Late May is an excellent time for bass fishing on smaller waters. Ponds and small lakes can offer some real excitement, the kind bass fishermen dream of.

Late May is an excellent time for bass fishing on smaller waters. Ponds and small lakes can offer some real excitement, the kind bass fishermen dream of.
Recently I joined my family for early morning bluegill fishing on a small pond in Northwest Missouri. I sat close to an old brush pile and a moss-covered cove that was positioned to my left. The water was calm and clear. Cloud cover kept the air temperatures slightly lower than it had been in recent days.
We started catching big bluegill for dinner when something different caught my attention. I was extremely surprised to see a huge swirl at the edge of the mossy cove. Clearly something had just become dinner for a healthy largemouth bass.
My brother, Rodney, rigged a plastic mouse by inserting the hook through its nose, and then inserted the tip back into the rodent’s body making it weedless.
He chose not to use weight on the small pond, but wanted that mouse to float naturally on the moss and scum. He cast past the fence post and let the mouse settle down to a big moss bed, then twitched the mouse to let it lift and inch forward a few inches. Wham...a big bass engulfed the rubber rodent.
Rodney set the hook and hung on. His bass started towards the pond’s center. He set the hook again and was immediately rewarded by a big bass making several jumps on the smooth pond’s surface.
Soon he slipped the five-pound bass back into the pond to sulk. We spent the remainder of that afternoon catching and releasing bass. You could have a day like this with the right technique.
A key to catching bass from ponds or small lakes this time of year is stealth. Big bass in smaller worlds are very sensitive to foreign sounds, shadows on the pond or other unnatural circumstances. Ponds or lakes are their world. They know when something is out of place or wrong.
Some anglers sneak around shorelines like they are sneaking up on a deer. They move in low, sometimes crawling to avoid presenting their huge shadow on the water. This may seem silly, but it will result in more bass caught.
Bass in shallow water will quickly spook at sudden shadows or anything different. They did not survive their world of eat or be eaten without being cautious. It is not uncommon to catch bass from smaller waters in areas you could wade in. They move into the shallow water in search of food.
Timing is another important factor. Late evening or early morning is normally good. Bass in ponds or smaller lakes begin feeding when the surface is darker. They are least likely to be active when a hot summer sun is beating directly down on their shallow world.
I have actually observed bass caught from the shadows of trees. They moved behind slim tree shadows to avoid the sun’s intense light. Plastic worms were cast well beyond the shadow and slowly dragged back through the darkened area. The hits were light, but resulted in several bass caught on a 100-degree day.
Start by trying smaller lures. Bigger offerings will work, but smaller lures make less commotion. I like to start with a six to seven-inch plastic worm in purple or natural nightcrawler colors. Bass, especially in ponds, like either color. But always take a selection of colors and experiment until you start catching bass.
I seldom use weighted worms in the summer because of moss. Again, a weightless worm will slowly settle down on the moss instead of in the middle where it becomes a mess on your lure. Remember that bass spend a lot of their summer under or in moss beds. This thick vegetation is cooler and a great place to ambush an unsuspecting baitfish, snake or other prey that happens past.
Spinners are just as effective when the water is open. I prefer to use inline spinners like the number two Mepps with gold blade in smaller waters. The disadvantage is moss. But you can make the hooks weedless by attaching rubber bands to the treble hooks from point to shaft. We have caught many big bass on crappie jigs like the Roadrunner.
Safety-pin spinners are effective and some are made weedless. But if you cast into a bank of moss, prepare to reel in and remove a bunch of junk from your weedless lure. I especially like to work safety-pin spinners over and on brush or logs. Bass really slam the baitfish imitations when slowly moved over their hiding spots.
Topwater may be the best summertime offering in smaller waters. Plastic or rubber mice or rats are extremely good. This is mainly because of the mossy conditions that exist in many ponds or lake coves. They literally float over the junk and will draw big bass from their hiding spots.
I love to twitch balsa minnows like the Rebel or Rapala in open water conditions. I simply cast beyond stumps, docks or other cover and twitch it over these structures, pause, then twitch again. Bass occasionally come out of the water to hit these offerings.
At night I like to fish big black or dark brown Jitterbugs, Hula Poppers or Zara Spooks. You can make plenty of noise for attention with all three offerings.
The Jitterbug and Hula Popper are meant to imitate injured frogs. The Zara Spook imitates a wounded baitfish or perhaps a small injured snake. But note that the key word is injured. Bass love an easy meal.
They would rather waste less energy on forage that does not move fast like a healthy species. Yes, they will take a healthy victim, but prefer convenience in a slowly moving meal. You can provide this by adding twitches and lost of pauses on smaller waters.
Under the surface crankbaits can also be good, but they are normally in the moss. A surface lure that dives is the best because you can work it back in, pausing to let it float up over big moss or weeds. I like to use crawfish colors in the summer.
A version that can be fished slowly with plenty of wobble for vibration is effective. Bass key in on noises like vibrations or other sounds.
The best way to find out what lure works on the day you go fishing is to experiment. Bass will let you know what they want or don’t want by response. Don’t be afraid to give them a selection to choose from.
Kenneth L. Kieser is a local outdoor enthusiast.