Saturday, February 18, 2017

Building a Pond Box

Building a Pond Box


In many instances, we stock our warmwater  boxes with piles of 2/0 hooked poppers, leeches and bunny flies, looking for that elusive bucket-mouth. Haunting the big water, or the most likely waters to produce a bass that will stress the hook on your pocket scale. Only to move on after a few non-productive trips, looking for better water. Or better yet, we will drive past countless suburban ponds and catch basins with nobody on them, on our way to crowded waters to fight jet skis and bass boats.All the while carrying the mindset of "bass or nothing" when it comes to warmwater fishing. Ironically, I was that guy for many years. That is, until I discovered a few jewels hidden in plain sight. Since realizing the attributes I needed to look for in water, most of my fishing takes place on small stalkable or wadeable ponds. Those waters are filled predominantly with 1/2 pounders and dink bass.....but bluegills that flip the cards.

      Catch Basins or flood control ponds on small suburban creeks are prime targets. Look for water that is creek fed vs spring. Most catch basin ponds will be shallow enough to wade the edges, but it will need a creek channel to hold fish through low water and winter drainage. Take an evening and sit on the banks of a likely looking water. at dusk, the water will show you the fish if they are there. Ignore a lack of fishing pressure. Most are seldom fished. They don't stand out as bass water, so no interest is found.  However, most yield the most impressive panfish in the area for two reasons.

Most fisherman disregard small water as "dink fisheries', and secondly, the folks who do know what a pond has to offer are throwing them back. There is little interest in eating out of water filled with road runoff. Which provides the perfect storm for huge gills. Farm ponds, development ponds and small bogs are all in need of a scouting trip. No matter how small or unassuming they first appear. Don't get me wrong, they can still hold some great bass. But if you gear up solely for those few fish, you will miss out on some of the best bluegill fishing you've ever inflated a float tube for.

Many of which you will fish an entire season and seldom if ever share the water with another fisherman. Does this all carry the ambiance of a wilderness trout stream? No, certainly not. But when you set the hook on a rising 10"-12" bluegill, that thought will suddenly escape you.  Nothing fights quite like a large gill.  

The Patterns

Over the years I have found a handful of patterns to simply outperform others on the water. They are patterns that pull up those Lilly pad hugging Copper Breasted slabs that tend to not want to leave their favorite stalk. From the larger open water patterns, to the bank hunting foam bugs, lily pad gurglers and assorted nymphs and streamers. They all have their place in a pond box. But don't over complicate things. Most folks think of warmwater and instantly think Bass Bug. I am admittedly no different. I wait for waters to warm in anticipation of watching the first ring  from my popper sonar, calling that first fish.

My Poppers
But over the years I have simplified my popper selection. I tie the Mule Deer Diver. If you're looking for a long list however,  you ill be waiting a long time. I also tie the Little Squirrel Popper. Big and small. I tie the MDD in one color, natural. The LS Popper is done in any color I can find. Most often however, I tie them in natural, Olive and black deer hair.
 It's a basic deer hair bluegill popper. Go with whatever color they like the most on a given day.  The MDD however pulls everything up. While I've tied it with countless color variations over the years,  I've never seen a need to go with anything but natural. So I go with what the fish tell me. I prefer to fish poppers that will pull in bass, but won't exclude me from hooking the largest panfish as well. That way I

never have to choose what I need to gear up for.

The Gurglers

Another pattern in my box is tied in the foam style of the Gartside Gurgler.  These 3 patterns cover everything from solely bluegill days, to rolling takes in open water. and slapping a fly in and amongst the lily pad openings.

The Gurgling Wog is tied to imitate the polliwogs often found swimming along the pond edges in the spring. Later in the summer as they grow, you will find them hanging along the underside off of the lily pads.

While the Wog is found on the edges and hanging with the lilies. The Gurgling Frog is my 1st choice when I have open expanses of water between to groups of pads.

The Mini Wog is extremely effective when cast to the bank and twitched retrieved. Filling the bluegill popper niche.

Both the Wog & Frog are capable of bringing to the surface the best  of what a particular water has to offer.

Big Gills can't resist the Frog over open water.

The Foam Butt Caddis

If I had to choose a single pattern for any warmwater haunt I was about to would be the Foam Butt Caddis. It brings anything that see's it to the surface. From early spring to late fall, it is the fly of choice nine times out of ten. It's at home on the edges, or in the lily pads. Tied larger than the original cricket pattern and on a stinger hook, it is the one fly I am never out of.

      It has a way of pulling the largest gills out of the crowd. whether twitch retrieved or pulled under, this fly remains effective.

Bass are equally drawn to it. And when skittered, they will often chase it, slashing as they go.

Did I say big gills love this fly?

The Wet Side

I love staying on top fishing warm water. But I enjoy catching fish better than getting skunked. Not all days are a surface fly day.   Here are the patterns I tie and carry. 

The Little Crappie Fly

The Speck

The Jersey Damsel

The Mohair Leech

That in a nutshell is my warmwater box.  I am constantly tweaking and adjusting, but the patterns listed here are constants in my box.  Give them a try. Let me know how they do for you on your home waters. 

For tying videos on all the patterns referenced, please click on the link below:

Warmwater Patterns

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