The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that a staggering 80% of the population lives within 10 miles of a bass pond. It's very likely you have a good bass pond in your backyard, so to speak.
Fishing ponds for bass brings many of us back to our fishing roots. It makes us nostalgic and reminds us of a time when it didn’t matter if we had fast boats and expensive gear. What mattered was catching fish.
Whether you’re a seasoned bass angler or just getting started, there’s just something about fishing a pond and being successful at it. So we’ve put together this in-depth guide to help you successfully catch bass in a pond.
Table of Contents (clickable)
- 1 Finding the Right Pond For Bass
- 2 Locating Bass In A Pond
- 3 When To Fish Ponds For Bass
- 4 A Few Tips For Pond Fishing
- 5 Final Thoughts
- Go-to lures for pond fishing for bass
- Best Bass Lures For Shore Fishing
- How To Fish For Bass From Shore
Finding the Right Pond For Bass
Just because ponds are plentiful doesn’t mean they’re easy to find, and it may take some research and a little leg work to find the right one.
Take Advantage of Google Earth
Google Earth has been a game changer for finding new spots to fish. It has opened up a whole new world of opportunities, some of which are practically a stone's throw away and without Google earth would go unnoticed.
I’m not just talking backwoods ponds either, but ponds right in the middle of big urban areas, and even ponds on golf courses. Google Earth is going to be your best resource when it comes to finding often untouched bass ponds off the beaten path.
Find Some Topographic Maps
Before I had the luxury of Google Earth, I did much of my searching the “old school” way, laying maps out on the table, studying them, and circling spots I thought might have some fish in them.
To this day, I still do that, but not with simple area maps. Instead, I’ll find some topographic maps of the area. Not only will they help you pinpoint locations, but they also give you a good layout of the pond itself and its surrounding area, helping you determine whether or not the pond you’ve found is capable of holding bass.
Go For a Drive
One of my favorite things about fishing ponds is exploring. Heading out I usually have a general idea of where I’m off to, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be successful. So many times I’ve found myself striking out on a pond that I thought for sure was going to produce fish, but instead of calling it quits, I started driving and exploring. This approach has led to more than a few miles put on the truck, but it has also resulted in catching fish from ponds that I otherwise wouldn’t have.
Locating Bass In A Pond
Once you’ve found some ponds that might have some potential, how do you find where the bass are hiding? At their core, ponds - natural or man-made - aren’t that different from lakes, and neither are the fish when it comes to where they like to hang out.
Find The Points
When you’re fishing a pond, it’s typically largemouth bass you’re after, and largemouth are ambush predators. Points are a perfect ambush spot. Bass can be up shallow on a point cruising for crawfish, or lying in wait on the edge to surprise passing or holding groups of baitfish.
In deeper ponds, points also offer an easy transition from shallow to deep water, letting bass move quickly from one to the other as conditions dictate.
Here a 5 effective strategies:
- Deep to shallow
- Shallow to deep
- Dissect the sides
- Into the wind and current
Fish Corners and Pockets
A pond that has defined points is also going to have corners and pockets. They can be very pronounced, almost like a small bay area, or they can be very subtle, nothing more than a slight variation in the shoreline.
Whichever the case, these corners and subtle pockets offer an excellent place for bass to feed, essentially letting them corral baitfish into a concentrated area that offers little in the way of escape.
Fish All Cover
If you’ve done any sort of bass fishing, this might seem like an obvious one. After all, bass, like most fish, relate to cover. From downed trees to thick weed beds and patches of lily pads, finding cover on a pond can be just as simple as it is when fishing a lake, and bass are going to relate to it in the same way.
They can, however, also relate to cover that isn’t as obvious. Something as simple as an overhanging tree, a man-made fountain, or a drainage culvert can offer bass enough cover to be content and maybe even let their guard down.
A lot of ponds - especially man made ones - offer little in terms of contour. In a symmetrical pond that has no points, corners, or pockets, little areas of cover are going to be holding the majority of the fish.
When To Fish Ponds For Bass
The easy answer to when you should be fishing ponds would be “always.” But that doesn’t help much, does it? Yes, you can fish a pond for bass anytime, but there are going to be seasons and times of day that will produce more fish.
Springtime is spawning time for bass. Just like in a lake, spring bass in a pond will be making the transition from deeper winter, holding water up into shallow areas.
That transition can look a little different on a pond though, mainly due to the fact that bass don’t have as far to go as they might on a bigger lake. Much of the time the deep water fish seek out in the winter is right next to the shallow spawning areas of spring, which is also close to shore. Whether or not fish have begun the transition may not be as big of a deal as it is on larger bodies of water, and often, you can cover both areas in a single cast.
This makes spring one of the most productive times of the year. Bass are active and cruising closer to shallow water every day. Start shallow, and if you’re not getting into fish, you can search deeper water without having to change spots.
Fishing a soft jerkbait like the Zoom Fluke can be deadly this time of year, but if the water is murky, as it often can be in the spring, something that makes a little more noise like Strike King’s KVD Rattling Square Bill Crankbait can work wonders.
Summer bass fishing on a pond can be tricky at times. Fish can be concentrated to very specific spots, which can fool us into thinking they’ll be easy targets. But they can also be very temperamental and want nothing to do with what you might be tossing at them.
Summer ponds get hot and are rarely deep enough to offer bass any reprieve in the way of cooler water. Instead, they’re going to seek out any shade they can find. Some ponds might have plenty of areas they can hide, others only a couple. Either way, those spots are easy to pinpoint.
