Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield (FS/HAAF) is located near the city of Savannah and serves as home to the United States Army’s 3rd Infantry Division. However, it is also home to some great fishing opportunities, and it is open to the public. This 285,000-acre installation hosts a variety of managed recreational fishing ponds, two rivers and numerous fishable streams. With all this water, you better believe some great fish can be caught here!
The managed ponds range from 2-acre borrow pits to 82-acre impoundments. Management efforts include mowing, herbiciding, fertilizing, liming, population sampling, stocking and installing underwater structure.
The pond banks are mowed throughout the summer to allow for better bank access for anglers and less worry about stepping on a snake, alligator or ant mound. Aquatic weeds are treated with herbicide to allow for better access, while still providing cover for fish. Fertilizing adds additional food for the animals at the bottom of the food chain, which increases the nutritional value up the food chain.
All ponds were initially stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill sunfish and redear sunfish. Black crappie, catfish, warmouth and fliers can also be found in some of the ponds. Annual surveys show the current status of fish populations and indicate if adjustments need to be made (i.e. modifying creel limits, restocking, etc.). Donated Christmas trees are anchored in clumps in the ponds, creating ideal fish attractors. Some of these areas are marked with buoys, and some are not marked.
Access to managed ponds is sometimes limited due to military training. Area Status Sheets are posted at the Installation’s Pass and Permit Office and on the FS/HAAF Fishing website (link at end of article) to let you know which ponds are open. Below is a detailed rundown of the various ponds found on the Installation and what each one has to offer.
Pineview Lake (Pond 1) is an 82-acre impoundment and FS/HAAF’s largest pond. This pond is great for catching larger bream, crappie and a lot of bass. The bass in Pineview Lake are currently overcrowded, but the FS/HAAF Fish and Wildlife Branch is working to change that. Threadfin shad have been stocked to provide more food for the bass, while some bass have been removed to balance the population. More shad will be added during spring 2016 to provide additional bass forage. Two concrete boat ramps are available, but there is also plenty of nicely mowed bank from which to fish. You can catch some great fish from the bank, but with a pond this large, a boat will help you get to some of the better holes.
Glissons Mill Pond (Pond 2) is a beautiful 67-acre cypress impoundment. This old mill pond is part of a watershed that is continuously fed by creeks, resulting in a wide variety of fish. In addition to typical gamefish, such as largemouth bass, bluegill sunfish, redear sunfish, crappie and catfish, you can find several types of nongame fish including gar, pickerel and bowfin. The cypress trees provide extensive habitat, so finding fish here can be challenging—there are just too many good spots! We received a number of reports this past summer of fishermen catching large bass from this pond. There is limited bank access, so bring your boat.
Holbrook Pond (Pond 3) is one of the most popular ponds on the Installation. With a campground, playgrounds, pavilions, fishing piers and a boat ramp, this 20-acre pond has something for everyone. Because it is such a popular recreational spot, it is fished often. Holbrook has a healthy bass population, sustained with a good population of smaller bluegill. It is not uncommon during surveys to see good-sized crappie and bass weighing more than 5 pounds. Annual Kid’s Fishing Events have been held there the last couple of years, so the channel catfish population gets restocked every year.
If you want to get away from everyone else, take a little dirt road drive to Daisy Pond (Pond 17). Although it is now full, this little 15-acre impoundment is still recovering from low water conditions over the last few years. Nice bass and some large bluegill can still be caught here. If you have a taste for flier sunfish, this is the only pond they are regularly seen in. Just remember, if there has been recent heavy rain, the roads get sloppy, and a 4-wheel drive vehicle is a must.
Ponds 19 and 20 are known as the Evans Field Ponds. These are 9- and 6-acre borrow pits with very easy access from Highway 144 East, about halfway between Richmond Hill and Fort Stewart’s Garrison area. Although somewhat small, these two ponds hold big fish. Multiple bass weighing between 5 and 10 pounds, as well as large crappie (some over 2 pounds) have been caught in both of these ponds over the past few years. Gizzard shad are found in both ponds, so the predator fish have plenty of food to keep them healthy.
The Richmond Hill Ponds (Ponds 21, 22, and 23) are located on the eastern side of Fort Stewart. Because of their proximity to the city of Richmond Hill, these ponds are fished often, but there are reports of big bass being caught from all three of these ponds. An angler caught a 13.1-lb. bass from Pond 23 in March 2015. During a survey conducted in November 2015, two 6-lb. bass were caught in Pond 21.
Metz Pond (Pond 26) is a popular pond for anglers in search of big fish and is known as the “Trophy Pond.” No matter what type of fish you are fishing for, there are trophies here. It’s not uncommon to see bluegill and redear sunfish pushing a pound or more in weight. Crappie weighing more than 2 pounds can be found throughout the pond. With trophy regulations in place, bass must be a minimum of 24 inches to keep. You may not see a bass this size every time you go fishing, but you definitely have a good chance of catching one. This 54-acre impoundment has a lot of great habitat, including cypress trees, stumps, coves and lily pads. Another great thing that helps keep the fish in this pond so big is the abundance of threadfin shad and shiners, which keep all the larger fish well-fed. To maintain this pond’s “trophy” status, it is only open on a limited basis. Keep a watch on the area status sheets for your chance to catch a big one.
