Finally, Round Valley Reservoir is warming. Largemouth's aren't spawning yet, although they have in New Jersey waters that warm faster. I noticed bucks guarding beds at Mt. Hope Pond yesterday. I fished Round Valley Pond twice on previous dates, catching nothing, not even getting a hit, and tried the reservoir once last week when the water was still as cold as sometime during a normal April. Warming slowly progressed last year, too, but not after a winter like this year's. I'm supposed to fish with a friend in his boat, mid-June, and I bet reservoir bucks will still be guarding beds. On June 10th, 1978, they were, and I don't suppose that season fell behind as this one.
I fished just out of the wind today, catching a largemouth of about a pound on the first cast with a Senko-type Strike King worm. The Chompers traditional worm just didn't have enough resistance against the wind, even in the eddy created by the trees where I stood casting. Wind blew hard from the south. This first fish didn't hit on the initial drop into about 14 feet of water. I twitched it three times, imparting that Wacky flutter with the hook in the middle, let drop, and when I lifted the rod tip a few seconds later, felt resistance and set into the bass.
I had about 45 minutes; action wasn't fast, but I got another pick-up in shallower water near the end of a retrieve. The bass looked bigger than actual in the gin-clear, wind ruffled water. Even when it leaped, I slackened under the illusion that it could be four pounds, but it fell half a pound or more shy of that mark. Quickly tape measured it at 17 1/2 inches, this chunky female clearly hasn't spawned yet.
So begins another season at Round Valley. I still have a five-pound bass haunting my mind. I catch them over four pounds elsewhere, but just can't seem to break the mark here. Last year, I spotted from a shore a smallmouth I think weighed about six pounds. That's a very rare fish. But the state record seven-pound, two-ounce smallmouth came from these waters.
As I walked out, I viewed that water and wondered what the lack of the state's trout stocking will do to the cold water season through next winter. I had thought of casting metal for trout this month. Earlier yet than I considered doing this, I had thought of putting a shiner on bottom, while I would fish bass with another rod. Round Valley Trout Association has stocked some in the state's absence, but I just can't get up the enthusiasm to try for trout. Basically, since I've pursued bass in May for three seasons and I'm into my fourth, I seem satisfied to stick with it and try to hook a big one. When winter comes, I will in all likelihood be back for trout, even if I don't catch any.
It's May. And when I stand on the January shore, 15 degree wind howling past my ears, the wind chill who knows how low, I sometimes think of this month. It's not a value to take entirely for granted.