Thursday, May 31, 2018


Night time Striper and Walleye action has picked up in the past week, with herring starting to spawn. We have a large selection of bombers and zara spooks for you to choose from, along with  Badonka donks, and the knuckleheads for this type of fishing.  Also hitting on herring, some Hybrid Striped Bass making their way to the scale this week included Mike Truglio with his largest weighing in at 6 lb 15 oz, and Richie King with a 7 lb 7 oz fish. Mike Rastiello weighed in a white cat at 3 lb 14 oz caught on a herring. Seeing perch and crappie also, hitting smaller herring, along with some pickerel taking Mepps spinners casting along the weedlines. Have a great week !!!

Providence: That's Another Big Idea to Name a Place

My second-biggest Mount Hope Pond bass, caught during a 2013 lunch break. The very biggest weighed maybe an ounce or two more, about 4-9 or 4-10, but I caught it when first light was just breaking and the photos didn't come out very well.

I got out my handwritten fishing log, confirming that 2014 was the last I visited Mount Hope, reviewing shortly all the outings, and beginning to think on the value I place on this pond and region, realizing that, actually, limited to so many lunch breaks of about half-an-hour--though I noticed one gave me an hour-and-a-half--my fishing here seemed almost superficial, compared to what it can be. I keep a "Notes" margin in the notebook I use for this fishing log going back to 1975, and noticed one day I "wasn't right," probably rattled by work, but in spite of tight time and business casual clothing, though I wore hiking boots, I really did realize a lot of value.

During one lunch break, I not only remembered myself at age 17; involving total commitment to fishing I exercised at that age, in some sense I became the person I had been, this a literal impossibility, but we all have an inkling of what it is to re-experience events amounting to who we have been, a matter of existing for a little while within the interior space of former self as more than memory of past time. That was a very healthy span of moments during which I regained lasting vitality. Fishing can seem a stupid pursuit. So you catch a fat fish like that in the photo above. Big deal. And besides, what have you really done, besides disturb the peace of that creature you've chosen to dominate? Wonders never cease, and every angler I know is fascinated in getting close, not only to nature in general, but specifically in getting close to fish, because they are worthy, magnificent creatures to behold. Only the worst of us, those who don't deserve the title angler, treat catches with disrespect. And yet there's a whole lot more to angling than methods and fish. As the contemplative practice angling is, there's no limit to the potential of realization, and this vitality I mention of my getting in touch with some five years ago is still with me, not only because I once was, in fact, 17, but because at 52 I tapped back into that age. This isn't to confuse ages 17, 52, and 57, but to cite the fact that health and energy have a lot to do with personal identity as an actual dynamic you can only engage through concrete practice, specific practice you value deeply through a long biographical history of experience.

Good reason to go fishing alone sometimes. And persistently, as I did at Mount Hope. Because with someone else or others along, you can't get as in touch with yourself.

After this recent Mount Hope venture and getting out that log, which resulted in a chain reaction of thinking, I thought of people financially well-off, people fishing from nice bass boats, fishing reservoirs and lakes full of bass over five pounds. Even here in Jersey, Steve Vullo scores bass that big consistently, and as for this matter of owning a boat and avoiding mosquitos or at least ticks, I own a nice squareback canoe and can fish most of the spots Vullo attends. That is, if the condo association doesn't crack down when I bring my canoe back home after its temporary asylum from their scrutiny.

So why Mount Hope? Come on, the place is for losers, right? Oh, there's some nice bass, no one might dispute photo evidence, but not as nice as bass you can see Vullo catches on All I have to do is...make the effort. That's what I was writing about in the previous post, effort, and I can take my own words to Manasquan Reservoir, and then...I can catch bass like Steve does. (With a whole lot more trial and effort ahead of that effort, because Steve seems to catch them like no one else.)

Hopeless romantic, here we go again. Why don't I just create a Facebook site so people can post fish pictures and do away with all my words, since most fishermen around here never read my words.

