The summer is settling in across much of the country and many of us are staring down the barrel of some super hot days ahead. Adding to the heat the factor is that many of the bigger lakes and rivers are covered up with pleasure boaters, and the fishing is getting tougher and tougher by the day. It’s about this time of year when night fishing and pond fishing start to really sound more and more appealing.
Night fishing is a good escape from the heat and pond fishing puts distance between an angler and all the boat traffic on the public fisheries. We recently discussed some of the ins and outs of night fishing. So today we’re going to talk a little about pond fishing during the summer. And though there’s typically less pressure on these smaller fisheries, it’s around this time of year where even the pond fishing can get a little tough. Today, we’re going to offer up a few summer pond fishing tips that will hopefully help you catch more fish in spite of the sweltering summer heat.
Typically, the best bite of the summer is early in the morning, regardless of the size of the fishery. So naturally one of the keys to getting bit on a pond is to start early. There’s also a good bite late in the afternoon, during the last hour or so of the day. But the best bite happens during that first hour or so.
Since the fish are aggressive during this short window, you can pick your poison when it comes to how you want to catch them. Spinnerbaits, vibrating jigs, swimbaits, swim jigs, wakebaits, lipless crankbaits and topwaters all make for great early morning offerings when pond fishing. Basically you want to pick a bait that has some drawing power to it, so that you can cover more water while the fish are feeding and make the most of the morning bite.
With all that in mind, for me, a topwater is where I’ll start. Anytime there’s a chance to catch a fish on a topwater, that’s what I’ll choose to throw since that’s my favorite style of fishing. Getting a few blowups on a topwater early in the morning once every week or two is typically enough to hold me over and help get me through the heat of the summer. On ponds with shad, poppers and walking topwaters like the MONSTERBASS Patriot work well. If you’re fishing a pond where bream and bluegill are the main forage, try a hollow body frog or a Whopper Plopper style bait right along the bank.
Slow Down Once the Sun Comes Up
Once the sun starts beating down, it's time to pump the brakes a little. But don’t fret, the day isn’t done and there are still plenty of fish to be caught. You’ll just need to slow down a bit and focus. A soft plastic or jig fished around cover is a great place to start. For example, targeting bass with a Texas rigged soft plastic near shallow stumps and brushpiles is a great way to catch pond bass in the heat of the day.
Small paddle tail swimbaits also work really well on ponds with shad present. Slow rolling a 3- inch swimbait on a 1/4- ounce jighead is a great way to get bit during the heat of the day, especially if there’s just a little wind causing a ripple on the water. This technique takes patience and discipline though, being sure to count the bait down a few feet and then reel it at a slow and steady pace. It’s essential to maintain this desired depth a little deeper in the water column where slightly cooler water temps are present.
Another great bait to slow down with is a wacky rig. This is a last resort for me, as there aren’t many techniques much slower and I prefer to cover water and stay on the move when possible. But there are times when it’s hard to buy a bite and slowing way down to a wacky rig gives you the best chance at getting bit.
Focusing on shade is another key when fishing in the summer, regardless of whether you’re on a pond or public body of water. But it’s often especially critical in pond fishing. There’s typically not a lot of water movement on a pond, and less than a lake or river for sure. So the surface temps get really hot since the cooler water beneath is rarely mixing with the hotter water above.
Focusing on shade lines as the sun starts to rise and small patches of shade once the sun gets directly overhead is a great way to catch pond bass, since those are the only little reprieves from the direct sunlight. Most ponds don’t have docks, and if they do there’s likely only one. But look for any little bit of shade no matter how small, and that focus will help you catch more fish.
There may only be a few inches of water underneath an overhanging bush, but bass will still tuck under there and can’t resist a wacky rig skipped into this strike-zone. Don’t be afraid to present the bass with a topwater option as well, no matter the time of day. A well skipped hollow body frog can trigger a vicious topwater strike in the shade right in the middle of the day.
Focusing on the early bite, slowing down once the sun comes up and being hyper focused on shade during the heat of the day will give you the best chance to make the most of a summer day spent pond fishing. There are other little subtleties with some ponds, like focusing on the top end of the fishery if the pond is creek fed since the water will be a little cooler coming out of the creek.
But these three tips we focused on today should apply to almost any pond you come across. So try applying these techniques the next time you head out fishing this summer and hopefully they’ll help you catch more bass!