Smallmouth bass fishing on Panther Pond, Raymond, Maine (August 14, 2017)

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The sun is setting and the surface commotion is gone. It’s time for the smallmouth bass to grab dinner before dark!

Catching smallmouth bass in ponds or lakes during high summer in Maine can be a real challenge, even for the experienced angler. The surface water is warm (75° to 80°F), the sun is bright, and the human activity levels can be intense as a result of water skiing, jet skiing, pontoon boating, or power boating. The fish seek shelter 15 to 25 ft below the surface to locate cooler water, hide from the sun, and find respite from all the human commotion above. Unlike the nippier and less hectic spring months, when the smallmouth bass congregate and concentrate in large numbers along bouldery shorelines for the annual spawn, the summer bronzebacks are scattered over a much larger area and in deeper water. That makes them intrinsically more difficult to find and catch.

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Stearns Pond, Sweden, Maine (July 29, 2017)

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View of Stearns Pond from the public access point

Stearns Pond covers 255 acres and is located in Sweden, Oxford County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 10 E3). To access this pond from Waterford Road (Route 93), drive down Hardscrabble Road and turn left on Wint Road. Drive down this road for 0.25 miles before turning left on Town Landing Road. The public access point to the pond is located at the end of this gravel road. The boat launch is unimproved but consists of firm sand and can easily accommodate small trailered boats. Ample parking is available next to the launch.

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Smallmouth bass fishing on the Androscoggin River, Lisbon Falls, Maine (July 20, 2017)

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Great smallmouth bass holding habitat downstream of the Route 125 bridge: shallow and deep water, boulders, and multiple current seams.

My 10-year old nephew Matt is visiting from “away” for a couple of days. He has never fished before, but expresses an interest in trying it out. I have to find a fishing spot where he (a) can cast wildly without causing harm or getting snagged, (b) is guaranteed to catch fish regardless of skill level, and (c) can experience the joy of seeing a fish jump out of the water after it’s been hooked. I quickly set my eyes on the half-mile stretch of the Androscoggin River that runs between the boat launch on Route 196 (Lewiston Road) and the hydropower dam in Lisbon Falls located just upstream of the Route 125 bridge over the river. I have fished this short stretch in the past for smallmouth bass and have consistently done well on it. Note that the access point off Route 196 represent a substantial boat launch that can handle larger vessels. The launch also has plenty of parking spaces across the old railroad tracks.

 

 

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Smallmouth bass fishing on the Penobscot River, Greenbush to Passadumkeag, Maine (July 8, 2017)

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The Penobscot River between Greenbush and Passadumkeag is wide, shallow and dotted with islands

The Penobscot River is the premier river smallmouth bass fishery in Maine, bar none! The stretch flowing between the towns of Greenbush and Passadumkeag (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 35 B5 to D5) represents a gorgeous section of bass real estate. I meet up with my friend Tim at the Greenbush boat launch (which can accommodate large motorized craft) at 9 am. We leave his vehicle behind and drive my car 9.5 miles further north to the boat launch in Passadumkeag (which can also accommodate large motorized craft). We’ll be fishing from my 12 ft/8 HP aluminum boat which I hope will be able to pass through most of the extensive shallow areas that dot this stretch of river. Our goal today is to let the current float us down to the Greenbush boat launch while fishing for smallmouth bass along the way. We expect the trip to take about 5 hours. I have fished the Penobscot River between Old Town and Lincoln on and off for 30+ years but haven’t drifted it the way we’re doing today, so I don’t fully know what to expect. The water level is surprisingly high though given that it’s the beginning of July.

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Lake Arrowhead, Limerick and Waterboro, Maine (July 3, 2017)

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Lake Arrowhead provides hundreds of acres of shallow coves and bays

Lake Arrowhead covers 779 acres and is located in Limerick and Waterboro, York County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 2 A2). This lake has two trailerable boat launches. The first one is located off New Dam Road by the dam over which flows the Little Ossippee River. The second one is about two miles further south also off New Dam Road but closer to Chadburne Ridge Road which separates this lake from Little Ossippee Pond. I put my small aluminum craft in the water by the dam. The water is deep enough at this location to dispatch large boats. Plenty of parking is also available next to the launch. I arrive at the launch by 10 am and am greeted by a friendly and chatty boat inspector. The lake has been infested with Eurasian milfoil, an aggressive invasive plant species, for over 20 years. She checks every boat going in and coming out for fragments of this aquatic pest to ensure that the infestation does not spread to other water bodies.Surprisingly, considering it’s the long July 4th weekend, I only see three other cars with trailers parked by the launch.

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Pickerel Pond, Limerick, York County, Maine (June 24, 2017)

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The unimproved boat launch at Pickerel Pond can only accommodate small trailered boats.

