Most anglers in the United States begin their fishing adventures as a child on a small pond. Farm ponds and larger ponds that are too small to fall under the classification of lakes are often full of different fish. The presence of weeds to provide cover almost guarantees that there will be both predator and prey species in the water. A small brook or spring emptying into a pond is a bonus because it will bring in food that will help the fish to thrive.
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The chain pickerel gets its name from the green interlocking markings that resemble chain links along both of its sides. This member of the pike family lives in lakes, rivers and ponds, where it will hide in the weeds and then ambush its prey with swift attacks. The chain pickerel is a feared carnivore among fish, possessing row after row of small but sharp inward pointing teeth designed to grab and hold prey until the fish can swallow it whole. Chain pickerel can grow as long as 30 inches on rare occasions. But they typically range from 10 inches to 18 inches, especially in a small pond where their numbers may be greater than their food supply. Chain pickerel are long fish, with a flattened snout. You can catch chain pickerel using lures, such as spoons or plastic worms. The species is especially susceptible to shiners on devices called tip-ups, used to catch them through the ice in the winter.
The pumpkinseed is a familiar pond fish species throughout its range, which includes the northeast United States, much of eastern Canada and the Great Lakes region. Few freshwater species can boast the brilliant colours of the pumpkinseed, which typically has a combination of blue, orange, red, olive and green on various parts of its body. Pumpkinseeds get their name from the black patch that resembles the seed of the large gourd on their gill flap. Pumpkinseeds feed on such aquatic fare as snails, insects and worms. The species will fan an area close to shore with its tail until it creates a nest, where the females deposit their eggs in the latter stages of May and the first part of June. The average sunfish is around 8 inches long and weighs well under a pound, but the flattened shape of their body allows them to swim with authority. That make an inexperienced angler often feel he has a much larger fish on the line when he first hooks one.
The brown bullhead is a species that resides in ponds, lakes and slow moving waterways from Canada to Florida and as far west as the Mississippi River. This species of catfish averages about 1 foot to 15 inches long, and has a trademark set of “whiskers” known as barbels on its chin and upper jaw. The brown bullhead is at its most active during the evening hours. The fish feels along the bottom with its barbels and eats such creatures as crayfish, worms, snails and freshwater mussels. The brown colour of this fish is on the upper portion of the bullhead’s head, its back and its sides. The belly is usually whitish, and the skin of this pond species is smooth, lacking scales. Anglers will catch brown bullheads most often with a worm or night crawler positioned beneath a fishing float. The species has a very sharp set of spines in its pectoral fins and another at the base of the dorsal fin. These spines are capable of inflicting a sharp pain to you if you handle the fish incorrectly after catching it. Grip the brown bullhead behind the pectoral fins and from below to avoid the dorsal spine when removing a hook from its mouth.
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