Here is the tantalizing description of Buffalo Pond that appears in the Quantico fishing regulations:
“Buffalo Pond (5.5 acres). Fishing access is allowed on days that
OCS trails are open for public use. When trails are open, anglers may drive Engineer Road and Buffalo Road to get to Buffalo Pond. When OCS trails are closed, Buffalo Pond is off-limits. OCS trail status is posted daily at the OCS entrance. This pond is designated for trophy bass management. Bass may not be kept unless they exceed 18 inches in length and a limit of 1 per day. Bluegill, crappie, and channel catfish are also present. Electric motors are authorized; gasoline motors may not be operated.”
Trophy bass management at Quantico? This is something that I had to investigate. The problem is that reaching Buffalo Pond not only requires a Quantico fishing license but also sets up several extra hurdles just to determine whether you can gain access to the water. On the day we intended to go, I called Range Control to verify that the roads were open but they could not help. Access to this water is controlled by a training organization on the base. The only thing I could figure out was to drive over there and see if the road was open. According to the Range Control guys, there would be a sign at the entrance which indicates whether the road is open to fishing and other activities.
So we loaded up the BassCanoe and headed down to Quantico. After a few false starts, we navigated our way to the beginning of the range road which would lead to Buffalo Pond which was protected by two signs as well as a marine guard. One sign said that the road was open and the other sign said it was closed. The two signs were within 5 feet of each other. I asked the sharp looking marine what the deal was. He shrugged and said that he had seen people jogging up the road so he believed it was open for public access. With that, I decided to take the risk and headed up to Buffalo Pond.
It’s a fairly long drive on the range road to get there – you need to have a map with you. In the back of my mind I worried that the gates we drove past would be shut behind us. Oh well, I had the number for Range Control and I could always call them for help. However, given the jogging activity, I was betting that we would be able to use this facility for at least two hours.
As stated above, Buffalo Pond is a small pond that weights in at a little under 6 acres tucked to the left of the range road that leads to it. There was no one else there when we arrived – another set of fisherman showed up after we were on the water for about an hour. You do not need a motor on this lake; a paddle will do just fine. We rolled the canoe into the water and began to work the right hand shore where the water appeared to be a bit deeper up against the birm. As we paddled around, we picked up plenty of bluegills but only two bass. No trophies, just a few 10 inchers.
The deepest point in the lake that I could find was only about 10 feet. This makes me wonder how such a small body of water can be used for trophy sized bass. How many 18 inchers can survive in water this small? Why not use one of the larger lakes on the base (Lunga, Breckinridge or Smith) for trophies? In any case, none of those big guys, if they exist, were interested in what we were using. I was working the top water using my fly rod throwing poppers and terrestrial patterns while the Basswife was using standard plastic lures. I watched the other fishermen for a while and they were not having much success either. You do get plenty of bluegills; many of those are decent size and ranged up to 8 inches.
After two hours, we decided to head back and loaded our gear onto the truck. The drive back was uneventful until I rounded the last corner to transition from the dirt range road back onto the hardball. The Officer’s Candidate School borders the range road that leads to Buffalo Pond and, even though we were here on Sunday afternoon, training continues unabated. We arrived back at this point at 5 PM and there was a formation underway which blocked the road..
I asked a Captain who was walking by whether there was another way to get around the formation. He shook his head and indicated that we would have to wait for the formation to end. With that, I turned off the engine we began to wait… and wait… and wait. After 15 minutes, a military van drove in front of us, clunked offroad to pop through a gap in the trees and pull onto the sports field in back of the formation. It then followed the treeline back to the road on the other side of the formation. Clearly, this was a normal way to dodge the blockage created by the formation so I quickly followed them. The lesson? Ask an NCO, not a Captain…
We were able to leave the base without any further problems
Bottom line: This is very, very small water. Even though it may be managed for trophy bass, I’m not sure there are any there. The small size of the lake makes this a destination for a short day – fishing for two hours or less — it’s simply a big enough to merit additional time,. The other complication, of course, is access via the officers candidate school and the challenge associated with the various gates being open. All of this drives me to conclude that I will not go back to this location.
For more information, refer to the Quantico fishing regulations (MCBO P11015.2A) which lists all of the available fishing on base to include better destinations like Lunga, Breckinridge, and Smith Lake.
You need a Quantico license to fish here.
Getting there: take the exit 148 and enter the base. You will have to show an ID. Follow this all the way to the end and turn right towards the airfield. Follow that across the bridge and then turn right. The road ends in a “T”. Turn left to head to the OCS area (there will be a sports field on your right). The signs are at the corner of the sports field. Once you verify the road is open, turn right on Engineer Road and head past some barracks and into the range area. After a while, turn right on Buffalo Road when Engineer Road deadends in a “T” intersection.
Call Range Control at 703-784-5321 for permission to access this water. Be sure you purchase a Quantico license before fishing here.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.507341, -77.350316
Secrets Revealed? No. The pond is disclosed in the Quantico fishing regulations.
From the lower corner looking northwest
The birm at the east end of the lake
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore