Most fishing guides, and even casual conversations, tend to focus on fishing in huge, pristine lakes and all the high-quality bass hiding within their depths. There’s definitely a point to that. When you get in a boat, and you’re surrounded by crystal-clear water and beautiful landscapes, the whole experience is elevated.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of amazing experiences to be had in other common fishing spots such as ponds.
Ponds are some of the first spots most anglers dip their rod into, and while the vast waterways and lakes most people love to fish at are great, the simplicity and condensed nature of a good pond is nothing to write off.
Today, we’re going to go over some of the reasons why you should consider bass fishing in a pond, the tactical changes you need to make, and what to expect.
Let’s get started.
Why Go Pond Fishing?
If you live half an hour away from a pristine lake or a massive river, why bother to stop at one of the several ponds dotting the landscape around you? Well, there are quite a few reasons.
First, ponds are dotting the landscape all over the country. You likely have multiple viable fishing holes within a 5-minute drive from your house, but you might have quite the drive ahead of you to get to a lake or a river. So, there’s the convenience factor to consider.
However, it goes well beyond that, and there are several other benefits.
For starters, it’s practically an all-bank fishing experience. We’ll talk more about that later, but having to break away from the habit of relying on a boat helps build your skill set and your physical health.
Then, there’s the quality of the bass. If you can find the right pond with a low amount of pressure, you can end up with a constant big bass spot. Especially if you can find a pond that isn’t publicly fished.
Finally, there’s the simplicity of it. You don’t need to drive for an hour, find a boat ramp, launch, and then spend forever floating around looking for bass. You pull up to the spot, hop out of the car, and you’re fishing in seconds.
Finding the Right Pond to Fish
Pond fishing is a lot more varied than you might think. You'll find plenty of public ponds at parks, golf courses, the side of the road, and even on private farm property. You likely live very close to several even if you don’t notice them in your day-to-day life.
Not all of them are created equal, and choosing the right one is a little more difficult than just picking it based on location. A quiet farm pond can be barren, and even a high-pressure park pond can produce decent bass.
Here are some things to consider as a general rule of thumb. Just keep in mind that you’ll want to get an in-person experience with each pond to see if you find one that breaks the mold and performs better than it should.
Pressure is the term used to describe how many anglers use a spot in a short amount of time. Think about some of the famous piers where you can frequently see anglers standing shoulder-to-shoulder. That’s the most extreme example of a high-pressure fishing spot. In comparison, a small pond in the mountains with no signs of human life anywhere would be the best example of a low-pressure pond.
The most optimal situation is to get a pond that has some pressure, but it’s not constantly bombarded by other anglers. If there are too many fishermen, the fish tend to be few and far between. They’re usually a bit skittish, too. If there are no fishermen at the spot any time you look at it, it might be because the land is private, or it could be unpopulated. With that being said, if you get a truly amazing pond fishing opportunity in the middle of nowhere, you can completely ignore the lack of pressure. You likely found a gold mine of high-quality fish.
Pressure can also change from day to day and season to season, too. So, just because you scout out a pond and see a lot of action one day, don’t write it off entirely.
2: Consider the Legality of the Spot
One thing that doesn’t have much to do with the quality of the fishing experience to be had is the legality of fishing ponds.
At most public parks and recreation areas, you can fish ponds unless it’s otherwise posted. Even roadside ponds owned by the government are usually perfectly fine to fish at. However, many ponds that you might think are just out of the way pools of water are actually private property.
This is most commonly the situation when dealing with farm ponds, ponds in private communities even if they’re not gated, and ponds that are right next to industrial centers.
These can be great fishing spots with large fish due to the lack of pressure and sometimes stocking efforts, but you’ll need to speak to the owner of the land before you start fishing. Otherwise, you’ll likely have the police pull up and warn you to leave before more action needs to be taken.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. If you can build a good relationship with a landowner, you can get access to an awesome fishing spot where you don’t have to worry about anyone else jumping into the action. This is one way a pond can stand out against bigger, more impressive, waterways.
3: Look into the Stocking Habits
Realistically, we can’t all find a great farmer buddy and ask to use his pond. You’re a lot more likely to end up fishing at a public pond.
Don’t get discouraged.
Beyond scouting out the pressure situation at the pond, look into the municipality’s stocking habits. Even if a pond sees quite a bit of action, it might be more than worth fishing at because the municipality keeps a healthy supply of game fish available year-round.
If a public pond is well stocked, or has a reputation for naturally maintaining its population and species diversity, it’s probably a good one to fish.
