Technically, I’m talking about fishing, not hunting, but treasure fishing doesn’t make much sense, so bear with me. I might be stretching the metaphor a little, but I’m not stretching when I say Treasure Valley ponds are a treasure chest for anglers. This gem of intel comes from a hardcore angler, and while you may know our jaded reputation for veracity, trust me when I say local ponds are convenient places to go fishing with some really nice fish in them.
Not to sound like a braggart, which is kind of redundant with “hardcore angler,” but from local ponds I’ve caught a 17-inch rainbow, a 4-pound largemouth bass, a 13-inch crappie, a 5-pound carp (intentionally, no less) and a bluegill bigger than my hand—and for reference, I wear XL gloves.
I haven’t personally caught them, but I know many ponds have fat, scrappy channel catfish up to 10 pounds that were transplanted from the Snake River. One Boise pond even mysteriously produced a 5-foot sturgeon, and there may be others in there. Then there’s the tens of thousands of rainbow trout Idaho Fish and Game stocks in Treasure Valley ponds each year (and year-round).
If that all sounds too good to be true, fair enough. Stay home and ignore the ponds in your neighborhood or the ones you drive by on your way to work. Go ahead and drive an hour (or longer) to wet a line. Your call.
I skipped local ponds for years. In a rare moment of clarity and wisdom provoked by spending $50 on gas to go fishing and getting skunked, I asked, “Why not try one of those ponds a few miles from my house?”
If you’re expecting to hear “…and it was amazing!” Not so fast. I took my lumps. Angling is an act of faith, and sometimes, it’s blind faith. But I tasted enough success to whet my appetite and keep exploring.
Every year, usually during spring when pond fishing is at its prime, I would try a few new ponds and return to old favorites. I didn’t exclusively fish ponds, but they provided what more distant waters couldn’t: a quick trip after work or squeezed in on weekends between yard work and other annoying obligations.
I learned some key things along the way. Not all ponds are created equal, and following the well-worn path to the beat-down spot along the shoreline is not the road to angling success. I fished both obvious ponds, such as those in parks, and secluded little ponds tucked away in harder-to-reach spots.
I learned that a pond is like a microcosm of a lake or reservoir. There are vacant waters where I can’t buy a bite and places that consistently hold fish. I learned pond fishing can be automatic one day and stone-cold the next. I also learned if you want bigger fish, you better expect to work for them because they didn’t literally become the big fish in a small pond by being dumb and overly aggressive.
I also learned that launching a float tube, or a kayak, gets you to spots that shoreside anglers can’t reach, and the minor embarrassment of using one in a pond that you can almost cast across is quickly overcome when you hook your first fish.
I also discovered that if I apply the same stubborn persistence to a pond that I apply to rivers, lakes and reservoirs, I can not only catch fish, I occasionally catch trophy-sized fish. And there’s satisfaction knowing that fish I just caught (and released) came from a spot some anglers consider unworthy of their attention.
So do those years of experience mean I’ve cracked the code and have an endless flow of piscine riches in my backyard? Not even close. I’m still fishing, learning, and most importantly, enjoying the experience of seeking fish in the Treasure Valley in places many of my fellow anglers overlook or ignore.