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SOUTHERN BASSIN’ NASSAU STYLE
By Rich Johnson

Bass fishermen, are you bored with using light lines, small grubs, tiny popping wpe1C.jpg (78933 bytes)plugs & limber rods? Sure it can be fun at times, but haven’t you thought what it’d be like to hold some real "lumber?" How’d you like to use real baitcasting equipment, 17-pound test, large spinnerbaits, and catch larger bass through acres of spatterdock? Dunk large plastic worms in open pockets between these pads.... right here on Long Island? Smith Pond is the answer. Smith Pond in Rockville Centre looks like a typical southern lake with spatterdock in such abundance, you wonder how anything can swim or how you’re going to get your plug back to shore.

TERRAIN. The area surrounding Smith Pond is a very wooded area with exposed roots and caution is to be taken. If you’re fishing from shore I’d advise hiking boots of some kind. If you’re wading the lake, please, take my advice and stay close to shore. The water can drop off quickly with some areas as deep as 11-foot. This particularly true when wading the Peninsula Blvd. side, or the edge bordering the Rev. Martin Luther King playing fields. The shallowest area of the lake is the southern end where Smith Pond spills back into the head waters of Mill River, at the MTBA Bus Facility.

THE CATCH. Having grown up just blocks from Smith Pond, I can tell you it’s always had a good history of producing larger bass than surrounding area lakes. I’ve found the numbers of bass caught to be lower than other area lakes such as Grant Park, but the average size is much larger. Bass here tend to average about a pound and bass to 6 pounds are caught yearly from here.

In a call to Greg Kozlowski, aquatic biologist for the DEC/Long Island & overseer of Nassau County’s freshwater fishery, some very interesting details were discovered. For example, bass populations on Long Island are not as abundant as anglers think. The average angler catch rate on Long Island (taken from the Cooperative Angler Diary Program) is slightly higher than one-half a fish per hour. In a recent electro-shock survey of Smith Pond (estimated 19 acres), 21 bass were checked and released in a span of 3-1/2 hours. On a per hour basis, 3.7 bass greater than 12 inches were put into the boat. Of all bass in Smith Pond over 8 inches, 68% were larger than 12 inches and 26% larger than 15 inches. In Grant Park however, these numbers were 18% over 12 inches and only 5% over 15 inches! On a size per acre relationship, the clear winner is again Smith Pond, with four (4) bass per acre larger than 12 inches compared to Grant Park’s one (1) bass per acre greater than 12 inches. Greg indicated this holds true as well for chain pickerel, white perch and the bluegill population, lower numbers but larger size!

TACKLE. Save the northern style, light lines and finesse baits for the other shallow water bath tubs on Long Island. This lake is where you need the heavy tackle! Baitcasting outfits of 6-1/2 feet, spooled with 14 to 20-pound Berkley’s XT line the best way to go. Choose a baitcasting outfit like the Ambassador 5600UC or the Tournament 3000T.

ARTIFICIALS. Keep in mind the water varies from dark to clear depending on rain and run off. Dark meaning the water is stained as compared to clear water. This leads you to larger lures and brighter color selections. When fishing stained water, lean towards brass or copper colors over silver when it comes to spoons & spinnerbaits. Post spawn is prime spinnerbait time. If you listened to Roland Martin on the radio show June 5th, you heard him say many anglers use top large a spinnerbait. Try to keep the bait size down some. When using spinnerbaits here, use Willow leaf blades. Whether single or tandem blade, they give off more flash than Colorado or Indiana style blades, and again, go with brass or copper. Yellow or chartreuse skirts are my favorite here, but white is a good backup choice.

SPOONS. There’s only one real choice here and that’s the Johnson weedless Silver Minnow. Instead of using the standard silver finish, opt for colors like gold, black, perch or even firetiger. You’ll want to add a trailer such as pork strip, plastic grub or small curly tailed frog. This is a dynamite lure in Smith Pond and should one of the first out of your vest!

PLASTICS. The usual assortment of plastic baits should be offered to bass as well. Berkley power bait tops the list with my preference being large worm baits. The 10-inch and 7-inch power worms in black, purple, June bug, motor oil and pumpkin seed the perennial favorites. You may want to try a firetiger tail after a heavy runoff of rain water clouds water clarity. Rigged either Texas of Carolina style, plastics catch good numbers of fish. Drop these baits into pockets within mats of pads and work the edges here as well. In clear water though, you may want to go smaller with four & six-inch worms. So if you’re tired of finesse fishing, want to hang out with the big boys or just in the mood to battle larger critters, Smith Pond is the place to be. It’s where I go when I want a southern style bass outing, without going on vacation!

Directions & Parking: Smith Pond is located in RVC (Hagstrom/map 14-area K29) along Peninsula Blvd. with parking on the north and south side of the lake. For north side parking, if coming from south, make right or from north make left on Maine Ave. Turn right into first parking lot, you’re there. For the southern lot, Sunrise Highway to N. Centre Ave. (Holiday Inn) turn north, make left on Willoughby Ave., follow dogleg on Nassau St., lot is on right side.

 

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