From Bassmaster Magazine

September/October 1999

By Joel S. Fawcett

The town-line sign on the main highways leading into Lincoln in north-central Maine reads, "Lincoln: Home of 13 Lakes". What the sign doesn’t say is that eight of these lakes harbor prolific populations of husky smallmouths.
These are familiar waters, since I live about an hour and a half away, and for the past 20 years my wife, Lillian, and I have frequently taken day trips to fish these ponds. At least once a year we like to spend a week smallmouth fishing with John and Tami Rogers of Eagle Lodge on the shores of Folsom Pond.

In addition to Folsom, Mattanawcook, Crooked, Caribou, Long, Egg, Stump and Cambolasse Lakes also teem with big, feisty bronzebacks.

Which is best? Michael Smith, regional fisheries biologist, can’t say. "It’s difficult to single out any as the best, since anglers report phenomenal smallmouth catches out of all the Lincoln bass ponds." What is more, he adds, the Penobscot River on the outskirts of Lincoln also is home to a first rate smallmouth fishery.

Pressed further, he acknowledges that Long, Egg and Caribou seem to yield more large bass than the others.
This may be so, but there’s plenty of big bronzebacks in all of the Lincoln bass ponds, especially Folsom, we’ve discovered.

Also, if you’re a fly-fishing enthusiast, outfitter John Rogers claims that Stump Pond deserves your attention. "It’s shallow, loaded with prime bass cover and contains a mother lode of big smallies." he declares. One reason it’s so good, he adds, is that a canoe portage is required to reach the lake, and that discourages many anglers from fishing the pond.

If skirmishing with one smallmouth after another is what turns you on, then the prime time to schedule a pilgrimage to the Lincoln smallmouth ponds is during the spawning period in late May to mid-June (unseasonable cold or warm spring weather can delay or advance the spawn by a week).

Moreover, Rogers says the bass fishing is almost as good in August, when his clients commonly catch and release from 18 to 20 husky bronzebacks apiece, daily. And September almost rivals June as the most propitious time for lunkers, the outfitter advises.

During our most recent week at Eagle Lodge, Lillian and I caught and released far too many smallies to keep an accurate tally. For long stretches, one of the other of us had a big bronzeback pulling against our fly line at all times. We caught very few juvenile fish, but lots of 3-pounders,.

That memorable trip was in mid-June, but during our frequent one-day visits to Lincoln area ponds, we have experienced very good fishing at various times of the season. On most trips, lunkers have dominated the catch—lunkers being 3 pounds to about 4, with a 5-pound brown bass on rarer occasions.

One reason for this is light fishing pressure. On our outings, we rarely have had to share the lake with more than one or two other parties of smallmouth anglers, and more often than not, we’ve had the pond to ourselves.

The most attractive smallmouth habitat is found in the connecting Long, Caribou, and Egg pond complex and in Stump Pond. Here, you’ll find an abundance of rock and wood structures. Folsom and Crooked ponds (which join via a narrows) also contain fertile bronzeback cover. These two ponds feature expansive padbeds that are reminiscent of largemouth cover. Bronzebacks occasionally hang on the outer edge of the water lilies, but more than anything else, the pads abound with king-size pickerel.

The Lincoln section of the Penobscot River also contains a plethora of smallmouth lot spots. Our honey homes for monster bronzebacks have been around the Interstate-95 access road bridge pilings and off the downstream points of the numerous islands that occur in this section of the Penobscot. The best ones are those supporting a submerged grassbed off the point.

While Folsom and Crooked ponds don’t contain any largemouths, several ponds in the drainage do. One day last summer while fishing Long Pond, I caught a couple of 1-poind bigmouths. Biologist Smith notes that largemouths recently have become established in Long, Caribou and Egg ponds, and also have been found in Stump Pond. (Bigmouths have been introduced, often illegally, into a number of northern Maine waters, but they rarely become more than a minor fishery.)

In addition to the Lincoln bass ponds and the Penobscot River, there are over two dozen other lakes within an hour’s drive of Lincoln, Rogers points out. That number includes several remote, off-trail ponds that harbor surprising populations of husky smallmouths. A few of my favorites for trophy bronzebacks include South Branch Lake, East Branch Lake and Mattamiscontis Lake, all in or near Seboeis, Maine.

The Maine open water angling season opens April 1 on all waters naturally free of ice, and closes Sept. 30, but the Lincoln bass ponds seldom clear before late April. Also, the Lincoln bass ponds have been awarded an extended season, and in these waters the angling season remains open during October and November for catch-and-release fishing only on bass, trout and salmon. But cold weather pretty much closes down the bass fishing in the Lincoln area by the end of October, and by mid-November the ponds are often locked up with ice.

The first two or three weeks of October, with its Indian summer weather featuring chilly nights and warm days, is one of my favorite times to be on the water, and the best smallmouth fishing usually occurs between noon and 4 P.M., when the water temperature is at its daily peak.

I took my best bass out of the drainage on an October outing to Folsom Pond. It was late in the afternoon and Lillian and I were about to call it a day when I pitched a red-and-white Sea Ducer streamer at a submerged grassbed bordering a drop-off in front of Eagle Lodge. I have the fly one twitch, and instantly a bog slab of bronze rolled up out of the weeds and inhaled my fly. At the sting of the hook it "exploded" out into the October sunshine, and I could see it was a brute. The fish didn’t surrender easily, but it was solidly hooked, and I eventually managed to hoist the old bass aboard. It hit the 6-pound mark on my tacklebox scales.

Despite being within the town limits of Lincoln, these lakes are secluded, with only a smattering of private camps decorating their shorelines. Of course, Lincoln covers a lot of territory, boasting that it is the largest town, in acreage, east of the Mississippi.

For that reason, and because of the superb fishing to be found in each of the ponds, rivers and lakes, I’m convinced you could fish the Lincoln area all summer and never grow tired of its fishing bounty.

(207) 794-2181