I love fishing small ponds around my area, and they have some of the biggest bass I have ever caught. Some ponds people have stocked with trout and bass, and some have over time have had flood waters come in and fish swim into the pond by nature. The big thing to make sure of is that the pond is not a seasonal one, or you could end up fishing an empty body of water. Here are some great tips for fishing those small watering holes, and landing the big ones. I have caught some of the biggest bass I have ever seen out of a smaller pond that was rarely fished.
1. Ask First
This is one of the most important things I can stress to you when fishing small ponds. If you come across a pond on a piece of property, fenced or not, you want to look for whoever might own it. What I like to do drive down the street a little bit and maybe ask a couple neighbors around the pond, and see if they know who might own it. You may get lucky and find the owner, and I guarantee they will be much happier that you stopped to ask them, then them driving down the road and see a stranger fishing in their pond. On the off chance someone does say no, just thank them for their time and let them know that’s why you stopped to ask, and move on. DON’T just go back and fish the pond because you think they should have said yes, it is their property and they worked hard to buy it. You could possibly stop by a couple times over the course of a few months and see if they have changed their mind, but try and gauge their attitude the first time you ask.
2. Worms are your real friend
I love to fish smaller ponds for bass and crappie, it is one of the funniest fishing days in my opinion. When fishing these ponds, I will almost always use a drop shot rig with a Powerbait worm, or whacky rig a Senko on it. Smaller ponds tend to have more weed, which can be great for fishing bass, but you need to make sure you try and set your hook to weed-less, or you will just be pulling in 10 pounds of weed and no fish. I have found that if I use lures, or spin baits, I can cast further into the pond, but just pull in too much weed. Try putting a little extra weight to your worm rig, to really get it out into the middle of the pond, and you should be okay.
3. Try a lighter rod
You’ll need to avoid the use of a rod over 6′ when fishing in a pond, it’s going to make lifestyles less difficult when seeking to stable on or around systems where you observed fish might be hiding. Additionally, through the use of an extremely light rod, you’ll be able to have more significant a laugh catching the small fish which can be commonly discovered in ponds. It’s also right practice to make certain that you’re the use of the proper strategies while reeling in fish.
One thing you really want to make sure of if you are using a ultra-light rod is that you take a look at your drag and maybe set it a little looser, so if a bigger fish does surge, you don’t have a broken line on your hand. You are definitely going to feel a fish bite with a lighter rod and line, but I have found some monster bass and catfish in small ponds, so be careful not to loose your rigging.
4. What To Wear
They say it really doesn’t matter what you wear when you fish, but I tend not to wear neon colors when I go fishing. It will be more important when fishing a small pond to wear something that is breathable and lightweight. Of course, if you are fishing in the winter, you may want to bundle up, but when fishing in the spring and summer you don’t want to sweat all day long. Another important thing is to make sure you keep your neck covered with a good hat so you don’t burn. Mosquito’s are going to be your worst enemy out there, so you might want to take a nice light long sleeve shirt so your arms don’t get bitten by them. Blue jeans or cargo shorts are going to work great for your legs, but just be comfortable.
5. The Aquatic Life
In ponds, and even in huge lakes, you’ll commonly see ducks who are always swimming around eating. Fish will almost always follow these duck and geese around looking for a free meal, so try to throw your line out next to the ducks, but be careful not to snag one. It is best to use a lure or bait that has a weight on it so a duck or goose doesn’t swim over your line and get caught, or you could lose your rigging and hurt the wildlife.
6. Look around for bait ideas
When you are walking around and fishing, look at any insects, or reptiles that might be around. If you see a salamander or a crayfish in or around the water anywhere, switch up to a brush hog, or fake crayfish, and see if you get better bites. Bass and other fish are notorious creatures of habit, and love to go after food that they normally feed on so this is the perfect opportunity for you to switch baits. Insects are going to be huge for you if you are doing fly fishing, or just trying to fly line your spinning rod.
7. Short and Sweet
When fishing small ponds, especially with lots of over grown trees around, it is going to be a good time to break out a shorter rod. I love my 6ft rod, especially for bass fishing, but to really get your bait where you want it, you may have to go to a shorter rod, and flick the bait. I normally fish a lot of ponds where the tree branches grow out over the water, and I love to fish that shady spot where bass might be laying. I also fish a lot of spots with tall grass, so a shorter rod will take up less room to cast, and really get your line where you want it.
8. Look for Stumps and Debris
Fish love to hide, bass especially, so you want to look for any stumps sticking out of the water, and make sure you fish around them, but not too close to get your line tangled. If you can get your line out close enough, they will come out of hiding to strike your bait. Here are some things to look for:
- Cat tails sticking out
- Fallen Trees
- Boat Docks
- Swimming Platforms
These things are going to provide great cover for fish, so they will want to hang around them and hide, waiting to strike on something swimming by. Be careful where you cast so you don’t get snagged!
