Monday, April 25, 2011

Scouting for Fishing Spots...and....JACKPOT!

Running around from site to site for work, I had the opportunity to stop and check out a few potential fishing spots.  No time for a Light Tackle Lunch, but that was for the best.  I may as well skip the suspense - my third and final spot check was this spot to the left. It was amazing.  And public.  More on it in a minute.
My first spot check was a community pond near my office.  The community is interested in possibly converting the pond to a wetland at some point, which is right up my alley.  While the pond was private, the outfall into a local stream was public and possibly fishable - it turned out to be awful fish habitat.  Finished my work there and moved on to spot check #2.

Bass were literally jumping out of the water here! And it's public land! And no one fishes it!

Spot  #2 is a gigantic stormwater pond, about 25 acres in size and about 3 years old, between a river and a new monstrosity of a shopping center.  The pond is hidden by forest on 3 sides, and by a retaining wall on the fourth side.  The pond still looks very "new", with close-mowed vegetation around the edges and no structure in the pond yet.   It's also clear from seeing the site that fish will not be able to move upslope from the river to get into the pond.  I imagine someone will eventually stock it without the property owner's knowledge, and eventually the banks will become overgrown and turn into more suitable habitat for fish prey items like frogs and large insects.  This process will probably take 5-8 years, if not longer. Plus, technically speaking, this is "private property" and once the entire site has been developed there will probably be signs that read "no trespassing" that will be enforced by "County police."  Minor details, in the scheme of things.
Spot #3 was for real, though. I have known about it for years, and it's the kind of public land I've complained about for years - weird access hours, weird regulations, no kayaks allowed, six dozen locked gates, etc. Let's call it "Highway Ponds WMA."

"Highway Ponds" is composed of a series of ponds in the floodplain of the Patuxent River.  Last year, I called the agency in charge of the property and asked for the gate code.  The fourth time I called, someone answered, was very polite, and quickly surrendered the code.  Thank you!

I made it out to the site's most accessible (and smallest) three ponds last May, and found them nearly unfishable due to vegetation and algae.  Yet, there were plenty of fish. The habitat was in great shape - no question about that. 

This week, I trekked out to the property's most remote ponds and was pretty ecstatic about what I found.  One pond was gigantic with several islands and peninsulae, featuring several lengths of shoreline with little or no aquatic vegetation, and nice sandy/stony substrate - an amazing fishing opportunity! I saw a large number of fat old bass hanging around the shoreline, although it was clear that they saw me, too.

The furthermost pond from the road (pic above, right) is actually in the woods.  It's totally shaded, a bit shallow, and I'll be interested to see if the water stays cool enough to hold bass in the summer.  At least it won't be full of emergent vegetation!  I will try a little baitcaster fishing in here this summer - it's a tight spot!

One of the neatest things about "Highway Ponds WMA" is that it's specified for catch and release for all bass, but anglers are encouraged to keep any and all sunfish of any size - no creel limit.  I will definitely be hitting the property up - especially these two "rear ponds" -  in the next month to catch some panfish for the dinner table.  In the end, it was fortuitous that I did not have my fishing tackle with me, because there is no way I would have been able to go back to work after seeing all those fish.  I'll get 'em next time! 

But make no mistake - the clock is ticking - here comes the algae!


Unknown said...

Good Luck Swampy!

DJinNC said...

We all need a "lunch hour" spot. Quite often those spots hold really large bream. I'd get a little 7'6" 4 wt fly for the bream and a 6' ML 2 peice baitcasting rod for the bass. Short, sweet and packable

Anonymous said...

You do the work and you reap the rewards. Good job scouting out some future fishing spots.

Passinthru Outdoors said...

That is a lot of work for a lunch time spot. I just walk out to the pond on the office property. :) Sometimes I run up to the river and fish the Fly Fishing only area at lunch as well. Got get soem casting in during the day.

Good luck with your lunch spots.

Thanks dor sharing.
Passinthru Outdoors Blog - Sharing the Passion

Kirk Mantay said...

Passinthru - I wish it were so! My office is in Annapolis, MD, one of the sailing capitals of the United States, and yet shoreline access is almost impossible (over 99% of shoreline in the county is private). 400 years of development and wetland filling has taken its toll!

LB @ Bullets And Biscuits said...

Gotta love those hidden away ponds! Good luck!

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