I worship that place. Mount Hope. And it's not just the pond. That town and region. The Mount Hope Historical Park too. There's ultimately something downright weird about all this, or, there is when I shoot straight to the bottom of the issue, where nothing but a great unknown is met to create mythological overtone. At least one of the mine shafts at the Historical Park drops more than 2000 feet straight down to bedrock. If you read the post about our hike there and the full day, you might agree there's something weird at least about that outing: At the least, the post is a very entertaining read that might make you wonder if Jim Morrison was along for the ride. Got to keep on riding, because the Roadhouse is never reached unless it is spiritual more than movie setting, and a most specifically pertinent line to that post I linked you to is spoken by Morrison on An American Prayer. That outing actually did happen. Of course it did; there are the photos, some of them I shot, but what I mean by actuality suggests the spiritual dimension of that day as a whole lot more than imagined. My "random" choice of the Winston c.d., which the post briefly discusses--the post is an understated piece of writing for sure--before the events of that trip culminated with my shooting the photo of the screech owl, this so-called random or merely personally selective choice of a c.d. foreshadowing the screech owl shot could not possibly have occurred without meaning visiting us from above; at least, this is my firm opinion, confirmed likewise by many other events over the course of my life. And besides, at Mount Hope Historical Park, before we hit the road and I got the Winston out to play, I shot a photo of a bird house in which a screech owl could have comfortably fit. A foreshadow even further back than the music I selected.

Is Jim Morrison dead? Remember the Renaissance of the Doors? At least here on the East Coast, the Renaissance of the Doors began late in 1980. Radio announcers on WMMR Philadelphia and etc. promoted the event, which persisted as a sort of underground cultural phenomenon for at least three or four years, I think, accompanied by what might impress us today as a very strange question: Is Jim Morrison dead? Of course he's dead. Physically.

It's too weird to say more. But the post I linked you to does say a lot more without any of this direct address I indulge in this present post. The linked-to post is an account that leaves the reader to his own inference. And it's a very sad and dangerous affair that people today let the mind go to titillate their trivial pleasure by teasing information of random sorts.

I'm just not a straight bassman. I'm not a bassman at all. I leave that designation to social circles I don't include myself among, which is no bad reflection on iBass360, or on Steve; just the opposite, since I can better respect others when I distinguish my own differences.

I can hit a target, though. The theme of casting in my last post. And no one can develop certain casting skills while sitting or standing in any boat. They require that you get in among sticks from shore. But I'm just not all about targeting bass or targeting other fish. Fishing for me is peace. Not targets and war. I like to fill out experience with meaning, and to be quite frank, the edge of a fallen branch where I want my worm to penetrate the surface isn't a "target." Sure, I see it by aid of abstract discrimination to get the worm exactly where I want it to go, but to overuse "target" as an aggressive attitude is completely contrary to the Zen this practice of mine always seems to begin amounting to. In Zen archery you shoot blind. You don't aim for the target, and yet, if you become a Master, you're more accurate than any warrior.

Mount Hope. What a symbol. There's even a bridge on the Rhode Island coast near Providence called the Mount Hope Bridge. Odd. No mountains nearby. Is it a seacoast ridge or other? Mount Hope Bay near Narragansett Bay.

Providence. That's another big idea to name a place.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Mount Hope Pond Revisted

Bass are hard to catch at Mount Hope Pond. They always have been. As my son and I set out along the western shore today, eventually working almost all the way into the back from the front of the pond near the swimming beach, this was first time I've been up there at the 18-acre pond since 2014, I think. I told Matt to expect two hits per hour on average, and today we went a little under par, but I am fully convinced the fish are there in completely comparable numbers to when I discovered this pond in 2011. We sighted about as many as used to be normal. I also told him that the few bass caught usually measure 16, 17, 18 inches, but the single fish I caught today was more like 13 inches, though I hooked another a lot bigger.

