Ice fishing for splake on Trickey Pond in Naples, Maine (February 21, 2015)

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Trickey Pond is a 311-acre body of water located in Naples, Cumberland County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 B5). Access is via the public boat launch located at the southern tip of the lake off Route 114 (Sebago Road). Beware that this access road is unplowed in the winter, and steep. As described here, the pond offers a cornucopia of sport fish species to be caught through the ice, including landlocked salmon, splake, brook trout, and smallmouth bass. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. This blog identifies the pond as the go-to location in southern Maine for catching splake during the 2015 ice fishing season. That is our target species for today. Splake is a trout hybrid created by crossing a female lake trout with a male brook trout. The main advantage is that these fish are sterile. Hence, the metabolic energy that would be spent reproducing is channeled into growing fast and fat!

 

The inshore tip-ups are hiding in the shadow line

The inshore tip-ups are hiding in the shadow line

 

 

My son Joel and I arrive at the Route 114 turnoff to the boat launch at 6:45 am. I’m driving my 4X4 pickup truck in the hope of bringing it on to the ice for comfort and warmth. We get out of the vehicle and walk down a bit to check out the conditions. It is obvious that the snow drifts blocking the access road are too high to make it through without getting stuck. Besides, it does not appear that anyone else has driven down that road for a while, except for snowmobilers. We decide to play it safe by parking the truck next to the wash house at the top and hauling our gear down to the lake. Two young bucks pass by us in their brand-new 4X4 pickup as we’re loading up the sled. I tell them to beware of the deep snow further down. They don’t bother to check things out, wave at me with knowing smiles, and drive on through… Two minutes later on our way to the pond, we find them buried down to their axles in snow. We pass them by, wishing them the best of luck…

 

 

General view of Trickey Pond with Joel jigging around the off-shore tipups

General view of Trickey Pond with Joel jigging around the off-shore tipups

We turn to the right after walking onto the ice and follow the shoreline for 400-500 ft. That puts us on the eastern side of the lake, and therefore in the shadows. We’re expecting limitless sunshine and a bright blue sky. It is nippy this morning (-5°F) but windstill. The snow on top of the ice is also manageable, not exceeding 6” deep. Our splake strategy is to deploy some of our tip-ups along the shoreline in 4-10 ft of water, and the remainder further offshore in 25+ ft of water with the bait placed at different depths. Splake take after both of their parents: the brook trout side favors the shallows, whereas the lake trout side also makes them roam the deeper waters. So, we’ll even our odds by targeting both of these habitats. Joel suddenly remembers that he left his traps behind at his place, expecting me to bring enough for the two of us! Sh*t! I only brought five traps for me… We just cut our chances in half.

 

 

Jack pot!!

Jackpot!!

The packed snow and ice is thick (20”), and it takes us a while to drill our holes but we’re all set up by 7:45 am, with three tip-ups in the shallows and two more off shore. One of those off-shore traps, with the bait placed 5 ft below the ice, yields a flag within 5 minutes of deployment. We re-bait and the flag goes up again 3 minutes later, but still no fish. We jig the hole but the bait stealer has moved on. The signal is obvious though, and we move one of our inshore traps between our two offshore traps. We then become aware of an unusual sight: there isn’t a single ice shack anywhere on the pond and we’re the only ones fishing this morning. We’ve ice fished Trickey Pond on and off for 20 years and have never encountered this situation. It looks like the impassable access road has really limited the crowds. Meanwhile, we continue drilling new holes around our three offshore traps and jig for about 1.5 hours without any luck. I’m starting to despair when a flag goes up in one of our off-shore traps with the bait placed 15 ft below the ice. This one is for real: the spool is slowly turning and the fish is swimming down towards the bottom when we reach the hole. I gently lift the trap, unspool some extra line, wait for the slack to go away, and set the hook. I’m underwhelmed with the initial response at the other end, and tell Joel that I hooked into a small bass or perhaps even a perch. But the fish wakes up as it gets closer to the hole, and it becomes clear that I’m not dealing with something small after all! The fish takes several strong runs before it finally gives up and plops on the ice. Mission accomplished: it’s a fat 16” splake weighing in at 2 pounds! Unfortunately, that is the only fish for this morning. We jig for another hour but generate no interest. The tip-ups also have no further action. The sun has now risen high up in the sky and we decide to call it a day at 10:45 am. On our way back up, we encounter our two knuckleheads who are still digging out. They called in a plow truck which cleared a path towards their vehicle. I’m sure these two guys will be a bit more cautious in the future …

The results: I caught one 16” (2 lbs.) splake and Joel was skunked after about 3.5 hours of 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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