Fishing for brook trout on Split Rock Pond in Pierce Pond Township, Somerset County, Maine (May 29, 2022)

 

And that is how Split Rock Pond got its name!

 

Split Rock Pond covers 6 acres and is located in Pierce Pond Township in Somerset County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2). Five of us are spending four fabulous days during the long Memorial Day weekend fishing Pierce Pond for landlocked Atlantic salmon and brook trout, as well as some of the smaller water bodies in the surrounding watershed for brook trout. We are staying “in style” at one of the cozy cabins at Cobb’s Pierce Pond Sporting Camps located on the shore of the lower basin of Pierce Pond. A critical benefit of staying at Cobb’s Camp is access to their locked canoes that are strategically stored at various local ponds, plus detailed directions on the locations of the trailheads that connect Pierce Pond to those water bodies. This particular pond is accessible to the public from inland, although I have not attempted to reach it via the old logging roads shown on map 30 A2.

 

 

The brookies feed on the surface when the breeze dies down.

 

Split Rock Pond is completely undeveloped and is nestled on the lower flank of Otter Pond Mountain. This shallow water body has an average depth of 5 ft. and a maximum depth of 15 ft. The bottom consists mostly of soft organic muck and the water is slightly colored. Several submerged springs maintain adequate water temperature and oxygen levels during summer to allow for year-over-year brook trout survival and growth. Up to 2013, the state stocked this pond each fall with 500 7-inch brook trout, which yielded fast action from many little brookies, all of which showed poor growth. In fact, the largest fish I ever caught in this pond over the years was about 10 inches, which is hardly spectacular. However, starting in 2019, the state switched tactics and now only stocks 150 3-inch brookies each fall. Releasing fewer of the much smaller trout decreases some of the intense intra-species competition for the limited food resources (e.g., dragonfly nymphs, caddisflies, mayflies, leeches, etc.), allows these younger fish to more readily adapt to the prevailing local conditions, and promotes better overall growth. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. General fishing law applies at this location, except that (a) the pond is closed to ice fishing, (b) only artificial lures can be used (i.e., no live or dead bait allowed at any time), (c) the daily bag limit on brook trout is two fish, and (d) the pond is open to fishing between October 1 and November 30 using artificial lures only and with the stipulation that all trout must be released alive at once.

 

There is no better way to catch trout than on a dry fly!

 

Bill and I easily find the trailhead located at the upper end of Middle Pierce Pond, and hike the 20 minutes to Split Rock Pond. The hike is easy and the trail weaves through a nice forest. The only real problem are the hordes of blood-sucking mosquitoes that continuously pester us all along the way…We reach the pond by 10 am. The morning is partly sunny but quite breezy, with the air temperature in the low 70’s and the surface water temperature at 67°F. We take a moment to observe the surface of the pond and see only a few sporadic rises. They all occur in the general vicinity of the deep(er) hole located to the left of the huge split rock. We unlock the canoe, quietly paddle out towards the hole and gently lower our two anchors to position our boat upwind of the hole. The wind blows in bursts from different directions but dies down for short periods on a regular basis, which allows the trout the opportunity to snatch unsuspecting bugs on the surface. It is unclear what those bugs are so we tie a mosquito fly to our floating lines and send them out over the hole.

 

Bill caught the winning fish this morning: a well-fed, 14-inch brookie.

 

The rises are now steady; some are splashy (little trout) and some appear to be more substantial (larger trout). For me, casting dry flies to rises is THE most exciting way to catch trout, and this morning is no exception. Over the next hour and a half, I get four strikes and land two brookies measuring 10 and 12 inches. However, Bill is the clear winner: he gets six strikes and lands three fish, the largest of which measures a very respectable 14 inches, with an 8.5-inch girth. That fish started as a three incher and reached this size in a little over three years. Clearly, the new stocking program is working, and I have no doubt that this pond should produce even larger fish in the near future. The number of rises gradually diminishes and our flies are staying untouched. The feeding frenzy on the surface is over for now and it is time for us to move on. We are both satisfied with the results and eagerly look forward to return visits at this pretty location in the coming years!

 

The results: I landed two brook trout (largest was 12 inches) and Bill landed three brook trout (largest was 14 inches) in 2 hours of fun fly fishing.

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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