Smallmouth bass fishing on Panther Pond, Raymond, Maine (May 8, 2015)

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The eastern shoreline of Panther Pond, with Betty's Neck in the left background.

The eastern shoreline of Panther Pond, with Betty’s Neck in the left background.

Some of the best smallmouth bass fishing on Maine lakes occurs in mid-spring when the fish are moving in-shore to prepare to lay their eggs. Typical smallmouth bass spawning habitat consists of a clean, rocky and bouldery shoreline in 2 to 10 ft of water, with easy access to nearby deeper water. The fish start moving in these shallows when the water temperature reaches the low 50’s in early May. Actual spawning typically starts towards the end of May when the water temperature hovers between the high 50’s and mid 60’s. The smallmouths feed aggressively in May in order to fatten up in preparation for the spawn. The goal, therefore, is to position oneself at the right place and the right time, using the right lure and the right fishing technique, in order to take advantage of this short window of opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ice fishing for splake and smallmouth bass on Trickey Pond in Naples, Maine (March 29, 2015)

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Trickey Pond is a 311 acre pristine body of water located next to Route 114 in Naples, Cumberland County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 B5). I have fished this pond numerous times in the past (for recent examples, click here and here) and have invariably found it … trickey and unpredictable! The fishing can be really slow but also rewarding for those who are willing to put in the time and learn its secrets. Today is my last day of the 2015 hard water season. The past winter was long, cold, brutal, and snowy. We experienced what folks around here call a good ole Maine winta! I’m fishing this morning for a couple of hours but have also organized a picnic for later on today on this pond with about 25 friends and family members. The purpose of our get-together is to shake off “cabin fever”, celebrate the end of the cold season and welcome in the start of spring.

 

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Smallmouth bass fishing on Dundee Pond, Windham, Maine (July 12, 2014)

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General view if Dundee Pond: calm, serene, and all to ourselves!

General view if Dundee Pond: calm, serene, and all to ourselves!

Dundee Pond is a 197-acre body of water located in Windham and Gorham, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 D2). A public launch is located off Windham Center Road right below the North Gorham Pond Dam in Windham. This access point has parking for about eight cars but can only accommodate hand-carried craft. The stretch of water between the launch and the pond itself consists of about a quarter mile of the Presumpscot River. The current is steady and relatively strong which requires kayakers and canoeists to paddle their way back up after they’re done fishing on the pond. An alternative approach, which bypasses this flowing water altogether, is to launch an hand-carried craft from the sandy beach at Dundee Park located at the end of Dundee Road off River Road in Windham. The park is open from 8 am until sunset but charges an entry fee of $4 per adult (12 years and older) and $2 per child (2 to12 years). Click here for more information. I also attempted to access the pond at the Dundee Pond dam located at the end of Dundee Road (off Hurricane Road in Gorham) but turned around when I noticed that the road was posted as “no trespassing”.

 

 

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Ice fishing for smallmouth bass on Trickey Pond, Naples, Maine (March 29, 2014)

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General view of Trickey Pond with cloud "mountains" in the background

Early morning view of Trickey Pond looking north with “cloud mountains” in the background

Trickey Pond covers 311 acres and is located next to Route 114 in Naples, Cumberland County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 B5). Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. Access to this pond is via a hard-top boat launch off Route 114. Beware that this launch is not typically plowed in the winter and that a 4X4 vehicle is required if you plan on driving down towards the pond. Limited parking is possible along the shoulder on Route 114. Trickey Pond contains exceptionally clean water (the pond is entirely spring-fed) and provides a smorgasbord of sport fish species. It supports a well-known regional salmonid fishery consisting of landlocked salmon, splake, and brook trout. But it also has an abundant smallmouth bass population of exceptional size and quality. It is these fish that I’m targeting today.

 

 

 

That's what a long, hard Maine winter does to water!

That’s what a long, hard Maine winter does to water!