Dogwood Lake (Pond 28) is producing some really nice bass. One angler reported catching and releasing a 15.4-lb. bass from Pond 28 last summer. This is also a good pond to find crappie in, some reaching over 1 pound. Dogwood Lake is a 34-acre impoundment with two concrete boat ramps, as well as many earthen piers, allowing great bank fishing access. This pond is occasionally closed due to the close proximity of several training ranges. If the pond is open for fishing, you may hear weapons firing in the background, but you need not worry—that’s the sound of freedom!
Collectively known as the Cedar Bay Ponds, Ponds 30, 31, and 32 are borrow pits located close to the intersection of Highways 119 and 144. These ponds range from 2 1/2 acres to 8 acres. The first pond you come to, Pond 30, was formerly the location for Kid’s Fishing Events. Channel catfish were stocked before each event, and a large population of catfish remains for interested anglers. Bass and bluegill are also caught regularly in all three of these ponds.
Baxter Pond (Pond 34) is still open for fishing, but Baxter is no longer a managed pond. The 53-acre pond was drained in 2008 and has yet to return to full-pool. Water and fish do remain in the pond, so it has been reopened to the public for fishing. If you decide to fish here, be aware that the vegetation is high, and snakes and alligators call this home—but so do some good-sized fish.
HAAF hosts its Annual Kid’s Fishing Events at Halstrom Lake (Pond 24), and the channel catfish are stocked just days before each event to ensure the kids have a successful day of fishing. Halstrom is open year round, so whatever the kids don’t catch remains in the pond for the public. Since this is one of only three ponds located on HAAF and has a fishing pier, picnic tables, playgrounds and restrooms, it is fished often.
The second of three ponds located on HAAF is Oglethorpe Pond (Pond 29). The dam on this 10-acre impoundment was repaired in 2010. The pond was restocked with bass, bluegill, redear and catfish in 2013 when the water levels returned to full pool, and it reopened for fishing in 2015. Many HAAF anglers have enjoyed this pond’s reopening and are definitely catching fish!
The last of the HAAF ponds, Wilson Gate Pond (Pond 35) is often overlooked by anglers. This 4-acre retention pond has a large population of gizzard shad, but these baitfish feed some pretty nice bass. Bass weighing more than 4 pounds have been seen every year for the past four years, with some weighing more than 6 pounds.
In addition to these ponds, two rivers and numerous streams and creeks run through FS/HAAF. The Ogeechee River runs along the eastern border of Fort Stewart, while the Canoochee River runs through the middle of the base. Though they both produce great bass and catfish, these rivers are best known for their redbreast sunfish. The best time to fish for redbreasts is late spring, as the river draws down inside its banks. There are several river landings and access points located throughout the Installation.
Fort Stewart and HAAF provide excellent fishing options. Whether you prefer to fish a pond or river, or fish from the bank or from a boat, FS/HAAF has the perfect fishing hole for you. Grab your fishing gear, and come on down!
For more information, please visit www.stewart.army.mil/info/?id=447.
Catch A 14-lb.+ Largemouth?
Requirements For Bass To Be Entered Into Georgia’s Biggest Bass Of All-Time List
- Fish must be caught legally by rod and reel in a manner consistent with state game and fish regulations.
- Catch must be weighed on accurate Georgia DOA certified scales with at least two witnesses present.
- Witnesses to the weighing must be at least 18 years old, and they must not be members of the angler’s immediate family nor have a close personal relationship with the angler.
GON’s list is compiled and maintained by GON, to be awarded at GON’s discretion. Additional steps may be required for record consideration.
Tips for Fishing on Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield
- FS/HAAF Fishing Website: http://www.stewart.army.mil/info/?id=447.
- State of Georgia Fishing License is required.
- FS/HAAF Fishing Permit must be purchased, in person, from the Installation’s Pass and Permit Office. The Pass and Permit Office can be reached at (912) 435-8061.
- Check Area Status Sheet for ponds/areas open for fishing.
- Call (912) 767-0202 to check-in to the pond or area you are going to fish before leaving the highway.
- Boats are welcome on all ponds, but boat ramps are only available on Ponds 1, 2, 3, 17, 26 and 28. No combustion engines—paddles or battery-powered trolling motors only. Combustion engines are allowed on the rivers.
- Creel limits are posted on the website as well as on large brown signs at each pond.
- Remember, alligators call Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield’s waters home. Please do not feed or harass the alligators.
- Please do not litter.
- Avoid Unexploded Ordinances. If you did not drop it, don’t pick it up.
- Rules and Regulations can be found on the FS/HAAF Fishing Website under SOP and Policy Letter at www.stewart.army.mil/540/docs/policy_letter_sop.pdf.