Skip to main content

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing.

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You
Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as "kid's fishing ponds," but they may be overlooking big-bass potential. (Photo by Ron Sinfelt)

If you drive more than 10 miles from your urban home to catch early season largemouth bass, you're almost surely driving farther than you need to. That's a fact.

At some point in that drive you most likely motor past a small pond in an urban park or industrial area. Those urban waters should be high on your list of local bass-catching opportunities. If they are not, you should make it a point to check them out.

That's because many municipalities now incorporate fishing potential into the design of water retention basins in urban and industrial areas.

"Urban retention basins are modern-day farm ponds," said urban fisheries biologist Tyler Stubbs, "and small ponds can be great spots for big bass. Many cities are realizing that if they make those basins deep enough, design them correctly, and put them in a greenspace with landscaping, or in an urban recreation area like a Little League park or a soccer field, the city not only gets the storm water and runoff retention they need, but it also provides folks with fishing opportunities."


Urban fisheries range from small 1- to 3-acre storm water retention ponds up to renovated 30- or 40-acre sand pits and rock quarries.


As long as the ponds average at least 10 feet deep they can support bluegills, largemouth bass and channel catfish beneath the ice during Northern winters or through the broiling summers in Southern states.

"Bluegills, largemouth bass and channel catfish are the time-proven combination that works best in small bodies of water," said Stubbs. "Some states have programs to temporarily stock trout in urban ponds during the winter months, to provide anglers an opportunity for something different during part of the year, but bass, bluegills and catfish are what you'll normally catch from urban ponds."

SERIOUS BASS FISHING

Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as "kid's fishing ponds." Fisheries Biologist Ben Dodd cautions those anglers against overlooking the big-bass potential of urban waters.

"Some of those urban spots have surprisingly good bass fishing," he said. "The bass have plenty of bluegills to eat, and the bigger bass don't get much pressure. A family fishing for bluegills along the shore with bits of nightcrawlers, with the kids throwing rocks and splashing around the edges, aren't going to have much chance of catching the big bass."


On the other hand "Somebody who knows how to target big bass, knows what to throw and where to throw it, is the guy who's going to catch 4-, 5-, maybe 6-pound bass from those urban ponds. It takes some knowledge and some strategy to connect with the big ones."

Stubbs likes to match his tactics and tackle to the habitat and the structure of each pond.

"I do well throwing frogs into vegetation in the summer," he said. "Those ponds are small enough, often with walking or bicycle paths around them, so it's easy to work the edges, throwing into whatever vegetation I can find. Other spots take a different approach. There's a renovated gravel pit that I drive past on my way home from work that's just a big rectangular basin, not much structure, not much vegetation. I have a tough time pulling bass out of there, but there are other guys who know how and what to throw that catch some really nice bass in that particular pit."


SPRINGTIME URBAN BASS

Early spring is prime time to target urban waters for bass. The smaller waters warm quickly, and bass are active long before their relatives in 1,000-acre lakes.

On sunny days, shallow, south-facing shorelines attract bass seeking warmth. Their appetites and moods are unpredictable. Some days they're lethargic, interested only in slow-moving jigs-and-pigs or plastic worms. Other days they seem mad at the world, and savagely attack crankbaits or spinnerbaits ripped past where they're sunbathing.

Summer Bass
Not all big bass are deep in the summer months. Baits that appeal to fish in cover and that cover some water will collect topwater strikes—often all day long. The most productive areas will have bait, cover and access to nearby deep water. Many of these baits will draw bass holding several feet below the surface, and appeal to fish that are ambushing frogs and spawning bluegill. (Photo by Scott Bernarde)

No matter their mood, it's critical to be stealthy when stalking bass in shallow water, and beneficial to play hooky from work to take advantage of minimal activity in urban parks during the school day. By 5 o'clock the local kiddies are running rampant around the edges of the ponds, the water is cooling, and the big bass have grown wary and eased back to deeper water.

That scenario changes quickly as waters warm. Increased recreational activities on walking paths, kids throwing rocks, and the activity at nearby soccer and Little League fields encourages big bass to go nocturnal in summer.

A veteran tournament angler once confided that he consistently caught "huge" bass from an urban pond associated with a Little League baseball complex.

"But it's all after dark," he said. "I don't use any lights I can see well enough to cast from the lights of the ball fields. I work the edges real slow and quiet, use a popper or frog around weeds as soon as they develop. I catch some big bass within sight of those Little League fields."

Industrial parks and "urban campuses" are another opportunity for bass. Industrial parks are now required to control runoff from their acres and acres of concrete parking lots, and many suburban office complexes incorporate ponds and walking trails for employees into their landscaping plans. The challenge for anglers is to identify which private properties allow public fishing.

"Some industrial parks and office parks allow public access, and some don't," said Stubbs. "Locally, we're trying to create an urban fishing atlas to help anglers identify what is publically accessible."

