The Rockaway River in Dover, NJ, very recently looked like early January just before ice begins to set in to signal the close of nymphing. Saturday it will be thronged for Opening Day. The photograph I took of the river snow shrouded should be of the last white stuff of the season.
Yesterday I had a snatch of time, so I quickly tied on a mini-Hula Popper for what I think were water temperatures in the 50s, the pond near my house shallow, calm, having absorbed sun and 70-degree temperatures. I didn't care to bring along another lure. I wanted to see if I could coax an early strike or two at a popper near sundown. I never got a single hit. I tried extremely slow, erratic, moderate, fast, and loud popping retrieves, as well as subtle improvisations to as cold a reception as had I fished in the middle of February.
Today I got out a little later. The sun had set. Prepared this time, I didn't experiment. I've caught plenty of bass on small, 1/8-ounce spinnerbaits this time of year, so that's what I selected. First I tried out in open, deeper water, but my fourth cast got me right in what proved to be the zone. A bass close to two pounds ploughed into my spinnerbait from between two sets of dried cattails.
I caught two more close to a pound-and-a-half in another corner, also very shallow. Mind you, today the rain came in terrific squalls this morning as the temperature fell like a dish of cold water. As I fished, the temperature remained at 45. But last night remained in the 60s. So all through those dark hours water warmed. Before I quit after about 20 minutes, I caught two more bass in the same spot I had caught the nearly two-pounder, these also approaching a pound-and-a-half.