September 29, 2010
Here's a sampling of New England's hottest August bass waters and a look at how you can get in on the action this month.
By Frank Mckane
Photo by Ron Sinfelt
The summer heat will start to break over southern New England this month as another fishing season winds down. This is the time of year when bass anglers bask in some comfortable fishing weather while the days are still long enough to enjoy plenty of fishing time, and bass begin to recover from the midsummer slump and begin to cooperate once again.
Bass anglers visiting the following top-rated August lakes and ponds should find plenty of angling pleasure at the other end of the line:
Bass anglers will enjoy this medium-sized pond in the town of Preston. It is a natural lake that had its water level raised by a small masonry dam. The dam expanded the pond to 112 acres with a maximum depth of 45 feet. Its average depth is 20 feet, but most of the better bass-fishing water is less than 10 feet deep
The lake is fed by outlets from several nearby private ponds and two small brooks. These inflows produce a fertile lake that supports extensive weed growth, including huge lily pad beds. Largemouth bass use these weeds for cover while ambushing their prey and fending off anglers' temptations.
According to state Department of Environmental Protection fisheries biologists, Amos Lake has an abundant supply of largemouth bass in all age-classes and, more specifically, the population of 14- to 16-inch bass is very healthy. Also, expect to catch pickerel, trout, bluegills and bullheads.
Amos Lake has an extremely dense population of stunted alewives. These silvery baitfish provide a significant portion of the pond's forage base, so bass anglers should fare well with lures that mimic the alewife. Think small when selecting lures, as many of the alewives are less than 3 inches in length.
Shoreline development is moderate to dense along the northern and eastern shoreline. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection maintains a boat-launching ramp on the western shore. Take Exit 85 from Interstate Route 395 to Route 164 south about 1.5 miles past the Route 165 junction. Turn east onto the marked access road. Boaters face a speed of 8 miles per hour, except between 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. from June 15 to the first Sunday after Labor Day.
Gardner Lake gives up several trophy-class bass every season. Anglers will also find walleyes, trout, pickerel and catfish throughout the pond, but it's largemouth and smallmouth bass that draw the most angling attention.
This 487-acre pond is in the towns of Salem, Montville and Bozrah about six miles from the city of Norwich. Like many Connecticut ponds, Gardner Lake is natural in origin, but a dam has increased its size and depth. The maximum depth is 42 feet, which is confined to a small basin near Minnie Island State Park. The lake has an average depth of 14 feet.
Gardner Lake has a well-defined shoal around the lake running about 6 feet deep. This shoal varies from gravel and rock to weedy mud flats, providing loads of fishing options for every angling style. Anglers looking for weeds and largemouth bass should concentrate on the extreme northern end of the lake. Smallmouth bass hunters will find their quarry on the points along the eastern shoreline. Boat docks also provide shady cover for both species.
The forage base in Gardner Lake includes golden shiners, banded killifish and darters. Bullhead fry are plentiful at this time of year.
Crayfish are scattered throughout the pond, and anglers will find excellent water clarity, which often translates into super topwater action.
To keep the bass population healthy, the DEP has instituted special regulations. Anglers may keep two bass per day and the minimum size limit is 16 inches. Also, boaters must adhere to a 6-mile-per-hour speed limit from sunset to 8 a.m.
Access to the lake is via a state-owned boat-launching ramp on the southern end of the lake. Take Route 2 from Norwich to Route 354. Travel south on Route 354 to the access road. Boaters will find excellent ramp facilities here, including concrete pads, chemical toilets and ample parking.
Big bass are often found in small ponds, and Uncas Pond in Lyme is a perfect example. This pond covers 69 acres, but its elongated shape gives it the illusion of a much larger waterway. The pond has a maximum depth of 39 feet but averages 22 feet. It is also clear, with visibility exceeding 10 feet.
Limnologists report that Uncas Lake forms a well-defined thermocline during midsummer at about 16 feet. This temperature stratification forces bass into shallower water, especially in the northern end of the lake. Also, much of the shoreline is wooded with moderate to severe slopes that extend into the lake as sharp dropoffs. Bass anglers may fish the dropoffs effectively with alewife-imitating lures.
Aquatic vegetation is confined to the shallower areas in the northern and southern ends of the lake. Water lily, water shield and common pondweed are the major weed species. Along with largemouth bass, the DEP stocks the lake with 3,000 trout every year. Yellow perch and sunfish are common.
