Today is Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A pond for all seasons

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The sun was just clearing the trees and the wisps of fog lay in the water as the buzzbait comes back toward the Pond Hopper boat.

In an hour or so, it would be sweltering. Fog lay in patches, low on the water hotter than a bath. The pond, three acres in size, was slick as a mirror. Not a breath of air stirred and the buzzbait made the only wake on the surface as it returned to the Pond Tracker boat.
You can catch bass, big bass, any time of the year on small ponds. It is simply a matter of knowing a few simple things. It is important to know when to fish, where to fish, what lure to use and how to present it.
So often, anglers make a serious mistake in thinking during brutally hot weather, you need to fish in the depths. Even in small ponds where the water temperature may approach 85-degrees, bass are not always in the deep water. Early in the day, late in the day and at night, they are going to be where the food is. The food is often in shallow water or even right on the bank.
When fishing small ponds, my tackle box is simple. I want to imitate whatever the bass are feeding on. Usually, this will be fry of some sort, bluegill being number one. In addition, I am going to have something to trigger a reaction strike-some sort of noisemaker. I like buzzbaits and almost always use either white, chartreuse or black.  I will have a frog of some sort. Most often it will be a Ripit frog or a Jitterbug if I am fishing at night. I will always have a fluke close at hand and a small selection of crankbaits like a ShadRap or some bluegill imitator. If I am going to fish deep, a jig is often my first choice.
On one small pond, years ago, Mickey Pope and I started fishing an hour before dawn and quit at sunup. We threw nothing but medium-size, black Jitterbugs and we cast them right up on the bank. It is one of the most memorable fishing trips I have ever had.  We kept 15-bass from just under a pound to just over four pounds (The limit then was 10-bass per person), and I have no idea how many we lost. The bass population needed thinning as is often the case on small ponds. Not a one was in over three feet of water and it was broiling hot.
I recall a day, down in Alabama, a hot day in the late days of turkey season, a young woman from Oklahoma borrowed a Zebco rod and reel and a bream colored ShadRap from me and went walking the pond bank at the lodge. On about the fifth cast, she hooked and caught the largest bass of her angling life. I figured it about seven pounds.
Another sweltering day, I was just fooling around in the late afternoon, throwing a fluke up in the weeds in the water at the edge of the pond. I was fishing from my Pond Hopper boat. I had instructions to try and catch three or four larger bass to grill for horses dee overs that night. I kept four in the 3-4-pound range. It was a fun 45-minutes before one of the common afternoon storms blew in.
Over the years, I have done a lot of fishing in small ponds. For many of them, were I to be asked what my favorite lure would be, I would have said a spinner bait. With the advent of newer and more realistic lures, I have had to change that opinion. I would be hard put to pick a favorite now. It would be between the fluke, the Ripit frog and a shallow running ShadRap.
For night fishing, no question, my first choice would still be the medium, black Jitterbug. Close behind would be a ¼-ounce black or purple hair jig with a rind trailer or a purple worm. Let me say this about night fishing on a pond.
You can do it either walking or from a small boat. By far, I prefer the boat, especially in snake country. But the main reason is, fish often feed on frogs or other creatures that live at the water’s edge and escape by either jumping into the water or swimming for deeper water. For that reason, I have found it more effective to cast in tight and retrieve outward, pausing as the creatures do, every so often. It is when these lures stop that strikes most often come. My favorite boat is the small, two-man Pond Hopper. It is super stable for a boat that small.
So even though it is still hot as two-dollar pistol, don’t overlook that small pond for some big bass action.
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