Fishing for landlocked Atlantic salmon on Pierce Pond in Somerset County, Maine (May 28, 2018)

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It’s the long Memorial Day weekend of 2018 and that means that I’m on my annual pilgrimage to gorgeous Pierce Pond in Somerset County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2). This huge “pond” is divided into three major basins (i.e., Upper Pond, Middle Pond and Lower Pond) which together cover a total of 1,650 acres. I’m fishing for four days in this special place with my sons Joel and Jon, and nephew Salvy. We’re renting a cozy log cabin at Cobb’s Camp in Lower Pond which affords us access to an indoor toilet, a hot shower, and cooked meals off the grid in the middle of nowhere! Pierce Pond is a totally pristine and unspoiled environment. The lake is completely surrounded by forests in a protected watershed. These conditions maintain the exceptional surface water quality which supports a robust and self-sustaining native brook trout population and a healthy population of stocked landlocked Atlantic salmon. The latter range in weight from 2 to 4 pounds. General fishing laws apply, except that (a) the pond is closed to ice fishing, (b) the pond opens to fishing on May 1 (but beware that ice-out can occur well past May 1 after a cold winter), (c) only artificial lures are allowed, (d) the daily bag limit for brook trout is two fish, and (e) the minimum length limit for brook trout is 10”, with only one fish allowed to exceed 12”. Click here for a depth map and click here for the fishing rules.

 

My first salmon of the day is caught fly fishing with Jon. This one is a pleasant surprise because I thought the rises came from a small trout!

Our highest aspiration at Pierce Pond always lies in the hope of fooling the resident salmonids, which feed voraciously on mayflies this time of the year, into grabbing our dry flies (mainly dark-grey Hendricksons and spinners). That instant when the fish grabs your dry fly on the surface is a true hart-stopper! But this simple goal can be surprisingly hard to achieve because several independent variables have to align perfectly to make such an event happen: the wind must be still enough and the sun bright enough to entice the mayflies to emerge from the water column to court and mate overhead, the fish must be present in the shallows and actively seeking mayflies on the water surface, and the angler must be there at the right time and place when all these variables line up simultaneously! But real magic can happen when everything falls into place.

 

I catch my second salmon of the day when Joel is fly fishing with me.

I’m fishing with Jon this afternoon. A brutal wind is howling out of the southeast but the blue sky is filled by bright sunshine. We are put-putting around Middle Pond looking for pockets of quietness in small embayments along northeast-facing shoreline away from the incoming wind. We locate a wind-still area with numerous mayflies sitting on the water surface right up against the shallow shoreline. Things look really good but the fish are not feeding on the surface. So, we quietly anchor the boat about 40 ft offshore and eat our lunch, waiting for something to develop. Sure enough, within 10 minutes, we see one small rise and then another, and another. A single fish is slowly cruising along the shoreline in 2 ft of water feasting on the mayflies. Jon and I gently spring into action and cast our flies towards the shore. I’m the lucky one because the fish grabs my fly, upon which I immediately set the hook. Holy sh*t! This is not the little trout I was expecting. Instead, a 19” landlocked salmon flies out of the water and starts doing violent acrobatics. I just LOVE this kind of fishing!!

 

Joel catches his salmon on a dry fly ten minutes afterwards!

We move on after all the commotion is over and call our two other teammates on the two-way walkie-talkie. We join up and decide to switch partners. Joel now fishes with me on my boat and Jon joins Salvy on his boat. Joel and I go back to the spot where I caught the salmon earlier in the afternoon in the hope for a repeat. The spot is still without wind and mayflies are continuing to hatch. We hang around for a bit looking for rises, and sure enough, we soon see several fish working the shoreline. Our blood pressure immediately jumps through the roof and we both start frantically casting our dry flies towards shore. I’m the first one to get a hookup, followed by Joel 10 minutes later. Both fish measure 19” and give a great fight. We high-five each other and are as excited as two kids robbing the candy store. Father-son fishing does not get any more exciting than this!!

 

Jon hits the jackpot with his first fish ever caught on a dry fly: a 21″ (3.1 lbs) beauty which puts him in Seventh Heaven. He’s already booked for next year!!

Meanwhile, our other two team mates have moved out of Middle Pond and settled in a small wind-still bay in Lower Pond. Jon has never fly fished in his life prior to this trip, and he’s never landed any fish on a dry fly either. He did hook a small landlocked salmon yesterday but promptly lost the fish when he put too much pressure on his line, which snapped the tippet. He struggles just to get his fly out, as any beginner does. But sometimes beginners win the lottery… Several rises suddenly appear right along the shoreline after Jon and Salvy quietly waited for about 20 minutes. They both cast out their line towards shore, with Jon barely reaching it on account of his inexperience. But the fish gods smile on him because the salmon goes for his fly and not Salvy’s! Jon learned from his costly mistake yesterday. This time, he plays the fish correctly, allowing it to take long runs and to tire out. Our neophyte catches the biggest salmon of the trip: it measures 21” long and weighs 3.1 lbs! Jon is so excited with his catch that he already booked his place to return with us for next year’s Memorial Day fishing extravaganza on Pierce Pond!

 

The results: We landed a combined four landlocked Atlantic salmon measuring between 18” and 21” in a fun afternoon of 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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3 thoughts on “Fishing for landlocked Atlantic salmon on Pierce Pond in Somerset County, Maine (May 28, 2018)

  1. Absolutely love reading your articles, which take my jealousy to new highs! Happy fishing my friend!

    Best regards,

    Carl

  2. I second you feeling about Pierce pond. My wife and I were there end of June first of July caught some really nice fish got two salmon one over 15” the other 17.5”. Caught some ice Brookies ranging from 12-14”. We’re going back end of September hopefully for some bright colored Brook Trout. We are going back next June for the Drake hatch as well.

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