Back-to-bank basics

If you’re like most bass anglers, you didn’t start with the latest gear and a $90,000 boat. You started small, on small waters and perhaps without any boat at all. This edition of “Triple Threat” is a tribute to those times we should never forget or abandon.

Time of year: late September/early October
Body of water: farm pond (2 to 3 acres)
Depth: 15-foot maximum (5-foot average)
Surface temp: 72 to 75 degrees
Water clarity: 10 to 14 inches
Weather: clear and warm (high 75 degrees), wind 5 mph from the west
Structure/cover: dam and shallow flats, laydowns, shallow vegetation
Forage: bluegill, crawfish, bass, terrestrials
Notes: You’re walking the bank — no boat.

You may think of Bassmaster Elite Series pros as guys who race around big water wearing tournament ­jerseys, but most got their start on ponds like this. Here’s what three of the best have to say.

Let your bait be your eyes
Paul Elias
Laurel, Miss.

The 1982 Bassmaster Classic champ has the Elite Series record for heaviest catch: 132 pounds, 8 ounces from Falcon Lake in 2008.

Baits/tackle to use
Elias opts for a 3/8-ounce Mann’s Stone Jig (black and blue) with a 3-inch craw-style trailer (also black and blue). He’ll fish it on a 7-foot medium-heavy Pinnacle casting rod and 7.3:1 Pinnacle casting reel spooled with 15-pound-test White Peacock fluorocarbon line. “I can do a lot with that jig,” he says. “I can swim it or let it fall to the bottom and hop or crawl it. I can fish it around wood or grass, and I can work it shallow or deep. I’ll probably start by swimming it. For that, I like a medium retrieve that lets the craw do its thing and provide the action.”

First move
“I’ll start on the upper ­[shallow] end at daybreak and fish parallel to the bank. As the sun gets up, I‘ll explore offshore ­areas, steeper banks and anywhere I can find some shade.”

What to key on
“Visible cover will get whatever fishing pressure there is on the pond. I’ll use the jig to locate cover I can’t see and then to fish it ­thoroughly. That may be where the biggest bass live.”

Angle/boat position
“A lot of feeding takes place right on the bank in a pond like this. It’s important to make casts parallel with the bank to cover that water.”