Friday, August 2, 2013

Butler Reservoir Largemouth Bass and Pickerel in Apshawa Preserve

Hiked over a mile to Butler Reservoir through Apshawa Preserve with my wife, son, and Sadie. Relaxation at the mountain summit was great, then the hike down was steep but short. I casted a spinnerbait for nothing, switched to a Rebel Pop-R as Matt casted a buzzbait, and was just getting into the rhythm when I got called over to the area near the dam because Sadie was threatening to leap over the edge. I switched to a Chompers worm with inset hook and probed the depths. Then I saw the surest opportunity of the outing and laid the cast right between shore and some weeds, the worm splashing right where I wanted it about three feet from the bank. Even though the line was limp, I felt the subtlest tick and knew a bass had taken just as I wanted. I tightened up, set the hook, and the bass leapt for all of us to see--about 2 1/2 pounds online before the hook pulled free just a few yards before I would have grasped the lower jaw.

A number of small pickerel followed the worm in the tannic water. Imagine there are some big ones. This trip was more about the hike and hanging out with my wife and son, but you can find places to cast all the way around and it looks good. I caught a small bass on the Chompers and we hiked back, my son leading the way and walking with his eyes on the ground--almost walking into a black bear with her two cubs. I saw them too. He looked up and saw the mother simply looking at him as if wondering what the hell he was doing. He backed off and they lumbered away.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lake George at Schooley's Mountain Largemouth Bass

Today I awoke to rain, surprised. We had planned to fish the Paulinskill for smallmouths. I remembered an outing on Lake Musconetcong, June 2006, in light rain like today's that turned out great and decided I might go around 4:30. I called the boat rental and got the answering machine.

Rather than just fish my neighborhood pond, I decided to come here, an eight-acre pond I've had in mind to try for a first time. You never know about new spots unless you've been informed and nothing on the web suggested Lake George.

I didn't feel very impressed, but obviously some fair-size bass inhabit the pond. It's got depth. 15 feet at least near the dam. The water stained by rain, I used the spinnerbait shallow. But with a swimming beach, the water must usually be clear and of very good quality. An evening with topwater plugs might result in a few in the back of the pond. You could probe those depths with a plastic worm during the day, but in my experience, this sort of activity usually doesn't bring much result. More often than not, fishing the shallows where bass leap for dragonflies in the sun is better.

This bass I caught had a lip scar from a hook, so at least some fishing pressure occurs. Good that the bass was released, and most everyone who fishes ponds like this puts the fish back.

It's pretty nice up on Schooley's Mountain. I walked all the way around the pond and while access to casting positions is fairly limited, there's enough for an hour or so of relaxation.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fishing Pressure on Pond Largemouth Bass

As I write, a line of thunderstorms develops to the west, so we cancelled our Apshawa Preserve hike and fishing of Butler Reservoir. Perhaps we'll go Friday.

So instead, I grabbed my favorite rod, tied on a little eighth-ounce Strike King spinnerbait, and walked out in the rain to our neighborhood pond. It's not fishing as well as it has been for years, but I caught two bass in 20 minutes, one of them close to two-and-a-half pounds, the other over a pound.

That's the biggest bass I've caught in a long time and it felt good to connect. I thought the fish was over three at first. I guess this year's a lot like last with the bulk of the larger bass caught in May. If I fished this neighborhood pond hard, I would catch a lot more, but the pressure I would put on it would result in declining catches, even though I've never taken a bass and no else does either.

Bass feel sensitive to lures, especially those that catch them, and after they get caught, it's less likely they'll hit any lure again. I think university studies exist to back this claim. I know for a fact some universities do some very interesting studies with us in mind.

It would be interesting to chug a Crazy Crawler at night during hot weather sure to come again. I think at least one five-pounder exists. A five-pounder got caught and released last fall so it's even bigger if it's still alive. But I don't get worked up about fishing a pond that takes 60 seconds to walk to. Besides, I did try it at night once and got no hits at all. Every time I think of doing it again, I feel that indifference. But who knows.