Make no bones about it, I love small pond fishing. And over the years I’ve given plenty of reasons why.
The ponds that typically interest me the most are close to where I’m staying, often within walking distance. Right now, we’re “camped” at an RV park near Platte City, Missouri and they have four small ponds on site. Being able to step out of the trailer and walk a minute or two before making my first cast is a dream come true, allowing me to fish an hour or two when I otherwise wouldn’t be able to fish. Even when I live in a “standard” residence, ponds within an few minutes of home and work were always on my radar for the same reason.
I’ll grant small ponds are rarely world class fisheries, and the four ponds at my current park are no exception. They’re not maintained to maximize their potential, with the only rules being you must be a guest of the park and fish from the shore. Otherwise you can use any method (legal by Missouri rules) and keep whatever you catch. They do stock fish every spring to my understanding, but that’s it.
Given the catch and keep attitude in the area, I didn’t expect much in the way of size or numbers when I first tried the ponds. Surprisingly, there are good numbers of fish, albeit most are smallish in size, sunfish to 6-7 inches, crappie to 9, and bass to 12. This isn’t unusual for small ponds, especially in urban areas, and yes a RV park is urban to my way of thinking. These four ponds also have good numbers of grass carp and a few catfish, again even the grass carp are smallish as they appear to have been overstocked.
After getting to know a small pond, I often find that many of them hold an occasional surprise, in terms of a few exceptional fish. I know many of the urban ponds along the Front Range of Colorado have produced such fish for me. Over the years, I’ve caught master angler sized bass, catfish, crappie, carp, bluegill, and pumpkinseeds out of urban ponds. Not every visit, but frequently often enough to keep my interest up.
Yesterday’s fishing in the RV ponds resulted in such a surprise, not a master angler fish by Missouri standards, but I’ll take 18 inch or so largemouth bass anytime I can get them, especially when they come on a 5 wt fly rod.