By Mark Fike
Fall is here in the southern portions of America and the ponds have turned over meaning that a lot of fish are deeper now than they were before September arrived. Even though the fish are deeper, there are great opportunities to catch fish at this time of year.
Ponds are easy to dissect and locate fish in simply because there are not too many places they can go in a small farm pond. Learning how to fish a pond is quicker than a vast lake. A portable fish finder on a jon boat or canoe can help but even if you do not have one this article can clue you in.
On really warm days it is possible to catch fish in depths under three feet. However, those days are far and few between. Actually it is usually only after a stretch of several days in the upper 60s with the sun shining that you will find fish in the shallows with regularity.
Start by using small jigs 1/8 ounce on a spinnerbait such as a Beetle Spin if you are looking for panfish like crappie or big bream. Put several lines overboard and use different colors with your trolling motor on the lowest setting possible. If it is a windy day, turn the motor off from time to time.
This will do two things, it will let your lure fall (fish tend to hit on a fall) and it will allow you to make a quieter approach. Troll the contour of the pond and note when you get a strike. Was it when you crossed a point? Maybe it was over a brush pile or old snag. Turn around and run over that spot again at the same speed.
Trolling is the fastest way to locate fish in a pond but it is critical to understand why the fish was in that location. Once you determine that, you can stop trolling and cast to the fish. Move around the pond looking for similar locations that have the same conditions, depths or structure types.
Bass relate to structure almost year-round and fall is no exception. Find the type of structure a bass is holding on and cast as accurately as possible to them. It is important to match the depth and proximity as closely as possible to be successful.
Note the color of your lures that are getting strikes. Not getting strikes but confident the location is good? Change colors. It can be amazing what a color change can do for you. Color preference can change by the hour too although most of the time there is a certain color that works well for a given location at a given season.
Several springs ago I took my daughters to our pond to fish. I had a white Beetle Spin with a bright red spot on it that I was casting without much luck. Usually I catch fish almost immediately on it. Then I noticed my girls were reeling in fish one after the other. I asked what they were using.
Normally they steal what Dad has on his line and join in the fun. This particular day they had simply rigged an Electric Chicken colored grub on a plain bream hook with a split shot and were retrieving it like I was with my little spinnerbait. Their crappie were 10+ inches and some of the bream were too!
I was stubborn for about ten more minutes. When I gave up and joined them the fun began. We caught so many fish we had to change out our grubs because they were torn to shreds.
Fall fishing often means a slower retrieve, deeper water and a little scouting and trial and error. The investment in these things up front means a good payoff. The fish are firm and the cold water seems to make them taste better.
In our house, a freshly caught of fried pan sized bass, crappie or bream is welcome after eating a lot of venison, squirrel and duck or goose all fall.