The Pleasant River is a relatively short stream which originates in Gray and merges with the Presumpscot River near South Windham. The stretch I’m fishing today flows from upstream of Pope Road up to Route 302 (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 D2). The State stocks this river several times in the spring with a combined total of about 2,300 to 2,500 brown trout and brook trout. Most of the stocked fish typically measure about 10”. Click here for more details on the trout stocking program.
The Pleasant River above the Pope Road bridge is about 20-30 ft wide. Even though it flows through the center of Windham (the back of the high school abuts the river), it has a definite “remote” feeling to it which I personally enjoy. The river flows mostly through a densely-wooded area, which provides much shade from the overhanging trees and branches and enhances the overall quality of the trout habitat. Some of the white pines growing along the shoreline are also ancient-looking and seem to be well over 100 years old. The best way to fish is in chest waders. Don’t bother with hip boots because numerous spots on the river are over 3 ft deep and would therefore become impassable.
The Pleasant River shows multiple personalities, consisting of long and deep slow-flowing pools, swift runs, and shallow riffles. Depending on the location, the substrate may consist of bedrock, silt, muck, coarse sand, grave/cobble, or boulders. It is remarkable how few people fish this little gem, given its central location close to several large population centers in southern Maine. I don’t think that that I’ve ever seen more than a maximum of 3 or 4 people on any one outing. However, be aware of the rules that pertain to this stretch of water, as follows: (a) fishing is permitted from April 1 to November 30; (b) only artificial lures are allowed, and (c) all trout must be released alive at once. Click here for more details on the fishing regulations. The average trout typically measures 10” to 12”. The largest one I have ever caught on this river measured 15”. That makes me think that only a few of the stocked trout survive from one year to the next.
I arrive at Pope Bridge at 7:30 am and have a quick chat with a guy who started fishing early in the morning and is now getting ready to go to work. That’s the spirit! He caught four trout on an emerger in a little over an hour. I’d rather use a small spinner on the Pleasant River because I like to “roam”, looking for promising areas to cast in. Several locations are ideal for fly fishing, but the overhanging trees and branches limit the number of usable fly-fishing spots on much of the river.
The stream flow is great but the water column looks quite cloudy, due to the rain from yesterday. I start the morning by casting my Mepps spinner in the river flowing underneath the Pope Road bridge. That spot is always good for a fish or two. It doesn’t disappoint as I catch a brookie on my very first cast! I work my way upstream at a leisurely rate, probing all my favorite fishing holes which I have discovered over the years. The river doesn’t disappoint: I land 13 brook trout and three brown trout over the next four hours. I also hooked but missed another half a dozen trout, and lost count of the number of hits ‘n misses.
Overall, I’d rate the section of the Pleasant River upstream of the Pope Road bridge as an A-. This stream offers good trout habitat, is readily accessible, is not overcrowded, can be easily waded and is very well stocked. The only reason I don’t rate it as an A+ is because of the river’s habit to quickly turn into a muddy mess after a rain storm due to excessive siltation. Regardless, I highly recommend spending quality fishing time on this otherwise beautiful body of water.
The results: I caught a total of 16 trout measuring 9″ to 12″ in 4.0 hours of fishing.
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