Friday, April 29, 2011

Largemouth Beginning to Spawn

--Which means I tend to let them be. But all of the bass I caught this evening, but one, were fat and seemingly full of spawn. At lunchtime, I had stopped at a pond in Denville where I happened to see a guy getting photographed with a bass he'd just caught. I walked the edge. Males guarded nests. This is a tannic acid pond--how in Denville I don't know--and not stained by the rains, just as Pinelands waterways are protected by flat terrain and sand, almost entirely spring fed from the acquifier. However, my neighborhood pond was stained. So I couldn't see nests if any exist. But the bass all struck in shallow water, from right in close to the bank to a few yards out (this is a shallow pond anyhow, but the issue is relative).

I caught 10. A two-pounder, seven that all weighed at least a pound and a half, and two a couple or a few ounces over a pound. My favorite #9 Rapala floater had them roaring at the top after my twitches. I began with a "Midnight Special" Strike King spinnerbait, all 7/16th ounces of it, and knew right away this was a mistake. I could barely keep it off the bottom. So after my fifth cast, I shook it hard with the rod to clear vegetation--and snapped the six pound test. Loop, loop, loop... plop, it fell beneath the surface some 10 feet out, the bottom too muddy to try and go in and get it. I walked back home, knowing that what the situation really called for was my #9. Got it, and returned to fish the semi-stained water--it isn't muddy.

That corner with the cattails had thousands of white flower petals clogging it, most of the shoreline between it and the culvert corner did, too. So I fished the longer shorelines, open and fomenting with fish. I had fun. But I must confess that although all of these fish were very well over a pound, and such size is rare for a New Jersey pond, although it happens all the time in this one, I had a big bass in mind the whole time, and it never became present. My son has caught three here over four pounds, including a five pounder. I once caught a 3 3/4-pounder. But compared to the numbers of fish between a pound and two pounds that we catch, it's evident that very few large bass exist. Contrasting this, I fished a couple smaller ponds in my teens, one that had many three and a half pounders, and another that seemed to have almost as many four to five-pounders as smaller bass--not loads of fish, but when we caught one, it was about 50/50 that it would weigh over four pounds. The in's and out's of this and so much more that's out there would seemingly keep teams of biologists active for many years to figure out. This is why we call fishing a contemplative recreation.

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