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If you have just a few minutes a day to spend outdoors this summer, make it the last few minutes of the day and spend it casting flies to small pond trout.
I am not a great fly-fisherman and avoid it when I can, but there is probably no better way to end a summer’s day than sitting in a canoe in a small, sheltered cove and tossing light dry flies to rising fish. Any Mosquito or Light Cahill pattern should work for starters. Brook trout are rarely picky about such things. In fact, if you prefer, just stick with the basic Royal Coachman. You will catch plenty of fish even though the pattern resembles nothing I’ve ever seen in nature!
Trout do most of their feeding at night, or so it seems. I’ve spent many an hour drifting around in small ponds with dimpling rises all around me. It looks as if it’s raining, but it’s not. Those are trout sipping small flies off the surface, and while there is some activity throughout the day, things really pick up as the sun goes down. I’ve stayed on the water well past dark and the “rain” does not dissipate. I don’t know how many of those little bugs it takes to fill up a brook trout, but the action can stay hot well past dark (or as long as you can see to cast).
It’s possible to blind cast and catch fish, but I think the most productive way to take these warm-weather trout is to simply drift around the pond, rod held back with 30 feet or so of line out, and when you see a rising fish, cast your fly directly to it. In most cases, if your fly hits the water within a foot or two of the rise, you’ll have a fish on shortly.
It’s not difficult to handle a rod and paddle at the same time once the sun goes down and the water surface turns to glass. I will give the canoe a couple of solid strokes, one on each side, and simply drift along, rod at the ready, looking ahead for signs of a rising fish. When the action is hot, I won’t have to paddle a second time before I find a target.
If I had to pick my favorite place for this kind of fishing, it would be Wassookeag Lake in Dexter. The lake calms down considerably late in the evening when the wind dies down, and that’s the perfect time to slip a canoe into a small cove and while away the evening tossing flies at hungry trout.
A great spot for this kind of fishing is the cove on “Little Wassookeag” where routes 23 and 7 come together. The water here is sometimes shallow enough to wade, but in a canoe you have more range to reach feeding fish. It’s also a good idea to simply anchor in the middle of the cove and cast to rising fish around you. Once in a while you’ll catch a small salmon or even a bass, but most of the time it’s a fat little brookie that’s perfect for the frying pan.
Morning fishing can be good as well, but that evening period can be tremendous. On more than one occasion I have taken my limit of trout on as many casts, but those are admittedly exceptional days. A few times I have done it during the heat of the day, but those occasions are even more rare!
Because these trout are small, most are less than 10 inches; you don’t need a surf rod to reach them. I have great luck using a 4- or 5-weight fly rod, a 9-foot fine leader and as small a fly as I can see to tie on. These trout are “sippers,” barely dimpling the surface as they sip tiny bugs off the surface, so there’s no need to over-gun them. A 2-pound-test leader is more than enough to handle the biggest trout you’re likely to encounter.
There are many small ponds in our area that offer good summer trouting, too. Believe it or not, I’ve caught some nice fish in Pleasant Pond in Orneville (tough to get to but great to fish!). Its trout will begin to rise just at sunset, and most of the fish will be at or near the outlet. (Watch out for big pickerel and smallmouths here, too!)
Other good spots include Dow Pond and Garland Pond in Sebec, along with the Buttermilk ponds in Bowerbank. Any lake or pond that’s been stocked with trout should have an evening fishery. It may take some exploring to find where the fish are most active toward dark, but that’s part of fishing. Also, the trout may start early or late, so the best thing to do is get there an hour or so before sunset and be ready when they are, which means around 7 p.m. or so. Find your spot, pre-rig your rod and leaders and be ready when the “rain” starts!
Make the most of this summer’s great fishing opportunities. We are nearly halfway through the calendar year and soon the hours of daylight will begin to wane. If you like to fish but can’t find the time, head for the nearest trout pond and spend the last few minutes of the day working those hungry brook trout. If you time it right, you can enjoy some great fishing, the serenity of a small pond at dusk, and have enough trout to make a meal when you get home.
It hardly gets any better than that, and the time to go is now. In most cases, you won’t see another soul out there. Peel yourself out of that lawn chair and join in the fun. A limit of trout is the least you’ll get out of it – the peace and quiet alone is more than worth the trip!
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