Bank fishing basics: Finding a new spot

The world of social media can be demoralizing if you’re a fan of fishing but bound to the bank. By the looks of it, if you’re not willing to sign over half your life to pay for a truck and boat, you’ve been priced out of fishing. But that’s just not the case.

I’ve been that guy, the one running around in a brand new truck and boat, with every bell and whistle, barely hanging on financially. The pressure cooker of having to pay for it all and keep up with the Joneses took the joy right out of fishing for me over time.

By the Grace of God I woke up a few years ago and hopped off the hamster wheel. Sold the boat and truck and gradually paid off all the consumer debt I had racked up over the course of 10 or 15 years of poor financial decisions.

I still plan to have nice things, just to pay cash for them in due time. I haven’t quite saved up enough to buy another truck yet, and the old ’99 Buick Century doesn’t have much towing capacity, though I do plan to purchase a kayak to strap to the top of it in the near future.

For the time being though, I find myself in need of somewhere to fish from the bank quite often. Here are some tips on how to find a honey hole, in case you’re in search of one too.

Look for a bridge

Here in Alabama, one of the best ways to find a new fishing spot is to look for a bridge crossing over a creek. We’re fortunate here to have a lot of water around us, including several large lakes and hundreds of tributaries both big and small that feed into them.

Many of these creeks have bridges that cross over them, and the public is allowed to park on the state-owned land around the bridges to fish beneath them. Even though there’s often some good fishing right there within casting distance of the bridge, there’s usually even more water accessible by wading up or down the creek a little ways, even more still if you have access to a kayak, Jon boat or other small vessel.

Just be sure to be to take necessary safety precautions as the rocks in these creeks are extremely slippery and the current is often swift. And do a little research before venturing far from the bridge, as rights to the water ways and the lands alongside them vary from state to state and even county to county sometimes.


If you are a member of any sort of group in your area, chances are someone in that community has access to somewhere to fish. I’m not just talking about being a member of a fishing club, I’m talking any grouping of people. For instance, I have had several people from my church find out what I do for a living and offer for me to come and fish ponds that they either own or have access to in their neighborhoods.

Be wary here of the Home Owners Associations though. There’s typically someone involved in the governing of a neighborhood that lives to issue fines for untrimmed hedges. This is the kind of person that loves to run off a bank fisherman who’s just looking for a bite. But, if fishing is allowed in the lake or pond, guests of the home owners should be good to fish there as well.

If you really get desperate, you can pull up Google or Apple maps and start driving around, looking for little blue blobs on the map that indicates ponds in real life. I have actually found a pond before this way in a trailer park that didn’t have “no fishing” or “resident only” signs posted.

I found a whole set of ponds the other day, with one being a really big one, that were in the middle of a giant trailer park. There was a “resident only” sign posted at this one, so I didn’t fish it and instead phoned a friend from church who put me on another pond.

But I did hatch a plan to go to the management office on that property soon to pitch the idea to them to let me go fishing. In exchange, I’d take pics of whatever I caught to give to them to use for their marketing, to try to lure other outdoorsmen to move into the community. Who knows, worth a shot.

Public lands and pay lakes

If you do a little research online, you’ll find that there are usually fisheries that are open to the public. Most lakes and rivers with public ramps allow fishing at the ramps. But there are also organizations in some states that allow anglers to fish on land they manage. Forever Wild is a land trust here in Alabama that allows the public to fish on several of its tracts of land.

You can sometimes find a decent pay lake in your area as well. These are typically fairly cheap and vary widely, from catfish ponds where you’re guaranteed to catch something to city owned lakes that simply require the purchase of a permit to fish on them.

If you get really desperate, you can actually use public records and websites to find ponds on private properties and then find contact info for the property owners. Give them a call, explain to them what you’re trying to do and offer to catch them a mess of fish from their own pond for them to eat, if they’d just allow you to come out and fish it.

I’ve never tried this one personally, but only because I haven’t gotten that desperate yet. As Albert Einstein put it, “Necessity is the mother of all invention.” So we’re just kicking around ideas here. You may have some others of your own. Feel free to share them with me on social media and, who knows, if we get enough of them we may put together a part two for this one.