Ice fishing for rainbow trout on Stanley Pond in Hiram, Maine (February 1, 2015)

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Drilling holes on a cold morning

Drilling holes on a cold morning

Stanley Pond is a three-lobed, 137-acre body of water located in Hiram, Oxford County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 C2). Public access is via the municipal boat launch located on the lower lobe by the outlet on Tripptown Road (off Route 160). I choose to fish this pond today for two reasons: (a) the blizzard from 4 days ago dumped over 2 ft of drifting snow which greatly limits how far I care to walk in knee-deep snow, and (b) Stanley Pond is a top 2015 winter destination for catching rainbow trout through the ice (click here for details). My son Joel and I ice fished this pond in March 2013 but ended up skunked. However, at that time, Joel obtained good intel from two guys who were catching rainbows nearby us (click here for details). We are now going to put that information to good use. Those two guys were fishing the point of land to the right (looking upgradient) of the outlet area. It is a sweet spot because it is real close to the boat launch, has current associated with the outlet, and has an interesting depth profile close to shore. Also, this area faces west, which means that it stays in the shadow of the rising sun to the east, at least for part of the morning.







Joel and I get to the Stanley Pond boat launch at 7:15 am. We are glad to see that we are the first ones to have arrived. It also turns out that we will be the only ones on the ice this morning. We quickly dress up, load our gear on the sled, and walk for about 5 minutes to our selected fishing area. It’s nippy (5° F), but quite bearable due to the lack of wind. The sky is also bright blue, announcing a clear and brilliant morning. It’s good that we’ll be fishing in the shadow line! The snow is deep with 15” of solid ice underneath. I use the snow shovel to clear up spots and Joel drills the holes with my power auger. We set up our tip-ups in 5 to 15 ft of water right around the point across a drop-off that goes from 7 ft to 14 ft in less than 2 yards. We set the bait at various depths: right underneath the ice, midway down, and close to the bottom. We also bunch our traps close together because we don’t want to exhaust ourselves walking back and forth through the snow to check our bait.


At least I didn't get skunked today! (and cold cell phones take funky pictures...)

At least I didn’t get skunked today! (and cold cell phones take funky pictures…)

We get our first flag while setting up the third tip-up. Sweet!! That’s a promising sign. The fish swims away towards the outlet dam and the spool is turning smoothly. I gently lift the trap out of the water and don’t hesitate to set the hook. Oh yes siree, there’s a fish at the other end of this line! A 14” rainbow trout appears by the hole after a brief fight and plops on the ice shortly afterwards. We take a picture of the creature and release it back into the water, excited by this quick catch and expecting much more to come. One thing to remember is that, unlike brookies, rainbow trout and brown trout are shy and weary fish. Heavy lines, big hooks, big bait, and large lures turn them off. Hence, we’re fishing “finesse”, i.e., 6 lb fluorocarbon line (invisible in the water) both on our trap spools and jigging reels, small #8 red-colored bait hooks, bait fish less than 2” in size, and tiny 1” jigging lures. We start jigging all around the point after we complete setting up our 8 tip-ups by 7:45 am. We do not get another flag or any hits on our jigs over the next 2.5 hours 🙁 Nada! The sun has now risen above the tree tops and is flooding our area with light. Several checks of our tip-ups throughout the morning show that all our bait is alive and well. We call it quits at 10:30 am when it is clear that the fish have moved elsewhere and are in no mood to bite.


The results: I caught one 14” rainbow trout and Joel was skunked after about 3 hours of fishing.


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