Ice fishing for brook trout on Otter Pond #4, Standish, Cumberland County, Maine (January 23, 2021)

 

The Otter Ponds are a highly-popular early season ice fishing destination. Don’t be the last one in!

 

Otter Pond #4 is a small 6-acre body of water located in Standish, Cumberland County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 D1). Click here for directions on how to reach this fishing hole. My original target for this morning was actually Parker Pond in Lyman, York County. I got out of bed at an ungodly hour in order to start fishing 30 minutes before sunrise. When I stepped on the ice, I was astounded to discover that it was only 0.5″ thick! It was clear that much of Parker Pond had thawed recently in response to the warm weather and rain of last week. That is insane considering that we’re deep in January and should be walking on up to one foot of ice at this point in the season… So, instead, I drive to Otter Pond #4 which has a much smaller surface area and is more likely to have safe ice.

 

Otter Pond #4 is small but pretty.

 

Otter Pond #4 is an extremely popular early-winter brook trout ice fishing spot in southern Maine. The State stocked 595 brookies at this location last fall, yielding a very respectable 99 trout per acre! Those fish range in size from 8″ to 16″, with most on the smaller size. By the way, don’t forget that this pond remains open for fall fishing. I love chasing trout in October and November when everyone else is done for the season and I have the place all to myself. Click here and here for examples of fall fishing at this location). Click here for a depth map. Ice fishing at this location is allowed under the general fishing laws.

 

Small but pretty!

 

I arrive at the parking lot off Route 35 in Standish at 7:40 am, and am amazed to see around 10 vehicles. Holy smokes, the place is already hopping, even though it’s a Friday morning! That does bring up the issue of timing when it comes to visiting these smaller trout ponds. In southern Maine, most of the “put-and-take” ponds are legal to fish in early winter as soon as the ice is safe to walk on, which typically occurs in mid- to late-December. Anglers converge on these prized safe early-fishing locations from all over the region and hit them really hard. That means that the number of available trout quickly dwindles over time as each angler keeps the permissible two fish per person per day. I wouldn’t bother fishing such ponds much past the end of January when they’re largely cleaned out.

 

Otter Pond #4 is loaded with these smaller-sized brookies. I was definitely hoping for something bigger this morning!

 

It’s a real chore to pull my sled on the dirt path along the abandoned railroad tracks to Otter Pond #4 because the soil is bare of snow. That’s definitely another sign of how screwy the winter has been so far. It’s actually a nice morning, with 23°F, little or no wind, and a partially cloudy sky. I arrive at my final destination huffing and puffing at 8 am and see three other parties on the ice. I ask one of the anglers about the ice thickness and he responds that he has about 4″. That’s ridiculously thin for the end of January but safe… I set up shop along the eastern shore by drilling a dozen holes over 2 to 7 ft of water and deploying my traps baited with small 2″ shiners. The bite starts within five minutes when I get a flag on my second trap, which yields a 9″ brookie. The action is non-stop over the next 25 minutes when I get another five flags and two more small brookies. My goodness, I’m unable to deploy my fourth trap on account of all the activity and the constant running around! This is definitely fun. I run out of my dozen baitfish by 8:30 am but then the activity abruptly shuts down as fast as it started… That pattern is oh so typical when ice fishing for brook trout! I get two more flags (but no fish) over the next 1.5 hrs. The slow-down gives me time to jig, which results in two more small brookies, but no more. I pack up and leave by 10 am, satisfied with the results. This morning’s experience once again confirms a cardinal rule of ice fishing: get on the hard water at the crack of dawn in order to catch the early bite!

 

Follow the old railroad tracks!

 

The results: I caught five 9″ brook trout in two hours of ice 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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