Ice fishing for northern pike on Sabattus Pond in Sabattus, Maine (February 28, 2015)

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General view of Sabattus Pond looking north from Martin Point

General view of Sabattus Pond looking north from Martin Point

Sabattus Pond is a 1962-acre shallow body of water located in the town of Sabattus, Androscoggin County (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 12 E1). It is an epicenter for northern pike in this part of the state. This ravenous predator was illegally introduced many years ago. It has overrun the pond and spread upstream to Little Sabattus Pond (click here) and downstream into the Androscoggin River via the Sabattus River. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.





Cold but pretty!

Cold but pretty!

My son Joel and I aim to fish off Marr Point on the eastern shore in the northern half of the pond. We’ve done well at this location in the past but have found it difficult to reach without a snowmobile due to access restrictions. We used to park the car at the bottom of Sanborn Road (off Sawyer Road on the western shore of the pond) and then walk across the ice for about half a mile to Marr Point. That road was posted several years ago, and is still posted when we check it this morning. Another way to reach Marr Point it is to access the pond by car in the area of Nason Beach. There’s a turn-off onto the pond from Sawyer Road. Unfortunately, we see that this access point is blocked by snow and people have parked their vehicles along the road shoulder. As a last resort, we check the public boat launch at the end of Lake Street (off Elm Street) by Martin Point at the southern end of the pond. Maybe we can get on the ice from there like we’ve done in the past and then drive north for about 2 miles. But the snow is again blocking access. So, we have no alternative but to leave my truck at the boat launch parking lot and fish off Martin Point. It’s not our first choice but it’ll have to do.


View of Martin Point from the ice

View of Martin Point from the ice

It’s a chilly -9°F when we load our gear in the sled at 7:30 am, but it is wind still and the sun is blazing in a gorgeous blue sky. Temps are forecast to climb in the lower 20’s later on in the day. The parking lot is quite empty this morning. I’ve seen it overflowing with cars during past ice fishing trips. Perhaps the cold is keeping people away. We set up camp about 300-400 ft off Martin Point. The water in this area is a uniform 8-10 ft deep. The ice is a respectable 18”-20” thick and is overlain by 5” of packed snow. The surface water is rather cloudy due to excessive algal growth, which is a recurring problem in this body of water. The action on Sabattus Pond can be fast and furious. I’ve experienced days of 20-30 flags while fishing with five tip-ups. Besides northern pike, the pond also has a robust population of largemouth bass and big white perch. The pike population is abundant but rather stunted. The “typical” fish measures between 20” and 24”, and weighs from 2 to 4 pounds. Pike in the 10+ pound range are also regularly caught but are more rare.


It isn't much to write about but at least I'm not going home skunked!!

It isn’t much to write about but at least I’m not going home skunked!!

Our eight traps are set up by 8:30 am. They’re baited with large 5” shiners placed right below the ice, about midway down and a foot off the bottom. We also added steel leaders to all our lines to prevent the pike from ripping the monofilament with their needle-sharp teeth. We didn’t get a single flag during the 45 minutes set-up process which is never a good sign in this pond… We also drill half-a-dozen holes for jigging. I’m using a large “airplane” jig tipped with a decapitated shiner attached to the tail treble hook to add smell and flash. Joel and I jig for 1.5 hours while rotating from hole to hole, but don’t generate any bites. The traps also remain inactive. A guy on his snowmobile stops by for a chat. He lives on the pond and is going around to inquire about the fishing. He confirms that the bite is slow everywhere this morning and tells us of his buddy who won the ice fishing tournament on this pond last year with a 22-pound pike monster! I finally get my first flag shortly after 10 am. The spool is turning and the fish is running. I set the hook and feel the fish fighting at the other end of the line. This one is no monster but at least I’m not going home skunked. It’s a small 20” pikeling, which nonetheless makes my day. That was the one and only fish activity for us this entire morning. We admit defeat and head back to the truck at 11 am. Regardless, a day on the frozen water always beats a day at home!!


The results: I caught one 20” (2.5 lbs.) northern pike and Joel was skunked after about 3.5 hours of fishing.


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