But that doesn’t mean you’re going to get fish to commit to your bait. As the sun gets higher and the day gets warmer, fish will lose interest. Summer success in a pond hinges on low-light conditions, whether that’s overcast weather or low-light times of the day, which we’ll discuss more further on.
I love fishing topwaters in the summer. Fishing a frog like the BooYah Pad Crasher Jr. over lily pads or a small prop bait like the Heddon Torpedo across a weed edge can be killer in low light. But if the fish are shut down because of the summer heat, slowing things down with a weightless Senko can turn a tough day around.
Fall is a great time to fish for bass in ponds. The water is cooling down, and the fish are active throughout the day. They’re using the same cover they do in the summer but using it more loosely, not afraid to cruise around that cover ambushing schools of baitfish or picking crawfish off the bottom.
For me, fall is even more productive than spring. Bass are still shallow and easy to get to but are very active and a lot less skittish than any other time of year.
Spinner baits like the BooYah Pond Magic are a good go-to in the fall, but I will also toss inline spinners like a Blue Fox Vibrax. Bass are active and hungry and have no problem chasing spinners down.
It isn’t always easy to fish for bass in the winter, but if you’re lucky enough to live in an area where ponds don’t freeze over, it can be very productive.
The pond you fished in the summer isn’t going to be the pond you fish in the winter. I’m not saying you’re going to want to fish a different pond; I’m saying that the pond is going to change drastically, and because of that, so is the way you’re going to fish it.
Spring, summer, or fall, there’s going to be some sort of vegetation growth that fish can relate to for both food and cover. That’s not going to be the case in most ponds in the winter. At best, that vegetation is going to be shriveled and lifeless. At worst, it will be gone entirely.
So where are the bass going to be? The good news is they can’t get out of the pond, so you know they're going to be there somewhere. That somewhere is going to be the deepest part of that pond, whether it's 10 feet or 20 feet, deep water is relative, but that's where winter bass hang out. If you know of an area or two with deep water structure, that’s likey where bass will be congregating. If there’s no deep water structure, then they’ll be sitting in the deepest basin they can find.
Long casts are key. Get your presentation as close to the middle of the pond as possible and slow it down. Let those fish get a nice long look and decide whether they want it or not. Chances are they haven’t seen much in the way of food sources and are unlikely to pass up an easy meal.
Finesse jigs like the BooYah Finance Jig can bank a lot of bass in the winter, but my favorite way to catch winter pond bass is by slowly (and I mean very slowly) working a jerkbait like a Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue. The stop/jerk movement triggers the predatory instinct in even the most lethargic bass.
Time of Day
Years of fishing have programmed my brain to be an early bird, and I’m that guy you see standing on the bank before the sun starts to rise. Early mornings can be great almost anytime of the year, but they’re especially ideal in the summer. The night has cooled the water, even if only by a degree or two, and the fish are going to be more active until that sun begins to climb again.
While you can catch pond bass throughout the day in any season, as the sun gets high in the spring, summer, or fall, your catch rate is going to dramatically decrease, for the most part. When mid-day fishing really shines is in the winter. This is your chance to sleep in a little and let the water warm up, and the bass get more active, before hitting the water.
Despite being a morning person, I’ve caught a good portion of my pond bass in the late-day hours. Whether fishing in the spring, summer or fall, in small waters, the sun can spook fish and have them running for cover. As that sun sets, however, they’ll start feeling more comfortable and roam around in search of their next meal.
Having been hiding out all day, summer time bass will do the majority of their feeding under the cover of night. The water is cooling, the darkness provides endless cover, and the bass are active. There have been plenty of times when a pond was a complete dud all day, only to provide some of the best fishing in the cover of darkness.
A Few Tips For Pond Fishing
- Have a variety of lure choices. Bass can feed on all sorts of aquatic life, from baitfish to crawfish to frogs and aquatic insects. The more you can offer, the better your chances will be.
- Find ponds that aren’t easily accessible. Many anglers either aren’t aware that some ponds exist or are unwilling to put in the extra leg work it might take to get to them. These ponds are relatively untouched, and unpressured bass are more willing bass.
- Downsize. While the bass can grow big in many ponds, often what they are feeding on only grows to their surroundings. Small bodies of water usually means smaller forage. It may not always be the case, but if bigger lures aren’t working, don’t be afraid to downsize.
- Keep it simple. Pond fishing usually requires a lot of walking, whether that's to get to the pond or to change spots while fishing. The last thing you want to be doing is lugging around all kinds of gear. A couple of rod and reel combos, a casting combo for fishing heavier cover, a spinning combo for lighter presentations, and a backpack with a couple trays of lures and terminal gear is all you need to carry.
- Always get permission. There are a lot of ponds that are on public land, but there are private ponds, too. Don’t just go stomping across a farmer’s field or sneaking into a golf course. A few minutes of conversation is all it takes, but it goes a long way.
- Be familiar with local fishing regulations. When you’re fishing ponds, whether private or public, don’t assume the rules don’t apply. We’ve covered bass fishing in all seasons, but that doesn't mean that fishing is legal at those times of year in your area.
The nostalgia of fishing a pond is part of what makes it so great, and the abundance of ponds makes them true hotspots for bass. Seasoned bass anglers and newcomers alike should be taking advantage of the incredible fishing that is often right in their own backyard.
We hope this helped you to understand pond bass fishing a little better and increased your success when pond fishing. Leave us a comment and let us know if it did!