Bill Dance’s secrets to cold and muddy pond fishing

A reminder that it’s never too cold or too muddy to catch a bass in the winter.

Bill Dance has introduced millions to bass fishing since his very first fishing TV show hit the airwaves in 1968. Dance was the very first Bassmaster Angler of the Year, a title which he claimed a total of three times. Dance notched four top 10 finishes at the Bassmaster Classic en route to becoming a first ballot member of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and is even credited with catching the first ever fish in B.A.S.S. tournament history. Recently, caught up with Dance at his Memphis-area home to talk about some of his favorite fishing memories from a lifetime on the water.

Dance: I grew up fishing shallow water, and I still do a lot of that in the winter. One time, I was with a buddy on the way home and we decided to go fishing. I had two rods and a tacklebox in my Suburban, and he had about six or seven ponds on his property. The front two ponds were muddy, but I knew they had some big ole’ fish in them. I thought catching them would be a challenge.

So, I took a black 3/8-ounce spinnerbait with a No. 5 Colorado blade. The pond wasn’t very deep. I think the deepest water in it was maybe 6 feet. I was letting the spinnerbait go all the way down to the bottom, and I would slow roll it back. And what we discovered was we would have to make repeated casts in the same area to create a sound trail for the fish to follow.

At the 1967 Dixie Bass Invitational, Bill Dance, Memphis, Tenn., No. 2 Man in Dixie and All-American Smith Lake, Ala.

Eventually, they would hone in on the sound and smack the bait on the third or fourth cast. They might have been 10 feet away from the sound at first, but they found it. We ended up catching several really, really nice fish out of that pond even though it seemed impossible at first.

It just goes to show that you can catch bass when it’s muddy. Even in water temperatures in the 30s and 40s you can have a lot of fun out there if you give it a shot. Bass see about five times more natural light than human eyes underwater, so they do have the ability to go out and find things.