Largemouth bass fishing on Farrington Pond in Lovell, Maine (August 1, 2015)

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A gorgeous view of Farrington Pond with White Mountain National Forest as a backdrop

A gorgeous view of Farrington Pond with White Mountain National Forest as a backdrop

Farrington Pond is an 89-acre body of water located in Lovell, Oxford County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 10 D1). The pond, which is just north of the lower bay of Kezar Lake, is situated off F Road, which itself is located off West Lovell Road. Beware that the sign for F Road consists only of a small ivory white placard with the letter “F” on it. Next to it is a bigger painted wooden sign that reads “Timber Bay Shores; Private Road”, which throws me off because it makes it sound like F Road is a private road. However, I check with a local resident who assures me that F Road is public, which turns out to be the case. The public access point is clearly marked and located 0.3 miles down F Road on the right (just past Lady Slipper Drive). The launch itself is about 400 ft from the wooded parking area down a rough forest trail. Only hand-carried crafts can be launched from that spot. The parking area is in the woods and can accommodate several cars.

 

 

 

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Hutchinson Pond in Albany Township, Maine (July 25, 2015)

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View from the launch of Hutchinson Pond with the mountains in the background

View from the public access point of Hutchinson Pond with the mountains in the background. She is pretty!

Hutchinson Pond is a 93-acre body of water located in Albany Township, Oxford County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 10 C4). The pond can easily be accessed by driving down Hutchinson Pond Road (off Hunts Corner Road) for exactly 1.4 miles. The state-leased public access point is marked on the left of the road by a small Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife sign.  The pond is reachable via a rough 150-ft tote trail which can only accommodate small hand-carried craft, such as a canoe or kayak. A few cars can be parked along the shoulder of the road next to the access point. Hutchinson Pond is quite a beauty! It is framed along the northeastern horizon by three tall hills, namely Lovejoy Mountain (1792 ft), Peabody Mountain (1575 ft), and Patch Mountain (1565 ft). The watershed is completely forested. Parts of the shoreline are moderately developed, supporting less than two dozen houses and summer cottages. One thing strikes me immediately upon arrival: none of the docks jutting out into the water display power boats, jet skis or pontoon boats! I assume that’s due to a lack of a boat launch, which limits the release and retrieval of these larger craft. It also means guaranteed peaceful quietness for property owners and fishermen alike.

 

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Marshall Pond in Hebron, Maine (July 18, 2015)

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General view of Marshall Pond

General view of the upper half of Marshall Pond looking north

Marshall Pond (a.k.a. Matthews Pond) is a 142-acre body of water located in the towns of Hebron and Oxford, Oxford County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 11 D2&3). The pond is situated at the end of Marshall Pond Road, off Merrill Hill Road. Public access is available at an unimproved boat launch found right next to the cement dam at the end of Marshall Pond Road. This sandy launch can accommodate small trailered boats. A handful of cars can be parked on a small grassy clearing next to the launch. The pond is an impoundment of Dunham Brook which has its source at Hall Pond further upstream. Marshall Pond is another one of those gorgeous little gems that few people know about, even though it is located no more than a dozen miles west of the Lewiston-Auburn area. About two dozen houses are scattered along its shoreline. Most are discreetly tucked into the surrounding woods and are barely visible from the water. A number of unobtrusive docks jut into the pond, but none of them displays large power boats or jet skis, providing a sense of quietness and peace. The surrounding landscape is completely forested and green.

 

 

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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…).

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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

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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!

 

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

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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!

 

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

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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.

 

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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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