Part Thirty-five

Pond~ering

By Ron Griffith


When most people use the word pondering, they mean that they're thinking about something. Well, when I use the word pondering, I'm usually thinking about something, too. Usually I'm thinking about fishing. Fishing ponds, to be exact. There is a wealth of ponds in my part of the country, some on private property, some on public lands, some natural, some manmade. Some were made as a byproduct of another enterprise, such as a rock quarry. Some are formed when a river or stream overflows. I include old oxbow lakes in my definition of ponds, although some folks don't.

Ponds are often my salvation during the early spring, because of the fact that they warm up more quickly than streams or lakes, and the fish start biting weeks earlier than in lakes or streams. This area usually has a brief warm spell during February or early March, and given three days of sunshine during this period, I can usually catch my largest bass of the year.

Look for a pond with the tailout, or shallow end, on the north side. Given the angle of the sun at this time of year, the north end receives more sunlight and warms quicker. Being shallow, it usually warms a lot quicker. On the third day of a warm spell, probably 95% of the fish in the pond will be congregated in the shallows on the north end. And they will be hungry!

One pond that I have fished often for the past 15 years has a cut on the north side where the bulldozer moved in and out of the pond as it worked. During these brief warm days, every bass in the pond will move into this cut. It makes for some fantastic fishing! At this time of year the fish are not particular, if the fly resembles something edible, it gets eaten!

On another positive note, ponds are often overlooked by the mainstream of anglers. One pond inside city limits, on city property, has yielded several bass in the 6 to 8 pound range in the past few years. This pond is no more than an acre in size, and sits directly beside a busy city street. The street department even keeps the bank mowed on one side. I've seldom seen anyone else fishing it. However, when I do catch a nice fish, I keep it hidden! When catching small bluegills, I make a great production of unhooking them! I'd hate for one of the local bass fishermen to see me take one of those 7 or 8 pounders out of the water!

Farm Pond

Some of the ponds I fish are probably unknown to anyone except the owners. Far from the nearest road, hidden in a fold of land, or tucked away behind a hill, they can only be seen if you stumble across them, or fly over them. These are some of my most prized waters. I can always depend on finding peace and quiet on these ponds, and they are where I go when I need to recharge my batteries. The local streams and lakes all offer good fishing, but sometimes offer more companionship than I want.

Ponds also offer some unexpected catches. I was fishing during an early spring day on a small pond when something charged my deer hair bass bug from a distance of at least 50 feet. I would not have thought the little bug was even visible from that distance, but the fish slammed it with murder on it's mind! After quite a battle on the little 5 wt., I landed a seven-pound buffalo. These fish are normally bottom feeders. I still don't know why it killed that little deer hair bug.

The only fish that has ever ruined a reel for me came from a pond. It was a 12 pound channel cat caught on the same little 5 wt. I was using a homemade shooting head with flat mono running line. The fish's first run took more than 100 yards of running line. As I pumped the fish back, and it made several shorter runs, the stretch in the mono running line spread the spool of my reel until it split. Luckily, the fish was exhausted by this time, and I was able to slide it up into shallow water. The reel was retired. I no longer use mono for running line or backing. I will always spool up something with little or no stretch.

Fish are often found in ponds when they aren't supposed to be there. It's usually assumed that smallmouths, spotted bass and walleyes cannot survive in ponds in this area, because of the high water temperatures during the summer. I can show you ponds that have good populations of each of these species, with some large fish present. This would indicate to me that the fish have been present and doing well for quite some time.

When ponds are fished heavily, usually only one or two species are targeted. If a pond is fished for crappies, the bluegills are often ignored. If catfish are the usual quarry, try the bass. The quality of fishing right around the corner from your home can be amazing. I can be fishing for several species less than ten minutes form my door. Hmmmmm, maybe this explains why I don't consider myself a trout fisherman, I have to drive about 45 minutes to fish for those ~ Ron Griffith

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