Species Present (naturally reproducing):
Species Present (stocked):
DEC, Trailer Launch of Boats, Limited Shoreline Access
Sweetwater Angler Profile of Fort Pond (Fall/Winter 2002)
Every year thousands of anglers come to the Village of Montauk to board the party boats or battle striped bass in the surf beneath the lighthouse. Amidst the excitement, little notice is taken of the 192 acre freshwater pond that occupies the center of town. Yet Fort Pond offers exceptional fishing for freshwater game fish like smallmouth bass and walleye that are seldom encountered on Long Island.
How did Fort Pond get its name? In 1661, a fortress, newly constructed by the Montauk Indians, overlooked the pond from the hill presently crowned by the castle-like resort hotel known as Montauk Manor. Why did they feel the need to construct such a defense in this tranquil place? Just a few years earlier the shores of the pond had been the scene of a bloody massacre as Narragansetts from across Block Island Sound attacked the Montauks while they were celebrating a wedding. Despite its violent history, Fort Pond offers modern anglers a peaceful fishing experience.
Fort Pond contains both largemouth and smallmouth bass, though the habitat favors the smallmouth. The DEC Freshwater Fisheries Unit conducted an electrofishing survey of the pond in 2001. During the survey, smallmouth bass were caught at a rate of just over seventeen per hour while largemouth bass were caught at a rate of just over four per hour. The largest smallmouth measured 19 inches and weighed 2.9 pounds. The largest largemouth measured 20 inches and weighed five pounds.
The other principal gamefish in the pond is the walleye. Walleye have thrived since they were first stocked in 1997 as a tactic to reduce an overabundant perch population. During a DEC gillnet survey conducted in September of 2001, a total of 40 walleye were caught for an average catch of 6.7 per net. This indicates that the stocking program has produced a dense population of mature fish. The average walleye measured 14.7 inches. The largest specimen measured 19.3 inches and weighed 2.25 pounds. Because appropriate spawning habitat for walleye does not exist in Fort Pond, these fish will be stocked every other year in order to maintain the population. To ensure that enough walleye remain in the lake to control white perch, an 18- inch minimum length regulation applies to this species. Based on the 2001 survey data, a substantial portion of the walleye population should have reached 18 inches during the summer of 2002.
Other fishes present in Fort Pond include yellow perch, white perch, brown bullhead, common carp, and bluegill. White perch and yellow perch are very abundant. While the experimental stocking of hybrid striped bass in Fort Pond has been discontinued, some of these fish persist in the pond with anglers reporting the occasional catch of a hybrid striper this season.
Anglers seeking bass in Fort Pond should come equipped with an assortment of diving crankbaits, jigs, and spinnerbaits. Shiny metallic spoons such as Kastmasters are another good bet. In selecting lure colors, remember that the dominant bait fish are the silvery juvenile white perch and the yellow and olive juvenile yellow perch. Focus effort on points, drop-offs, and submerged boulders. Fort Pond averages 8.5 feet in depth with a maximum depth of 27 feet. Unlike most of Long Island's bass waters, it contains only scattered vegetation. The bottom is sandy with are areas of cobble and scattered boulders.
The same lures and strategies are likely to produce walleye. On bright sunny days fish deeper water to increase your chances of connecting with these light-sensitive predators. Dawn and dusk are ideal times to catch walleye. Drifting live bait just off the bottom is another proven technique for catching walleye and well suited to the windy conditions that prevail at Fort Pond. You can quickly cover a lot of lake bottom in this way. A drift sock and/or electric trolling motor is extremely helpful to control speed and course. Leeches and nightcrawlers are excellent baits if presented on a colorful floating jig head or hooked onto a "crawler harness" with a flashy spinner blade.).
The DEC maintains a boat ramp on the south end of the pond. The facility is immediately west of the East Hampton Town athletic fields in the Village of Montauk. To get there, drive east on Main Street, make a left at the village green, and proceed north on Edgemere Street. Make a left in front of the athletic field and look for the brown DEC sign.