9. Know Your Fish
When fishing smaller ponds, it’s good to know exactly what you might be catching, especially if you are new to the sport. Ponds are normally smaller, and usually have fish in them because someone has paid to stock them, or a creek or stream has flooded into the pond you are going to fish. Your pond could even have trout in it gets some of its water from a lake nearby.
- Largemouth Bass
10. Snakes, and Bees, and Wasps Oh My
I hate snakes, like Indiana Jones hates snakes, but it is really important to understand what is out there that might make your fishing day horrible. Most of the time, small ponds will have tall grass surrounding them with trees and bushes, so it is important that you watch your step. In late spring and summer, you might be walking on a trail, or tall grass and spot a snake.
Bees and wasps can be a real pain when fishing, especially if you disturb them. If there are a lot of flowers nearby, try not to walk through them and disturb the bees, this can get you stung, many times. It’s best to steer clear of any bee areas, and leave them alone, but if you have to walk through, try and pick the path of least resistance, so you can enjoy the rest of your day.
Wasps on the other hand are just down right nasty, and will sting you if you disturb anything around them. Keep this in mind, and watch for any wasp nests around any structures or trees, and I would suggest just not going near them. They can and will chase you if they aggravated and their stings hurt. Keep a distance and watch where your rod is at all times, and try not to hit any branches where hives could be.
11. Is it Seasonal
One thing you really want to checkout is if a pond is seasonal, meaning that its just a dry hole in the summer, but is a nice huge pond in the winter time. Nothing is worse than fishing a pond for days, weeks, or months with no bites, only to find out it is a seasonal pond which cannot sustain life all year round. This is why asking to fish a pond is so important, you may learn from the neighbors, or the owner of it themselves that the pond has no fish in it! You can also ask around at your local bait shop, or friends if they have tried fishing it.
12. Weather Changes
Depending on what time of year you want to fish, you might have to fish different areas of the pond. In warmer weather, fish, especially bass, will be in a warmer water climate, so they may be much closer to the shoreline than you think or can see. If its colder, the fish will go deeper because they don’t like really fast climate changes like freezing, so you may have to cast further out into deeper water. If it has just rained, or is starting to storm, OR it has just frozen, or you are still getting cold nights the fish will be less likely to be in an area where the water temperature changes too much, so look at the forecast ahead a few days, and look at what was going on in the past week as well, and you will have a good idea of where the fish are. Most smaller ponds are only up to 20 to 30 feet deep max and are not as deep as your typical lake.
13. To Boat, or Not to Boat
When it comes to ponds, there is always a big question of whether you should take a boat out on it, and it really depends on a few things. First, does it have a way to get a boat down to it, because most ponds are privately owned, and I would hate if someone drove their truck all over my property with a boat attached to the back. You also want to make sure that you can get your vehicle back to the road without getting stuck. Here are a couple things to keep in mind before bringing a boat.
- Always ask permission: Always ask the owners permission if you can bring a boat on their pond. Boat motors can chew up the bottom and any weeds that might be right under the surface.
- Look for a place to safely launch it: Make sure that there is a path to the pond where you can safely drive to so you don’t hurt any of the wildlife, or your vehicle getting to the pond.
- Is the water deep enough for a trolling motor: You really want to make sure that the water is deep enough for a motor because if you start it up, and you hit the bottom with your motor, you may have to replace the propellor on it.
- Is the shore right for a boat: Make sure there is a nice hard pack to back your boat trailer down into. There is nothing worse than getting a trailer stuck in the soft bottom of a pond. You always want to make sure there is a safe place to shore your boat so you can get in and out of it without getting wet or hurting yourself.
If you just cant get a boat into the pond you want to fish, you may want to consider a kayak that you can carry from your car to the pond, these are great because they are light enough to carry by yourself, and you don’t need to lug around a motor. A kayak is also great because it doesn’t take a whole lot of water to float, and can carry a couple rods in them. Another trick might me a fishing tube that you can climb into. These usually have waterproof legging area so you don’t get wet, but be careful in either one because they could tip over or spring a leak in the middle of the pond and you want to be able to swim back.
14. Watch The Mud
One thing you really want to watch out for is MUD when you are fishing smaller bodies of water. Ponds tend to have a lot of overgrowth, and if it gets a lot of rain, there is bound to be a ton of mud and swampy areas. Keep your eye out for the surrounding areas of a pond because even though it might look stable, you could take a step and be up to your armpit in mud and water. Look for tall grass and if you can’t see the actual ground because of overgrowth, tread lightly and try to find something that you can poke on the ground with. When it rains, keep your eye out for how water is reaching the pond, so you know where the drainage routes are, so you don’t get caught up in something nasty.
Fishing small ponds can be some of the most enjoyable times for me. Always make sure you ask permission before you just walk down to a pond and start fishing it. This could save you a lot of headache with law enforcement, or even worse, buck shot. Since ponds are smaller, you will easily be able to move and walk all the way around it in a short time, so scout your fishing spot first and look for things like stumps and boat docks. I love fishing small ponds, but watch for bugs and mosquito’s because they can eat you alive out there. Take not of all the small tips and try a few out and see if it improves your game on the pond.