Ice fishing for brook trout on Sand Pond in Baldwin, Cumberland County, Maine (February 5, 2022)

Sand Pond is a 61-acre body of water located in Baldwin, Cumberland County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 D4). The pond is accessible via the public boat launch located at its southern tip by the municipal beach, next to Sand Pond Road off Route 107 (Bridgton Road). Plenty of parking space is available across from the launch.

 

 

Sand Pond as seen from the boat launch by the municipal beach

 

It’s been six years since the last time I ice fished Sand Pond and time for a return visit. I fished it successfully from my boat last fall shortly after the pond was stocked for the 2022 winter season. The state released 200 13-inch brook trout (i.e., a little over 3 fish per acre) and 30 18-inch brook trout (i.e., 0.5 fish per acre), yielding a sparse total of less than 4 larger brookies per acre. Of note, this pond didn’t receive the smaller but much more numerous 9-inch brook trout yearlings which can provide for a lot of excitement on the ice. Hence, I don’t expect “fast” action this morning, but seek to catch quality trout, and secretly hope to land one of the larger brookies… The pond has a maximum and average depth of 20 ft. and 9 ft., respectively, making it relatively shallow. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. General fishing law applies at this location during the ice fishing season.

 

View of the eastern shoreline of Sand Pond. The outlet is to the right of the house. The access point is to the right in this picture.

 

I arrive at the Sand Pond access point at 6:30 am, and 10 minutes later head towards my pre-selected fishing spot next to the outlet (see the attached depth map) along the eastern shoreline. I’m surprised not to see any ice-fishing shacks, which tend to accumulate quickly on popular ponds… It’s a nippy 13°F but the wind is calm, at least for now. The air temperature is not expected to rise much this morning, and the sky will remain overcast. My progression is slow and laborious because not only am I walking through 10-12 inches of fresh snow while pulling my sled, but all the added weight of that snow has caused pond water to seep up and create a five-inch layer of wet slop on top of the ice. Urgh!! I drill my first two holes as best I can and deploy two tip-ups baited with 2-inch shiners over 3 to 7 ft. of water (the ice is a solid 15 inches thick). I notice that the snow is dry as I move further sideways to drill my third hole. Fantastic, I’m out of the area with the sloppy mess and can keep my feet dry this morning! I set up two more baited traps, drill two additional holes further away, and go back to retrieve the original two traps. I complete the preparations by drilling 10 jigging holes all around my four tip-ups. I’m done by 7:45 am, exhausted but satisfied.

 

This little brookie is the only one I caught all morning. I hooked but missed a much larger fish 10 minutes after this one…

 

No flag has popped up over the last hour, which is never a good sign when ice fishing for brook trout early in the morning. I start systematically jigging (5-10 minutes per hole) and have nothing to show for all my efforts by 9 am. The wind has also come up and creates a biting wind chill which is numbing my fingers. I check my bait; all are healthy and unharmed. The trout down below just aren’t active. I’m seriously considering quitting when a flag suddenly pops up! I run towards the trap and am disappointed that the spool isn’t turning, though the line has been pulled sideways. I slowly retrieve the line, feel resistance, and immediately set the hook, bringing in a ripe (full of eggs) 13-inch female brookie. Finally! I continue jigging with renewed enthusiasm when a second flag of another trap goes up ten minutes later. Is this the beginning of a feeding frenzy? The spool slowly turns when I reach the hole. I let go of some line, wait for the slack to be removed by the swimming fish, and set the hook. Oooh, yes siree, something big is angrily resisting at the other end! But within five seconds, the fish unhooks and the line goes slack. Crap!! It looks like I may have missed an 18 incher… Dejected, I rebait, and return to jigging. But that was the last fish activity of the morning. I call it good at 10:15 am. The fishing was definitely slow (two flags, one fish), and jigging, though usually quite productive, yielded nothing, not even a small bump (click here and here for other examples where jigging didn’t perform as expected). Regardless, I’m glad I came out and gave it my best shot. Also, I didn’t see another angler all morning. Most importantly, I wasn’t skunked 🙂

 

The results: I caught one brook trout in 3.5 hours of slow and cold 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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