By: Shaye Baker
Cool snaps are popping up all over the country. If you’re in one of the few places left that just can’t seem to kick the summer heat, I feel for you. And to my northern brethren who are already looking at temps below what we’ll see here in Alabama for our winter lows…I feel for you too. But for most of the bass fishing belt, the cool nights are starting to back up to one another, and the fishing is starting to get better as the weather and water temps become more bearable.
So, what does this mean for you anglers who are primarily bank fishing ponds this fall? Proper preparation and knowing what to do when you get there can make for an even better trip. Check out these three key pond fishing tips to get you on a better bite this fall.
Best Baits and Lures for Fall Bass Pond Fishing
Ponds are unique compared to other fisheries because they typically contain a fraction of the species you’ll see in other lakes, rivers and streams. For example, if a pond wasn’t stocked with shad, you’re not going to see shad in it. The upside to this is that you don’t need 10 different types of baits to resemble crawfish, shad, herring, bluegill, etc like you might on a bigger fishery.
If you can figure out what the primary forage is in the particular pond you’re fishing, then you can really dial in your bait selection before you even head to the pond. Do a little research—ask the owner of the pond or another angler what kind of bait is present and then tailor your tackle box to their responses.
If the pond is stocked with crawfish and bluegill, be sure you have some squarebills and jigs. If the pond is stocked with shad, then spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, lipless crankbaits and jerkbaits can produce well. Getting an idea of what kind of bait is present in a pond really helps you dial the bite in fast. But, there’s one rule of thumb that holds true across almost every pond in the fall…
Moving Baits for Fall Bass
Though a Texas rigged worm may be the best pond fishing bait of all time, I’d venture to say it doesn’t even make the top 10 in the fall. Yes, you can still catch fish on a worm in the fall, but why bother when you can fish moving baits and catch even more? The fall is the perfect time to tie on a spinnerbait or a buzzbait and just start walking down the bank. You can cover more water and catch more fish than you can dragging a worm in the same amount of time.
When you’re fishing from the bank, you can also take a lipless crankbait and fire it out towards the middle of the pond. You can cover much of a pretty good size pond standing in one place throwing a lipless. This is especially good when there aren’t a lot of clean places along the shore to fish from.
Try throwing a topwater or spinnerbait, and walking down the bank. You can parallel the shore with your cast and stay in an optimal strike zone a lot longer. Though there may be some fish out in the middle to bite the lipless, especially in a pond with shad, there will almost always be bass along the bank in a pond as well. Combining these two techniques, you can effectively cover a whole pond quickly. And then turn around and retrace your steps to catch even more fish.
Fall Fishing Safety
It’s ALWAYS a good idea to wear a lifejacket if you’re fishing from a boat—even in a pond. But it becomes even more important as we work our way into the fall and the water temp drops. Water temps don’t have to be hypothermic in order to be dangerous. The shock of water in the 50s and 60s can take your breath away on a hot day and can get you into a fair amount of trouble pretty quickly.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so be sure to wear a PFD (personal floatation device) if you decide to pond fish from a boat this fall. It’s also a good idea to keep some dry clothes in a waterproof bag with you, especially if you’re fishing in a remote location. A good day can turn into a bad one really quickly if you flip a jon boat or get caught in a rain storm and have to get home in cold wet clothes.
So, as you head out to go pond hopping this fall, keep a few things in mind. It helps to know what the bass are feeding on before you head to the water but figuring it out as soon as you get there will also help narrow down your lure choices if you don’t have prior knowledge of the pond. When you’re picking which lures to fish with, be sure to have something for paralleling the bank as well as bomb casting to the middle. And always think safety as the water and air temperatures drop. Be sure to wear a PFD and have dry clothes handy.