Fishing for landlocked Atlantic salmon on Pierce Pond, Somerset County, Maine (May 26, 2019)

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A quiet moment of reflection at the camp site located in the upper basin of Pierce Pond

I’m on my annual extended Memorial Day weekend fishing bonanza to Pierce Pond, located in the undeveloped wilds of western Maine (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 30 A2). We stay for several days at a camp site on one of the islands in the upper basin of the pond, but head to Cobb’s Camps located in the lower basin across from Lindsey Cove to let ourselves be pampered for four days.


The salmon and trout are not feeding on the surface because the prevailing conditions are preventing the mass emergence of mayflies.


The fishing at Pierce Pond has been unusually tough this year. Everybody back at camp complains about it! The reason is that the weather is too overcast and the water still too cold (47°F to 53°F, depending on location and time of day) to entice the local mayflies to consistently emerge en masse from the water column and start their seasonal mating rituals. As a result, the resident salmon and trout are not feeding on the surface nor are they focused on the flies. And that, of course, is really sad because the whole purpose of our annual pilgrimage to this magic place is to catch salmon and trout on dry flies. Instead, we spend many hours trolling with smelt-imitating streamer flies in less than 20 ft of water close to the bouldery shoreline. And we have some success with this technique, particularly during an hour or so before sunset when the wind dies down and the light levels drop sharply.


Jonnathan is pleased to have caught several landlocked salmon during this evening’s troll.


It’s 7 pm and my son Jonnathan and I are heading out for our after-dinner troll. My evening troll with Bill yesterday along a short 200-yard stretch of shoreline in Otter Ponds Cove in the lower basin yielded five landlocked salmon measuring between 14” and 18”. That was good fishing and we’re hoping to repeat that success this time around at the same location. Our efforts over the last couple of days has told us that the fish are avoiding the larger double-hook streamer flies and instead are falling for more compact single-hook streamer flies (Parson Tom size 6). And sure enough, the salmon are at their posts and falling for out offerings. Jonnathan hooks and lands three fish in the first 45 minutes while I have several hits but no hook-ups as we slowly troll up and down our 200 yard stretch of shoreline.


These two loons are hanging around the boat to see if they can grab an easy meal …


We observe two loons which are constantly swimming and diving around our boat, but we otherwise pay no attention to them. Then it’s finally my turn to get a salmon this evening. This one jumps ten times out of the water before finally giving up upon reaching the boat. What a treat! We net the fish, measure it (17”), take a picture, and release it back to the water. The poor thing is exhausted. It’s floating upside down on the surface waiting to regain its strength when suddenly a dark shape rushes up underwater towards the boat and grabs it. Holy sh*t, it’s one of the loons!! That fish is instantly consumed! Jonnathan and I are dumbfounded at the speed at which this bird swam towards us and ate that large fish. Wow. We never saw anything like it before.


This salmon jumped ten times out of the water before the loon got a hold of it.


We continue trolling, aware that the two loons are still hanging around in the neighborhood. And then I hook a second but smaller (14”) landlocked salmon. Oh no! One of the two loons immediately dives after it. I reel in the fish as fast as I can to save it from certain death when suddenly my rod bends over backwards. Darn, the loon grabbed the fish at the other end of my line and is trying to swim away with it! I apply maximum pressure on the line, the loon releases the fish, grabs it again, and releases it once more. The fish is dead on arrival. We unhook it and dispose of it in the water, where the submerged waiting loon immediately grabs it before swimming away. I thought that I had seen it all in my decades of fishing, but this evening’s experience shows that unexpected things can happen at any time on the water!


The results: We caught five landlocked salmon (largest = 19”) in 1.5 hours of exciting fishing.


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4 thoughts on “Fishing for landlocked Atlantic salmon on Pierce Pond, Somerset County, Maine (May 26, 2019)

  1. Great loon story. I would have never thought a loon could consume a fish that big! But I guess a free meal is a free meal. I enjoyed your Androscoggin tales from last year, and am looking forward to hitting that river again on our trip up from Virginia this summer.

  2. Stan,
    I enjoyed reading of your adventure up north and look forward to more of your fishing tales. Living on a small pond, I have noticed the loons hanging around while fishing and had no idea that they were that aggressive. Will definitely keep my eyes on the other end of my line to keep my catch from becoming their supper. Keep up the great tales!

  3. Hi Stan, loved reading your Pierce Pond adventureAs usual when you figured it out the fish were in trouble! Seems like those loons knew a sure bet of where to go to for dinner too! Regards

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