Differences Between Pond Fishing and Lake Fishing
When you’re fishing a pond, some big differences will force you to change your approach if you’re used to fishing lakes and other fisheries.
1: Walk the Banks
Unless you use a small pedal boat, you’re not going to actually get on the water, and there’s not much reason to use a pedal boat, either. Even when you’re fishing a relatively large pond, you should be able to cast more than halfway across it without any problems. You can hit every spot, and maneuvering around the pond won’t take much time at all on foot.
This is a good thing. You’ll have a more active experience, and you’ll get away from your boat. It also makes you change up your strategy a bit.
This also leads to our second difference of note.
2: You Want to Pack Light
When you’re riding a boat around a lake, you can carry a massive amount of tackle without any consequences. You can pack several rods, and tackle boxes you could fit a whole golden retriever in, and still have room for a big cooler with all your drinks and snacks.
You can’t do that on foot. You’re going to have to pack lightly.
That doesn’t mean you have to go underequipped, though. We recommend buying a backpack. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or massive. Just a standard hiking bag or anything else and start sorting out your most crucial fishing gear into its compartments. If you get creative with zip ties or velcro straps, you can even set up your new rig to hold your rod for an all-in-one portable fishing system.
Using the backpack system will let you pack the essential fishing gear, and you’ll still be able to maneuver around the pond throughout the day.
3: Learning to Spot Target Areas
In a lake, there's usually tons of debris around the bank from overhanging trees breaking and falling into the water, drop-offs in the lake bottom, and of course, man-made structures that fish tend to gather around. It’s usually easy to find good spots to cast at when you’re fishing in a lake or reservoir.
However, in a pond, you don’t get as much of that stuff. Unless there are trees and debris around the bank, a pond is just a big mud hole filled with water. This means that figuring out where the fish are can be a little more difficult. Luckily, it’s a much smaller area. So, it won’t take long even if you’re casting all over the place.
Strategies for Pond Fishing
If you know the basics of bass fishing, such as using bass fishing lures, casting properly, fishing from a shoreline, or from a boat, you don’t need to learn anything new. Just because the body of water is smaller and isolated doesn’t mean that everything changes. The main strategic changes are fairly minor.
Let’s take a look.
1: Look for Obvious Structures
Obvious structures should be your first targets. While a lot of ponds are just holes with water in them, plenty have stumps, downed trees along the bank, or even old, decaying, farm equipment in them. If you can spot structures like those things, start casting past them and looking for bass. Those are likely to be the best spots.
Other than that, weeds, the parts of the bank right beneath fruit-bearing and insect-dropping trees, and areas with foliage are going to be your best bet.
2: Sweep the Pond
If obvious structures aren’t getting you any bites, or there are none to cast at, sweeping is your best bet. Sweeping is where you stand in one spot, cast far out to one area, reel it in, and then keep casting like that in an arc until you get a bite or have to move.
Depending on the size of the pond, you might not have to move much. We’ll assume you’re at a decent-sized pond, though.
Once you’ve completed an arc, walk 20 to 50 feet to your left or right, and start casting in an arc again.
Eventually, you’ll have covered the entire pond, you will most likely have gotten a bite before completing a trip around the pond.
This won’t take long. When you’re fishing in this manner, you are more or less moving the entire time. The only time you should be standing in one spot and casting over and over again is if you’re getting bites in a particular spot.
3: Consider Pond Hopping
One cool thing about ponds being so much more common than lakes and reservoirs is that, if you take the time to map out the ponds in your area, you can usually fit several of them into a single fishing trip.
For example, let’s say you go to the pond closest to your house, and after sweeping the entire pond, you still catch nothing. You’re not getting bites, and there is no activity. Hop in the car and drive to the next closest pond.
If you have multiple ponds within short distances of one another, this can greatly enhance your chances of catching something. You’re not just switching which part of the water you’re fishing on. You’re going to an entirely new fishery in a matter of minutes.
4: Learn to Land Bass in Awkward Positions
When you fish from a boat, it’s usually not too difficult to land a fish. Especially once you’ve done it a few times. Since you’re in open water, you just lift the fish out.
When you’re fishing from a bank and catch a big fish, it’s a little more complicated. You have to worry about the bank being rocky or muddy and messing with your stance, you have to start lifting your rod sooner to prevent dragging the bass all over the rocks, and in general, there are quite a few chances for the bass to simply hop off your line.
This isn’t too difficult, and if you’re an experienced angler, you shouldn’t lose many bass at all. Just make sure you account for the bank when you release the fish. It’s not like sailing around on a lake where you can drop it off the side of a boat.
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