Friday, August 7, 2015

Where are the River Smallmouths?

Got back out on the North Branch Raritan this evening, since a useless dolly wheel made our inflatable boat trip impossible. This stretch gets nice and deep near the bridge. Why a lot of smallmouth bass are not present concerns me, unless they're far back under the bridge and not hitting. The river is low, not especially clear--sometimes in the fall it's clear as a bell. Right now it seems perfect for summer smallmouths, of which not one took my Chompers. And I worked my way upstream to check shallows near riffles, since at least average stream bass sometimes inhabit as little as a foot of water.

I guess I could take my fly rod further upstream where riffles run pretty deep. Some years back I caught some on stone fly nymphs. Better yet, downstream below the Lamington River confluence. As great as the spot I fished this evening is structurally, we've never done well here for bass, though we've caught some. Matt spotted a 19-incher here recently while walking the dog, so naturally that's why I've taken some interest this summer.

In any event, wow, I remember the old days on Stony Brook during my teens. Double figure smallmouth catches proved the norm. Fishing felt as wild as the Midwest before settlers arrived. Well, how would I know? But the Brook had smallmouths galore. And in recent years, nearly none. Since the 70's legal size is raised to 12 inches. Back then, few fished the bass. Now and in the past decade, about no one does.

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