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busbus 03-21-2013 11:13 AM

Effective small pond fishing
 
Okay, I have been cooped up enough and I can't wait to get out on the water. That said, my Fortune 500 company recently purchased another Fortune 500 company and we are looking at at least two years of intense IT projects to merge the two into one. That means a lot of hours at work and less hours fishing.

But I have been poking around near where I work and there are a couple small ponds that I found that hold fish. One is within three minutes from the backdoor of my building and the other is about a six minute drive from the same backdoor. There is also a lake near my house that I can get to in about 15 minutes that will do in a pinch, too.

These ponds are really small: only about 50-60 across, maybe less in one of them. One is a municipality pond and I am sure there will be kids all over it at times. It was recently dredged and I understand it is about eight feet deep in the middle. They say they stock this with bass and gill.

The one behind my building is on what used to be a golf course. I am estimating that this pond, even though it is smaller in diameter, is much deeper: maybe 15-feet deep at the deepest point. I see bass and gill and koi(!) in this pond.

I am to the point that I do not care what I fish for: I just want to fish. I have never tried to fish still water before, so what do I have to learn to do?

Keep in mind, I never threw a fly rod cast before last September or October. And I have only been out, say, ten times. All of them have been on streams where I would roll cast upstream and let the fly drift downstream, so I am not what you could even call a fly fisher--I am a true greenhorn.

Do I need to trade out my fly line and put another type on it? I think mine is floating; do I need a sinking line? Or will a long tippet do the trick?

I know once it gets really hot, I may be able to float an ant or something but I think in the spring, it won't work so well.

How do I "fish" the fly? Short strips then stop?

What flies do I use in a pond? The golf course pond never gets fished and I am sure the bait of choice at the other one is earthworms, so I think most anything I use will be new to the fish.

The lake is a different concern because that water is much, much bigger. I will still fish it from shore or maybe wade in a little as I do not have a boat or a float tube. May need to get at least a tube but I am sort of leery of the snapping turtles that are all over that lake. Should I be concerned with those dang things?

I am thinking that I can use these three spots to at least get better at casting and presenting and such. I think any practice will help me for when I get a chance to go out on a stream. Or am I wrong in that thought?

Thanks,
ray

turbineblade 03-21-2013 12:08 PM

Re: Effective small pond fishing
 
Funny - I fish mostly in stillwaters (including ponds) and am very, very comfortable with it. I love being the sole element responsible for any added movement to my flies.

That damn moving water is tricky and difficult and unpredictable! :)

If you want to virtually guarantee to catch sunfish (bluegill, pumpkinseed, redears, longears, green sunnies, etc.) the #1 fly I use is actually a trout fly -- the partridge and yellow soft hackle. Panfish are bug eaters mostly anyway, and these flies imitate a broad range of food items and generally slay the fish around here. Actually, panfish are just as much a "fly rod species" as trout IMO. Oh, and I'm usually fishing them tied on a #10-14 hook -- wet fly style, no barb.

I use no indicator -- just pitch one to a likely spot and use a series of little 1" strips (very small -- not for "swimming", just think "vibration"), but I use the rod instead of the line hand. Just a series of "seizures" or "convulsions" with the rod, followed by 1-2 second pauses (and collect the little bit of slack line), then repeat. Usually a fish hits on the pause.

Soft hackles catch like crazy around here -- sometimes even when other flies like poppers don't work. I fish them with 100% confidence and usually have a box full of them. Some with pheasant tails, some with dubbed thoraxes, and a few with herl bodies instead of floss. Some I use bead heads or copper rib wraps, or even copper bodies like a brassie. They all work.

But, no one uses them for warm water for some reason. Just viewed as an old-school trout fly I guess.

Poppers, worm patterns, various nymphs, and clouser/other minnow patterns all catch the species you mentioned. Try them and see how you do!

tbiii 03-21-2013 02:03 PM

Re: Effective small pond fishing
 
Your floating line should work fine, especially during the spring- bass and bluegill are spring spawners, and tend to stay shallow and close to the bank until the heat of the summer. They're also structure-oriented fish- brushpiles, beds of submerged or emergent vegetation, docks, buoys, overhanging brush or vegetation, standing timber, rock piles or riprap, boulders, and other features tend to concentrate them. Focusing on any of those areas (if they're present) will help. Cast your fly, let it sink a few seconds (watch your line and leader, fish will often grab the fly as it's sinking). Then begin stripping it in- vary the speed and retrieve until you find the pattern which the fish best respond to.

As far as patterns to use, wooly buggers and mohair leeches take plenty of bass. Soft hackles work well, too. Surface poppers and sliders can be a lot of fun in the warmer months. Flies which imitate damselfly and dragonfly nymphs, crayfish, and minnows tend to be very effective- the Carey Special, Whitlock's near-nuff sculpin, zonkers, clousers, marabou muddlers, and others work well.

busbus 03-21-2013 05:36 PM

Re: Effective small pond fishing
 
Thanks, turbineblade.

