This week we step away from our normal all fly fishing column to talk about all around fishing. Especially for families and young children. It is important to introduce the entire family to the sport of fishing and to be honest the local municipal ponds are a great point of entry. Yes, you can fly fish on these ponds, but be prepared for some strong competition.
Utah Channel Cats, Trout, Blue Gill, Large Mouth Bass, Carp and More
Photo Utah Channel Catfish At Willow Pond
Fishing local, municipal or city ponds has become a part of fishing life for many urban Americans. With the increased cost of travel, less time for fishing and a larger population who fish, for many, the local pond has become the main attraction for avid anglers. And so it should be. "Put and take" fisheries provide recreation, can be quite pretty and are a great place for youngsters. In addition, municipal ponds are great for people who have a challenge getting around and are also a great place to practice your fly fishing techniques. What they do not offer is solitude and a high quality fishing experience. These are public ponds and any angler with a license can fish there. There are several other problems which I will discuss below.
In general, a variety of fish are planted in public ponds: Trout, Catfish, Bass, Bluegill and various minnows to provide a food base. Depending on the water quality and temperature, some natural reproduction may occur.
What Do I Need To Know To Catch My Own Mess Of Fish?
So, how do you fish these ponds? First, lets talk about some basics and then we can get into more technical details.
Photo Channel Catfish Utah Willow Pond
The first step on any pond is to know the rules and regulations. Most often, they will be posted, but if not, check your local regulations so you do not inadvertently harm the fishery.
Second: Observe. Note the water quality and clarity. Find out where the inlets and outlets are, what the source of the water is (spring fed or creek fed). Try to figure out what the topography of the lake is: how deep is it, are there any old river channels and underwater structure.
Next: Research. Whatever research you can do on the front end, will help you greatly. Find the local Wildlife Official and ask questions. Be sure to ask the most important question: what fishing technique is working and what is the stocking schedule! If you cannot find the local wildlife person, ask those fishing the water. You would be surprised how friendly and helpful they can be. I am on a first name basis with many of the fishers at my local pond and I freely give and receive advice. If you are lacking the latest hot bait, sometimes someone will generously give you some. And if you are toting a youngster, which I usually am, other fishermen often will let your youngster land their fish. In reality the social side of the local pond is one of the nice benefits and so, while you are fishing be sure to make some new friends and acquaintances while doing so. Of course, the best way to make a friend is to be a friend so be sure to be helpful with advice and generous if you are so inclined.
Photo Large mouth Bass Utah Bountiful Pond
Also check the pond vegetation as this has a great impact on what the fish will eat and what techniques will work.
Most anglers will be using bait. Power bait and its variants are quite popular here in Utah but they have given rise to "Fleigenbinders Power Bait Rule: Fish will bite on whatever color or flavor you do not have in your arsenal." But, do not overlook the standards: worms seem to work quite regularly and salmon eggs are usually very productive in the spring.
For kids, I highly recommend a small chunk of night crawler on a small hook with no weight at all. That will usually bring in the Bluegill and Sunfish. And, kids want action. A spinning rod with a de-hooked spinner is just the ticket for a youngster to learn to cast and not endangering himself or others around!
When using bait, the best all around rigging is to thread either a clear plastic bubble filled with water or a lead egg sinker above a swivel. Then add 12" to 36" of leader onto the down line end of the swivel where you attach your hook. I often attach two hooks (Double Trouble) either with similar bait fished at two different depths or two different types of bait until I find out what is working. Be sure to check your regulations to make sure that Double Trouble is legal on your water.
Using this setup, you should have enough weight to cast quite a long distance and often this is the trick for municipal fisheries, however don't forget that in many cases, fish will be close to the shore and you might be casting over them.
A common mistake is using too much weight hooked directly to your line. You might be able to cast a good distance but you are simply inviting snags. Don't use too much weight.
The secret to casting long distances is not your weight but your line, reel and rod. I am always amazed at how some individuals can't seem to cast more than about 20'! Make sure you have fresh and not too heavy line - 4-6 lb line is fine for trout and a bit bigger for larger species. Make sure your line is filled to just below the rim of the spool. If you are having trouble casting any distance, take it to someone more experienced and have them check it.
Make sure you can cast appropriate distances, if you cant, you are probably wasting your time!
I'll post more about fishing municipal ponds soon, in the mean time. Happy Fishing!
Photo Bountiful Lake Carp Utah
Photo Carp Bountiful Lake Utah
Photo Utah Carp
Photo Utah Carp
Photo Municipal Pond Murray Utah
Photo Municipal Pond Murray Utah
Photo Willow Pond Murray Utah
Photo Tiger Trout Utah
Photo Spring Bluegill Utah
Photo Arm to Arm Fishermen