Welcome to Small Pond Fishing!
Small pond fishing for me means the roots of my fishing experience. It is where it all started. If you are like me you spend most of your time traveling the highway with one eye on the road and the other eye looking out for anywhere you could possibly fish. It could be a small farm pond, or a golf course pond, or a small river or stream. Each has an appeal to us as die hard fishermen we simply can't resist. These small waters tease us and have us wondering what they might hold just below the surface - largemouth bass, catfish, sunfish as big as dinner plates - the possibilities seem endless. So even though you may be many miles from home and there is no possibility of returning, and even though don't have a fishing rod in your vehicle you still strain your neck to see that glimmer of water and imagine yourself casting a bait from shore.
Every once in a while you come across a small pond close to home that is prime for fishing. Usually it requires some form of permission from the landowner to gain access. The last thing you want to do is discover a sure thing hot-spot only to upset the landowner and never be able to fish it again, or even worse find yourself with a visit from local law enforcement with a charge of trespassing. More times than not a simple request with a promise of respect for their property and an assurance that you will follow their rules will result in access granted instead of access denied. Just make sure you follow through on those commitments and you may have discovered a place you can fish for a long time to come.
Now that you have access to this fishing wonderland your first step should be to study the pond and look for productive areas to fish. Most man-made impoundments, particularly farm ponds, were put there with a specific purpose in mind - to manage water and make it available as required for watering purposes, whether for livestock or crops.
The land adjacent to a farm pond will give you a pretty good idea of the bottom contours of the pond. Most man-made farm ponds will be somewhat oval in shape consisting of a deeper end where water damming occurs and a shallower end where the pond is fed. Usually the pond will be fed by some type of feeder stream, but in some instances they may be spring fed. But in either case the same basic bottom contour will be found.
Dependent upon the time of year, as well as time of day, you will find fish staging in different areas of the pond. But the same rules that apply to larger bodies of water don't always apply to smaller ones. Fish will have access to the full range of water depths during the course of a single day without moving very far and most farms ponds will not contain water depths greater than 8-10 feet. So therefore it is important to fish the entire range of structure, as well as water depths.
Typically water clarity is an issue as well. Without a continual flow of water you may find that clarity is limited and you will need to adjust your techniques and colors with this in mind.
I always begin my day with baits that allow me to cover a lot of water quickly to help identify any patterns that may exist. A spinnerbait is perfectly matched for this requirement. I also tend to size my baits down - instead of a larger spinnerbait I usually start with a smaller beetle spin style bait.
After the spinnerbait, I tend to move up the water column and go to the surface with topwater baits and then move down the water column with a small crankbait. Then, eventually finish the rotation with a plastic worm. I try to bring several rods and keep them all baited with lures that will allow me to cover each part of the water column so I can establish a pattern quickly. Since water clarity is an issue, I will swap out colors frequently within each family of bait styles.
If the pond has been fished before you will see telltale signs of locations to fish from if you are confined to the bank for your fishing. Begin your casts parallel to the shore and move in a fan like pattern from 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock. This will allow you to cover the most water quickly. Be certain to look for any sign of sunken cover that may be holding fish.
And keep in mind these small farm ponds will almost always hold small bream and sunfish that can make for a great day of fishing with small children. Just float a nightcrawler, cricket, grasshopper, or waxworm on a small hook under a bobber and watch those kids eyes light up when they catch the big one!
Just remember to seek permission, respect the landowners wishes, and study the contour of the land around the pond and you are guaranteed to have a good time. Oh, and while you are driving down the highway imagining yourself fishing at that little pond you just passed please remember to keep at least one eye on the road.
Southern Maryland Fishing
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