Saturday, July 5, 2014

Lake Hopatcong Smallmouth Bass Recollections: Maybe We'll Risk the Catch

Matt's 2013 18 1/2 incher.

I get downright analytical about our fishing sometimes. I had a brief episode yesterday, and ended up jotting down notes for this post. My son and I enjoy so many good catches; it would seem unnecessary to invest much reflection. And before I go on about this, I warn you it could seem ridiculous. I'll probably stop myself in my tracks. Besides, I'm not experiencing the obsession right now. I don't hone our results in hopes of tournament money. And as much as my son and I feel good about our catches, we don't do as well as some, either. I don't mean to boast, even though I've put pictures up of our best bass over the past three years fishing Lake Hopatcong once each year during summer, first week of July. We caught plenty others, some just as big, and this may raise your hopes.

Once we got to our spot on Thursday, I wanted bass and felt dismayed the first half hour or an hour, a 10-incher uninspiring, and then a smallmouth just more than 16 inches not up to par with what we've been catching these past three years. But the action had only just begun. A quick, very fast spree of feeding as a thunderstorm approached. I should have measured the larger I caught, which I released thinking it was just about 17 inches, but now think it was 17 1/2. When we're fishing, often I want to be more casual about the experience and release a bass without the complication of applying the tape. Then later my obsessive mind wants to know how it would have measured down to the eighth inch. Only the nice ones of course.

This larger bass did inspire. I fought it on my St. Croix ultralight. Nevertheless, it was all too much the same; we've been catching bass like this and bigger every time out for the past three years, with exception to vertical jigging outings, and my flat line trolling with Landolfi. Thursday was yet another success at our favorite spot, and I felt it's become all too expected. I'm left feeling as though the seven smallmouths we caught before 7:45 a.m. just leapt into the boat.

It may be wise to try elsewhere next year. We'll know we're risking likely success, which will take the complacency away from us. Once fishing gets to be predictable, it may be time to move on. It better be if it really begins to bore. At best, this move will revitalize interest with a big catch elsewhere. We still haven't broken the four pound mark, and a lunker smallmouth could await on any of the lake's rocky drop-offs. I'll study the map. I know what I have in mind, but this I won't divulge. 

July 2011, such a severe cold front we didn't take jackets off all day, into afternoon. I was cold in those shorts.
 July 2012. I measured that bass at 18 inches on the nose. Amazing how photographs deceive. The bass photographed below on Thursday looks longer, but it was 17 1/2 inches at most, I think, didn't measure.

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