If there is one bait minnow that bass like, it's trout. Soft finned, slender, and tasty, all bass inhale trout. Big trout swimbaits catch big bass in reservoirs where they are stocked. But trout are under very strict laws for fishing. In Maryland, you could only take two trout a day, and there are a whole bunch of laws regarding trout fishing (delayed harvest, no felt waders, etc). Trout also can only live in very cool and well oxygenated water, and free of pollution. If you live in a suburb, like I do in Howard County, you got to do some driving to find an area to catch trout. That's not mentioning that you can only catch 2 per day, if you can catch one at all.
Above: Bluegill aren't appealing to bass.
That why I use chub or creek minnows as bass bait. Thy are relatively soft finned, slender, and bass love them. I get much better catch rates on them, vs a live bluegill. Bluegill are disc shaped, spiny, and hard for a bass to swallow (bass can curl up longer fishes in their mouth, but not bluegill). In a choice between a bluegill vs a chub or creek minnow, a chub would always be chosen.
To catch a chub or a creek minnow, I prefer to use an ultralight rod with a tiny hook and bobber, and a BB split shot. Pic up some worms by flipping over a few rocks, and you are all set. Creek minnows are fast, and using dip nets to catch them would be hard. They also have the sense to avoid cast nests, and catching them by seine nets in the rocky, swift, shallow creeks would be impossible. Any creek minnow or chub that you catch would be fair game as bait, just don't catch the creek panfish.
If you have any questions about fishing, feel free to contact me through the "Contact Us" page. The eMail would be forwarded to me shortly after you send it, and I will reply to your questions.
A bass pond costs a lot of money. Make no mistake about it. Bass need space - any pond 2 acres or less is seriously frowned upon. The rate to excavate ponds of less than 20 acres is $3,000 to $5,000 per acre. That's a lot of money. Bass also need a lot of protein, and the baitfish needed to sustain a population of bass isn't cheap, at $500 worth of fish for every acre. That really isn't cheap. Feed trained bass need pellets with high protein, which is expensive.
As mentioned in the previous article, catfish are very hardy - and cheap. It is agreeable to put channel catfishes in ponds .1 - 1 acre, small enough that you could dig with shovels and friends, rather than hiring contractors. They also can eat a diet of cheap grain based pellets. They also root around the pond to supplement their diet. Channel catfish - only ponds are doable, and if you buy fingerlings, you could raise them for meat.
6"-8" Channel Catfish are also cheap - $65 for 100. 4"-6" is like $2.75 each. Channel Catfish are nice and cheap, and are easy to catch. You could also raise lunkers in your pond, since channel cats can exceed 30 pounds. They make good eating, too.
Next you are stocking a tiny pond, perhaps think about catfish!
I remember a day in my childhood. I have always loved to fish, and I often brought home fish to eat. Fried catfish was very tasty, and I often brought home bullhead catfishes - those small catfishes that prowl the bottoms of numerous lakes, ponds, rivers, and creeks in Maryland. They seem to be the most common catfish here. I remember taking the fish in the evening, and cleaning and cooking them for dinner. Somehow, however, one of those little buggers managed to slip out of the shallow pen I kept them in, and the next morning, I saw a catfish on my wet garage floor (I had washed it out), half dead, but still alive. I was astonished, and put him in a rain barrel. Within a few hours, he was swimming around again.
Anyone could tell you how hardy catfishes are. It sounds gross, but even after you chop off their heads, they still are squirming. Catfishes tolerate extremely low levels of oxygen, and would taken pollutants that would dispatch a dozen bluegill. They eat virtually everything, and can take extreme overcrowding.
A while back, I was fishing this small pond behind an auto dealership. It was .4 acres at most, and I just so happened to pass it. After some casts, I figured that there were no bass in this pond, and switched to my ultralight spinning combo and worms. Just as my bobber hit the water, however, it sank. I set the hook, and found myself staring at a 4 inch bullhead. After another cast, I landed another bullhead, around the same size. That went on and on. It seemed like there were nothing but bullheads, weeds, insects, and tadpoles in this tiny pond. It received pesticide runoff from the nearby lawns. The pond was shallow and without any tree cover, and I could only guess at how low the oxygen level stooped in the summer. A true testament to the hardiness of the catfish.
