I decided to violate my principal that all good fishing is the least an hours drive away and wandered down to the Quantico Marine Corps Base in search of the Range Six pond. The Quantico fishing regulations (MCBO P11015.2A) list all of the available fishing on base. I had already fished Lunga, Breckenridge, and Smith Lake, so I was in search of new water. The range six pond, which goes by R6 in the base fishing regulations, offered the tempting inducement of a short walk to reach the water. You cannot just drive up to the edge and pop your canoe into the water.
With map in hand, I drove the road that skirts the southern edge of Quantico looking for the cutoff to range six. Thankfully, these are well marked, and you will not have any problem finding the short dirt road that leads to a closed gate for range six. Beyond that gate is a half mile hike to get to the 6.6 acre pond. As I pulled up, I was grateful to see that I was the only one here on this crisp April morning.
The gravel road that leads to the pond is wide and easy to walk on. It leads directly to the southwestern tip of the range six pond. As the pond heaves into view on your left, it's only a short bushwhack through some high underbrush to get to the edge. Once there, you can stand on the high bank and survey the entire pond. To your right is a built up birm which has a small metal pier that juts out from the middle. The birm holds the deepest water in the pond and is large enough to walk on. To the left, the shore winds around and is protected by close brush and trees which will make a back cast difficult if you are going to fly fish. The far side of the pond is the shallow water.
Being right-handed using my fly gear, I decided to work around the shore to the left. That would put my casting hand next to the water and make it a little bit easier to avoid the brush that hugs the bank. There is a scattering of aquatic plants that poke out of the water near the shore, and I decided to target those. Within a cast or two I started to pick up my buddies, the bluegill. I was working a terrestrial pattern -- a grasshopper -- even though it was early in the season. About a half hour into fishing, I was rewarded with a huge slurp and the visual treat a big bass hitting the floating grasshopper. Game on!
This big boy quickly stripped the line away and was on the reel pulling against the drag in no time. It took me a good five minutes to land this guy next to the bank. After a quick picture, I let released him so the next fisherman could enjoy the same thrill. I picked up another one of these guys a little farther up that southern bank.
At this point, a light rain picked up, so I decided to walk back to my pack and get out my poncho. As I had a cup of coffee while I waited for the rain to end, I marveled at what a great resource small ponds can be - especially those that are protected by a walk. After the rain ended, I worked up the birm line to hit the grass that was growing into the water from the shore. No bass here, just another couple bluegills. That changed when I reached the northeastern corner of the pond where the water pours out into a small creek. A few more bass fell prey to the grasshopper as I worked this corner. Not a bad day.
Another fisherman had arrived at this point, so I walked down to have a quick chat. It turned out that this was his first time on this water as well. So I exchanged the intelligence I had gathered on where the fish were and pointed him at the southern bank where I picked up my two nice bass. At this point, it was time for me to leave so I said goodbye and walked back to the truck.
Remember to refer to my rating explanations - these are based on what I look for - so RED for Physical Fitness translates to easy physically - you do not need to be in shape to fish this section. I prefer terrain that is tough to get into and out of.
Bottom line: The range six pond is a nice resource which is protected by four things:
- The need for a Quantico fishing license.
- The requirement to get permission to fish this from range control.
- The 12 to 15 inch slot limit for bass
- And the short half mile walk.
All of these conspire to maintain reasonable pressure on this pond. I only rate this as RED for pressure because the water is small. From talking to other fishermen, I know this pond also has a good population of crappie. I'll come back to this location in the future.
I need to add again, that it is critical that you check in at the range control office before you try and fish on this pond. It is downrange from an active firing position and you could get killed if you wander in here at the wrong time.
Getting there: take the Aquia exit on 610 going West. Follow 610 until you see route 644 off to your left. Be alert at this point, as the next right should be the road the will take you to range six.
Call Range Control at 703-784-5321 for permission to access this water. Be sure you purchase a Quantico license before fishing here.
Secrets Revealed? No. The pond is disclosed in the Quantico fishing regulations.