With each spring that passes it becomes more and more apparent that our weather here in Maine is truly unpredictable, and this year has been no exception. Many die-hard fishermen take note if he or she stumbles across some nuance that gives an edge on catching the big one, but notes of years past may prove to be just as questionable as the weatherman. As a fly fisherman I’ve kept small journals in the past that record dates and times of fish caught, their size, specific insect hatches, what fly they took, and various other fly fishing drivel. Even so, with all this data at my disposal, whether tucked away in a notebook or the recesses of my brain, the curveballs of nature can render any data utterly ineffective.
You might remember that this spring gave rise to unusually warm days as early as mid-March. On March 21st a good friend and I were wearing T-shirts, sitting in float tubes, and catching brook trout on dry flies mere hours after a small eastern Maine pond had iced-out. If memory serves, I think we saw 85 degrees and both turned a bit red that day. This is precisely the kind of stunt that casts doubt on the applicable value of any records within the fishing journals of previous years, and will probably have me questioning when and how certain events will unfold for the rest of the season.
To add to my sense of disorientation, I have started fishing a body of water completely new to me as of this year. The fishing thus far has been relatively slow with only a trout or two throughout a day’s fishing, but when a fish is brought to hand it is always large. Contrary to my experience on most other trout ponds, this pond has yet to exhibit much surface activity despite decent midge and mayfly hatches, which leads me to a few different conclusions. One being that the exceptional size of the trout is left to make up for a possible lack of numbers. The other being that the trout are possibly interested in larger prey below the surface, such as baitfish. For all practical purposes, I would prefer to avoid overly ambitious theorizing with a spring like we have experienced. All my theories will be useless next year when the pond is frozen solid well into May. However heartbreaking it might be, I guess I’ll be forced to fish the pond again next year in order to gather unblemished data.
My last trip to the pond was a prime display of Maine weather as well as Maine Brook Trout. My friend Nick decided to join me for his second attempt at the two mile hike into the pond, which proved to be sweat-inducing as usual. On the other hand, not nearly as bad as our first exploratory trek to the same pond in early April that proved to be unfruitful, and after bush-whacking the two miles with loaded packs through areas still lying thick with snow, we found our destination pond almost entirely frozen over. This time around I’m sure Nick was excited at the chance to finally wet a line, rather than turning tail and walking the two miles out. I know I was.
We worked the water with sinking lines and various sub-surface flies, while the weather staggered like a stumbling drunkard from hot sun to cold rain, and blustery breezes to dead calm. Nick was the first to stick a fish, and it was a stunner. Initially he wasn’t so sure that it was a big trout, but knowing the consistently impressive trout I had seen previously, I had a feeling he might be in for a surprise. I paddled my float tube hard to close the 50 yard distance between us in order to get a good look at the trout, and when the fish rolled on the surface Nick’s tone of voice changed from a casual, nonchalant timbre to barefaced enthusiasm. It was one of the big boys.
Nick lifted the fish from the water in his net and we were energized by the sight. After quickly removing the hook we took a measurement and let the big native swim off to pass on his jumbo genetics to the next generation. The ample bodied Brook Trout taped out at slightly over 19 inches, and though I don’t carry a scale I would guestimate its weight at approaching four pounds; a real bruiser and every bit as big as my largest Brook Trout to date, if not bigger. I caught a nice trout as well a bit later in the day, and though not as big as Nick’s fish it still measured just over 18 inches and was probably closer to three pounds.
We declared success and packed our gear to hike out before darkness fell. The hike out to the road seemed to pass much quicker than the hike in which can most likely be blamed on the anticipation of getting out on the water. Whatever the case, it was well worth the effort. If the pond will produce fish of this size again next year is yet to be seen. I’ve come to learn that the only reliable indication of good fishing is a doubled over fly rod.
About the AuthorJoel Susen is a Lincoln-area native who just plain loves to fish. If you’d like to contact him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass along the message.
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