Fishing small ponds for bass has such a summer feel, but that’s not to say they aren’t worth targeting in winter. Whether you live in a milder part of the country, or get a few mild, ice-free days in a colder region, winter is a good time to hit those small bodies that get pounded in the warmer months. Or maybe you get to sneak in a few more casts on golf course ponds. After all, there most likely isn’t anyone playing behind you in January. Of course, the pond vegetation is shriveled or gone. The bottom composition is soft and silted as far as you can see, the water is clear, and the leaves of fall are now littering the bottom. Not even a baitfish is flickering on the surface. So what’s your small-pond-in-winter plan of attack?
It’s pretty simple: make long casts toward the middle of the pond. Bass in these small bodies of water often seem to disappear in the winter, but the bulk of the hogs seek refuge around deep structure, or simply just in the deepest basin. The key is to fan cast the middle and feel for any irregularities in what is largely just a soft bottom. You may contact a log, stump, or ditch in the deeper basin, or maybe even be a small rock pile anchor for the drain (or intake) pipe that extends underwater from the bank (you’ll mostly find this in golf course ponds). When I don’t see turtles and baitfish, I consider that a good sign. That means the bass have no reason to come shallow. They’re going to be pegged on the bottom out there in the middle somewhere.
Because you’re making long casts, your gut is going to tell you to throw baits that are a little heavier. But by going that route, you’re goingto be plowing the bottom and reeling in lumps of decomposing muck. Start by choosing a super-light line and a spinning outfit. Light jigs– 1/16- or 1/8-oz.–and 4- or 5-inch shaky head worms are great choices, but don’t rule out 1/8- to 1/4-oz. rattle baits, small shad-shaped balsa baits, or even silent flat sided crankbaits. Small narrow-body baits with a tight wobble are primo choices. Many times these pond bass will need to be woken up with a little deflection to trigger a reaction bite just like in summer on a big lake. Even if you don’t feel any definitive structure, these baits often surprise a few lethargic pond bass into biting.