Friday, May 27, 2011

Long Branch Stripers Vacate for Evening

A full day, and I'll awaken later this morning in an awful state of longing for the day I make enough money on my writing to sleep in at will, but I have to tell you, when I wake up early to fish, I never feel the despair I have to walk myself through before and as I leave for my job. I'm not just saying that; it's true in fact.

Round Valley Pond resulted in two bass, the first eight inches, the second 11, both on that Chompers model. Lost another 11-incher right at the bank, missed a hit, and had one drop that didn't feel like a sunny pecking at the pecker. For so much sun on the water, I felt satisfied, a little proud of the bass for getting out in it. Blazing hot, 92 degrees registered on the way there.

This about does it for Round Valley, since the Rangers Cove area will be closed Memorial Day until the fall to shoreline anglers who don't want to pay a fee. 

I missed the 40 and 50-pounders at Long Branch by a couple hours, busting the bunker again today. I was ready with snag trebles for the bunker, pencil popper, and bottle popper to boot (but not break). I put out fresh clam and bunker. No action at all on the clam, the stripers really took off. Low tide, but no sand bar at Long Branch. 

So what's the difference? I don't know if there is a difference, I wondered about it--obviously a difference exists with sand bars. At those magic moments of gathering dusk I put my hopes down. What's the use of excess desire when you know chances are you're skunked, as far as stripers are concerned? The ignorant are full of hope and prayers. 

But the bunker had at least drawn interest from sharks. I'm not sure what they are. That stripe reminds me of cobia. I got a good look into the mouth and saw no teeth. I checked out the dorsal--spiny. So are these spiny dogfish as I suppose? If anyone knows, please comment (it's lonely writing this blog!). I caught three from about three feet to 42 inches. That largest put up a good fight.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quabbin Reservoir Memories

Quabbin Reservoir in Central Massachusetts is massive at 25,000 acres compared to those reservoirs we fish in New Jersey. I fished it a number of times in 1985 while a student at Hampshire College. The water had Round Valley clarity, full of smallmouth and trout, some Atlantic salmon, as well as enormous largemouths. I have no photos to testify to the fish we caught, but memories remain clear as day.

Most of the fishing I engaged during my fall semester. I had schooled previously at Lynchburg College, and St. John's College, transferring credits along the way, working at my writing. After that fall semester, a completion of two semesters total, I quit and moved back to Long Beach Island to continue my small business as a shellfisherman (and write!).

First I tried the reservoir alone. Skunked once, I tried another shore area, stacked with jagged boulders. Amazed at numerous smallmouth I saw among rocks in crystal clear water, I snapped on a diving crankbait and proceded to catch one right after another. A couple of these I took back to my "mod," a type of campus housing unit, to cook, supplementing my ruined budget. I also tried below the dam my fly rod where the Swift River resumes. Although I saw a trout that looked like a laker, at least eight pounds, and many smaller; none of them would hit.

The real breakthrough came when my Social Science Professor invited me along. He knew a point that drops off sharply where he told me he catches at least one largemouth over seven pounds every fall. On our first outing, we went as a fairly large group, which included a writing instructor by the name of Will Ryan. Ryan has gone on to write two excellent books on fishing, both of which I have read and deeply enjoyed. Northern Pike: A Complete Guide to Pike and Pike Fishing, and Smallmouth Strategies for the Fly Rod are books with authentic personal flavor, and determined, careful research. Reading like this shouldn't be missed. To be out on the water is what we do. But to ignore print is to be all too close to the creatures we pursue.

That first outing, I have to confess, all that got caught was a foot long salmon, a surprise, but besides this, nothing's coming to grip was the sort of dissappointment we anglers are used to. But Stan Warner, my Professor, never wavered. And he seemed absolutely unmoved by our lack of success. We went back out the next Saturday, just he and I. Stan's method was simple. This was November in Massachusetts. Shiners eight feet under bobbers would attract any bass that came up. I fished deep diving crankbaits slowly, but kept a bobber out. It must have been at least two hours, maybe three. Stan's bobber went down, and we observed it as it lowered down and down into that clear water. He set the hook and engaged in long struggle. I'll never forget the bass as it came into our view and ran left, then turned and ran right, along the inside edge of the point. Huge.

We weighed it at a bait shop. I had already measured it at 24 inches. True to his word, Stan had caught a largemouth over seven pounds--seven pounds, four ounces. To this day, the largest I have seen caught.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Round Valley Reservoir--Wasn't Skunked!

So long as you count an eight inch rock bass.

