Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 30, 2017)

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This little landlocked salmon jumped four times out of the water. What a treat!

Today is, most unfortunately, the last day of fishing on Pierce Pond in Somerset County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2) for Joel, Salvy and I before we have to leave this slice of heaven and return back home to face Life. Joel already spent 11 consecutive days on the pond before today and has discovered an intriguing pattern. The cool weather and lack of sunny days over the last week and a half has kept the surface water temperature below normal for this time of the year. The mayfly hatches have been sporadic and inconsistent at best and the fish have not focused on this seasonal food source yet. However, the cool surface water temps have allowed the salmonids to feed extensively in shallow water in search of bait fish and other bug life. Through much trial and error Joel figured out that, based on the unusual prevailing conditions, select rock piles in shallow areas of Pierce Pond (and the pond is full of those piles!) are serving as magnets for prey items and the salmonids that feed on them.

 

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Ice fishing for landlocked Atlantic salmon on Moose Pond, Bridgton, Maine (February 13, 2017)

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View south down the middle basin of Moose Pond. I’ve got the place all to myself this morning! The sky is also completely overcast.

Moose Pond covers 1694 acres and is located in Bridgton (Cumberland County) and Denmark (Oxford County), Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 A3). A convenient public access point is available off Route 302 at the northeastern tip of the middle basin of the lake, right before the road crosses the water. Plenty of parking is available along the shoulder of the road. This pond supports a robust landlocked Atlantic salmon fishery which consistently produces 20+ inch fish. This species is the focus of my efforts today. However, ice fishing for salmon can be slow business. The reason is that the state stocks this species at a low rate (typically about one fish per two or three acres of lake) in order to preserve the local rainbow smelt populations, which represent the salmon’s main forage base, and to allow for decent growth. Hence, lots of patience is needed… Keep in mind that because of the popularity of this fishery with the local hard-water angling crowd and the easy access from Route 302, the regulations for Moose Pond during the ice fishing season stipulate a daily bag limit of one landlocked salmon with a minimum length of 16”. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.

 

 

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Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 27, 2016)

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Day 3: Friday May 27, 2016

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I'm trolling this morning under a leaden sky. Good! It keeps the light levels down.

I’m trolling this morning under a leaden sky. Good! It keeps the light levels down.

Shoot, I “overslept”! I stumble out of my tent at 5 am and get ready for trolling. I don’t bother waking up Joel since he isn’t an early riser anyway. The conditions this morning are very different from the day before: a cold front moved through the region overnight, bringing in a heavy cloud deck, some rain, and lots of wind. What a difference from the perfect conditions we experienced yesterday evening, just a few hours earlier! The rain has stopped but everything is dripping wet. Fortunately, the air temperature is a comfortable 54°F. I start trolling with my usual arsenal: one spinning rod using two Mooselook Wobbler spoons with the monofilament line clipped to a 4-lb weight attached to a portable downrigger, and an 8-weight fly fishing rod paired up with lead core line fishing with a Grey Ghost and Governor Aiken streamer flies. That’s a total of four lures looking for fish 10 to 15 ft below the surface. I like using lead core line in the spring and fall when I don’t have to troll much deeper than two or three colors. In my experience, about 75% of the fish I’ve hooked while trolling over the years have been caught on streamer flies. The reason is that I make the effort of constantly “ripping” my line through the water, thereby causing the flies to make erratic and jerky movements which seem to attract the attention from the fish down below. Besides, by actively working the lead core line one can also experience first-hand the ferocious hits on the streamer flies, which is something which cannot be felt when the line is clipped to a downrigger trolling weight. I get one of those tremendous hits about one hour into my morning troll. But then the lead core line goes slack. Darn it, I missed the fish! I quickly spool in my line when suddenly a landlocked salmon announces itself by performing several crazy jumps out of the water and making two strong runs that rip line off my spool. It looks like it grabbed the Grey Ghost and just kept on swimming towards the boat until my quick spooling action caught up with it. I really like those surprises! The fish measures 18.5”, gets photographed and is released back into the water. I see no further action until I return to camp an hour later, but I’ve got my story to share with Joel over breakfast!

 

 

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Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 28, 2016)

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Day 4: Saturday May 28, 2016

 

I love the ambiance of a wind-still foggy morning on Pierce Pond!

I love the ambiance of a wind-still foggy morning on Pierce Pond!

 

Now that is one fat native wild brookie!

Now that is one fat native wild brookie!

