Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Bass Encounters: What Psychotherapists Get Taught Doesn't Do

Got off the phone with Mike Maxwell a little while ago, who fished the North Branch at AT&T, while I fished Round Valley Reservoir and Pond. He went with a 13-year-old from the neighborhood, interested in fishing, never having tried before. Today he learned how to cast a spinner, and how to catch a trout, too, since he nailed one. This afternoon was one of those days, Mike said, when the recently stocked bunch won't touch salmon eggs, but smack spinners. I've experienced the same and don't have an explanation. Maybe it has to do with warming water. I don't know, but it looks as if we have a new member of the clan.

Just about to leave for Round Valley when my wife pulled in from work, I said, "Do you want to come?"


So out of the blue, I was about to get in an outing with her.

As we got out of the car, I took a look over the reservoir beyond, and thought cold. Not very promising at all; despite temperatures in the 80's, I doubt the reservoir surface moved out of the 50's, but we would give my favorite corner a shot. We walked the dike as I told Trish we headed to the reservoir's best spot for bass from the shoreline. Knowing all the while my actions would not substantiate this claim. But like a good citizen of a psychotherapeutic and religious nation, I did not go into what I was sure about.

Had photography in mind, also, and for more than a half hour the light was just bad, diffused by thin clouds, but I soon surprised myself, getting some good shots I'm keeping for possible uses. As light got a little interesting, it illumined no dramatic effects as had here in the past.

Fished persistently a blue Senko-type worm, but that something in me seemed to know before I took the second cast that it was useless to try for any fish, other than to relax, putter, look for photo shots. The first cast was about 10/90. Slim chance but only on the conscious theoretical level, I thought there might be a bass in close. I took that cast while I stood about 15 yards from water's edge, later asking my wife if she would like to see a couple of little ones where the worm had splashed down. Too little to take a Senko. That something which knew of no hope for fishing the reservoir isn't "I," who knows he does not know he won't catch any....and also prefers not to identify with his id. Of course, to be honest, I know I do identify with it, but there is the distinction to make, just as I identify with any values I possess, but distinguish them from conscious ego; it's not that I just want to wiggle out of an uncomfortable dilemma I find myself in, with regards to my weather-prophet-like accuracy at predicting where fish might be, knowing something about where the ability comes from, and knowing something about the bias we as a nation tend to feel with regard to the psychological and religious issue, but of course I manage to survive because I don't abandon ego and become id, although it would be quite possible I do so, not by any ought, but by disregard of ought, a hint of how free I am, compared to people for whom insanity simply seems impossible.

After awhile, I said, "We'll fish the pond," as if she were fishing, too. "There might be a bass in each corner. The water is shallower (though as deep as nearly 40 feet) and darker, so it warms a lot faster." And I was thinking that today it warmed significantly, and yet I knew it hadn't warmed all that much. I got low to a pipe leading into the reservoir from the pond's overflow, and I felt how cool that water is. Enough to keep the air coming out of that pipe at about 56 degrees. But there's more to this digression. That pipe is about 75 feet long, partly just like an open air cave, so it wasn't all about the water--easily in the low 60's at the surface--cooling that air. The underground chills. Constantly at about 56 degrees. I guess, but don't really know, even only some 20 feet under that dike.

My first cast yielded the sort of take immediately telegraphing the presence of a bass 18 inches or maybe two, three, four inches longer. "Got a big one Trish!" I slammed home that size 2 hook and the line popped. Bad knot. Broken on solid weight that felt just like a tree trunk.

I examined line's end for a sec and saw remains of my tie. So for certain, no big pickerel. I was all but certain it couldn't have been a pickerel with razor sharp teeth to cut line, certain by the way the fish moved slowly to my right, but I once caught a big pickerel on a Senko in Lake Musconetcong that moved off with it slowly and deliberately like a big bass. Mysteriously, I've never seen nor hooked a pickerel in this 30-acre (or thereabouts) pond while fishing open water, but while ice fishing the same pond, pickerel, and nice ones, are all we have caught, and in fairly plentiful numbers.

Against the better advice of my darkly demonic and insane unconscious mind (isn't this what they teach psychotherapists-to-be at colleges and universities?), I kept fishing that corner another 10 or 15 minutes, knowing all along--from that so-called delusional source I just mentioned--that nothing more would happen.

I packed it in, having first switched to a gray Gary Yamamoto Senko my son had given me in a full package of them for a Christmas gift, switching out to gray from blue without having taken the time I needed, time during those excited and self-damning moments after having lost perhaps the biggest bass of my lifetime, time needed, I say once again, to insert a protective O-ring over that worm like a little condom. I felt too excited. And of course, I was really foolish, though I didn't feel that way, already knowing better, from where none of us are supposed to trust, that fishing the additional 10 minutes or so with the gray Yamamoto would yield nothing. This is what fishing may teach me in the end: to know is not enough. I know that pithy statement after the colon is a crucial comment of Aristotle, or at least crucial enough to be Hampshire College's motto, the school in Amherst, Massachusetts, but it's a worth a lot more than service as a motto, and besides, I thought those words tonight as if purely my own. The Devil can never give you any knowledge. But it's as if he does know. And all you can do is sense that. At best you can assume knowing on faith, since, after all, it is an intuition. And I remember the religious stories, aware that the Devil is God's most brilliant angel in drag, an ugly drag as portrayed in Dante's Inferno, but in essence, not only is that what this angel wears, he is part and parcel of God, his Creator, which is not to say I will abandon my ego and become id, but that the least I can do is stop being paranoid, a bad habit I do seem to have lost years ago, and not only refuse to fear the reaper, but let go to the fact of the darkness within I fear like death itself, which is folly to fear, because inevitable.

