Catch Fish From a Golf-Course Pond
Sometimes rules must be broken and conventions tossed aside. Thus it is with tactical golf-course-pond fishing. Pull on dark clothing (never camouflage, as your presence will then be considered premeditated), pare down to a guerrilla’s selection of tackle, and make your move as the setting sun kisses the fairways.
Gear: Go with a spinning outfit, not a baitcaster. Casting in the dark is begging for overruns, and you won’t be able to watch for The Man if you’re fussing with a bird’s nest. Pack a small, hard-sided container with a selection of small-water lures: Texas-rigged worms, a broken-back Rapala, Beetlespins, and a few topwaters that cause only moderate fuss. Remember: You’ll cast while crouching behind a small shrub mere yards away from a homeowner grilling steaks on the back deck.
Strategy: In small ponds, a single mega-master bass will often lord over the best lie. Prescout the pond and find the fishiest-looking log or tumbled-down pier in the shallows, or a large treetop in the dam corners where shallow and deep waters meet. That’s your first cast. Next, fan casts as you approach the pond edges, then wade to cast parallel to the bank.
Retreat: It’s better to fade out than it is to run. Melt into the shadows at the first sight of an approaching golf cart. Never let anyone see your face, or you’re marked for good.
Break Away for a Midday Fishing Trip
Most family therapists agree that an occasional midday quickie results in greater concentration on work tasks and overall happier relationships. But pulling off a successful lunch-break mini fishing trip requires a bit of logistical foreplay. Here’s the drill.
Plan in Advance: In addition to our rod and tackle, stash a few specific items in the backseat. Hip boots will pull up and over your chinos, keeping mud off your work pants. Waterless hand sanitizer is great for a quick cleanup behind the wheel during the frantic drive back to the office. A small pump bottle of Febreze spray fabric freshener will knock the fish-slime funk from your French cuffs, but a clean dress shirt could come in handy, as well.
Be Efficient: Know where you’re headed as soon as your butt hits the car seat. A 20-minute drive to a bass pond still gives you 50 minutes of fishing time during a 90-minute lunch break, which you should be able to pull off every now and then. Figure on high-percentage casts: frothy buzzbaits that get a bass’s attention, or weedless worms that won’t get hung up in brush.
Stay Subtle: Keep your itinerary on the down low. Bosses that look the other way at a three-pint lunch might go ballistic if they knew you’d punched out for the perch pond.
Throw a Neighborhood Fish Fry
Pulling off a fish fry for 200 of your neighbors will put you way ahead of the tweezer who shoots for Yard of the Month honors. It isn’t hard, but there are rules to follow. Use a dedicated deep fryer or cast-iron kettle; a fry basket with a handle is a must. Cut fish fillets to the size of playing cards. Figure a pound per person. If you must, substitute your own fancy-pants batter for the straightforward breading below, but keep it simple. People are hungry.
Rule of the Roiling Boil: Use peanut, safflower, or corn oil and bring it to 350 to 375 degrees. Don’t guess. Clip a fry thermometer to the side of the pot. You’ll need to regulate the heat after dunking the fillets.
Rules of Righteous Breading: You don’t have time to pat down the panfish. Put one large brown paper grocery bag inside another, pour in 2 pounds of cornmeal, 1 pound of flour, enough fish seasoning (Cajun spices, salt and pepper) to make it taste just a little over the top. Add fish and shake.
Rule of the Grease Sop: Deep-fry fish till golden brown, remove from the oil, and toss into another set of doubled-up grocery bags, this one lined with paper towels. Let sit for two minutes to soak up excess grease, then serve.
Wet-Wade a Smallmouth Stream
Hoofing it for stream-bank smallies will get you as close to regaining a sense of childhood freedom as is possible. But check out that hairline in your reflection, buddy. You’re not a kid anymore, so dial up your approach with refined tackle and tactics.
Adult Difference No. 1: Accept that you can no longer run barefoot over treble hooks. Protect your feet with felt-bottomed wading boots and neoprene wading socks to keep the grit out. And shun cotton anything—shirt, pants, or underwear. Wear fast-drying long nylon pants, a nylon shirt, and backpacker’s synthetic undies.
Adult Difference No. 2: Get serious about gear. Forget ultralights and go for a medium-weight rod and a reel with at least a 6:1 gear ratio so you can cover plenty of stream. Load a high-fitting vest—don’t be a wimp about wading to your armpits—with baitfish and crayfish imitations, including deep-running crankbaits that will get to the bottom of summer holding pools.
Adult Difference No. 3: Plan your attack. Don’t waste valuable fishing time just walking back to your vehicle. First, fish downstream, making down-and-across casts with topwater and shallow-running lures. Take a long lunch break, then fish back to the car, getting deeper with jigs or live bait.