Last I looked, the Ranger Cove area from the dike and beyond, including the pond in that area, are closed as of this evening until fall. Wanted very much to give it a last try, and drove over on the suppositiion that I had over an hour and a half until 8:00 to vacate the premises. Over in the far corner, I noticed the sign directed all to leave at 7:00, and remembered, of course. I did follow the rule, but plenty stayed over there until after 8:00. I kept within the law, hoping that some day it will change, and meandered over to the reservoir corner between the launch ramps, knowing that 10 foot depths exist almost within casting range, and some vegetation.
In the pond I caught three largemouth, one about four or five ounces over a pound, the other two about a pound. All struck in the first corner, which served me well this season. I worked my way along the treacherous rocks for a stretch; weeds grow out in batches for six or seven yards, and no doubt bass haunt them. I lost a good one--but nowhere near five pounds--to one of the thick clumps. It buried its head into it, and while I pulled all out, it still managed to loosen the tensiion on the line enough to throw the hook. Bass dig their heads into weeds like that so the connection of line to the hook is no longer direct and tight. They don't think, "I've got to slacken this line," they just dig into cover, but by effect they do slacken it. This is why I use 15 pound Power Pro braid in Lake Musconetcong. Braid stretches less, and 15 pound test you can really horse. The way Lake Musconetcong used to be--weed heaven--often I would almost break my rod, but boat a bass or pickerel. After this episode in the weed patch, I casted to the spot again after one cast away from it, had another take, and missed it. I think a lot of commotion often does the opposite of spooking other fish.
So. Coming off the dike, through the official fence, I noticed that corner invited me, unoccupied. Without much hope at all, I knew a bass cruising the sparse vegetation in the relative evening shade bore some possibility. Since the surface had completely calmed, I opted for the more subtle and slow sinking Chompers, rather than a Senco. Soon I landed another one pounder, then a nine incher, and an eight incher that attacked some tiny baitfish near my feet, so I just pitched my 7 1/2 Chompers and yanked it up, to return it unharmed, myself a little embarrased.
I'm a longer way from that five pound plus bass now. I've heard nice stories about the pond, and not only have I lost that to absolute reality, regulations, it gets tough now with the heat, and fewer days of persistent low pressure. Without a boat in New Jersey it's tough, if not impossible, to catch big bass consistently. I checked out Split Rock Reservoir on Friday to find three marginal spots to fish from shore. From a boat the place is obviously Paradise, although I have plenty experience with boats to know this can be tough, too. It would be nice if more shore access to places like Round Valley and Merrill Creek were permitted, especially with low water conditions existing at Round Valley now. But with the present state of our society, attitudes are such that regulations tend not to be made to make it nice for recreationists, but to control us from the point of view of suspicious regard.