Ice fishing for brook trout on Thompson’s Ice Pond in South Bristol, Maine (January 9, 2016)

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Christian's first brookie of the day is a nice one!

Christian’s first brookie of the day is a nice one!

***IMPORTANT UPDATE (January 12, 2016)***: The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) appears to have made a key error publishing the rules pertaining to this pond. The hard-copy version of the 2016 fishing rules, which I used to select this pond, does NOT specifically mention Thompson’s Ice Pond under its “Special Rules” section for Lincoln County, indicating that the pond falls under the general law fishing provisions. However, the on-line version of the self-same 2016 fishing rules stipulates that Thompson’s Ice Pond is a “KIDS ONLY” pond with a two-trap limit.  I would now assume that the on-line version prevails. Please beware of this deep inconsistency!! Thank you, Herb, for pointing out this problem.

 

 

 

 

Thompson’s Ice Pond is a miniscule 1-acre body of water located in the town South Bristol, Lincoln County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 7 C3, but the pond is not shown due to its small size. Click on the Google Map above to get an exact location). The pond is situated at the intersection of Route 129, which runs between Damariscotta and South Bristol, and McFarlands Cove Road. A depth map is not available. Thompson’s Ice Pond is a small reservoir associated with Thompson’s Ice House, which is on the National Registry of Historic Places (click here for details). Plenty of parking is available next to the pond. Why bother with such a small potato? A review of the 2015 stocking report issued by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife shows that this tiny pond was stocked in the fall of 2015 with 150 8” brookies, 100 13” brookies and ten 20” brookies!! Do the math. That works out to an astonishing 260 brook trout per acre! My real focus this morning is on trying to catch one of those huge 20” – 4 lbs brookies.

 

 

 

This 16-inch brookie fell for a small baitfish

This 16-inch brookie fell for a small baitfish

My 13-year old nephew Christian and I arrive at Thompson’s Ice Pond just before 8 am. I’m a bit worried about the ice thickness because last month was so unusually warm. I gingerly walk on the edge of the pond and start making a small hole using my ice spud. I should not have been concerned: the ice is a solid 5” thick. Also to my surprise, no one else is fishing and we will in fact have the pond all to ourselves this morning.  That’s just the way I like it. The weather conditions are also totally in our favor. The air temperature is in the low 30’s with little or no wind, which makes it quite comfortable. The sky is overcast (i.e., no sun to spook the fish) and continuously spits out flurries. And best of all, a low pressure is approaching from the west which makes for a dropping barometric pressure, which is always auspicious for fishing.

 

 

 

Christian jigs up a brookie. The Ice House is in the background.

Christian jigs up a brookie. The Ice House is in the background.

I fire up my auger but it’s temperamental, probably because the machine has been sitting in my garage for the last 9 months.  I drill four holes close the shoreline before the engine stalls out. Shoot… We start setting up four tip-ups baited with small 2” shiners. The water depth ranges between 3 and 6 ft, which is ideal for brook trout. Our first flag of the morning pops up as we’re working on the third trap. It yields a nice 13” brookie. Great, the fish are biting. There now arises a most amazing phenomenon: we are unable to set out more than three traps over the next 60 minutes because we get a flag every 2-3 minutes!! The action is relentless, continuous and non-stop. This incredible feeding flurry depletes our 24 bait fish in less than one hour and results in an amazing 18 brook trout landed (and released), of which one is a 16 incher. All of that activity came out of three holes!  Christian and I are dazed but smiling from ear to ear at our incredible luck so far.

 

 

 

My new jigging lure performed great this morning!

My new jigging lure performed great this morning!

Since we’re out of baitfish and I’m certainly not ready yet to call it quits, it’s time to change tactics and start jigging. I get the auger to start up again and drill a half dozen new holes. I also decided to innovate for this ice fishing season by not relying exclusively on my trusted small airplane jigs or Swedish pimples which I’ve used successfully over the years. Instead, I’ve settled on a small 1/16 oz. jig head dressed up with a 1” Power Nymph by PowerBait (scented) to which I add a Power Wiggler also by PowerBait to generate extra scent. The action consists of gently twitching the tip of the rod which causes all the appendages of the Power Nymph to flare in and out. It looks really delicious, and the trout seem to think so too… I hook and land (and release) 14 additional trout over the next 1.5 hours!! Two of those fish are 16 inchers. Christian lands four brookies while jigging but then loses interest and wanders off to dig holes in the ice with the spud.

 

 

 

This nice 16" brookie fell for my new jig.

This nice 16″ brookie fell for my new jig.

It’s now 10:30 am and time to head back home because Christian has an activity to attend early this afternoon. I did not catch a 20 incher as I was hoping for but the fishing action was nonetheless memorable. We experienced authentic “bliss fishing” this morning… This kind of event occurs on rare occasions (click here and here for other examples) and handsomely makes up for the times when fishing is frustrating or unrewarding. I also observed no obvious old fishing holes which makes me suspect that we may have been one of the very first people to fish Thompson’s Ice Pond through the ice this season. That might explain the near suicidal feeding frenzy we experienced. Presumably, the fish will become more cautious after they’ve been caught and released a few more times…

 

 

 

 

The results: I caught 24 brook trout (the three largest fish measured 16”) and Christian caught 12 brookies (the largest fish measured 14”) after 2.5 hours of out of this world ice fishing action.

 

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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