I learned to play with a fly rod on my grandfather’s farm pond, tossing wooly buggers and damselfly imitations to bass and bluegill, experimenting with patterns and presentations. Three hundred yards through the woods from the house, far enough at ten or twelve to be sufficiently wild. Only fifty years old but largely neglected for twenty, some trees had fallen in, some buttonbush and willows had rooted in its margins, it looked less artificial.
That’s always been my hang-up with ponds in this part of the world, the same bass-bluegill-channel catfish formula developed by Auburn’s Homer Swingle in the 1940’s and everyone thought we could improve upon nature by drastically reducing its complexity. Add fathead minnows as forage for bigger bass. Redears if you have snails. Hybrid sunfish if you have kids. Grass carp if you have weeds. Flowing waters were more diverse, more dynamic, and after time, I drifted away from ponds.
This year, all those flowing waters are over the bank. It’s fouled up the white bass spawn as they run upriver looking for hard-bottomed riffles, it’s fouled up the beginning of smallmouth season. But bass and bluegill are still biting in the ponds, redear should be starting up any moment now. Maybe that’s what I’ll do this morning.