Ice fishing for brown trout on Pettingill Pond in Windham, Cumberland County, Maine (January 6, 2020)

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Pettingill Pond covers 42 acres and is located in Windham, Cumberland County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 C2). The public access to this body of water can be tricky to find under the snow in the winter. While driving on Route 302 in Windham (direction Raymond and Naples, i.e., north), turn right at the light on Anglers Road just past Bob’s Seafood Restaurant, go down that ruddy road for about 0.4 miles and look for house number 48. The small dirt public access point will be to your left immediately past that house (and across from house #51), but is not indicated by any signs. You have gone too far if you reach Mud Pond Road. Note that the local home owners frown on outsiders leaving their vehicles on Anglers Road, which is quite narrow, twisty, and trafficky. The only readily-available place to leave your car in that area is on either side of the public access point, which can only accommodate a handful of vehicles.

 

View of Pettingill Pond from the unimproved boat launch. There’s clearly been a lot of snowmobiling lately…

 

Pettingill Pond is on my “favorites” list because it receives the highest brown trout stocking rate (on a “per acre” basis) in the whole of Cumberland County and produces nice-sized fish. It is stocked with around 80 11” brown trout (i.e., about 2 fish per acre) each fall. It is also one of the most-developed bodies of water I have ever encountered in all my years of fishing throughout Maine! Dozens upon dozens of houses and cottages two or three deep dot the entire shoreline of this three-lobed body of water. Yet, surprisingly, this unobtrusive but busy little pond located within spitting distance of Windham’s business district, supports a high-quality brown trout fishery…. The pond has a maximum and mean depth of 29 ft and 12 ft, respectively. It also supports several other fish species, including largemouth bass, pickerel, and yellow perch. In my experience, the largemouth bass are plentiful but typically on the small size. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. The ice fishing rules fall under the general law provisions.

 

The place is nice and quiet this morning: no snow mobilers, no other anglers, but also no fish activity…

 

I reach Pettingill Pond at 6:30 am and have only about two hours of fishing time before I need to turn around and start my work day. The ice is a rather slim 6” thick with frozen slush on top, which makes for easy walking. I also have the place all to myself since it’s a Monday morning. The temperature is a cool 12°F but is quite bearable due to a lack of wind. I find an east-facing shoreline in order to stay out of the bright light that will blanket the lake once the sun rises at 7:15 am. My fishing strategy consists of drilling four holes for my tip-ups close to shore in 4 to 10 ft of water, with 2” baitfish placed half-way down the water column. I also drill another dozen jigging holes all around my target area. I know from experience that, unlike brook trout, ice fishing for brown trout is never “fast”. Not only are these creatures weary and shy but they are also released at much lower stocking rates compared to brookies. Note that the last 10 ft of line on all my tip-up spools consists of invisible fluorocarbon monofilament; same deal with my jigging rod line. I also use needle-sharp #8 hooks which I swap out regularly, and tiny split-shot weights. One can never be too careful with these details when it comes to catching browns through the ice…

 

Success at last! It’s not a hog, but I’m not skunked either!

 

My four traps are deployed by 7 am and I’m eager for the action to start. But nothing happens for the next 95 minutes, either with the tip-ups or the jig. That’s not necessarily unexpected but I’m starting to run out of time. Then a flag pops up in my trap set over 9 ft of water. The spool is slowly turning, with the fish moving away from shore into deeper water. I let out some line, quickly set the hook, and connect with a hard-fighting creature down below which turns out to be an angry 17” brown trout. Success in the nip of time! The fish gets photographed for posterity and released to be caught by someone else. I move my two shallower traps out a bit into 9 ft of water in the hope of repeating this event, but I do not generate any more flags. The jigging, on the other hand, results in two small largemouth bass over the next 20 minutes. It seems like the fish below are starting to move about but I unfortunately have to leave to start my work day. Regardless, I enjoyed my quiet early morning on the ice and am mighty happy to have caught a brown trout.

 

The results: I caught one brown trout (17”) and two largemouth bass (largest = 15”) in two hours of slow 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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