Once I got there, I knew I should have brought one of the extra spools loaded with Power Pro. Didn't know what a bad omen this was, but I did know any big bass could threaten a break among trunks and branches. I eased my way down a fairly steep bank, propped myself against a trunk with my left arm, and pitched ahead before I would stand at water's edge--just as I always did at Mt. Hope Pond.
Immediately--a take. Line tightened, I reared back. No hold. I pitched again, bass took, miss on the set. Once again a take, and this time I had a small one on that got off. Auspicious. I proceeded to water's edge and cast along the edge, proud of my accuracy. I get the worm flush against cover, rigged Texas style weightless, but without Power Pro and just six-pound test, this is really dicey. I need the 15-pound braid.
I mounted back to the roadway, and found an open space with a very steep 15 feet of bank to descend, and instead of making an effort, I simply pitched down. A take! Missed. Another missed, and then on the third pitch--or drop--I saw a really good bass rise from three feet of depth and swoop on the worm. I set and the line popped. Bad knot.
This is not how an experienced angler fishes! You get a little out of the loop and you're vulnerable to error.
To begin with, not thinking of the alternative spool was really stupid.
I marched on down the road to a swimming beach not in use, with picnic tables. On the second cast, I had a take and felt that familiar weight of a really good bass running with the worm before I set--and missed it!
All riled up now, I cast further along the shoreline, one step at a time, beginning with casts close to me. I seldom work the Chompers all the back by slow stop and go retrieve, since hits usually come on descent. I cast progressively longer, so I don't spoil potentially good water in between me and the furthest I can reach.
Done, I worked my way back to the dam, finding that the rip-rap ends at shallow water's edge. The area worthless, I cast a few times to be sure, and went back to where I missed the big bass. This time, I hooked up in the same spot. The fight powerful, I felt sure the bass would go 3 1/2, but proved to weigh about a pound less than that.
Now I felt good. All the scolding for mistakes fully worthwhile, bliss healed the chaos, and I positioned for more. My furthest target resulted in a missed hit, but I repeatedly cast to an overhanging bush a little closer to me. It looked too good. Finally, I hooked up and caught another 2 1/2-pounder.
I went back to the trails leading down the high, steep embankment, intending to fish these areas thoroughly. They yielded a 13-inch smallmouth bass, and another largemouth a little less than a pound, and sure enough, I lost a largemouth of about a pound to submerged brush. Funny seeing a bass leap when your line is tangled in mess of sticks. I tried opening the bail to let it swim out, but though it took line, I couldn't get the bass back through and had to snap off my Chompers.
This 12-acre pond is the smallest I know of in New Jersey with smallmouths. I will keep it secret, because I don't want to step on anyone's toes who might treasure this place as his own. It's pretty far from where I live and I may never return.
I had traveled north to see about buying pool cue rods for the Avon Pier in North Carolina. Stand up rods, they're called. For king mackerel and cobia, sharks and barracuda...sailfish.
What a good time fishing this evening. Hot and humid as I like it. My hair soaked, my shirt. When you reach my age, you're not so limber as to just slide down a steep, rocky bank and dance on boulders near a dam. But I overcame inhibitions and really got into it.
That's a thick trunk to the right. One of the spots made a better photo, really classic bass habitat, but I'm saving the shot for the magazines.