I’ve been writing outdoor articles for nearly 30 years now. And one of the pleasures that I get from it all are the emails and photos that readers send to me on occasion. It’s great to hear how you are doing and I really appreciate the comments when you catch some fish using the suggestions that I bring to you each month here in MidWest Outdoors magazine.
Usually, during the summer, I’ll get an occasional photo and email from someone who caught a nice sized bass, catfish, crappie, or bluegill from a retention pond or park district lake by their home. But the letters typically stop coming by mid-July when the water of small ponds really warm up and become choked with weeds.
But this year for some reason has been different. I’ve received emails on local ponds from my readers throughout this entire summer. Because of that almost every wek I’ve been running a fishing report on my blog at www.IllinoisOutdoors.com.
But when it comes to ponds, one writer sends regular reports. It’s Ken HUSKER O’Malley.
Pond fishing seems to be O’Malley’s area of expertise but still, he’s found on Heidecke Lake, Shabbona, wading the Kankakee River and other local waters. But for short weekday trips after work, O’Malley loves to hit the local ponds.
Many anglers like O’Malley have been fishing the ponds for a couple of reasons. First of all, neighborhood ponds are close. Some of us can walk to these little honey holes or it may be nothing more than a few miles from home. Secondly, fishing can really be good with nice bass and panfish being caught. Oh well, I guess it’s time to say that with local water down the street, great fishing is not that far away.
But since these articles are submitted a month ahead of time, I can’t tell you what October will bring. But the pattern has been, if you’re fishing a local pond, you can still catch big fish.
I am predicting that October will be another good month for pond fishing. The weather looks like it will be good and up to the point of my typing this article, the fishing has been fantastic on the small ponds. My real question is, can the pond fishing last into November?
For northern Illinois, my bet would be that it will continue. Everyone has been saying that the fishing season came two or three weeks later this year. That could mean that it will also last an extra two or three weeks.
I’ll definitely hit the ponds a few times. I’ll bring along a rod and reel with a spinnerbait tied on the line. If that doesn’t work, I may switch over to a Strike King Shim E Stick or Ocho worm and fish it whacky worm style on the outside edges of those weeds along the shore.
I like to work the water where drain tiles lead to the water’s edge. When water is flowing out of them from rain storms, the gushing water will wear away some of the pond’s bottom, making it just a bit different from other areas. I really believe that bass relate to things like that because most ponds when they’re constructed are nothing more than shallow bowls. There normally is no great amount of structure in ponds. Structure comes from weeds, minor depressions or something else that may have ended up in the water making it different and something for the fish to relate to.
Fishing close to the weeds is also a good idea. In small ponds, the weeds are home for the fish. There just may not be a deep water sanctuary for the bass if it’s a small pond so the fish may have grown to be nomadic. This means they’re constantly moving around looking for food. When something makes them uneasy like a bright sun, they will tuck themselves into the weeds for shelter. Too, they’ll use the weeds for an ambush point for passing prey. When a storm passes through the area, the fish will hide within the weeds for cover. Just think of every weed patch that you see is a potential holding area for a big heavy bass.
As the waters cool down, crappies will get more active. October and November will be a great time to work a pond for the silvery black panfish. Go with live bait. Minnows below a slip bobber will catch some crappies for you but again, stay close to structure, i.e. weeds.
Crappies really seem to want some meat at this time of year so minnows will be in order. But when you get lucky and find them very active, then it’s Mini Mite time. The Mini Mite II is the perfect size. I’ve used assorted colors but am a bit partial to white but most often black.
I realize that so many anglers have put their boats away and hung up their rods and reels in exchange for the shotguns and bows. It’s a mistake. I’m all for getting out into the field to hunt and I will with my two German Shorthaired Pointers Wager and Profit. But I’ll also be spending some time though on the water fishing from a boat or on the shore of some pond close to home. Why? Because I know that the fishing will be good.
Fish these mini lakes and enjoy them. Make sure that they’re open for fishing and that you’re not trespassing. Leave nothing behind on the banks other than foot prints. Enjoy some great fishing, practice catch and release. You will be pleasantly surprised to see you can still catch a few nice fish in October and that great fishing is not that far away.