Eager to hook big fish? Don't overlook area ponds

OUTDOORS

August 15, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

Whenever someone asks me about hot spots for trophy-sized largemouth bass I always advise them to hit farm ponds.

Probably more large bass are taken from ponds than all other bodies of water combined. Yet, farm ponds are shamefully ignored by most anglers.

Last week I had the pleasure of spending a day with former Glen Burnie area resident Jack Stevens, who retired to the small community of Preston on the Eastern Shore some 10 years ago.

Stevens isn't a guide, just "a retired fellow who likes to fish. I always liked to mess around with model planes, but my wife complained about the mess I made, so when I retired I began to look around for something to do," he said. "Well, I had plenty of thoughts, but fishing easily won out."

"What do you want to do?" he asked over breakfast near Easton. "I have two ponds in mind. We'll need my john boat for one, but the other can be fished from the shore."

I assured him that I was with him and all decisions were his to make.

"OK, we'll stop by my house and pick up the boat. The pond is only a mile or so from home. We'll fish it till lunchtime, take a rest and hit the other one in the afternoon," he said.

In less than an hour we were shoving Stevens' boat into the large private farm pond in Caroline County. This was an old, established pond used primarily for irrigation. Scattered about the pond were stands of fallen and partly submerged timber in addition to the overhanging trees and vegetation one would expect to find on such an Eastern Shore pond.

Minutes after tying on a Lucky 13 top-water plug, Stevens boated a robust 3-pound largemouth. He had no sooner released it than a huge crappie hit my Rapala. And that's how the whole morning went as we made our way around the fertile water.

"As far as I know, I'm the only person allowed to fish this next pond," Stevens said after lunch as we drove to a picture-perfect plantation setting near Trappe in Talbot County.

I didn't know it when we got out of Stevens' truck and rigged our rods with 4-inch black plastic worms, but I was soon to catch the most bragging-sized bass in the shortest amount of time in my life.

"Cast out toward the middle and if a bass hasn't picked up your worm within the first 10 feet or so, you may as well reel in and cast again," he said.

I did as suggested, let the weighted worm sink to the bottom and began to walk the lure back toward my position. On the third lift of the rod, the first freshwater whale hit my hook.

A few minutes and several jumps and shakes later, Jack helped me land what we estimated to be a 4- to 4 1/2 -pound bucketmouth.

After releasing the fish, I put my worm in the same spot and pulled out a 3 1/2 -pounder! The fish ran, leaped, shook its head and tried to spit in my eye when I landed it. Back into the water it went.

On my fourth cast I retrieved my worm maybe 6 feet before my rod creaked from strain. This fish was different, I could tell.

It made a few strong runs, peeling line from my bait-casting reel. When I got the fish to within 20 feet, it broke surface with a mighty head shake that foamed the pond's water.

A few minutes later I held it up for a close inspection. "That's a 5- to 6-pounder for sure," Stevens said.

And that is pretty much how the next hour went.

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