Great Herring Pond, Massachusetts, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Massachusetts - Southeastern -

Nestled just minutes from Massachusetts’ southeastern coastline, Great Herring Pond is a cozy body of water with a surface area of 376 acres. Most of the lake is located in the Town of Plymouth (Plymouth County), with the southern tip extending into Bourne (Barnstable County). It was previously known as Lake Manomet, but was renamed for its impressive herring run. The average depth of Great Herring Pond is 20 feet with a maximum depth of 42 feet. Its 5.3-mile shoreline sits at an elevation of just 33 feet above sea level.

Great Herring Pond is just a short drive from the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges, which extend over the Cape Cod Canal and connect Plymouth County with Cape Cod. Fed by Little Herring Pond, Great Herring Pond has an outlet into the Herring River, formerly the Monument River. This river previously ran into Buzzard’s Bay, but now flows into the Cape Cod Canal. The Cape Cod Canal, built between 1909 and 1914, connected Buzzards Bay to the south with Cape Cod Bay to the north, saving boats 135 miles of sea travel around the Cape Cod peninsula. However, the Canal cut off herring spawning grounds, so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a herring run in 1936 to restore herring populations. Each spring the herring make their migration up the Herring River into Great Herring Pond and then return to the ocean after spawning.

Facilities at Great Herring Pond include picnic areas and a shallow public access point that is perfect for canoeing, kayaking and maneuvering with other small craft. The boat launch can also accommodate larger boats with shallow drafts. Maximum speed on Great Herring Pond is 45 miles per hour. Other ponds in the vicinity include Little Herring Pond to the north (90 acres) with Island Pond (77 acres) and Elbow Pond (16 acres) to the west. Real estate properties and vacation rentals are available on Great Herring Pond, some including historic houses with private docks and spectacular views.

Both summer and winter offer up water sports at Great Herring Pond. Tubing, water skiing, wind surfing and wakeboarding are prime during the summer months. Swimming, snorkeling, golfing and camping are also popular. Bird watching at the lake is exceptional, and patient onlookers can expect to spot golden eye ducks, pied-billed grebes, bald eagles and American coot. During the cold winter months the pond freezes over, and ice skating, ice sailing, ice fishing and free skating (also known as ice boarding) become possible.

Fishing is phenomenal at Great Herring Pond, thanks to the herring run built by the Army Corps of Engineers. The pond also features two artificial tire reefs constructed in 1975 to attract fish. Common catches include smallmouth bass, pike, largemouth bass, pumpkinseed, tessellated darter, yellow perch and small numbers of walleye. During the spring, summer and fall alewife and blueback herring are plentiful. Anglers must check with the Freshwater Fish Consumption Advisory List to see which species are best for eating. Two sunken islands near the middle of the pond are the premier places to try your luck, in addition to various points along the eastern coast.

Several fantastic places for hiking surround Great Herring Pond, including Sacrifice Rock Woods – where geocaching is popular – and the Cape Cod Canal, a waterway boasting trails that are also great for mountain biking. Just north of Buzzards Bay you’ll enjoy the short Bournedale Interpretive Trail as well as the longer Sagamore Hill Trail. On Buttermilk Bay, the Theodore Lyman Reserve offers a trail along scenic Red Brook. The Ellisville Harbor State Park Trail is three miles long and passes by a closed-down Christmas tree farm and various wooded areas and salty marshland. Lastly, the Boiling Springs Pond Circuit (also known as Smiling Pool) is located in the Sandwich area – the region that served as inspiration for Thornton W. Burgess, children’s book author of Peter Rabbit. The Carter Beal Conservation Area is situated just south of Great Herring Pond, and includes 31 acres of protected lands. Various interpretive trails are perfect for an afternoon stroll. It also has a nature observation area and handicap-accessible facilities.

Scusset Beach State Reservation is a great day trip from Great Herring Pond, just a short car ride to the coast. The park offers year round camping facilities, a fishing pier, and a hiking/bicycling path on the eastern end of the Cape Cod Canal. Additionally, just east of Great Herring Pond lies Sagamore Beach, a residential area located just south of where the Mayflower landed in 1620.

Also close to Great Herring Pond is the Myles Standish State Forest, the greatest public recreation area in southeastern Massachusetts. Camping, horse camping, picnicking, swimming, fishing and canoeing are its main activities. Equine lovers can’t get enough of the 35 miles of horseback riding trails, and cyclists love biking the 15 miles of bike terrain. For hikers, there are also 13 miles of trekking trails.

With so many incredible activities to do and see, it is impossible not to fall in love with Great Herring Pond. Its wide range of recreational activities makes this body of water a hot destination for singles, couples and families looking for a well-balanced home or vacation destination.

Things to do at Great Herring Pond

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Wind Surfing
  • Tubing
  • Snorkeling
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • State Forest

Fish species found at Great Herring Pond

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Cod
  • Darter
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Great Herring Pond Photo Gallery

    Great Herring Pond Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 376 acres

    Shoreline Length: 5 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 33 feet

    Average Depth: 20 feet

    Maximum Depth: 42 feet

    Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

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    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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