Last updated on January 28th, 2023
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Small ponds are often overlooked or simply get passed by on the way to major reservoirs and, as such, offer a greater chance of catching big bass. However, due to the nature of such a small ecosystem, they’re also often choked up with thick vegetation, allowing only a select few lures through unhindered.
Many anglers will avoid fishing for bass in a pond featuring these underwater jungles, colloquially known as “the salad”, and as such miss the big fish hiding just out of sight.
Don’t give up, though, because in this post I am going to discuss the baits and techniques I use, as well as give you a few handy bass pond fishing tips, to help you catch more fish through – and above – what might be considered any bait’s worst nightmare.
Topwater Lures Are Exciting and Deadly
The main method for picking apart a thick weed bed is throwing a topwater lure. Popular with professionals and everyday anglers alike, topwater is far and away the most exciting way to catch bass.
Topwater lures, such as poppers, buzzbaits, and stick baits, are designed to mimic the surface-dwelling insects and small fish that bass feed on. These lures are a great choice for pond bass since they can be worked fast to create a lot of surface disturbance, which can attract the attention of bass and trigger a strike.
They are especially effective lures for bass in ponds in the spring and early summer when they are aggressive and feeding aggressively.
When fishing for bass in ponds, it’s important to pay attention to the weather and water conditions. Bass are more active in warm water, so fishing on sunny days or during the warmest parts of the day can increase your chances of success. Additionally, bass are known to be more active during the early morning and late evening, when the sun is low on the horizon.
It’s also important to consider the size and depth of the pond. Smaller ponds may only have bass in the shallower areas, while larger ponds may have bass at various depths. You can use a depth finder or a sonar device to identify the depth of the water and locate areas where bass are likely to be found.
They can be fished around weed beds, lily pads, and other structures, or simply worked across open water.
For example, run a hollow-bodied frog over the forest enough times, and you’ll be rewarded with a brute display of force. Bass rush from the depths, breaking the water’s surface to attack your lure.
It’s important to experiment with different retrieves, such as a fast, jerky retrieve or a steady, slow retrieve, to see what works best.
Helpful Tip: Many newcomers make the understandable mistake, however, of setting the hook the moment they see the explosion of water and miss the hook set. Keep this in mind: to properly set the hook on a topwater fish, you have to give the fish a moment to return to the depths with your lure, where they will adjust it to fit in their mouths. A little patience here pays big dividends.
The Texas Rig – Perfect Heavy Cover Lure
Another extremely effective method is to fish a Texas-rigged soft plastic worm, an absolute staple of every discipline of bass fishing. Texas rigs are a great choice for fishing bass ponds.
When fishing with a Texas rig in a pond, it’s important to focus on the areas where bass are likely to be found. This could include weed beds, lily pads, logs, and other structures that provide cover and food for the fish. Also, pay attention to the depth, try different depths until you find where the fish are.
It can be worked slowly across the bottom and is perfect for probing in and around structure. Bass are ambush predators, and the Texas rig is the perfect lure to use when they are hiding near cover.
To rig a Texas rig, you will need a hook, a sinker, and a soft plastic bait. Start by threading the hook through the nose of the bait, then thread the hook point through the bait and out the side. Next, push the hook point back into the bait, leaving the point exposed. This creates a weedless rig that can be fished around cover without snagging.
Next, add a sinker to the line, about 6-12 inches above the hook. The sinker will help to keep the bait on the bottom, where the bass are likely to be feeding. It also helps to cast the rig farther and control the depth of the bait while retrieving.
You can present the bait with a slow and steady retrieve, or by dragging it along the bottom. By bouncing your rod tip slightly and “dragging” the worm, you can dart the lure in and out of the vegetation, causing reaction strikes from hungry largemouth in the area.
It’s also a good idea to experiment with different retrieves, such as a fast, jerky retrieve or a steady, slow retrieve, to see what works best.
Be wary, though, as once you hook into a fish, you have to drag them out. A stout bass rod and heavy line are a necessity to provide the leverage you need to land your catch. Weedless jigs also make a great choice.
Topped with a soft plastic crawfish imitation, these jigs are known to produce more catches and bigger fish than many other baits. The same retrieval method is used, simply add a few more hops, and a couple of pauses.
Helpful Tip: It’s important to keep in mind that every pond and every day is different, so it’s a good idea to have a variety of soft plastic baits and colors in different sizes and experiment with different rig setups until you find what works best for that particular pond and day.
Chatterbaits Provoke Big Strikes
Finally, the method that produced my personal record, you can use a bladed swim jig. Also known as vibe jigs, or chatterbaits, these are heavy jigs topped with a hexagonal blade that vibrates furiously as you cruise it through the water.
Chatterbaits make a lot of noise. This noise attracts the attention of fish, and the vibration of the blade makes the bait more lifelike. They are versatile and can be fished in a variety of ways, and they are effective at provoking strikes from big fish in both deep and shallow water.
The blade tends to push most snags free of the hook, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s entirely fool-proof, however. I’ve lost several valuable setups to pride and impatience.
Fish these along the edge of the weeds, or from clear water right into the thick of things. Cast the bait out and let it sink to the bottom. Then, slowly reel it in, making sure to keep the blade moving.
Keep in mind that when retrieving a chatterbait, it’s important to use a steady and consistent retrieve. The chattering sound and vibration created by the blade mimic the movement of a fleeing baitfish, which can trigger bass into striking aggressively.
Another way to use the chatterbait is to fish it with a stop-and-go retrieve, this will allow the bait to sink and then pop back up, simulating a fleeing baitfish.
I once had a bass strike my lure right after I popped it free from a snag. The sudden jerk of the lure, combined with the violent noise produced by the blade, caused it to attack out of sheer reaction.
Gear-wise, a rod with a fast action and a good backbone will help you to detect the bite and set the hook quickly. A 20lb+ line is also almost a necessity when bass fishing in weedy ponds.
Helpful Tip: I tend to use braided line when fishing this method. It is stronger than other types of line of equal diameter, has almost no stretch, and transmits what’s going on at the end of the line better, allowing for more solid hooksets.
Don’t Overlook Small Ponds for Big Results
Next time you’re driving through the country and see a murky green pool on the side of the road, don’t pass it right by. These ponds can be difficult to master, but consistently provide larger and healthier fish than their clear counterparts. Plus, they’re great for perfecting your techniques, as anything that can be done through weeds can be done through open water.
So, pull over, and give these little ponds some love! You may lose a few lures in the process, but you’ll gain skills and bragging rights that will transfer to any major reservoir in America.
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