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Behind many farm houses and acreages in Southern Iowa are some of Iowa’s best hidden gem fishing areas. Better known as Farm Ponds. Most of which are small but regardless, most all of them are amazing fishing holes. Each one has their own unique environment and personality. Some are full of bass, some crappie, and some bluegill or redear, some mixed. But almost all of them produce many trophy caliber gamefish. One admirable individual with a lifetime of experience and expertise in the hunting, fishing, and outdoor world, gave me some of the best opportunities of my life to pursue these trophy fish via fishing kayak. Chasing big fish and promoting positive outdoor activities has led me to cross paths with many great people and he is one of the best of them!

With such an abundance of large panfish at the ponds, I didn’t have much thinking to do to figure out what fish I wanted to target. The thought of catching pan size bluegill is enough to make an ice fisherman like myself go crazy. Fortunately it was summer and the big gills were a lot easier to chase on a kayak. Most all the ponds are relatively easy to access but some require an AWD vehicle to get close to. Some of the ponds have been taken back by the landscape and seem unseen by another fisherman. The lack of trash, evidence of others, and pristine conditions, are all enough to make an avid fisherman bow down and take a silence to respect the property. These places would not exist without proper pond management and land stewardship.

The 2017 Cuda HD is a great kayak for small ponds. The Cuda HD (HD: Heavy duty) is an improvement of the original Cuda, offering some new features that make it more convenient for gear storage and ease of use while on the water. The new hinged center console with the accessory tray is one of my favorite improvements. The accessory tray fits multiple batteries, snacks, and gear. Its extremely easy to access while sitting and acts like a glove compartment for all the gear required for a long day fishing. The flush mount rod holders and rod tubes hold ultra light rods, nets, and GoPro booms. The adjustable seat track is another great feature, allowing a lot of seat movement for short and tall people alike. An added track mount cup holder and included Orion tumbler is great for keeping a your favorite beverage cold and close at hand. The Cuda HD is very versatile and does very well in all conditions, I highly recommend giving one a shot.

Panfish (bluegill especially) are a pretty simple species to target. Small jigs, spinners, topwater poppers, and lures, work well. Nightcrawlers, red worms, and minnows, below a bobber work well too. I bring one dedicated bobber rod and two rods with jigs or lures. I prefer to use artificial baits but sometimes the big gills want something a little more appetizing so I always bring a few dozen red worms. Four to six pound braided line works great but sometimes clear water requires a short fluorocarbon leader. St. Croix Panfish spinning rods are my go to panfish rods. Despite bluegills small size they still put up quite a fight. I use a small net to avoid getting poked by their sharp dorsal fins. Finding big gills usually requires a little extra hunting but farm ponds usually produce a large population of hefty specimens. I fish the shallow areas around nest beds, around structure, and in deeper water. Sunfish typically relate to the sun. Sunny days will bring them shallow and cloudy days push them a little deeper. Once found they are typically in large schools.

Bluegill fishing is very simple and I recommend taking a kid bluegill fishing. My family got me into bluegill fishing at a young age and I think those childhood years chasing them forever hooked me into my life of fishing. If you ever get a chance to fish a farm pond, give it a shot. Be thankful because some people never get to experience one.

Many thanks, Tom!

Tight lines!