Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Drop Shotting for Bass at Round Valley

Invited Mike Vandenberg along to try drop-shotting for bass from shore at Round Valley Reservoir. Upon arrival, I felt we might do best fishing to the right, further back in Ranger Cove. Stuff gets washed in there by the prevailing winds, and whether this is the reason, it's more fertile and weedy. But this was Mike's first time at the reservoir, and I wanted to make sure he got a wide view of its extent, so I led us around and to the left, along the rocky shores in the direction of the main launch, but distant from it. Besides, these rocky shores seemed more promising for smallmouth bass.

We used 1/4- and 1/2-ounce sinkers, setting three- and four-inch plastic worms anywhere from a foot to 2 1/2 feet from the sinker. Along this rocky shoreline I mention, we never got a hit, but we began to forget about the daily grind as we let the wide arena of surrounding open space pull us back to reality. We both work long hours and feel they're too long. For a moment, I felt soothed by the quiet sound of  water lapping against the rocks. It's way too easy to discount the likes as worthless trivia not worth reception, but then we might forget that every piece of existence partakes of its ultimate value.

I saw a ranger coming up the trail. Told Mike to make his fishing license conspicuous. The ranger said, "Keep your dog on leash."

"She is on leash," I said.

"Keep it in hand," he said, "So she doesn't run around."

Sadie's an old Lab who just sits beside us.

But the ranger also spoke of back in Ranger Cove as the best area to fish, which reminded me of my earlier feeling. Someone had caught a 15-inch largemouth, he said. We decided we would give it a try, after we tried further along our course where maybe a sharper drop existed, though what we found was shallower water.

I liked the way the water looked. We had got in my car and ridden further back in Lot 2, where I parked above a fairly steep embankment. I told Mike about the five-pound rainbow trout I once caught in December down below from where we presently got out to gather our gear. Here the water had a green tone, rather than the cold-looking rocky feel of where we had fished. It's not as if only largmouths would be present. My son once caught a smallmouth further back in the cove relative to where we were about to stand.

My first cast resulted in the little largemouth photographed. I also caught three rock bass and missed a couple of hits by winging the 1/2-ounce weight out as far as possible and placing each cast differently.

Mike is learning how to cast with a spinning rod, and he made marked improvement today. If I remember correctly, his ice fishing Lake Hopatcong with my son and I at near zero degrees a couple of years ago was the first fishing he's ever done.

Today, it was nice out there. If I can share the following thought, I'm reminded of something my academic advisor at Hampshire College told me a 1986 letter to me, while I took time off. I had let on that all my life, I've sought grand vision. He told me there's plenty to be said for the mundane, and I believe that if I didn't understand exactly what he meant, his words nevertheless cast meaning on the mundane that hadn't existed for me before. Or rather, as a recognition of the value. Daily reality is grand. Ground down by work duties, perhaps not, but just go cast a lure and take it slow.

You'll awaken to what you're missing out on.

Furthest we went along the rocky shoreline.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Big White Cat Wins Knee Deep Derby

Laurie Murphy:

The Knee Deep Club held their Catfish contest this past weekend with a great turnout of 49 entrants. The winners included Alex Stockton taking 1st place with his white cat weighing 6 lb 1 oz, winning $391, 2nd place went to Lou Marcucci, winning $236 for a 5 lb 2 oz Channel, and 3rd place going to Justin Haines, also with a 5 lb 2 oz Channel, his take home being $157.  Fourth thru sixth place winners received a $20 gift card to The Jefferson Diner, going to Sean Haubrich with a 4 lb 6 oz Channel, Kirra Gifillan with her Channel cat weighing 3 lb 14 oz, and Glenn Sawyer, also with a Channel Cat weighing 2 lb 13 oz. Also making their way to the scale was a 3 lb 5 oz eel, caught by Alan Tourinsky of Mt Arlington. Eddie Mackin also weighed  a Hybrid Striper at 7 1/2 pounds. Speaking of Hybrid Striped Bass, Knee Deep’s next contest  being held for them,  will be  on  Sept 21st & 22nd.  Jack Dziduch, fishing with live herring, had several hybrids, the largest up to 8 pounds. NJ’s DEP has lifted another  of their Swim Advisories , concerning the blue green algae, adding Byram Cove to Indian Harbor & Henderson Cove,   with more areas expected to be lifted by next week.  Check out the Shop Local Campaign for Lake Hopatcong, (you’ll find it online ). You may just find a 15 % off coupon for bait , tackle & boat rentals, from Dows Boat Rental. Have a great week !!!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Bald Eagles

Cool press release I got from Fish & Wildlife. Bald eagles are as free as the air we breathe, and they better be, if we are. But it's fascinating to take interest in our interactions with the recovering population. It doesn't make them any less wild. But it does mean we're part of the picture ourselves, and I would say, ultimately as wild as they are. 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Trolling for Pickerel

 Oliver's biggest bass--from anywhere--yet.

