Bass Without a Boat

To catch largemouths from the bank, you need three things: a small pond, a planned approach, and an eye for cover.

Field & Stream Online Editors

1. Look before you cast Before you walk to the bank and thoughtlessly spook fish, take a few minutes to watch the pond. You may see baitfish activity or perhaps even feeding bass. Study the shoreline for likely bass cover and decide ahead of time how you'll approach it. Stay concealed: Walk or stand in tree-shaded areas, if possible, instead of being out in the sun. This makes you less visible to fish, which also tend to lurk along shaded shorelines.

**2. Find the channel **There may be a small creek entering one end of the pond, with a meandering channel that will likely extend into the pond itself. Dead, standing trees may mark the channel edges. Try casting a buzzbait beyond each tree trunk and sputtering it back within inches of the timber. Then work the deeper channel slowly with a weighted, Texas-rigged plastic worm.

3. Work all structure Start looking for shoreline structure. The key is to spot something that looks different. A big rock, a solitary stump, a small point, and a stock fence extending into the water all potentially harbor bass. Work such spots first with a floating minnow plug fished in short twitches and long pauses. Follow up at each position with a slowly retrieved plastic worm.

4. Dredge the dam If the pond has a dam, the area in front of it offers both a steeply sloping underwater edge and the pond's deepest water. Texas-rigged plastic worms, lipless crankbaits, and floating minnow plugs are all good options for working parallel to the edge. Also try dredging the deepest water by sliding your worm-weight sinker about 2 feet above your rigged worm and pegging the weight in place with a toothpick. This makes a Carolina rig that you can cast out from the dam and twitch back with the worm floating just off the bottom.

**5. Fish through snags **Fallen trees extending into the water attract lots of cover-seeking bass. Make repetitive casts to work your lightly weighted plastic worm slowly through all the branches and around both sides of the trunk. Gently lift your rod tip to ease the worm over snags so you don't get hung up.

6. Survey the center Some bass will suspend at mid-depths over the deep center of a pond. Lipless crankbaits like Rat-L-Traps can be cast long distances and work best for reaching the middle. Experiment with retrieve speeds and also allow the plug to sink deeper at times.

**7. Look for stock **Many farm ponds have a section of bank that's been trampled by watering cattle. Schools of minnows are attracted when cattle stir the bottom. Bass often patrol these disturbed edges, so work the area carefully with your minnow plug.

8. Parallel the shoreline Don't neglect shorelines that seem featureless, such as long stretches of grassy or gravel banks. These are common to dug ponds without dams and can hold plenty of foraging fish. Cast parallel to shore and work your minnow plug or plastic worm slowly within a few feet of the bank.

9. Scout weedbeds Beds of lily pads or other aquatic weeds are obvious targets. The trick is to work a lure without hooking gobs of vegetation. Use a floating, weedless frog, which will slide over the dense mats and can be paused and twitched in small pockets of open water.