Pickerel Pond covers 46 acres and is located in Limerick, York County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 E3). A small unimproved boat launch is found by the outlet at the southern end of the pond right off Route 11 (Central Avenue). The substrate by the ramp is sandy and firm but the water level is rather low. Only hand-carried craft and small trailered boat can be dispatched with ease from the ramp. The parking area is rather restricted and can only accommodate 3 or 4 vehicles with trailers. Salvador and I arrive at the launch at 10 am, eager to wet our lines. The sky is mostly overcast with air temperatures in the mid to high 70’s. It feels muggy and we have to face a stiff breeze blowing in from the northwest.

 

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Sokokis Lake, Limerick, York County, Maine (June 24, 2017)

The public boat launch on Sokokis Lake is sturdy and the adjoining parking area can accommodate multiple vehicles and trailers

Sokokis Lake (a.k.a. Holland Pond) covers 192 acres and is located in Limerick, York County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 E3). A nice, hard-top boat launch is located at the southern end of the lake by its outlet right off Route 11 (Central Avenue). Enough space is available to park over a dozen vehicles and trailers on the public parking area located next to the launch. Salvador and I arrive at our destination at 2 pm and are greeted by a polite high school kid who checks my boat and trailer for fragments of aquatic vegetation to prevent introducing an invasive plant species into the lake. My boat and trailer get a clean bill of health. The weather has improved greatly since this morning, when conditions were overcast and gloomy. Now the sky is blue and the sun is bright, but the breeze is still blowing in briskly from the northwest. The air temperature is in the balmy low 80’s.

 

 

 

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Ground fishing for cod, haddock and pollock on Jeffreys Ledge in the Gulf of Maine (June 3, 2017)

This huge cod was Vince’s largest fish of the afternoon

My buddy Curtis invites my son Joel and I to join him and one of his friends for an afternoon of ground fishing in the Gulf of Maine. Curtis owns a serious 33-ft ocean-going vessel. We’ve talked many times in the past of taking his boat out on a fishing trip into the ocean and the day has finally arrived to do it. The maritime forecast calls for overcast skies and calm seas with no wind or waves and air temperatures in the mid 60’s. These are ideal conditions for this time of the year! We head out of Portland Harbor at noon and navigate for about two hours in a southwesterly direction (thank goodness for GPS!) until we hit the northern tip of Jeffreys Ledge, which sits about 30 miles off-shore. On the way there, we observe several whales including two humpbacks. They alone make this trip already worthwhile!

 

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Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 30, 2017)

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This little landlocked salmon jumped four times out of the water. What a treat!

Today is, most unfortunately, the last day of fishing on Pierce Pond in Somerset County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2) for Joel, Salvy and I before we have to leave this slice of heaven and return back home to face Life. Joel already spent 11 consecutive days on the pond before today and has discovered an intriguing pattern. The cool weather and lack of sunny days over the last week and a half has kept the surface water temperature below normal for this time of the year. The mayfly hatches have been sporadic and inconsistent at best and the fish have not focused on this seasonal food source yet. However, the cool surface water temps have allowed the salmonids to feed extensively in shallow water in search of bait fish and other bug life. Through much trial and error Joel figured out that, based on the unusual prevailing conditions, select rock piles in shallow areas of Pierce Pond (and the pond is full of those piles!) are serving as magnets for prey items and the salmonids that feed on them.

 

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Brook trout fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Somerset County, Maine (May 29, 2017)

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Excellent trolling conditions!

It’s the long Memorial Day weekend of 2017 and that means that I’m on my annual pilgrimage to gorgeous Pierce Pond in Somerset County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2). This huge “pond” is divided into three major basins (i.e., Upper Pond, Middle Pond and Lower Pond) which together cover a total of 1,650 acres. I’m fishing for four days in this special place with my son Joel and nephew Salvy. We’re renting a cozy log cabin a Cobb’s Camp in Lower Pond which affords us access to an indoor toilet, a hot shower, and cooked meals off the grid in the middle of nowhere!  Pierce Pond is a totally pristine and unspoiled environment. The lake is completely surrounded by forests in a protected watershed. These conditions maintain the exceptional surface water quality which supports a robust and self-sustaining native brook trout population and a healthy population of stocked landlocked Atlantic salmon. General fishing laws apply, except that (a) the pond is closed to ice fishing, (b) the ponds opens to fishing on May 1 (but beware that ice-out can occur well past May 1 after a cold winter), (c) only artificial lures are allowed, (d) the daily bag limit for brook trout is two fish, and (e) the minimum length limit for brook trout is 10”, with only one fish allowed to exceed 12”

 

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