General view of the Androscoggin River below the Pejepscott boat launch
I’m taking my 12-year old nephew Christian fishing on the Androscoggin River today. One of my preferred spots on this delightful water body is the stretch that runs from the Lisbon Falls Hydrodam, located just upstream of the bridge that carries Route 125 over the river, down to the Pejepscot Hydrodam located about 3 miles further downstream (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 6 B2). The Pejepscot hard-top boat launch right before the entrance to Lisbon Falls off Route 196 (driving north) provides easy access to the river with plenty of parking. This strectch of river is also a favorite of canoeists and kayakers because the current is relatively slow, except for about 1000 ft or so below the Lisbon Falls Hydrodam. The setting downstream of the boat launch is also gorgeous, with nothing but trees lining both banks of the river. The stretch upstream of the boat launch is more build-up but represents prime smallmouth habitat (more about that later). We start with focusing our attention further downstream in the hope of catching northern pike.
Click here for details on the first two days of this awesome trip.
Day 3: Monday May 25, 2015
Lower Pierce Pond looks gorgeous in the early-morning light
My alarm goes off at 4:30 am, beckoning me out of bed for another morning troll. I wake up Salvy, who is a trooper this year by deciding to join me at this ungodly hour. Incidentally, we dress up almost like we’re going ice-fishing. The outside temperature is in the low to mid 40’s. We need to seriously layer up because we’re still half asleep, haven’t had breakfast yet or drank any hot beverages (and the Jägermeister shots are dispensed AFTER breakfast, not before!!) and are going to sit motionless in a small boat on a cold lake for the next two hours. We leave the dock at 5 am. The sky is completely overcast but it is fortunately wind still. I cherish these early mornings with my nephew: it gives us a chance to talk about our work, our families, our future plans. But we’re also here for business! We both use two rods: one is connected to a small portable downrigger attached to the side of my boat, while the other consists of a lead core line. Each rod is also fishing two different lures, with the back lure connected to the hook of the front lure by about two ft of monofilament. The down rigger rod uses two spoons (typically some kind of Mooselook and DB smelt) and the lead core rod uses two streamer flies (a combination of the Grey Ghost, Governor Aiken, or Winnipesaukee Smelt). This approach puts a total of eight lures in the water anywhere from 5 ft to 15 ft deep and allows us to cover a lot of terrain. Note that I don’t put the streamer flies on the down rigger. Instead, I like to fish these lures using my lead core line because I can hold the rod and constantly move (“rip”) the line back and forth to provide action and erratic movement to the flies. The spoons, on the other hand, provide their own twisting movement, even when dragged along attached to a 5-lb lead weight. My rod connected to the downrigger starts shaking 20 minutes into the troll. I set the hook and bring in a baby 14” salmon. That, unfortunately, is the only action we see until our return at the dock by 7 am. But at least I won’t be skunked today!
Middle Pierce Pond in all its glory
Pierce Pond is a 1,650-acre gem of a lake nestled in the mountains of central Somerset County (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2). It consists of three basins (lower, middle and upper) connected by shallow, boulder-infested thoroughfares. The water is crystal clear and its quality is superb. The local brook trout population is entirely native and robust. Trout well into the 3 lbs are not uncommon. The State also stocks landlocked Atlantic salmon, which creates a lively fishery, although those fish rarely exceed 4 lbs, and most stay below 3 lbs. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. The fishing rules are strict, as follows: (a) the pond is closed to ice fishing; (b) the pond is open to fishing from May 1 to September 30; (c) only artificial lures are allowed; (d) the daily bag limit on trout is two fish with a minimum length of 10” and only one of which may exceed 12”; and (e) no size or bag limit on lake trout. Click here for more details on the regulations. This water body is completely surrounded by a protected forested watershed. Hence, civilization intrudes minimally. The entire shoreline is deeply wooded and not a single dock or house is visible anywhere, except for Cobb’s Camp where we will be staying for the next four days. Our hosts provide us with a comfortable log cabin, a warm bed, a flush toilet, a hot shower, a cozy wood stove, and three square meals a day! Our one and only job while in this enchanted place is to fish until we drop dead from exhaustion!
General view of Crystal Lake
Crystal Lake (a.k.a. Dry Pond) is a 189-acre body of water located in Gray, Cumberland County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 B3). This relatively small lake is heavily developed, particularly along its western shoreline, but sustains a popular regional salmonid fishery consisting of rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout. The state stocks the lake annually with these three species to sustain their populations. It is also the location for a popular annual ice fishing derby (click here for more details) attended by several thousand people each year. A hard-top boat ramp is located at the southern end of the lake off Mayberry Road. The town of Gray also maintains a public beach and swimming area right next to this ramp. Ample parking is available across from the launch. All in all, this lake is a busy spot but well worth a visit in the spring on account of its superb trout fishing. I’ll note here that, in the past, I have caught rainbow trout trolling on this water body well into July, which is evidence of the high quality of this fishery. Crystal Lake has a maximum and average depth of 59 ft and 25 ft, respectively. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.