Brook trout fishing on Grassy Pond, Baxter State Park, Maine (September 26 and 27, 2016)

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A walk through the enchanted forest

A walk through the enchanted forest

Grassy Pond is one of a dozen and a half gorgeous native brook trout ponds sprinkled around the southwestern corner of Baxter State Park (BSP) in northern Maine. It is found right off the Appalachian Trail (AT) about 1 mile south of the Katahdin Stream campground located on the Park Tote Road (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 50 D4). At first blush, this pond would not seem to qualify as a brook trout haunt! It’s name aptly describes the apparent conundrum: the pond is so shallow (< 4 ft) that thin aquatic vegetation (“grass”) emerges all over the water surface. If this water body were located anywhere else but in BSP, it would be dismissed out of hand as habitat suitable only for pickerel, yellow perch, or sunfish. But don’t be fooled by appearances because Grassy Pond supports a thriving population of native brookies. The secret lies in its source of water, which is supplied directly by Katahdin Stream. This ice-cold brook, which originates on the slopes of mighty Mount Katahdin, enters the north end of the pond and exits it to the southeast. The stream keeps the surface water in the pond cool and oxygenated, and the abundant vegetation and soft bottom serves as a hyper-active bug factory to feed all the hungry trout.

 

 

 

The view from Grassy Pond is stunning!

The view from Grassy Pond is stunning!

 

 

My son Joel and I are spending a couple of days in BSP to enjoy brook trout fishing before the season closes at the end of September. We are staying in one of the cozy BSP rental cabins on nearby Kidney Pond. We drive up to the Katahdin Stream camp ground, get a key from the ranger to unlock the BSP canoe located at Grassy Pond (the cost is $1 per hour), park the car next to the AT, and hike in. We arrive at the launch at 5:30 pm, hoping to catch the evening feed before it gets dark at 7 pm. Previous experience fishing for brookies in the park at this time of the year has taught me that the last hour of daylight, when the wind has died down and the sun is setting, can be a magical time to catch brookies. The first impression on reaching the pond is WOW!!! The northern skyline is stunning, framed by West Peak (2485 ft), Mount Coe (3764 ft), Barren Mountain (3681 ft), The Owl (3736 ft), and Mount Katahdin (5267 ft). The second impression is GREAT!!! We see rises all over the pond and can’t wait to get into the action.

 

And another gorgeous vista from Grassy Pond

And another gorgeous vista from Grassy Pond

The fishing rules for Grassy Pond, which is located in township T3 R10 WELS, state that the pond is closed to ice fishing and the use of outboard motors and live baitfish is prohibited (but dead baitfish, salmon eggs, and worms are allowed). Joel and I are both using ultralight spinning rods with #1 Mepps spinners. It’s a good idea to downsize the lures because the native brookies are invariably small and will be harder to catch on larger lures. We’re fishing by 5:45 pm and immediately get action. As expected, the trout are small (5” to 10”) but fearless. The trick is to wait for a rise and cast the spinner just behind it. This is where the ultralight equipment comes in handy because we can get our lures way out there. By the time the bite slows down at 6:45 pm right before dark, we have caught a combined total of well over 30 brookies (we lost count…). We are ecstatic with the results but have to hike back out towards my car in total darkness. Fortunately, we came prepared and have our headlamps with us!

 

Grassy Pond supports an abundant native brook trout population but the fish don't get much bigger than this guy

Grassy Pond supports an abundant native brook trout population but the fish don’t get any bigger than this little guy

The brook trout fishing on Grassy Pond was so much fun that we decide to do it again the next evening. However, the weather conditions changed overnight. A front moves through and dumps some rain. The sky stays gloomy and overcast the entire next day. When Joel and I arrive back at the canoe launch at 5:30 pm, it’s clear that we are not going to have the same experience as yesterday: we do not see a single rise! The rises start about 30 minutes later but are 80% less from what we experienced the prior evening. It’s like we’re fishing a different pond. Nonetheless, we succeed in catching 15 brookies between the two of us over the next hour and a half. It goes to show though that the behavior of brookies can and will switch drastically in a short time period in response to changing conditions. Regardless, I highly recommend fishing Grassy Pond in the evening if you are staying at BSP. Access is easy and two BSP canoes are available for rent. It is also “kid-friendly” because the trout are abundant and the young ones can fish with bobbers and worms, if necessary.

 

The results: We caught a combined total of 45+ brookies in about 2.5 hours over two consecutive evenings. The fish ranged in size between 5” and 10”.

 

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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2 thoughts on “Brook trout fishing on Grassy Pond, Baxter State Park, Maine (September 26 and 27, 2016)

    • Hi Mike, Grassy Pond is about 1 mile in from the Park Tote Road on the Appalachian Trail. It took us about 20 minutes to walk in. This section of the AT trail is mostly flat and passable, except for a few bumpy/rocky/confined (by trees) locations. You don’t need to walk in quite as far as we did if you brought your kayak because the trail goes next to the pond for a good 5 minutes before it reaches the BSP canoe launch. It would be no problem to launch a kayak off the trail. Best of luck. Stan

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