Pond Fishing Hacks | Find a Fishing Pond Near You & Catch Big Bass
By: Jacob Knight
Your next favorite fishing hole might be a lot closer than you realize. Odds are you won’t need a boat to access it and if you do, you don’t need to have four to five figures of electronics to fish it.
I frequently fish ponds before work, at lunchtime or on the way home from work because they are perfect if you’ve only got half to a full hour to fish.
The other great thing, ponds are plentiful. I am willing to bet that you have at least one within 10 miles of your house. Gaining access to ponds doesn’t have to be extremely difficult, but it can take some time if they are mostly on public property. It goes without saying that the first step in fishing ponds is making sure you get permission if it’s on private land. Some private ponds with “no fishing” signs can even be accessed if you’re polite and do a little cleanup while you’re there. Just ask!
We’re going to assume from here on that you’ve gotten private permission or have access to fish in a public pond. What’s next?
Pond Fishing Rod & Reel
It won’t take you long with a YouTube or Google search to find the top baits for ponds in any season, but before we get into lures we’ll address a few key components. Rod and reel selection can be a pretty personal thing with anglers, but if you need a starting point, just find something that is in good working order. I personally prefer a baitcasting setup, but that’s not for everyone and a spinning rod and reel have a less steep learning curve.
Figure out how much you have to spend and get the best rod and reel combo in that range. My recommendation is to start with a 6’6”-7” medium-heavy power, fast action rod. With storage and travel taken into account for your needs, a 1-piece or 2-piece rod will work. For the reel, there’s a little complication in how brands size their reels, but go with a 25 or 2500 and you’ll be in good shape.
Pond Fishing Line
I am going to make this fairly simple, braided line is not as inexpensive as monofilament lines, but you will get a much longer life and better performance out of it. Get a spool of 20lb test braid, a spool of 10lb test nylon monofilament line and a spool of 10lb test fluorocarbon line.
Why 3 different lines for pond fishing? With these 3 lines you can cover any scenario using the nylon and fluorocarbon as leaders coming off of the braided line. Each line type has it’s ideal purpose, so of course you will sacrifice here and there depending on how you use them. My rule of thumb is straight braid for topwater frogs, nylon monofilament for crankbaits and topwater poppers, then fluorocarbon for the rest. You’ll figure out what works well for you.
There are a ton of resources on knots and attaching this stuff to your reel, but start with a layer of nylon on the spool with an arbor knot, attach the braid with an Alberto knot and then use the Alberto again to attach your leader of choice.
Pond Fishing Lures & Tackle
This section could be and has been done as volumes, so we are going to cover this as quickly as possible. There are a lot of seasonality factors that go into selecting bass lures and you should do your research based on when you’re going to fish and the local bass forage in your area or pond. Color selections are extensive, so again base your picks on local forage. If you’re still unsure, green pumpkin and bluegill or bream colors. With just some staple lures you can cover a lot of bases and keep your tackle bag simplified, but versatile.
Hard baits: shallow squarebill crankbait, 6’ diving crankbait, suspending jerkbait, popper
Other: hollow-body frog, a couple 3/8oz. skirted jigs, a couple 1/2oz. skirted jigs, spinnerbait
Terminal & hooks: 3/0 EWG worm hooks, 1/8oz. bullet weights, weighted swimbait hook with screw lock, ned rig jigheads *BONUS wacky rig hook
Depending on the tackle storage boxes you have, this may all fit in one or two boxes allowing you to easily keep this in your vehicle. Toss the box in a backpack with a pair of pliers for removing hooks and the line spools for leaders. You’re set and not having to lug around a Mac Truck sized tackle box. GoWild sells the “Ditch Pickle Bass Bundle” and that will cover a lot of the things you’ll need that were mentioned in the list above.
Breaking Down the Water For Pond Fishing
One of the brilliant things about the internet is that you can do some of this work from your house before showing up to the pond. Use Google Maps to get an idea of access points, trees and cover around the edge of the pond, water fountains, creeks flowing in or out, docks, rip rap, dams, etc. One caveat to this is the time of year that the satellite image was taken and it may look different when you show up, but it can give you a jumpstart on your plan of attack.
If you remember nothing else from this portion of the article, do remember this, bass love cover. Cover comes in many forms, but it is the first thing you want to take note of when you get to the pond. Bass are typically the apex predator in ponds, so the danger they fear most is from above them, birds, dogs, goons with graphite rods and trucker hats; you need to think about this point in assessing all cover and structure of the pond.
Are there any laydowns or trees in the water?
Are there trees around the edge of the pond that create shade or hang over the water?
Do these trees maybe have root systems extending into the pond?
