Largemouth bass fishing on Little Togus Pond, Augusta Maine (August 21, 2016)

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Only hand-carried crafts can be put in at the informal access point. Note the shallow weed beds and the wind...

Only hand-carried crafts can be put in at the informal access point for Little Togus Pond. Note the shallow weed beds in the forefront, the wind, and the southern shore in the background.

Little Togus Pond is a 93-acre body of water located in Augusta (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 13 C1), just across from its much larger cousin, Togus Pond. The access point is found right off South Belfast Avenue (Route 105) which runs between the two ponds. This informal put-in can only accommodate hand-carried craft because it lacks an actual boat launch. Ample parking is available along the gravelly shoulder of the road.

 

 

 

 

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Spectacle Pond, Augusta and Vassalboro, Maine (August 21, 2016)

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Only hand-carried crafts have access to Spectacle Pond from the public put-in.

Only hand-carried crafts have access to Spectacle Pond from the public put-in.

Spectacle Pond is a 139-acre body of water located in Augusta and Vassalboro (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 13 B1). The northern half of this pond is surrounded by the Alonzo Garcelon Wildlife Management Area, which is managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Access is via a rough but drivable gravel road which extends for 1.4 miles through the woods between Church Hill Road and the pond. A small panel labeled “Public Access” located on Church Hill Road, about 1 miles south of Stone Road/Hannaford Hill Road, is the only sign pointing the way to the pond. A large parking area is located at the end of this gravel road. A hard-top launch is not available, however, and only hand-carried craft can be put in the water from this location. I observe an open gate at the beginning of the gravel road, and suspect that it would be unlocked to allow vehicular traffic only after mud season is over in the spring (click here for a similar gate at another wildlife management area).

 

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Tolman Pond, Augusta, Maine (August 21, 2016)

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The parking area next to Cross Hill road can accommodate three vehicles

The weedy parking area next to Cross Hill road can accommodate no more than three vehicles

Tolman Pond is a pretty 62-acre body of water located in Augusta, Maine (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 13 B1). This pond is completed contained within the Alonzo Garcelon Wildlife Management Area, which is managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The clearly-marked public access point is located on Cross Hill Road, just shy of one mile north of North Belfast Avenue (Route 202/3/9). The small parking area at the trail head can only accommodate three vehicles. No safe parking is possible on the road shoulder. A public boat launch is unavailable for this pond either. Instead, anglers must walk for about five minutes down a forest trail that links the parking area to the pond.

 

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Minnehonk Lake in Mount Vernon, Maine (August 14, 2016)

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The public boat launch on Minnehonk Lake is one busy place this afternoon!

The public boat launch on Minnehonk Lake is one busy place this afternoon!

Minnehonk Lake is a 99-acre body of water located in Mount Vernon, Maine (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 12 A3). The public access is located at the northern tip of the lake off Main Street in the downtown area. Be aware that this access point is a busy place on summer weekends, with local residents swimming, picnicking and socializing. The launch is not hard-topped or improved but can easily accommodate small motorized boats. Plenty of parking is available on Main Street for cars without trailers. However, no spaces exist for vehicles with trailers, which have to be squeezed on the road shoulder. Also, be aware that it is tricky backing up a vehicle with a boat trailer into position to go down the launch because all of that maneuvering must occur right in the middle of Main Street.

 

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Little Watchic Pond in Standish, Maine (August 5, 2016)

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The muddy access point at the southern end of the southern arm of Little Watchic Pond can only accommodate hand-carried craft

The muddy access point at the southern end of the southern arm of Little Watchic Pond can only accommodate hand-carried craft

Little Watchic Pond is a 55-acre body of water located in Standish, Maine (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 D5). Click here for directions on how to access this pond. I haven’t fished it for several years now and am eager to give it a try again. In the past, I rarely had to share this water with other anglers, which is surprising given its close proximity to several towns in the surrounding area. I guess that may be due to its hidden nature and its relative inaccessibility. However, the place can get noisy if people are target shooting in the nearby gravel pit. Also, years ago, two guys placed a long line of buoys to create a water skiing obstacle course in the southern arm. I’m actually surprised to observe upon arrival today that the buoys are still there! Given the small size of the pond, the water gets noisy and wavy when these two do their practice runs. Fortunately for me, no one is shooting or water skiing when I reach my destination.

 

 

 

 

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Trolling for brook trout on ponds and lakes: 14 tips to increase your catch

Brook trout are, by far, the most-popular salmonids caught in Maine waters. Many approaches are available to catch these beautiful fish during the open-water season, such as spinner fishing, worm fishing, or fly fishing. Trolling is an additional and highly-efficient way to target brookies on ponds and lakes because it, by definition, is an active approach that covers a lot of water in a relatively short amount of time. I highlight below 14 tips to increase your odds of catching more brook trout using this technique. The information is derived from my own personal experiences of trolling for brook trout in Maine waters over many years. Keep in mind that the general principles presented below are universal and will apply wherever this beautiful creature makes its home.

 

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Smallmouth bass fishing on Crescent Lake in Raymond, Maine (June 18, 2016)

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The Crescent Lake boat launch is wide and spacious but comes right off busy Route 85

The Crescent Lake boat launch is wide and spacious but comes right off busy Route 85

Crescent Lake is a 716-acre body of water located in Raymond, Maine (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 B2). It is part of an interconnected waterway consisting of four lakes (namely Raymond Pond, Crescent Lake, Panther Pond, and Sebago Lake) and three streams (namely an unnamed and non-navigable stream connecting Raymond Pond to Crescent Lake, the navigable Tenney River connecting Crescent Lake to Panther Pond, and the navigable Panther Run connecting Panther Pond to Jordan Bay in Sebago Lake). The public access point to Crescent Lake is located at its southern tip next to Route 85. The launch is hard-topped and can accommodate big boats. Parking is on the shoulder of Route 85. However, beware that maneuvering the boat to get it down the ramp occurs on busy Route 85 itself.

