It’s the Down East remedy for Spring fever and the launch of open-water fishing!

Around here, ice-out means leaping landlocks, a “charge” of pan-fried smelts, the hope of tying into a big togue or lake trout, and a whole lot of open water and cool air to clear the winter cobwebs from your head. It happens the first week in May.

But ice-out means a great deal more than a date on the calendar. It is the climax of months of quiet anticipation, a rebirth of the spirit after another long Maine winter, and testimony to the fact we all made it through another year. Things are going to be okay now. Breathe deep and breathe easy.

May is just one of four phases in a typical Maine summer, a mini-season if you will. June has its special greens, the hatches, the controlled excitement of a well-cast popper. . . July and August with their easy days and fillets of white perch crisp and golden brown that melt in your mouth and in your memory, and heavyweight smallmouths lurking off the edges. . . September salmon and the brilliance of autumn’s foliage, eight-weight rods and the special fellowship around camp. Yes, each time is special.

May is Spring in eastern Maine. When the ice makes its dramatic departure, the word travels fast. The enthusiasm of landlocked salmon seduces anglers to the big lakes and quick streams, where all techniques are honored. Although live smelts and hardware catch landlocks, most folks agree there is nothing quite like the savagery of a nice salmon attacking a streamer fly. Whether you’re waist deep in a cold stream, or trolling fifty feet of mono in the wake of a Grand Laker, landlocks strike streamer flies with a passion. It takes at least a couple of those trademark leaps and perhaps a snapped leader to remove those last vestiges of the winter doldrums. Heads up!

Maple buds and poplar tassels, moulting moose on the shoulders of country roads, spring peepers in the mid-day warmth, chilly nights, that first salmon in the grill, the tree swallows building their nests and the whole woods awakening with bird song with each advancing day, the first great crop of dandelions–the basis of a healthy Maine lawn, the redolence of softwoods, and then, of course, fiddleheads. May has its special tastes and sounds. It is lots of wonderful fishing, but it is also a frame of mind.

And, no, the salmon do not bite every minute nor every day. Sometimes they sulk, and back off the grub. They take offense to calm surfaces and bright sun, just as they always do and always have done. But what a wonderful opportunity to catch some of those big pre-spawn smallmouths! After a long Maine winter, a couple of degrees feel so good, and the big bass know just where to look for even slightly warmer water. Guides always say that the best times to catch a trophy smallmouth around here are mid-summer and mid-May–so long as you get a little burst of heat. Since foul weather relates to favorable salmon conditions, your options are many.

Yes, spring fishing is exciting! With East Grand Lake arguably Maine’s best piece of landlock water, silversides in the streams, and Spednic Lake a hop away, this is a good place to be. Perhaps we’ll see you sometime after the snow melts.