By Mark Fike
Most of the time when one of us anglers uses the term drift fishing, we are speaking about drifting with the tide or current in a river or large body of water. Drift fishing is very useful for a number of reasons. First of all, you cover a lot of water and habitat. Second, when one area is void of fish, the next one can only be better.
Ponds, defined loosely as anything less than say 50 acres, are generally small, don’t have a tide, and usually don’t have an official current in them. Sure, the water does move but not in a noticeable current-like manner. Despite this, drift fishing a pond is an excellent way to fish under the right conditions. First of all, you need some wind or at least a breeze. On days when the winds are at least a few miles per hour seem to be the best. You don’t need ten miles per hour but even if you have that, you can make it work for you.
When drift fishing a pond, it is important to have a relative idea of the depth in the pond, where the big structures are such as fallen trees, a boulder, beaver lodge or whatever. You will want to fish around those if at all possible but know where they are so you don’t constantly hang up on them. If you are not aware of where these structures are, you can use wire hooks or have a very long extendable pole or piece of conduit to push your hooks free. Most ponds are not that deep.
A piece of conduit that is flattened on the end and then a notch cut out of it and smoothed out with a file so it is not sharp can save you a few bucks over time. A duck hunting pole with a blade paddle on the end of it will work great too.
Start at the end of the pond where the wind is coming from. Note the depth and set out two rods. I like to use jigs or spinnerbaits but wire hooks with whole nightcrawlers, minnows or other baits will work very well in this application too. As you drift with the wind, keep a close eye on the rods. Definitely keep your feet or hands on them! Fish can strike suddenly and without warning. Let out more line if you enter deeper water or if you are moving faster than you anticipated. Your bait should drift naturally and barely be pulled.
The rocking of the boat, turning of it and the wind pushing it makes your bait move in a very natural-like manner. Sometimes I will lean one way or the other on purpose to jig the baits a little bit. Using a small spinnerbait like a Beetle Spin with the little flashy blades is a good one for this.
Perhaps the best way to fish like this is to put live bait on one rod and a jig, spinnerbait or plastic worm on the other. Or, you can alternate the depths by a foot or two. If you end up catching fish more on one rod than the other, then you need to switch the low producer over to double your gains.
So what fish can you catch like this? ANY fish that lives in the pond. I have caught turtles, catfish, bass (big ones too), crappie and bream drifting in ponds. The drift is much slower and the fish sometimes will barely tap the bait but during the fall the fishing is fine. While you are waiting, you can enjoy the cool, crisp air and scenery.