4 Fundamental Steps to Becoming a Better Pond Angler
June 25, 2015
Ponds are no secret to the millions of fisherman out there. I first got hooked on bass fishing at a young age when I was introduced to a neighborhood pond in the back of my subdivision.
Since the day I hooked into my first largemouth over 5 pounds, I knew I wanted to continue fishing them all my life and figure out how to be the best I could at it.
Is there one secret way to catching bass out of a pond every time? No, but with over 10 years of experience I have gained some valuable tips that could help any novice angler be more successful.
Read What's Given
Each pond is unique in its own way. Some offer great timber cover that looks like it would hold a ten on each limb, while others have nothing more than some overhanging branches.
By simply scoping out the pond before ever making a cast you will be well on your way to becoming a more successful pond fisherman. Examining the pond and targeting the key percentage spots first will let you eliminate a bunch of unproductive water, which will put you on more fish.
Before I even make a cast when arriving at a new pond, I survey the whole area and evaluate what it has to offer me. I look at what cover is available to fish around.
As fisherman, we naturally will go fish something we can see first so I look for standing or sunken logs that are sticking out since those will usually hold a fish or two.
Next, and this isn't done in any particular order, look to see if there are any weed lines or gravel banks because pond bass will gravitate to these types of available structure. If the pond has any type of green muck or weed growth on top, fishing on, under and through it will sometimes net the biggest bass from a pond. Big bass like to hide in the nastiest places, so always think like a fish and you will catch more!
Bass move towards the warmest water they can find in the early parts of the year. This also holds true during other times of the year.
A helpful tip to keep in mind is that the north-facing bank will get the most sunlight throughout the day, so start there. I have caught some monster bass by fishing weeks after ice out on north banks.
Stick the bite out. The weather is at it's worst early in the year, which means the bite will be VERY slow. But most of the bites you do get will be huge.
By sticking it out on the north bank early in the year, you will dramatically increase your chances at a trophy size fish.
Fish The Season
Understanding how bass act in different seasons and what they are doing at certain times of the year is vitally important.
In the early spring, bass in ponds will begin their pre-spawn migration routes earlier than their cousins in lakes because ponds warm up quicker than lakes. Bass in ponds will be sluggish until water temps rise in the mid 50's. Once water warms to this point, begin fishing your jigs and jerk bait type baits.
These baits appeal to bass — big ones — in the early parts of the year because they don't have to chase them far. Once summer arrives, look for bass around shallow cover early in the mornings and late evening.
Summer is the perfect time of the year to try topwater baits in the morning and evening. Try experimenting with different baits under different conditions.
Start shallow in the mornings since some bass will still be feeding there from nighttime.
Summer is also a great time to fish for bass at night. A lot of folks don't realize bass bite more at night during summer hours. In fact, some of my biggest bass have been taken on topwater baits during the late hours of the night. Carry a flashlight, camera (with a flash), and backpack with a couple of baits and soft plastics to keep things simple.
You only need a couple baits for night fishing to have a good time. Worms, jigs and topwaters all produce well in ponds at night. Try to wait out the night bite until early morning if you can. Oftentimes you will get that "big" one later in the night leading into the morning hours.
If shad are prevalent in your pond, they will be your best friends during the fall months. Bass are keying in on shad heavily during the fall months and will be chasing them into the backs of pockets or along creek channels if they are in your pond.
Look for surface activity when you walk down to the pond during the fall months. I have found the fall months are a great time to fish ponds. The bass are feeding up for winter and are feeding heavily.
If you see bass busting shad, don't hesitate to get your bait in there quickly. The bass may only be hitting them for a few seconds; so the faster you can get your bait in the commotion, the better.
Try using top water baits and shad-type baits such as crankbaits, rattletraps and soft-plastic jerkbaits like ZOOM flukes during fall months.
I've had great success with buzzbaits in the fall on ponds, too. Cast them around any type of cover early in the mornings and evenings. If you encounter overcast conditions with a little chop on the water, don't hesitate to throw one all day long. Shad color schemes and black colors tend to produce the best results.
This is highly important to keep in mind, and I see a lot of people who don't. As we trample on down to our favorite pond, our feet are sending vibrations down through the ground into the water, which the fish can feel.
Always try and walk down to the pond as quietly as you can without making much commotion. A lot of the times bass in ponds will be right up on the bank so do your best to stay quiet by not running down to the pond and scaring all the bass away.
