You can talk about reservoir fishing for bass all you want to and those places get most of the ink in outdoor magazines but the real secret to catching the biggest largemouth of your life is simple – head to the farm ponds. You are going to consistently catch more fish and bigger fish. As the man on TV says, “I guarantee it.” The key to success is finding owners who will allow you to fish in their ponds. In South Georgia there are literally hundreds of farm ponds and plenty of owners who will allow you to fish in them — you just have to be willing to ask and then willing to follow their rules whatever they may be. Don’t get your feelings hurt if someone says no. They have a good reason for it and every right to refuse. Start off by getting information from some of your friends who fish and go from there. Always fish by the rules set down by the land owner. Be sure to latch gates behind you coming and going. Do not under any circumstances leave litter.
You should keep fish only if you are given permission and then only if you intend to clean and eat them. Use common sense on how many fish you take out of a pond. Farm ponds are notorious for getting out of balance and the surest way to ruin a lake is to take too many fish out (unless it is loaded with small, skinny bass.) One more tip – offer to do a little cleaning up around the pond with a weed-eater or find some way to let the owner know you are responsible and willing to help. This will go a long way toward establishing a long lasting relationship.
Tackle is not a big issue. You don’t need a tackle box that weighs fifty pounds to catch fish. A few basic lures will do the trick. If I had to pick five lures that consistently catch fish in spring and summer it would be these:
1) Plastic worms – I favor the Zoom brand U-Tails no more than six or seven inches long in June Bug, Red Shad, and Green Pumpkin colors. Also consider adding the Bubble Gum Trick Worm (by Zoom) to your repertoire. All these except the Trick Worm should be fished with a Texas rig.
2) A broken back Rapala in silver and black.
3) A Shad Rap or Ratl Trap (diving / sinking plugs)
4) A Zara Puppy top water bait (by Heddon) or Excalibur Pop’n Image top water bait.
5) A buzz bait (by Lunker Lure)
If you have these basics about the only other things you would need would be some number 2/0 bass hooks and some small bullet lead. I would also advise getting some size 10 or smaller barrel swivels to put above your worms. These swivels will keep your line from twisting and save lots of headaches. Just tie the swivel to the end of the line then cut another piece of line about twelve to eighteen inches long and tie it on. Then put your lure on. It is time well spent.
Early and late is the best time for the top water lures and the buzz bait is especially effective around shallow cover. If it is overcast top water plugs and the buzz baits may be effective all day long as well. The other lures can be fished throughout the day regardless of sunlight conditions.
If you have identified some ponds where you can fish the next thing to do is pay attention to the water color and the general appearance of fish you catch. Very clear water is typically an ill omen in ponds. Most of the time it means the water is not very fertile and your resulting catch will be lots of small fish that are skinny and hungry. There is the occasional big largemouth lurking but even those fish will be long and thin looking. Often there will be big bream in a pond like this but not much in the way of high quality bass. A better sign is if the pond seems to have a little color to it. You will be able to see your bait a foot down in the water but not much more. In all likelihood the fish you catch will be fatter and stronger. One of the best signs of a good pond is landing a two to four pound bass that is in good health. In this type of pond you may not catch as many bass but the quality will be more to your liking. The characteristics I’ve described here are not absolutes but a pretty good rule of thumb to go by.
It’s always better if you have a small boat to fish from. That plus an electric trolling motor will make fishing much easier and efficient. Just about every pond I’ve ever seen can be fished more thoroughly if you have this equipment.
The size of the pond makes little difference. You can catch your “wall hanger” in a two acre lake or one that is much larger. Regardless of where you go your chances of success are enhanced in one of the fine farm ponds South Georgia has to offer.