Is there a dock?
Grass mats and lily pads are another great source of cover for bass that tend to be near the bank and easy to cast to.
Another obvious type of structure from above water is a water fountain. Fountains oxygenate the water which improves overall water quality in the pond and can keep bass close. Depending on the type of fountain it may have a base that creates overhead structure or pipes and hoses running to it. One thing that can present problems with fountains is that they may be dead-center in the pond, putting them out of reach from shore if the pond is large enough. One more tip with fountains is to think about the water that is between you and the fountain where you plan to cast. Fish the water nearest to you before you go bombing a cast out over fish that may be closer and easily spooked.
Creek inlets or outlets and overflow pipes are another area that you will want to note. These places signify moving water that could be pushing food around and in the case of creeks, a depth change that is fantastic structure for bass that you can’t necessarily see above water. Any time there is a depth change or drop off, bass will use it to ambush prey or bolt to deeper water if they feel threatened.
Many ponds have some sort of dam and in most cases it’s probably an earthen dam. If the dam is supported or reinforced with rip rap, stay tuned since we will cover that next. Dams typically signify one of the deeper parts of the pond, giving bass another route to deep water when they need it. Dams will typically have a steeper incline as well, allowing the bass to move a shorter distance to get deeper.
Rip rap is large chunk rock that many ponds and lakes use as reinforcement for dams or banks. These rocks become great hiding places for crawfish, baitfish and bass fry. Since so many of the favorite food sources for bass use these rocks to hide, the bass follow for an easier meal. Something else to keep in mind with rip rap is that the rocks warm from the sun and retain their heat longer than the water itself. This can make the water around rip rap desirable for the bass as the seasons and temperatures change, so think about it, a warmer bass is a more active bass too.
Making Casts While Pond Fishing
I always start with the previously mentioned, most likely bass hideouts since you can pretty much be sure there is at least one fishing there and all you have to do is get them to bite. Before I ever do a blind cast into open water with unknown bottom structure I will hit these spots.
In the early mornings or evenings of summer, my first shot at these areas will be with a topwater frog since they are extremely high probability shots. Topwater bites are one of the most exciting parts of bass fishing and if the time of year is right, do this first.
Something else to remember is the tip mentioned above in the fountains portion, fish the water nearest to you first. I like to also cast parallel to the banks with topwater lures, since the bass will come in tight to the bank in low light times and you will fish the banks well this way.
My second approach is to fish more reaction baits next, crankbaits and jerkbaits. Shallow crankbaits like a squarebill work great around ponds. Again, you can work these parallel to the bank or cast them straight out and bring them back to the bank. Bass lurking just off the bank will smash a baitfish trying to get into the shallows. I use a lot of bluegill pattern crankbaits in this scenario unless the water is stained which has me reaching for chartreuse, bright crankbaits.
If the crankbaits aren’t working I will switch over to a spinnerbait and cover a lot of water, quickly. Spinnerbaits are great because they can be fished in open water by burning them at a shallow depth or working more strategically around cover and trees in the water. Spinnerbaits will get through woody cover well, so don’t be afraid to throw them around and through trees. You can retrieve them in a straight line or add a jigging motion, the fall will sometimes be when the bass hits it.
Another technique I will sometimes fit into this scenario is a soft plastic swimbait which also allows you to cover a lot of water, at various depths. A swimbait is a very easy new angler lure since bass will bite it even if it is just brought back to you on a straight retrieve. You can mix in some small jigging motions or speed changes to add more action to the bait. Think about what a baitfish would look like if it was fleeing attack or injured and try to mimic this motion.
If I’m not getting bites with these approaches, I slow things down and fish more methodically. The go-to baits here are the jig and beaver-style or creature bait trailer or the stick bait. Both the beaver or creature style bait and the stick bait can be Texas rigged, with or without a bullet weight, allowing more flexibility in techniques. Work these baits around all structure, jig them, swim them or let them sit with a periodic twitching to try to trigger strikes.
Taking things one step further, even slower, I will wacky rig a stick bait. I have used this technique around structure and even in open water to get a bite. The weightles, slow fall of a wacky-rigged stick bait seems to drive bass nuts and they can’t resist it. This technique is easy for even new bass anglers to pick up since you just let the bait fall a while or even to the bottom. Once it’s to the depth you want, lift the rod and repeat until you get it back to you. Be ready for the bass to hit it on the fall.
Are you ready? Find a pond, keep your tackle simple and go take the opportunity to cover a lot of water in a short period of time. It’s a unique opportunity that you won’t have on bigger bodies of water. Ponds can hold some very big bass, but more importantly they are plentiful and fun. Find a new pond to fish and take a friend with you.