Fishing for brook trout on Sanborn Pond in Brooks, Waldo County, Maine (November 13, 2021)


View of Sanborn Pond from the launch. Route 137 is to the left. Notice the slab of bedrock. One cannot ask for better weather conditions in mid-November!!


Sanborn Pond is a 87-acre body of water located in the town of Brooks in Waldo County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 14 A3). The public access to this pond is located right off Route 137 (Belfast Road). It consists of an unimproved launch made up of a slab of natural bedrock that slopes into the water and can therefore best accommodate hand-carried crafts, and maybe a small trailered boat in a pinch. Several cars can be parked next to the road right next to the launch.


This first brookie told me I had probably located the school withing spitting distance from the access point.


Sanborn Pond has surprisingly little development given its location by busy Route 137. Except for about a dozen homes along the southern shore, the rest is undeveloped and forested. The pond supports a well-known, year-round brown trout fishery maintained by annual stocking. In addition, brook trout are stocked every spring and fall to support a locally-popular fishery for this species. In fact, on November 10, 2021, the state released 100 13-inch brown trout (about one fish per acre, which is normal for this species) and 200 14-inch brookies (about two fish per acre, which is sparse for this species). The latter one-pounders are the focus of my attention this morning because of their desirable size and brilliant spawning colors, as well as the pleasure of catching them on ultralight spinning gear. Sanborn Pond is open for angling in the fall under the general fishing laws. This body of water has a mean and maximum depth of 28 ft. and 66 ft., respectively, making it a relatively deep lake for its size. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.


This second brookie confirmed my suspicions!


I arrive at the public access point by 10 am. The weather conditions are absolutely glorious: no wind, unlimited sunshine, bright blue skies, and an air temperature rapidly rising into the lower 50’s. That’s a real treat for mid-November! Two guys are pulling out their canoe from the water as I’m getting ready. We have a pleasant chat and they tell me they caught nothing, except for a small pickerel… I don my waders, grab my fishing gear, get into the water, and start wading alongside Route 137 in order to fish in the immediate vicinity of where the trout were released a few days earlier. Even though the substrate is firm and also free of vegetation, I very quickly realize that my initial depth perception was off: the water right along the shore reaches my chest and is too deep for safe wading. Also, the home owner on the other side of the launch has posted his entire shoreline with “no trespassing” signs. He clearly isn’t thrilled by all the angling commotion. Why look for trouble by wading right in front of his property… I exit the water, remove my waders, and put in my canoe which I always bring along on these kinds of adventures to deal with unforeseen contingencies such as this one.


The place is getting crowded. It’s time to move on.


I start casting my #2 bronze Mepps spinner along the shallow shoreline leading towards the pond outlet. The trick is to let the spinner sink to the bottom (one thousand one, one thousand two, …), start the retrieve to get the spinner turning, but slow down the retrieve to keep the lure close to the bottom while constantly twitching the rod tip to impart erratic action to the Mepps in order to trigger the killer instinct of the trout. I don’t get a single hit after 15 minutes and have clearly not found the school of trout that should be loitering around in the area. I don’t waste any time looking further away and instead paddle back towards the launch, position the canoe about 50 ft offshore, and start casting my spinner in the immediate vicinity of the access point. I hook a fish within minutes, which results in a beautifully-colored 14″ brookie. Ahah, I think I’m on to something! I continue pounding the area and land an additional three brookies over the next 30 minutes. I did locate the school and it is sitting, quite literally, in front of the launch. True to form, these fish haven’t moved much since their release three days earlier! This peculiar behavior is a key consideration when targeting hatchery-reared brookies stocked in ponds in the fall: focus your angling attention in the area of release because that’s where they are most likely to be found schooling, until they finally disperse after some time. And if you catch one, keep on hitting that same area because more trout are probably down there. I see two other parties getting ready to launch their canoes. It’s becoming too crowded to my taste, so I call it good. On my way out, I tell the first set of anglers about the location of the school. They thank me profusely for this piece of intel. Why keep it a secret since I’m blogging about it anyway :-).



The results: I caught four brook trout (largest = 14 inches) in about 45 minutes of fun fishing.

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