The thunderstorm came. During one of my breaks at work, Oliver & I texted about the river level coming up. Later last night, it was coming down as fast as it went up, but how could we tell if the water color would be good this morning? 

So, Plan B. Tilcon Lake. Oliver suggested saltwater before we decided for certain, but I hate going all the way over there, only to infer that no fish are in the surf. I guess some kingfish would be around--I guess--but I didn't feel them worth the drive.

We met at Brian's about 4:45, loaded the squareback. We were on the water at 6:00 sharp. Fog enclosed us. I soon caught a small bass on a Dalton Special up top. It was another very slow morning bite like last year with my son. I switched to a worm, lost a nice bass, caught another small one. Oliver teased sunfish with flies and a popper, hoping a bass would take. My worm rigged with an inset hook, I riled up a pickerel from a foot of water on top of an island among weeds. It took the hook deeply, having savaged that worm, but I released it in good shape. 

All told, I caught two more small bass on the worm. I very much enjoy worming, as if you don't know. A lake threatens to overwhelm me as too much water to cover by fishing that slowly, but by selecting every cast, it's a meditation and a sport. A sport because getting casts exactly right as I foresee them does tend to yield results. 

Oliver wormed too. And caught his biggest bass yet, about 19 inches.

But today's fast action came by trolling. The only plug that worked was the larger of two chrome-finished Storm Hot-N-Tot's. It dives about 15 feet. The shallower running version didn't draw any strikes, and we missed some on the bigger plug. I tried to get Oliver to take that plug away from me, as I hooked pickerel after pickerel, catching four, the largest 23 inches, losing another boatside, missing a couple of jolting strikes. Finally, he conceded. He caught one about 20 inches.

The biggest was the first caught, and my first thought, "Maybe trolling is the key to finding the big ones," played out. Another of mine was 21 inches, another 20 inches, and the other about average, 18 inches. Until today, all the pickerel we've caught here have been 17 inches, 18 at most.

We moved over bottom as deep as 30 feet and got whacked. I can't tell how deep vegetation goes, but the water is clear, and only 15 feet down or so, that chrome finish on the plug surely reflected sunlight. 

 The wooden Dalton Special was my favorite topwater plug. Then the Torpedo. Now the Pop-R. But I felt a desire to try the old Dalton this morning.

Oliver got some interest with his flies and bugs. 

 Wild Man with his biggest Tilcon pickerel yet.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

South Branch Raritan Flemington

Drove to the South Branch at Flemington to check and see if the flow is muddy. It's not. And so long as thunderstorms later today don't raise the level, Oliver Round and I are floating the river further north tomorrow. Water often gets released from Spruce Run Reservoir, raising the river level and muddying the water just enough to make fishing unproductive.

I brought a bucket with some leftover killies in it. I used some more than a week ago, when trying for fluke in the surf; the water they're surviving in is brine taken straight from the Atlantic. I thought I would have the change the water, but the fish are doing fine.

First cast to this long slow stretch behind a dam resulted in a little largemouth about nine inches long. I caught a longear sunfish, besides. I tried to access the river below the dam, but No Trespassing. Then I drove further above and found a nice hole below a rusted railroad trestle, but couldn't get a hit. I put a split shot on the line, too, after covering the area with a killie weightless.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Laurie Murphy Emphasizes that the lake is OPEN

And it never was closed, though word certainly got around that it was closed, completely false information. They closed the State Park swimming beach; no one was swimming at Lee's Cove, as far as I know, but beaches aren't the lake.

My wife told me minutes ago the advisory against swimming has been partially lifted.

As I related in an earlier post, Laurie told the newspapers people were swimming in the lake when the algae was at its worst, and Joe Welsh worked his herring nets--getting wet--the whole time. No rashes.

Laurie Murphy:

Lake Hopatcong is OPEN for boating & fishing, but still has an advisory in effect for no swimming due to the blue green algae bloom. Several private beach communities have opened back up with  swimming at your own risk due to lower #’s of the bacteria counts.  For the few fisherman that have continued to venture out, fishing has been great. Lots of fish & not alot of boat traffic. Jared Hackney landed a 4 lb largemouth bass along with several nice channel cats while fishing the Nolans Point area. Jim Welsh, fishing with herring off the points, managed  quite a few Hybrid Striped Bass in the 6 - 8 pound range, along with walleye weighing up to 4 pounds, smallmouth & largemouth bass, several pickerel and nice yellow perch & crappie for the week. Todays catch included a white Cat weighing  3 lb 9 oz. The Knee Deep Club will be holding their Catfish Derby on Saturday August 10th at 6 pm until noon on Sunday August 11th. We are open 7 days with bait, boat rentals & tackle. Have a great week !