Today is our last day at the Cobb’s camping site on the Upper Pond island before we move our operations to one of the cabins at Cobb’s Camp in Lower Pond. I once again crawl out of my sleeping bag at 4:30 am for my morning troll. It rained heavily last night but now it is wind still and the whole lake is covered by a heavy blanket of fog, which is very much to my liking! I’m fishing alone since Salvy needs to catch up on his sleep. I’m using my usual technique of two Mooselook Wobbler spoons on a down rigger, and two streamer flies on my lead core line fished 10 to 15 ft down. I’m on the water for no more than 15 minutes when my downrigger rod starts shaking. I put down my lead core line which I’m holding in my hands and quickly remove the downrigger rod from the rod holder to unclip the line and set the hook. Shoot, I’m pulling water… I bring in the spoons, cast them out, and start futsing with the downrigger clip when my lead core line suddenly begins shaking violently. Holy mackerel! It looks like the fish which missed hooking itself on the spoon subsequently bit one of the streamer flies when they both passed it by 30 seconds later! And this fish ain’t no minnow either!! I get several powerful runs but no acrobatics. It must be a large brook trout, which it is! The fish measures a relatively short 18.5” but has a hefty girth of 11.5” and weighs in at around 3.3 pounds! It gets carefully measured, photographed and released to grow bigger and be caught again at some future date. Now here’s a fish to brag about around the breakfast table! But I’m not done yet for this morning. Twenty minutes later, I hook but miss a 16” landlocked salmon on one of my streamer flies, and 30 minutes after that I land the smallest salmon (8”) I’ve ever caught on Pierce Pond over the last 15 years. It fell for the Grey Ghost. I’m experiencing a magic morning: the fish are active, the fog is slowly burning off by the rising sun, the water surface is calm, and I’m engaged in my favorite activity. It doesn’t get much better than this…

 

 

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Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 26, 2016)

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Day 2: Thursday May 26, 2016

 

Good morning, Pierce Pond!

Good morning, Pierce Pond!

I drag myself out of my sleeping bag at 4:30 am for early-morning trolling. I like fishing at the crack of dawn because the bite can be quite good before the sun rises and drives the fish deeper. The weather is beautiful, with light wind, temps in the mid 50’s and full visibility. Regardless, I’m dressed like I’m going ice fishing. I know from experience that I feel cold this early in the day because I’m still half asleep, move little, and haven’t had breakfast or a hot beverage. All my efforts are for naught though because I do not get a single hit in the next two hours, either on the streamer flies or the Mooselook Wobbler spoons. Regardless, I deeply enjoy my “alone” time and like the experience of seeing a new day emerge from the night. I return to camp by 7 am. Joel and I prepare breakfast, which for me consists of a healthy portion of pancakes, scrambled eggs, and pork patties, washed down by two cups of hot tea. I’m fully awake now!

 

 

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Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 25, 2016)

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Pierce Pond is a 1,650-acre gem of a lake nestled in the mountains of central Somerset County (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2). It consists of three basins (Upper, Middle, and Lower Ponds, arranged from north to south) connected by two shallow, boulder-infested thoroughfares. The surface water is crystal clear and its quality is superb. The local brook trout population is entirely native, wild and robust. Trout well into the 3 lbs. are not uncommon. The State also stocks landlocked Atlantic salmon, which creates a lively fishery, although those fish rarely exceed 4 lbs., and most stay below 3 lbs. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. The fishing rules are strict in order to protect the outstanding fishery, as follows: (a) the pond is closed to ice fishing; (b) the pond is open to fishing from May 1 to September 30; (c) only artificial lures are allowed; (d) the daily bag limit on trout is two fish with a minimum length of 10” and only one of which may exceed 12”; and (e) no size or bag limit on lake trout. Pierce Pond is completely surrounded by a protected forested watershed. Hence, civilization intrudes minimally. The entire shoreline is deeply wooded and not a single dock or house is visible anywhere, except for Cobb’s Camp where we will be staying for the second half of this trip.

 

 

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Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 25 and 26, 2015)

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Click here for details on the first two days of this awesome trip.

