Lakes & Ponds
Did you know? The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture has identified Maine as “the last true stronghold for native brook trout”, with more than 97% of the remaining native and wild lake and pond populations of brook trout. Maine, like many northeastern states, has many stream fisheries for brook trout. In fact there are an estimated 22,000 miles of brooks, streams,and rivers that have wild brook trout.
What sets Maine apart from other states, though, is its hundreds of wild brook trout ponds and lakes.
Pond fishing is an experience that requires different techniques than stream fishing, but one that many anglers have come to enjoy. Methods of fishing include fishing from shore, using a float tube, casting from a canoe or boat, and trolling. Those waters limited by regulation to fly fishing only preclude trolling. The challenges of pond fishing are finding the trout and figuring out what they’re taking. These fish often hug the bottom, at which time nymphs provide a good strategy, but when they’re rising to hatch, try the dry flies.
Pond fishing provides freedom from the uncertainties of wading and restrictive vegetation as well as scenic views and the chance to see a deer and moose. The services of a professional fishing guide can eliminate problems of finding and accessing these waters as well as figuring out where the fish are and the best flies to use. A guide is also likely to have a ready canoe or other watercraft to fish from.
Maine’s lentic brook trout resource consists of populations in 1,135 lakes and ponds of which 645 are self-sustaining (wild) populations; 305 of these waters have never been stocked (designated as “A waters” where the use of live fish as bait is restricted). In addition, brook trout occur in 22,248 miles of stream habitat, the vast majority of which are wild. The value for stream populations is estimated, because many streams have not been surveyed and population status is largely unknown. Maine’s wild brook trout populations are concentrated in the interior highlands of the state, much of which is located in privately owned commercial forestlands. Maine’s forests have a long history of land use changes associated with commercial wood harvest including extensive modifications to facilitate log driving through streams and rivers. Although log driving was ended statewide over 30 years ago, many aquatic habitats within forested lands retain chronic degraded conditions and channel instabilities. A total of 177 lakes and ponds that have suitable habitat for trout are zoned as Remote Ponds by Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC), which oversees zoning in Maine’s 10.4 million acres of unorganized territory. Habitat in the southern part of the state and along the coastal plain tends to be more heavily developed, has suffered more habitat degradation, and has more introduced fish species that compete with brook trout. However, illegal introductions of competing fish species into areas away from the coastal plain have accelerated within the last two decades. Habitat loss and degradation in southern and central Maine is mainly attributed to urbanization and agricultural land uses and is a growing concern for brook trout conservation. Maine’s coastal plain maintains fewer brook trout populations than the interior highlands and lakes are typically supported by stocking programs.