Fishing for rainbow trout on Silver Lake in Sidney and Manchester, Kennebec County, Maine (April 18, 2020)

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Silver Lake (a.k.a. Figure Eight Pond) is a 29-acre two-lobed body of water located in Sidney and Manchester, Kennebec County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 12 B5). Click here for directions on how to reach this location. I note for the record that both Baxter Drive and Community Drive have a panel nailed to a tree along the side of the road stating “dead end”. Just ignore those signs and keep on going until you reach the pond.


View of the rough boat launch with the southern lobe in the background



Something quite specific draws me to Silver Lake this morning. I checked the 2020 daily stocking report and noticed that this pond received 25 18” breeder rainbow trout earlier this week. That is a stocking density of close to one fish per acre and is definitely worth checking out given the hefty size of these fish. In addition, to my knowledge, the only public access point to this pond is the one located on Community drive by the southern (and much smaller; < 10 acre) lobe of the pond. This lobe is connected to the larger northern lobe via a short but very shallow (< 2 ft deep) passage, which I’m guessing would tend to keep the stocked fish concentrated in the southern lobe, at least for a while. So, if my assumptions are correct, that southern lobe should contain some fat bows for me to catch this morning… Open-water fishing on Silver Lake in the spring falls under the general fishing laws.


The shallow passage linking the southern lobe to the northern lobe is less that 2 ft deep


I reach the boat launch at 7 am and observe two other cars with trailers parked on the side of the road. Clearly, others are also aware of the big fish in this pond… Fortunately, those folks headed out through the narrow passage and left the southern lobe all to myself. The morning air is crisp (33°F) and overcast, with a light northwest breeze. I’m glad that I dressed like I’m going ice fishing! I’ve learned the hard way…The surface water is a cool 45°F, which is great for the trout but should keep the overabundant but stunted local bass population in check; that water is just too cold for bass to chase after my lures. I quickly set up my typical trolling arrangement: an nine-weight fly fishing rod paired with lead-core line, and a portable down-rigger teamed up with a spinning rod. I attach to the lead core two smelt-imitating streamer flies (Grey Ghost and Governor Aiken) tied to one another by a 2-ft section of monofilament. These flies provide a small and streamlined profile, even though Silver Lake does not have smelt to my knowledge. Note that I constantly “rip” my fly rod when trolling with lead core to provide erratic action to the streamer flies down below. I’ve learned over the years that this added action greatly increases the number of strikes. I also put a small sown bait on the downrigger. I place the sown bait and the streamer flies 5 ft and 10 ft down, respectively. There’s no need to troll any deeper given the cool water temperature in early spring, plus the overcast sky. My freakin’ depth finder refuses to turn on! Grrr! Fortunately, I printed out the depth map for this pond before I left home, and outlined the 25-ft depth contour. That map, crude as it is, is a life saver today. In fact, I never leave home without first printing out the depth map of the pond I’m fishing so I know where to target my efforts without wasting time.


It’s not every day that I catch a 3+ pound rainbow trout!


I make two complete circles around the southern lobe, getting snagged on the bottom several time. But I’m quickly learning the areas to avoid while still remaining over 15-20 ft of water. I get a tremendous hit on my lead core line on the third time around, and the fish at the other end is no small fry!! I just LOVE catching salmonids in the spring on lead core because you really feel the viciousness of their strike. This one has serious heft and puts up quite a fight. Fantastic, I caught one of the breeder trout, measuring 19” and weighing 3.6 pounds! I just love it when the strategy falls into place. This male fish is clearly brood stock: It’s snout and fins look bruised from living in a hatchery cement raceway for several years. I take braggin’ pictures and let the fish go unharmed. As I restart my circuit around the southern lobe, I can’t resist sending the pictures to my son Joel, who immediately calls me back excitedly to hear all the details. We’re happily chatting away as I reach the same general location where I caught the first fish and I get a second hit on my streamer flies. Holy smokes, this one is just as big! I start fighting the fish when suddenly the hooks pops out of its mouth and the line goes slack… Crap! I spend the next 2.5 hour trolling and trolling around in that southern lobe but don’t get another hit. Oh well, one breeder will have to do, but what a fish it was.


Look at the girth on this fish!


The results: I caught one rainbow trout (19” and 3.6 pounds) in three hours of trolling.


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