Those guys jetting across our big-water lakes and reservoirs in their rocket-powered shiny bass boats have nothing on those bass anglers who fish small ponds.

Sure they get around all over the place dropping baits for five minutes in dozens of likely hotspots, but in the final analysis, do their scales really tip that much?

I've seen guys haul out some pretty impressive largemouths from some pretty small surface waters. Once I sat in the wrong end of an aluminum johnboat on a small "lake" a mile from the city of Durant watching a true bass fishing talent snag one 5-pounder after another from a hidden lake no bigger than a football field.

If it's the thrill of hooking hogs you seek, then never, ever overlook the chance to fish for backyard bass.

Ben Harper is 15 years old, and attends Warren Central Jr. High School in Vicksburg in the eighth grade. Ben loves the outdoors like no kid I have ever met. Anything outdoors, and he is on it. His gamut runs from squirrel, deer and turkey hunting to grabbing a set of fishing poles to jump in his trolling motor-powered "bass" boat to push off from the bank down the hill from his parent's home. He can fish all day summer or winter and never blink.

"I like small lakes, farm ponds, small stretches of odd-shaped waters with lots of coves and cover, and hidden ponds or lakes that may be on private land but they seem hardly ever fished," he said. "I'm lucky at gaining permission to fish these locations from folks at church or ball practice or wherever I can.

"My all-time favorite bass fishing spot is the private lake right behind my house (in a Vicksburg subdivision). We live right on the water, so I can keep my boat right there pulled up on the bank ready to go. I got a new trolling motor for Christmas, and I can charge the battery in the garage any time it needs it.

"Having a lake right in the backyard is so neat. I can get home from school and grab a couple hours on the water, or any time on Saturday or Sunday afternoon after church. I can fish all the time during vacations and holiday breaks from school."

Ben's experience is what so many other anglers could tap into. Successful bass fishing does not have to cost big bucks for an expensive boat and motor or other fancy gear. A small johnboat or plastic pontoon boat with two swivel seats and a small outboard motor or trolling motor can get the job done on small lakes and ponds. There has been plenty of quality bass caught just walking around the perimeter of small fishing waters, too. An investment in good chest waders is another way to go.

"I guess you'd have to say I am kind of a self-taught bass fisherman," Ben said. "I mean I fished with or around other people like my Uncle Tom who taught me everything he knows. I've gotten pretty good, but I still miss a lot of strikes. I hate to let one slip by me even though I catch and release almost every bass I hook. That way they get bigger so I can catch them again another day.

"Dad says I have too many fishing rods, and way too many lures of just about every kind they make. Every time we go by Bass Pro or any tackle shop, I am always looking for the latest and hottest rig on the shelf. But I do have my favorites.

"I use Castaway rods with Shimano reels. My favorite fishing line is Trilene Big Game in 17-pound-test, so when I hook a big bass they don't get away. I use lots of different baits including Zoom worms, Strike King spinnerbaits and Bomber crankbaits.

"On my neighborhood lake, I start out slow working over the banks with a spinnerbait. I might switch off to a worm or lizard depending on the time of year. For structure, I look for fallen trees, grass pads and sunken Christmas trees. I usually work my way around the entire lake early in the year until I narrow down some real hotspots. Then I tend to hit those again and again."

And speaking of that time of year, this is it for bass fishing. Crappie and bream have basically quit their feeding frenzies by now and gone to bed. That leaves bass all primed and ready.

So when you get the chance, take in a small lake or isolated pond with a small boat or canoe and really learn how to catch bass up close and personal, the Ben Harper way.