 

Day 3: Monday May 25, 2015

 

Lower Pierce Pond looks gorgeous in the early-morning light

Lower Pierce Pond looks gorgeous in the early-morning light

My alarm goes off at 4:30 am, beckoning me out of bed for another morning troll. I wake up Salvy, who is a trooper this year by deciding to join me at this ungodly hour. Incidentally, we dress up almost like we’re going ice-fishing. The outside temperature is in the low to mid 40’s. We need to seriously layer up because we’re still half asleep, haven’t had breakfast yet or drank any hot beverages (and the Jägermeister shots are dispensed AFTER breakfast, not before!!) and are going to sit motionless in a small boat on a cold lake for the next two hours. We leave the dock at 5 am. The sky is completely overcast but it is fortunately wind still. I cherish these early mornings with my nephew: it gives us a chance to talk about our work, our families, our future plans. But we’re also here for business! We both use two rods: one is connected to a small portable downrigger attached to the side of my boat, while the other consists of a lead core line. Each rod is also fishing two different lures, with the back lure connected to the hook of the front lure by about two ft of monofilament. The down rigger rod uses two spoons (typically some kind of Mooselook and DB smelt) and the lead core rod uses two streamer flies (a combination of the Grey Ghost, Governor Aiken, or Winnipesaukee Smelt). This approach puts a total of eight lures in the water anywhere from 5 ft to 15 ft deep and allows us to cover a lot of terrain. Note that I don’t put the streamer flies on the down rigger. Instead, I like to fish these lures using my lead core line because I can hold the rod and constantly move (“rip”) the line back and forth to provide action and erratic movement to the flies. The spoons, on the other hand, provide their own twisting movement, even when dragged along attached to a 5-lb lead weight. My rod connected to the downrigger starts shaking 20 minutes into the troll. I set the hook and bring in a baby 14” salmon. That, unfortunately, is the only action we see until our return at the dock by 7 am. But at least I won’t be skunked today!

 

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Brook trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 23 and 24, 2015)

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Middle Pierce Pond in all its glory

Middle Pierce Pond in all its glory

Pierce Pond is a 1,650-acre gem of a lake nestled in the mountains of central Somerset County (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2). It consists of three basins (lower, middle and upper) connected by shallow, boulder-infested thoroughfares. The water is crystal clear and its quality is superb. The local brook trout population is entirely native and robust. Trout well into the 3 lbs are not uncommon. The State also stocks landlocked Atlantic salmon, which creates a lively fishery, although those fish rarely exceed 4 lbs, and most stay below 3 lbs. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. The fishing rules are strict, as follows: (a) the pond is closed to ice fishing; (b) the pond is open to fishing from May 1 to September 30; (c) only artificial lures are allowed; (d) the daily bag limit on trout is two fish with a minimum length of 10” and only one of which may exceed 12”; and (e) no size or bag limit on lake trout. Click here for more details on the regulations. This water body is completely surrounded by a protected forested watershed. Hence, civilization intrudes minimally. The entire shoreline is deeply wooded and not a single dock or house is visible anywhere, except for Cobb’s Camp where we will be staying for the next four days.  Our hosts provide us with a comfortable log cabin, a warm bed, a flush toilet, a hot shower, a cozy wood stove, and three square meals a day! Our one and only job while in this enchanted place is to fish until we drop dead from exhaustion!

 

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Landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing on Peabody Pond, Sebago, Maine (April 25, 2015)

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Tandem fishing on Peabody Pond with a downrigger and lead core line.

Tandem fishing on Peabody Pond with a downrigger and lead core line.

Peabody Pond is a 735-acre body of water located in the town of Sebago in Cumberland County (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 B4). Access is via a hard-top municipal boat launch located next to Peabody Pond Road off Route 107. The launch is situated next to the pond’s major outlet, which forms the source of the Northwest River linking Peabody Pond to Sebago Lake. This launch is spacious and can accommodate substantial vessels. Be aware, however, that launching and retrieving can become a real challenge later on in the spring when the water levels drop due to the shallowness of the launch area. The pond is moderately developed along its western shoreline, but otherwise provides a rather remote setting with Bald Pate Mountain as a lovely backdrop.

 

 

 

 

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Trout and salmon fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Maine (May 24 to 27, 2014)

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Cobb's Camp, our headquarters for the next four days

Cobb’s Camp, our headquarters for the next four days

This blog continues the story started here. Salvi and Bill arrive at Cobb’s Camp on Lower Pierce Pond on Saturday morning at 11:30 am for our annual, 4-day fly fishing extravaganza. We all love staying at Cobb’s this time of year to take advantage of the may fly hatches which typically peak on this lake during the long Memorial Day weekend. We move in our own log cabin featuring a warm bed, a wood stove, electric power, running water, a hot shower, and a toilet. Not bad for a near-wilderness setting far off in the Maine woods! Our hosts also serve us three square meals, which includes a bagged lunch to take with us on the water.

 

 

 

 

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