Brook trout fishing on Billfish Pond, Baxter State Park, Maine (September 23 and 24, 2017)

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Billfish Pond is pretty and surrounded by four peaks

Billfish Pond is a 70-acre body of water located off the Park Tote Road in the northern portion of Baxter State Park (BSP), Piscataquis County, Maine (see The Atlas and Gazetteer map 51 A2). This pond can be accessed by hiking on the Five Ponds Trail for about 2.5 miles starting at Trout Brook Farm on the Park Tote Road. The hike is flat and easy. Click here for full details on renting a camp site and obtaining the key to unlock the canoe which you’ll need to use if your goal is to catch fish. Only one camp site is available on this pond. It is, by far, the lousiest of the seven camp sites for rent on the Five Ponds Trail trout ponds because it is inside the woods, gloomy, without breezes, and with no view of the water…


Peaceful, quiet, and all to myself. Just the way I like it.

My son Joel and I are spending three days fishing Lower Fowler Pond and Billfish Pond in order to check both of them off my BSP trout ponds bucket list. We arrive at our tent site in late morning after a sweaty 1.5 hour hike. We spend the early afternoon setting up camp, having lunch, and preparing our fishing equipment. We know from earlier experiences at the park (click here and here for examples) that the trout won’t feed higher up in the water column until early evening when the sun starts setting and the wind dies down. The fishing rules for this pond fall under the general fishing laws, except that (a) use or possession of live fish as bait is prohibited, (b) the use of dead fish, salmon eggs, or worms is allowed, (c) the daily limit on trout is two fish, and (d) only one of those two trout may exceed 14”. Also, the pond remains open to open-water fishing from October 1 to November 30. Ice fishing is forbidden. Check the fishing rules for more restrictions. Unlike the other four ponds on the Five Ponds Trail, this one is deep, with a maximum and average depth of 84 ft and 24 ft, respectively. Click here for a depth map and additional fisheries information. It is also one of the very few ponds in BSP that receives an annual stocking of brook trout. I suspect that its deep oxygenated water and stocking history may yield larger brook trout.


No need for words…

Joel and I paddle off by 4 pm to explore, troll, and look for rises. We’re impressed by the beauty of Billfish Pond. The water is crystal clear. Several pretty wooded islands are scattered along the shoreline. The pond is also surrounded by four mountains, which allow for a unique experience. Place the canoe in the middle of the pond, face one of the mountains, and scream. Your voice will create an amazing sound effect as it bounces off the four encircling peaks!!! We had the same experience on Upper South Branch Pond during an earlier fishing expedition in Baxter State Park. I use lead core line to place three small trout spoons three colors down (about 15 ft below the surface). Joel deploys his fly fishing rod and a sinking line and uses two small streamer flies. We try to stay over 25 or so feet of water, but it’s mostly guesswork without a depth finder. We remain skunked after 1.5 hours of circling the pond twice and getting our lures stuck on the bottom several times. The sun is setting and we’re hoping for rises. None materializes but we observe dozens of 3” fish jumping out of the water along the shoreline. Joel is intrigued and casts a tiny emerger fly to try to catch some of them. They turn out to be juvenile brookies! He amuses himself casting after these puny fish for the next hour but I stay put. I didn’t come all the way here to catch fry! Joel’s ready to call it quits at 6:30 pm. I bring him back to the launch and then paddle out again to troll for another 20 minutes until it gets dark. Trolling shallow didn’t work this afternoon, so I bring my spoons five colors down (about 25-30 ft deep) to probe the cold water right above the thermocline. I haven’t paddled for 5 minutes when I get a hard hit and a hookup. YES!! The trout are hiding deep in this pond. I fight the fish for 30 seconds but it unhooks before I can see it. DARN! I get no more bites for the remaining 15 minutes, but I have my game plan for tomorrow morning…


This big boy was hiding just above the thermocline about 25 to 30 ft deep!

I get up at the crack ‘o dawn after an uncomfortable and sleepless night. I paddle off at 6:15 am and deploy three Mooselook spoons five colors down using my lead core line. Joel and I agreed the evening before that I would scream if a caught a trout, and add “F*CK YOU” if it was a braggin’ fish. I get a hit within 20 minutes which results in a hook-up but another premature release. Shoot, I screamed too soon… I continue paddling back and forth over the deepest water of the pond when I get a tremendous hit 25 minutes later!! I scream and start bringing in the fish while keeping tension on the line at all times. I shout “F*CK YOOOOU” when I finally see what I hooked. It’s a huge brook trout which finally wakes up when it reaches the surface and start stripping line off my reel. But this one is hooked well and doesn’t get away! The fish measures 19.5” and weighs in at a respectable 2.8 pounds. I continue trolling for another half an hour but get no more hits. Who cares after THAT fish. Billfish Pond didn’t yield its scaly denizens easy, but the one I caught was worth all the effort!


The results: I landed a single trout measuring 19.5” and weighing 2.8 pounds between yesterday evening and this morning. Joel caught brook trout fry.


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