Fishing for smallmouth and largemouth bass on Long Pond in Parsonsfield, York County, Maine

 

It is fun to troll through the early-morning fog.

 

Long Pond is a 275-acre body of water located in Parsonsfield, York County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 D2). Access to this pond is via a hard but poorly maintained and steeply inclined boat launch located on Road Between the Ponds, off Joe Berry Road. Note that the launch is at a 90° angle (i.e., perpendicular) to the narrow Road between the Ponds which therefore requires a tight turn when backing the boat into the water. Fortunately, this road only has light local traffic. Also, keep in mind that the depth at the launch is shallow (< 2 ft.) for 25-30 ft. out. I am glad I brought my hip boots to get into the water at the end of the trip and help guide the boat back on the trailer.

 

 

This big fish gave a splendid fight.

 

Long Pond is a moderately developed and beautiful lake nestled in a forested region in the northwestern corner of York County, a couple of miles from the NH border. The water is clean and clear. I selected this location because the state stocks it with 300 brown trout each fall in order to sustain a viable year-over-year fishery. The pond has a maximum and average depth of 33 ft. and 18 ft., respectively, making it relatively shallow. Much of the central area of the pond is a flat featureless “plain” mostly surrounded by steep sides relatively close to the shoreline. To prepare for this trip, I review the available water quality data for Long Pond provided by Lakes of Maine and notice that it experiences a severe dissolved oxygen deficiency every summer at or below the thermocline located about 23 ft. to 25 ft. deep. The water below cannot sustain trout due to a lack of oxygen, whereas the water above is too warm for trout survival. I am hoping that the browns are squeezed within the narrow layer of optimum water, which makes it much easier to target them this time of year. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. Up to September 30, fishing occurs under the general fishing laws applicable to the south region. Then, between October 1 and December 31, anglers can only use artificial lures, and must also release all salmonids alive and at once.

 

It is always a honor to catch a 19-inch smallmouth bass.

 

I arrive at the boat launch of Long Pond at 6:15 am and push off 15 minutes later. The air is a nippy 39°F (fall is clearly in the air!) but the surface water temperature still reads a balmy 70°F. The warm water interacting with cold air creates dense fog that slowly burns away with the rising sun. I cherish the fog vibe this time of year! I use a portable downrigger to place three DB Smelt spoons 23 ft. down, as well as my lead-core line teamed up with an eight-weight fly fishing rod to place three smelt-imitating streamer flies four colors down. This pond has lots of rainbow smelt which I surmise are also squeezed 23-25 ft. down. I always fish the lead core by holding the rod in my hands and “ripping” the flies to give them action. I have been trolling for less than 5 minutes when my rod on the downrigger starts shuddering. I put down the lead core, grab the other rod and fight a sizable smallmouth bass, which quickly comes to the surface, dragging the lead core line with it. It takes me 10 minutes to untangle the knotty mess, but the message is clear: fish are feeding in the thermocline below!

 

The bass this morning just cannot stay away from this streamer fly. I wonder if the beady red eyes have something to do with it… The fly got smashed up pretty good in the process!

 

Let me cut to the chase: I did not catch a single brown trout this morning. But boy, what I lacked in trout I more than made up in bass! Over the next three hours, I land 12 bass (five smallmouths and 7 largemouths), miss another half dozen fish, and get a half dozen more hits. The action is essentially non-stop (an average of 10-15 minutes between fish in the boat), and occurs all between 23 and 25 ft. below the surface! I use my depth finder to troll in 30 ft. of water right along the edge of where the depth starts to decrease towards the shoreline. I only catch two fish on the DB smelt, and the rest on the trailing (third) streamer fly. In fact, I eliminate the downrigger at the end because it interferes with the catching. What amazes me the most is the healthy size and incredible tenacity of these fish. All 12 bass measure between 15 and 21 inches, and all are extremely fat and well fed. This pond must have a ton of forage down there. I note that special rules apply to the taking of smelts, which I suspect is a main food source to the scaly predators in Long Pond. The fighting is also top-notch, with long, hard, and insistent runs. I highly recommend this location for anyone who likes catching big bass! However, keep in mind that these fish are feeding way down in the water column at this time of the year. Finally, I conclude by saying that I have never had this kind of action in all my years trolling for brown trout in the summer. It goes to show that even an old salt like me can still make new experiences. You have got to love it!

 

The public boat launch is narrow, short, steep, and shallow.

 

The results: I caught 12 bass (biggest smallmouth = 19 inches; biggest largemouth bass = 21 inches) in 3 hours of fantastic, non-stop trolling action.

 

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.

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