Options abound for kids-only fishing

It seems like only yesterday when we were covered in snow, stuck in a drift, or bundling up to protect us from the Maine winter.

Come to think of it, the weather’s been pretty chilly lately … and that last sentence isn’t quite as far-fetched as it should be.

But let’s celebrate! Memorial Day is nearly upon us! It’s the unofficial beginning of our summer(ish) season! It’s time to grill hamburgers and hot dogs!

It’s time to go fishing!

(OK. Enough of the overly enthusiastic exclamation points. I rarely use them, and had a few leftovers that I had to put to good use before their use-by date expires.)

Seriously, though: It is time to go fishing. Especially, I would say, if you’ve got kids or grandkids or nephews or nieces that would enjoy spending a day near the water.

There’s nothing like watching a youngster catch their first fish … unless it’s watching them get just excited when they catch their 50th. Add in some hot dogs or a sandwich, a cold soda or juice (don’t forget the bug dope) and you’ve got the makings of a trip your child will remember forever.

A couple more things you might want to take along: A second pair of sneakers and a dry pair of socks. When kids start focusing on catching fish, they sometimes end up in the mud … or taking a step too close to the water when they’re trying to land that lunker. With that thought in mind (and since you won’t be able to legally fish on any of the waters I’m going to describe), keep a close eye on your young angler. Some ponds are deeper than you might think, even a step or two offshore.

Thanks to the work of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and plenty of volunteers, the state has nearly 50 sites set aside for children under age 16.

You can find a complete list here, or on page 13 of the latest edition of the state’s open water and ice fishing rule book. Be sure to check the rule book for bag limits at any water your kids are planning to fish.

Many of the kids-only waters have been landscaped or designed to make them accessible to kids who want to fish from shore.

Some suggestions: Kids might enjoy a ride to Dover-Foxcroft, where they’ll find Dunham Brook and Kiwanis Park Pond. The state stocked Dunham Brook with 400 healthy 10-inch brook trout on May 16, and those fish will be available to any young anglers that want to cast a lure or dangle a worm.

Kiwanis Park is a pretty spot, perfect for a picnic lunch.

Up in Aroostook County, young anglers have a number of options. Daigle Pond in Madawaska recently received 250 brook trout, Hannington Pond in Reed Plantation received 300, and Rock Crusher Pond in Island Falls is teeming with 500 new brookies, while Brown Pond in Houlton, Mantle Lake in Presque Isle, Stewart Pond in Hodgdon and a portion of Pearce Brook in Houlton are also kids-only fisheries.

In Penobscot County, kids have a dozen different options, including the convenient Penobscot County Conservation Club pond in Brewer, where 150 new trout are swimming around, waiting to be caught. Jerry Pond in Millinocket was also recently stocked with 300 trout while Rocky Brook in Lincoln has also been stocked with 300 brookies.

One of the state’s premiere youth-only fisheries is in Hancock County, and is worth the trip.

Maine’s Youth Fish and Game Association has a clubhouse on Pickerel Pond, in T32 MD, which is on the Stud Mill Road. This is more of a wilderness experience than many; you can fish from shore, but might want to car-top a canoe (don’t forget your life jackets) so you can access more of the pond.

Down in Washington County, North Meyers Pond (150 trout)  and South Meyers Pond (100 trout), have recently been stocked. Both ponds are in Columbia.

Other Down East options: parts of the Middle River in Marshfield and Foxhole Pond in Deblois are both youth-only fisheries.

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John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.