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.

 

 

 

The rough put-in location at the end of the trail

The rough put-in location at the end of the trail

 

 

Tolman Pond is one heck of a find, particularly when you consider that it is located almost within spitting distance of downtown Augusta! The shoreline is entirely forested and contains only a single house off Cross Hill Road. The water is absolutely crystal clear. The bottom is hard and interspersed with boulders. The amount of aquatic vegetation is rather sparse and is clustered right up against the banks. This set-up would suggest marginal largemouth bass habitat. But the hard bottom and lack of aquatic vegetation is more than made up by an abundance of sunken wood. I’ve reported on this pattern before at other wildlife management areas (click here and here for examples): the lack of human interference means that dead branches and trees that fall in the water are left untouched and accumulate over time. That creates great underwater structure that will hold fish. The maximum and mean depth of the water equals 26 ft and 14 ft, respectively. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.

 

Tolman Pond is undeveloped, pretty, and quiet. What a find!

Tolman Pond is undeveloped, pretty, and quiet. What a find!

I arrive at the small parking lot on Cross Hill Road around 7:15 am. I place the canoe on my canoe wheels, tie it down, load it up with my fishing gear and quickly walk down to Tolman Pond.  The sun is rising in the blue sky when I arrive, but the wind is ripping from the southwest at a steady 20 mph in advance of a low-pressure front announced for later on tonight. Once in the water, I let the wind push me along the eastern shoreline which is still deep in the morning shadows. I start probing the shallows with a buzzbait and hook a small largemouth bass on my second cast. Well, that sounds promising! I’m also enchanted by my surroundings: a multitude of song birds are chirping away in the woods, two juvenile bald eagles are circling above the pond perfecting their new-found flying skills, and I’m serenaded by the local loons. I’m also constantly hooking fish! I land eight bass over the next hour fishing with the buzzbait and a soft 5” stickbait. However, all are small (8” to 14”). I also hook but miss another ten or so fish of the same size. Boy, are these fish aggressive or what! One little guy can’t wrap its mouth around the buzzbait but nonetheless plops into the canoe hanging on to tail of the plastic trailer attached to the hook! Another one swallows the soft stickbait I casually lowered in the water next to the canoe in readiness to cast it out.

 

The largemouth bass in Tolman Pond, are numerous, eager to bite, but on the small side.

The largemouth bass in Tolman Pond, are numerous, eager to bite, but on the small side.

My time has run out and I need to return in order to hit the next pond on my list. I turn the canoe into the wind, cast out a 5” floating Rapalla and troll back along the shoreline to the take-out location. Incredibly, I hook six additional largemouth bass and land two in the 20 minutes it takes me to paddle back. My impression, therefore, is that Tolman Pond supports an abundant but stunted largemouth bass population. While the small size of the average bass counts as somewhat of a negative, I would still highly recommend spending time on this attractive body of water. Not only is the natural setting quite pleasing, but the lack of a boat launch, minimal shore development, and challenging access all but guarantees that you’ll have the pond all to yourself. Finally, I would consider Tolman Pond as a prime destination to introduce largemouth bass fishing to an inexperienced angler (from a hand-carried craft, of course). Given my experience this morning, it is clear that the aggressive bass will play along and go for just about any lure presentation, however awkward.

 

Final note: I attempted to reach Dam Pond, located right next to Tolman Pond, but was unable to find a put-in point, either from Cross Hill Road or from the aforementioned forest trail. Please feel free to contact me if anyone reading this blog knows of a public access to Dam Pond.

The results: I caught 10 largemouth bass (8’-14”) in an hour and fifteen minutes of fishing.

 

Was the information in this blog useful? I invite you to share your thoughts and opinions. Also, feel free to discuss your fishing experiences at this location.

 

The next generation of bald eagles is taking to the skies. What a bonus!

The next generation of bald eagles is taking to the skies. What a bonus!

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