Ice fishing for brook trout on Otter Pond #4, Standish, Maine (December 18, 2016)

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We’re not the only ones interested in ice fishing the Otter Ponds this morning!!

Otter Pond #4 (a.k.a. Snake Pond) covers 6 acres and is located in Standish, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 D1). Click here for directions and here for a depth map. This blog identifies this small body of water as a top brook trout destination in Cumberland County for the 2017 ice fishing season. Both Otter Pond #4, and its larger sibling Otter Pond #2, are popular early ice fishing destinations in this part of southern Maine. The ponds reliably freeze over in December due to their small sizes and are also densely stocked with brook trout each fall. They represent the typical “put-and-take” winter trout fishery where the action is red-hot for the first three or four weeks of the hard-water season but then slows down considerably as more and more of the stocked brookies are harvested for the dinner table.




It’s a 10-minute haul down the old railroad tracks to reach the Otter Ponds…



My son Joel and I arrive at the parking area off Route 35 at 7:30 am. We can hardly believe our eyes: the lot is filled to capacity with about a dozen and a half vehicles! We talk to an angler who’s stowing his gear in his car. He mentions that he caught his two-trout limit in the first 20 minutes of fishing Otter Pond #2 and that he’s done for the day. That bodes well. We walk down the hill towards the old railroad tracks and then turn left for the ten minute walk to our destination. Our initial intent of fishing Otter Pond #2 is quickly dashed when we count well over 30 people strung out along the entire shoreline with 150+ tip-ups deployed. We’ll stay the hell out of that circus and instead continue walking for another 5 minutes to reach Otter Pond #4. Only three other guys are on the ice when we reach our new destination. It’s amazing how just a few extra minutes of effort readily thins out the herd…


It feels great to be out on the ice this morning and catching brookies

The conditions are absolutely gorgeous for catching trout through the ice this morning: the air temperature equals 14F and is rising in response to an approaching low pressure, the wind is still, and it is completely overcast with light snow. These conditions are perfect to encourage trout feeding. The ice on Otter Pond #4 is also a surprisingly-thick 6”. It shows just how bitterly cold the first half of December has been. We quickly drill our holes in 4- to 10-ft of water along the shoreline and place nine tip-ups baited with 2” minnows placed half way down the water column. The tenth tip-up stays out so that I can jig. It takes us less than 30 minutes to get ready. We get seven flags over the next hour, which yield eight trout… That one odd fish is caught after Joel tends a flag and lands a fish. Another flag goes up elsewhere as he rebaits the hook. He drops the line with the baitfish in the water, leaving the trap on the ice, and runs with me to the tripped trap, which yields me a small trout. He returns to finish setting up the previous trap when he discovers that another brookie has grabbed the bait and swam away with it!


Joel is very happy with his catch.

Things slow down considerably during the second hour when we get four flags and land two more trout. The flag action stops by 10 am. This oh so typical pattern is very familiar to all ice anglers and is the reason to start as early as possible: the fish under the ice are most active at first light when they’re hungry after a long (15 hour) night. The trout were also aggressive this morning, with 13 flags resulting in 11 fish. That’s a great ratio compared to other ice fishing trips. And because they were aggressive, we observe only one trap with stolen bait. The jigging, on the other hand, was a flop. I jigged for 1.5 hours and ended up with … one bite but no fish. Regardless, our first ice fishing trip of the 2017 hard-water season was a great success and we are ready for more!




Warm cheers with hot chicken soup and cheese crackers!

The results: I landed 6 brookies (largest 13”) and Joel landed 5 brookies (largest = 14”) and a small largemouth bass in 2.5 hours of fun 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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