Ice fishing for brown trout on Pettingill Pond in Windham, Maine (February 10, 2018)

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The public access point to Pettingill Pond is unobstrusive and unmarked.

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 on Anglers Road at the traffic light just past Bob’s Seafood Restaurant. Go down that road for 0.4 miles and look for house number 48. The access point will be to your left immediately past that house (and across from house #51). It is not indicated by any signs. You have gone too far if you reach Mud Pond Road. Note that the local homeowners frown on people parking their vehicles on Anglers Road, which is quite narrow, twisty, and busy. You can either leave your vehicle by the public access point itself (it will accommodate two or three cars, but no more) or park it on a large plowed area located about 0.1 mile on Anglers Road after the turn-off from Route 302. Note that it may be a problem to pull a sled to the public access point for 0.3 miles if all the snow has been cleared from Anglers Road. I also suspect that this latter parking location may not be available for much longer because I saw a “for sale” sign next to it on my way in this morning.

 

General view of Pettingill Pond. The entire shoreline is built up.

My two recent attempts at catching brown trout through the ice this winter came up short (click here and here for details). I focus my attention this morning on Pettingill Pond because it receives the highest brown trout stocking rate (on a “per acre” basis) in the whole of Cumberland County! This pond is one of the most-developed bodies of water I have encountered in my years of fishing throughout southern and central Maine, with houses dotting the entire shoreline. It is also located within earshot of the busy Windham business district on Route 302. Yet, for those in the know, this hidden gem can produce some really nice browns…. The pond has a maximum and mean depth of 29 ft and 12 ft, respectively. It also supports other fish species, including largemouth bass, pickerel, and yellow perch. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. The ice fishing rules fall under the general law provisions.

 

The first brown trout out of Pettingill Pond this morning measures 18″

I’m walking unto Pettingill Pond at 6:20 am. The ice is 16” thick with 7” of fluffy snow on top. The weather is perfect for ice fishing: temps in the high 20’s, no wind, completely overcast, with a low pressure coming our way for later today. One can’t ask for better conditions. My game plan this morning is to deploy three traps along the shoreline for brown trout and one trap off-shore for largemouth bass, plus drill multiple holes along the shoreline for jigging. I stumble, quite by accident, on the ideal brown trout habitat, i.e., a shallow shelf (< 5 ft) along the shoreline coupled with a very steep drop-off (down to 15 ft). I place three baited hooks along that drop-off about half-way down the water column in 6 ft, 9 ft, and 12 ft of water. I get my first flag of the morning at 7:15 am at the shallowest location. The spool turns slowly and hesitantly but there’s definitely a fish at the other end. I set the hook and feel strong resistance. My day is made when an 18” brown trout pokes its head through the hole and plops on the ice. Yes! I take a bragging picture and send it to my son Joel. He calls me back soon after to tell me that he wants a piece of that action. He’s coming over with his son Giovanni.

 

Giovanni’s first-ever brown trout. It took the efforts of three people to get it on the ice. The smiles tell it all!

They both arrive at Pettingill Pond at 9 am. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a single nibble on my jig and only one bass flag on my off-shore trap since the call. We decide to deploy the 10 extra traps over deep water (15 to 25 ft) with the baitfish placed 2 ft off the bottom to search for bass and perch. All the flags will be Giovanni’s. And then nothing happens for the next 1.5 hours… It seems like the fish have gone into hibernation! It’s approaching 11 am when one of the deep-water flags finally goes off. Giovanni does all the trap and line handling but fails to properly set the hook, thereby missing the fish. I see the disappointment etched on his face. But five minutes later, the flag in the 6 ft-deep on-shore trap, the same one that produced the 18” brown earlier today, goes off. Oooh, I like that! As we run up to it, Giovanni asks me to set the hook for him. The spool is slowly turning when we reach the hole. I don’t hesitate, set the hook, and feel hard resistance at the other end. I pass the line to him and he skillfully plays the fish, letting go of line three times as it takes long runs. This is not a baby fish but another bigger brown trout!! The line suddenly breaks as Giovanni tries too quickly to pull the fish out of the hole. Joel, who has joined us, does not hesitate and dives both of his hands in the hole to scoop the fish out! We are all in awe of this beautiful 20” brown trout. Giovanni grins from ear to ear. He makes an astute observation on our way back to the car. He remarks that it took three people to catch his first brown trout ever: him, his daddy, and his grampee. OMG, who says that fishing is only about catching fish?? It’s as much about making deep family connections and life-long memories…

 

The results: We landed two brown trout (18” and 20”) in 4.5 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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