Stanley Pond is a three-lobed, 137-acre body of water located next to Route 160 in Hiram, Oxford County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 C2). It is accessible via the boat launch located next to the outlet on Tripptown Road off Route 160. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. This pond has a reputation for growing big rainbow trout. It was also stocked last fall with larger trout (click here for details). My son Joel and I will icefish it for the first time today in an attempt to catch one of the big ones. We reach the boat launch by the outlet dam located on the lower lobe of Stanley Pond at 7:25 am. We’re anxious about the ice conditions because it rained heavily five days earlier, followed by relatively balmy daytime temperatures in the mid 40’s. Fortunately, the hard freeze over the last several nights has solidified the slush into 6” of soft ice on top of 9” of black ice. We’re good to go because the ice along the shoreline is also solid. The day promises to be beautiful: full sunshine, no wind, and temps in the low 40’s.
Our strategy today is to set our traps and jig in shallow water (< 10 ft deep) by two points along the eastern shoreline on the lower lobe of Stanley Pond. Targeting physical structure, like points, is always a good idea when ice fishing for trout, whereas fishing an east-facing shoreline ensures that the area remains in the shadows as long as possible. Keep in mind that fish don’t have pupils in their eyes like we do; instead, they avoid high light levels by moving down the water column into deeper water. We pass two guys on our way in, and notice that they are jigging but haven’t bothered to set out any traps, which is unusual. They started fishing shortly before we arrived and thus have yet to catch anything. However, they do confirm the presence of large rainbows in this pond.
We move towards our pre-selected spot by the two points and start drilling holes and setting up traps baited with small minnows along the shoreline. We also drill a bunch of extra jigging holes. We’re all set up by 8:30 am but haven’t had a flag yet. We both start jigging using small “airplane” jigs but generate no interest from the fish. It’s now 10 am and we still haven’t seen one flag or gotten one bite on our lures. Joel walks back to the car to pick up something and stops to chat with the two jigger guys we passed coming in. As they’re shooting the breeze, one of them hooks into a fish and plops a nice 17” rainbow on the ice! Darn it, they’re in here! Ten minutes later (Joel is a smooth talker!), the second guy hooks into a fish but it gets away before reaching the hole. That one too was nice.
Joel excitedly returns to our spot to tell me the news, and we continue jigging with renewed hope. But hope is all we have going today because we are still skunked by 11 am. Unfortunately, we need to leave because my son has another activity to attend in the early afternoon. So, we did it for the first time this ice fishing season: we are utterly skunked, without even a wind flag… But we decide that this pond was well worth our attention this morning given what Joel observed earlier. We will return to troll it this spring after ice-out. Stay tuned…
The results: nothing (= nada) after 4 hours of fishing.
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