Most average anglers view fishing a farm pond or small impoundment as a piece of cake. The logic is: “There is not much water. How tough can it be?”
These average fishermen usually catch an average number of fish, of average size, from a pond.
Being able to “read” the habitat and conditions, and having the mobility of a boat, can greatly increase your chances to be better than average.
Let’s examine some points of fishing a pond from a boat and see if we can find something to improve your odds.
We should not let pond size influence our decision to use a boat. Obviously we will not want to put a 20-foot bass boat on two acres of water. But, twelve or fourteen-foot jon boats or a canoe or small, plastic two-man boats are perfect. These boats are small, light and easy to handle, even if you are alone.
On bigger ponds I like an electric trolling motor, too. On smaller ponds I prefer to paddle. Either way, be as slow and quiet as possible. It does not take much commotion to disturb the attitude of a pond.
The main advantage to fishing a pond from a boat is to be able to cast to places that are too difficult to reach from the shore. Also, fish tend to rest and feed in the shade from trees on the bank. These spots are sometimes hard to hit when trying a parallel bank casting method. A boat also allows you to find the deep spots for vertical jig-type fishing.
With a boat, you are able to approach structure from a much better vantage point. For example, a tree has been blown over and lies in the water. With a boat you can not only make parallel casts along both sides, but you can also fish the end of the tree, as well.
Chances are that the end of the tree is closer to deeper water than are the sides. Because of this, the end probably holds bigger fish than anywhere else, including inside the limb structure of the tree.
Points and fingers should be studied and approached in a similar fashion. Places like this are not impossible to fish from the shore, but are certainly more accessible from a boat, especially for panfishermen.
Often crappie and bluegill congregate in places that make casting a real challenge. A boat can literally put you right on top of these hideouts. If the structure is brushy, this can not only save you lots of fish, but lots of hook, too.
Boats are almost a must for very early or very late season pond fishing. During those times when fish seek deeper, warmer, more oxygenated water, bank fishing can be very frustrating. Finding an artificial bait that will stay in these deep strike zones long enough to be effective is difficult.
Because bank casting forces a crankbait or spinnerbait to run from deep water to shallow water, they actually run out of the strike zone very quickly. Conversely, from a boat the baits run into and stay in the strike zone longer, producing more strikes and more fish.
Many anglers come to farm ponds and small impoundments with only one thing in mind — catfish. The traditional mental image that usually comes to mind is a guy or couple of guys, squatting on the bank, with a half-dozen lines fanning out into the water like a huge spider web.
Boats can also be very handy for those who prefer chasing this species. The ability to cover more area and focus on high density feeding areas can really improve your odds of finding and staying with catfish.
Let’s look just a minute at the boat itself. There are a couple of very minor things that you can do to a small boat to improve its performance.
Keeping in mind how large a role noise plays on small bodies of water, sound-proofing your boat can make a huge difference. Carpet remnants on the floors and seats will muffle a lot of noise of movement and dropped objects.
A pair of needle-nose pliers hitting the floor of an aluminum boat will alert every fish for miles and usually aggravate an otherwise agreeable fishing partner. Also, avoid oversized tackle boxes in small boats. Put together a small box just for pond fishing. Most of us cast no more than three lures on any given trip. Why take dozens?
A few years back my son, Caleb, and I decided to make an after work run to a great little five-acre puddle in Adams County, Illinois. We used a 12-foot jon boat and an electric motor. This rig was ideal for this body of water because there are brush piles in the middle of the pond.
This cover not only holds lots of fish, but lots of lures, too. Most of them were donated by bank fishermen with poorly aimed casts.
We got on the water about 6:30 p.m. and headed straight for the structure. We decided to move in slowly and quietly, and fish the outer edge of the brush first. This plan would not have been possible without the small boat.
My white spinnerbait and Caleb’s chartreuse one hit the water at the same time. Caleb ran his down about four feet while I let mine go all the way to the bottom. I bumped every piece of brush I could feel.
This limb-bumping produced the first bass. Not a big fish, but it got me on the board, and helped begin to set the pattern.
After about 20 minutes and three more deep bass, Caleb began to let his bait work closer to the cover, as well. He soon caught up to me in number of bass and even plowed me under with a nice six-and-a-half pounder.
Because of the baits that we found to be productive on that day and the presentation that was so effective, we both decided we would have been severely handicapped without the boat.
Little boats on little bodies of water are not only handy, but make the trip a little more fun, too.
By Mike Roux