Christmas is white. Not deliciously black as is the pond water right now.

"I told you there would be a bass in this corner," I said, "Now let's go try the other corner for one more."

Soon I hollered back to Trish, perched on the wooden rail above, "There is he is!" The bass weighed about two pounds. During the long struggle from the distance of a long cast, the Senko tore off, and I kicked myself for the loss, but what the hell, that made me think I need to buy a wider selection of colors, and holding the bass for my wife and the sudden appearance of a cadre of other admirers, felt nice. I put the bass back without bothering with my camera as dusk deepened.

I took the time now to insert an O-ring on the next gray Senko. I took more casts, working the Wacky rig with a lot of quick flutters, having noticed, while coming in, a couple of other bass fishermen trying between the corners, where you can fish a very long time for nothing, and yet the technique they displayed was theoretically right for the warm wind and water temperature on the cool side, the way they twitched jerkbaits. I later told my wife about this, telling her I "felt" (read: knew) differently and that I very stubbornly hug close to my hunches. "That worked," I told her. My Senkos, not jerkbaits. And as I continued fishing, I did not feel certain of nothing more possibly happening.

Finally, I decided I would get the camera out and shoot a photo of the corner with color in the background for possible magazine use. I took a very long Hail Mary cast way out into water at least 10 feet deep and set down my rod, then got the camera, selected an f/2.8 stop, got a good shot, put the camera away, and then picked up my rod and began reeling a little slack as if nothing had happened, which wasn't entirely my certainty. I began pumping in a good fish. "Nice one, Trish." Trish is typically quiet, just enjoyed the action unfolding before her, and in a minute or so, I held up a bass going on 17 inches. Unfortunately, after I got the Senko out of its gullet, I looked down there in what little available light allowed me to see, and could not even sight the eye of the hook, swallowed. But I don't use stainless hooks, so there's a good chance it will rust out and the fish live yet.

With line parted and reeled to the spool, I gathered my stuff, mounted the rocks back up to the trail over the dike and my wife, and proudly said to her, "Very few fishermen here can do what you just saw." No big deal, really, but it's a hell of lot better than psychotherapy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Laurie's Report

Laurie's Report:

Seeing lots of pickerel being caught trolling. Jake DeSombre also had several pickerel weighing over 3 pounds, caught on live bait while fishing last week. A few trout being caught while trolling, but that should improve with some warmer temperatures happening this week. Lots of crappie, still out of shallower water, with several making their way to the scale weighing 1lb 9 oz. Use little rufus jrs or cubbie mites under a bobber or some fatheads. Bob Smith, while trolling for trout with a small phoebe, landed a 45 “ muskie. Don’t forget that The Knee Deep Club walleye tournament is this  weekend May 5th & 6th.   We are open 7 days a week from 5:30 AM to 7 PM with bait and boat rentals, and a large selection of lures. Have a great week !!!

Monday, April 30, 2018

North Branch Raritan River AT&T Stretch with Salmon Eggs Microlight Spinning

 You can barely see riffles in the upper third of this wide angle shot. Not all the water is slow near the bridges.

Mike and Phil got here and left before I came, also fishing upstream, Mike later telling me they caught five, me figuring that in any case it's worth the time out, though other than having heard their report I came with blind expectations, not really prepared in the mental sense, though once I got underway, catching a trout underneath the upstream bridge in minutes, water moving moderately there, I began in solitude to work my way down into experience, winding down in a way that really mattered.

In the deep water upstream of the downstream bridge by 20 yards or so, I let the egg drift along the outside edge towards shallows a few times, then followed through on a prompt to work it closer to me, into the belly of that hole, feeling the tug, swinging back without a thought and playing another rainbow to my hand.

Downstream of that bridge, fast water. There's a nice seam and some relatively slow turbulence. I lifted a rainbow that got off on the second try, saw another turn on an egg soon after, lost yet another, and finally hooked up solidly a few paces further down, taking that fish for dinner along with the two previous. The fourth trout, even further down and hitting in full current, I intentionally let get off the hook after bringing it onto gravel, three enough for dinner between my wife and I.

I tried the upper bridge and slow water below thereafter, dreaming of a good-size trout like a rainbow I encountered in these stretches three years ago and very well remember, even though it was no more than 16 inches long. That memory brought me back home to this stretch and these runs as nothing else could have. Before this feeling came, I noticed the two cut stumps in the water immediately upstream of the downstream bridge, having viewed just yesterday a photograph I shot of them by wading out and standing behind them, how they have rotted out so much during the past three years as to have lost all that formal presence they had, letting that go and shooting sunset light on trees, though I'm keeping these photos that feature some interesting light.

And then I exercised my last casts, the darkness of water flowing a little high and though not murky, brown and blackish almost as if tannic during the fall, though it wasn't that but just the quality of its clarity hiding the bottom, yet perfectly clean enough to fish pale eggs.