Another thing I have started doing more — and I think it helps a lot when I get on clearer ponds — is wear darker colors. I like wearing neutrals such as browns, grays and blacks, as well as cool colors like green and blue to help disguise my appearance above the water.
Bass are almost always looking up towards the surface and if you can see them, they can certainly see you. There have been many times when I was working on a fish and I'm almost positive she wouldn't bite because she was aware of my presence.
Remember, pond fishing is suppose to be fun and enjoyable, not a B.A.S.S. Federation tournament. But if you also want to be successful, consistently put in a lot of time and dedication.
By applying these tips to your fishing habits, I know you will land not only more bass, but bigger bass the next time you are out fishing.
Until next time, tight lines.
Bob Crupi- 4 lb line
Christmas came three days late for Robert Crupi in 1990. On the morning of December 28, 1990, Crupi was fishing his usual spots on Castaic Lake, working a crippled herring jig in about 40 feet of water after marking some fish on his electric paper graph (an old school sounder).
After catching several crappie and smallmouth bass, Crupi dropped the jig down again, but this time he hooked something big. The fish effortlessly stripped the 4-pound monofilament off his reel, and stayed deep for approximately 15 minutes.
Finally, the fish surfaced about 50 yards from the boat and Crupi realized what he had been fighting. Fishing alone, Crupi managed to net and land the fish by himself, which became his second world record, this time in the men's 4-pound line class category.
Bob Crupi- 12 lb line
While George Perry's name is revered and envied among bass anglers, and rightfully so, there is one angler whose name deserves equal respect and recognition — Robert Crupi.
Most bass anglers dream of a chance at catching just one world record in their lifetime, Crupi has four to his name. Not to mention that three of those records were caught in just a year's time! Not a bad year at all.
Crupi's first world record largemouth would be the fish of a lifetime for any other angler — a 21-pound lunker that he pulled from the renowned Castaic Lake in Southern California on March 9, 1990.
Crupi, now a retired LA policeman, has been a regular on Lake Castaic since 1977.
In fact, Crupi fished the same spot in the lake for five days prior to landing this fish, which he coerced with a live crawdad he was fishing in 36- to 40-feet of water.
Although he had caught several large fish in his life, Crupi had never seen one this big. The fish was successfully landed, weighed-in, and shortly after became the men's 12-pound line class record.
At the time, this was the third heaviest largemouth ever recorded by the IGFA. And Crupi was just getting started.
A couple months later — and almost exactly a year after landing his first world record largemouth — Crupi was back on Castaic Lake the morning of March 12, 1991.
This time he pulled an incredible 22-pound lunker from the lake using a live crawdad and utilizing the same technique he had employed for the record fish he caught the year before.
Crupi only needed three minutes to land the fish, which he netted himself as he was again fishing alone. Immediately knowing he had something special, Crupi put the fish in his livewell and raced back to the docks, later to be weighed in at a nearby deli & liquor store on a certified scale.
Noticing that the fish was a spawning female and full of eggs, Crupi returned the fish to the livewell after it was officially weighed in, and eventually released the fish at the same spot he pulled it from the water earlier that morning.
This catch earned Crupi the men's 16-pound line class record, and once again, the third heaviest bass ever recorded by the IGFA to this day.
Fourteen-year-old Cody Pierce's Junior Angler world record largemouth, a 17-pound trophy, is a perfect example of the importance of the 'œlast cast'.
On the morning of March 22, 2000, Cody skate-boarded down to the nearby Murray Reservoir outside of San Diego, to sneak in some fishing before heading off to school.
After catching several smaller bass and about to call it a day, Cody made his 'œlast cast' from the shore line and immediately got a bite, but couldn't stay connected. Realizing that his rubber worm had been cut in half, he quickly put a fresh lure on and re-cast to the same location.
This time, Cody hooked up and stayed connected to his 17-pound fish which he weighed in at the nearby ranger station, with the help of some older anglers fishing nearby.
Even more impressive is that Cody made the decision to release the fish alive so it could make even more bass for people to catch in the future.
Angler Larry Kurosaki caught a 16-pound, 12-ounce lunker while fishing Castaic Lagoon on the morning of February 26, 2009.
While a largemouth of this size is certainly noteworthy, the impressive fact about Kurosaki's record is that it was caught on fly tackle.
