The cast was not perfect but I decided to fish it in anyway. The surface lure I was using was the perfect bait for this water on this particular evening.
I was fishing a 6-acre lake that is the water reservoir for a small central-Illinois community. I was in a small, plastic two-man bass boat with an electric trolling motor. Gas motors are not allowed here.
I had almost given up on the retrieve as the water around my lure exploded. The split second I set the hook my drag began singing and giving line. She bent my rod double and headed under the small boat.
I fought her to the top and she rolled trying to get rid of the hook. She was a huge silver mass writhing in the water.
She ran again and again I wrestled her to the surface. This time the net was waiting and a 10-pound, 2-ounce Illinois largemouth bass was mine. This is just one of dozens of huge bass I have taken from smaller bodies of water across the state.
There are also many places that have excellent fishing that have no possible way to get a boat on. Farm ponds come to mind first in this discussion.
Many high-quality ponds and small lakes have no boat access. Some of these ponds are too small for boats and others just do not offer a good place to slide in even a small Jon boat. And quite often, anglers just do not have access to a boat.
None of these conditions should constrict you from fishing these fantastically fun spots.
Finding such spots is not really that difficult. The old practice of knocking on landowner’s doors to get permission to fish is still a very relevant method of gaining access to prime spots.
Quite often farm ponds have catfish and bluegill in them as well as bass. The other species are usually the targets of the “family fishermen.” This leaves the bass unharrassed and ready to hit.
When you arrive at the pond of your choice, a quick but thorough survey should be made. This is especially true about a pond you have never fished before. Valuable knowledge can be attained, even before this survey, by talking with the owner of the pond.
While getting permission to fish, ask him about the pond. Find out the age of the pond. Also find out if it has been stocked. If so, when and with what species? Find out such things as depth, structure and the location of any man-made brush piles. Knowing these things can save you time… and lures.
Even if this pond is one of your regular fishin’ holes, many things can change since you were there last. Be aware of current water conditions. Check the water level. When was the last significant rainfall? Is the water color constant, or is one end murkier than the other? Has the aquatic vegetation changed? Are there more weeds, less weeds, new weeds? Has the structure changed? Has wind dropped a tree into the pond? Have muskrats erected a “home-dome” in your pond?
All of these changes can affect the way you fish a body of water. Be aware of the subtle changes and know how to benefit from them.
Of those mentioned, water color is maybe the most critical. Most ponds are fed by either run-off or a single, small feeder branch. After rains, these little creeks will flush not only dirt and silt into the pond, but food sources for fish, as well.
Be sure to fish the color break heavily. Find where the normal-colored pond water meets the cloudy, chocolate milk of the incoming run-off. Also be sure to fish this area from both banks. Fish will stage around this color change to feed.
After you finish your initial survey, start fishing the shady side first, if there is a shady side. Chances are, before you are finished, the sun’s movement will have created new shaded areas. Unless you are fishing heavy cover, stay in the shade as much as possible.