I grew up fishing. It did not make any difference to me, if I thought a fish lived in a body of water, I wanted to try to catch it. Bream, bass, catfish, whatever would bite I would fish for it. By the time I was old enough to drive, I knew of numerous ponds and creeks I could go fish.
As the years have passed, I now realize and understand the importance of fishing these smaller waters. By fishing ponds, I learned to read shoreline cover, the importance of bait selection, stealthy presentations, and a sound knowledge of fish behaviors. Move forward almost forty years and this information still proves invaluable to me.
For reference in this month’s article, I consider a body of water smaller than five acres a pond. Anything bigger, I consider to be a small lake. They are an abundance of small fisheries in our part of the state and while many are on private property, there are several, with granted permission, can be legally fished. The size bass an angler can catch out of these small bodies of water will surprise you, so let us do a quick break down.
The first thing I look for when I am fishing a pond or small lake, no matter if I am in a boat or walking the bank, is what does the pond offer. If there is a dam, then I know the water on that end will be deeper. If there are grass lines present then chances are there is a drop off where the grass line ends. Is the water clear, does it have a stain to it or is it muddy? Does the lake have standing timber, brush, or other hard cover? Even without electronics, based on these simple observations, I can get an idea of potentially good areas and what I need to do to catch bass.
To make things easier, it has always been my belief that no matter what, most of the fish will be shallow. Most ponds, unless they have a channel cut through it, are void of deep cover or structure. Most smaller bodies of water are alike in size and bottom contour as well. But any bottom contour change, such as a drop off or a high spot, can be a fish magnet. Remember, anything out of the ordinary will hold fish.
My lure choices are based on many years of pond hopping and while I have tweaked them a bit, the basic choices I use worked thirty years ago, and they still work today. Always remember, not all ponds are the same, just like when fishing a regular sized lake, so do not be afraid to experiment with lures and techniques. One thing I have noticed is that pond bass tend to prefer smaller lures, so try to keep this in mind.
My five lure choices are: ¼ ounce spinnerbait, a frog, a small crankbait, a Texas rigged worm, and a drop shot. My favorite of all the lures listed is the crankbait. Years ago, Bandit made a small ultra-light squarebill crankbait that was deadly on pond pass. The only color I used was Firetiger and it caught both numbers and size. Since that lure is no longer available, I have had good success using the various smaller crankbaits that are on the market. No matter the lure, my favorite color is still Firetiger and I attribute this to the amount of bream that are found in these smaller bodies of water.
My second choice, a drop shot is a deadly second fiddle to the crankbait. A #1 size hook, an eighth ounce drop shot weight, teamed with a watermelon/red finesse worm and you are in business. I have found that a one-foot section between the hook and the bottom sinker is a standard set up and I always fish this technique with a spinning rod.
The next choice in my lure line-up for pond fishing is a small spinnerbait. I prefer the 1/8th ounce Stanley Vibra-shaft models, and I usually stick with the Colorado/willow combinations. The Stanley spinnerbaits have impressive color combinations, but I tend to use the shad patterns. One thing of note; the best way to fish this small spinnerbait is fast, keeping it just under the surface, especially in the fall of the year.
What would bass fishing be if you could not catch a fish on a topwater, especially a frog? From April through the end of fall, I believe I can catch a bass on a frog. No matter if there is grass or any type of cover, anything that swims out in open water, is treading dangerously to a bass looking for an easy meal. I prefer the Spro Baby Poppin’ Frog due to its smaller size. I have found black to be the best color.
Finally, no matter if it is a worm, a Senko style stick bait, a creature bait such as a Sweet Smallie Beaver or Baby Brush Hog, if you can Texas rig it, bass in small bodies of water will bite it. My personal favorites have always been a six-inch plum ribbon tailed worm and a Watermelon/red baby Brush Hog. Just by altering my slip sinker size, I can fish them shallow or deep, swim them high in the water column or fish them in, over and around vegetation. No matter what the pond has to offer, I can effectively fish it with these lures.