Saturday, June 23, 2012

What's in a name? The farm pond knows

So-So Bay lived up to its name.

Then so did Goose Blind Alley, The Pavilion, The Crappie Log and The Beaver Lodge.

After more than 20 years of being blessed to have the opportunity to fish a local small lake/large pond I’ve taken the approach to self-name various angling points-of-interest.

And during this time I’ve come to understand which of them are hot, hotter-still and smoking based upon time of year and water conditions.

Thus, So-So Bay typically offers a shrug in the pond’s angling opportunities. That’s surprising since the tiny inlet would appear on the surface to be an exceptional fishing hole. All of the dynamic features are there but usually not the fish.

Not this day anyway when Steve Pollick, the recently retired Toledo Blade outdoors writer, hooked up with me for a morning of farm pond fishing.

Cousin Steve is something of a shirt-tailed relation, too. His late widowed uncle married my late widowed aunt. When they were both very much alive, of course.

Given that the day was forecasted to strike the 90-degree mark by early afternoon, Cousin Steve and I figured we’d be off the water by around 12 p.m.. So-So Bay was one of the last stops on the circuit of the pond.

“Guess you’re right,” Cousin Steve said. “The fishing here is just ‘so-so.’”

Cousin Steve and I had tossed out the best of baits; he using a Charlie Brewer Slider jig and worm.

As for me I employed  a duel drop-shot rig consisting of a 1/16-ounce jig fitted with a 4-inch Berkley PowerBait’s  Ringworm model in green/sunfish color on the bottom of the leader and a number 6 stand-up hook equipped with a  1/2-inch Charlie Brewer Slider Crappie Grub paddle-tail plastic worm in chicken/pink and lime-green color. Weird shade, I know, but it works.

Normally a siren combination that bass and palm-sized bluegills simply cannot resist the two-for-one drop-shot duet could not even croak out a simple “come hither” number to whatever fish were hanging out in So-So Bay.

Backtrack a bit and the story is different. The fish were by The Sump as they always are when the pond’s water level is at normal pool. Likewise you can anticipate that The Crappie Log would cough up some fish, maybe not always crappie but something to tug the line just the same.

“Wow, look at that perch, colored like you find them in Canada,” said Cousin Steve as he admired a foot-long yellow perch caught on the far side of The Crappie Log. “And it’s fat, too.”

My fish was equally impressive for its species. A yellow bullhead that fought like a largemouth bass and was the size of a respectable channel catfish had nailed my offering.

Recoiling the clock and distance a little further to the pond’s rear the fishing was even better. Bluegill after bluegill would pounce on our baits. These projectiles were propelled by long and limber rods. In my case that was a specialized fiberglass pole designed for Southern crappie/sunfish angling.

Cousin Steve had pressed a Cabela’s 8-weight fly rod into service by attaching a spinning reel in exchange for a fly reel..

“It’s so much more fun this way,” Cousin Steve said.

Let us now keep retracing our grand tour of the pond.

Maybe my favorite just-for-fun stretch is Goose Blind Alley. You can toss a drop-shot rig toward the bank this time of year and get a spawning bull bluegill’s dander up or you can chuck a buzzbait and awaken a bass.

Or, as it was in my case, I  flicked a Heddon Tiny Torpedo, bullfrog finish, of course, casting the lure up close and personal-like to the weed-choked bank.

Using a stop-go-chug technique to excite the lure my intent was to trick a bass into believing there was an easy meal of an injured and scared mouthful of frog.

Several times the Tiny Torpedo was so savagely struck by a bass that the lure’s two sets of treble hooks never had an opportunity to purchase a hold in the jaws of the fish. The lure was launched into the air with the unhooked bass being right behind.

Heddon did a great job decades ago creating the Torpedo class of topwaters and though many of the fish that took a shine to my model a few did hang on long enough to find themselves trapped by the lure’s chrome-plated steel hooks.

“I love fishing for bass with topwaters,” I said half-giggling with delight in using this well-worn and popular farm pond angling technique.

At the very beginning of our morning was the Pavilion as it sits as the terrestrial spear point of an underwater gravel bar. Hang a right and you’ll venture into a bay much larger than So-So Bay. A fickle place to fish the Pavilion section can prove hot or cold, bass or bluegill.

You never know until you try and try Cousin Steve and I did, tracing the bay’s outline in a 12-foot aluminum boat and powered by a variable speed electric motor. With me having been plagued the past seven months with severe joint swelling and pain it was thought that Cousin Steve would become the vessel’s pilot while I’d be its free-loading captain and commander.

Since this was where we started we did our best to keep our expectations at a minimum. That was a pretty good piece of judgment for while the Pavilion did cooperate it has proven more bountiful in the past. A few smallish bass were located and a small peck of respectable bluegills fell to the spell of our offerings both Steve and I have done better with this section of the farm pond.

Can’t say that about the very last place we were to fish for the day. That would be the pond’s far northwest corner, down along the dam and near its overflow.

“This is my father-in-law’s favorite spot,” I said in explanation.

Depositing an anchor to hold us in position against the freshening wind, I then instructed Cousin Steve to let his rig poke around close the edge of the dam.

Faster than you can say “Daddy’s Favorite Spot” and Cousin Steve’s bait was taken by a Fish Ohio-qualifying bluegill. Then another and another and so on and so on until Cousin Steve became all giddy from the non-stop hauling in of fish.

Finally, after more than 30 minutes of casting whatever lure we wanted and it not mattering a bit Cousin Steve and I were prepared to call it a day. His last fish dropped out of the race next to the boat and gave Cousin Steve the slip.

“Fair enough, that’s a good way to end,” Cousin Steve said.

Yes, it certainly was, no question about it, I seconded.

Once again the Pavilion, the Crappie Log, Goose Blind Alley, The Beaver Lodge all had proved their mettle.  Even So-So Bay kept its promise of so-so fishing.

But I couldn’t wait to use my cell phone and call my father-in-law in Florida that Daddy’s Favorite Spot was far an away the best of the lot.

He just laughed, knowing that the farm pond would have it no other way.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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