Trout fishing on the Pleasant River, Windham, Maine (October 17, 2015)

A quiet morning fishing for trout on the Pleasant River while leaf peeing. What a combination!

A quiet fall morning trout fishing on the Pleasant River while leaf peeping… How better does life get??

The Pleasant River is a major tributary of the Presumpscot River. It originates in Gray and flows in a south-westerly direction to its confluence with the Presumpscot located at a spot a few miles downstream of Dundee Pond in Windham.  A favorite stretch of the Pleasant River flows from Route 302 by Foster Corner to Pope Road, located about 1.5 miles further downstream (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 D2 and D3). This is the stretch I am exploring this morning with Christian, my 12-year old nephew. He’s excited about this trip because he has never used waders before and it will also be his first time fishing for trout using spinners, instead of worms and bobbers. I’m lending him one of my spare waders. We get a good laugh during the pre-fishing fitting session at home when we realize that the top of the waders hit his chin! He looks like an oversized gnome with hanging skin but he takes it all in good strides.






The Pleasant River in all its glory. Notice to low water level.

The Pleasant River in all its glory. Notice the low water level.



The Pleasant River is stocked five or six times between late April and early June with a combined  total of around 2500 8” to 10” brook trout and brown trout, and then once more in mid- to late October with 200 13” brown trout. The spring trout fishing can be fast and furious (click here), whereas the action in the fall is typically much slower due to the colder water, but can yield larger trout since those fish stocked in the spring have had a few months to fatten up. I particularly like fishing this river in the second or third week of October for the opportunity of catching fat brookies in gorgeous fall spawning colors. That is the main goal of today’s trip. Keep in mind that this stretch of the Pleasant River has special fishing regulations, as follows: (a) open from April 1 to November 30, (b) artificial lures only, and (c) catch and release only. Click here for more details.


Christian is hip deep in the water and loving it!

Christian is hip deep in the water and loving it!

We arrive early at the Pope Road Bridge and are all suited up by 7 am. It is a gorgeous fall day: the foliage is peaking, the air is fragrant with fall odors, everything is dripping wet due to the overnight showers, the air temperature is a fresh 44°F, and the sky is partially sunny. I am greatly surprised at the water level in the Pleasant River: it is as low as I’ve seen it for this time of the year. That’s fine with me because it’ll concentrate the trout in the pools. I invariably fish this stretch by working my way upstream. It is easier to sneak up on trout when casting upstream because they instinctively face into the current, meaning that they can’t see the approaching fisherman. The first spot to fish is under the road bridge. I don’t know what it is about this location, but it invariably produces one or more trout. And it is no different today. I get a hit – but miss – on my very first cast, and land a small 10” brownie on my third cast. Unfortunately, by that time Christian has gotten his Mepps #2 spinner stuck on the bottom and I’ve got to go splash through the water flowing underneath the bridge to retrieve it, thereby scaring all the fish away. No problem; we’ll hit this spot again when we return later on this morning.




The Pleasant River as it flows underneath Pope Road. That spot is golden!!

The Pleasant River as it flows underneath Pope Road. That spot is golden!!

We fish our way upstream almost to Route 302 over the next three and a half hours, and we catch a grand total of … a single 11” brown trout!! What is going on here? I’ve hit all of the spots that have yielded fall trout in the past but none of them produces fish. I’m totally baffled, because the conditions are just perfect. One recurring problem is the large number of leaves floating on the water: they’re constantly fouling up our spinners. I also succeed in stumbling into the water not once, but twice… The first time, I’m standing in 3.5 ft of water when I drop my fishing rod while taking a picture. I lose my balance while trying to bring up the rod with my right foot and fall completely into the water. Fortunately, only my right arm gets wet. Later on, I’m in 1 ft of water walking alongside the bank slowly casting my way upstream when I suddenly stumble into a 4-ft deep hole! This time, it’s my left arm that gets all wet. I also slip and fall several times on the wet clay that is exposed due to the low water level. All and all, not a picture of accomplishment…



This brown trout made it all worthwhile!

This brown trout made it all worthwhile!

We return to the Pope Road bridge at around 11 am. This time, success! I hook and land a 13” and 12” brown trout in less than 10 minutes. I can see the frustration etched on Christian’s face because he’s had nibbles over the last several hours but no trout to show for it. Unfortunately, this spot once again plays out when I have to splash through the water to retrieve his stuck spinner. I tell him that he did great because at least he didn’t fall into the water like uncle Stan! We’ll be back now that he understands the concept of wader fishing and expresses an interest in doing more of. Besides, I still need to catch one of those beautiful brookies in fall spawning colors :-))



I’ll end by saying that the Pleasant River is truly a hidden gem. It is located less than 30 minutes driving from the Greater Portland Metro Area, and yet we didn’t see a soul the entire morning. Go check it out if you have the chance because it is well-worth the effort!


The results: I caught four brown trout (largest = 13”), whereas Christian got skunked, after 4.5 hours of hard fishing.


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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