Fishing for brook trout in Washburn Pond in Woodstock, Oxford County, Maine (June 19, 2021)

 

The boat launch is narrow and rather shallow.

 

Washburn Pond covers 6 acres and is located in Woodstock Township in Oxford County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 11 A1). To reach this pond going north, drive down Redding Road and turn right on Washburn Pond Road right before reaching Sagg Pond. This 0.3 mile-long dirt road ends at Washburn Pond. Although it is rough in spots, the road will accommodate two-wheel drive cars. The pond has an unimproved and rather shallow sandy boat launch. I had to back my trailer about 30 ft. into the water before my boat would finally float off. The launch is also hemmed in by emergent aquatic vegetation on both sides. Hence, space is lacking to park the boat on shore AND back the trailer into the water at the same time. I was glad I brought my hip boots so I could place my boat in the vegetation to the side, back my trailer into the water, and then float the boat onto the trailer.

 

 

This first brookie told me that my trolling shenanigans were pointing in the right direction!

 

Washburn Pond is a pretty body of water sitting in the shadow of the Spruce Mountain Wind Project. I love seeing those windmills at the top of the mountain silently turning round and round, producing carbon-free power for the grid. The pond is undeveloped, except for a camp next to the boat launch, and two beaver lodges tucked along the swampy shoreline. The surrounding region is totally forested. The conditions in the pond are not ideal for sustaining a year-round brook trout population because the depth is rather shallow (maximum and mean depth of 18 ft. and 7 ft., respectively), which limits the development of a thermocline and a cold, oxygenated layer of water at the bottom during the hot summer months. However, the pond is stocked each fall with around 250 or so juvenile brookies, yielding a respectable stocking density of about 40 fish per acre. Since the fishing rules prohibit ice fishing, these fish have about 6 to 8 months to grow until they’re available to be caught the following spring. I doubt that many, or even any, would survive through the summer into the following fall. Hence, my expectations are that all the available trout in the spring would measure between 7 and 9 inches, but no more. Click here for all the fishing rules pertaining to this pond. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.

 

This was the largest brookie of the four. I strongly suspect that Washburn Pond cannot produce much larger trout due to its shallowness and warm summer water.

 

I arrive at the boat launch by 9:45 am. It’s a warm (high 70’s) and partly sunny late-spring morning, with a gently breeze blowing in from the southwest. The mosquitoes are mercifully few and the blackflies are absent altogether. What a relief! I launch my motor boat and am ready to fish at 10 am. As expected, the water temperature on the surface is 72°F in response to the warm weather of the last few weeks. Even though I came prepared to fly fish with dry flies, just in case, that isn’t going to happen under the current conditions. I’ll be trolling instead using lead core line to bring my streamer flies down closer to the bottom where I suspect the fish are hiding. I downloaded the depth map for Washburn Pond (see link above) in preparation for this trip and outlined the 10-ft. depth contour in order to get a better feel of where I should focus my trolling efforts. The target area is rather small and convoluted. My depth finder will definitely prevent me from straying off course into the weedy shallows! My lures of choice this morning are two red and white one-hook Mickey Fin streamer flies tied one to the other by 1 ft. of monofilament. Those flies have worked well for me on brook trout in the past and present a color combination and profile which appears attractive to the fish below.

 

The windmills on top of Spruce Mountain are an interesting contrast to the surrounding landscape.

 

I soon discover that it’s quite a challenge to stay over the target area in such a pip-squeak pond trailing 20+ yards of lead core line! It involves a lot of turning, maneuvering the boat, and holding the rod tip high up to quickly raise the streamer flies when hitting shallower areas. I lose my first set of Mickey Fins when I stray too close to the shoreline and they get stuck on sunken branches… But I soon figure out the best way to troll around efficiently over a convoluted two-acre postage-size expanse of water. I land four small brookies over the next two hours. It’s actually fun since my expectations of the size of the fish are met and I did catch my target species under less than ideal conditions. Two other people in a boat who are trolling around and around closer to shore don’t catch a thing… Now that I fully understand how Washburn Pond works, I’d recommend hitting it earlier in the season (say, mid- to late-May) so that the fishing can be expanded into the shallower waters. It would actually be great fun to target these little brookies with a dry fly when they’re actively feeding on the surface before the water warms up too much. And I’m sure that they’d also fall for a little spinner, or a wriggling worm (which is allowed on this pond), just as well!

 

The results: I landed four brookies (largest = 8 inches) after two hours of challenging 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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