Fishing for brook trout on Clays Pond in Fryeburg, Oxford County, Maine (April 16, 2022)


Clays Pond Road is closed to all vehicular traffic until May 15.


Clays Pond covers 21 acres and is located in Fryeburg, Oxford County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 B1). The public access point is located on Clays Pond Road, which splits off from Lyman Drive connecting Route 5/113 to the Eastern Slopes Regional Airport. Beware that Clays Pond Road is a gated dirt road closed to all vehicular traffic until May 15, when mud season ends. It takes 10 to 15 minutes walking to reach the pond from the gate. The alternative access route via Farnsworth Road and Porter Road is also blocked off until May 15.



Clays Ponds feels like it belongs in a much more remote part of Maine!


Clays Pond is a gorgeous body of water hidden away in the Major Gregory Sanborn Wildlife Management Area (formerly known as the Brownfield Bog WMA). The pond is surrounded by swampy land, is entirely undeveloped, and looks out on Starks Mountain in the distance. This kind of unspoiled setting is much more common in remote areas of western or northern Maine instead of the busy southern parts of our state. However, nice scenery is not the only reason I have my eyes on this body of water this morning. Even though Clays Pond is closed to ice fishing, the State stocked it last fall with 100 13-inch brown trout and 100 13-inch brook trout, yielding a respectable density of about ten one-pound trout per acre. That number catches my attention! Moreover, all of these fish will have fattened up a bit over the last six months and are now available to be caught in the spring. What is there not to like? The gated road also ensures that anglers will pretty much have the place to themselves until May 15. I can only salivate when thinking about targeting these trout in mid-May using dry flies in the evening… Fishing in the spring occurs under the general fishing laws, except that motorboats are prohibited and only artificial lures can be used (i.e., no live or dead baitfish, no worms, no fish eggs, etc.). The pond as a maximum and mean depth of 21 ft. and 13 ft., respectively. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.


This nice brookie gave a hard fight!


I arrive at the closed gate by Clays Pond Road at 8:30 am, load the canoe and all my equipment on my canoe wheels, and pull everything down to the access point located at the southern end of Clays Pond. I push off by 9 am. The conditions are perfect: the air temperature is in the low 50’s, the sky is overcast, rain is forecast for later today, the wind is light, and the blackflies are nowhere to be seen. The water temperature clocks in at 49°F. My trusted early-spring canoe trolling technique consists of using an 8-weight fly rod with lead core line fishing two lures one to one and a half colors down (say, 8 to 10 ft. below the surface), and my ultralight spinning rod with three fat split shots to place an additional lure 2-3 ft. below the surface. The lures consists of two-inch gold-colored ACME Phoebe spoons and a humble (but lethal!) one and ¼-inch ACME Thunderbolt spoon. I crisscross the rods between my legs to provide the space needed to paddle. I cast out my ultralight and get a tremendous hit within less than one minute. My rod bends over backwards and line rips off my reel. Holy smokes, what the heck is at the other end? I carefully play the fish and slowly bring it to the surface until I realize that I caught a huge 24-inch… pickerel. Ah yes, I forgot that this pond is home to some serious toothy critters!


Another nice 15 incher. Look how well-fed this fish is. I love catching larger trout!


Over the next hour of paddling around Clays Pond along the shoreline in water 15 to 20 ft. deep (I use a portable depth finder for this purpose), I get two more hits and land a 13-inch and 14-inch brook trout. Yes, that is exactly what I am here for! The breeze has slowly but steadily increased in strength and is now constantly blowing me off course. I drop the anchor at the northern end of the pond and toss a #2 Mepps spinner for 15 minutes to several rises, in the hope that the breeze will calm down. I catch nothing and the wind has only gotten worse. I bite the bullet, return to the put-in, look for small boulders along the dirt road, and fill the front of the canoe with 150+ pounds of rocks. I feel like I am in a loaded cargo ship but I can now troll straight, regardless of which direction or how strong the wind blows! And I get richly rewarded for all this extra effort: over the next hour and a half of paddling, I hook and land three additional brookies, two of which measure 15 inches. I just love it when everything comes together according to the plan! Landing five trout in three hours of trolling is good fishing in anyone’s book! The only strange thing is that I did not catch a single brown trout this morning…


The results: I caught five brook trout in 3 hours of fruitful fishing. The largest trout measured 15 inches.

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