I got almost an hour of bass fishing in at Hedden Park Lake in Dover around lunch time. Although the air temperature had risen into the low 80's, the breeze felt so devoid of humidity it felt like fall. The water had cleared significantly since last I came here in June. The pond looked more like an impoundment fed by the native brook trout stream, Jackson Creek. Surprised to find submerged weed beds (four or five feet at the deepest), I fished these first with a Chompers weightless worm, and then a five-inch Senko. I fished the cove pictured, and down along that shoreline on the right. Then I went to the tip of the penninsula to the left.
I hadn't seen a bass. Not even a sunfish. When I first started casting into clear, vacant water, I had the impression of fishing late in the fall when fish activity has slowed way down. When I came here in June, I approached that cove to see dozens of bass cruising near the surface over fairly stained water. Today I felt afraid I would see no fish at all. But reeling my Senko in very fast, a nine-inch largemouth charged it from the weedbed reaching some yards out from the end of this penninsula I mention. I pitched it back out as the bass turned, and it took, but I missed the hit, not allowing the take so long that I might gut hook the fish.
I had already thought of trying a surface lure. Besides my worms, that's all I had with me besides some U-Head jigs. I rued the absence of a #9 Rapala floater especially now that speed had stimulated a bass. During the fall I typically catch bass on jerkbaits and spinnerbaits, rather than plastics. I simply forgot to regard the change of season and prepare before I came here. To retrieve a Rapala with hard, jerking motions of the rod tip seemed exactly what the situation called for. So I put on my favorite chrome Baby Torpedo and tried a quick retrieve through slight breeze chop. On the second cast I enacted the same retrieve, stopped (I almost always break topwater retrieves irregularly), twitched enough to really turn the propeller, and took a hit right out in all that sunlight over weeds, but missed that too. More casts yielded nothing.
Turns out I had the fire-tail four-inch twister worms I hoped I had in my bag. I broke one down to slightly under three inches and loaded it onto a quarter-ounce U-Head jig. A fast, jigging retrieve did bring fast follows from two small bass, but the closest I got to a hit was one of them taking in only the fire-tail. With little time left, I put the Torpedo back on and tried the calm in the cove. I tried a retrieve so slow that the propeller spun without causing commotion. A tiny bass hit. But I drew no more attention.
I did pay attention, because in calm water this subtlety of that spinning propeller is something worth remembering. When I observe anglers fishing topwaters, I typically see very lazy, unconscious fishing in progress. Topwaters allow all sorts of opportunities for technique, but technique should never be something mechanical and merely repetitive. You have to make an inanimate object seem like something alive. You need to make it an extension of your own life, a natural life, not a dull servility.