The age old bankbeater question remains: How do I organize my stuff. Most of the of bank fisherman I now have abandoned the traditional suitcase-type take box, for a variety of reasons. They are clumsy, and for someone doing a lot of walking/fishing, you need to bend over a lot to pic up your stuff. The fact that you need to grab them by the handle is also a problem, since many bank fisherman prefer to carry two or more rods.
Bank fisherman prefer to travel light, and while a tackle backpack can carry a lot of stuff, running around with it can be tiresome. Not to mention the fact that it's big, so it takes up a lot of space. Personally, I prefer to carrying a few go-to lures, and don't need that much tackle space for a backpack. But for a real gear junkie, I can see why using a backpack is a good idea. You can also carry lunch, water, and sunscreen in a backpack. There are some big fanny packs out there, though. Since you can only fit so many pocket sized tackle boxes in a fanny pack, I prefer to put multiple items in a single compartment, like 4/0 hooks with 1/0 hooks, to save space, or hollow body frogs with other hard baits. Another problem with backpacks is that you need to take it off and bend over before you can get something, while with a fanny pack, you can just reach down.
Finally, you get to cost. I can easy find a nice fanny back under $5, and you can add a few dollars to account for a few pocket sized tackle boxes for it. A nice backpack costs around $20, but after you buy the big take boxes to fill it up, the price becomes higher.
Personally, I like fanny packs, but if you want to carry a lot of stuff, you may need a backpack.
A lot of people ask me for a nice pond search bait. Of course, really small spinnerbaits (like the old Beetle Spin) are pretty nice as a search lure, but they are a bit hard to throw on baitcasting gear. For someone like me, with only a nice baitcasting setup and combo and a cheap spinning combo, I prefer to use my baitcaster whenever possible, and I think that's the case with many bankbeaters - the less you carry, the better.
Above: For the price of this cheap crank, you can get a whole bag of small swimbaits.
Pond bass, although usually unpressured, can be wary in their own way. They aren't used to having giant squarebills buzzing past their faces. Ponds are often small, and if you do something stupid, you might spook all the fish in the pond. Pond fish can be very picky eaters, eating only what's in their pond - I had fish turn down my friend's brightly colored chartreuse swimbait but eat my greenish brown swimbait. There are also no shad in the pond - shad for for reservoirs and lakes. There also aren't too many minnow species in small ponds, or much baby catfish. You do, though, have a lot of bluegill.
Above: A comparison of the two.
Bluegill are the dominate forage in small ponds, and they literally take over the ponds in the summer. Small bluegill are extremely common. When it comes down to matching the fish forage in the ponds with a budget in mind, I think that small swimbaits are better. Intricately painting a crankbait, which is already expensive, isn't cheap, and you won't get a good imitation of a bluegill under $8.
When you consider how dense pond growth can be, losing a $8 crank every other cast isn't cheap. Many swimbaits can be texas rigged, which makes them weedless. Swimbaits also come in bags vs a single lure, and are much cheaper than a crankbait.
Swimbaits also can be jigged over cover, and are better finesse wise. However, sometimes the stronger wobble and ratters of the crank bait can get bass to strike in greater numbers.
A lot of people, especially parents, think that fishing is an expensive sport. I see many parents put off by the amount of stuff they see flashing around on fishing shows. And it can be, if you make it that way. But if you look for good bargains, and make good decisions before buying, you can get a lot of good deals, and fishing can actually become a pretty cheap hobby.
Above: A bunch of Yum Bargain Bin stuff I picked out at Walmart.
You see, there are great deals all around you. Don't just settle for the small 20% deals. Look around. I know of an guy that wanted to sponsor a fishing derby for kids. He went on Craigslist, and found a offering for 15 rods and 20 reels from the 1980s, all for $80. The reels were dusty and old, and some lacked parts, but most still worked. He haggled the price down to $50, and made 13 fishing combos out of them. With some washing and oiling, they would be as good as new. Imagine if he had to buy 13 Zebco 202s, at $15 each. If you look around, you would find some pretty slick deals.
I like going to Walmart for their bargain bins. Ever seen those bin of soft plastics, marked at $1.50 each? Those make for pretty slick deals. I often see nice hard baits on sale, too. I think I once even saw a KVD Sexy Frog on sale. I Iike to check on the fishing aisle every time I go to Walmart, and it's a great way to save some money.
