The In-Law’s Bass Pond

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Photo by Louis Cahill

“The pond was full of those great lily pads, and I guess that’s where the problem started.”

I guess I should be happy, but I’m not.

Ever since my in-laws moved to South Carolina the compulsory visits have had a silver lining. I discovered a little bass pond just down the road. It’s a sort of neighborhood open space and I’ve seen a few folks fish it but very few. Maybe an acre total, you can fish about sixty percent of it from the bank if you’re a good caster.

I am, SO not a bass fisherman. My brother is quite good at it so I’m well aware of my shortcomings. I have a lot of respect for the guys who can go out on those big lakes and find the channels and structure, temperature changes and whatever else causes bass to find a happy home in, what looks to me, like featureless water. I’ve never been motivated to learn all of that. In part because bass just don’t blow my skirt up.

They’re a cool fish and all, I’m just so in love with the brightly colored trout that bass don’t get a lot of my attention. I also freely admit that I have no interest at all in going seventy miles per hour in a boat. It scares the shit out of me and I bear no shame for that. I find it aesthetically more pleasing to walk to my fish and it’s easier on my nerves. That said, a bass pond is just my speed.

It’s been great, at Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter, to just sneak off for and hour or two at the end of the day and deposit a little of my stress into a fly line. There is just something terribly satisfying about watching the chug-chug of a bass popper get violently interrupted by a falling bowling ball. It’s not the most challenging fishing but, that’s kind of the point.

This little pond in the South Carolina low country is just beautiful. Enough trees to find some shade but not so many that casting is impossible. A healthy frog population so the popper fishing is great. I’ve had fish bust through the lily pads to eat a popper sitting on top. The pond was full of those great lily pads, and I guess that’s where the problem started.

I don’t know if the alligator was attracted to the lily pads but he certainly liked the bass that hung out around them. Whatever the reason, this gator happily took up residence in the pond and it caused a minor hysteria among the neighbors, my in-laws included. Apparently suburban gators have an acquired taste for dog. Now, this gator couldn’t have been big enough to swallow more than a poodle and, honestly, is that the worst thing that could happen? But, one poodle at a time, he was sure to grow big enough to be a problem and I can understand why they got rid of him.

The gator was gone, physically, but he lingered in the minds of the neighbors. At this point the fear of the gator came home to roost where fear always roosts, the fear of the unknown. People looked at the pond differently. Anything could be lurking under those lily pads. Those lily pads have to go. And go they did.

The last time I fished the pond it was a different place. The fish that I caught were not in the usual places. They were huddled up around the banks finding structure where they could and there were a lot fewer of them. It was OK, but not like it used to be. There was more that was new. Big shadows cruising where the lily pads used to be. Grass carp, introduced to keep the vegetation down.

This is the point where I know at least a half dozen of my friends are jumping up and down, speaking in tongues and likely cursing me for not being all giddy over having a grass carp pond to fish. I’m not going to name names, ( BS, TR, MG, RD, etc.) you guys know who you are.

I enjoy carp fishing, at least as much as I enjoy bass fishing, and I don’t claim to be any better at it. I appreciate that carp are tough to catch on a fly, grass carp, especially so. I admit that my perception of carp is colored by my having caught hundreds of them on dough balls as a kid but that’s another story. They are a respectable sport fish for the fly angler, but that’s not the point. It’s just that a picky fish, who inspects my every move under a microscope, can’t be pleased no matter how good I am, turns its nose up at anything I offer it and wishes I had never met its daughter and would just get a real job will never, ever eat my fly, is in no way a break from my in-laws.

I miss my bass pond.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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11 thoughts on “The In-Law’s Bass Pond

  1. The few Carp that we haveare swimming in someone’s fish pond, and they’re worth $100’s of $$$$$!!!! You’d probally get shot or arrested if you. These are tthe fancy colored show Carp…BUT they do get BIG & FAT!!

  2. Great piece, Louis! Growing up in Texas, I was surrounded by hot brown lakes and amped up bass fisherman who ruined the peace and quiet with 90mph runs across the water from hole to hole while counting up bass lbs. It wasn’t until I started fly fishing for trout that I learned to appreciate the hungry bass in quiet ponds and creeks. I love fishing a good pond for bass. Yesterday I landed bass on my 4wt fiberglass fly rod out of my kayak in Mississippi as an escape from my in-laws. Spotted a gator too. I feel your pain at the loss of this lily pads.

  3. Hey man, grass carp make great garden fertilizer. Sorry if your a carp guy but in my book your doing a good thing for that ponds ecosystem by removing the invasive (albeit likely sterile) grass carp that are from Asia anyway.

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