shacks dotted the ice near shore toward the western end of the lake. Although by early afternoon, a fifth, owned by Rick Hall of Jay, was pulled onto the ice near the boat launch on the eastern end by an all-terrain vehicle rider.

Fishing with Hall, Scott Bailey of Jay said he’d rather the shack be over deeper water so he could fish for togue, but there wasn’t enough ice to support the shack, which weighs 900 pounds.

Boucher said most of the ice in the shallows closer to town was 8 to 13 inches thick.

“It’s good ice, so we’re in pretty good shape, but people still need to watch it like they always do,” he said.

In the center over the deepest part of the pond at 80 feet, Boucher said the ice was only an inch thick.

Typically, he said that’s the last part of the lake to freeze over because of the depth.

“The real deep lakes like Embden Pond and Clearwater Lake take longer than most waters to freeze and that’s the case this year,” he said.

“Embden Pond was virtually wide open on Wednesday, and Clearwater had a large opening of whitecaps.”

Saturday’s ice conditions on Wilson Pond were typical.

“Some years it’s iffy and in other years it’s better than this, so I would call this about average,” Boucher said.

Boucher was also checking with Saturday’s anglers to determine the effectiveness of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s decision to stock the pond this fall with brook trout measuring from 13 to 15 inches in length.

The department also stocked Wilson Pond with 100 retired brood brookies from 17 to 20 inches long and weighing from 2.5 pounds to more than 4 pounds.

“We’re seeing some good catches today of the brook trout we stocked this fall,” Boucher said. “They’re put out specifically for ice fishermen, and I’ve seen people have a good time with them today.”

The “sweet spot” appeared to be just off Kineowatha Park point, where anglers were catching more fish than those on the eastern end, he said.

“These fall-stocked brook trout are returning nicely, at least to the opening day crowd,” he said.

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