In fact, Kurosaki's 16-pound, 12-ounce fish is the largest fly caught largemouth ever recorded by the IGFA. Kurosaki coerced the fish to bite a custom tied minnow fly, and skillfully played the fish for five minutes before he landed what would become the men's 8-pound tippet class record.
Kurosaki was prepared with a portable certified scale, and quickly weighed and documented the fish on shore, before he released it alive.
Although the majority of the current world record largemouth bass have come from southern California, Florida is still one of the best places in the US to target trophy largemouth bass.
Places like Lake Okeechobee and Lake Toho are known by bass anglers everywhere, but the largemouth potential in Florida is not limited to these famous haunts.
Any freshwater body of water in Florida has the potential of producing quality bass, due to the climate and the strain of largemouth found in the state.
In fact, Mackenzie Hickox caught her 15-pound, 12-ounce female Junior angler record from the shoreline of a man-made pond, not far from her house in Daytona Beach. Hickox, just 11-years-old at the time, was fishing a Strobe Spinner on May 8, 2006 with her parents, sister and a friend when she hooked into the massive bass.
Once landed, the fish was measured and weighed on a portable scale, which read an incredible 16 pounds. The fish was then released alive to grow even bigger.
When Raymond Easley caught his historic 21-pound, 3-ounce largemouth on March 4 1980, it was the largest bass anyone had recorded since George Perry's All-Tackle monster in 1932.
On that morning, Easley was fishing Lake Casitas, California with a few buddies who were inexperienced anglers. While demonstrating how to properly fish a live crawfish in the relatively deep water, Easley's bait got crushed and he came tight on the fish of a lifetime.
After a quick fight, Easley had the fish weighed in on a certified scale not far from the lake. Shortly after, the catch became the men's 8-pound line class world record — a record that still stands today.
At the time of the catch, Easley's fish was the second heaviest largemouth ever recorded, trailing only Perry's All-Tackle record.
The catch sent shockwaves through the angling community and renewed the hopes of anglers everywhere about having a chance at catching the next world record largemouth, especially anglers in southern California.
However, GeorgePerry's sole ownership of this most prestigious record came to an end on July 2, 2009 when Japanese angler Manabu Kurita pulled his own 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth from Lake Biwa in central Japan, after it ate a live bluegill
that he had on for bait.
Although it occurred halfway around the world from where Perry's fish was landed, news of the historic catch spread like wildfire through the angling world. And as word spread, so did the doubts.
After all, landing a fish that millions of anglers had pursued for nearly a century is not something to be taken lightly. As such, every detail of the catch and its submission was done under a microscope.
The IGFA and Japanese Game Fishing Association
(JGFA) even went as far as to administer a polygraph test on Kurita to ensure the catch and submission was done by IGFA rules.
After months of rigorously reviewing the application, the IGFA granted Manabu Kurita his share of the 'œholy grail' — a tie for the coveted All-Tackle largemouth bass world record with George Perry.
The All-Tackle record for largemouth bass is the most sought after game fish record in the world. It is the 'œholy grail' of fishing records.
George Perry has held this prestigious title for nearly 83 years, since he pulled his massive 22-pound, 4-ounce fish from Montgomery Lake, Georgia
on June 2, 1932.
Perry, a 20-year-old farmer at the time, decided to go fishing with longtime friend Jack Page. The two were taking turns with a single rod and reel, casting a Creek Chub
Fintail Shiner from the wooden Jon boat Perry had built.
An interview from 1973 recorded Perry saying, 'œI thought I had hooked a log, but then the log started moving.'
After skillfully playing the fish out of a half-submerged treetop, Perry finally boated the fish which was bigger than anything he or Page had ever seen.
The two immediately beached the boat and headed for town. Later that day, the fish officially weighed in at 22 pounds, 4 ounces and soon after became the new benchmark for record chasing anglers around the world.
Seventy-seven years would pass before a fish comparable to Perry's monster would be caught, but it has still yet to be surpassed.
Robert Crupi isn't the only angler that has capitalized on the incredible largemouth fishery of California's famed Castaic Lake.
In fact, Dan Kadota pulled his 19-pound monster from Castaic a year before Crupi began his stretch of incredible record catches. On the chilly morning of January 8, 1989, Kadota struck out early with hopes of catching big largemouth. And he was not disappointed.
While fishing a live crawfish along the bottom, Kadota hooked into his record catch, which he netted and boated approximately five minutes later.
The fish eventually became the men's 20-pound line class record, where it still remains today.