EXPERT URBAN ANGLER

Dave Lochner is an over-the-road truck driver who specializes in fishing in ponds and lakes associated with industrial parks and urban areas. Whenever his schedule forces him to lay over at a terminal or warehouse for more than a couple of hours, he explores nearby fishing opportunities.

"A lot of the newer industrial parks have green spaces, little parks where the employees can eat lunch or take walks, and there often are ponds in those areas," he said. "I start talking to the guys at the loading dock or in the trucker's lounge, and there's usually somebody who likes to fish and can tell me if there's any fishing within walking distance of where I'm parked.

"Fishing beside the interstate with traffic roaring by isn't as relaxing as being on a Canadian lake, but any kind of fishing is better than sitting in the breakroom of a warehouse or in the sleeper of my truck for however long it takes for them to load or unload my truck."

Lochner's roadside fishing strategies emphasize the simplicity of urban fishing opportunities. Anglers who head across the country to fish in a "big lake" feel obligated to take multiple rods and tackle boxes on their journey. Lochner said he has caught hundreds of bass from urban ponds with the single spinning rod and a few "universal" lures he carries in his truck.

"I've got a 6-foot, medium-action rod and spinning reel loaded with 8- to 10-pound-test line," he said. "It fits in my sleeper and will catch anything from crappies to big bass or even huge catfish if the drag is set right.

"For lures I carry a couple of natural-color Rapalas, a few rubber worms and some spinners. My "go-to" lure, the thing that seems to catch fish all over the country, is a white 1 1/2-inch twistertail on a 1/4-ounce leadhead jig, with the leadhead painted red."

Lochner's minimal tackle inventory underlines one of the most attractive aspects of suburban angling opportunities. It takes very little time or effort to have a lot of fun at these small ponds. Stubbs often drops by an urban pond on his way home from work.

"Once I started looking and paying attention, I found there are 12 of those ponds on my way home from work," he said. "That's 12 places where I can stop for maybe a half hour and be confident I'll land some fish. If you overlook those little ponds in urban areas, you're probably overlooking some pretty fair bass fishing."

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag Saltwater Reel

Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag Saltwater Reel

In this ICAST Fishing Gear Guide video, Mark Mills with Daiwa and Florida Sportsman's Jeff Weakley talk off-shore fishing gear.

Abu Garcia Zenon Spinning Reels

Abu Garcia Zenon Spinning Reels

New to the North American market comes the 'world's lightest spinning reel.'

Safely Transport Kayak, Canoe with Malone Auto Racks

Safely Transport Kayak, Canoe with Malone Auto Racks

Mike Carney highlights three products deigned to get you there and back; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

Bowfishing from the Bank (Video)

Bowfishing from the Bank (Video)

There aren't many better ways to spend a summer night than skewering fish in the shallows.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Field Skills: Want to be a better shooter? The first step is perfecting your release.6 Steps to the Perfect Trigger Pull on Your Compound Bow Hunting How-To

6 Steps to the Perfect Trigger Pull on Your Compound Bow

Jace Bauserman - August 27, 2020

Field Skills: Want to be a better shooter? The first step is perfecting your release.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation provides places to start.Are You a New Hunter Looking for Help? Hunting How-To

Are You a New Hunter Looking for Help?

Adam Heggenstaller - August 19, 2020

The National Shooting Sports Foundation provides places to start.

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes.10 Recipes for Your Backyard Get Together Wild Game

10 Recipes for Your Backyard Get Together

Game & Fish Online Staff

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes.

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to the expectations demanded at ranges up to and beyond 500, 600 or even 1,000 yards. Try these different loads until you find the one that thumps steel at long ranges consistently.10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to...

See More Trending Articles

More Bass

As bass retreat from summer's warm weather it's time for 'football season.'Football Jig: Go Deep for Summer Bass Bass

Football Jig: Go Deep for Summer Bass

Mike Pehanich - July 13, 2020

As bass retreat from summer's warm weather it's time for 'football season.'

Game & Fish headed south to battle giant bass in old Mexico to test the latest baitcasting gear.Tackle Test 2020: Best Baitcasting Rods & Reels Bass

Tackle Test 2020: Best Baitcasting Rods & Reels

Dr. Todd A. Kuhn

Game & Fish headed south to battle giant bass in old Mexico to test the latest baitcasting...

When reel speed is critical, you have lots of choices. Here are 3.Bass Blazers: The Right Gear for Speedy Retrieves Bass

Bass Blazers: The Right Gear for Speedy Retrieves

Ken Duke - August 25, 2020

When reel speed is critical, you have lots of choices. Here are 3.

A quick look at offerings from SPRO for 2020-21.New from ICAST: Rattle Little John; Essential Series Baits & Lures

New from ICAST: Rattle Little John; Essential Series

Game & Fish Staff - July 13, 2020

A quick look at offerings from SPRO for 2020-21.

See More Bass

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now