Frugal Angler: Fishing close to home

We all like to think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Anglers are especially bad about that. We think if we just travel far enough, search long enough and spend enough money, we'll find a honey hole where the bass are big, fat and stupid. Believe me, I'm as bad as the next guy about it.

The truth is much more complicated, however. True, some places are better than others, but that doesn't mean there isn't a good one close to your home — one you can fish without spending a lot of money in the process. Never forget that the less money you spend, the more days you can fish and still not bust your budget.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that a good lake has to be a big reservoir that covers thousands of acres. It doesn't. Some of the best bass lakes in the country are small, electric-motor-only municipal reservoirs that are overlooked by anglers that pass them by on their way to somewhere else.

Other good places include ponds and runoff pits inside gated communities, borrow pits along interstate highways and old farm ponds. The bass living in some of those places have never seen a lure, nor encountered an angler who knows what he or she is doing.

And don't forget about small streams. There's one running through the golf course by my house that's full of smallmouths and largemouths in the 11- to 14-inch range. Throw my Spro McStick 95 with a spinning rod, and you'll have action all day long. They might not be giants but they're sure fun to catch.

Finding the right place isn't hard, either. All you have to do is ask around. Tackle shops and other anglers all have reliable local information. Some of them will be willing to share it with you.

If that doesn't work, find one the old-fashioned way — search and fish. It won't take you long, and it won't cost you much money. You might find the place of a lifetime right in your own backyard. Why run all over the country spending money on gas, lodging and restaurant food when you can have just as much fun at home?

Let's face it, even if you drive a heavy truck, it doesn't take much gas to travel five or 10 miles, and you'll be staying at home, so there's no extra cost there. Pack a bologna sandwich and a couple of soft drinks, and you'll be good to go.

You won't spend as much money on tackle, either. You'll know what works, so you won't have to buy stuff you never use, and if you do need something, you know where to buy it at the lowest price.

Don't fall into the "legendary lake" trap. Save money and catch bass close to home.