I was raised fishing these places, shallow and weedy, lawn mowed down to the water so you had access to the whole shoreline. And full of bass and bluegill. My brother and I had spent a lot of our youth casting into farm ponds. When I was just a few years old, our grandpa took us to Turtle Pond in Firestone Park. When we got older, we had a circuit of ponds at neighbor’s houses, family friends, and golf courses. Ponds everywhere.
I hadn’t fished in a farm pond in years –until I moved back to Ohio. Now I grab my three year old, and my dad, and we cruise the local ponds in the evenings after dinner. The sun sets, air cools, and bass start to get active in the dwindling light.
I’ve tried a bunch of different fly patterns – the pond by my parents’ house has become my fly tying test lab – but for my money the best way to fish a bass pond is with a deer hair diver or popper. They’re big and sassy, like the farm pond bass that chase them. The twitching bass bug on the surface sends a prey message to the largemouth’s lateral line – a sensory system that runs down the sides of the fish and allows it to sense struggling critters in turbid water. The fish eat anything they can fit in their mouths.
Last night we jumped a half dozen big bass, and one insane long-ear sunfish that managed to fit a ping-pong ball sized fly in its mouth. Most of them popped off, but we brought a couple of nice specimens to shore. I cast and hook the fish; and my three year old heaves them in. Grandpa makes sure nobody falls in and yells things like “Oh gawd it’s a hawg! Pull it in!” It’s a team effort.
When the swallows turn in and the bats come out, and my son starts chasing fire flies instead of bass, it’s time to pack it up.