5 Pond Fishing Tips for Bass and Catfish: How to Fish a Pond

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Much attention is given to fishing in large lakes and reservoirs across the world, but you should not overlook the potential for catching plenty of fish in smaller ponds. Fishing in massive lakes is somewhat similar to pond fishing in some ways, but there are vast differences that you must take into account in order to have the best success possible on a small pond. 

Anglers who are very experienced when it comes to fishing in small ponds will typically agree that you must adhere to some important factors if you want to catch the fish you’re after. Freshwater ponds across the United States are usually populated by bass, catfish, bream and a number of other species as well. 

If you’re looking to step your game up when it comes to pond fishing, keep reading and follow the tips we’ve laid out in this article to drastically improve your efforts. 

Understanding How to Fish a Pond 

In order to understand how to fish a pond, you first must take into account as much information as you can about the pond itself. Here are a few important questions you need to first answer before you plan your fishing strategy for fishing in a pond:

  • How big is the pond? 
  • How deep is the pond?
  • What kind of fish are you targeting, and what kind of fish are known to live in the pond?
  • What kind of structure is in the pond?
  • What type of creatures do fish see as prey in the pond?

Once you have a decent understanding about the answers to each of those questions, you can start to plan your approach to fishing in the pond. Depending on the answers to the questions listed above, you will be able to determine what type of tackle you need to use, as well as where you might want to fish depending on what time of year it is. 

We also want to note that you should never fish in a pond unless you have permission from the owner first. Fishing in a large lake or reservoir is totally different as many of them are open to the public. However, the vast majority of ponds are privately-owned and it’s absolutely essential that you obtain permission to fish in them or you might risk incurring some legal ramifications. 

Understanding More About Ponds

Most ponds in the United States are man-made, meaning they are created by digging out a limited section of earth and using the dirt to create a large barrier or dam to hold the water in place. Man-made ponds are formed from people building the pond in an area where it can be fed by a creek or a natural spring. 

It’s a good idea to try and find out how old the pond is before you fish. The age of the pond will tell you a few things about the fish that might inhabit its waters. If the pond has been there for many decades, it should have a healthy population of fish and a self-supporting ecosystem in the right conditions. 

Try to determine if the pond you’re going to fish in has been stocked with fish, or if it has had an abundant population for a number of years. Also, try and ask the owner or someone who is familiar with the pond how deep it is in certain areas. Be sure to learn as much as you can about any underwater structure such as rocks, trees, or other items that fish commonly use to hide in or around. 

If you don’t have anyone who is familiar with the above items, you can sometimes gain a better understanding of the pond’s depth by looking at a topographical map and viewing the surrounding landscape to get a sense of how deep it might be in certain areas. As for the population of fish and what types of species might live in the pond, you can usually expect the same types of fish that are found in nearby bodies of water to be inhabiting the pond. 

Tips for Fishing in Ponds 

There is a lot that could be said about fishing in ponds, but we will stick to the most important bits of information to help you get started. These tips will be brief, but we want to offer information that you can take and further research on your own in order to help step your pond fishing game up a few levels. 

1. Match the Hatch

Once you’ve gained a sense of what types of fish live in the pond, you should do a little more research and try to point out some of the naturally-occurring food sources the fish in the pond will be feeding on. In most cases, the menu for fish is largely the same across ponds in the United States. 

Natural baits like worms, crickets, grasshoppers, frogs, and crawfish are likely going to be the best choices for catching small fish in the pond. However, if your goal is to catch the biggest fish in the pond, you might want to use larger minnows or other types of bait fish. 

2. Fish Around Structure

Any type of structure in a pond is likely to be a hotspot for decent-sized fish. Downed trees, logs, stumps, or rock piles are ideal types of cover that fish will use to hide from their prey and ambush them unawares. If you know where these structures are in the pond, and how deep it is, you can be much more methodical and strategic with your approach. 

Try to fish around the structure without getting too close to it. If you get snagged on a tree limb and have to make a large amount of disturbance in the water to get your hook free, there’s a good chance that you will spook away any fish in the area and they might not come back for a while. Once you find a particular type of structure that you successfully catch fish at, be sure to make a mental note of it for any future fishing trips you make to the pond. 

3. Target the Shallows 

In many cases, fish—especially bass—will stay relatively close to the shallows of most ponds. This is because small bait fish and other creatures will usually seek refuge in the shallow waters around the banks of the pond. Throughout the warmer months of the year from spring until late fall, you should expect to find fish hanging out close to the banks of most ponds. 

4. Fish Parallel to the Bank

Knowing that fish will usually be near the banks, you should plan your approach accordingly. Most anglers who fish in ponds typically make casts parallel to the bank instead of perpendicular casts out into the deeper water. Casting in this manner will likely keep your lure or bait in the strike zone longer and result in more catches. 

5. Silence is Golden 

Too many anglers vastly underestimate a fish’s ability to sense predators and threats from a moderate distance. If you fish around a pond without trying to limit the amount of noise and disturbance you make, you shouldn’t expect to have much success—at least not in catching bigger fish. 

However, if you carefully work your way around the pond in a stealthy manner, you might be surprised to learn that you can sneak up on monster fish in doing so. If you’re quiet and careful enough, you can catch some trophy-sized fish in small ponds


Photo of author

Donny Karr

Donny Karr is an avid outdoorsman and writer whose work has been featured in magazines and websites for nearly a decade. He enjoys bass and crappie fishing in the lakes around the southeastern United States, as well as trout fishing in the streams and rivers of the Appalachian mountains. He enjoys keeping up with the latest news and gear items in the fishing industry and is always looking forward to his next outdoor adventure. Donny has written for Georgia Outdoor News, The Outdoor Trip, Man Can Outdoors, Global Fishing Reports, and Bassmaster.