Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bass in the Shallows Feed, Cattail Cover

Again, just after sundown, I grabbed my favorite St. Croix. Minutes later, approaching the bank of the same nearby Bedminster pond, I startled a bass in water so shallow as to narrowly cover its back. To the right of its receding wake, the cattails would invite my third or fourth cast, and what I thought at first was a sunfish gave the same chartreuse spinnerbait I had used a couple days ago a light take. Same for the next cast, but the following cast drew a big surface boil--I had roused a good-sized bass. The next cast was more than the fish could stand, and it connected solidly. I unhooked it, the bass a couple ounces or so over a pound, and tossed it back without thinking to capture a photo.

Working my way to the second corner, I tried deeper water to no avail. Most of the bass are surely there. But the few in the shallows were in position to feed, although not with such abandon as the other day. Again, a light take. And the next cast--solid connection, this bass perhaps slightly under 11 inches in length.

I went around the corner, crossing a small feeder stream with a three foot deep hole linked to the pond by a narrow sluice. Two days ago no fish swam in it. Today, half a dozen sunfish darted about. Perhaps once fish discover shallows in the spring, they are more likely to stay related to them regardless of drops in water temperature. Today the water probably never rose over 50. But unless I hadn't noticed sunfish that were present here, they made their way into the hole sometime after Monday when temperatures reached into the 70s.

Nice to have a pond nearby. Sometimes the freedom of striking off for a short breather is enough to circulate the blood--home from work, but an opportunity to run on.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Strong Bass Action After the Front

The Rockaway River in Dover, NJ, very recently looked like early January just before ice begins to set in to signal the close of nymphing. Saturday it will be thronged for Opening Day. The photograph I took of the river snow shrouded should be of the last white stuff of the season.

Yesterday I had a snatch of time, so I quickly tied on a mini-Hula Popper for what I think were water temperatures in the 50s, the pond near my house shallow, calm, having absorbed sun and 70-degree temperatures. I didn't care to bring along another lure. I wanted to see if I could coax an early strike or two at a popper near sundown. I never got a single hit. I tried extremely slow, erratic, moderate, fast, and loud popping retrieves, as well as subtle improvisations to as cold a reception as had I fished in the middle of February.

Today I got out a little later. The sun had set. Prepared this time, I didn't experiment. I've caught plenty of bass on small, 1/8-ounce spinnerbaits this time of year, so that's what I selected. First I tried out in open, deeper water, but my fourth cast got me right in what proved to be the zone. A bass close to two pounds ploughed into my spinnerbait from between two sets of dried cattails.

I caught two more close to a pound-and-a-half in another corner, also very shallow. Mind you, today the rain came in terrific squalls this morning as the temperature fell like a dish of cold water. As I fished, the temperature remained at 45. But last night remained in the 60s. So all through those dark hours water warmed. Before I quit after about 20 minutes, I caught two more bass in the same spot I had caught the nearly two-pounder, these also approaching a pound-and-a-half. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Van Syckles Road Spruce Run Reservoir: Pickerel! That's Rarity

Spared heavy rain the previous two days, my son, his friend Anderson and his father, and I fished Spruce Run yesterday at Van Syckles Road. The isolated rain cloud we had spotted driving north on Route 31 dropped a light shower which a strong wind out of the southwest drove at an angle. Considerably milder temperatures than last week seemed to make little difference; although we had some action just after sunset, nothing like the business we've had in the past when the wind dies had alerted us to play.

I had not known that pickerel exist in Spruce Run, but I do now since I caught one of  about 18 inches just after sundown. Live lining a shiner on six-pound test (I use 15-pound test fluorocarbon leaders for pike and pickerel, abrasion resistant against those teeth and nearly invisible), I happened to set my rod down and let the shiner swim on its own for about five minutes; weighted by a small barrel swivel, line, and hook through its lips, it probably wiggled in place near the bottom. Done eating my sub, or whatever it was, when I lifted my rod I noticed tight line and commenced to reeling in what soon seemed in the water to be a pike with too light of a green coloration--no, a pickerel.

Another party fishing the Van Syckles area caught a small pike of perhaps 22 inches, and a brown trout of about 14 inches, both on bobber fished shiners.

Bird sighting had not been so interesting as last week. We saw mergansers, and a pied billed grebe attacked my son's shiner under a bobber. I was relieved that the bird wasn't hooked. Although yesterday we had seen no more than Canada geese, shortly after sunset I caught sight of a great horned owl in flght over the reservoir, gliding into the trees. First I had actually seen in many years.

Conversation made up for slow fishing. Will people read books in the future, or will the written word be completely electronic? I argued for books and won some consent. And I really do believe people will not let paper print go. To hold a book in your hands that you have owned for decades is integral to what reading is all about. For example, a long-owned book, a physical object of unique specificity and value for the owner, will serve as a context for memory that gives a base to the book's content in relation to the owner of that book. Ever see the Star Trek episode about the Borg? That society of mindless unity. People won't give up reading books because books are more personal than electronic media. No one wants to be "assimilated," not if it means losing the mind.

Kids read books. I don't believe theirs is a total electronics generation either.