I had wanted to do some woodchuck hunting last Saturday, but the grass is too high, and none of the farms I regularly shoot have done any serious mowing.
So, after catching up on the yardwork, I grabbed my fly rod and a boxful of rubber spiders and camped out on a favorite farm pond for some late afternoon fun.
Carroll County and the surrounding area has thousands of farm ponds that are begging to be fished. Permission is seldom any harder to obtain than by politely asking the landowner and offering to share your catch.
Most ponds are probably an acre or two in size but offer bass and bluegill fishing out of proportion to their modest sizes. In fact, if you want a real shock sometimes, take a look into largemouth bass records, and you will find that simple farm ponds have produced more record- and citation-size fish than all other types of waters.
After a dozen or so casts, a scrappy 15-inch bass nailed a lime-green spider. I played it on my 8 1/2 -foot rod for a couple of leaps, then released it for another day's battle.
Some line was again peeled off the reel, and a couple of false casts shot the bug 50 feet up the left shoreline. The 8-weight bass taper line was given a few twitches to impart motion to the spider's rubber legs. I very slowly retrieved it about 6 feet when a slab-sided bluegill grabbed the lure.
It's a good thing that bluegills do not grow to 10 pounds or more, because we wouldn't be able to haul one in -- their fight is out of proportion to their size, especially on a fly rod loaded with 5- to 8-weight lines.
I fished this two-acre Hampstead area farm pond for about two hours before heading home for dinner. I didn't keep an accurate count but guess that my rod accounted for 10 or 12 bass and 'gills.
Lots of bass and bluegill bugs work well for the fly-rodding farm pond angler. Spiders are a special favorite of mine, but I also regularity use deer hair bugs such as small poppers/pushers, mice, frogs and bumble bees.
Uniontown-area fly-rodder Wayne Apoundaugh leans toward muddler minnows and woolly worms typical of trout fishing but equally effective on the local bluegills.
An ultra-light spinning outfit is also loads of fun on these local waters. A bluegill or largemouth on 4-6-pound test mono is a real handful. Good lure selections include small jigs and in-line spinners.
A couple years back, a Taneytown farmer told me that he couldn't figure out why he had lost so many baby ducks. I suggested a fox problem, but the answer revealed itself in the form of a five-pound pound largemouth.
I fish a few Eastern Shore ponds each year that routinely harbor five-pound and larger bass. For this kind of farm pond fishing, break out the heavier spinning gear and bait-casting tackle.
Don't break that rod
A fishing pal recently discovered a small crack in the ferrule of his two-piece graphite rod after a successful bass trip on the tidal Potomac. Luckily, the damage was covered by warranty, and the manufacturer immediately replaced the rod.
Before assembling your two-, three-, or four-piece rod's sections, wipe any water or dirt from the parts. These can cause the sections to stick together and may create scratches or cracking when attempting to disassemble them. Also, be sure to firmly twist the ferrule 90 degrees until the guides line up.
When setting the hook, playing a fish close to the boat or shore, or dead-lifting a fish into the boat, never over-stress your rod in one spot. Bending the tip at a severe angle transfers all the stress to a single area, potentially causing the blank to fail.
Quality rods are designed to handle stress over the entire length of the blank and should always be flexed with this in mind.
Also, when bringing a fish in to a net or your hand, don't over-retrieve the line. A general rule of thumb calls for leaving as much line out as the length of the rod.
Steadily raise the rod to guide the fish toward you. Be careful not to raise the rod tip behind your head. When bringing a fish to your hand, at the final moment slack off line quickly, catch the line with your hand, and hand-line to the fish.
Local fishing report
Morgan Run stream conditions are good, and local trout anglers are using small Elk Hair Caddis, Blue Wing Olives and Hendricksons on the surface. Try Gold Bead Hare's Ear, Pheasant Tails and Buggers in the riffles and deep pools.
At Liberty, the crappie and bluegill action has been excellent in the coves. Smallmouth are taking plugs and spinner-baits off the points in 3 to 10 feet of water. Stripers are plentiful in the 3-5-pound range but scattered.
Duke Nohe reports that he is picking up good numbers of 1-3-pound smallmouths at Prettyboy on shallow-diving crank-baits on the points. Prettyboy crappie fishing remains good in the coves, and white perch are schooling up. Some tiger muskies are being caught.
Pub Date: 5/24/98