They hardly ever require a boat, saving you from added bulk and accessories. Alternatively, they don’t require miles of walking up and down the bank or shore, something a kid especially appreciates.
Many are stocked with fish, particularly the kind that can proliferate a pond and make the catching quite easy. This is another trait that attracts children on their first time out.
Still, you should know the basics of pond fishing before just ambling up to one and throwing your line in it.
Locations of Ponds
My first pond fishing experience occurred when I was 10 or 11 on farmland my aunt and uncle owned in Arkansas. My little brother and I tipped No. 8 hooks with bacon—as instructed by our uncle—and amazingly proceeded to catch bream (a type of sunfish of the spiny ray family) on just about every cast.
Of course, because our relatives owned the pond, we were allowed to fish there. Many of these manmade ponds, stocked with spiny rays or trout, speckle the privately owned landscape.
If a particular pond tickles your casting finger, make sure it is not on private property. If it is, ask permission to fish on it. Many landowners enjoy seeing a dad or mom teaching their kid to fish.
Some natural ponds are found in the form of impoundments from a large reservoir (a dammed river). They may also be created by underground water sources originating in a larger lake nearby.
Some, usually titled tarns, exist high in the mountains and exist from glacial melt. Most of the time, naturally developed ponds can be found on public lands and offer species found in their larger sources of water.
If fishing a pond near livestock or crops, be aware of the deleteriously toxic effects fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides can wrought. Try to find out if the pond of your choice is safe for you and the fish you eat from it.
The Fishing Regs Still Apply
Even if fishing a privately owned pond, you must obey fishing regulations or risk a fine. All the limits on fish—whether regarding size or number caught—still apply. Restrictions on types of gear used also apply.
Ponds and Weeds Go Together like Toast and Jam
The most common characteristic of a pond comes down to one of the most challenging obstacles, yet one of the greatest fish habitats when the pond is not suffocated by them: weeds.
Weed beds often stretch from one bank to the opposite bank in small ponds. When too many weeds flourish, they deprive the fish of critical oxygen, requiring rehabilitation of the pond and restocking of fish.
When weeds are not smothering a pond and its fish, find those pockets and surface areas clear of weeds when casting.
If the weeds are just below the surface and its finned inhabitants include bass, try casting surface plugs (e.g., Rapala minnows, inflated plastic worms, flies imitating frogs or other amphibians).
When enough clear water exists in a pond, the use of bait (e.g., worms, hoppers, eggs, minnows when state regulations allow, waterdogs, and other amphibians) is the simplest and often most effective.
Bait proves ideal for kids because they can simply cast to the target area and let the line sit while waiting for a nibble. Little skill is involved.
Ponds of Rock and Mud
Many natural ponds host mostly mud and rocks along their banks and their bottoms. Such is the case with high-altitude ponds and those consisting of water flushed from a large lake or reservoir. Depending on the climate of the region, they can also host enough weeds to create snag hazards.
The fish in these types of ponds respond well to eggs, worms and other terrestrials you can find on the pond’s perimeters. Jig heads fashioned with feathers, plastic grubs and worms, spinner baits and small spoons also attract strikes in these types of ponds.
Like weedbeds offer protection to fish in ponds found on farmland, rocks and large woody structures provide protection in naturally occurring ponds along large rivers, reservoirs or lakes.
Target your bait or lure near those structures that offer refuge to the species you seek. If you can locate the source of the water feeding the pond, try fishing near that inlet. Much food favorable to your gamefish probably flushes through the mouth of said source.
Find a Place to Sit
Pond fishing more often involves still-fishing than casting and constantly reeling in your line, especially if kids are involved. Bring along a fold-out chair/stool or two. Otherwise find a rock or log on which to patiently sit and wait for a bite.
A portable seat with pockets to store tackle proves especially handy, whether you are casting a lot or just still-fishing. A built-in ice pouch to keep bait fresh or your catch cool also helps.
Keep Your Pond Fishing Gear Simple
One of the best advantages to pond fishing involves your gear. You can use a cane pole, a basic spinning rod and reel or a short kid’s rod with a closed face reel, such as the ones offered by Zebco and Shakespeare as starters for little anglers.
Barbed or barbless hooks in sizes 6-10 will usually do the trick. Sliding sinkers that allow the fish least resistance when biting bait often produce higher catch numbers.
If weeds blanket the bottom of a pond, attach a marshmallow or other buoyant device (many foam-like gadgets exist at sporting goods stores) just above the hook. Your bait will therefore float just above the snag line created by weeds and just off a mucky bottom.
Ultimately, pond fishing is all about simplicity. Don’t make it an expedition, especially if you are bringing your young ones along. The easier you make it for your kids, the more likely they will adopt the sport and the stewardship of its habitats.