ROXBURY — January temperatures arriving this month and in November, coupled with the lack of a thaw, helped set up ice earlier than usual on Roxbury Pond, Darla Patneaude said Thursday afternoon.

Patneaude works at Ellis Pond Variety at 1255 Roxbury Notch Road.

“The ice is thick enough, and we’ve got people out ice fishing already, and they have cars and trucks out on it,” she said of Ellis Pond, also called Roxbury Pond and Silver Lake.

Michael Worthley, a Roxbury selectman, said Thursday that the ice is 18 inches thick.

“Last week, I heard the ice was 10 inches thick,” Patneaude said. “We’ve been selling bait for ice fishing for the last three weeks.”

Francis Brautigam, a state fisheries biologist in Gray, agreed that ice fishing started early thanks to colder-than-normal temperatures. He’s predicting a very good start to ice fishing.

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“I expect that come January 1, we’ll have large numbers of people flocking out there,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a good season.”

The first day of the year used to be the traditional start to ice fishing season. However, the state opened most waters to year-round fishing, allowing ice fishing as soon as there was enough safe ice.

Fisheries biologists have been trying to manage fish stocking efforts to maintain good catch rates for the start of the season and right after ice out, Maine’s two peak periods.

“The longer people wait to get out, the fishing doesn’t hold up as well, but there’s been good success for people who get out early,” Brautigam said.

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