Sunday, April 14, 2013

Round Valley Reservoir Bass as the Weather Warms

Round Valley Bass as the Weather Warms

Before Memorial Day we have our special fun at Round Valley. Before the gates close on Ranger Cove and the west side of the pond and fees are charged for Lot 2, my son, Matt, and I catch some nice bass, plenty smaller. We’re not the only ones taking shore-bound opportunity and when those gates close, the action is about over until fall anyhow.

Matt and I avoid the bucks guarding beds—action viewed in the pond long before seen in the reservoir. Larger females in the pond usually orient to the edge just out of sight. Matt caught an 18- incher deep in the west corner on a Strike King Senko-type plastic. I do well wherever a little brush or weedline is involved. It’s much the same with the breakline in the reservoir, although at 10 to 15 feet, and I’ve clearly observed males guarding beds in 10 feet of water on a June 10th from a boat. The same brand five-inch worm yielded an 18 ½-inch fat female for me May two years ago from a steep drop about eight feet down. I keep hoping for a better bass, have seen and hooked them, and with persistence over the next few years this may not be asking too much.

I’ve met a couple of separate scuba diving parties who spoke in awed undertones about the giant bass deep in the reservoir. Everyone knows about the state record smallmouth. But by what I’ve heard, it may be possible a state record largemouth lurks as well, and this despite the bemoaned infertility of the water.

For years I’ve held the view that the biggest bass have subtle, seasoned discrimination and avoid angler’s offerings, particularly in water so clear. I am not the only Round Valley fisherman who thinks along this line; I spoke to a shore angler last year who told me he sighted a bass from a boat the previous year he estimated at nine pounds, then added that he thinks quite a few really big bass exist but don’t hit.

For me, the reservoir and the pond are two separate worlds. Water clarity is much greater in the reservoir, yet the pond is very clear relative to many other waters in the state. It’s not even the relative plethora of algae and other vegetation in the pond that makes me feel this way, but simply the better catches we make in rain and under cloud cover there, and another more important appreciation. As counterintuitive as it seems, I tend to do well in the reservoir with bright sunlight in the afternoon. Mainly, it just feels really good with that aqua-marine water everywhere. I would bet anyone that brain scientists could explain how the natural aesthetics affect our pleasure responses. How this has anything to do with my success with the bass, scientists might find more difficult to make explicit.

With bright sunlight marking vegetation patches, fish those dark spots in the reservoir carefully as bass stalk forage from among these conglomerations. I carefully fish a seven-inch Chompers weightless both in the pond and in the reservoir patches for that slow descent which allows bass to see the worm longer than by a fast descent. However, the reservoir is so deep and clear that a long casting, fast sinking (no sinker) Senko-type is usually effective. It is more effective for plumbing distant depths and covering range.

I used to think all the reservoir bass are 10 feet deep or deeper, not so. I’ve watched them snatch shiners at my feet in inches of water, and on a recent sunny afternoon when I could not buy a hit, I hiked far away from Lot 2 covering range fast, trying to find bass, wracking my brain. I found a willow hanging over very shallow water. 

Aha! I caught one on the Chompers, then sort of bushwhacked around to get inside this little cove. I noticed the cove produced a kind of eddy by wind action—lots of pollen and stuff on the surface, life material, a good sign. Thinking hard about finding bass had by then stimulated all sorts of thoughts, but I fished carefully to notice a 13-incher loom right behind my Chompers when I would have finished my retrieve had I not slowed down to complete the presentation. I caught the bass and yet another small one yards to the side.

Usually I fish the worms. But I caught three bass on a buzzbait in wind and broken sun on a recent afternoon fishing 45 minutes; usually I have little more time to fish. Yeah, a big white buzzbait at the surface through waves! Again, action was shallow. But a smallmouth did come up out of seven or eight feet of water.


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