Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Big fish in a little pond

Conditions: Mostly cloudy, very little wind, 74°F, a storm front moving in

my new honey hole
Decided to hit up a small retention pond on the way to the train, and it was definitely worth the stop! I'd fished there once before with some friends, and caught insane numbers of hand-size bluegill, and one dinky LMB. Pretty sure the county stocks it with bluegill to keep mosquitos under control. It's a somewhat nasty looking pond, with lots of scum on the top; I think all the runoff from the neighborhood drains into the pond through a pipe. (I think that's the point of retention ponds, right?)

I bike past the pond everyday, and many evenings I stop by to check out the water level, amount of weeds, and see if there any fish around. Tons of little gills are usually positioned about a foot in front of the pipe, especially after rain. Surprisingly I've never heard or seen any frogs.

Decided to wet my line at the pipe, I was sure to get some baby gills. Rigged a small hook with a bullet weight and crawler (I don't think that's the standard way to use a bullet weight, but it gets caught on weeds less than split shot- and there are tons of weeds here). I wanted to present the bait near the bottom, where the larger fish tended to hang out.

I cast out about 20' from the pipe, and immediately got a big hit! Missed the hookup because it took me by surprise. Second cast to the same area, and BAM! fish on!

If this was a gill, it was a big'un! It was great to have a battle with a sizable fish at such an unlikely location right on my way to work. THIS is why I have a collapsible rod! My backpack rod is 5'6" (same height as me) and pretty lightweight- it makes even the smallest fish a joy to catch.

My adversary was determined to best me, and gave a great fight; it's speed was pretty remarkable- it wasn't coming in without a fight! As I reeled it in, I got a glimpse of the fish- a bass! I saw the flash of what little sun there was reflecting on it's shiny scales and realized I had a good sized LMB on the line. Sweet! I shouted and I'm not ashamed to admit it- giggled - as I pulled in the monster. Fishing is awesome, this is so great- you really never know what you'll catch! And so close to home, on the way to work. Freaking awesome.

I pulled it in, and the many little bluegill right by the pipe dispersed franticly, trying to avoid what must be one of their main predators in the pond.

big fish in a little pond! booyeah!
What a great looking fish! It looked very healthy, a little surprising considering the apparent condition of the pond and all the runoff that ends up there. This largemouth would be a pretty good catch at Busse or Burnham, but coming out of this little pond it was a trophy!

I snapped some pictures and held it next my rod to get a rough estimate of it's length- I measured the length of my rod butt this weekend for this very purpose. My pond trophy bass was about 12-13" long, relatively slim for having a veritable buffet of tasty bluegill nearby. I wondered if there were a bigger bass in there that competed for the food... I'd read that in small ponds there are often many little fish and a single, huge, top predator. I wondered if I was holding the top predator, or her skinny wingman.

Either way, I was elated! I shouted some more, so excited to land this beast on my second cast. I paused to admire my adversary, its hefty weight and muscle, a true big fish in a little pond.

I carefully carried my new friend back to the water, and gently placed the bass back in the water. A few seconds later it sprang back into action, and with a quick splash of the tail disappeared into the murky water.

Great! Two casts, one big fish, not bad for a Tuesday morning. This great fish also ended my bass skunk, which had been going on for a week or more.

I texted my wife to share my trophy catch, and looked at the time. I still had half an hour before my train arrived, so I quickly re-baited the hook and recast.

I proceeded to pull out around 15-20 mostly very good sized bluegill over the course of the next half hour. Every cast a fish! I could get used to this. I remembered the previous trip to the pond, and how small most of the fish were. A combination of no fishing pressure and plenty of food seemed to be providing the perfect environment for relatively large bluegill. I wonder if the bass in the pond eat the small gills, and the bigger ones get more food and grow larger.

biggest gill of the morning, ~8", check out the beautiful dark pattern
Either way I was slayin'em! The largest one was at least 8", again bigger than any of the fish I caught at Busse this weekend. It seems like water clarity definitely affects the patterns and color of fish; out of this zero visibility murk came the most stunningly beautiful fish!

After a while duty called, and it was time to pack up. I put my nightcrawlers in my backpack, took apart my rod, put my tackle and tools in, and began walking to the train.

Fishing is great! Perfect way to start the day. I looked forward to battling the pond bass another day, and wondered if these fish would be able to survive the winter. Either way, I would be back soon to battle the feisty fish in this little muddy puddle.

All fish C&R to fight another day

nice bass for a tuesday morning on the way to work

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