I scanned the edges of a local farm pond and found what I was looking for—a small cedar shrub leaning into the pond, the victim no doubt of years of erosion that had slowly worn away the bank. If I placed my popper just right, I’d quickly find out if anyone was home. I tossed my pattern just beneath the lower branches of the bush and a hungry largemouth responded. He tore off for deep water, but I managed to bring him in after a nice fight. That bass had been the finale of a fine evening of fishing, and had I not been paying attention, I might have missed the opportunity to fish altogether.
It had been a long day of playtime with my young kids; they were now tucked away in their beds. And as I sat on my front porch in the waning sunlight, I was tempted to call it a day and head to bed early myself. But a thought occurred to me, make hay when the sun is shining, and fish when the sun is setting. I headed to my car and it was a short drive to largemouth land.
Anglers often miss out on great warm-water action throughout the year simply because we’re too busy to seize opportunities. Fishing is an excursion, we tell ourselves. I have housework/yardwork/office work to do and don’t have time for an excursion. In fact, great impoundments are hiding in the wide open, overlooked by anglers every day.
If you live in the exurbs or in a rural setting, farm ponds and other irrigation impoundments are most likely abundant. But what if you don’t live in the country? Good fishing might be closer than you think. An editor of a national fishing magazine once told me that some of his best warm-water fishing he found was in New York City! Surprising? Not really since there are all sorts of options for anglers to discover, you just have to look for them.
Make your local parks your first stop since many offer public fishing. I recently discovered a huge lake near my house—which had gone unnoticed by me for over four years—just by flipping through the local paper. I didn’t routinely drive by it, and simply didn’t know it was there. This hidden gem offers boat rentals, a concession stand, and fishing license sales to boot. I never thought to contact the county park service to see what was available when I moved to Fauquier County, Virginia, so discovering this great water was a real eye-opener for me.
Are you a member of a golf club? Golf courses often boast good water that anglers overlook. If you’re a member of a club, chances are they’ll let you fish the ponds. As the residents of golf course ponds are rarely disturbed, you might well land a whopper. Be forewarned that if you’re looking for solitude, you should look elsewhere. You will probably be asked again and again how one breaks into the sport.
Residential developments can also provide a fine place to fish. This is especially true of older neighborhoods, second home/vacation developments, or senior retirement communities. Take time to write a letter to the homeowners’ association and ask for permission to fish. Because litigation is a fact of life these days, include in your letter that you would be willing to sign a document stating that you will not hold the homeowners’ association or their agents liable should you be injured on their property. (And then don’t hurt yourself.) You might also offer to give free casting lessons to interested community members.
There are plenty of places to go fishing if you just take the time to look. What are you waiting for? There’s plenty of water out there just waiting to be discovered. Besides, going fishing beats the stuffing out of doing yard work or working on that ever-increasing honey do list!
Beau Beasley (www.beaubeasley.com) is the author of Fly Fishing Virginia: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters. Beau is a proud member of IAFF, Local 2068, where he works as a Captain on Engine 431 in Fairfax County, Virginia.