Ice fishing for brook trout on Dutton Pond, Knox, Maine (January 10, 2015)

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Lots of fishing activity on Dutton Pond to my right

Lots of fishing activity on Dutton Pond to my right

I’m visiting Dutton Pond today, hoping to repeat the tremendous fishing I experienced there during the last ice fishing season (click here for details, and to obtain directions and a depth map). As in previous years, the state has nicely stocked this 36-acre body of water with 1-pound and 3-pound brook trout in the fall of 2014, making it an attractive early-season target (click here and here for more details). I get up really early and drive 105 miles (!) one-way to get to this sweet spot. I arrive at 8:15 am, about 30 minutes behind schedule, and am surprised to see around 10 cars and trucks parked alongside Dutton Pond Road. I won’t be fishing alone today…

 

 

 

 

 

View of Dutton Pond looking east

View of Dutton Pond looking east

The temperature is a crisp 3F but feels quite comfortable because the atmosphere is wind-still. That was obvious on my drive in: blue smoke from people’s chimneys gently rose straight up into the air and then puddled up above their houses due to the lack of wind. The sun also shines brightly this morning in a beautiful azure sky, uninterrupted by any clouds. This kind of light condition is not ideal because it tends to spook the trout and make them weary. I dress up warmly, load my gear on the sled, and start walking on the ice. Holy mackerel, the place is a circus! I see well over 20 people, gathered in three large groups and several smaller ones, stretched out all along the western shore line. I find a spot between two of these groups, and quickly start drilling my holes in 3 to 10 ft of water. The ice is a solid 10” thick with 4” of dry powdery snow on top. I deploy three tip-ups with small shiners and one with a ball of wriggling worms, all placed about half-way down the water column. I keep a keen eye on my flags while setting up the traps, hoping to get a fast feeding flurry, but it does not materialize. I also drill half a dozen extra holes in the surrounding area and start jigging using a small 2” airplane jig.

 

 

 

Lots of fishing activity on Dutton Pond to my right

Lots of fishing activity on Dutton Pond to my left

I’ve been on the ice for over an hour now without a single hit. That’s never a good sign… A guy arrives at his ice shack located just to my right and starts drilling holes towards the center of the pond. I walk over to him for a chat. I tell him of the total lack of fish activity, and he does not seem surprised at all. He’s a local resident who’s fished Dutton Pond for the last decade. He mentions that this popular water gets clobbered by the locals as soon as the ice is safe to walk on, typically by mid-December. He himself caught three 20” brookies here over the last several weeks. He suggests that the pond may already be largely fished out due to this tremendous early-season pressure… I return to my jigging, a bit dejected by this insider information. The pond is a veritable trout mine field, with over 80 traps visible from my spot. I only see three flags go up across the pond over a period of two and a half hours. It’s actually easy to keep track of the bites because someone in the surrounding groups yells “FLAG!” three times, including for one of my traps, which yielded a stolen bait. It’s now 11 am and I’m discouraged by the total lack of activity. There’s no point to keep beating this dead horse; the sun is reaching towards its zenith and whatever trout are swimming under the ice are not going to bite. I pack up and head back to my car, disappointed by the lack of results but glad to have learned how Dutton Pond really works!

The results: Skunked after 2.5 hours of 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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