“Brave” fisherman reveals a secret, after successfully ridding Etna Pond of brook trout

I love fishing.  I am just not very good at it…Well…No…That’s not totally accurate… I am GREAT at fishing, it is the CATCHING that eludes me.

One thing you may not be aware of, is I am NOT a fan of open water fishing.  I’m not even much of a fan in open water swimming either.  I much prefer ice fishing, and swimming in pools.  And soon, you will know the secret I have been hiding for nearly 37 years…

As many of you already know, I am a master of taking several species of fish through the ice, but my efforts to rid Sebasticook Lake of fish were thwarted by what I am pretty sure was a terrorist group making threats to property owners along the lake.

I made a commitment to the people who live, and recreate on the waters near my home, to do my best to make them safer as they enjoy their activities on the water.  So I can not let FEAR prevent me from my mission.

That’s right…FEAR!  I am TERRIFIED of one of the most horrific fish in Maine waters…THE BROOK TROUT!  For nearly 37 years now, I have avoided swimming, boating, or even wading in waters that may be home to brook trout.  (Occasionally I WILL enter the water where brook trout may lurk, but only after cowardly observing small children enjoying the water without falling prey to attack.)

Most of the time, you find brook trout, oddly enough in brooks, and streams. In brooks, these ferocious little buggers swim in schools of up to a dozen fish or so, and range from 2 to 8 inches, most often, no bigger than 6 inches.

Brooktrouticus Horriblisiticous:  More commonly know as the brook trout.  (Photo MDIF&W)

Brooktrouticus Horriblisiticous: More commonly know as the brook trout. (Photo MDIF&W)

They are not much of a threat to most people unless they make it into a larger body of water, like a pond, or lake.  Once they reach open waters, than can weigh in at close seven pounds!  Many fishermen/ladies, will attack them in the streams to prevent them from making their way to larger bodies of water, so they can never reach such massive sizes.

These folks run the risk of slipping on wet rocks, or falling in the stream because of crumbling banks. If they happen to fall into the water near a swarm of “brookies” they can very easily have the flesh nibbled, and sucked right off their bones.  Additional dangers come from mercenaries that have been forced by the trout to fight for them…

Cattle! Often “brookies” will inhabit streams that run through pastures where cattle need to drink. The little trout have agreed to let the cattle drink without fear of being devoured, provided they chase people across the pasture into the stream, where the trout are waiting for them.

Encounters like this can scar an angler for life. My poor wife has been startled out of a deep sleep many times by me screaming “AH! Cows! DEAR GOD SO MANY COWS!” as I dream of the time I was chased by a herd of Holsteins some 40 head strong when I was just a boy of ten, and was trying to defend The Cobbosseecontee waters from a potential invasion.

I had been paying attention to my technique, as I tried to get my hook and worm under tree stumps, branches, old bicycles and boulders in the stream without losing my gear as I followed the steam.  I didn’t realize I had entered a cow pasture,  when I heard the squelching sounds of 160 or so hooves on a fast approach.

I looked up and saw the cows coming… When they realized I saw them, they mooed ferociously, and lowered their heads to charge!

Fearing a good trampling, I ran as fast as I could for the tree line I had emerged from before encountering the cattle, but it became obvious that their hooves were much better for running in a mucky spring pasture, than my old sneakers were, so I cut a hard left, right into the creek.

Standing in the chilly spring run off, in sneakers without socks, and an old cut-off pair of jeans I didn’t really feel anything odd, because the water was numbingly cold.  As the shock wore off, I could feel them…Their hard beak-like little lips…Nibbling, and sucking at my ankles, and shins!

I screamed in terror, and launched my scrawny little body back up onto the bank…cows be damned…and unofficially set a new World Record in the 100 yard dash as I booked it to the trees.

I looked back once because I heard a cow bellowing in agony. From what I could see, the bank had given way, and one of the young bulls in the herd had slipped into the creek, and the enraged trout were on him! It is a sight I will NEVER forget… And that is why I don’t like to fish in open water…

But I set aside my fears of brookies this year, and ventured on to the dangerously thin ice of Etna Pond back in early January, SPECIFICALLY to seek out and destroy brook trout.  My plan succeeded, and I put an end to the evil plans of nearly a dozen giant brook trout, as well as a pickerel that almost ended my life. 002

I spent almost a month of battling the weather, dangerous ice conditions, and passing dogs, after a day of no fish caught on 25 January 2016, I now consider the number of brook trout to be reduced to tolerable levels, and declare the water to be safe for summer time activities!

Fishing in near blizzard conditions with my son and his friend.  A Dangerous mission, but somebody has to train the next generation

Fishing in near blizzard conditions with my son and his friend. A Dangerous mission, but somebody has to train the next generation



Dozens of shiners gave their lives to clear the waters of Etna Pond from predatory fish


Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.