Fishing for brown trout and brook trout on Middle Range Pond, Poland, Maine (April 23, 2020)

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The passageway underneath Range Hill Road. Middle Range Pond is visible in the background.

 

Middle Range Pond is a 366-acre body of water located in Poland, Androscoggin County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 A3). This pond is the second of the three interconnected Range Pond chain-of-lakes (i.e., upper, middle, and lower). The middle and upper ponds actually share a public boat launch which is located off Range Hill Road, at the downstream end of upper pond. A narrow passage underneath this road allows boats to access middle pond. Plenty of parking is available at the launch site. Note that the stretch of water between this passageway and Middle Range Pond extends for about a third of a mile, is really shallow (1-2 ft deep), and overgrown with aquatic vegetation later on in the season. It’s actually a great spot for catch largemouth bass in May and June, but that’s not why I’m here for today.

 

Yeah, this beauty is definitely making my day. OMG, what a struggle to get him into the boat!

 

I have fished Middle Range Pond during open water on and off for about ten years and have found that it gives up its salmonids rather grudgingly. In fact, I fish this body of water expecting to get skunked, so that I can be delighted when it gives up a trout… The state stocked it last year both in the spring and fall with a combination of rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout, yielding a total annual stocking effort of about four trout per acre, which is low but respectable. The pond is open to ice fishing, and falls under the general fishing laws after ice-out in the spring. What draws me to it early in the season is that it was stocked about a week ago with 100 rainbow trout measuring 18”. These are nice-sized fish, and I’d like to repeat the rainbow trout experience I made elsewhere last week. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. Middle Range Pond is heavily developed and quite busy in the summer, but is completely quiet in April, except for a handful of other hardy salmonid anglers.

 

This brookie is nothing but sweet icing on my morning cake!

 

I reach the boat launch at 5:45 am. It’s actually quite nippy outside (26°F) for late April. The weather forecast calls for full sunshine but with temps climbing only into the low 30’s this morning, with a light northwest breeze. I’m literally dressed like I’m going ice fishing in order to stay warm. I launch my boat, motor underneath Range Hill Road, put-put through the shallow thoroughfare, and make a beeline across the pond to troll the area in the vicinity of Route 26. The reason I focus on that general area of Middle Range Pond is that I suspect (but don’t know for sure…) that the rainbow trout stocked last week were introduced from that road. So, I’m hoping that some of those fish may still be hanging around over there. I’m using my eight-weight fly fishing rod and lead-core line, together with three smelt-imitating streamer flies (i.e., Grey Ghost, Governor Aiken, and Winnipesaukee smelt) tied to each other with 2 ft lengths of monofilament (note: this pond has smelt). I constantly “rip” the rod to cause erratic movement in the streamer flies and attract the attention of the predators down below. The surface water temperature is a cool 44°F. I fish between one and one and a half colors down (say, between 6 and 11 ft deep) over 15 to 25 ft of water. Note that this kind of angling requires a depth finder in order to stay within your target depth.

 

Let them go and let them grow!

 

I’ve been trolling for no more that 10 minutes when I get a tremendous hit. Holy mackerel, I’ve got something huge at the other end! I can’t turn the fish; it simply swims whichever way it wants and I let it! At one point during the struggle, the fish jumps clear out of the water and I’m sure that I’ve got an enormous rainbow trout at the other end. It takes me a full 12 minutes, and three separate netting attempts, to get this hog into the boat. That’s when I finally understand what’s going on: I caught a gorgeous 22” brown trout (I didn’t know this species jumped!) but hooked him in the back, which explains why he fought so hard. Wow, what a treat. I take bragging pictures and release the creature. My day is made, but of course I continue trolling in the hope of catching a bow. I get another hit about an hour later. This fish is smaller than the previous one but still puts up quite a spirited fight. As well it should, because it is an 18” brook trout which again got hooked in the back! What are the odds of that happening twice in a row? I get one more hit 20 minutes later, but no more hook-ups. I didn’t see a rainbow trout this morning, but that was more than offset by catching the two other large trout. I leave Middle Range Pond a very happy angler.

 

The results: I caught one brown trout (22” and 4.25 pounds) and one brook trout (18”) in 2.5 hours of trolling.

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