So your method is to cast to a spot then what? Pull the rod "up" or lean it sideways to strip it in slowly? I guess whichever works...

But I still have a question: how far do you strip the line in? Say you cast it out there 20-25 feet. Do you strip it toward you until it is about 10 feet from your feet? More? Or a lot less? I know the real answer has to be "it depends" but there has to be some sort of guideline!

I am one of those people who probably make things harder than they really are.

As fat as soft-hackle flies are concerned, I was thinking those because they are easy to make and I like playing around with colors on them. Even I can whip up a bunch of those in an hour or so. In fact, I may make some tonight.

This sounds silly but I am really looking forward to this. It may be because I have a couple guys at work who are at least thinking about taking up fly fishing and this will give them an opportunity to try it out in a casual setting. But before I ask them along, I want to be able to at least be able to catch a fish in these settings.

---------- Post added at 04:36 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:33 PM ----------

tbiii,

You say my floating line should work just fine. That makes me happy! :)

But should I make the tippet be longer? Especially in the heat of the summer when the fish will probably be in the middle of these ponds? (By the way, there are some cattails in the one pond and not much of anything in the other.

turbineblade 03-21-2013 07:37 PM

Re: Effective small pond fishing
 
What I do is probably not really "stripping" with soft hackles. I literally just "jiggle" the rod tip quickly and with just enough force to barely move the fly. It's just enough to open and close the soft hackles, which seems irresistable to panfish ;). In stillwater like a pond, a dead drift will often get hits (don't get me wrong) but I don't really have the patience for this kind of fishing and using the "jiggle" seems to get instant production for me. Oh, and I tend to hold the rod at a side angle more than straight up. I rarely hold a fly rod for any purpose in a vertical position, unless I need a mend or something or the conditions call for it.

Most people do not use the actual fly rod to apply movement I've noticed, but I came to fly fishing from spin fishing and I'm too used to using the rod hand to provide movement. My line hand only collects the slack created by my rod movements.

Quote:

But I still have a question: how far do you strip the line in? Say you cast it out there 20-25 feet. Do you strip it toward you until it is about 10 feet from your feet? More? Or a lot less? I know the real answer has to be "it depends" but there has to be some sort of guideline!
It does depend. But I often toss it literally just about right on top of where I suspect or see fish. When I do this I tend to pretty much immediately begin the jiggle. Sometimes with bluegill and bass you'll get hits literally in the first second of touching down. I know this is quite different from casting beyond and allow the fly to drift to feeding fish like you'd do in current/trout often. Try anything, but don't be afraid to put a little soft hackle near the fish -- I've not had panfish/bass that spook too easily. Sometimes slapping the fly on the water seems to bring 'em in ;).

Actually, the soft hackle thing is really just the same way you'd work little tube jigs on a spinning rod. Nothing mystical, it just works really well for me.

Obviously with minnow patterns I tend to also add longer strips, lifts for jigging motion, etc. Whatever the fish seem to hit on that day.

I've said this before and it sounds arrogant, but I'll put myself into a battle vs. anyone on local bluegill with soft hackles ;). Another cool thing is that you'll sometimes get them on foam bugs, poppers, etc. but the bigger ones tend to hold under the "morons" who hit the surface, and you can often get 1-2 "bulls" on wet flies fished underneath :). If I need more sinkage I'll use one of my brassie soft hackles because the wire obviously adds decent weight.

Just my take -- I'm kind of on the fringe. I also fish long level leaders which most people do not do. So find what works for you and have fun! You'll get plenty of practice on ponds you'll get a good idea about what patterns work and how to work them. Welcome to warm water!

I'm going the other way and trout fishing all this week -- give me some "moving water" luck :D.

Edit- here's an example of the kind I tend to fish first on the water. I then adjust pattern/weight as needed for the conditions. https://www.google.com/search?q=snip...2F%3B400%3B399

This guy didn't dub any kind of thorax to "prop" the hackle in stronger current, but you don't really need to in still water in my experience.

---------- Post added at 06:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:22 PM ----------

Oh, and don't put hardly ANY thought into leader construction and tippet size. A lot of people use 2-5x leader/tippet for bluegill, but bluegill could probably be caught on 20-30 pound test tippet to be honest. I'm not proposing that....but I'd bet I could go out and catch plenty using it.

For bluegill I use 4-8 pound maxima (regular mono, not X stuff) in a long strip of 5-12 feet most of the time (depending on conditions). With chop on the water I tend toward the shorter end, with really clear, calm water I got longer. You could tie your own tapered leaders from something like 20 >> 12 >> 8 >> 6 or 4 pound tippet and it would work well. I just don't bother with it. If I know I won't tie on weighted clouser minnows or something I'll just use 4 pound for the panfish....

