How to catch big fish from small ponds

Many people may think that big fish don’t live in small ponds, but nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the biggest fish I’ve seen live in small little ponds, never known to most fisherman. You can catch trophy bluegill, crappie, bass, carp, and more from small bodies of water. 

Like anything, some of it is luck whether you get big or small fish to bite. But you can increase your likelihood of catching bigger fish. To do this you need to focus fishing in the areas big fish live, upsize your baits, and be careful not to spook them with loud noises or un-natural looking lures. When all else fails – use live bait like small fish from the pond if legal in your area. 

Where you can find the big fish in any pond

Fish all follow similar patterns. Usually moving shallower as water warms, deeper as water cools. Hanging out near cover or areas where they can chase prey. Small and large fish alike will follow these patterns.

But finding those subtle differences between what large fish and small fish do in your pond is what will help you catch big fish. For example – when bass spawn they are at their largest. Females have a stomach full of eggs, several pounds worth in some cases. While males cruise the shallows, making beds, the females hang out just a little deeper until it’s time for them to lay their eggs on the beds. 

So knowing this difference lets us know one thing – if you fish just a little deeper during spawn season you’re more likely to catch those egg-carrying females which are much larger than the males. Knowing that one secretly can dramatically increase your chance of catching bigger fish.

catch big fish from small pond pond with lilypads

In almost all cases, bigger fish live in deeper water than smaller fish. If you look out on the edge of your local pond you will see this naturally. Right on the edge are minnows. Then further out you might see a bluegill or two swimming around. The deeper you go, you might even find a small bass cruising for a meal. Beyond that where you can’t see – is where the big fish that can feed on all of them live. 

Similarly big fish got that way because they’re smart. They don’t just hang out in open water hoping that something they can eat will come by. They have the best hiding places to chase prey and will dominate that area. So look for the most ideal places in the pond where fish could live. If there is a lone tree laying in the middle of the water, that would be a great place for big fish to sit and wait for prey.

Use bigger baits to catch bigger fish

Bigger fish also aren’t likely to waste their time on small meals. They are going to only use their energy to eat prey which can give them most bang for their buck. So using a 4 inch worm to catch a 10 pound fish isn’t the best bait you could be using.

Instead, you should take whatever bait you’ve had luck with in your pond to catch fish and go bigger. If you use worms to catch catfish, try even bigger ones or even upgrade to pieces of chicken or other larger bait sources. If you use swimbaits to catch bass – try using an even bigger version that mimics larger species like big bluegill or trout. That’s sure to get a very big bass’s attention when a minnow imitation just isn’t worth their time.

catch big fish small ponds big bait

This is where you’ll want to weigh quality and quantity. If you use an 8 inch swimbait in a small pond, you are fishing for one bite the whole day. There are likely only a couple fish in the pond that are big enough to actually eat something that large. So if you want to catch big fish but also make sure you at least catch something, this technique is not for you. But if you’re really looking after a giant – it’s a sure fire technique to get those big ones interested.

Avoid spooking big fish

As I have mentioned a few times now – the key to catching big fish is knowing that big fish are wise fish. A small fish just hungry for food might bite anything you put in front of its nose even if you are sitting there looking right at him. A giant isn’t so stupid. The wrong noise or presentation could alert them to where they won’t open their mouth for hours. They can also tell a fake bait from their real prey a lot better.

So first, be stealthy when getting to your fishing location. You don’t have to whisper and tip-toe to your honey hole, but also don’t make more noise than necessary or move things that are connected in the water. You don’t want the fish knowing you’re there.

catch big fish small ponds water drop

Most people know this, but don’t pay as much attention when they’re actually fishing. If you are using the big baits mentioned above – you’re going to make a big splash when throwing into the water. If the fish you’re after hears that they aren’t going to bite. So be careful to cast as lightly as possible without a high trajectory. Also try to cast far past where you actually want the bait to be and reel it into the spot. It’s much stealthier. 

And be mindful of how you’re presenting any bait you throw. A big bluegill will even be able to tell a realistic worm movement from a fake one – so work on your techniques and use live bait if possible. If you’re using a swimbait make it swim like the other fish you see and use colors natural to your area. Big fish are likely to spot yours out if it doesn’t look like what it’s used to seeing and not bite it.

Use live bait to catch monsters

The best way of getting around big fish’s ability to tell real from fake is to use live bait if you can. For big crappie or bluegill this means worms, grasshoppers, or other bugs around your pond. But for bass or catfish the best solution I have found is to try and catch a smaller fish first and then use it for bait.

When fishing my local pond for the giants that I know live there, I usually bring two poles. One pole is a nightcrawler setup to catch a medium sized bluegill. Then when I find the right one, I hook it under the dorsal fin on my heavier pole and cast it out into deeper water. The fish will swim around for a long time helplessly – just enticing a bigger species to come have an easy lunch.

Make sure that this is legal in your body of water as many states and water-owners don’t look kindly upon it. Other ponds are overrun by smaller fish and it helps control populations to ensure that fish can grow bigger. So you could actually be helping the fishery using live bait. But ultimately the water owner or state agency will decide that.

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The tips above will greatly increase the likelihood of you catching a monster fish from your local pond. Catching giants will take time and patience, but you can catch the fish of a lifetime from your local pond. Just make sure to also get a heavy rod, line, and tackle when chasing after big fish. Nothing is worse than finally hooking a big fish only to break off!

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