The first thing that's needed is a good farm pond, and not all ponds fit the bill. Some have owners that let their friends fish for bass and keep their catch, and perhaps do the same themselves. Because largemouth bass are big fish that fight hard, leap high, and are fun to catch. But if the pond owner allows anglers to keep such fish, give or take just a few each year, they're hurting the pond. Bass are there to keep bluegills under control thus leaving plenty of food for the remainder to eat and grow to a good size rapidly.
And the bluegills are there to feed the bass and allow them to grow, too. Take out most of the largemouths, and the bluegills begin to multiply rapidly past the food supply, leaving a pond with a few thin and hungry bass that can't reproduce because the bluegills eat their eggs, and stunted bluegills worth nothing to anyone. But a good pond will have plenty of both species, and fast fishing for dandy panfish.
So, now you've found a likely pond, how do you catch some? That's easy. You'll need proper gear for everyone, which means thin pencil bobbers above a small splitshot, and No. 6 hook. Too many anglers use those big round floats sometimes the size of a tennis ball better suited to shark fishing than bluegill seeking. A thin float slips under easily signaling a bite without much drag to spook a feeding bluegill below. Baited with a garden worm or better, a waxworm, that's all you need, though a small ice spoon on lines end in white, red, green or orange is a better attractor. Suit yourself.
When you reach the pond and bait up, another mistake too many Huron County anglers make is tossing their offering right out to the middle on the theory that the big ones are way out there. They're usually not. Most of those tasty panfish will be within 20 feet of the shore, and some 10 or less, so don't cast, just make a gentle toss. It's wise to start with your bait about four feet below the float, and often that's enough. But if nothing happens for a while, try moving it to five feet or even six. And don't let it just sit there. Bluegills like eye catching movement, so give the bait 30 seconds or so, then lift your rod tip and sweep it toward you a few inches, wait, and sweep it another few inches.
If there are fish down there, they'll hit. If not, move around the pond a little and try again. And again. You'll find some hungry customers before long. Finally, don't put your fish on a stringer where they'll quickly die. In hot weather, you're better off to take a cooler partly filled with ice, and drop each catch in the cooler. Then when you get home a cold and tasty catch will be waiting for the skillet.
Dick Martin, a free-lance writer from Shelby, is a retired biology teacher who has been writing outdoor columns for more than 30 years. Reach him at [email protected] You also can visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.
HOOKS & BULLETS
• According to the Sportsmen's Alliance, language included in Ohio's two-year budget that would begin to fix a major shortfall in funding for conservation is one step closer to becoming law, as the Ohio Senate approved House Bill 166. Gov. Mike DeWine fulfilled his promise to Ohio sportsmen by including a major investment in hunting, fishing, and trapping programs when he introduced his budget earlier this year. The bill includes upgrades to shooting ranges, as well as boat access and fish hatcheries, all badly needed in the state.
• Anyone interested in learning about hunting or who would like to know more about public hunting opportunities is encouraged to attend a free informational program on Monday, July 15. The program will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Sandusky County Sportsmen's Club located at 3950 Ohio 600, Gibsonburg. The program is free of charge and will cover hunting the most popular game species such as squirrel, waterfowl and deer. Experienced Division of Wildlife staff will share information on these topics and how to apply for controlled hunt opportunities. Questions regarding the program can be directed to 419-424-500.
• The Muskingum Watershed Conservation District is spending serious money to upgrade its various lake facilities. Among them are renovations at the main camp area at Charles Mill Lake. Once completed, 66 sites will have full hook-ups and 50 amp power service, plus a a new shower building with laundry facilities. Pleasant Hill Lake has construction underway on campsite areas A and B, and once completed will offer 46 campsites with full hook-ups, and a new playground.
• Anglers interested in learning the art of fly fishing and practicing their skills on a half-mile section of Cold Creek at the Castalia State Fish Hatchery in Erie County are encouraged to participate in the beginning fly-fishing clinics, which will take place Fridays from Aug. 30 through Sept. 20. In addition to fly-fishing instruction by Division of Wildlife staff and volunteers, attendees will be able to test their newly acquired skills by fishing for the abundant rainbow trout found in Cold Creek. Anglers may also encounter an occasional brown trout and brook trout. There are 80 slots available for the popular program. The sessions will be from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 30, Sept. 6, Sept. 13 and Sept. 20 at the hatchery, which is located off Ohio 269, near Castalia. The classes will be open for registration Monday. Participants can register at https://apps.ohiodnr.gov/wildlife/educationregistration/. Each person who registers may bring one guest to participate in the clinic. Anglers are encouraged to bring someone new to fishing, or someone who used to fish but has since lapsed. There are limited spots for each date and session, so act quickly to get your desired date and time slot. Anglers may only participate once in the beginning fly fishing classes as either a permit holder or guest. All anglers age 16 and older are required to have a valid Ohio fishing license. Funds generated from the sale of fishing licenses go toward conserving and restoring habitat, enforcement of fishing regulations, hatchery operations, fish stocking in public fishing areas, enhancement of research, and educational outreach. For more information on Ohio's fishery resources, visit wildohio.gov.
• Anyone interested in learning about the importance of native pollinators and how to create pollinator habitat is encouraged to attend a free informational workshop from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 13 at the Sandusky River Coon Hunters’ clubhouse, 7575 South Township Road 131, Tiffin. It is free of charge, but preregistration is required by July 10, as space is limited. Interested individuals can register by contacting Christina Kuchle at 419-348-5073 or [email protected] Local professionals will cover topics including pollinator life histories, benefits, and ecology. Current issues facing pollinators and how to attract them to your property will also be addressed. After lunch, participants will take a tour of the Kildow Prairie property to get a firsthand look at a native prairie. The workshop will be held partially outdoors, and participants are encouraged to dress for the weather, including sturdy walking shoes. Binoculars, sunscreen or a hat, and bug spray are also recommended. For more information on Ohio’s pollinators and other native wildlife, visit wildohio.gov.