I used to think that when water temperatures dipped significantly, bass abandoned beds. Although I couldn't make any beds out through the rather stained water, water I am sure took a sharp temperature drop with today's rain in the mid and upper 40s, the bass I caught seemed to be on guarded defense. One of the five I caught struck my favorite 1/8th ounce chartreuse spinnerbait twice before it whalloped the lure a third time and got hooked. I missed three hits from another in exactly the same place. I saw bass guarding nests in Mount Hope Pond in Rockaway yesterday, so surely that's what they're doing in my shallow little local pond. And ditto this the last time I fished it--I caught what looked like the same two pounder from the same spot, only now it's a lot scrawnier and less than two pounds. Three of the other four were about a pound and a half, the other a pound. I just haven't managed to hook a real good bass.
I fished much the same as I had a month ago, when I caught five on the same lure. I judged from the gut. This evening was not a time to try my #9 Rapala floater. Experience gets stored in the stomach. I read somewhere that the stomach has a slight number of neuron-like cells, which may account for the accuracy of gut feelings. Whatever the case, I certainly believe experience stores its responses down there, close to the body's center of gravity. Not to trust it is to ultimately go against reason, although we learn new approaches by going out on a limb, by extending our judgment clearly straight out from the neocortex. This is why, when an approach fails--like the time that would-be fourth bass at the Bedminster Pond followed like a pickerel, but did not hit--I am very quick to try something else. The gut cannot sustain for very long--it needs to be fed. And if it has any neuronal cells, certainly they are far fewer and less developed than those in the brain!
This coming Saturday my son and I plan to try for lunkers at Manasquan Reservoir, one of the best places in the state to give that quest a shot--if that's all it is, an attempt. I'm hoping that with the chilly weather the spawn has been put off, but I would be surprised, even with such a late spring, if by May 7th the females haven't lost weight. Manasquan is a tough place to fish. The fishing pressure is perhaps the tightest in the state, too. The bass see a lot of lures and become conditioned to ignoring them, especially through that clear water. High hopes! But I try to ease myself, and my son, into reality rather than come crashing down.