Much of what you will read about bass fishing is written by those who spend a majority of their time on large reservoirs that are mainly accessible by boat (thus limiting concentrated fishing pressure) or smaller, yet private, leases. As a result, a healthy amount of this written advice does the average local fly fisherman little to no good. When fishing private water you can rig up with a short, stout leader and break loose with all your stereotypical, gaudy top-water poppers and have you a real blast! Public water, on the other hand, often calls for a bit more thought and fineness.
On a large body of water (public or private) bass can be found congregated in certain areas and nearly absent in others. Also, they will migrate from one area to another for a slew of different reasons—time of day, season, water temperature and atmospheric pressure. Because of this, learning a larger bass lake can take years. A fisherman who has gotten to know a body of water can use his accrued knowledge to make decisive and strategic moves; such as leaving a shallow cove where he is catching bass sporadically and moving to some deeper water with submerged structure at the other end of the lake. Once there he may wreak havoc on the bass. This move may involve a 15 to 20 minute boat ride with the outboard motor roaring. If done correctly this kind of trouble shooting can win a guy thousands of dollars in a B.A.S.S tournament. This same scenario on a local bass pond may unfold quite differently.
In many ways small bass ponds are easier to fish than larger lakes. The most noticeable difference is the obvious one: the bass are confined to a small area and can be found with much less effort. The “bass pond” version of the aforementioned strategic boat ride may not involve moving at all, but only mean throwing a cast strait out from the bank and letting the fly sink for a bit instead of casting down the edge of the bank and retrieving the fly quickly.
If all this is reminding you of the fun you had growing up trespassing on golf courses and farm ponds…that’s just great. If it all sounds as daunting as hell, don’t sweat it, I’ll get you thinking like a bass in no time!