Fishing for brown trout on Great Pond in Belgrade, Kennebec County, Maine (November 20, 2022)

 

We are looking for the large brown trout in 2 to 3 ft. of water right by the boat launch.

 

Great Pond is a 5,239-acre body of water located in Belgrade, Kennebec County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 20 E4). To reach the public access point, drive north on Route 27 (Augusta Road) towards the town of Belgrade Lakes, turn right on Sahagian Road, drive for less than a quarter mile and then turn left on Boat Way Lane. Blue boat launch signs clearly indicates these two turn-offs. The spacious and well-maintained launch offers a hardtop boat ramp with plenty of parking. It also provides a permanent outdoor bathroom.

 

Look at the girth on this big brown trout. What a treat!

 

The State stocked Great Pond with 347 18-inch brown trout on November 15, 2022. My 14-year-old grandson Geovani and I spent part of yesterday afternoon in a futile attempt to catch some of those larger fish by trolling the shallow bay in front of the boat launch. We found out quite fortuitously that these fish where instead lingering in the immediate vicinity of the launch in only a few feet of water. On our drive back home yesterday, him and I lamented our disappointment of being unable to catch more of these fish because of timing and lack of the right gear. So, we hatched a plan to return this afternoon with our waders in order to put our theory to the test!

 

My third brown trout of the afternoon is pure icing on the (cold) cake!

 

We arrive at the public boat launch of Great Pond a little before 3 pm. Unlike yesterday, when we saw two bass boat trailers parked by the launch, we now have the place to ourselves. The reason is obvious: the weather is simply brutal, with an air temperature of 31°F, a fierce breeze blowing in from the northwest that creates a wind chill in the low 20’s, occasional snow squalls in between breaks of sun, and a water temperature of 43°F. Only foolhardy souls, or people with a plan, would want to be in the water under these conditions… We layer up to the max, don our waders, grab our ultralight spinning rods, and walk into the water. The launch site is unusual in that it remains shallow (<3 ft.) for several hundred feet out. The substrate consists of a relatively firm but slippery silty material that loves to hold on to your boots, and which makes wading a chore. We systematically start fan-casting using a #2 bronze Mepps spinner. There is no need to let the lure sink to the bottom because of the shallow water. I get a tremendous hit after 15 minutes and fight a substantial brown trout. Yes, the plan worked! The large browns are still sitting on the bottom in 2-3 ft. of water right by the launch. Yesterday’s catch was not a fluke. I net the fish, wade back to the launch to take pictures, return the creature to the lake, and get right back to fishing. I hook a second large brown trout ten minutes later, thereby confirming my hunch. I try to take a picture without going back to shore but only succeed in dropping both the fish and my rod in the water. Damn, the reel is going to freeze and seize up!

 

Geovani gives it one last try but he comes up short. However, he is a real trooper and his day will surely come!

 

Geovani is really excited now but starts complaining about his cold hands. The problem is that we need full dexterity in our fingers to cast and retrieve our spinners. Hence, we can only use thin gloves, and I actually use cut-offs. I must admit that my hands are getting cold too at this point. We go hide in my truck for ten minutes to warm up. I also place my spinning reel against the hot vent to heat it up as much as possible. We have about 20 minutes left before it gets dark. I get back into the water, while G stays behind in the warm truck. The fish gods smile on me one last time because I hook one more brown trout 10 minutes later. By then, my reel gears are half frozen and the drag no longer works properly due to the cold. But I carefully cajole the fish into the waiting net and get my second picture (on shore!). I am fully satisfied but Geovani gets back in the water for another 10 minutes of casting, but he unfortunately comes up short. The conditions were harsh but the fact that I was able to land those three large brown trout shows that perseverance can pay off handsomely to the bold!

The results: I caught three brown trout (largest = 19 inches) in 75 minutes of frigid but rewarding fishing.

 

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