RUMFORD — Below-normal temperatures starting last month have set the stage for ice-making in small and shallow ponds across Western Maine, but the ice is still too thin for angling.

High winds Wednesday night into Thursday didn’t help, state fisheries biologist Francis Brautigam said Thursday afternoon in Gray.

All of the region’s fall fish stocking for ice fishing has been completed.

“We’ve had some really cold weather, but then we’ve had some warm-ups, too,” Brautigam said. “Right now, the way things are going, we might have an early ice-in. We have had some years by the middle of December where some areas are very fishable for guys who wish to go out on 2 inches of ice.”

Brautigam said he wouldn’t go out on the ice when it’s that thin. He said he saw a report Wednesday on WCSH 6 TV about a 100-pound golden retriever that went through thin ice on Little Ossipee Pond in Waterboro and was rescued by the fire department.

Brautigam said the Otter Ponds in Standish near Sebago Lake have started making ice and the one closest to Route 35 was three-quarters iced over Thursday.

“I talked this morning with a guy in Auburn and he said significant areas of Sabbattus Pond are starting to ice up and today we were working on the Saco River in West Buxton and shell ice was starting to form,” Brautigam said. “So it’s still early yet for ice fishing, but we have another stretch of cold temperatures coming. If we have a lack of wind and below-normal temperatures, it’s ready to set up.”

The big lakes, of course, are far from making ice because they still have a lot more heat to lose, he said. “The small and shallow ponds will be the first to ice over, but I haven’t seen too much yet.”

Brautigam said he’d heard from another biologist that Broken Bridge Pond in the White Mountain National Forest in Albany Township was iced over for the most part.

He said a storm system coming through on Saturday “will stir things up,” because once the front goes through, it usually brings wind on the tail end of it.

“We’re at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Brautigam said. “Saturday on the last day of deer hunting (with regular firearms) it was 5 degrees at my house in New Gloucester. Five degrees! And that wasn’t even December. It’s crazy.”

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