Pond Fishing At Its Best

The stars shone lightly in the moonless sky. The calls of the bullfrogs guided my friend Art Katz and me from the house, past the barn and through the hay field to my dad's farm pond. According to the fishing report in the newspaper, the fish would start biting at 11 p.m., and we were more than willing to lose sleep to see if it was right.

I tossed my favorite bass lure into the water - an old black surface popper about an inch long. The night sky swallowed my cast. Plunk! Swish! Before I had a chance to give the lure a quick little pop in the water, I was battling a bass. I hollered for Art to watch me bring in my fish, but he had hooked a fighter, too. It was 11:04, and the bass kept hitting one after another for nearly 45 minutes. This was pond fishing at its best.

You don't have to take my word about the virtues of pond fishing. Twelve out of 87 of the state's record fish have been taken from privately owned ponds, including a 29-pound, 14-ounce channel catfish caught by Monte B. Hoover of Pattonsburg and a 3-pound bluegill hooked by Robert Giovanini of Columbia. With more than 300,000 privately owned ponds and lakes in Missouri, there are still plenty of opportunities for the rest of us to catch a lunker.

Equipment can be anything from a $200 graphite fly rod with custom-tied flies to a cane pole with a bobber and worms dug from the garden. Many pond anglers set their lawn chairs on the bank and cast to the edge of the vegetation or brush where fish like to hide. Some prefer belly boats that take them to the right spots easily and silently. Others like to launch a boat.

Bruce and Kathleen Maier of Columbia, two avid pond anglers who lead busy lives, keep an old canoe with a slow leak on their pond. When the water starts to get their shoes wet, they know it's time to get back to their chores on shore.

The Conservation Department has done its part to ensure that plenty of fish are anxiously waiting for you to dangle a juicy worm in front of them. In the past 50 years, the Conservation Department has helped private pond owners stock close to 100,000 ponds. Last year alone, nearly 100,000 largemouth bass, over half a million