 

 

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Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 27, 2016)

Click here for the story from the previous day.

 

Day 3: Friday May 27, 2016

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I'm trolling this morning under a leaden sky. Good! It keeps the light levels down.

I’m trolling this morning under a leaden sky. Good! It keeps the light levels down.

Shoot, I “overslept”! I stumble out of my tent at 5 am and get ready for trolling. I don’t bother waking up Joel since he isn’t an early riser anyway. The conditions this morning are very different from the day before: a cold front moved through the region overnight, bringing in a heavy cloud deck, some rain, and lots of wind. What a difference from the perfect conditions we experienced yesterday evening, just a few hours earlier! The rain has stopped but everything is dripping wet. Fortunately, the air temperature is a comfortable 54°F. I start trolling with my usual arsenal: one spinning rod using two Mooselook Wobbler spoons with the monofilament line clipped to a 4-lb weight attached to a portable downrigger, and an 8-weight fly fishing rod paired up with lead core line fishing with a Grey Ghost and Governor Aiken streamer flies. That’s a total of four lures looking for fish 10 to 15 ft below the surface. I like using lead core line in the spring and fall when I don’t have to troll much deeper than two or three colors. In my experience, about 75% of the fish I’ve hooked while trolling over the years have been caught on streamer flies. The reason is that I make the effort of constantly “ripping” my line through the water, thereby causing the flies to make erratic and jerky movements which seem to attract the attention from the fish down below. Besides, by actively working the lead core line one can also experience first-hand the ferocious hits on the streamer flies, which is something which cannot be felt when the line is clipped to a downrigger trolling weight. I get one of those tremendous hits about one hour into my morning troll. But then the lead core line goes slack. Darn it, I missed the fish! I quickly spool in my line when suddenly a landlocked salmon announces itself by performing several crazy jumps out of the water and making two strong runs that rip line off my spool. It looks like it grabbed the Grey Ghost and just kept on swimming towards the boat until my quick spooling action caught up with it. I really like those surprises! The fish measures 18.5”, gets photographed and is released back into the water. I see no further action until I return to camp an hour later, but I’ve got my story to share with Joel over breakfast!

 

 

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Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 28, 2016)

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Click here for the story from the previous day

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Day 4: Saturday May 28, 2016

 

I love the ambiance of a wind-still foggy morning on Pierce Pond!

I love the ambiance of a wind-still foggy morning on Pierce Pond!

 

Now that is one fat native wild brookie!

Now that is one fat native wild brookie!

Today is our last day at the Cobb’s camping site on the Upper Pond island before we move our operations to one of the cabins at Cobb’s Camp in Lower Pond. I once again crawl out of my sleeping bag at 4:30 am for my morning troll. It rained heavily last night but now it is wind still and the whole lake is covered by a heavy blanket of fog, which is very much to my liking! I’m fishing alone since Salvy needs to catch up on his sleep. I’m using my usual technique of two Mooselook Wobbler spoons on a down rigger, and two streamer flies on my lead core line fished 10 to 15 ft down. I’m on the water for no more than 15 minutes when my downrigger rod starts shaking. I put down my lead core line which I’m holding in my hands and quickly remove the downrigger rod from the rod holder to unclip the line and set the hook. Shoot, I’m pulling water… I bring in the spoons, cast them out, and start futsing with the downrigger clip when my lead core line suddenly begins shaking violently. Holy mackerel! It looks like the fish which missed hooking itself on the spoon subsequently bit one of the streamer flies when they both passed it by 30 seconds later! And this fish ain’t no minnow either!! I get several powerful runs but no acrobatics. It must be a large brook trout, which it is! The fish measures a relatively short 18.5” but has a hefty girth of 11.5” and weighs in at around 3.3 pounds! It gets carefully measured, photographed and released to grow bigger and be caught again at some future date. Now here’s a fish to brag about around the breakfast table! But I’m not done yet for this morning. Twenty minutes later, I hook but miss a 16” landlocked salmon on one of my streamer flies, and 30 minutes after that I land the smallest salmon (8”) I’ve ever caught on Pierce Pond over the last 15 years. It fell for the Grey Ghost. I’m experiencing a magic morning: the fish are active, the fog is slowly burning off by the rising sun, the water surface is calm, and I’m engaged in my favorite activity. It doesn’t get much better than this…

 

 

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Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 26, 2016)

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Click here for the story from the previous day

 

Day 2: Thursday May 26, 2016

 

Good morning, Pierce Pond!

Good morning, Pierce Pond!

I drag myself out of my sleeping bag at 4:30 am for early-morning trolling. I like fishing at the crack of dawn because the bite can be quite good before the sun rises and drives the fish deeper. The weather is beautiful, with light wind, temps in the mid 50’s and full visibility. Regardless, I’m dressed like I’m going ice fishing. I know from experience that I feel cold this early in the day because I’m still half asleep, move little, and haven’t had breakfast or a hot beverage. All my efforts are for naught though because I do not get a single hit in the next two hours, either on the streamer flies or the Mooselook Wobbler spoons. Regardless, I deeply enjoy my “alone” time and like the experience of seeing a new day emerge from the night. I return to camp by 7 am. Joel and I prepare breakfast, which for me consists of a healthy portion of pancakes, scrambled eggs, and pork patties, washed down by two cups of hot tea. I’m fully awake now!

 

 

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