Brook trout fishing on Tyler Pond in Manchester, Maine (April 9, 2016)

The entrance to Tyler Pond is clearly visible from Summerhaven Road

The entrance to Tyler Pond is clearly visible from Summerhaven Road

Tyler Pond is a 22-acre body of water located in Manchester, Kennebec County (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 12 B5). The clearly-marked public access point is reachable from Summerhaven Road. Two parking areas are available, depending on the season. The first one is in front of a gate. That gate is locked when I arrive. I suspect that one of its purposes is to prevent the public, during mud season, from driving down – and damaging – the dirt road linking the first parking lot to a second one located next to the pond. It takes about 10 minutes to walk from the gate to the pond (stay to the right when the gravel road splits about 1000 ft past the gate). Only hand-carried craft can be used on this water because a boat launch is not available. I choose this pond because it is well stocked with brookies (click here for details) and is managed to produce a trophy brook trout fishery. As a result, the fishing rules are strict: (a) the pond is closed to ice fishing, (b) only artificial lures are allowed, and (c) the daily bag limit on trout is two fish, with a minimum length of 12” and only one trout can exceed 14”.

 

 

 

The locked gate controls car access during the spring "mud season"

The locked gate controls car access during the spring “mud season”

 

Tyler Pond, which is the center-piece of the 128-acre Tylor Pond Wildlife Management Area (click here for more details), is GORGEOUS and one heck of a find. It is hard to believe that such natural beauty exists within earshot of downtown Augusta! This small kettle pond is entirely undeveloped and untouched by civilization. It is also remarkably deep for its size with a maximum and mean depth of 70 ft and 24 ft, respectively (click here for a depth map and more fisheries information). The surrounding landscape is entirely forested. The water is clear and transparent. The substrate consists of fine sand interspersed by gravel, cobble and boulders. The pond has no inlet or outlet due to its “kettle” nature and is therefore entirely spring fed. Yet, the fishing rules state that it contains smelt, even though they requires running water for spawning. Clearly, these fish have found a way to circumvent this physical limitation… As a bonus, Tyler Pond can easily be fished on foot from shore using a small spinner or spoon because the banks are mostly unobstructed and free of brushy undergrowth. Another positive feature pertains to the excellent quality of the trout-holding habitat along much the shoreline. The shallows contain a lot of lay-down trunks and sunken wood because the trees along the banks have been untouched by human hands for several decades and have therefore fallen down or shed many large branches. That kind of prime habitat creates an ideal situation for fly fishing later on in the spring when the trout are keyed on aquatic bugs!

 

Tyler Pond is unspoiled and gorgeous!

Tyler Pond is unspoiled and gorgeous!

I arrive at the gate around 8 am. No other cars are parked, which means that I have the pond all to myself. I don’t have the benefit of a fishing buddy this morning. I also have to leave by 11 am and hence don’t have a lot of time to figure out Tyler Pond. I brought my “canoe wheels” to transport all my gear and am pushing off by 8:30 am. The sky is bright blue and sunny, with air temperatures in the mid-to high-30’s and the water temperature coming in at 42°F. However, the breeze is strong and unpredictable… I’m trolling with two rods crossed in between my legs. The first one contains lead-core line to which are attached two 2½” Speedy Shiners spoons (1/6 oz.) separated by 2 ft of monofilament. The second one is a light spinning rod pulling two smaller trout lures, namely a 1¼” ACME Thunderbolt (1/10 oz.) and an unconventional U-shaped silver-colored 1” Super-Duper 501. I crimp three heavy split shots 2 ft above the ACME lure to bring the hardware down 3-4 ft below the surface.

 

 

 

It took me a lot of work to find you, buddy!

It took me a lot of work to find you, buddy!

The constantly-shifting wind makes trolling by myself miserable, just as it did last week (click here for details). I want to stay close to shore to get in the neighborhood of the sunken wood but the wind makes fine boat handling impossible. Instead of struggling in the back of the canoe, I’m going on my knees in the middle. That distributes the weight more evenly and affords better control, but soon tires out my legs and lower back. By now I’ve been trolling around the pond and struggling against the wind for two frustrating hours and have yet to get a single hit. My tennis elbow, which I acquired last fall after over-zealous leaf blowing, is also acting up from the extra strain on my arms. OK, enough already! I bite the bullet, paddle to shore, and load 200-300 lbs. of boulders in the front of my canoe. I’m now paddling a mini cargo ship but it does wonders for boat control. I can maintain the canoe right against the shoreline around the sunken wood regardless of the wind. I now have only 20 minutes left to make something happen. Within 10 minutes, an 8” brookie takes pity on poor me and hooks itself on the terminal Speedy Shiner. It’s not much of a fish but at least I’m not leaving skunked! I quickly re-deploy my lures and continue paddling right up against the shoreline towards the launch area when a more substantial brook trout announces its presence. Great! This one is a 13 incher which fell for the Super-Duper. It also spits out a half-digested bait fish and the pincer of a tiny crawfish. Two brook trout caught in the last 10 minutes of my trip; that means that I finally figured out a game plan! I have unfortunately run out of time and reluctantly head back out. Tyler Pond is a jewel and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in a high-quality brook trout fishing experience.

 

The results: I caught an 8” and a 13” brookie in 2.5 hours of hard fishing.

 

Was the information in this blog useful? I invite you to share your thoughts and opinions. Also, feel free to discuss your fishing experiences at this location.

 

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