By Jeff Little
I looked at the spot no less than a dozen times on Google Maps before actually making the first cast. Three days out, I talked my buddy Dave into joining me on the exploratory trip that required a three-quarter-mile hike in. Looking over at my friend unloading his kayak from the cart, I apologized, “It looked larger in satellite photography.” The pond might have been seven casts long and three casts wide.
We launched, made our first casts and waited. Instead of the signature power thump of a big largemouth sucking in the jig, I felt a rapid series of taps. Everywhere the jig landed, it found panfish intent on ripping appendages off the trailer. Dave called out from the not so far corner of the pond hoisting up an 11 inch bass, “Got one!”
I nodded, gave a half hearted thumbs up sign then made another cast. I thought to myself, “I’ve not only burned my Saturday on a pond full of dinks, but I’ve dragged my buddy into it as well.” Dave hadn’t lost faith as quickly as I did. He paddled up and suggested, “Something has to eat all of these bluegill and small bass.”
The day needed to be salvaged. Another pond nearby might save the trip, but it was another half mile hike through the woods. Within a few minutes, fingertips were zooming in on more satellite photography on the phone and a plan b was being hatched. One last cast then I would propose the change of plans to Dave.
The soft plastic swimbait skipped under some newly blossomed honeysuckle vines to a chunk rock shoreline. I initiated a backward glide with two quick paddle strokes, drawing the line taught without turning the reel handle. My head turned toward Dave to discuss our plans. When my gaze returned to the line, I noticed that it had changed angle.
Before I could think through my motions, the rod was doubled over and a big round white belly was rolling over a submerged log. The big bass had successfully buried itself in a jumble of branches. The line popped and creaked over the deep limbs and I one hand paddled over to see if I could winch the fish through the maze.
All at once, the fish came racing toward the surface and I scooped with the net. Feeling the fish’s weight in the mesh sling, I knew that it had been gorging on plenty of bluegill and small bass. The lure popped free of the fish’s jaw almost as soon as the net lifted out of the water.
Dave came over to take some photos, and we both agreed that a 5-pound, 11-ounce largemouth was worth the long hike into the small pond. We eventually made it to the second pond, and it produced a few three pounders, but most of the many bass we caught were 13 inches or less.
Taking a gamble on small remote water may lead to a day wasted on panfish and runt bass. I would have felt differently about that spot if not for one big fish. But small unpressured places like it have the potential to produce fish bigger than you might catch on water that has a ramp and a parking lot.