Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Father's Day Bass Outing (A Pickerel, too)

Yet another Father's Day off from the job. I felt surprised about this last year, and now Matt came down from Boston and his internship to spend the weekend with us. I felt a little guilty taking him away from his mother yesterday, but he had the day with her on Saturday, when I had to work. 

We fetched the canoe at Brian's house, where Matt got to meet Brian's wife. He had met Brian once before, almost a year ago, though it seems as if it can't be that long. The four of us hung out awhile, getting photos of the two black Labs together--Sadie and Juno--and talking about things under the sun. I wore a flannel shirt and thought I had dressed too heavily. Finally, Matt and I loaded the heavy canoe and soon made our way thought Dover, onto I-287, and over to Tilcon Lake.

That's our favorite spot, ever since I bought the flatback in 2016. It's difficult getting all 110 pounds into the lake, plus the battery, and etc. We've destroyed two carts taking it in through the front, so as of last year, we haul everything down a very steep and lengthy embankment, and then haul it up long after sunset. It winds us both. We don't complain, because the fishing's good and usually solitary. Yesterday was a Sunday, and Father's Day, no less. Only one other guy fished from a one-man pontoon during all the six hours we fished.

A stiff breeze in our faces, conditions seemed just right for what I'd planned. We trolled very deep-running crankbaits (18-25 feet) up along the side, hoping for smallmouths or salmon, and then cut across to the flat, where I raised the electric so it wouldn't collect too much weed. We snapped on buzzbaits. After 10 minutes and not a hit, I said, "There's no bite."

A moment later, a pickerel rushed Matt's offering, and he got the 20-incher boatside. As pickerel typically come here, a good one. Most are about 17 inches. Bass average two pounds or better. We cast for another five minutes, not getting hit, and switched to spinnerbaits we fished along a slope. I hooked and lost a nice bass about 10 feet deep, when I let the lure pause, but couldn't get another to take. We trolled shallower running crankbaits to a small cove, where I tried a weightless plastic worm, and where Matt hooked a very nice bass on a spinnerbait. He saw the fish rise from weeds and engulf the lure. It's photographed above, where it doesn't look as big as it looked to us, 18 inches. Matt measured it. 

The day felt very long and very relaxed. We fished a lot of spots with a variety of lures thoroughly, and I even hooked a largemouth on a crankbait trolled about 15 feet down. The bass leapt high, throwing the plug, a fish clearly at least 17 inches long. 

I felt the absence of sonar. The unit is going to Alabama on Wednesday, if trouble-shooting over the phone doesn't work. All day, we never experienced a distinct bite, not even as sun got low and set, but despite the lack of telling exactly how much water was under the boat, we caught bass here and there. We knew depth and spots plenty well to be set for a bite anyhow. I caught four bass, and Matt two, in addition to the pickerel. We lost a number of others, including some big ones. My biggest, photographed below, measured 19 inches. I also caught a 17 1/4, and another that might have been 15 1/2, plus a little one.

Turned out the flannel shirt wasn't too much, after all. The sun mostly obscured by clouds as it set, the lake felt chilly. I had brought a thermometer, which we determined registers about five degrees too warm, since Matt's mobile device had juice when we began, and we compared an 80-degree reading on the thermometer to the temperature in Stanhope, 75. The Stanhope report felt right. The thermometer gauges water or air temperature, so I subtracted five degrees to guess that the water was 70, the same guess I made before getting there. Besides, the weather has been so cool recently, I can't imagine that deep lake was 75 at the surface. But I forgot to check the temperature when we decided to head in and pack out. I think it was about 65. We loaded the car with headlamps on, in nighttime darkness. Brian met us when we returned the canoe, expressing concern that something happened. No, we fished late, and I had left my cell phone home. When we got to Bedminster at 11:07, we learned that Brian had called that phone, and my wife had almost phoned Brian. Good thing that didn't escalate. (Matt's device had lost power.) Temperature down here at lower elevation was about 75 at midnight when I walked Sadie.