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Pond Hawgs

 Pat with an average-size Sandy Pond bucketmouth.

Sandy Pond is mostly known as a splendid sandy beach bordered by majestic sand dunes where sunbathers toast themselves to a symphony of high winds, roaring waves and the cries of water birds of every feather.

On the other side of the dune sits the real Sandy Pond. Covering roughly 2,400 acres, it’s the largest embayment in the Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Wetland Area, a 17-mile long natural barrier system containing the tallest sand dunes between Cape Cod and Lake Michigan.

The beauty of the place makes it extremely popular. Much of its shoreline is developed with camps, homes, and campgrounds. The place gets so crowded in summer, I never gave its warm weather fishery any thought.

However, I always knew “the Pond” was a well for northern pike and perch in winter, and crappies after ice-out. Some guys I normally consider reliable sources of information claimed it was a bass hot-spot in summer, but when I went with them, we got skunked every time. So I ignored it from then on.

That was, until I went fishing on Oneida Lake with Pat Miura last July (see blog post of Aug. 2, 2011). One of the most popular fly-fishing guides on the Salmon River (315-777-3570; [email protected] ), Pat spends his summers pursuing bass.

As often happens, our conversation drifted around our fishing experiences. I mentioned my lousy luck on Sandy Pond.

“Really!” he said, incredulously, “There’s a lot of bass in Sandy Pond…Some really big ones, too.”

“Oh yeah,” I countered, “Prove it.”

“OK,” he replied.

Late last month we fished the place and I’ve been eating humble pie ever since.

Only averaging 8 feet deep, it’s loaded with bass habitat: docks, creek mouths, windfalls, sprawling weed beds, boating channels leading to campgrounds and summer camps, reed fields, you name it. The problem is, you gotta look for the stuff.

You see, Sandy Pond has…lots of sand; sandbars stretching for hundreds of acres, in fact. And you wanna avoid fishing over these barren spots.

Once we located a fishy looking area, all the usual suspects worked: floating lures like Zara Spooks and buzzbaits in calm areas, Berkley Powerbaits, especially Texas-rigged  4-inch Finesse Worms and Carolina-rigged 6-inch Finesse Worms in and along weed edges, Smithwick Rogues jerked in deep water and Berkley’s Heavy Weight fat Sink Worms fished wacky style.

During the heat of the day, I found finesse presentations extremely gratifying. A good braided line like Nanofil on my spinning reels and Spider Wire Fluorobraid on my Abu Garcia Revo and Toro Winch allowed me to feel even the slightest take.

This time of year the pond prepares to hibernate.  Most of the boating crowd has gone back home. With hunting and salmon seasons just around the corner, a lot of local pressure is removed from the waves, making it possible to find some peace on the pond.

Pat says autumn is one of the best times to fish Sandy Pond. The bass are big, fat and cooperative, the scenery is colorful, and the days are brisk, making for the kind of trips you’ll be telling your grandkids about.

 Casting to some heavy brush.

 Bassin’ in the reeds.

My biggest of the day came out of some heavy cover clinging to a sand dune.