Ice fishing for trout on Dutton Pond, Knox, Maine (December 28, 2013)

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General view of Dutton Pond under a low-light, leaden sky

General view of Dutton Pond under a low-light, leaden sky

Dutton Pond covers 36 acres and is located next to Dutton Pond Road off Route 137 in Knox, Waldo County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 14 A3). Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. The pond is quite pretty and feels surprisingly “isolated”, with only two houses visible along the eastern shoreline. This side of the pond appears marshy, but the opposite side is wooded and hilly. I drive 105 miles – one way – to reach this choice spot. Why would anyone go through all of this effort to go ice fishing? The reason is simple: Dutton Pond offers good odds of hooking into a lunker trout during the winter of 2014, but is also stocked with many smaller trout. My hope for today is to catch either a 19” brookie or a 24” brown trout… I arrive at 8 am, park my car on Dutton Pond Road and immediately make my way on the ice. The conditions this morning are to my liking: overcast with flurries in the air. My experience is that low light levels are typically good when ice fishing for trout because the fish stay shallow instead of seeking refuge from the sun in deeper waters. I drill my first hole and am surprised by the 10” of ice, which reflects the harsh winter weather we’ve experienced over the last 2-3 weeks. I’m also in less than 1 ft of water… In fact, I have to move a good 100 ft away from shore before finding 6 ft of water.  


This brookie from Dutton Pond fell for a ball of worms



I have a flag within 10 minutes of setting out my first trap. That’s always a positive sign. And it is also the start of the most incredible experience in my 30 years of ice fishing!! The action from now on is non-stop for the next 1.5 hours. I drill a hole but a flag goes off elsewhere. I run to the tripped trap, get excited by the view of the spinning spool, set the hook, bring in the fish, release it, rebait the trap with a shiner or a ball of worms, and walk back to continue setting my trap when another flag goes off elsewhere. To make a long story short, I catch 14 brook trout over the next 1.5 hours, all of which measure between 13” and 14”, except for one monster trout (see below). I never get to drill my fifth hole… One of my holes in 6 ft of water produces seven trout in about 45 minutes!! I catch three of those trout in a most unusual way: I rebait my hook with a small shiner after I get a flag. I’m on my knees over the hole holding the trap with the bait swimming just below the ice. I’m still adjusting the spool and flag when I feel a tug from below. I set the hook and catch a trout which simply couldn’t wait to eat. This happens not once but three times … in a row!! And I’m not making this up either.


A 21" (4.0 lb) "lunker" brook trout from Dutton Pond caught through the ice

A 21″ (4.0 lb) “lunker” brook trout from Dutton Pond caught through the ice

Out of that magic honey hole also comes the lunker trout I was hoping for this morning. It takes the bait, triggers the flag, and runs for about 20 ft before I set the hook. I know immediately that I have something BIG at the other end. I see the fish when it crisscrosses past the hole during the fight. I can’t believe the size of this thing! It’s a big male with a crocked lower jaw. I wrestle it through the hole, marvel at its beautiful color and size, take a couple of braggin’ pictures and return it to the water to be caught by someone else some other time. I’d love to stay longer but I’m completely out of baitfish and worms by 10 am. I’m also pooped from constantly running to tend my 20 or so flags. So, I decide to call it an amazing morning and pack up to head back home. I truly reach fishing nirvana. And it isn’t by sheer luck, either: I use – and share with you, my blog readers – information on pond surface area, fish stocking density, and fish size to try to tip the odds in my favor. It certainly doesn’t work all the time but it feels damn good when it does work!



The results: I caught 13 brook trout measuring 13” to 14”, and 1 lunker brook trout measuring 21” (4.0 lbs), in 1.5 hours of unforgettable fishing.


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