Six tips to catch more smallmouth bass in rivers

River smallmouth bass have predictable habits and behaviors which, if known and understood by the angler, can increase the odds of caching more of these magnificent fighters. Smallmouth bass are not unlike humans: they want to gain maximum benefits with the least amount of effort in the most comfortable way possible. Hence, learning to properly “read” a river in order to locate the places where bass like to congregate will yield more fish.

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Brown trout fishing on the Saco River, Buxton, Maine (October 8, 2016)

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Fall is in the air and trout fishing is back on the agenda!!

Fall is in the air and trout fishing is back on the agenda!!

The Saco River in this part of southern Maine passes through a series of hydroelectric dams on its way to the sea. My target today is a small stretch of river right below the West Buxton dam located in Buxton (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 2 A5). The reason for selecting this section of water is that it was stocked last week with brown trout and also has flowing water coming through the dam turbines. I’d love for my 13-year old nephew Christian to catch one of those fish. The access point is located off Route 112 (River Road) just below the green bridge that carries the road over the river. Keep in mind that only hand-carried craft can be launched from this point.

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Brook trout fishing on Grassy Pond, Baxter State Park, Maine (September 26 and 27, 2016)

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A walk through the enchanted forest

A walk through the enchanted forest

Grassy Pond is one of a dozen and a half gorgeous native brook trout ponds sprinkled around the southwestern corner of Baxter State Park (BSP) in northern Maine. It is found right off the Appalachian Trail (AT) about 1 mile south of the Katahdin Stream campground located on the Park Tote Road (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 50 D4). At first blush, this pond would not seem to qualify as a brook trout haunt! It’s name aptly describes the apparent conundrum: the pond is so shallow (< 4 ft) that thin aquatic vegetation (“grass”) emerges all over the water surface. If this water body were located anywhere else but in BSP, it would be dismissed out of hand as habitat suitable only for pickerel, yellow perch, or sunfish. But don’t be fooled by appearances because Grassy Pond supports a thriving population of native brookies. The secret lies in its source of water, which is supplied directly by Katahdin Stream. This ice-cold brook, which originates on the slopes of mighty Mount Katahdin, enters the north end of the pond and exits it to the southeast.  The stream keeps the surface water in the pond cool and oxygenated, and the abundant vegetation and soft bottom serves as a hyper-active bug factory to feed all the hungry trout.

 

 

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Brook trout fishing on Nesowadnehunk Stream, Baxter State Park, Maine (September 28, 2016)

Bushwhacking is required in order to find the secret honey holes...

Be ready to bushwhack in order to find the secret honey holes…

Nesowadnehunk Stream is a tributary of the west branch of the Penobscot River with its source located at the outlet of Nesowadnehunk Lake. This 17-mile stream flows roughly along the western and southern boundary of Baxter State Park (BSP) in northern Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 50; the outlet of Nesowadnehunk lake is on map 50 B4). About three quarters of the stream runs approximately parallel to the Park Tote Road which connects the south entrance (i.e., Togue Pond Gate) to the north entrance (i.e., Matagamon Gate) of BSP. The surrounding watershed is hilly and deeply forested with a mixture of evergreen and deciduous trees. The stream is typically 20 to 40 ft wide and has a depth ranging from < 1 ft to > 4 ft. Depending on the location, the substrate varies from soft silty mud, to coarse gravel, to exposed bedrock, to boulders. Fishing on this stream is particularly enjoyable in late summer-early fall due to the cooling surface water and the total lack of black flies, mosquitos and deer flies which can drive even the most dedicated angler to insanity in the spring. Keep in mind that open-water fishing in this part of Maine ends on September 30, whereas BSP closes for the season on October 15.

 

 

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Eight fabulous largemouth bass ponds in Kennebec County, Maine

 

Fishing for largemouth bass is a cherished summer activity for many anglers in Maine. The desired quietness and loneliness, however, can be rudely impacted by the unwelcome hustle and bustle of jet skiers, swimmers, speed boaters, other fishermen, or general shore activity. My goal was to find, and share with you, hidden largemouth bass fishing spots scattered throughout Kennebec County. I focused on smaller ponds less than about 100 acres in size, located mostly off the beaten track but still readily accessible by car (no need for 4X4 driving or too much hiking through the woods!). I also avoided ponds with excessive shore development. A small motorized boat could be launched on a few of these ponds, but most are fishable only by hand-carried craft, such as a canoe or kayak. This selection process ensures that you will likely be fishing all by yourself in unspoiled, quiet, natural surroundings. The ponds are also small enough that they can be covered in a lazy afternoon or a long summer evening. Finally, I fished each one of them to ensure that they contain largemouth bass, which they did! The bass fishing rules for all of these “fabulous” ponds fall under the general fishing regulationsClick here for an overview of the lures I like to use on these fish. In addition, check out the fabulous largemouth bass ponds in York County, Cumberland County, southern Oxford County, and south coastal Maine.

