Sunday, May 15, 2016

Bass, Relaxation, Photography at Round Valley Recreation Area

Some outings just invite you to slow down and relax. When my son and I fish Avon Pier on the Outer Banks, North Carolina, I enjoy hours at a stretch doing almost nothing, not that the rest of the time I'm inactive: casting a jigger, casting and retrieving for flounder, and teasing pompano from pilings. At Bahia Honda Channel, we enjoyed non-stop action with snappers and groupers, and yet we fished for six or seven hours at a stretch in blazing sun and humid temperatures in the mid-90's. It felt like the entire world stopped for me, and the suspense bridged time all the way back to summer after summer in the bay clamming for a living behind Long Beach Island, New Jersey. I experienced on a deep level a continuity between that time during the 1980's to 2012 when we last visited the Keys--as an unbroken life never lost.

This afternoon I got to Round Valley Reservoir after rain had stopped not long before and began by fishing the pond. As I approached my favorite corner, I thought of how another chapter of my life has turned, since I'm no longer coming here so often as I had since 2011, now five years ago. I fished that corner today feeling as if I'll never catch up to fishing again; this year I haven't got out much, and when I toyed with my camera--getting shots from close angles I thought pretty cool, but really aren't all that special--just afterward I felt as if photography interests me more now. This corner as dead as last year's fishing revealed nothing; I left the pond feeling a little resentful, but knowing I couldn't pin it on anything. (Last year I wondered if ice fishermen have taken a lot of fish home.) I know a lot of fishermen feel vengeance towards spot burners, but I never see anyone fishing this pond, besides a very few over the past five years.

I gathered my stuff to fish the reservoir, not possessed of any serious concern for a few big bass I lost in the pond years ago, which made the experience special, since I can never know how big. I know how a bass of about two pounds or possibly much better takes my weightless worm. Sadie, my black Labrador with me, behaved well, and I sat on the dirt and gravel and began casting, which in total I must have done for an hour-and-a-half hardly moving from one place.

Small stuff got me interested right away. Taps and hits from any sort of fish piques interest. When light from the setting sun made miracles happen, I leapt up and ran with my camera around a bend to try and get shots of amazing light on the distant Cushetunk mountains. Later, driving home, I considered buying a Nikkor 17-55 mm lens, which will cost a lot of money, but sure enough, once I tried to process in Lightroom raw images from the "kit" lens, the Nikkor 18-55 mm, the color balance for most of the images proved to be all screwed up and irredeemable. It's as if this relatively inexpensive lens is only good for ordinary light, but my expensive Tokina 11-16 mm and Nikkor 70-200 mm lenses served me just fine this evening.

Best of all, though--just sitting there fishing that weightless worm. Allowing the world to stop. Because, man, I've been busy, and if I don't relax sometimes, I will burn out. Relaxing at home just does not do it as does fishing real slow.

I caught four largemouths, 10 and 11 inches, but the possibility for a really big bass in the reservoir is enough to make me feel very patient with the small ones. Over the past five years, I caught quite a few over three pounds and one five-pounder. Who knows, maybe the likes will happen again.

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