7 Ways to Fish a Pond for Bass: Bait, Techniques, Tactics

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Written By Donny Karr

Donny Karr is a Tournament Angler with more than 20 years of fishing experience and a writer whose work has been featured in magazines for over a decade. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. He enjoys bass and crappie fishing in the lakes around the south-eastern United States. He also fishes for trout in the streams and rivers of the Appalachian mountains. Donny has written for Georgia Outdoor News, Paddling Space, Man Can Outdoors, Alabama Outdoor News, and Bassmaster.

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To fish a pond for bass, target areas with structures such as weed beds, drop-offs, and logs. Use live bait or lures like jigs, spinnerbaits, and soft plastics. Vary your retrieve speeds and target location.

Much attention is given to fishing in large lakes and reservoirs worldwide, but you should not overlook the potential for catching plenty of bass in smaller ponds. Fishing in massive lakes is somewhat similar to pond fishing in some ways, but there are vast differences that you must take into account to have the best success possible on a small pond. 

Anglers who are very experienced when it comes to fishing in small ponds will typically agree that you must adhere to some important factors if you want to catch the fish you’re after. Freshwater ponds across the United States are usually populated by bass, catfish, bream and many other species. 

If you want to step your game up regarding pond fishing, keep reading and follow the tips we’ve laid out in this article to improve your efforts drastically. 

Type of LureSituation
SpinnerbaitsShallow cover, around structure
Topwater FrogsOver matted vegetation, lily pads
Soft Plastic WormsTexas-rigged around structure or vegetation
Shallow Diving CrankbaitsBouncing off cover, such as rocks and wood
BuzzbaitsSurface action, targeting active bass
Jigs with TrailersFlipping and pitching in heavy cover
Wacky Rigged Stick WormsOpen water, high visibility
Pond Fishing Tips for Bass

1. Preparation Is Essential

In order to understand how to fish a pond, you first must consider as much information as you can about the pond itself. Here are a few important questions you need first to answer before you plan your fishing strategy for fishing in a pond:

  • How big is the pond? 
  • How deep is the pond?
  • What kind of fish are you targeting, and what kind are known to live in the pond?
  • What kind of structure is in the pond?
  • What type of creatures do fish see as prey in the pond?

Once you understand the answers to each of those questions, you can start planning your approach to fishing in the pond. Depending on the answers to the questions listed above, you can determine what type of tackle you need to use and where you might want to fish, depending on what time of year it is. 

We also want to note that you should never fish in a pond unless you have permission from the owner first. Fishing in a large lake or reservoir differs as many are open to the public. However, the vast majority of ponds are privately owned and it’s essential that you obtain permission to fish in them or you might risk incurring some legal ramifications. 

2. Understand Your Pond

Most ponds in the United States are man-made, meaning they are created by digging out a limited section of earth and using the dirt to create a large barrier or dam to hold the water in place. Man-made ponds are formed by people building the pond in an area where it can be fed by a creek or a natural spring. 

It’s a good idea to try and find out how old the pond is before you fish. The pond’s age will tell you a few things about the fish that might inhabit its waters. If the pond has been there for many decades, it should have a healthy fish population and a self-supporting ecosystem in the right conditions. 

Try to determine if the pond you’re going to fish in has been stocked with fish, or if it has had an abundant population for a number of years. Also, ask the owner or someone familiar with the pond how deep it is in certain areas. Be sure to learn as much as possible about any underwater structure, such as rocks, trees, or other items that fish commonly use to hide in or around. 

If you don’t have anyone familiar with the above items, you can sometimes gain a better understanding of the pond’s depth by looking at a topographical map and viewing the surrounding landscape to get a sense of how deep it might be in certain areas. As for the population of fish and what types of species might live in the pond, you can usually expect the same types of fish found in nearby bodies of water to inhabit the pond. 

3. Match the Hatch

Once you’ve gained a sense of what types of fish live in the pond, you should do a little more research and point out some of the naturally-occurring food sources the fish in the pond will be feeding on. In most cases, the menu for fish is largely the same across ponds in the United States. 

Natural baits like worms, crickets, grasshoppers, frogs, and crawfish will likely be the best to catch small fish in the pond. However, if your goal is to catch the biggest fish in the pond, you might want to use larger minnows or other types of bait fish. 

A cricket insect

4. Fish Around Structure

Any type of structure in a pond is likely to be a hotspot for decent-sized fish. Downed trees, logs, stumps, or rock piles are ideal types of cover that bass will use to hide from their prey and ambush them unawares. If you know where these structures are in the pond, and how deep it is, you can be much more methodical and strategic with your approach. 

Try to fish around the structure without getting too close to it. If you get snagged on a tree limb and have to make a large amount of disturbance in the water to get your hook free, there’s a good chance that you will spook away any fish in the area and they might not return for a while. Once you find a particular type of structure that you successfully catch fish at, make a mental note of it for any future fishing trips to the pond. 

how to find bedding bass example in a pond

5. Target the Shallows 

In many cases, fish—especially bass—will stay relatively close to the shallows of most ponds. This is because small bait fish and other creatures will usually seek refuge in the shallow waters around the pond’s banks. Throughout the warmer months of the year from spring until late fall, you should expect to find fish hanging out close to the banks of most ponds. 

6. Fish Parallel to the Bank

Knowing that fish will usually be near the banks, you should plan your approach accordingly. Most anglers in ponds typically make casts parallel to the bank instead of perpendicular casts out into the deeper water. Casting this way will likely keep your lure or bait in the strike zone longer, resulting in more catches. 

7. Silence is Golden 

Too many anglers underestimate a fish’s ability to sense predators and threats from a moderate distance. If you fish around a pond without trying to limit the noise and disturbance you make, you shouldn’t expect much success—at least not in catching bigger fish. 

However, if you carefully work your way around the pond stealthily, you might be surprised to learn that you can sneak up on monster fish in doing so. You can catch trophy-sized fish in small ponds if you’re quiet and careful.