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So a little color commentary before my question:

I'm from Louisiana and Texas, and being a proud southerner I always thought we had more water to fish here than anywhere else.  Then I grew up and learned that most of our lakes were dammed up rivers and flooded swamps.  Now I've met a girl from a NW suburb of Chicago, and am moving up there, and...

I went last weekend and couldn't believe how many small ponds there were everywhere!!!  I guess from all the glaciers during the ice age, blah blah...

So anyway, I'm dying to fish all of these, but my question is:  How do you tell if a pond has fish.  Some of these are tiny.  Like surface area measured in sq. feet, not acres.  But they all have a lot of great cover and seem like Edens for bass.  Do you just have to go fish to find out, or are there some signs that you guys look for before fishing a new pond?

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You can always call the local parks & recreation for the village/town you are looking to fish in. The director in my town is more than happy to talk fishing and will let you know which bodies of waters that have been stocked and more.

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I recently found a small drainage pond that looked like it had some decent bass habitat.  So one day after work I just walked the shoreline with my polarized lenses on, I saw a good number of bass just hanging out beneath the cover and returned later for some fishing action.  All I know to tell you is take a walk around it.

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What Paul said, at this time of the year up in the north, if you do find them by shore they will be somewhat agressive, in a few weeks it is basically slow and deep.

PS A sad commentary: One sure sign of fisjh in a pond is all the snelled hook wrappers and styrofoam bait containers so called " fisherman" leave littering all around the shore :-[

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What Paul said, at this time of the year up in the north, if you do find them by shore they will be somewhat agressive, in a few weeks it is basically slow and deep.

PS A sad commentary: One sure sign of fisjh in a pond is all the snelled hook wrappers and styrofoam bait containers so called " fisherman" leave littering all around the shore :-[

I hear ya there Muddy....that is also the reason nobody will let you fish their private ponds anymore unless they are your buddy.  I carry a cooler with me for trash and usually bring home mine and somebody elses.

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What Paul said, at this time of the year up in the north, if you do find them by shore they will be somewhat agressive, in a few weeks it is basically slow and deep.

PS A sad commentary: One sure sign of fisjh in a pond is all the snelled hook wrappers and styrofoam bait containers so called " fisherman" leave littering all around the shore :-[

I hear ya there Muddy....that is also the reason nobody will let you fish their private ponds anymore unless they are your buddy. I carry a cooler with me for trash and usually bring home mine and somebody elses.

I third that! I usually bring trash home with me that I find laying around. This lazy, littering "fisherman" give all of us a bad wrap...

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What Paul said, at this time of the year up in the north, if you do find them by shore they will be somewhat agressive, in a few weeks it is basically slow and deep.

PS A sad commentary: One sure sign of fisjh in a pond is all the snelled hook wrappers and styrofoam bait containers so called " fisherman" leave littering all around the shore :-[

That^ or a six pack of empty busch beer cans on the ground.  ;)

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Most of the time when I wanna see if their are fish in a pond I will go to the shore and look, normally you will see minnows. In small ponds the main food is a good ol minnow, no shad in these little dudes (most of the time)! You're never 100% sure until you throw a bait out their!

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Like others said, "walk it" with polarized glasses.  I say "walk it" because if the pond does not see a lot of people they may spook easy.  So, find a spot where you think fish should be then sneak in there and just hang out.  I will crouch down and not move.  Just scan the shore and surroundung area with my eyes - with polarized glasses.  Look for swirls, baitfish, etc.

Eddie

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If you don't see any bass walking the shoreline, look for bass forage, mostly minnows or crawfish (holes) (I'm not sure if crawfish are present in colder climates...that is Crayfish for you northerners lol).

I've found when fishing small ponds especially really small ponds to use the quietest slowest baits first and work your way up to the louder more actively fished baits. Pond bass may be spooked by buzz baits, rat-l traps, or other similarly loud and unusual type lures.

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I know this may not be the most "professional" way to find if there's fish. But you could just go to a local tackle shops, get yourself a dozen or two of nightcrawlers, and just go pond hoppin' one day and test the waters. SOmetimes the fish won't bite lures, especially if the ponds are small and you spook them. This way you won;t waste your time, or think theres no fish in ponds that are holding fish.

Even if you just get sunfish, that's a sign that there are probably bass as well since they are related and share the same habitat.

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What Paul said, at this time of the year up in the north, if you do find them by shore they will be somewhat agressive, in a few weeks it is basically slow and deep.

PS A sad commentary: One sure sign of fisjh in a pond is all the snelled hook wrappers and styrofoam bait containers so called " fisherman" leave littering all around the shore :-[

I hear ya there Muddy....that is also the reason nobody will let you fish their private ponds anymore unless they are your buddy. I carry a cooler with me for trash and usually bring home mine and somebody elses.

i really hate that i have to pick up other peoples garbage so that i can fish my pond in my backyard. they just started allowing us to fish again back there. i was soooooo happppyy...you can see why from some of the hogs ive caught out there.

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Now I've met a girl from a NW suburb of Chicago, and am moving up there, and...

I went last weekend and couldn't believe how many small ponds there were everywhere!!! I guess from all the glaciers during the ice age, blah blah...

Lake County? There's a lot of water up there.

Most all of those ponds will have fish in them. The way I'd go about finding them is to take some bread with you. Make small bread balls and toss it in the water. If fish come up and eat it then there are fish there. If not, then there aren't ;)

Also, here's an example of a western suburb bass that I just caught from a retention pond on Sunday. Right at 22" long and 17" around.

post-10757-130163010922_thumb.jpg

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PS A sad commentary: One sure sign of fisjh in a pond is all the snelled hook wrappers and styrofoam bait containers so called " fisherman" leave littering all around the shore :-[

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What Paul said, at this time of the year up in the north, if you do find them by shore they will be somewhat agressive, in a few weeks it is basically slow and deep.

PS A sad commentary: One sure sign of fisjh in a pond is all the snelled hook wrappers and styrofoam bait containers so called " fisherman" leave littering all around the shore :-[

Amen to that Muddy sad but true :(

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NEVER rule out a body of water. One of my "honey holes" is a row of three tiny ponds that sit in front of a mostly vacant industrial park that runs along a major interstate. I could prop up a dead guy and put a rod in his hand and he'd catch fish at this place :D Seriously, a lot of places like this get overlooked. You'd be amazed.

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When in doubt ,throw a search bait.

Couldn't agree more, when ever I come upon a new lake that Im clueless about I spend a good hour or so, walking around the pond throwing a search bait. Just incase you don't know what we mean by a "search bait", this is a bait that you can fish steady/semi fast and cover alot of water with in a short period of time. Like throwing a jig for example would take alot of time to fish because you'd have to gently hop the jig along and let it pause, then hop, then pause, it kills alot of time. A "search bait" you can cast out, reel in, and move along, thus covering alot of water very quickly.

Ok, now that im 100% sure you know what a search bait is, I'll tell you a couple of my favorite search baits. My go-to search bait is probably a spinnerbait, IMHO you can never go wrong with a white/chart spinnerbait with a single willow blade.

I also like lipless crankbaits as search baits, because I can rip them and get reaction strikes. So next time you pass by the ponds your interested in checking out, bring with you a few spinnerbaits or lipless cranks, and walk around the pond casting it around. If you don't get bit does it mean theres no fish in the pond?, obviously not, but it should definetly give you a good chance to find out without spending a ton of time at the pond slowly fishing a t-rigged worm.

I'll keep in mind every spot I got bit with my search bait, and next time I fish the pond, I go back to these specific spots, and fish them with a slower approach such as a finesse style, like a jig, or soft plastic. Good luck.

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