By Bertrand Ngim, Ph.D. | January 23, 2015
Urban Junk Fishing
Bass fishing in pressured urban ponds does not always mean tough fishing. Throw in a little ingenuity and junk fishing methods, you will be surprised how easily that will turn your bad day into something meaningful. Personally, I can tell you that several of my big bass and perch throughout the years have come with junk fishing on shore with football jigs.
In this installment, allow me to share with you my experience at a pond in the suburbs of Toulouse where my friend and I had actually devoted two days dissecting with football jigs. Yes, you read that right, two days at a pond with just football jigs. Though that may sound like a ludicrous amount of time one could actually spend fishing a pond about the size of a swimming pool, on that occasion however we were targeting postspawn summertime largemouth in a unique pond which holds quality fish with scenarios that warrant the football jig more than any other bait. In the next installment, we shall expand on some of these topics in order to relate them to similar conditions in an urban pond in eastern China.
Yin and Yang
Unlike big water fisheries, football jig fishing in urban ponds poses some rather unique challenges and conditions that vary from pond to pond. Though it is impossible for me to make a generalization based on conditions in selected ponds in that particular area of Toulouse, what I do know is that you will nearly always encounter conditions with shallow, muddy water, limited shoreline access and lots of manmade structures. During those two days, I was fishing a cascade, two-tier retention pond with gin clear water and muddy water in separated upper and lower levels. With two distinct ‘yin and yang’ scenarios, that has got to be the oddest pond hands down. From what I saw in terms of conditions, there were two primary options, finesse fish in clear water which I had done with some success on weightless 4-inch Senko or football jigs in muddy water. For me, I chose the latter for all good reasons based on prevailing condition at the time and season. So, why fish a football jig and not something else?
Tracking Pond Bass
With increasing angling pressure and temperatures in summer, football jigs have always played an important role in my line of arsenal for bottom contact presentation in predominantly shallow urban ponds. Unlike bass in vast lake and river fisheries, bass in urban ponds do not make annual migration and that makes them easier to find and predict. In manmade ponds which are predominantly flat and shallow, big bass would hold on to virtually any form of cover available to them, from shore vegetation, concrete banks and isolated, submerged debris which is an important feature to look for when targeting quality pond bass. With angling pressure as one of the main driving factors, big bass in small urban ponds do not tend to move around much to forage, not at least when the sun is shining, and that in turn means that their strike zone is not as widespread. To catch quality bass in such conditions, you need a lure that is truly versatile. The football jig, on that occasion, was the answer because it had enabled me to catch fish in any situation, anywhere in the pond.
For the type of fishing that I do and the scenarios I encounter, 1/4, 5/16 or 3/8 oz football jigs are my go-to baits for reasons that bass in urban ponds are also highly pressured fish. Pressured fish avoid big, aggressive looking baits that do not fit the size and profile of their primary forage, crawfish. This brings us to the subject of bait size and profile. Personally, I prefer to keep things simple with the football jigs and trailers that I use in small ponds. In summer, pond bass in that region primarily feed on crawfish that are about 3 to 4 inches in length and I have personally caught some of these crawfish in another pond nearby. Because of that, I would hesitate to use football jigs larger than 3/8 oz in weight. As for trailers, I prefer beaver style craws, such as Yo-Mama by Big Bite Baits and Sweet Beaver by Reaction Innovations. I use 3.5-inch trailers on my 1/4 and 5/16 oz football jigs and 4-inch (or 4.2 inches) trailers on 3/8 oz. In my opinion, in terms of size and profile, these combos are perfect replicas of the region’s crawfish. In muddy water, you want a trailer that is visible and moves a lot of water.
Jig and Trailer Colors
Jig and trailer color selection should be pretty simple once you understand the natural forage of bass in the region. In summer, crawfish are abundant and bass feed on them. Native European crawfish are primarily dark brown in color. Invasive species have brown back and orange-red sides with speckled claws. Bass feed on both species. For more natural looking bait to mimic either species, I prefer black/dark brown skirted football jigs with neon red trailers. Black/dark blue skirted jigs with black/blue flake trailers work equally well. I prefer to keep things simple with colors. In my opinion, those two color combos would cover most jig fishing situations in ponds. Color is an important factor in muddy water. I have confidence in dark colored jigs, more so in this case because it is a near perfect match to the natural forage. Having the right combination in size, profile and colors would no doubt up your odds to catch quality bass, especially if you are dealing with finicky bass in pressured urban waters.
In the next installment, let’s talk about football jig presentation styles for urban ponds depending upon environmental cues and fish behavior during the spawn and postspawn transitional period. Thank you for reading. Fish hard, fish well and god bless.
Big thanks to Bill Siemantel and theBBZ for giving me this opportunity to present to you this short feature on urban bass fishing in Toulouse, France.
About the author
Bertrand Ngim, Ph.D., is freelance writer and international columnist for SA Bass (South Africa) and Rod&Line (Malaysia), Lure Vision (Shanghai, China) and mechanical engineer by profession. He is a field-staff for Sunline and Majorcraft (UK and Ireland), TCE Sports Daiwa (South East Asia) and Bitez (Singapore). He has published more than 100 feature length articles in angling magazines in South Africa, Malaysia, England, France and China.