Friday, January 18, 2019

Ice Fishing Trout on Sheepscot Pond

Authors Son "Wildman" with a nice Sheepscot Brookie
Sheepscot Pond in Palermo (Map 13, B-4) is an expansive (1,193 acre) pond situated among the rolling, wooded hills of southeastern Waldo County. A moderately developed lake (unusual for Central Maine!) it remains an attractive setting for ice anglers. A state-owned boat ramp, located off Rt. 3 on the lake's north shore, provides access for anglers and other recreational users. While individuals can fish just off the landing, this area is typically hammered hard throughout the season. Better ice fishing is found further away, from this highly pressured area, on the western shore of Leeman Arm or eastern shore of Bald Head.  

Ice Fishing Variety
For the ice Angler who believes that variety is the spice of life, they will find no better thrill than a day spent ice fishing Sheepscot Pond. On an expedition to the lake in 2018, family, friends and I managed to pull up 7 different species of fish including, salmon, largemouth bass, pickerel, white perch, yellow perch, lake trout and brook trout. According to the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the lake additionally contains, brown trout, smallmouth bass and even splake, which were originally introduced to the lake in 1993. While we were unsuccessful in catching any of these additional species, the possibility of going to a lake and catching 10 different species of fish is exciting! As an angler who typically targets big northern pike, Sheepscot Pond is a refreshing change and a great place to take kids. It was a lot of fun showing the kids (and some adults) how to identify the different fish species pulled out of the ice holes. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Coyote Night Hunt

Author's son with his first coyote
December 17th, the coyote night hunting season begins and it remains open until August 31st. For those who have access to heated hunting shacks, the cold nights can be spent in relative comfort, peacefully reading, listening through ear buds to a ball game or playing video games on your cell phone. Whatever the choice, hunting from a heated shack isn’t nearly as physically challenging as pursuing coyotes at night, without the protection of some form of enclosure. 

I rather enjoy the extreme nature of setting up on the evening of a full moon, on the edge of a desolate and deserted frozen pond and attempting to call a coyote in close enough for a shot opportunity. Don’t expect however to see one of our crafty Maine coyotes recklessly charging into a call across the empty white expanse of ice. Instead, coyotes will creep in, 15-20 feet inside of the timber, exposing themselves to the barren lake surface only after closing to within easy striking distance of the perceived “prey”. Hunters who set-up back from the lake surface 20-30 yards in the woods will frequently enjoy more success than hunters who sit right on the lake edging. Coyotes are crafty and unwilling to give away their position unless it is absolutely necessary. 

This is where a motion decoy and remote controlled calls work wonders as they can be set out on the lake surface to draw coyotes into the open for a shot opportunity. For those using handheld calls, once a coyote is spotted working the tree edging, the hunter stops calling and allow the motion decoy to do the rest of the work. A motion decoy can be something as simple as a piece of fur or feathers tied to a stick with a short length of cordage and allowed to blow in the breeze.   

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Wildlife Quiz - Opossum

The Common Opossum or Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana), also known as simply Possum in North America, exists as the only marsupial (pouched mammal) found in the United States and Canada. Possessing a pale face, rounded ears, a pink, pointed nose and a coarse, grizzled gray overcoat the possum closely resembles a rodent. Through seemingly rat like in appearance, possums actually are closely related to the kangaroo and koala. Their adaptive nature, flexible diet, and prolific reproductive habits, make possum’s successful survivors in diverse locations and conditions. Though originally only found in South America, Possums have been steadily moving northward over the last several decades, a trend likely contributed to climate change.

The range of the Possum currently stretches across North, Central, and South America. Adapted to survive in a wide variety of rural as well as urban environments, Possum’s gather together in family groups in underground burrows or even under houses. Being nocturnal (night loving) creatures, Possum’s seek dark, secure areas to sleep during the day where they are protected from predators. The possum has a large number of natural predators including owls, eagles, dogs, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, house cats and humans who consistently kill a sizable number each year through automobile strikes. When threatened, the Possum will mimic the appearance and smell of a dead animal. This involuntary response (like fainting), causes the animal's teeth to become bared, saliva to foams around the mouth, its eyes close and a foul-smelling fluid leaks from the anal glands. The animal typically regains consciousness after a few minutes once the threat disappears. Highly prolific breeders, female possums often give birth to very large numbers of young, with as many as thirteen being birthed in a single litter. The possum lifespan is unusually short, with most living only one to two years in the wild and about four or 5 years in captivity.

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