Ice fishing for brook trout on Round Pond, Livermore, Maine (January 24, 2015)

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Joel jigging for trout in deeper water, with the peninsula in the background

Joel jigging for trout in deeper water, with the peninsula in the background

Round Pond is a 161-acre body of water located in Livermore, Androscoggin County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 11 A5). Public access is via the boat launch off Route 4. I chose this pond based on information provided in this blog: Round Pond is a top 2015 ice fishing destination in Androscoggin County because it was richly stocked with 1-pound brook trout and brown trout in the fall of 2014. This pond also has healthy populations of smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and northern pike. I have not ice fished it before, so my first task is to identify a promising area to target trout. The ideal location sticks out on a depth map (click here) like a sore thumb: it consists of a rocky peninsula which juts out into the water right across from the boat launch. I study this feature on-line using Google Maps: the satellite photo shows that the point is strewn with large submerged boulders, which provide excellent trout habitat. The depth map also shows deeper water right off the point, which is a plus. This choice spot will be our base of operation this morning, assuming that no one else claims it first! My only reservation is that it faces due east in the direction of the rising sun. A check of the Weather Channel website on-line shows that the sky will be overcast because of an approaching snow storm. Excellent!


My one and only contribution to today's catch...

My one and only contribution to today’s catch: a miniscule yellow perch…

My son Joel and I arrive at the boat launch at 7:15 am. The place is hopping, with over a dozen fishing parties strung out all along the eastern shoreline. This is clearly a popular ice fishing spot. We gingerly walk across the pond on glare ice and find the peninsula unoccupied. The conditions are ideal: temps in the high teens, overcast skies, and no wind. We drill 8 holes in 2 to 12 ft of water through 13” of solid ice. We see large boulders on the bottom through the crystal-clear water. We get our first flag in the shallowest hole within 15 minutes, but the fish drops the bait. We reset the flag and it is triggered 5 minutes later, but the bait is dropped again. Darn, we’re dealing with finicky eaters! That’s all the flag action we get for well over an hour. We jig the whole area, but without success…





Joel's first brookie of the day caught jigging

Joel’s first brookie of the day caught jigging

A guy by the boat launch has strung his 5 tip-ups all the way across towards the peninsula. He’s gotten half-a-dozen flags, so it’s high time for me to go chat with him. He hasn’t hooked any fish either and complains that they are skittish this morning. He confirms that Round Pond has good-sized brown trout: he iced three 19 inchers the previous winter. Pike are also present but are best caught in March after they move in-shore to spawn. Based on his flag action, we move two traps further off-shore in 20-25 ft of water with the baitfish placed 3 ft under the ice and halfway down the water column. We also spend time jigging off shore. Those efforts are for naught.





Joel's second brookie of the day caught jigging

Joel’s second brookie of the day caught jigging

Meanwhile, our in-shore flag action remains sporadic, with a flag here and there, which only yields dropped bait, no trout, and much frustration. Joel has a flag around 9:30 am which results in a stolen bait. I tell him to quickly jig the hole before he rebaits. He does so, gets an immediate hit, but misses the fish. He continues jigging and within 15 seconds is rewarded by a fat 13” brookie. Finally! He’s using a miniscule 1” dark-grey Rapala Balanced Jigging Lure which turns out to be the winning lure this morning. We continue jigging around the peninsula with renewed hope. Joel hooks into a second fish and after an eventful fight (his drag was set too light and he kept on slipping around the hole!) lands a 14” brookie. I’d love to show my son how it’s REALLY done but we need to leave because the first snow flakes are filling the air and we have to drive over an hour to get back home. All kidding aside, I’m delighted that our flexible tactics and advanced planning yielded two brookies. The trout were clearly on edge this morning, but jigging made all the difference. I’ve seen this pattern too many times. Jigging is boring but can easily make or break a day on the ice.


The results: Joel caught two brook trout of 13” and 14” and yours truly was skunked after 3.5 hours of fishing.


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