By Kevin Tate
Small lakes and ponds handy to home are a great way for kids to get access to fishing, and they can be excellent teaching instruments as well. The principles that work on big water also work on small, and the lessons can be taught again and again burning only shoe leather instead of gasoline.
The first step in fishing any new pond is making sure to give it the respect it and the fish deserve. Study it the same way you would a larger body of water. Locate the structure and get some idea of its depth at different places. A point that extends out into the lake that puts shallow water and deep water next to each other, any small creek that flows in or drainage structure that flows out, stumps, logs and shadow lines that fall upon the water are areas that will hold bass every day.
The fact that the fish are generally close is both the best and worse thing about pond fishing, because if you make a lot of noise you can spook enough fish in a short time to shut things down for the whole afternoon. As you move from spot to spot along the bank, do so in arcs rather than straight lines if possible, walking at least 40 feet away from the water’s edge then curving around to the next spot.
Walking straight down the bank from one spot to the next is almost certain to spook fish that otherwise might not have been disturbed. Needless to say, unnecessary disturbance of the water itself should be avoided too. A kid who plans to fish in the pond he just threw rocks into is going to have a bad time.
A handful of lures should be plenty for any small pond excursion. A pond that doesn’t have a running creek flowing into it and that isn’t receiving runoff from erosion should be clear far more often than not, so color choices should tend toward the subtle end of the spectrum. You’ll want to use shad-like colors: whites, light blues, pale pinks, pale blues, jigs with very little color to them, pale pearls or even clear, see-through baits with a little sparkle in them.
As with any water, lure choices are dictated by the fish’s depth and attitudes, but since ponds cut off a great deal of the variance found in big water, a handful of selections will do. A small spinnerbait, a topwater bait, two or three plastic worms and a shallow-running crankbait should be enough for any pond expedition. Whether or not to take along a stringer is the fisherman’s personal choice, though.