Fishing for brown trout on Pettingill Pond in Windham, Cumberland County, Maine (May 6, 2022)

That’s the way I like to start my mornings!


Pettingill Pond covers 36 acres and is located across from Seacoast Adventure in Windham, Cumberland County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 C2). The public access to this body of water can be difficult to find. While driving on Route 302 in Windham (direction Raymond and Naples, i.e., north), turn right at the light on Anglers Road just past Bob’s Seafood Restaurant, go down that ruddy road for about 0.4 miles and look for house number 48. The small, unmarked public access will be to your left immediately past that house (and across from house #51). You have gone too far if you reach Mud Pond Road. Keep in mind that Anglers Road is narrow, potholed, and trafficky, and no vehicles are allowed to park on it or by the public access. The only readily-available place to leave your car is by Route 302.


I have the pond all to myself. And the lack of wind sure makes my paddling more enjoyable!


Pettingill Pond and I go back over a decade. I have ice fished it on and off for brown trout, and have consistently been successful at it (click here, here, and here for examples). But I have never fished it during open water, which is why I’m here today. What draws me back to this three-lobed pond time and time again is not its location (right next to busy and noisy Route 302) or its setting (as far as I can tell, this pond is the most-developed water body anywhere in Maine!) but the fact that it receives the highest stocking density of brown trout in the whole of Cumberland County, at about 2 fish per acre. Keep in mind though that even that kind of stocking rate still makes for slow fishing… So, be prepared to put in your time in order to earn the right to catch one of those browns. The surface water is crystal clear and the rich forage base support decent trout growth. Also, the summer dissolved oxygen concentrations, though marginal at depth, allow for year-over-year survival, meaning that the trout can grow over time and reach desirable sizes and weights. I would not expect hog-sized (> 6 pounds) browns in here, but fish up to 3 or 4 pounds definitely reside in these waters. Open-water fishing in the spring occurs under the applicable general fishing laws. The pond has a mean and maximum depth off 12 and 29 ft., respectively. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.


It took a lot of work to land this beauty, but it was all worth the effort.


I reach the access point of Pettingill Pond on Angler’s Road at 5:15 am and paddle off 15 minutes later. It’s a beautiful early-spring morning: the birds are chirping, it is wind still, and all’s quiet. The water temperature is a relatively balmy 54°F. I plan on trolling over 10 to 20 ft. of water along the shoreline using my 8-weight fly rod with lead core line fishing two lures placed between 1 and 1½ colors down (say, 5 to 10 ft. below the surface), and my ultralight spinning rod with three fat split shots to place an additional two lures 2-3 ft. below the surface. The lures for both rods consist of a two-inch ACME Phoebe spoon to which I attach a 1 ¼-inch bronze ACME Thunderbolt spoon using a two ft. section of monofilament. Of note, the Thunderbolt, being the smallest of the two lures, is the “straggler” lure placed at the end. I pay close attention to the depth finder in order to remain over my target depth. It takes about 45 minutes to paddle around the pond. I have nothing to show for all my efforts two hours later…


I have FULL confidence in this little spoon. A big trolling misconception is the belief that one has to use large lures to catch big trout. The exact opposite is true.


I notice a peculiar feature at a specific location in Pettingill Pond: the bottom rises up to about 3 ft. below the surface, even in the middle of the pond. I take a moment to examine this situation with my depth finder and quickly understand what is going on. A bouldery ridge connecting two points on opposite shorelines (hints: look for the little red lighthouse…) rises up steeply from the depths and then plunges back down on the other side. This geologic quirk creates a precipitous “wall” next to the deepest part of the pond. That feature intrigues me and I decide to check it out. I eliminate the ultralight to give me better maneuverability, put out two full colors of lead core to reach a depth of 12-14 ft., but don’t swap out the Phoebe and Thunderbolt lures in which I have absolute confidence when it comes to catching trout (click here, here, and here). I get a tremendous hit on my very first pass along the wall, but the fish unhooks within seconds, and is gone. Crap, I missed him!!! But I seem to be onto something. I troll back and forth in front of the wall and the exact same thing happens again 20 minutes later: hit, hook, unhook, gone. Are you freaken’ kidding me?? Even though my butt hurts, I would continue in my quest but I need to head back home to start my workday. So I just keep on trolling passed the wall in 20 ft. of water toward the access point. My morning troll is done in less than five minutes. Then I get my third hit and hookup, but this time the fish stays connected. YES!! I tussle with a hard-fighting brown trout that doggedly stays low, taking long runs. This is so much fun. I’m having trouble netting the creature because it constantly slips underneath the canoe, but the job gets done and I land the trout. It’s a fat and healthy-looking 18 incher. I take bragging pictures and quickly release it back to its watery world. I’m so glad that Pettingill Pond didn’t get the better of me this morning!


The results: I landed one 18-inch brown trout in 3 hours of trolling.

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