 

I arrive at Trickey Pond with my truck around 6:30 am. I walk on the ice and drill a hole to make sure that I can safely drive on it. Holy mackerel, the ice thickness certainly reflects the awesome cold we’ve endured this winter: my auger finally breaks through after making a 26” deep hole! I drive across to the shoreline on the opposite end of the boat launch. My strategy this morning (which has worked – almost – flawlessly on this pond over the years) is to place my tipups in 20 to 35 ft of water in front of a cove. Even though it’s still winter, the bass typically start to congregate in front of their spawning beds in that cove this time of the year. I just need to find them by placing the bait in different locations… Read this blog for more information on this topic.

 

This 18" bronzeback fell for a small shiner 2 ft off the bottom

This 18″ bronzeback fell for a small shiner 2 ft off the bottom

I drill my holes and place the small baitfish about 2 ft off the bottom. I’m working on my fourth tipup when two flags pop up essentially at the same time. Nice, the fish are at their post!!  I land one smallmouth but the second one steals the bait before I can set the hook. I re-arrange the location of the tipups based on this new information. I have steady action over the next hour, with seven flags resulting in three bronzebacks. All are females: large (16”-18”), bloated with eggs and heavy! And then the flag action stops completely…The darn fish are still down there, of course, but the rising sun and increased light intensity seems to have stopped the morning feed. Boy, have I seen this pattern before!

 

 

 

 

 

A 2" yellow-orange airplane jig enticed this fish to bite

A 2″ yellow-orange airplane jig enticed this fish to bite

I drill a dozen jigging holes among and around the previously-active tipups. If the bass won’t take a live minnow, perhaps they’ll be interested in a darting lure. I use a small 2” airplane jig which has worked well for me in the past. I don’t work the whole water column but instead concentrate my efforts just off the bottom. Around 9 am I’m joined by a guy who lives right on Trickey. He sets up his traps a little ways off hoping to catch splake. We talk fishing for about an hour and a half, during which he gets two flags from one hole. Both result in smallies which took the baitfish placed 3 ft under the ice! We’re both puzzled by this unexpected behavior, but I’ll store that information for future consideration…

 

 

 

 

The blog author showing off the biggest fish of the morning

Your blog author showing off the biggest fish of the morning

My jigging efforts yield two more bronzebacks. One is a really nice 18.5” fat female that weighs over 3.5 lbs. I catch her with the jig right after she triggered a flag and stole the bait. Actually, that was the only flag action in 3 hours. The bite is dead now and I decide to call it good at 10:45 am. I thoroughly enjoyed my last morning on hard water for the 2014 ice fishing season. The bass where doing their thing, the weather was fine, and the company enjoyable. Now I just have to wait until all the ice and the snow melts so that I can start trolling for landlocks and fish for brookies in local streams in a couple of weeks. Life is darn good : )

 

 

 

 

 

The results: I caught 5 smallmouth bass measuring between 15.5” and 18.5” in 4 hours.

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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Smallmouth bass fishing on the Androscoggin River in Lisbon, Maine (June 23, 2013)


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General view of the rapids on the Androscoggin River about 0.5 miles upstream of the Sabattus River boat launch

General view of the rapids on the Androscoggin River about 0.5 miles upstream of the Sabattus River boat launch

I’m fishing a set of rapids on the Androscoggin River with my ten-year old nephew Christian this afternoon. These rapids are found about 0.5 miles upstream of the boat launch located on the Sabattus River where it  flows into the Androscoggin River off Route 196 (and just upstream of the old railroad bridge) in Lisbon.  We arrive at 4 pm and quickly launch my boat. The water level is quite low and the boat launch isn’t very steep. I’ve got to go way into the water before my small boat floats off the trailer. This could be an issue for more substantial craft.

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Bass fishing on the Tenny River, Raymond, Maine (June 22, 2013)

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General view of the Tenny River: broad and very shallow.

General view of the Tenny River: broad and very shallow.

