Pierce Pond is a 1,650-acre gem of a lake nestled in the mountains of central Somerset County (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2). It consists of three basins (lower, middle and upper) connected by shallow, boulder-infested thoroughfares. The water is crystal clear and its quality is superb. The local brook trout population is entirely native and robust. Trout well into the 3 lbs are not uncommon. The State also stocks landlocked Atlantic salmon, which creates a lively fishery, although those fish rarely exceed 4 lbs, and most stay below 3 lbs. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. The fishing rules are strict, as follows: (a) the pond is closed to ice fishing; (b) the pond is open to fishing from May 1 to September 30; (c) only artificial lures are allowed; (d) the daily bag limit on trout is two fish with a minimum length of 10” and only one of which may exceed 12”; and (e) no size or bag limit on lake trout. Click here for more details on the regulations. This water body is completely surrounded by a protected forested watershed. Hence, civilization intrudes minimally. The entire shoreline is deeply wooded and not a single dock or house is visible anywhere, except for Cobb’s Camp where we will be staying for the next four days. Our hosts provide us with a comfortable log cabin, a warm bed, a flush toilet, a hot shower, a cozy wood stove, and three square meals a day! Our one and only job while in this enchanted place is to fish until we drop dead from exhaustion!
Day 1: Saturday May 23, 2015
Jim and I arrive at the boat launch in Lindsay Cove at the southern end of Pierce Pond by 12:30 pm for our annual 4-day trout and salmon fishing extravaganza. Fred from Cobb’s Camp is waiting for us at the dock with the big boat to help us transport all our stuff to the lodge. I launch my own boat and follow Fred back to camp. I meet up with my son Joel and nephew Salvy at our assigned cabin. They both arrived earlier in the week and camped out on one of the Cobb’s Camp islands in Upper Pierce Pond in order to put in extra fishing and outdoors time. We’re all geared up and ready to rock ‘n roll by 2:30 pm. But first we have to honor our tradition and start the fishing day with a stiff shot of Jägermeister liqueur (awful stuff!!) followed by a “chaser” shot of Red Bull!
I’ll be fishing with Jim this afternoon. We decide to troll in Lower Pierce Pond on account of the late start and the awful wind. The surface water temperature is a cool 52°F (ice-out this year on Pierce Pond occurred on May 9th), so we place our Mooselooks and DB smelt spoons, and Grey Ghost and Governor Aiken streamer flies, 5 to 15 ft down using lead core line and a small down rigger. We slowly work our way towards Gull Rock but give up on trolling due to the howling wind and the white caps which splash into my boat. Instead, we find a quiet spot in an area protected from the wind. I like this particular spot and have caught landlocked salmon there in the past. The water is 7 to 15 ft deep and strewn with huge submerged boulders. The landlocked salmon like to swim between these boulders looking for little snacks to eat. I use a sinking line with a wholly bugger, whereas Jim uses a dry fly, neither one of which generates any interest from the local fish community. We return to camp at 5 pm for a couple of beers with our two other team mates before the 6 pm dinner served at the lodge. They mentioned that they dry-flied out of the wind by the dam past Gull Rock and saw rises but caught no fish. We decide to give that spot another try after diner. Jim is staying at camp on account of intestinal discomfort. Joel, Salvy and I motor back up to the dam and we each get hits on our dry flies in the first 10 minutes after arrival. The fish continue feeding but diligently ignore our offerings. We declare ourselves defeated and return to camp almost in the dark at 8:30 pm.
The results: We were all skunked today!!
Day 2: Sunday May 24, 2015
I stumble out of bed at 4:30 am and wake up Salvy to get ready for our early-morning troll. We stay in Lower Pond and cover all the areas that have produced fish for us in the past. But we don’t get a single hit in two hours. Boy, the salmon and trout are finicky this year! We return for breakfast at 7 am and are ready to head out by 9 am, after fueling up with a nasty shot of Jägermeister/Red Bull. Jim is definitely sick and is staying at camp today to recover. I’ll continue fishing with Salvy this morning, and he will switch to Joel’s boat later on. We start by trolling our way up to the thoroughfare separating Lower from Middle Pierce Pond where Joel is trying his luck. We meet up with Joel by 10:30 am, still all fishless. Salvy and I motor up through Middle Pierce Pond and fish in and around the thoroughfare separating Middle from Upper Pierce Pond using dry flies and also woolly buggers on sinking lines. That area is somewhat protected from the nasty wind which has continued to build up throughout the morning. Our efforts are for naught, as are Joel’s, who’s been trolling around some of the islands in Middle Pierce Pond.
We reconvene and decide to motor all the way back down to the dam past Gull Rock to hide from the wind. Salvy is now fishing with Joel. To our relief, when we arrive at our destination around 12:30 pm, we see that the area across from the dam is protected from the now howling wind and fish are feeding on bugs all along the shoreline, in and amongst submerged tree trunks. I try half-a-dozen dry flies and various emergers but generate not a single hit in 2 hours of constant casting. Same deal with Joel and Salvy. This is becoming frustrating… I give up at 2:30 pm and work my way upwind to the protected spot where Jim and I fished unsuccessfully yesterday afternoon. I cast a dry fly/spinner fly combo (i.e., the spinner fly is attached to the hook from the dry fly with about 12” of tippet) on the quiescent waters and am rewarded two minutes later with a strike. Sh*t! I’m distracted with my line and don’t set the hook on time. I immediately cast my flies out again and am rewarded by a second hit on the spinner fly. This time I’m ready and set the hook on a 17” landlocked salmon which fights like a little devil and proceeds to jump six times out of the water! Yes siree, it’s to experience moments like this that we go through all of the efforts. It is, however, the only fish I catch in two hours. I lift the anchor at 5 pm and return to camp for Happy Hour, delighted to have caught my first fish.
Joel and Salvy spent the afternoon on Pickerel Pond, one of the half-dozen ponds within the Pierce Pond watershed on which Cobb’s Camp has placed pad-locked canoes and row boats for use by their guests. This pond is infested with … pickerel but also contains some huge brookies which have outgrown these toothy predators and can therefore continue to get fat for years with little or no competition. Joel and Salvy come back with stories of missed monsters, and we decide to return to this pond after dinner to give it another shot. All three of us get there by 7:15 pm and spend the next hour crammed in a small row boat casting little streamer flies towards fallen trees and sunken wood against the shoreline. Both Salvy and Joel get several trout hits but no hookups, whereas I struggle with knots and getting stuck in tree limbs… We run out of there at 8:15 pm on account of the advancing evening and menacing clouds. An unusual atmospheric phenomenon occurs on our ride back to camp when a genuine wind and rain storm bursts out of the clouds over our heads, creating 2 ft whitecaps in a matter of a few minutes. We return to camp safely, happy to be out of the storm.
The results: I caught one 17” landlocked Atlantic salmon, whereas Joel and Salvy were skunked today!!