Farm Ponds and Fly Rods
Throughout the Texas countryside are various bodies of fresh water. And, not all of them are major reservoirs. South Texas has its resacas. West Texas has its watering wells. Southeast Texas has gravel pits and Central Texas has stock tanks. In fact, no matter where you are in Texas, odds are you aren't too far from a `farm pond.'
Although these bodies of water vary in size, shape and cover characteristics, they all have one thing in common - they play host to a variety of spunky gamefish. Whether it is black bass, channel catfish or any number of panfish, there always seems to be something looking for a meal in these diminutive bodies of water.
Another common trait among small lakes and ponds is their ability to keep a fly rodder busy. Whether you are an aspiring fly fisher or an accomplished angler, farm pond fishing often offers the simple, constant action that makes fishing a pleasure.
Equipment needs for farm pond fishing are fairly simple. Farm ponds can be fished with practically any weight rod from 4 to 8. However, an 8 1/2 - to 9-foot rod, 5- or 6-weight is probably the best all-around choice. A stick of these dimension allows for casting a wide range of flies, but is still light enough to enjoy even diminutive perch.
A serious farm pond fly fisher, on who wishes to dissect each portion of the water column with a fly, can certainly find use for a sinking, intermediate and floating line. But, part of the beauty of the simple fishing afforded by a farm pond is the ability to cover most every stretch of water with a weight forward floating line. If fish are suspended, they can usually be reached by a long leader and sinking fly. Sure, there may be times that you miss out on a few bites from fish hanging a bit deeper, but this is fun fishing, not a technical exercise.
Six or 7-foot, 10-pound tapered leaders will turn over most any fly thrown and offer plenty of breaking strength for most farm pond inhabitants. Bite or shock tippets are simply extra hassle. A pair of good leaders and a spool of replacement 10-pound tippet will see you through most sessions.
Fly selection can be as simple or as extravagant as you want. Farm pond fish will hit a wide variety of flies, although you can usually get the same results from a couple of patterns as with a couple dozen.
One of the greatest thrills of any type of fishing is the surface strike. Farm pond fishing offers an excellent opportunity for topwater fishing. Small poppers are the most colorful and exciting way to go. However, a wide variety of patterns imitating spiders, ants, dragon flies or hoppers will also work.
This is also a good time to get some use out of any dry flies left over from that long ago rainbow trout excursion. Bluegill and shell crackers will eagerly gobble up Elk Wing Caddis, Royal Wulffs and just about any other dry that is placed in front of them.
In fact, pond trips are usually good occasions to empty out old fly boxes. A variety of popular trout patterns (wet, dry or nymph) work well on panfish and small bass. Small Flashbacks, Hare's Ears and San Juan Worms are particularly effective. From the salt water box, grab small Clousers, Deceivers, bendbacks and poppers for bass and larger bluegill.
Covering water in a farm pond is generally no problem. Depending on the amount of growth on the bank and size of the pond, quite a bit can be accomplished from shore. If the banks are inaccessible, try wading or using a canoe, float tube or small john boat.
Regardless of which means you use to position yourself, most farm ponds offer a number of visible structures to cast to. Docks, stickups, reeds, cattails, trees and other objects offer protection for the fish and a target for the fishermen. Bass will often patrol right up next to the shore, whereas panfish will usually hold a bit further out in a little deeper water. However, both will orient themselves to any nearby structure, so place your fly tight to cover.
Since fish will be holding close to the structure, there is no need to strip the fly back to the rod. After the cast, retrieve the fly a few feet, then pick up and cast again. Following this approach you can't efficiently work an entire shoreline without having to dance around loose coils or use repeated false casts to get your fly back in the game.
Although it is pretty much assured that nothing encountered in a farm pond will take off on a drag screaming run, an evening spent casually casting about on a resaca or gravel pit is a nice change of pace. In addition, it is a good way to hone your skills and a nice excuse to use those forgotten flies.
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