For bass, tapered a leader to 8-15 pound test is fine. 20 pound if you're fishing big flies on a 7-8 weight or something. Or if you're in massive vegetation. Lefty advocates a long strip of just 20 pound test for big bass in cover.

Panfish/bass are not leader shy and my take is that this isn't critical like it might be for trout. Warm water ain't trout fishing :)

busbus 03-21-2013 08:08 PM

Re: Effective small pond fishing
 
Can I like your post twice? You answered a lot of questions.

I am more used to spin fishing but, even then, I have little practical experience. My dad never had the patience to teach me fishing even though he was pretty darn good at it whenever he was young. I had to stick with small game hunting with him but that was worth it.

I see what you are saying about twitching the rod tip. Actually, I can see me doing that, too. It will take a little practice because of the spin caster in me and the (almost) need to retrieve the line quickly.

I don't know if I get impatient, per se, I think I just get all excited. But I have to say that even though I have only gone out a handful of times, and actually caught fish, there is something about fly fishing that is so totally different than spin fishing. For some reason, all of my senses are more open. Of course, maybe being on a stream is a totally different setting lake fishing and there is more to experience, but I don't think that is totally the case.

I am all set up to make a bunch of soft hackle...I will need more hooks as I am running low. I was suckered into helping a few guys teach a group of Boy Scouts learn how to fly the past few weeks. I am not nearly as good as they are but it was fun. At the same time, those Boy Scouts sure did a job on my hooks. Plus I have a tendency to give a lot of my flies away. I have been giving a bunch to the two guys at work who I am trying to get to start fly fishing. Sort of chubbing them!!

As far as "moving water luck," I think that is what I have had there so far: dumb luck! I have caught about ten trout so far, but only one was bigger than 12" with at least 5 that were barely longer than the width of my hand. I have also caught the biggest bass I have ever caught in my life. My best flies seem to be an ugly little streamer I made that is only a bead on a streamer hook with a small piece of marabou tied onto the hook and a pheasant-tailed nymph.

Have fun in the stream, man! I am bummed that I will be missing opening day of trout here in Western PA because I need to drive to my daughter's college to watch her sing in a concert. I love my daughter and she comes before my fishing but still...........

turbineblade 03-21-2013 08:19 PM

Re: Effective small pond fishing
 
My wife is quite a singer and fly fisherman, so I guess I'm set :). No kids (yet) though.

Fly fishing is very peronsal, so you'll develop your own style. I'm still relatively new to it, but I've been spin fishing for years. Also, like you, I was not taught fishing, or knot-tying, or most anything outdoors from a young age. My Dad fished, but rarely with us. He worked 55 hour weeks on night shifts and was extremely busy -- no complaints, but I most fishing I've done is due to watching internet videos (believe it or not) and just fishing as much as possible in my spare time. The local fly fishing group helps a lot too with advice, etc.

Most of my knots I'd prop up the computer and practice with a lamp on the couch dozens (hundreds?) of times for hours at night ;). It's kind of the same with tying patterns now ;).

I'm still developing my own style and probably will until I'm dead. It's a great hobby -- and it's completely pointless at the same time ;). That's part of the reason it's so great.

dpreller 03-21-2013 09:04 PM

Re: Effective small pond fishing
 
well since you said yor relatively new to flyfishing your in luck. you can learn alot and have alot of fun fishing those type of waters. youll get lots of casting practice get used to handling slack setting the hook playing fish etc all with little to no expense of traveling far to fish and youll have lots of fun. the other guys have done a great job of giving you some pointers but one other thing ill suggest is to get some small cork poppers size 8 or 10.tie about two foot of tippet on the hook bend and put a size 10 or 12 soft hackle or beadhead nymph on the end. this gives you two options and as turbine said sometimes youll see the smaller fish wiil hit the popper while the bigger fish will often investigate the noise of the popper but eat the nymph.

tbiii 03-21-2013 09:29 PM

Re: Effective small pond fishing
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by busbus (Post 539326)

You say my floating line should work just fine. That makes me happy! :)

But should I make the tippet be longer? Especially in the heat of the summer when the fish will probably be in the middle of these ponds? (By the way, there are some cattails in the one pond and not much of anything in the other.

I'm not sure if turbineblade addressed it, but the deepest portions of many small ponds develop low-oxygen conditions during the summer months, and often it's only the upper water column which can support fish. A leader of seven to nine feet should be plenty- you're not necessarily trying to dredge the bottom in July and August.

streamwalker 03-21-2013 09:45 PM

Effective small pond fishing
 
I'd throw a mixture of flies on small ponds I really love throwing poppers in still water situations. Nothing is like a bass hitting a top water popper!! Try mouse flies too and grass hoppers work really well for for me. The wooly bugger fly is never a disappointment and I have hooked everything from brook trout to catfish on it lol.


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