Fall wader fishing for trout in southern and central Maine

My blog readers know that fishing can be turned into a non-stop four-season activity in Maine, with ice fishing in the winter, trolling or fly fishing for salmonids in the spring, bass fishing on lakes and rivers in the summer, and trolling for salmonids in the fall. However, the kind of open-water fishing described above requires specific equipment, such as a canoe or motor boat, electronics, downriggers, lead core line, and the like. That can quickly become overwhelming and expensive.



Some of you asked if I could highlight places in southern and central Maine where one could fish for trout in the fall but without the need for expensive gear. I therefore decided to research and write this blog for you. The only piece of “fancy” equipment required is a pair of waders, available on-line or at your local sports equipment store for less than a $100. Also needed is the drive required to get out of bed at the crack of dawn to spend time immersed in ice-cold water under freezing-cold conditions to pursue a true passion 🙂



I have focused this blog on fall fishing because that’s when the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife stocks our local trout ponds with larger one-pound trout in anticipation of the ice-fishing season. It is these larger trout which I like catching (spring stocking typically involves smaller trout which have much less appeal to me).



Keep the following important points in mind before heading out to wader fish some of the places described below.


  • The vast majority of smaller ponds in southern and central Maine stocked with trout in the fall are not self-sustaining “trout ponds” because they are too shallow and too warm in the summer to allow year-over-year survival, or are full of competing species (e.g., pickerel, bass, perch, sunfish). Hence, these ponds are mostly devoid of trout in the fall until they have been stocked. The best approach, therefore, is to keep a close eye on the current year stocking report to determine when a pond was stocked and then schedule a visit to it shortly afterwards.



  • Deer hunting season runs throughout November. Make it an absolute priority to wear hunter orange in November when venturing anywhere away from build-up areas to avoid any tragic accidents during that time period. It is much better to be safe and visible than sorry!



  • Always check the Maine fishing laws before heading out to your target trout pond. Unlike the “north zone” (i.e. western and Northern Maine) where open-water fishing ends at the end of September, most stocked ponds in the “south zone” (i.e., south, central, and coastal Maine) remain open to salmonid fishing but under restrictive rules pertaining to lures and bag limits. Make it a point to double-check the current law book because some of the existing rules can and do change over time.



  • Water temperature on the small ponds described below determines the willingness of a trout to go after a little spinner. Trout will pursue spinners from the time they are stocked in mid-to-late October until about mid-November. By then, the surface water temperatures has dropped into the mid-40’s and the trout become less willing to actively chase after a fast-moving darting lure. That reluctance decreases fishing success.


  • In my experience, stocked brook trout in the fall tend to congregate near the bottom, either because they are spawning (which is a pretty promiscuous affair for these fish) or because they’re hanging around in schools as a left-over habit from having been reared at the hatchery. Either way, when you catch a brook trout, always recast your lure in the same general direction multiple times. The odds are that more brookies are down there waiting to be caught!



  • Always focus your trout fishing efforts in the general vicinity of where the fish were released (typically by a boat launch or other public access point). The reason is that trout don’t move far away and stay clustered together, even many days after they have been stocked.



  • I do all my fall wader fishing for trout using an ultra-light spinning rod, a small reel spooled with 6 pound monofilament, and a #2 Mepps spinner. I love fishing with this spinner because the marvelous blade design allows me to greatly slow down the speed of retrieve. The trick is to let the lure sink to the bottom, give it a little jerk to get it to start spinning, then slowly reeling it in while staying close to the substrate where the trout congregate, while constantly twitching the tip of the ultra-light rod during the retrieve to impart a sudden fluttering of the blade. I can’t emphasize enough the need to twitch the rod tip: it’ll cause the blade to pulsate and quiver which triggers the hunter-killer instinct of the fish. Without this subtle action, the spinner has much less appeal; it looks and feels like a “mechanical” device being pulled through the water…


I caught nine of these brook trout from the same general location in about one hour. Where there’s one fish, there’s typically multiple more to be caught!


  • Keep in mind that these stocked trout, even though they were reared in the hatchery and are therefore not very savvy, do have a mind of their own. I have been skunked on many occasions while wader fishing in the fall for reasons only known to the trout (e.g., time of day, water temperature, light levels, weather systems coming or going, etc.). Yet, I’ll catch them on a later return visit. So, do not give up on a pond too quickly. If a water body was stocked in the fall but the fish aren’t biting, then come back at a later date to try your luck again. Chances are you won’t be disappointed!



  • Finally, be safety conscious. Wading in the fall means coming in close and intimate contact with cold-weather conditions that could quickly become dangerous if not properly respected. Let a loved one know where you’re heading for the day, dress warmly with multiple layers to avoid hypothermia, be alert to the conditions of the substrate you’re walking on (e.g., slippery rocks, sudden drop-offs, submerged sticks, soft mud), and keep an eye out for other dangers.


I stumbled into a 3-ft deep mud hole even though I was wading right up against the shore…


With these preliminaries out of the way, let me present the ponds (in alphabetical order) in southern and central Maine which I have fished for trout in the fall using waders. I also included two rivers in the mix. This list will continue to expand over time as I discover and blog about new places in the future.


All’s quiet this morning and the trout are biting!



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 these locations.


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