This fishing means getting back into the sticks. Not only that; it means getting stuck by them. It also calls on accurate pitching and casting. I physically showed Matt what this demands by parting brush, standing on a sloping and uneven bank from which I could have taken a dunk, and pitching the worm, never quite working out how I might set the hook, should a bass have taken it, and yet staying open to the thought. You do not want to break your rod on a branch, at least not if that rod is an expensive St. Croix like mine. Matt got the idea right away, went through the thick, sighted a five-pounder, pitched, watched the bass vacuum his eight-inch Chompers worm into its maw and just as quickly force it back out.

I've seen only one bass that big here over the course of some two dozen or more visits, but I bet a few six and seven-pound fish exist that may never get caught. I've caught a couple, four-and-a-half pounds and almost five, but don't get your hopes up if you're thinking of traveling I-80 and getting there. Mount Hope Pond is the best symbol I have of the sort of hope I live on, but it's tough, solitary, and with rewards infrequent yet a little outsized, it demands that hard effort to achieve, which most of us don't care for, but is dependable.

That's no slight against my friends. So many of you who read these accounts. I would be lost without you, and yet I go my own way. An angler always finds a way because he exercises his own judgment. That never means I don't confer with others'.

I doubt but very few others, however, catch bass here. Let alone any over five pounds. Who wants to get back into his car, scratched, and covered by mosquito bites, risking the infection of his comfortable vehicle by the dozen or so ticks crawling all over his clothes? It takes an unusual character to enjoy this kind of fishing. The sort used to nature's difficulty lifelong. The mosquitos bothered me little, a mysterious immunity that clearly seems to have to do with my habit of being out there among them, but when I finally took a good look at my son after hearing his complaints, my first thought was that maybe I had a medical emergency on my hands. His arms, his neck, were pocked all over by swollen welts, and yet he wanted to keep fishing. After the encounter with a true lunker. He knows how to judge size.

I blogged persistently about the fishing here. When especially the post I link to began racking up big visitation numbers--more than 1270 have visited this single post, out of more than a dozen others on the pond--I felt afflicted by awful guilt. I related this feeling to a friend. He couldn't have quite understood how it felt. I had spot-burned my own best secret. Fishing seemed to get worse and this state of affairs just added to the "wrong" I had done, but as the years moved relentlessly on, I began to come back around to where I began with this blog, my feeling that information never really hurts. Ignorance hurts. And I began to feel a deep longing to come back up here and see if I am right.

My feeling grew that Mount Hope had persevered. Even though I hadn't been back up there to gain any hard evidence, I've plenty of evidence from many sources stored in my brain. Even as a teenager, when I began writing about where to catch fish and getting these articles published, I learned right off the bat that despite big feature titles spelling out where to go, very few people--if anybody--takes the advice by feet and hands. This is not at all to discount practical pointers, but the entertainment value of writing ranks foremost along with aesthetic value, and above all else, by formalizing information, it becomes part of the culture we all share. Knowledge doesn't trivialize. That awful disparaging sense of overfamiliarity is an illusion, not knowledge. It's caricature, not character. A bad mental habit of sloth, inaction, and the wrong assumptions about freedom. (You are not anybody's slave, nor are you under the lock of any institution or job.) Ultimately, my pieces protect and serve Mount Hope Pond. They celebrate, mythologize, and cite the value of this place.

The bass are still there. Out of 1279 visitations of that post linked alone, it's possible a few bass were caught and released as the result. Maybe I'm mistaken. Maybe some people have taken my advice and fully enjoyed themselves. Is that wrong, of course not. Since when do anglers have an attitude like radical environmentalists against the human species? Whatever is the case, bass are here.

I haven't reread this post linked to, but by how I remember it, I wasn't as good as I am now of telling it like it is. I probably wrote about the need to get back in the sticks, but a reader glosses over that and just thinks I'm telling him to follow a trail into the woods. Catching bass consistently here is hard to do.

That said, yeah, there may a few of you who, like me, find it relatively easy to make an effort and cast and pitch with an ever-growing sum of accuracy. One thing for sure: Do not tell me the craft of the cast is limited to fly fishing.

Mount Hope Pond's west side is pocked all over by schist. Wear hiking boots if you come here and rely on steady feet.

Part the brush and get into position.