Since the water is slow, clear and shallow, the fish seem to be extra skittish. This means you need to practice extra caution to have any luck. If you can see the fish in a beaver pond, more than likely they can see you, too. All but the very small and gullible fish will retreat to safety. Avoid the overwhelming temptation to walk up to the pond to spot the fish.
Instead, keep a low profile and delicately cast to any rising fish or bulges you see in the water. Be sure to concentrate your efforts on the pond’s inlet, the main stream channel, the deeper water at the dam itself and any other good holding water you may notice. Since beaver ponds offer such an abundance of food, the majority of trout will feed on the surface only when there is a large hatch in progress. Some of the smaller fish may feed on the stray bugs, but for the most part they will be eating nymphs under the surface of the water.
I like to stand just below the actual beaver dam and cast into the deep water behind it. It’s easy to sneak up on the fish from here and you don’t need much line to present your fly. This will usually yield a fish or two, but it is a tough place to fish (although there really aren’t any easy places in a beaver pond). Most of the time, you will either snag your fly on a piece of wood or hook a fish that beelines to its shelter under the dam. Whatever the case, plan on losing lots of flies.
I will never forget the time I hooked a large native cutthroat trout in a small beaver pond in Colorado. Again, I approached the pond just under the dam and hooked it on my first cast, which is often the case in beaver ponds. After a rather lengthy battle, I finally got the fish within arm’s reach when the unthinkable happened. The fish made one final run, but this time dove below the dam and tangled itself around large piece of wood. I tried my best to untangle the leader, but to no avail. I had to snap the tippet. With a long branch, I reached the line and pulled the fish up to the surface of the water.
Besides a sly approach, the key to successful fishing on beaver ponds is to give them a break. Unless it’s a huge pond, don’t plan on fishing more than 10 to 20 minutes before all the fish are spooked. Instead, catch a few trout, give it a break then come back. I usually fish a beaver pond pretty heavily when I first get there and then break for a half-hour or so. During this time, I usually have lunch, take a nap (ah, fishing!) or more likely fish my way up the creek until I hit another pond. If there are several beaver ponds in one area, as is often the case, some of the best fishing can be in the channels that connect them. Concentrate on these channels while you give the ponds a break.
Your Independent guide to Fishing