Native brook trout fishing in Baxter State Park: Day 5 (September 30, 2014)

This blog is a continuation of this blog.

 

DAY 5: From Russell Pond to the Roaring Brook camp ground

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Deep Pond in the early morning fog and mist

Today is unfortunately the last of our memorable five-day Baxter State Park through-hike and native brook trout fishing trip. It is also the last day of the 2014 fishing season in the park. After spending a warm and dry night in the bunk house at the Russell Pond camp site, I get up once more at the crack of down to fish Deep Pond. This water body covers 8 acres and is located an easy 15-20 minute hike from Russell Pond (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 51 B1). It has a maximum and mean depth of 19 ft and 9 ft, respectively, and is home to an abundant, but stunted, native brook trout population. The water is clear and the shoreline is completely forested. The pond develops an oxygen deficiency in the summer at depths of 12 ft or more which forces the trout to reside in the upper half of the water column during the warm season. Deep Pond could actually be fished comfortably from shore by kids using bobbers and worms.  An enormous flat rock sits at the water’s edge by the canoe launch and can easily accommodate several people. Good casting would place the bait, or a lure, close to the center of the pond. 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.

 

 

The native brookies from Deep Pond are tiny bulldogs!

The native brookies from Deep Pond are tiny bulldogs!

 

Deep Pond offers nice views of Traveler Mountain to the north and Hamlin Peak to the south, except not this morning: conditions are damp, drizzly, overcast, and fogged-in, with air temps in the mid-40’s. I arrive at 6:35 am and quietly launch the canoe. I brought my lead core reel 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 fished “in tandem”. I attach the Phoebe spoon to the hook of the Thunderbolt spoon using 15” to 20” of monofilament. Voila! I just doubled my chances of catching fish. I let out one color of lead core, which places the lures about 6-8 ft below the surface, and paddle the canoe around the pond 50-75 ft away from shore to avoid snagging submerged aquatic vegetation. I’m in a beautiful place this morning: alone, far away from civilization and its multiple distractions, in the middle of the wilderness, safe on a canoe, and engaged in a most cherished activity. And the local brookies decide to enliven this delightful moment: I catch seven fish in one hour. All are tiny (6”-7”) but they don’t know that and fight like mad little bulldogs. They are natives after all! I’d love to stay longer but need to return to camp and join up with my two team mates at 8 am, as promised.

 

 

A wadable but COLD stream with perfect fall colors along its banks

A wadable but COLD stream with perfect fall colors along its banks

We’re all packed up and ready to go by 10 am. We have about 8 miles of hiking ahead of us before we reach our car at the Roaring Brook campground. Fortunately, we’re staying the entire day down in the valley with little or no elevation difference. Like yesterday, the temperature remains in the mid-50’s which makes the trek more comfortable. The one unexpected event occurs when we reach the banks of the Wassataquoik Stream, about 1.5 miles south of Russell Pond. We look for a bridge to cross this waterway but find none. It then dawns on us that we actually have to wade across this fairly wide but shallow, and freakin’ cold, stream! We are also reminded that we’re only temporary guests in a wild place when we notice two huge black bear poops unceremoniously dumped by their owners on the trail. One of those piles looks mighty fresh!

 

 

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Whidden Pond #1 has native brook trout but no canoe to get to them

Whidden Pond #1 has native brook trout but no canoe to get to them

The last two native brook trout ponds on our itinerary are the Whidden Ponds and Sandy Stream Pond (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 51 C1 for both ponds). We do not stop to fish either one because neither provides access to a canoe. The Widden Ponds actually consist of three individual water bodies. We stop at the largest of the three (known as #1), which is located next to the Poggy Pond Trail. It covers 10 acres but is quite shallow, with a maximum depth of only 4 ft. It also does not appear to be readily accessible from shore, some of which looks marshy. The pond could easily be fished from a small, back-packable inflatable boat or perhaps even by using waders, assuming that the substrate isn’t too muddy. We do see several rises on Whidden Pond #1, which we know are brook trout since no other fish species are present in this water body. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.

 

 

 

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Sandy Stream Pond with a view of South Turner Mountain makes for a pretty picture!

Sandy Stream Pond with a view of South Turner Mountain makes for a pretty picture!

Sandy Stream Pond is located an easy 10-15 minute walk north of the Roaring Brook camp ground. The pond is beautiful, with South Turner Mountain and Mount Katadhin as backgrounds. It covers 17 acres, but has a maximum depth of only 4 ft. The water is crystal clear but is also quite cold: it does not exceed the mid 50’s, even in the summer. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. We ask the ranger at Roaring Brook why the park does not rent canoes on this pond, given that the camp ground is so close by. The response is that brook trout fishing is perfectly legal on this body of water but not encouraged. The reason is that Sandy Stream Pond is the premier moose sighting location in all of New England! On our way in, we do notice over half a dozen photographers sitting on prominent boulders along the shoreline, patiently waiting for one of the beasts to stroll onto the scene. Shore fishing does not appear promising, given the extreme shallowness of the pond. However, it could easily be fished from a small, back-packable inflatable boat and also by using waders, because the substrate appears relatively firm.

 

 

A picture is worth a thousand words!

A picture is worth a thousand words!

In conclusion, our five-day hike was a complete success. I fished six ponds along the way (namely Long Pond on day 1, High Pond and Middle Fowler Pond on day 2, Upper South Branch Pond on Days 3 and 4, Russell Pond on day 4, and Deep Pond on day 5) and caught native brookies in every one of them! The scenery and the leaf colors were stunning and we had the park largely to ourselves. We were not bothered by mosquitos, blackflies or deer flies along the trail. The only strenuous part of the hike occurred on day 3 when we had to gain 1000 ft of altitude to cross over Burrell Ridge between Middle Fowler Pond and Lower South Branch Pond. We hiked the greatest distances on the last two days, but the total of 16 miles of trail between Upper South Branch Pond and the Roaring Brook camp ground was essentially flat. I highly recommend this trip to anyone who is passionate about camping, hiking and fishing in a pristine wilderness setting. It is truly an unforgettable experience.

 

 

 

This 6' Okuma Voyager Traveler rod worked great for me

This 6′ Okuma Voyager Traveler rod worked great for me

I’ll end this blog by making a shameless plug in support of the fishing rod I used on this trip. I needed a light but back-packable spinning rod. After some on-line research, I settled on the Voyager Travel set made by Okuma, which I bought on EBay. The rod costs a surprisingly-affordable $40 and includes a (cheapish) spinning reel, a small plastic lure box, and a well-made cloth and foam travel case. The rod measures 6 ft and breaks down into five pieces. Each piece is nicely finished with ceramic guides; the handle is made of genuine cork. I used the rod for spin fishing and trolling with lead core line up to two colors down. Just as importantly, the rod fit in a card board tube only 17” long and 2” wide which slipped in my backpack with no problem. Don’t expect a top-of-the-line rod, but this one handled my hiking, spinning and trolling requirements well and in style.

 

The results: I trolled on Deep Pond for 1 hour and caught seven 6”-7” native brookies.

 

 

 

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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