Sometimes, Google Maps doesn't work when you are trying to find a small body of water to fish. Often, the ponds are covered by trees, and can't be seen. Or, the Maps are outdated and ponds have since dried up. Other times, there are so many weeds in the pond that they look like lawns. I know ponds are very common, but how to I find them?
The answer is to hike. Small 1 acre ponds are quite common, and are often in the most unexpected of the places. I often find them next to highways, next to abandoned factories, and behind auto dealerships. Look for large parking lots and other places with a lot of concrete. If there's concrete, there needs to be a drainage. Often, the retention pond is right next to the auto dealer ship. Very large lawns, such a golf courses, also have retention ponds to drain the rainwater. Any pond with 1 acre could have fish.
Above: This pond was barely visible on maps. It's less than .5 acres. But it has some nice carp.
Every heard of that guy who has enough fishing gear to stock a small tackle shop? Bass fishing these days has become something where people buy whatever new thing any pro tells you. Company X came up with a new color of sparkles in a certain color for a lure you don't even know about? Buy it! Pro Z tells you to get something from a company that you don't even know about? Get it!
I don't know about you, but as a money conscious bank fisherman, I chose to carry a few lures for a trip in a nice fanny pack, rather than lug around several boxes. Heck, you wouldn't even touch half of that stuff. Even for boaters, I think that you should only carry around a few tried and true lures, lures that you use often and have faith in. Why buy something you probably aren't even going to use?
Above: You don't need the very best.
Let's face it, us weekend warriors aren't pros. We don't need all of that. A nice stock of good frequently used lures is great. Throw in that finesse lure when the fish have lock jaw, and you're all set.
Limit yourself to a certain number of lures when you are going fishing gear shopping, and make those trips sparse in number. Also, be sure to check out the bargain bins of the store you visit. Save a few dollars that way.
So I got all this stuff, and I want to downsize my collection. What can I do? Chances are, if you have a bunch of gear, you already have the essentials. Pick those out. You won't need to buy anything for a long time.
You can sell the rest of the stuff on somewhere like eBay or Craigslist. Make some extra bucks that way. Better yet, donate the gear. Give some of it to a deserving kid. Help grow our wonderful sport of fishing. Or, you could give it to something like a 4H group, a fishing pro's foundation like the Ike Foundation, or give it to us. Just contact us on the Contact page, and we'll set up a pick up if you're in Howard County, or you can ship it.
As spring approaches, and the thought of backyard fishing comes to mind our thoughts drift to gear. Chances are, your backyard creek is a tiny stream, or a stream nevertheless ( such as the Paint Branch or some tributaries of the Middle Patuxent). Even still, driving to a tiny stream to fish is a rewarding experience.
When most of us think of fishing tiny streams, we think about ultralight spinning combos and ultralight fly fishing combos. But in some very small streams, casting is not something you want to do. Too often has a cast hit a tree, along with a $4 Panther Martin. Even with jigs, casting and hitting trees can drain your pocket tackle box faster than you think. And then there are the knots, and knot tying. Yikes!
The interesting idea of tenkara fishing and keiryu fishing came to mind. For those of you who don't know, it's basically fishing without a reel. With keiryu, the fishing is done with natural bait collected at the creek, which"matches the hatch" perfectly. And tenkara is fly fishing with a stick. That's right, no reel. Which means no complicated castes, or possibly long and uncontrolled casts.
In tiny streams, who wants long casts? Chances are, that's another $1 fly stuck on a tree. However, with a stick, you don't need to cast. For fly fishers, you can learn tenkara. Several of my friends do it, and they love it.
Now let's turn to keiryu, or something like that. In many creeks, worms on tiny hooks are absolutely deadly. Along with a tiny BB split shot and a tiny float, you can catch a lot of fish, such as sunfish and creek chub. You also don't need a legit tenkara rod, which, for a decent one, costs at least $70. There are sometimes others than drop in the $50s or $40s, but many are of bad quality. Plus,for spin fishers, this is just a tiny creek rod. If it does the job, it's good.
I have bought a cheap cane pole on Amazon back in the fall. Most of those poles seem to work fine. I have only dunked worms at that point but when the weather warms up, I want to try jigs.
Hi. I am Ian, an extremely avid bass fisherman living in Howard County, MD. I like to bank fish and fish at local ponds and small creeks. I will explore budget friendly options for people to use in this blog. I hope I can teach you something.