Compared with many farm ponds, it didn't look much larger than a puddle.
But Jack Reed of Springfield knew the size of the fishing hole was deceiving. He had fished it long enough to realize after he lifted a 3-pound bass that there were plenty of bass living in the cramped quarters.
“This pond doesn't even cover an acre, but it will fool you,” Reed said. “I have caught some big bass out of here.”
Reed paused and cast an electric-blue plastic worm across the pond. As he began to work it through the moss on the opposite bank, he felt a strong tug at the end of the line.
Setting the hook, he watched a bass burst from the water and land with a loud belly-flop. Seconds later he lifted the 3-pound bass out of the water.
No sooner had he tossed his plastic worm back into the pond when he had another bass. And another and still another.
An hour later, Reed had caught 14 keeper bass, proof it doesn't always take a big farm pond to produce big fish.
“The nice thing about fishing a pond like this is the bass are confined to a small area,” Reed said. “You know there is a good chance you're going to be able to pass your lure in front of them. It doesn't take long to find out if the fish are hitting.”
Reed wasn't surprised the bass were feeding when we visited the small farm pond in Vernon County. He has enjoyed some of his best fishing trips in June, a time when the conditions often are ideal, in spite of all the rain this spring.
Not all farm ponds are as productive as the one Reed was fishing. It takes a special balance for the bodies of water to support a healthy population of bass.
This pond where we were has everything the bass need. It has moss, which provides cover; it has small panfish to feed on; and it is 15 feet deep, so the bass have somewhere to go in the winter as well as the summer.
Reed has seen those same factors produce excellent bass fishing at other farm ponds. In fact, he has caught some of his largest fish out of small water.
He has caught a lot of bass from 4-7 pounds in ponds so small you wouldn't think there would be any way they would have fish that size. The largest bass he has caught in Missouri was a 10½-pounder, also caught from a farm pond. He caught the big bass on a small jig using 4-pound test line. He said the bass fought like crazy and he felt lucky to have landed it.
Unlike some anglers, Reed doesn't always use a big bait when he is trying to catch a big fish. He has found small lures often are productive in farm ponds.
“I have caught some of my largest bass on jigs, Road Runners and small plastic worms,” Reed said. “You have to try to match the size of your lure to what the bass are eating in that pond, especially in the spring before the baitfish are too big. A small lure will catch a lot of fish.”
Regardless of the size or location of a farm pond, June is a time when the fishing often is at its best. in another month, it will be totally different. The water will be warmer, and the bass won't be as aggressive. Also, in many of the ponds the moss gets so thick it is hard to fish them, but you can still catch bass on topwater baits, although the fishing isn't like it is now.
White, a Stockton resident, has a versatile sports background as a participant and journalist. His column appears weekly.