Anglers will find a state-owned boat-launching ramp in Nehantic State Forest. This is a small ramp that is best suited for cartop boats and canoes. The DEP banned all motors, including electric motors, from Uncas Lake.
To get there, take Exit 70 off I-95 to Route 156. Travel north for about four miles to the entrance of the state forest.
Anglers looking for a bass-fishing jewel will enjoy Mohawk Pond. This 15-acre natural kettle pond in Cornwall has a good population of largemouth bass. Its maximum depth is 25 feet with a steep average depth of 15 feet. But the pond has a well-defined shoal circling it at about 3 feet deep.
Mohawk Pond is spring fed, giving it very clear water. Topwater lures worked around the shoal often provide anglers with unlimited thrills, as the pond has plenty of largemouth bass in the 12- to 15-inch class. Dense beds of white-water lily, yellow-pond lily and common pondweed are found along the shoreline. Thus, bring plenty of weedless lures when visiting Mohawk Pond.
Access to Mohawk Pond is through a small state-owned boat-launching ramp at the south end of the pond. Take Route 4 west from Torrington. Past the intersection of Route 4 and Route 43, bear left onto Great Hollow Road. After t
wo miles, turn left onto Great Hill Road. Bear left at the next intersection and continue one mile to a left turn on the access road. Signs mark the way from Route 4.
Be prepared to paddle, because the DEP does not allow motors, including electric motors, on this pond.
Connecticut resident fishing license fees are $20 for the season. Non-resident license fees are $40 for the season or $16 for a three-day permit.
For fishing and licensing information, contact the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Protection, Inland Fisheries Division, 79 Elm St., Hartford, CT 06106; or call (860) 424-3475.
For tourism information, write to the Connecticut Tourism Division, 14 Rumford St., West Hartford, CT 06107; or call (800) 282-6863.
Most Northern bass anglers never see extensive stumpfields like their Southern counterparts. Large, flooded reservoirs in the South often feature acres of flooded timber left standing when the reservoirs were created. But in Westboro, Massachusetts, New England's anglers get a taste of flooded timber at the A-1 Site, often called "Stump Pond."
This 325-acre pond was created when the George H. Nichols Dam was placed across the Assabet River. The trees and stumps along the river were not removed before flooding commenced. Today, this structure provides exceptional hiding cover for largemouth bass.
According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the A-1 Site is undoubtedly one of the most productive largemouth bass waters in the state, with bass in the 3- to 5-pound class being common.
Except for the small open-water area near the dam and launch area, expect to be confronted by a maze of fallen trees and submerged stumps, brushpiles and root systems. Take care when navigating around the pond to avoid capsizing after hitting submerged timber.
Also, leave the twin-engine bass boat home. You will enjoy the outing better in a canoe or small cartop boat using an electric motor.
Golden shiners and bullhead fry are the primary forage species in the pond. Lures mimicking these baits work well. Jigs and tube lures are also popular A-1 baits. Because of all the timber and snags, weedless lures and heavy line are required.
Besides largemouth bass, anglers frequently encounter tiger muskies, northern pike, yellow perch, sunfish, crappies and white catfish.
Access to the pond is via a small asphalt boat-launching ramp. Take Route 30 south out of Westboro Center. About one-half mile from town, turn left onto Mill Road and onto the ramp.
Tucked neatly in the northern Berkshire Mountains, 480-acre Pontoosuc Pond has a maximum depth of 35 feet, with an average depth of about 14 feet. Points, underwater dropoffs and island cover provide plenty of bass-fishing options. Anglers may also fish around the heavy weed growth in the shallower portions of the pond.
Rhode Island bass anglers will find Olney Pond worth visiting in late summer. This 120-acre pond probably has more points and dropoffs than most lakes twice its size.
The shoreline is highly developed and the lake is heavily used during the summer months. Bass anglers can avoid the crowds by fishing the pond after dark, when the bass action seems to pick up.
If you visit the lake during the day, expect to find rather clear water. Heavy recreational use and clear water sometimes make bass spooky. Light lines and smaller lures give fishermen the edge when fishing Pontoosuc Pond.
Along with the bass, anglers should expect to find a few tiger muskies, northern pike, pickerel, yellow perch, white perch, sunfish and crappies. MassWildlife personnel also stock the pond with trout, but trout anglers largely abandon the pond by late summer. Golden shiners, bullhead fry, common shiners and crayfish are the major forage species in this pond.
Public access is via a large boat-launching ramp in the town of Pittsfield at the southern end of the lake. The ramp can handle large bass boats and has parking for about 75 vehicles.
