SA Bass - - Contents - Ben­nie Wiese* *Ben­nie Wiese is the edi­tor of SA Bass mag­a­zine and an ex­pe­ri­enced pro­vin­cial bass an­gler.

“Win­ter Tac­tics For Small Ponds” Across the coun­try we have an­glers fish­ing small bod­ies of water. It does not mat­ter if it’s a golf course, farm dam, gov­ern­ment park pond, or quarry. The sizes may dif­fer, from so small that you can cast across it up to a few hec­tors – Ben­nie Wiese

Across the coun­try we have an­glers fish­ing small bod­ies of water. It does not mat­ter if it’s a golf course, farm dam, gov­ern­ment park pond, or quarry. The sizes may dif­fer, from so small that you can cast across it up to a few hec­tors.

How­ever, many of these waters will have the same di­ver­sity of larger bod­ies for ex­am­ple water grass, weeds, deep drop offs, stand­ing tim­ber and even rock piles. Many of the small ponds are loaded with un­der sized bass and are the per­fect venues to in­tro­duce be­gin­ner an­glers, or to take the kids to have a fun day. But don’t be fooled, some of these ponds will be home to tro­phy size bass. If I think about it, few bass were caught that could have matched, or even im­proved the of­fi­cial South African record.

We will al­ways have an­glers fish­ing these ponds in the warmer months up to the end of au­tumn, but when win­ter ar­rives fewer an­glers will re­turn.

Here are the views of two Cast-for-Cash / FLW an­glers, Richard Dunn from Team Transaxle and Steven Wil­liams from Team Berkley ABU.

Both of them spend a lot of time on the road due to their work com­mit­ments but when­ever they get an op­por­tu­nity they stop and fish ponds at golf clubs, guest houses or farm dams. They agree that win­ter can be a prime time for catch­ing mon­ster bass. Their the­ory is that if you have a few warm days it will quickly heat up the pond and the big­ger bass will get ac­tive.

“Think about it; how quickly will the water heat up if the pond is not very deep and you have two or three day’s nice win­ter sun? Nor­mally on your big­ger dames it will take around two weeks for the water to warm up if you have con­sis­tent weather.”, said Richard.

He started to laugh and took an­other sip of his cof­fee. “I don’t think these small bod­ies of water can get too cold for bass. If you mon­i­tor the daily tem­per­a­ture it will give you a good in­di­ca­tion on when to go fish­ing. Even if you are fish­ing from a boat you will have to mon­i­tor the water tem­per­a­ture. A two de­gree rise is the magic num­ber for me and it doesn’t mat­ter how cold the lake gets. An in­crease of two de­grees in sta­ble weather is all it takes to get bait fish­ing mov­ing.”

Richard told me that some of his best fish­ing days were in win­ter on bright, sunny days, and of­ten in midday, when the sun was di­rectly over­head. “I’ve seen win­ter bass bites go­ing from zero to un­be­liev­able within min­utes of the sun com­ing out. De­pend­ing on where you are fish­ing, all dams will not have clear water and many of the smaller ponds will be murky which for me are not favourable fish­ing con­di­tions. But dur­ing a pe­riod of mild win­ter weather, small, murky ponds can pro­duce awe­some ac­tion. Fish the clear dams when it’s cold and when it warms up a bit then switch to the murky ones.”

Win­ter ap­proach

Al­though many ponds have sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics as larger venues it does not mean that the bass will be all over. “Rocks will al­ways at­tract some type of bait fish in win­ter and there­fore I tar­get rocky ar­eas first be­cause shal­low rocks heat up

quickly on sunny days, warm­ing the water around them.

You will find that bass cruise along the dam wall’s rip rap in search of a meal. A light jig with a trailer is a good choice. Just hop or swim it slowly around the rocks”.

If there are any reeds or weeds avail­able it will also at­tract bass. Richard told me that he doesn’t catch as many big fish around them in win­ter as he does around rocks. Stand­ing tim­ber is a good choose when fish­ing cold, murky dams. Be­cause of the low vis­i­bil­ity bass tend to hang tight to stumps and logs.

No pres­sure

“If you’re ever go­ing to fish a small dam, or pond, win­ter is def­i­nitely the time to do so. Chances are good to catch some bet­ter qual­ity bass and even your biggest bass for the year.” said Steven Wil­liams.

As a young­ster grow­ing up in KZN he no­ticed that many an­glers stopped fish­ing the smaller ponds dur­ing win­ter which re­duced the fish­ing pres­sure. He used the op­por­tu­nity and caught some very nice bass dur­ing win­ter. “From the end of au­tumn bass don’t see many lures and the fish­ing pres­sure is about none ex­tant on these venues.”

Smaller ponds can be fished more thor­oughly and the best time to do so is when the water tem­per­a­ture ranges be­tween 9 and 13ºC. Our win­ters are not that cold and we will have two or three cold fronts when we have a mild win­ter. The water may stay in that tem­per­a­ture range for longer pe­ri­ods trig­ger­ing a re­ally un­be­liev­able big bass bite. Steven has caught many bass around 6lb in water colder than 8ºC, so never let cold water dis­cour­age you.

Steven ex­plained that he can easy find big­ger bass in

smaller dams even when fish­ing from the bank. He over­looks all shal­low water ar­eas as well as flats and points with a slow, steady slope. “Look for those shore­lines with deep water close by, stair-step­ping ledges, big bowlers and hard bot­toms. These are prime ar­eas to start. If the area you are fish­ing does not have these key points then look for man­made struc­tures like rip rap, chan­nels or ditches.”

The ba­sics for win­ter fish­ing are that bass will nor­mally hold to deep water and will fol­low struc­tures to the shal­low ar­eas when they are go­ing to feed. See what bass can re­late to, what type of fod­der is avail­able and where the bait fish are most com­fort­able.

Steven ex­plained. “In most small ponds bass will mainly feed on frogs, crabs and in­sects but in win­ter bass will feed on bait fish. Bass are op­por­tunis­tic and will also feed on birds or mice when the op­por­tu­nity arises. There­fore don’t be scared to use big­ger baits even in win­ter.

If crabs are still ac­tive you can tar­get shal­low rocky ar­eas us­ing a black and blue, or Junebug, or brown jig.”

Ex­tra thoughts: “Win­ter is a great time to fish pri­vate farm ponds from the shore be­cause there are no snakes and ticks around and not many in­sects in your face.”

Con­clu­sion; don’t put your rods away this win­ter and see how many hid­den ponds you can find. Al­ways dress warm and take ex­tra dry clothes and a towel with you. You don’t want to get in­fluenza for when you ac­ci­dently slip into the water.

Lastly, al­ways re­mem­ber to prac­tice catch-and-re­lease and respect the land owner’s pri­vacy.

“Look for those shore­lines with deep water close by, stair-step­ping ledges, big bowlers and hard bot­toms.”

Steven Wil­liams landed this beaut at Rhenos­terkop

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