My pal, Wayne Albaugh, asked me recently about my weekend plans.
I told him I'd been wanting to get up on the Potomac, but it was still running a little high for my tastes and we could go down to the bay. But I had done that on Tuesday, and I figured if we waited a week or two the blues will be in and probably flounder, too.
After noting that the grass is too high yet to go after chucks, Albaugh suggested some pond fishing.
And that's how we entertained ourselves in a royal manner one recent morning, and you can get in on it, too. Carroll County has literally thousands of farm ponds that are begging to be fished. Usually all it takes is to ask the landowner and maybe offer to share your catch.
Albaugh and I have a couple of favorite ponds that we sort of
keep to ourselves. One of our favorites is large for a farm pond around here -- maybe 2 or 2 1/2 acres. Most are about an acre.
Regardless of size, I can guarantee some of the best angling you will ever sample.
Albaugh usually carries a fly rod set up to throw a DT5F line while I tend to play around more. Because most ponds are ideal for fly rodding, I'll generally carry either a 7 1/2 classic Fenwick fiberglass rod that handles a 5-weight line beautifully or a heavier 8 1/2 -foot graphite rigged with a bass taper WF8F line. Most times a light-action spinning rig also will be carried.
This time, Albaugh brought along his familiar fly rod, while I carried the Fenwick and a heavy bait casting setup to throw Berkley Power Worms. This last because we know of a couple of largemouths living in this particular pond that are record-class fish.
I had one of them, in fact, snap a 4-pound test mono line on me two Mays back and know for certain that the bruiser is still there. That fish broke my line with less effort than it takes me to snap my fingers.
If you want a real surprise sometime, look through the bass records and discover that more record fish are caught from farm ponds than from any other location. I know of one Eastern Shore pond that has about as many trophy-sized largemouths as you or I can imagine.
On my second cast of the morning, a nice 14-inch bass grabbed my 6-inch motor oil-colored Power Worm and put up a decent, though losing, fight. I held up the fish for Albaugh to see, but over on the other side of the pond, he was lifting a slab-sided, fat bluegill.
One of the benefits of the fly rod is that you can make more casts than the spinning or bait casting angler in an equal amount of time. Albaugh was catching big bluegills and nice bass on close to one out of three casts.
On the other side of the pond, I managed to wrestle eight bass to shore inside of about an hour, but no trophies. That was just as well, because it would have been a tremendous temptation to have landed a record-threatening fish and then been forced to comply with the law that forbids us to keep bass until June 15.
XTC After one trip around the pond, I traded my worm rig for the feather-light, old fiberglass fly rod.
"I wouldn't tie on that ant," Albaugh advised. "It's too little and every peewee gill in the pond will be grabbing it. Use that bigger black and red woolly worm."
Albaugh's advice paid off instantly. Big, fat bluegills feel like 10-pound bass on a light fly rod and soon my arms began to tire from the constant battles.
We broke down our rods at lunchtime. Combined, we estimated that inside of a little less than three hours we had hooked and landed around a hundred fish.
Generally you can catch fish from a farm pond all day, but morning and evening hours are probably the best bets. Pond bass can be difficult to catch unless you realize that they are living a pretty easy life -- lots of food around them -- and fish accordingly.
Worms, live or plastic, are my personal favorites and most bass will hit them on the drop or after the first twitch of the line. These bass, in most instances, will not chase a bait or lure.
Cast your worms around reeds, grass beds, under piers and in areas were fresh water drains into the pond. Shady areas are particularly good during hot weather.