Fishing for smallmouth bass on Great Pond in Belgrade, Kennebec County, Maine (May 13, 2023)


The boat launch is improved and spacious. It also includes an expansive parking area and a permanent out house.


Great Pond is a 5,239-acre body of water located in Belgrade, Kennebec County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 20 E4). To reach the public access point, drive north on Route 27 (Augusta Road) towards the town of Belgrade Lakes, turn right on Sahagian Road, drive for less than a quarter mile and then turn left on Boat Way Lane. Blue boat launch signs clearly indicate these two turn-offs. The spacious and well-maintained launch offers a hardtop boat ramp with plenty of parking. It also provides a permanent outdoor bathroom facility.


It’s a beautiful but chilly morning with plenty of sunshine but also a stiff breeze out of the north west. Hoyt Island is shown on the right.


Great Pond is the biggest “pond” in the whole state of Maine but represents a massive lake. It has a moderate number of houses and cabins strung along its miles of wooded shorelines but is expansive enough to hide its development well. This lake was once renowned for its premier landlocked Atlantic salmon fishery which attracted “sports” from far and wide. This fishery collapsed several decades ago when someone decided to illegally release northern pike somewhere within the watershed. This highly aggressive invasive species devastated the local salmon population and halted the stocking of this prized fish in the mid 1990’s. Instead, the state switched over to brown trout because they are much hardier than the salmon and less fussy about water quality. Currently, the lake is stocked each fall with 2,500 to 3,000 11- to 12-inch brown trout, resulting in a sparse stocking density of about 0.5 browns per acre. But the real attraction for most anglers is the robust population of smallmouth bass, which I also hope to encounter today. Angling occurs under the general fishing laws, except that the daily bag limit on bass is one fish and all bass measuring between 12 and 20 inches must be released alive at once. This rule shows that the state is aiming at maintaining a high-quality (smallmouth) bass fishery! Great Pond has a mean and maximum depth of 21 ft. and 69 ft., respectively. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.


The bass bite is slow this morning because the water is still relatively cold. I am glad to be catching a few of these superb fighters in shallower waters along the shoreline of Hoyt Island.


I arrive at the boat launch at 7 am and am surprised to see a dozen parked vehicles with trailers. Boy, the place is popular this morning! I’m put-putting away in my boat 15 minutes later. The water temperature is around 53°F: ideal for brown trout but on the cold side for bronzebacks. The sun is out and the sky is blue but the air temperature is a chilly 39°F. I am dressed with multiple layers to stay warm! My primary aim this morning is to catch browns by trolling along the shoreline using lead core line and two Thin Fish spoons placed about two colors down (10-12 ft. below the surface) over 20 to 25 ft. of water. I only have three hours to explore this great expanse of water and therefore decide to focus my attention exclusively around Hoyt Island which is located due north from the launch. A surprisingly strong early-morning breeze blows in from the northwest. Trolling into the wind is a real pain, so I decide to buzz all the way to the northern tip of the island and troll along its western side with the wind in my back. I arrive 15 minutes later, deploy my lead core line, and get a serious hookup two minutes later. Boy, I like that! I fight a strong fish for about 30 seconds during which the creature breaches the surface, revealing itself to be a sizable smallmouth bass before unhooking and disappearing. I’m excited but feel deflated when I arrive 45 minutes later at the southern tip of Hoyt Island without an additional hit. One thing that greatly surprises me along the way is the depth of the water (30+ ft.) no more than 10 yards from the shoreline.


No big bass today, but it is still a whole lot of fun to tussle with these creatures.


The area around the southern tip of Hoyt Island is much shallower (< 10 ft.) and yields two smaller bass. By then I have switched out the larger Thin Fish spoons for more slender DB smelts. I troll around that general area for about 30 minutes, get two more hits, but no hookups. I buzz back up to the north end of Hoyt Island and start trolling downwind along the eastern side. I like this side a lot: the shoreline is more bouldery and contains several extensive boulder fields which yield two additional smallmouth bass. This whole area should be red-hot by the end of May when the water temperature reaches in the upper 50’s and the bass have come onshore to spawn! But I am still aiming for brown trout… So, I buzz back to the north end of Hoyt Island, place my boat over 35 to 40 ft of water along the western shore of the island and bring my DB Smelt spoons down three colors (about 20 ft below the surface). Unfortunately, this additional effort yields nothing over the next 45 minutes. It’s now 10 am and I need to head back home. The brown trout fishing was a total flop, but I am glad to have gotten a small taste of the bronzebacks that live in Great Pond. I promise myself to explore this lake some more at a later date.


The results: I landed four smallmouth bass (largest = 16 inches) in 3 hours 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.


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