3 Keys to Enjoying your Shore Fishing
By: Frank Jones
Since we invented the Twin Troller I must admit that my small water fishing adventures have been largely limited to use of my boat. The lone exception to this is the joy I still get from walking the bank of a pond. The simple pleasure of a stroll around a pond with a single rod in me hand is hard to beat. Doesn’t matter if it is a farm pond, an urban drainage pond, or the manicured bank of a neighborhood pond they can all offer the same enjoyment. Bank fishing offers several benefits — immediate access, no boat ramp hassles and minimal startup cost. This low cost relaxed scenario can be a lot of fun, but don’t make the assumption that minimal requirements make for instant success. Truth be told, the shoreline game presents a handful of challenges unique to fishing on foot.
Use the Open Water
Bank anglers at times may have to cast across vegetation to reach a sweet spot, or hit the fish they’ve spotted busting bait or swirling in chase. This always sounds like a good idea, until you actually hook a fish separated by a mini jungle of dense vegetation. It is the nature of a hooked fish to immediately run to either deep water or the heaviest cover avail;able. Keep your rod as high as possible without giving up control and leverage on the fish. It is always fun to “play” a fish but this is not the time for that, reel quickly and try to keep the fish on top of the water and attempt to get them over the top of any cover. If they do get clogged in a dense spot, I’ll sometime release some line and many times the fish will use the extra line to free themselves to more open water. If you have some open bank to walk, use it!! Walk down the bank and guide the fish around the vegetation and through any adjacent gap. Once in open water, it’s usually a done deal.
Make Sure You Land Them
Some times this is easier said than done. Landing big fish on a lake shore can be tricky. Generally it’s safe to “shore flip” the little ones and even a decent-size fish hooked solidly on single hook rigs like a Texas-rigged bait. However, I do not recommend flipping anything with a treble hook or surface toads with multiple hooks. It’s easier, and safer to give them the slide treatment – get them coming shoreward and about two feet out sidearm your rod and slide them onto wet grass, or at least into reach on a muddy bank. Fishing ponds can be a lot of fun, but nothing can ruin that fun faster than losing a big fish at the shore or ending up with a hook buried in your hand.
Watch Your Feet
When fishing a shoreline you should always be mindful of the potential hazards. From fire ants massing amid debris, to cottonmouth water moccasins slithering amid the vegetation and suspended in overhanging tree limbs, and in the deep south alligators can be hiding just about anywhere, I don’t let potential threats keep me from fishing; but I definitely maintain a high level of awareness.
Usually these guys hear/feel you coming, but smacking/poking high grass with your rod tip or a walking stick helps prevent unexpected meetings. If you are fishing in a more remote pond with brush or tress around the edges, check them before walking/wading beneath branches to reach a sweet spot. And if you’re keen on tiptoeing onto the trunk of a solid laydown to venture a cast into a submerged treetop, survey the deal carefully, lest you find yourself staring at hostile company while precariously perched in a vulnerable position. As humans we tend not to like these creatures, but they are a valuable put of most ecosystems and it is best to just leave them alone and they will do the same for you.
In the south fire ants can be found just about anywhere, but one of their favorite places are along the moist shore line of just about any body of water. Nothing can ruin a stroll around a pond faster than stepping on to a mound of these little devils. Take particular caution during the rainy season when high water pushes insects farther up the shoreline and into temporary living arrangements. Consider, also, that displaced fire ant colonies have been known to form living rafts by interlocking all those legs and literally floating to their next high ground refuge. I’ve never waded into one of these biting flotillas, but I can’t imagine any upside to that deal.
Yep, I said alligators. This protected species can now be found along the south Atlantic coast states as far north as the upper reaches of North Carolina and all along the Gulf states. Not to long ago I spotted a small gator on a golf course pond that I have also seen some young neighborhood kids fishing from the shore. They are not too plentiful, but keeping an eye out for them is always a good idea especially if your small water adventures take you to more remote locations. The small gators are usually more interested in catching your topwater frog, but dehooking one of these bandits can be a finger-risking exercise. Moreover, a larger gator might decide to help himself to my struggling catch and such close encounters can, at best, become perpetual YouTube worthy experiences; and, at worst, an E.R. Visit.
Next time you find yourself with the opportunity to enjoy a little bank fishing keep these things inmind and the result could be a relaxing time next to the water and who knows maybe the fish of a lifetime. As I often say, “small and protected waters are the best waters”.
By: Bob Lusk
By: Mike Pehanich