With this year's persistent quest to catch a truly large bass, I want a bass over five pounds, Round Valley is a great place to try, although results obviously have not been so easy as they have been at Mount Hope Pond--but the single largemouth I've caught in the reservoir this year was bigger than all the others.

You really need a boat. I remember, aged 17, when I owned a 12 foot Starcraft and 1955 Evinrude 10 hsp outboard (and Minn-Kota electric), my youngest brother and I camped on some far Round Valley Reservoir Shore to catch early June largemouth all day, all over the reservoir. Simply a matter of stalking them down with that crystal clear water. Then, from a distance of ten yards or so, we tossed plastic worms to let them sink right down in front of two to three pound bass we spotted--plus one that weighed at least five pounds, and didn't hit. Glorious two days I'll never forget, although I hope to replace the boat.

Not that shore fishing is all bad, no way. The hike itself around the cove near the scuba area invigorated me in the 84 degree warmth. And you can't argue with the bass I caught Friday. Besides, a lot of sun raked those gin clear bottoms I let my Senco sink to today--then a thin, light plastic worm with a split shot after I lost the last of my Sencos to rocks or whatever--one of them I thought might have been cut off by a pickerel.

I began by that dock near the campers' launch. Having conversation with a fellow angler, I had a bass take my Senco within 10 minutes, a little way down near the edge of a protruding shelf of shallows. Having missed the hit, my partner tossed his blue/purple Senco to the same area, had a take, and pulled in a 10 inch bass.

"There he is," he said. I forget exactly what he called a small bass, but he noted that they're aggressive.

The quest continues--over five pounds, easier by boat for sure. And by the way, if any of you think of any comments to add, feel free to do so, and I'll surely answer you. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Overlooked Knot Checking and Largemouth Bass

Today I fished the entire shoreline along Mt. Hope Road in an hour's time, catching bass, and some nice ones, as I went. The first measured 16 inches, the second 15 inches, I caught a couple under a foot, and another measured slightly under 17 inches. I'm afraid I'll miss those Chompers worms when my bag is empty. I love garlic, too. When I open the bag, I smell the garlic strongly within a second or so. I just can't motivate myself to make another online purchase; I think I'll switch to Culprit twsiter tails. 

On that subject, motivation, I'm not compulsive about checking my knots, except when I tie them. But a knot can go bad. I know this was the case today--twice--because I had caught bass and had set the hook hard on the same knots, then had them pop on good fish. I felt the weight of both. 

That's not a good record for an hour's time, but I prefer to blow it off rather than make myself keep checking my knots. But who knows? After today, I may find I want to check my knots frequently. 

Anyhow, events work in a constant flow--would I have caught the three bass after a bass broke a knot? Perhaps even more, maybe not. It may be statistically provable that over time, if you lose bass to bad knots, you will have caught fewer than had you good knots. Makes sense, obviously. But when the second knot popped, I tied on another Chompers quick as can be, and pitched it right back where I had lost the bass. Sure enough, line moved off. 

That turned out to be the near 17-incher, and I wondered if that bass would have felt so cavalier as to have stayed in place after having a hook popped on its jaw--to take another, besides. I looked for my lost worm first thing. If the bass broke it off, it also shook.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Do Bass Strike Skirtless Spinnerbaits?

Of course! Because bass bust anything they can (somewhat selectively) suck into their maw--which ultimately is anything with animal protein that will fit, although anglers do make a difference by what they present to these marauders, based on fishing conditions. A mouse is a mouse and the same nutritional value in summer or winter. But a suitable sized bass will devour it swimming on the surface during summer--and will not even sense it swimming the surface during winter (supposing that a mouse is released to swim from a boat to shore). 

As I usually do fishing my neighborhood pond, I took one lure and went with that. But tonight the skirt came off the little 1/8th-ounce spinnerbait my second cast, and a few casts later I had trouble with a short striking bass. That's when I second guessed myself and wished I had taken along that Senko.

But I walked on a few steps and hooked a smallish bass of about 11 inches. Then another came to my thumb just over a pound, two bass smaller than I'm used to here. But I only came out for a 20-minute spree before dark. This little pond is certainly quaint, but not nearly so exciting as the larger waters I've recently fished. I ended up catching four more bass, six total, two of them close to a pound-and-a half, but all spawned out, the other two over a pound by as many as three or four ounces. Most threw up a nice wake and took the little spinnerbait whole as it made a much smaller wake on the surface. Sure, bass will hit spinnerbaits without a skirt, and certainly a spinnerbait with a plastic bait in place of a skirt. Perhaps at a place like Manasquan Reservoir where all sorts of skirted spinnerbaits churn past bass that deny them, a skirtless spinnerbait would be an advantage.