To get there, take Route 7 north from Pittsfield Center for about three miles to Hancock Road. Turn left to the ramp.
Goose Pond in Lee is another great Berkshire Mountain pond. It covers 225 acres with a deep basin of 46 feet. The average depth is about 18 feet. Because the pond is contained within a mountain range, the water is infertile and very clear, with a transparency of 15 feet or more. Aquatic vegetation is scarce, even in the shallow northern bay.
The pond has a healthy population of largemouth bass. These fish are easy to find in the area adjacent to the dam and in the large northern bay.
The forage base is varied between crayfish and assorted minnow species, so the largemouth bass here may be caught on most standard bass lures. Jigs and tube lures have caught on among largemouth bass anglers in recent years.
MassWildlife biologists also advise anglers to be alert for smallmouth bass. In Goose Pond, the smallmouths rarely exceed 2 pounds, but the clear water makes this pond an ideal topwater fishery.
The scrappy smallmouth bass always seem willing to cooperate during the late summer months. Smelt are one of the smallmouth's favorite Goose Pond foods. Small poppers and twitch baits fished on light line should keep anglers happily entertained.
The state owns a boat-launching ramp on the southwestern end of the pond near the dam. Take the Route 20 Exit from the Massachusetts Turnpike. Travel east on Route 20 for two miles. Turn south on Forest Street, which changes into Goose Pond Road. The ramp is on the north side of this road.
Massachusetts' resident license fees are $27.50 for the season. Also, residents between the ages of 15 and 17 need an $11.50 junior fishing permit, and residents between the ages of 65 and 69 may get a senior citizen fishing license for $16.25.
Non-resident license fees are $37.50 for the season or $23.50 for a three-day permit. For fishing and licensing information, contact the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, 100 Cambridge St., Boston, MA 02202; or call (617) 626-1590.
For tourism information, write to the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, 10 Park Plaza, Suite 4510, Boston, MA 02116; or call (800) 227-MASS.
Rhode Island bass anglers will find Olney Pond worth visiting in late summer. This 120-acre pond probably has more points and dropoffs than most lakes twice its size
. Each has the potential of producing both largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Olney Pond has a maximum depth of about 15 feet with an average depth of 8 feet. It also has dozens of shallow coves that range from 3 to 9 feet deep. Anglers may launch their boats and never need to run the outboard. Just drop the electric motor and start casting.
Golden shiners and crayfish are the main bass forage in the lake. Sunfish are also abundant and stunted, offering bass some limited forage. Most bass lures work well in Olney Pond.
The pond is stocked with trout, attracting plenty of attention in early summer. Bass anglers and other shoreline casters also work the pond heavily. Thus, the fish can be a little edgy when the pressure mounts. Savvy anglers tend to use lighter lines on this pond because of the heavy fishing pressure.
Access is via a state-owned boat-launching ramp within Lincoln Woods State Park in Lincoln. Take Exit 23 off I-95 to Route 146. Follow the signs to the state park.
Power boats are prohibited on weekends and holidays throughout the summer months.
Unlike most Rhode Island ponds, Chapman Pond is almost featureless. This 164-acre pond has a maximum depth of 4 feet with an average depth of 3 feet. The shoreline is undeveloped with forest and cedar swamps surrounding the pond, making Chapman Pond an aesthetically pleasing place to fish for bass.
Most anglers view this pond as a panfish haven. It is loaded with sunfish, yellow perch, white perch, crappies and bullheads. Some of the panfish, especially the white perch, are stunted. The Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife stocked the pond with northern pike in an attempt to combat the perch.
Largemouth bass are also plentiful. According to fisheries studies, 12-inch keepers are common. Because of the pond's weed growth and the sharp teeth of pike and resident pickerel, bass anglers should use heavy lines.
The launch ramp is east of Westerly. Take Exit 1 off I-95 to Route 3 and Route 78. Travel south on Route 78 to Exit 5 on the Westerly Bradford Road. The ramp is about one mile east of Route 78. A 10-horsepower motor limit is in effect on Chapman Pond.
Rhode Island resident license fees are $9.50 for the season. Non-resident license fees are $31 for the season or $16 for a three-day permit.
For fishing and licensing information, contact the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife, 4808 Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, RI 02879; or call (401) 222-3576.
For tourism information, write to the Rhode Island Tourism Division, 1 West Exchange Street, Providence, RI 02903; or call (800) 556-2484.