Finding Largemouth Bass In Farm Ponds
To be successful fly fishing for largemouth bass, you first have to find the bass. That
task gets as easy as it ever gets in ponds. By far the most ponds are farm ponds. The
fact that people could write off most of the cost of building a farm pond (creating
storage for the water necessary to feed cattle) caused an explosion in the numbers of
farm ponds nationwide a few decades ago and they are still being built this day in
time. I was born and raised in a little town in north Alabama that had many of them.
The county I lived in during my younger years had hundreds of them and they were all
stocked with bream and bass.
At about the age of ten, I discovered the joys of catching bass and bream on a fly rod.
My first one was a fiberglass model dad bought for me at our local hardware store -
Western Auto Store, to be specific. The only thing I can remember about any of my
early fly rods was the fact they were all firberglass rods that were quite heavy
compared to what's now available. They all were equipped with automatics fly reels
filled with level fly line. In case your not familiar, level fly line isn't tapered. The leaders
were level too, the best I can remember. I'm certain they were not tapered leaders. At
some point in those early years I learned to tie my own leaders and tapper them down
but the lines were all level fly lines. If there were tapered fly line available in those
years, the Western Auto store in my home town didn't have them. Casting a popping
bug on those outfits couldn't have been easy. Hum, I guess I better stop writing about
this or everyone will find out I'm old as dirt.
Prior to the time I was old enough to drive, my father or mother would drop me off at
one of the local ponds early on Saturday morning and if I got my way, they wouldn't
pick me up until near dark. I would have done the same thing every Sunday, but
mother made me go to church. I usually spent the afternoons doing the same thing. I
guess you could say I got a lot of experience early fishing farm ponds.
Although I cannot remember anything in detail, during the times I was unable to catch
many bass, I can remember what I considered the biggest challenge in doing that was.
I was constantly trying to figure out exactly where the most and bigger bass were
in the ponds. I didn't understand how water temperature affected the location of the
fish and other such things at the time, but it didn't take long to determine one big key
was finding the bass. Through trial and error, I quickly discovered the bass had a big
preference for hanging around the old stumps left in the ponds.
The ponds that were graded out clear of everything always had the smallest size
bass. Some were graded out completely clear of the stumps or maybe they were built
in old fields that were void of trees. My favorite ponds and the ones that had the most
fish always seemed to have the most stumps left in them. Of course, that created
what bass anglers call cover.
One pond I regularly fished had a few acres of tree tops and several large piles of
brush that wasn't cleared from its uppermost shallow water end. It was full of bass and
some of them weighted up to about eight pounds or more. Some of the local ponds
had grass beds along the banks and were full of bass but they always seemed to
have smaller size bass. Everyone fertilized the ponds.
I remember one pond in particular that had small trees growing from water in its
shallower end. Red-winged Black Birds would build nest in them and the birds would
act as if they were going to attack you when you waded close to the nest during the
times they had eggs or newly hatched babies in them. I waded right along with the
Cotton Mouth snakes that were plentiful so I could reach the trees. I waded in tennis
shoes and shorts. I can remember my legs turning blue from wading in cold water. I
had to wade that particular lake regardless of how cold it was. I always caught larger
size bass when I fished near the trees in that part of the lake. They were trees that
sprouted up from stumps left that were not completely submerged under water. In
order to be able to reach some of the best areas, I had to wade water that come up to
I could go on and on but the main number one thing you want to concentrate on
when fishing a farm pond for largemouth bass is to fish as close as possible
to cover. This will vary greatly depending on where the pond is located and how it
was built. There could be many other types of cover in the pond ranging from logs to
lily pads. Grass and weed beds are present in many farm ponds and if so, you can be
assured the bass will use it for cover. If there happens to be any sizeable rocks such
as rip-rap used to build the dam, they will use it for cover.
During cold weather or late Fall, Winter and early Spring, the bass will tend to stay in
deeper water, and it's usually the deepest the pond has to offer. During pre-spawn
times, a few days before they move in shallow and build beds, they will usually hold in
at least three to five feet of water on cover, if present. During the spawning season,
they will move to the shallow flats or areas in the shallow ends of the pond in water
usually ranging from one to three feet deep. During post spawn times they will move
back to the three to five foot depths (this greatly depends on the area of the country
the pond is in) and feed early and late in the shallower water.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
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