Monday, May 4, 2015

Brook Trout and Turkey Down East

The month of May presents the last chance anglers have to chase brook trout before the waters warm by months end, making this species nearly impossible to catch. Two spectacular locations to pursue this endeavor are Simpson and Norse Ponds. Not only are these ponds regularly stocked with brook trout but they also both boast spectacular scenery sure to impress even the biggest curmudgeon.

Fishing Brook Trout
Simpson Pond (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 26, D-3), located in Roque Bluffs State Park, sits just a few hundred yards from the Atlantic Ocean. The location is stunning so be sure to bring a camera as the park’s beautiful landscape is further enhanced by its abundant wildlife. During the early spring, Great Blue Herons, Bald eagles, Hooded Mergansers, Barrow's Goldeneye, Eiders, Surf Scooters, Blacks and Mallard ducks are plentiful.

While the fishing prospects may at first not look like much, this miniscule 21 acre pond regularly offers up brook trout and brown trout weighing between two and three pounds. Stocked by Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) every fall with brown trout and every spring with brook trout, the pond is a favorite fishing destination for shore-anglers using a worm and bobber. While the small pond can be effectively fished from shore, a canoe or kayak (motorboats are prohibited) provides anglers with the added flexibility to explore some of the harder to fish areas, frequently holding second season brook trout that sometimes attain lengths of 13-15 in. On calm evenings, it is an absolute joy to fly fish by wading the ponds shallow waters (5 ft maximum), tempting trout with small caddis and mayfly patterns. Anglers with kids will be pleased to know that the park is a wonderful area for families with easy hiking trails, a sandy ocean beach and a pond side picnic tables, fireplaces for cookouts, and swings for children.

Norse Pond (Map 27, C-2) exists as part of the 1,775-acre Bog Brook Cove preserve located in the heart of Maine’s Bold Coast. The 10 acre pond located east of the scenic fishing village of Cutler was stocked in the fall of 2013 with 350 brook trout measuring about 8 inches. Norse is a unique fishing location, as reaching the pond is only possible by hiking approximately one-mile on the Moose Cove trail. Access is further hampered by the ponds boggy shoreline that makes fishing from shore difficult. Anglers who overcome these obstacles by carrying in small kayaks or float tubes are usually richly rewarded with brook trout ranging from 11 to 15 inches. Legend states that Norse Pond was created by Norsemen as a water supply for one of their coastal Maine encampments. While these claims have been refuted by experts, it is still fun to walk the impressive bold cost trails and imagine that these ancient adventurers once walked these trails and gazed upon these same magnificent shores. To access the Norse Pond trailhead travel 18.5 miles north on Route 191, from the junction of Route 1 and Route 191 in East Machias. A small parking area and sign exists at the trail head.

Turkey Hunting 
Turkey hunters Down East were surprised during the spring 2014 turkey hunt by a last minute decision by Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) to suspend the previously scheduled opening of spring turkey hunting across all of Washington County. This change happened so rapidly, that last year my published May column still had mention that turkey hunting throughout Washington County would be open. While I understand that IFW made this choice because it was worried about the number of turkeys that managed to survive during the harsh winter, it was ultimately a poor choice that added unnecessary confusion among sportsmen. One less year of turkey hunting is not going to magically ensure turkeys are permanent Down East residents. As long as IFW doesn’t again change its mind; turkey season is scheduled to run May 4, 2015 through June 6, 2015 with youth day for both residents and nonresidents occurring on May 2, 2015. According to IFW’s website, ALL Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) are open to hunting spring turkeys with bag limits per WMD as follows: WMD's 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 , 28 and 29 with two (2) bearded wild turkey bag limit and WMD’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8, with a one (1) bearded wild turkey bag limit.

When attempting to locate turkeys, it pays to slowly walk or drive Washington Counties thousands of miles of logging roads and snowmobile / ATV paths. This method of “running and gunning” allows turkey hunters to be mobile, locate early morning gobblers and setup quickly for a chance at harvesting one of these impressive and beautiful birds. Prime turkey hunting locations exist throughout Washington County, with a fun and exciting hunt starting in Northfield (Map 26, B-2) and driving logging roads into Smith Landing, the beautiful Great Falls (Map 26, B-2) and continuing south following the Machias River into Whitneyville. For a coastal hunters searching for a WMA to explore, I suggest the 649-acre Jonesboro WMA (Map 26, C-2). For more specifics on the spring turkey hunt, see the IFW website at:

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