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Small ponds can offer big catches

April 11, 2004|by Bill Anderson

It happens nearly every spring: A reader calls or e-mails with a report of an outstanding bass taken during the pre-spawn period, which we are in now. If the fish is a really big largemouth bass, the odds are very high that it was taken from a farm pond.

Pond fishing for bass is good throughout the season, but most fishermen like it best in the early spring before the pond weeds get thick and when the bass are first turning on after the cold water temperatures of late fall and winter.

Many bass anglers think that pond fishing is for rookies and kids, but I know a few vets who have learned that if you use the latest tackle and techniques you can catch some of the biggest bass of your career from ponds.

Generally speaking, only a small percentage of the ponds in a given area are good fishing holes. If left unmanaged, ponds can silt up or the aquatic vegetation takes over. To have a good bass fishery, you need good water conditions and a good balance between the prey species - usually bluegills - and the predator species - usually bass and channel catfish.

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Many ponds feature a large and stunted bluegill population. When left unchecked, the bluegills become stunted as a result of too many fish competing for a limited amount of food. Ponds can also have too many bass, and the result is small and stunted bass. The best ponds have fewer bass and a healthy prey species population. This will result in healthy bass with a good average size.

Most successful pond fishermen I've met use the same tackle and lures that work on large lakes and rivers. Some traditional favorites are plastic worms, spinnerbaits and topwater lures. The plastics are very good in the spring. Lures included in the plastic category are worms, lizards and tubes lures. The basic "Texas-Rig" is probably the best overall presentation.

Since most ponds are on private property, one of the first steps is getting permission. Many farmers will give you permission if you explain that you are willing to release most, or even all, of the bass you catch. You might also offer to take out a number of the bluegills if it appears that the bluegills are stunted from overpopulation.




Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-mail. He can be reached by e-mail at bandersn@weekend-sportsman.com

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