Jan 9, 2013

 Living the Small Waters Creed

By Mike Pehanich

Few experiences satisfy like knowing that you’ve touched a chord that resonates with readers and video viewers.

Still, I’m blown away with the many “soul mate” responses that SWF receives from anglers who are catching big bass from neighborhood waters, watching their children enjoy close-to-home angling opportunity, or simply continuing to enjoy their sport despite considerable time and economic constraints.

Part of the Small Waters Fishing “credo” is that small lakes, ponds and streams are perfect places to experiment with new baits and practice skills and techniques.

Another is that small waters are ideal places to usher young people into the sport of fishing.

True believer

SWF reader Jim O’Neill, who calls himself “an old school kind of bass angler,” takes advantage of the fine fishing in local retention ponds near his Illinois home. He catches fish with rewarding regularity, but Jim is prouder of the accomplishments of his son Westin than he is of his own accomplishments.

Now Westin could be a Small Waters Fishing poster boy. He pries bass in good numbers – and up to 23 inches long — from waters that hundreds of anglers pass daily without a second thought.

At the age of 13, Westin already has become a versatile, self-directed angler – a “thinking” angler!

Young anglers can soak up a remarkable amount of information from magazines and the Internet. But, as Westin demonstrates, nothing beats time on the water!

He’s not averse to fishing against the grain of “conventional wisdom.” (His late season use of topwater lures is one example!) Unpressured fishing on familiar waters can lead a curious and liberated mind to valuable discoveries.

“The ways he gets strikes befuddles my mental apparatus,” says dad. “I try to ‘copy cat’ his techniques, but he blows me away! I go back to my presentations.”

Wil Leber learned plastic worm and topwater techniques fishing lakes and ponds within walking distance of home.

Small waters can be many things to many anglers. That’s part of their beauty! Yes, you can refine your skills with tried and true methods. But they really shine as laboratories for testing new lures and fresh techniques – or simply as open-air classrooms that encourage “students” to think outside the box!

Jim finds that he walks a fine line when he tries to share tips he and Westin have garnered from their pond-hopping adventures.

“I try to help other anglers,” says Jim. “But when I say my son lands 18- and 23-inch bass, they get the wrong idea. They think that I’m insulting them…that is, until my son lands a couple in front of them!”

Despite their small waters success, it appears only one of the O’Neill men is struggling to maintain a sense of humility.

“I smirk in silence, but my son never boasts about what he catches,” Jim admits.

Other anglers often are skeptical when dad relates his son's bass-fishing success -- until they witness one of his catches!

“But I guess he doesn’t have to…I do it for him!”

Note: SWF elaborates on favorite baits and techniques of the O’Neills in “Retention Pond Tips.”



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