William Warner of Somerville, Massachusetts, prepares a baited tip-up during a recent ice fishing trip to Green Lake in Ellsworth with his dad, Bangor Daily News outdoors editor Pete Warner. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

ELLSWORTH, Maine — The thing that struck me most was the silence.

Once I stopped talking — in a voice that almost certainly was audible on the other side of the lake — it hit me. No car engines, humming snowmobiles, crows or barking dogs. No creaking of the ice. Just quiet.

Little could I have known that the action on Green Lake would be similarly quiet, but being on hardwater for a day of ice fishing was nonetheless invigorating.

Previously, I wrote about the challenge of getting geared up anew. After years of not venturing onto the ice, it was necessary to buy fresh line, some new tip-ups, an auger, a chisel and an insulated bait bucket.

Most of the items were in hand the night before the trip, with the exception of the bucket and some bait. The deterrent to the process was the unspooling and respooling of the tip-ups.

My older son William and I had 10 traps between us, all of which needed fresh lines and leaders. Let’s just say that exercise extended into mid-morning on fishing day.

The only benefit of the delay was that temperatures warmed from a few degrees below zero to a more tolerable level by the time we departed. A quick stop at Dill’s Outdoors in Bangor for a bucket and some smelts, and we were ready to fish.

Green Lake is one of the few places where I have ice fished more than once, so we headed down to the landing on Nicolin Road in Ellsworth. It provided easy access for walking and I had fished the area before.

There were no other vehicles at the landing, where I made a spinning, slip ’n’ slide entrance to the lake many years ago on a trip with friend and former Bangor Daily News outdoors guru John Holyoke.

The lessons learned meant allowing the Jet Sled to go first, with me holding the rope from above. It worked nicely.

Pete Warner is seen fixing bait to an ice fishing rig. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

It was dead quiet as we walked onto the ice, which was mostly covered in several inches of snow. It had drifted in some spots, so we utilized existing snowmobile and ATV tracks to get out onto the lake.

We walked perhaps 200 yards before we broke out the gear and started fishing. The highlight of the day — other than enjoying the splendid conditions with William — was the new battery-powered ice auger.

I had previously heard about and experienced issues with the traditional gas-powered models. I didn’t want to carve through 16 inches of ice with a hand auger and I wasn’t willing to shell out $550 for the high-end battery or propane models.

The StrikeMaster 24-volt lithium unit with an 8-inch auger efficiently and quietly bore through the ice in 10 to 12 seconds. It’s pretty slick.

A mini base camp is set up in the middle of Green Lake in Ellsworth to provide a central location for tending ice fishing tip-ups. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

We bored six holes for traps, one for jigging and two or three test holes with no issues. Based on my research, we ought to have been able to do at least another 20 or 30 on a single charge, but there was no need.

Especially given the slow nature of the fishing.

It was a treat to again be able to kick away the slush, strain the ice shavings out of the hole, then bait and set the traps. We spaced them out in a wide arc, then set up somewhere in the middle.

William and I entertained ourselves with various observations, including the fact we had 30 feet of water in every spot. We countered by staggering the depth of the bait.

Everything was perfect. Even the weather moderated with temperatures in the 20s and barely a wisp of wind.

I couldn’t help but reminisce. It had been almost 30 years since William and I had been ice fishing together. That day, at Pushaw Lake, we were accompanied by my late dad, my wife Annia, her sister Eida Labonte and our younger son Paul.

Left: Bangor Daily News outdoors editor Pete Warner picks up an ice fishing trap as the sun goes down on a recent outing at Green Lake in Ellsworth. Credit: Courtesy of William Warner; Right: A brand-new Heritage Laker ice fishing tip-up stands ready for a fish to bite recently at Green Lake in Ellsworth. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

At Green Lake, there were two visitors to a group of three shacks at the sand bar. One arrived in a nifty side-by-side ATV and the other on a snowmobile. Later, another ATV, this one featuring tracks like those on a tank, nimbly negotiated the snowy surface.

William and I enjoyed a couple of sandwiches and some Humpty Dumpty all dressed chips. We jigged a bit at our little base camp, but with no results.

Later, we received a visit from a friendly gentleman and his dog and chatted about fishing. Shortly after their departure, at 3:15 p.m., the flag was tripped on our No. 3 trap.

We hustled over, but the spool was motionless. The bait had been hit, but the fish had moved on.

That was as much excitement as we would have.

Three eagles took turns flying over the lake, but didn’t find anything to eat. As the sun dipped behind the treeline, we began pulling our traps and headed home.

With only a couple more traps to get rigged up, we’ll be in much better shape to get an earlier start next time out.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...