Friday, May 25, 2018
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Matt Markey

Fishing ponds can make children smile when first bass hits


Five-year-old Cash Dotson of Swanton shows off his first bass, a largemouth, caught in his grandfather’s pond near Swanton. Cash snagged it with a night crawler fished under a bobber.


SWANTON — A pond is just a hole in the ground filled with water. Pretty mundane stuff.

But add kids and fishing poles — and suddenly the Kodak moments start exploding all around you.

On a recent weekend, the Dotson clan gathered around grandpa Kurt’s pond just outside the village of Swanton that sits tight on the Lucas-Fulton county line.

Part of the group was 5-year-old Cash Dotson, Kurt’s grandson, who had fiddled around with fishing before, but now had the ability to cast a bit while still struggling with the timing on when to release the line.

“He tried four or five times and got the line pretty tangled up,” Kurt said, “but when I tried to help he didn’t want to let go of that fishing pole. Eventually, I managed to get it from him and cast it out about 15 feet from shore.”

Cash, working with the standard pond-angler’s textbook rig of hook, worm, and bobber, didn’t have to wait long to see if this was the proper tackle and presentation. Sometimes, pond fish just seem to leave all of that finicky stuff to their lake brethren.

“The bobber disappeared, and he started reeling like a natural — just like he knew what he was doing,” Kurt said. “And when that fish came up out of the water, he was absolutely thrilled. There is nothing quite like that look on a little kid’s face when they bring in a fish.”

The largemouth bass that was seduced, hooked, and retrieved by the angling expertise of Cash Dotson will not threaten the 80-year-old world record largemouth caught by George Perry in Georgia that weighed 22 pounds, 4 ounces. But to a kid, at that moment, it was the biggest fish in the universe.

“He wouldn’t take his hands off that thing, he was just so proud of it,” Kurt said. “He’s not afraid of anything, and he certainly wasn’t afraid of handling that fish.”

Kurt said the pond, a byproduct of the excavation done when Kurt built his house on the site about 15 years ago, is just a quarter-acre in size and 12-14 feet deep. Some bass and bluegills and a few catfish were added sporadically through the years, making it officially a “fishing hole.”

It is also home to a number of turtles and a magnet for the abundant wildlife in the area, with deer, wild turkeys, and fox among the regular visitors whose images are captured on a trail camera.

The pond also holds a few much larger bass than the one Cash encountered, and his older brother, Donny, has brought in some in the 3- and 4-pound class. There is also enough room on the property for family members to get in some archery practice.

“Having this pond has been great for the whole family, because it’s a place for everyone to come out and just horse around and enjoy each other’s company,” Kurt said. “And when you experience a moment like Cash bringing in that first bass, things like that just make it so much fun. There’s no substitute for that look on his face.”

Cash, who attended Hope Nursery School and Child Care Center in Whitehouse last year and will go to Whitehouse Primary in the fall, was introduced to the wonders of the outdoors early and often.

“As soon as he gets here he wants to be outside, fishing or doing something,” Kurt said. “We’ve tried to direct him towards being active and appreciating nature, and he just seems thrilled with anything to do with being outdoors. He loves exploring or experiencing everything around him. You just can’t keep him in the house.”

As for any other kids in the area who could use an extended dose of the outdoors but don’t have a pond in the family — no pond, no problem. The pond at Pearson Metropark in Oregon and Olander Lake in Sylvania have been stocked this spring with thousands of 10- to 13-inch rainbow trout.

These fish are usually in a kid-friendly mood and bite readily on an assortment of baits. The parks also offer safe environments for young anglers and easy access for fishing families.

FISHING REPORT: While the action on area rivers shifts from the intense spawning runs of walleye and white bass to the more methodical pursuit of resident catfish, bass, and panfish, the ODNR reports that walleye fishing on Lake Erie has been excellent in recent days. As always, the reports from the big lake come with the weather-and-wind-permitting caveat, but then the conditions have been manageable, there have been decent catches west of West Sister Island, around the northern reefs, around “D” can of the Camp Perry firing range, around Rattlesnake Island, between North Bass Island and Gull Island Shoal along the Canadian border, and the areas east of Kelleys Island. Divers, spoons and worm harnesses have been producing for trollers, while drift fishermen are using bottom bouncers, mayfly rigs and worm harnesses.

Captain Bob Brown, Jr., aboard Sundance at Channel Grove Marina reported recently that the walleye bite was good all around Kelleys in 20-45 feet of water, while the reefs around South Bass and Middle Bass were productive at 8-14 feet. Brown also reported that the bass fishing around East Harbor has been very good, but reminds anglers that it is all catch-and-release for bass until June 28.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: or 419-724-6068.

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