Fishing for landlocked Atlantic salmon on Pierce Pond in Pierce Pond Township, Somerset County, Maine (May 28, 2021)


Cabin life at Pierce Pond. The way life should be!


I’m on my annual extended Memorial Day weekend fishing pilgrimage to Pierce Pond located in Somerset County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2). Click here for a more detailed description of this water body. Six of us have gathered to spend a week together at Cobb’s Camp to recharge our internal batteries, reconnect with each other, fish our hearts out, and make life-long memories.



This long but skinny landlocked salmon didn’t waste any time falling for my streamer fly!


A long-established tradition of mine while staying at Pierce Pond is to crawl out of bed while it is still pitch black to start trolling for landlocked Atlantic salmon at the crack ‘o dawn. Before sunrise, when light starts flooding the water column, the fish have a harder time distinguishing artificials from the real thing, and are therefore more likely to strike on instinct. Sunrise in these parts of Maine at the end of May occurs at 5 am and fishing can legally begin 30 minutes before that time. This means waking up at 4 am in order to get dressed for the occasion and be ready to place the lures and streamer flies in the water at the appointed time. The thermometer informs me that the temperature outside is a chilly 33°F. Gosh, that’s cold when you consider that summer solstice is less than three weeks away! In addition, a nasty and persistent breeze blows in from the northwest. It adds a biting wind chill which makes the temperature feel like it’s in the mid to upper 20’s. I’m layered up as if I were going ice fishing.


His smaller cousing fell for one of the spoons on the downrigger.


I’m trolling using my usual setup, i.e., a portable downrigger teamed up with a medium spinning rod to place two Mooselook spoons 15 ft. below the surface, and lead-core line teamed up with an eight-weight fly rod to place two streamer flies two colors down or about 12-14 ft. below the surface. I’m going a bit deeper than usual for this time of the year because the surface water temperature is already in the low 60’s due to the hot weather from earlier in the week. I’m using these two different approaches even though past experience has clearly taught me that the fish are much more likely to fall for the streamer flies instead of the spoons. The main reason is that I “rip” my lead core line by constantly jerking the rod which causes the flies below to swim forward erratically. That random and non-linear movement, compared to the more predictable swaying motion of the spoons on the downrigger, seems better suited to trigger the killer instinct of the salmon. Also, over the last several years, I’ve moved away from relying on the traditional but bulkier two-hook streamer flies (e.g., Governor Aiken, Grey Ghost, Winniepesaukee Smelt) and instead use the much smaller and more compact single-hook varieties. The Parson Tom smelt imitator is a particularly lethal streamer fly in late spring on Pierce Pond.


Sweet icing on my morning cake!


It’s 4:30 am and am starting to deploy my weapons, first the downrigger which always fishes deeper, then the lead core which fishes shallower. This approach minimizes the risks of lines crossing and tangling into one another… I haven’t been trolling for more than five minutes when I get a hard hit and hookup on the lead core. I just love that feeling!! Holy smokes, a nice salmon comes flying out of the water before diving back down and ripping line off my reel. What a great way to start my day. The salmon tires out, and gets netted and photographed before it is quickly released back to the water. It measures a respectable, but skinny, 19 inches. I continue on my way. Fifteen minutes later, my spinning rod starts shaking, indicating that something grabbed one of the spoons down below. I jerk the line to unclip it from the lead ball and tussle with another salmon. This one is a smaller version of the first one. Woow, I’ve only been at it for no more than 20 minutes and I already caught two fish! Another 19 inch salmon falls for the Parson’s Tom at 5:15 am and gives me a long and tenacious fight. Boy, these creatures are tough. It does not get much better than this! And then the bite stops. The sun has started to creep above the mountaintops along the eastern shore. The breeze hasn’t relented and I of course forgot my gloves back at the cabin. I just can’t keep my hands warm. I reluctantly call it good at 6:15 am but return to the cabin a happy angler with great fish stories to share with my sleepy mates!


A peaceful early-morning view of Pierce Pond, with the twin-peaked Bigolow Mountains in the far background.


The results: I landed three landlocked Atlantic salmon (largest = 19 inches) in less than two hours of great crack ‘o dawn trolling.

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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