Lake trout fishing on Sebago Lake, Maine (July 4, 2015).

Splashing in the water at one of the beaches at Sebago Lake State Park

Splashing in the water at one of the beaches at Sebago Lake State Park

The glorious July 4th weekend is once again upon us all. My family is spending the long weekend camping at Sebago Lake State Park, located at the north end of Sebago Lake (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 C5). Things are quite hectic at camp, with the grandchildren running around, and the grilling, swimming, and socializing. My son Joel and I decide to get up at 5:30 am and sneak out for a couple of hours of lake trout fishing before the bulk of the family wakes up and gets ready for breakfast. At this time of the year, the lake trout have abandoned the warm shallow waters (click here for details) and seek refuge in the ice-cold waters (< 50°F) found below the thermocline. This layer represents the sharp temperature boundary between the less-dense warmer surface waters and the denser and much colder water in the deep zone. I do not know exactly how far down the Sebago Lake thermocline is located. A high-quality fish finder should show a faint line on the screen representing the boundary where the change in water density is most abrupt; my fish finder mustn’t be sensitive enough because I can’t pick up the thermocline…. Based on the presence of numerous fish marked in 40 to 80+ ft of water this morning, I’m guessing that the thermocline is around 30-40 ft deep, which makes sense based on a review of historic summer water-column temperature data for Sebago Lake published online. Note that the thermocline, once it is fully established in early summer, might move deeper by a few feet but is otherwise extremely stable and constant until late fall (with a few limnological exceptions, which I will not bore you with…).

 

Continue reading

Advertisements

Smallmouth bass fishing on the Androscoggin River, Lisbon Falls, Maine (June 13, 2015)

General view of the Androscoggin River below the Pejepscott boat launch

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.

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 25 and 26, 2015)

View Map

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

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!

 

Continue reading

Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 23 and 24, 2015)

View Map

Middle Pierce Pond in all its glory

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!

 

Continue reading

Brown trout fishing on Crystal Lake, Gray, Maine (May 30, 2015)

View Map

General view of Crystal Lake

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.

 

Continue reading

Smallmouth bass fishing on Panther Pond, Raymond, Maine (May 8, 2015)

View Map

The eastern shoreline of Panther Pond, with Betty's Neck in the left background.

The eastern shoreline of Panther Pond, with Betty’s Neck in the left background.

Some of the best smallmouth bass fishing on Maine lakes occurs in mid-spring when the fish are moving in-shore to prepare to lay their eggs. Typical smallmouth bass spawning habitat consists of a clean, rocky and bouldery shoreline in 2 to 10 ft of water, with easy access to nearby deeper water. The fish start moving in these shallows when the water temperature reaches the low 50’s in early May. Actual spawning typically starts towards the end of May when the water temperature hovers between the high 50’s and mid 60’s. The smallmouths feed aggressively in May in order to fatten up in preparation for the spawn. The goal, therefore, is to position oneself at the right place and the right time, using the right lure and the right fishing technique, in order to take advantage of this short window of opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

Lake trout fishing on Sebago Lake, Maine (May 2, 2015)

Fog does a great job keeping the light levels low

Fog does a great job keeping the light levels low

Ice-out on Sebago Lake in the spring of 2015 occurred on April 21. Shortly thereafter – typically within 10 to 14 days after ice out – the rainbow smelt start congregating at the mouth of the major lake tributaries in preparation for their annual upstream spawning migration. The smelt, which are cold water-loving and pelagic (i.e., deep-water) creatures, are particularly vulnerable to predation during this period. The reason is that they are confined to relatively narrow and shallow areas while waiting for the right conditions to occur before swimming up the tributaries. And just as predictably, the landlocked Atlantic salmon and lake trout are in hot pursuit to gorge themselves on their favorite prey. This unique set of behaviors creates a golden opportunity each spring, which lasts about two to three weeks after the start of the smelt migration, to catch salmon and lake trout in shallow waters without the need of much specialized equipment. The combination of cold oxygenated water right up to the surface combined with an abundant food source disappears by mid-May, after which both prey and predators continue their endless game of hide and seek in the profundal zones of Lake Sebago where they are much more difficult to find, target, and catch.

 

Continue reading

Landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Peabody Pond, Sebago, Maine (April 25, 2015)

View Map

Tandem fishing on Peabody Pond with a downrigger and lead core line.

Tandem fishing on Peabody Pond with a downrigger and lead core line.

Peabody Pond is a 735-acre body of water located in the town of Sebago in Cumberland County (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 B4). Access is via a hard-top municipal boat launch located next to Peabody Pond Road off Route 107. The launch is situated next to the pond’s major outlet, which forms the source of the Northwest River linking Peabody Pond to Sebago Lake. This launch is spacious and can accommodate substantial vessels. Be aware, however, that launching and retrieving can become a real challenge later on in the spring when the water levels drop due to the shallowness of the launch area. The pond is moderately developed along its western shoreline, but otherwise provides a rather remote setting with Bald Pate Mountain as a lovely backdrop.

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

Ice fishing for splake and smallmouth bass on Trickey Pond in Naples, Maine (March 29, 2015)

View Map

Trickey Pond is a 311 acre pristine body of water located next to Route 114 in Naples, Cumberland County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 B5). I have fished this pond numerous times in the past (for recent examples, click here and here) and have invariably found it … trickey and unpredictable! The fishing can be really slow but also rewarding for those who are willing to put in the time and learn its secrets. Today is my last day of the 2015 hard water season. The past winter was long, cold, brutal, and snowy. We experienced what folks around here call a good ole Maine winta! I’m fishing this morning for a couple of hours but have also organized a picnic for later on today on this pond with about 25 friends and family members. The purpose of our get-together is to shake off “cabin fever”, celebrate the end of the cold season and welcome in the start of spring.

 

Continue reading

The 13 hottest trout fishing ponds for the spring of 2015 in southern New Jersey

This blog identifies the 13 ponds in southern New Jersey that provide the best odds of catching trout during the spring of 2015. For the purpose of this blog, southern New Jersey covers Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Glouchester, Ocean, and Salem counties. The fishing action on these bodies of water can be fast and furious in the spring. Trout activity typically peaks for three or four weeks between mid-April and mid-May, after which the bite slows down due to rising surface water temperatures.
The best trout ponds in southern New Jersey for the spring of 2015 are highlighted below in alphabetical order. A pond is considered HOT due to its trout stocking density: after all, everything else being equal, the more trout that are stocked per acre of water, the greater the chances of catching those fish!!

Continue reading