Rock bass and more rock bass with Fred's annual Round Valley Reservoir invitation on his boat. We found a rock pathway, piles of rock, leading from very deep to shallow, and it seemed the perfect pathway for big smallmouths to move into evening shallows from 30 or 35 feet down. Maybe some other time. From five feet down to nearly 30 feet, rock bass hit anything presented, including Fred's Senko. We must have caught 30 or 40, persistently hoping to connect with a good bass in the process. I admit I found the rock bass fun.
I did catch a smallmouth bass about the size of the largemouth photographed above, and it was interesting to compare the way it fought with quick, angled turns and sidewise runs, in comparison to the rock bass, which just wiggled a few times and then came straight in. You watch as a tight line to either smallmouth or largemouth bass rises for the surface and the bass possibly takes a leap if you let it, smallmouths more likely to do this. Rock bass never elevate anticipation by such a move. I was using Berkeley Gulp! leeches on eighth-ounce jigs and rock bass took how many dollars worth I don't know.
They're expensive; I decided pretty much too expensive last night. Plastics stay on the hook, but these synthetic leeches are almost as delicate as live bait, only cost more. So I slipped on a seven-inch twister worm and kept right on catching rock bass. I even caught one on a 3/8th-ounce Pop-R surface plug, along with another small largemouth and tiny smallmouth bass. The smallmouth hit that plug with all out fury. I thought it was a fair-size bass at first. Some reeds in the shallows and other fertile vegetation attracted these few small bass. Fred lost one also, and we missed some other hits. Mostly from rock bass. Perhaps some sunfish came up and pecked at the white bucktail on the Pop-R's rear treble.
We stayed out well into dark and tried boulder dikes with surface plugs. The first was just too windblown. The dike to Ranger Cove from the launch area was protected but only panfish pecked our plugs.
It had taken us a long while to find the piled rocks, wide as a roadway and the same in linear form. Until then, we fished blindly, except that we knew of some rocks down there, fishing mostly 25 to 30 foot depths with jigs. That's how I caught my two-pound plus smallmouth bass last year in about 18 feet of water. Fred knows of some rock piles elsewhere, and two years ago we caught a lot more smallmouths on one or two of these, although they were smallish bass, except for the two-pounder Fred lost.
Round Valley has deep water everywhere; the trick is finding rocks and boulders especially combined with weeds. With a lot of sun on the water, bass may be 35 feet deep. Much deeper than that, and the water is really cold and the bass less likely to be there. I did know someone who caught a smallmouth 90 feet deep on a live herring intended for a lake trout, however. So go figure.
After stopping at a gas station on U.S. 22 and turning around to access I-78, I heard loads of katydids, those tree-loving insects green in color that make a chorus of rasps. If I remember rightly, they always came out around August 1st. But I noticed them this early last year too. It was a real good trip, especially the night fishing and ramping up brought back a lot of memories. I frequent Round Valley often, but cover of darkness gave me the perspective I don't often enjoy here.
Rock bass on Senko