Fishing for splake on Shagg Pond in Woodstock, Oxford County, Maine (April 30, 2022)

 

The boat launch is spacious but unimproved.

 

Shagg Pond covers 64 acres and is located in Woodstock, Oxford County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 11 A1). The public access point is found along the western shoreline right off Redding Road, also called Shagg Pond Road in Google Maps. The boat launch is sandy and unimproved but can accommodate trailed boats. Parking is limited to a few cars along the shoulder of the gravel road.

 

 

I love the mountainous scenery surrounding Shagg Pond. Bald Mountain is to the left of Speckled Mountain.

 

Shagg Pond is located in a picturesque hilly corner of southern Oxford County, just south of the Androscoggin River. To the west sits Spruce Mountain with its ten windmills making carbon-free electricity, whereas immediately to the north are rugged Speckled Mountain and Bald Mountain with its steep granite cliffs. The pond is moderately developed, with about two dozen houses and camps scattered along its shoreline. The pond is closed to ice fishing but was stocked last fall with 150 9-inch splake and 545 9-inch brookies, for a total stocking density of around 11 fish per acre. The secret is that the presence of a cold, oxygenated layer of water in the lower half of the pond during summer ensures year-over-year survival and growth, and therefore the potential for larger fish. In other words, Shagg Pond does not support a simple “put-and-take” fishery where the yearlings stocked in the fall all die from overheating and/or asphyxiation the next summer. The fishing rules forbid the use of live baitfish to limit competitors to the local brook trout population (note: dead baitfish, salmon eggs, and earthworms are allowed). Click here for more information on this topic. The pond has an average and maximum depth of 17 ft. and 41 ft., respectively. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.

 

It took a lot of trolling and trial and error to catch this splake! Note the powerful tail. Spruce Mountain with its windmills looms in the background.

 

I arrive at the Shagg Pond boat launch at 10:30 am. The late-April morning is bright and sunny but cool (mid 40’s) and quite blustery. The surface water temperature is a chilly 45°F. A nasty wind blows in from the northwest and generates a noticeable wind chill. I’m dressed as if I were ice fishing, and need every layer to stay warm. I push off at 10:45 am, eager to go catch some salmonids. My strategy today is to troll for splake in 10 to 20 ft. of water using my 8-weight fly rod with lead core line fishing two lures placed between 1 and 1½ colors down (say, 5 to 10 ft. below the surface). I also use my ultralight spinning rod with three fat split shots to place an additional two lures 2-3 ft. below the surface. All the lures consists of diminutive two-inch ACME Phoebe spoons and a 1 ¼-inch silver ACME Thunderbolt spoon. I pay close attention to the depth finder to stay within my target depth range. I go around the pond twice and elicit no response whatsoever. Mmm, that’s not good… I decide to move closer to shore and troll in water of 10 ft. or less with my lead core line half a color down. Another two circles around the pond yields absolutely nothing. I swap out the lures on my lead core line for two slightly larger orange- and yellow-colored Mooselook spoons. Several more circles around the pond in water 5 to 30 ft. deep with these lures placed 1 to 4 colors down continue to yield nothing. Where are the splake hiding this morning?

 

I caught this little guy in the rock piles around the outlet.

 

I’ve been trolling for over 2.5 hours now and have absolutely nothing to show for all my efforts. It’s time to mix things up again if I don’t want to go home skunked. I remove the Mooselook spoons from the lead core, and replace them with the original Phoebe and Thunderbold spoons, but this time I place these lures less than 5 ft. below the surface while specifically trolling in water over 30 ft. deep looking for splake just below the surface. I finally get a hit and hookup 15 minutes later on my ultralight. YES! I’m tussling with a surprisingly tenacious 16-inch splake. These fish know how to put up a hard fight, particularly when hooked on an ultralight spinning rod with 6-pound monofilament! I slowly work the fish to the surface but it refuses to be netted and keeps on struggling for several more tense minutes. The creature finally gives up, gets landed, photographed, and released to continue growing. It’s getting close to quitting time now. Earlier, I noticed an extensive boulder field in 4 to 8 ft.-deep water in the general area of the outlet. Such habitat attracts brook trout. I decide to spend my last 30 minutes focusing on that section of Shagg Pond. And that decision pays off because I hook a small salmonid on my ultralight. Actually, the forked tail suggests that it’s probably a splakeling, but I can’t tell for sure (both the brook trout and splake look very much alike to me, except for their different tail patterns). I’d like to spend more time exploring this particular area but the strong wind continuously pushes my boat around, making it a pain to troll at 1.5 miles per hour in shallow water close to shore. I call it good, satisfied that I was able to catch fish this morning. And, by the way, both trout fell for the Phoebe spoon.

 

Today’s winning lure: the minnow-imitating ACME Phoebe spoon.

 

The results: I landed two splake (largest was 16-inches) in 3 long hours of trolling.

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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