Native brook trout fishing in Baxter State Park: Day 2 (September 27, 2014)

This blog is a continuation of this blog.

DAY 2: Long Pond to Middle Fowler Pond

 

Today is definitely the “laziest” of our five hiking days. We have to walk for about 2 miles, i.e., no more than one hour, in order to reach our next camp site on Middle Fowler Pond. Hence, we don’t feel the rush to get going this morning. Joel and Salvador are sleeping in, whereas I have a hot date with High Pond (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 51 A1). I crawl out of my tent at 6 am, well before sunrise, and walk to the canoe storage place. I unlock the canoe and drag it over the spit of land separating Long Pond from High Pond, and gently lower it into the water.

View Map

 

View of High Pond, with Trout Brook Mountain in full fall foliage colors

View of High Pond, with Trout Brook Mountain in full fall foliage colors

 

 

High Pond covers 17 acres, and has a maximum and mean depth of 15 ft and 8 ft, respectively. The water is crystal clear. The substrate consists mostly of gravel and cobble. The pond supports a robust native brook trout population, with the largest fish reaching 12”-13”. Unlike its next-door neighbor, the water column in this pond does not stratify into a warm and cold layer in summer, meaning that the bottom is just as warm as the top. Trout survive the hot months by congregating around spring holes. Hence, locate the springs in the summer and you’ll catch the fish. That’s not an issue for me this morming because the surface water temperature has dropped into the high 50’s.  The daily bag limit on trout is five fish with a minimum length limit of 6”. Use or possession of life baitfish is prohibited, but dead fish, salmon eggs, and worms are allowed as bait. Click here for more information on the fishing regulations. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information on the pond.

 

 

The northern shoreline of High Pond illuminated by the rising sun

The northern shoreline of High Pond illuminated by the rising sun

I brought my lead core with me in order to troll using two small trout lures, namely a 1/10 oz silver ACME Thunderbolt spoon and a 1.5” silver Phoebe spoon. I like the Phoebe spoon in particular because of its great twisting action. I should have brought different color schemes of this spoon with me on the trip but didn’t, so I hope that silver will work. I also fish the Thunderbolt and Phoebe spoons “in tandem”, i.e., the former is attached to the line coming from the reel and the latter is attached to the hook of the former via 15”-20” of monofilament. This approach creates more flash and increases the odds of hooking a fish.

 

 

 

A nice way to start the morning!

A nice way to start the morning!

I let out over half a color of lead core which puts my lures down about 5 ft. I quietly paddle the canoe around the pond about 50-75 ft off shore. It’s a glorious morning: not a cloud in the sky, no bugs, no other humans, air temp in the low 50’s, and a gentle breeze. The resident beaver, which so angrily protested my presence by continuously slapping its tail when I fished along the berm two years ago, is still on patrol. Fortunately, he just gives me one angry splash before disappearing. I hook my first brookie about 20 minutes into my morning troll. The fish measures 11” but makes up for its smallish size by its vigor and persistence. I continue trolling around the pond for another hour and land two more brookies measuring 12” and 13”. I notice that the lay of the land, the surrounding tall trees, and the lower angle of the sun keep the southern shoreline of High Pond entirely in the shadow. I’d love to stay longer but it’s now well past 8 am and I need to rejoin my team mates at camp.

 

 

Spectacular...

Spectacular…

They finally got out of bed and started breakfast when I return. We take it easy this morning and are all packed up to leave by 10:30 am. We arrive at the Middle Fowler Pond North camp site an hour or so later. The views from this location of Burrell Ridge and the back side of the Traveler Mountains are simply SPECTACULAR. Make sure to get this campsite if you plan on spending the night. The second camp site (Middle Fowler Pond South) doesn’t offer the same views and isn’t nearly as comfortable. We set up camp, prepare lunch, and are in the canoe by 1:30 pm.

 

 

 

 

View Map

Middle Fowler Pond is long, narrow, and beautiful

Middle Fowler Pond is long, narrow, and beautiful

Middle Fowler Pond (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 51 A1) covers 45 acres, and has a maximum and mean depth of 27 ft and 13 ft, respectively. It looks much bigger than its actual size because it is long but narrow. The water is crystal clear. The substrate consists mostly of gravel and cobble. The pond supports an abundant native brook trout population, but the trout are uniformly small with none reaching over 12”. All the fish are also infested with a skin parasite called “black spot”. It is unsightly on the trout but harmless to humans. The water column does not stratify into a warm and cold layer in summer, meaning that the bottom is just as warm as the top. Trout survive the hot months by congregating around spring holes. Hence, locate the springs in the summer and you’ll catch the fish. That’s not an issue for us today because the surface water temperature has dropped into the high 50’s.  The daily bag limit on trout is five fish with a minimum length limit of 6”. Use or possession of life baitfish is prohibited, but dead fish, salmon eggs, and worms are allowed as bait. Click here for more information on the fishing regulations. Click here for a depth map and more information on the pond and its fisheries.

 

 

Salvador and Joel taking a very cold dip in Middle Fowler Pond

Salvador and Joel taking a very cold dip in Middle Fowler Pond

We paddle around the pond trolling small trout lures 5 to 15 ft deep. Like yesterday afternoon, the sun is blazing high up in the blue sky. Unlike yesterday afternoon, a stiff wind blows in from the northwest. It’s fun to troll downwind, but a lot of work to paddle upwind! The pattern repeats itself: the clear water and bright sunshine drives the trout down to the bottom and makes them lock-jawed. We announce ourselves defeated and return to camp by 2:30 pm, skunked. Salvador and Joel take a dip in the pond to cool down. I walk around and position myself on the rock piles located along the western shoreline right across from our campsite. The bottom plunges straight down to 15-20 ft next to these rocks. Besides, that entire shoreline is in shadow, even in mid-afternoon. I cast my spinner, let it sink all the way to the bottom, and then slowly retrieve it back up. It’s tedious work which yields me three brookies after two hours. By now, Joel and Salvador are back in the canoe using the same strategy, but they only catch one brookie.

 

 

This brookie was caught from the rock piles along the western shoreline across from our camp site

This brookie was caught from the rock piles along the western shoreline across from our camp site

We reconvene at camp at 5 pm to discuss our fishing options. The conditions this afternoon are similar to those that created the hatch on High Pond yesterday. So, we decide to stay put and keep an eye on the water surface for potential rises. Lo and behold, as the sun dips behind the mountains and the wind dies down, the trout rise from the bottom and start feeding on a small brown fly hatch! We’re giddy with excitement as we crowd into the canoe and quietly paddle out to meet our quarry.  We reach Fishing Nirvana, a situation that occurs only once or twice a year in a fisherman’s life when all the conditions line up perfectly to create an unforgettable experience. To make a long story short, we land a total of 33 brookies over the next hour and a half! We catch them over rises or deeper in the water column; it doesn’t seem to matter. Joel has the magic lure for this evening: a #1 Mepps with a rainbow trout color pattern (i.e., white, pink, and blue with small black dots). He lands 18 fish, whereas Salvador and I bring in 7 and 8 fish, respectively. Most of the trout measure between 8” and 10”; some are smaller and some are larger. We keep five fish for the frying pan. We return to camp around 7 pm when the hatch ends and the trout stop rising due to the enclosing darkness. Diner is a happy recounting of our fishing experience. This is what our adventure is truly all about…

 

 

The results: High Pond: I fished for 1.5 hours and caught three brookies (11” to 13”). Lower Fowler Pond: We fished for a total of around 11 man-hours and caught 42 brookies measuring between 6” and 12”.

 

This story continues here

 

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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