Ice fishing for trout on Otter Pond #4, Standish, Maine (January 19, 2014)

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General view of Otter Pond #4

General view of Otter Pond #4

Otter Pond #4 (a.k.a. Snake Pond) covers 6 acres and is located off Route 35 in Standish, Cumberland County (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 D1). Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. This small body of water is an extremely popular brook trout ice fishing destination in southern Maine. To access this pond, park your car on the small gravel parking lot next to the road bridge over the old railroad tracks. Walk down to the tracks, turn left, and walk for about 10 minutes. You’ll pass Otter Pond #1 (a.k.a. Half Moon Pond) on the right, Otter Pond # 3 on the left, quickly followed by Otter Pond #2 on your right. Get off the tracks and walk to the left around a wooded knoll. Otter #4 will soon appear on your left.






This shore location was supposed to produce lots of brookies...

This shore location was supposed to produce lots of brookies…



My friend Dick flew in from Great Britain a few days ago to attend business in the area. He got really intrigued last summer when we talked about ice fishing at a common friend’s wedding. He decided then and there that he had to join me the next time he came over during the winter, even though he’s only fished once in his life. You’ve got to understand why he’s so excited: Dick loves eating trout but more importantly, he has never walked on frozen water before!! So, how do I guarantee flag action to a novice who hasn’t ice fished before? I make sure to select a pond stuffed full of trout (click here for details). I pick up Dick at 6:30 am and we drive over to Otter Pond #4. He’s gitty and all excited. The ride is actually quite beautiful: it’s snowing lightly with no wind. The tree branches are covered with a white fluffy layer, making the outdoors look like a gorgeous winter wonderland. The conditions are also great for ice fishing: a dense cloud cover, low light, no wind and temps in the lower 30’s. Can’t ask for more in mid-January! Upon arriving at the pond, Dick inquires if the ice is OK… I tell him not to worry; the five people who are already fishing wouldn’t be walking around so callously if the ice was unsafe. I fire the auger and drill 15 holes along the shoreline in 4-10 ft of water (the ice is 13” thick). It takes about 35 minutes to set up 10 traps, all baited with small baitfish.


Small but quite delicious!

Small but quite delicious!

We get our first flag within 20 minutes, which is encouraging. But the spool isn’t turning. The fish just mouthed the bait and then dropped it… That happens, I suppose. But then it happens again, and again! The trout are finicky, picky, and skittish this morning. One of the flags finally results in a slowly-turning spool. I show Dick how to carefully pick up the trap out of the hole, unspool some line and then wait until the line tightens up before setting the hook. This effort yields a miniscule 8” trout, but at least he sees that this whole crazy ice fishing business actually works! I tell Dick that all the future flags are his. Five more flags follow, but every one of them is a “dropper”. Darn it! He doesn’t get the chance to set the hook and bring in a trout. It’s clear from their behavior that the fish will not play nice this morning. I quickly teach Dick how to jig the active holes in the hope that some of the trout that triggered the flags will be hanging nearby and can be enticed to grab his Swedish Pimple. I do catch a second small trout that way but Dick isn’t so lucky. To add insult to injury, all flag action stops around 10 am, as I’ve seen happen so often before. We both continue jigging until 11 am when I decide to call it quits.


Dick earning his keep by pulling the loaded sled on the way out

Dick earning his keep by pulling the loaded sled on the way out

The fishing today was frustrating, particularly since I wanted Dick to experience for himself what our beloved sport is all about. On the other hand, he can’t stop thanking me on the drive back for bringing him out this morning and making him experience the outdoors in the winter in a way that he could not have imagined. He also announces that next time he flies over from Britain (next summer) he wants me to take him largemouth bass fishing!






The results: I caught 2 brook trout (8” and 10”) and Dick got skunked in 3.5 hours of fishing.


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