Brook trout fishing on Pierce Pond, Pierce Pond Township, Somerset County, Maine (May 29, 2017)

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Excellent trolling conditions!

It’s the long Memorial Day weekend of 2017 and that means that I’m on my annual pilgrimage to gorgeous Pierce Pond in Somerset County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2). This huge “pond” is divided into three major basins (i.e., Upper Pond, Middle Pond and Lower Pond) which together cover a total of 1,650 acres. I’m fishing for four days in this special place with my son Joel and nephew Salvy. We’re renting a cozy log cabin at Cobb’s Camp in Lower Pond which affords us access to an indoor toilet, a hot shower, and cooked meals off the grid in the middle of nowhere! Pierce Pond is a totally pristine and unspoiled environment. The lake is completely surrounded by forests in a protected watershed. These conditions maintain the exceptional surface water quality which supports a robust and self-sustaining native brook trout population and a healthy population of stocked landlocked Atlantic salmon. General fishing laws apply, except that (a) the pond is closed to ice fishing, (b) the ponds opens to fishing on May 1 (but beware that ice-out can occur well past May 1 after a cold winter), (c) only artificial lures are allowed, (d) the daily bag limit for brook trout is two fish, and (e) the minimum length limit for brook trout is 10”, with only one fish allowed to exceed 12”



A nice brookie caught right along the bouldery shoreline



Salvy and I have gotten up at 4:30 am for the last several days in order to troll for two hours before breakfast. These morning trolls have been quite productive in the past. We use smelt-imitating streamer flies (e.g., Grey Ghost, Governor Aiken) and spoons (e.g., DB Smelt, Mooselooks) on lead-core line and downriggers fished 5 to 15 ft below the surface while the boat slowly put-puts forward. Note that I fish with several lures per fishing rod by attaching two or more lures to each other using 2-ft stretches of monofilament. This time of the year, when the water temperature at the surface is still in the low 50’s, trout and salmon will aggressively chase smelt high up in the water column early in the morning before the increasing light levels from the rising sun pushes everyone into deeper waters. We typically troll over depths ranging from 30 ft down to 90 ft. However, so far this year we’ve put in a total of 12 man hours of early-morning trolling using four rods and nine lures and have absolutely nothing to show for it, not even a single hit…


Three smelt-imitating streamer flies linked together by 2 ft of monofilament line make for a small “school” when trolled through the water.

I decide to shake things up a bit this evening in response to our pathetic trolling results so far. I go fishing on Pierce Pond after diner between 7 and 9 pm using lead-core line and three streamer flies trolled less than one color down (about 5 ft) right up against the shoreline in less than 10 ft of water. This shallow and bouldery habitat is 100% brook trout territory. I don’t bother using my downrigger to avoid getting the 4-pound lead ball wedged between the numerous submerged boulders that populate the shallows. I also keep a keen eye on my depth finder, the water in front of me and the shoreline to stay on track and avoid running my boat into rocks or drift too close to shore.




The second nice trout of the evening

My preference when fishing with lead-core line and streamer flies is to constantly and rapidly “rip” my rod. This action causes the flies to move forward in an unpredictable and jerky fashion which attracts the curiosity of the local salmonids. In fact, based on my past experiences fishing with lead-core line and a downrigger at the same time, I estimate that 65-70% of the hits have come on the streamer flies instead of the metal lures. The constant ripping action is responsible for this clear disparity. My evening trolling strategy bears fruit. I catch three brook trout over the next two hours by trolling close in-shore. One trout measures 11” but the other two come in at a healthy 16” and 17”. The latter fish in particular gave a great fight, making three strong runs and ripping line off my lead-core reel. As usual, I return all the fish to the water to be caught another day by someone else. I return back to camp when it gets dark, fully satisfied with this evening’s fun fishing action.



The results: I caught three brook trout (11”, 16” and 17”) in two hours of evening trolling right up against the rocky shoreline.


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