Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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The pond-hopper

The author with a largemouth bass he caught while pond fishing. (Photo provided)

By Steve Sarley

Contributing Writer

My recent talk about pond fishing has gotten me totally   fired up to do more of it. I’m turning into a regular “pond-hopper” for 2021!

I am so tired of hearing from people who whine about there not being enough places to fish. I drive around northern Illinois an awful lot, especially in the Chicago suburbs. I keep a notepad and pen at the ready to jot down locations of new water that I see and intend to try in the future. Guess what? I can’t remember the last time I saw some new water that piqued my curiosity and also had someone fishing on it. 

I’ve told you that all you need to do is to ask permission and you may find yourself enjoying some fantastic fishing. 

Many people ask me how to tell if a retention pond holds fish. The only way to determine that is to give it a try. You’ll need a good pair of polarized glasses to look deeply into the water and you will need to spend some effort into looking and scouting and not just trying to catch fish.

Approach a pond slowly and as stealthily as possible. Focus on the water close to the shoreline and watch for telltale signs of fish. They can feel the vibrations of your feet tromping on the shoreline, and when they do, they’ll swim away. They’ll come back, but most importantly, you’ll know that fish live there. 

I find that bass and bluegills are the most easily seen fish, besides carp, of course. The again, those two species are the most common residents of industrial park and residential ponds, anyway.

Because you don’t see fish does not mean that there are no fish on the pond. If I am not sure whether or not a pond holds fish, I’ll tie on a “confidence lure” to my line and start making casts to logical targeted locations. By confidence lure. I mean a lure that I would turn to if I needed to catch a fish to eat or else starve, you know what I mean, I am sure.

On local ponds, I’d probably use a small white spinnerbait or a black No. 2 Mepp’s spinner. I’m not trying to catch a trophy in this situation. I am only attempting to get a fish to be attracted to what’s on the end of my line and pay some attention to it. If I get a bite or feel a hit or a knock, that is my invitation to switch to something more substantial to catch something better or a little bigger.

Not all ponds have fish and some may just not have the kind of fish you’d like to catch. I have a beautiful pond that is walking distance from my home. It looks like the perfect place to cast for quality bass action. I went there a half-dozen times and probably spent far too much time casting my favorite bass lures with no luck at all. I was stubborn and determined to prove the pond had fish because it was just so darned convenient for me to go there. 

Try as I might, I never caught a single fish. On my last time there, I ran into an older gentleman who had some trouble with the English language. After much effort, I was able to learn that the pond held nothing but common carp. 

As I write this, I have just gotten back from walking the banks of a pond with my son, Dan. It is visible from a couple of heavily traveled roads and is certainly no secret. Dan kicked my butt in the numbers department but I got the big fish of the day, a beauty that measured a tad over 19 inches. It took us about two hours to get our fill of catching quality bass. The cost was no more than about twenty-five cents worth of gas to drive there. 

No place to fish? BS, I say.

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