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Largemouth bass fishing on Weary Pond, Whitefield, Maine (September 18, 2016)

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View of Wearey Pond looking north

View of Wearey Pond looking north

Weary Pond is a 42-acre body of water located in Whitefield, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 13 D2). I try to reach this pond by driving south on Weary Pond Road off Hilton Road in North Whitefield. Weary Pond Road is rough and unimproved. I have to turn around after driving for about half a mile when I hit a stretch that is too bouldery for my little front wheel-drive car. I successfully reach my intended destination by driving north for 0.8 miles on Weary Pond Road off Jewett Lane in Whitefield. Jewett Lane is a solid four-season gravel road, whereas Weary Pond Road from this end is still unmaintained and rough but passable with a normal car. The pond becomes visible on the right through the trees. Park your vehicle as best as possible on the side of the forest trail. A boat launch is not available. Hence, only hand-carried craft can be used and need to be transported for about 300 ft or so through the woods from the road to the pond. But the destination is well worth the effort!!

 

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Lower Range Pond, Poland, Maine (August 26, 2016)

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The extensive shallow weedy area on Lower Range Pond looking towards Route 26 in the background

The extensive shallow weedy area on Lower Range Pond by the campground

Lower Range Pond is a 290-acre body of water located in Poland, Maine (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 A3). An excellent hard-top boat launch is located in Range Pond State Park off Plains Road on the eastern side of the lake. Users must pay an access fee to enter the park and use this launch. I also note here that, as per the fishing rules, motor boats over 10 horsepower are not allowed on this pond. That means no speed boats or jet skis or other loud commotion on the water. I access the pond this morning via the Poland Spring campground (right off Route 26) where my son and his family are spending a few days camping before the kids head back to school again.

 

 

 

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Little Togus Pond, Augusta Maine (August 21, 2016)

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Only hand-carried crafts can be put in at the informal access point. Note the shallow weed beds and the wind...

Only hand-carried crafts can be put in at the informal access point for Little Togus Pond. Note the shallow weed beds in the forefront, the wind, and the southern shore in the background.

Little Togus Pond is a 93-acre body of water located in Augusta (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 13 C1), just across from its much larger cousin, Togus Pond. The access point is found right off South Belfast Avenue (Route 105) which runs between the two ponds. This informal put-in can only accommodate hand-carried craft because it lacks an actual boat launch. Ample parking is available along the gravelly shoulder of the road.

 

 

 

 

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Spectacle Pond, Augusta and Vassalboro, Maine (August 21, 2016)

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Only hand-carried crafts have access to Spectacle Pond from the public put-in.

Only hand-carried crafts have access to Spectacle Pond from the public put-in.

Spectacle Pond is a 139-acre body of water located in Augusta and Vassalboro (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 13 B1). The northern half of this pond is surrounded by the Alonzo Garcelon Wildlife Management Area, which is managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Access is via a rough but drivable gravel road which extends for 1.4 miles through the woods between Church Hill Road and the pond. A small panel labeled “Public Access” located on Church Hill Road, about 1 miles south of Stone Road/Hannaford Hill Road, is the only sign pointing the way to the pond. A large parking area is located at the end of this gravel road. A hard-top launch is not available, however, and only hand-carried craft can be put in the water from this location. I observe an open gate at the beginning of the gravel road, and suspect that it would be unlocked to allow vehicular traffic only after mud season is over in the spring (click here for a similar gate at another wildlife management area).

 

 

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Largemouth bass fishing on Tolman Pond, Augusta, Maine (August 21, 2016)

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The parking area next to Cross Hill road can accommodate three vehicles

The weedy parking area next to Cross Hill road can accommodate no more than three vehicles

Tolman Pond is a pretty 62-acre body of water located in Augusta, Maine (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 13 B1). This pond is completed contained within the Alonzo Garcelon Wildlife Management Area, which is managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The clearly-marked public access point is located on Cross Hill Road, just shy of one mile north of North Belfast Avenue (Route 202/3/9). The small parking area at the trail head can only accommodate three vehicles. No safe parking is possible on the road shoulder. A public boat launch is unavailable for this pond either. Instead, anglers must walk for about five minutes down a forest trail that links the parking area to the pond.

 

 

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