The Tenny River connects Crescent Lake to Panther Pond in Raymond, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 B2). Calling this body of water a “river” is somewhat of a misnomer. It is essentially a 1.5-mile long, shallow thoroughfare. However, the current definitely flows in a southerly direction, from Crescent Lake into Panther Pond. The Tenny River is wide (60 to > 100 ft) but very shallow (1 to 3 ft for the most part). Both banks of the river are lined with trees and woods, providing a nice and “remote” feel. The substrate consists mainly of coarse sand and gravel/pebbles, interspersed with larger rocks. The bottom is either bare or covered with aquatic submerged plants. The water is crystal clear. The limited bass habitat, consisting of weedy shallows and submerged wood, is all congregated along the shoreline.  The rest of the river is otherwise pretty featureless and does not provide attractive habitat.

 

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Smallmouth bass fishing on Sebago Lake – Dingley Islands, Casco, Maine (June 2, 2013)

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Dingley Islands, Sebago Lake, Maine

Dingley Islands, Sebago Lake, Maine

I’m spending the weekend with my family at Sebago Lake State Park, which is located at the northern end of Sebago Lake in Naples. I love camping at this location in early June because we have the camp ground (almost…) to ourselves, yet the weather is warm enough to make an overnight stay a pleasure. It is only later on in the summer that the park becomes crowded and noisy on weekends. My son Joel and I decide to get up at 6 am on Sunday morning to spend two hours fishing for smallmouth bass in and around the Dingley Islands before the rest of the family gets up. The Dingley islands consist of two dozen or so small to large islands located in the northwestern corner of Sebago Lake, near South Casco (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 C1).

 

 

 

 

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Trout fishing on Cold Rain Pond, Naples, Maine (November 25, 2012)

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View of Cold Rain Pond from the public access point

Cold Rain Pond is located in Naples (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 B5). Access to this pond is as follows: hang a left onto Kimball Corner Road when driving north on Route 114/11 in North Sebago. Turn left on Tiger Hill Road after just over 3 miles. This road is located across from Lake House Road (look for the sculptures of three black bears). The access point to the pond, which is on the left after about 0.5 mile, consists of an unimproved launch which cannot accommodate trailered boats. Be aware that Tiger Hill Road is rough, rutted, and bouldery, and may require a 4X4 vehicle.

 

 

 

 

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ice fishing for bass: eight proven tactics to catch more of them

Contrary to popular lore, smallmouth and largemouth bass do bite under the ice. In fact, I’ve caught some of my biggest bass that way! But we have to adjust our tactics in response to the wintery conditions. The fish congregate on the bottom and are lethargic and slow. They only eat a small fraction of what they would normally eat in the summer. But here’s the thing: they do need to feed and can therefore be caught.  Below are some ways to catch more bass under the ice.

 

Bass fishing through hard water is a blast!

Bass fishing through hard water is a blast!


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Smallmouth bass fishing on the Androscoggin River, Topsham, Maine (June 24, 2012).


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View of the rock piles around the bridge over the Androscoggin River

This afternoon, I’m fishing the stretch of the Androscoggin River between the Pejepscot boat launch in Topsham and the power dam located about 0.5 mile further upstream (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 6 B2). I spend most of my time fishing the rock piles around where the Route 125 bridge crosses the river. The water level is quite high today and more water than normal is flowing through these rocks, which should attract smallies who like to ambush prey from behind submerged boulders.My lure of choice is a 4″ pink soft stickbait. I’m imbedding the large hook inside the body of the bait, but quickly notice that this tactic is causing me problems. I’m getting bites but missing too many fish because the point doesn’t come out of the bait when I set the hook. I switch to the “wacky worm”, which consists of squeezing the stickbait through a small “O” ring before hooking the “O” ring + the bait to a No. 8 fish hook. The results are immediate because the hook is now exposed instead of being embedded inside the bait. Just about every hit yields a bass.

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