Ice fishing for splake on Trickey Pond in Naples, Cumberland County, Maine (March 19, 2022)

Trickey Pond covers 311 acres and is located in Naples, Cumberland County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 B5). The public access is via a clearly-marked hard-top boat launch located right off Route 114. Plenty of parking is available by the launch. Keep in mind that the steep road connecting Route 114 to the launch is typically unplowed in the winter (unless a kind soul does the job) and can therefore be undrivable. And if that is the case, then parking is very limited at the top. Fortunately, the road is clear and ice free this morning.

 

View of Trickey Pond from the boat launch

 

Trickey Pond is a very old acquaintance of mine. We’ve met many times over the last 25 years, particularly during the ice fishing season. The state manages it as a salmonid fishery via a sparse annual stocking of landlocked Atlantic salmon, brook trout, and splake. The pond also supports a tremendous smallmouth bass population. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that ice fishing on this body of water is never “fast”. With exceptions, a couple of flags and one or two fish are the norm. Hence, much patience is needed when fishing this body of water. But the lack of speed is more than made up by the quality of the fish: most of the salmonids and smallmouth bass I’ve caught have tended to be large and well-fed. In fact, I’ve caught two landlocked salmon here through the ice in the past that weighed 5+ pounds! Ice fishing occurs under the general fishing laws. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.

 

The ice is slushy, the weather is overcast, and the bite is slow.

 

The warmer weather and rain of the last eight days is quickly deteriorating the ice and announcing what looks like an early spring. I really like visiting Trickey Pond in late winter because its ice is reliably thick, even when conditions elsewhere in the region are no longer safe for ice fishing. I’m playing cat and mouse with the weather this morning because the forecast calls for a steady rain to start around 9 am and to persist for the rest of the day. So, I only have a couple of hours to make something happen. I arrive at the boat launch at 5:45 am, just when the night begins to recede. It’s still plenty dark and I have to use a head lamp to get ready to go on the ice. The conditions are actually much to my liking: the air temperature is a “balmy” 42°F, it is wind still, and the sky is totally overcast in anticipation of the coming rain. My targets this morning are landlocked Atlantic salmon, splake, and/or smallmouth bass. From the boat launch, I walk halfway across the pond towards the opposite shoreline in order to fish in water 45-50 ft. deep. The top 3 inches of ice are slushy and wet, but the remaining 12 inches are strong and solid. I drill four holes and insert two tipups with baitfish placed 2 ft. off the bottom to probe for smallmouth bass and splake; I place the baitfish of the two remaining tipups 5 ft. and 15 ft below the ice to look for landlocked salmon. I also drill half a dozen jigging holes.

 

The fishing is slow, as expected, but I’m not leaving skunked this morning!

 

I’m delighted to see a flag go up around 7 am in the trap with the baitfish placed 5 ft. below the ice. When I reach the hole, the spool is slowly turning and the line is moving sideways. That can only be a salmon! I set the hook and feel resistance at the other end. Yes! The fish doesn’t put up much of a fight at first but then suddenly wakes up and starts ripping line out of my hands. Way to go! I slowly bring it to the hole and I’m very surprised to see a …15-inch splake! I’ve caught this species on the bottom and in mid-water when ice fishing on this pond, but never just underneath the ice over 50 ft. of water. Then, everything goes quiet: not a flag, not a nibble on the jig, nothing. It’s now 8 am and I have to change tactics if I want to catch more fish. Over the next 30 minutes, I move all four traps closer to shore in water 20 to 35 ft. deep to increase the odds of catching pre-spawn smallmouth bass. I start feeling the occasional raindrop. I cross my fingers that the fish will do their thing but I’ve yet to get a flag when the rain becomes steady by 9:15 am. I’ve unfortunately run out of time and reluctantly gather up my equipment, calling it good. Trickey Pond fully lived up to its well-deserved reputation as a “slow” fishery, But I’m not complaining because I didn’t get skunked this morning 🙂

 

The results: I caught one 15-inch splake in 3 hours of slow 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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