Saturday, April 14, 2012

Largemouth Bass Slam Spinnerbaits: Thought of Death in an Ambulance

Slow half hour at my neighborhood pond, but three bass hammered the Mini-Kng and black 3/8th-ounce. Throwing that Mini-King around, I finally got over my disinclination and tied on the other. I bombed casts out to the middle, nothing there like last time. All three hit in close; two rolled over wake.

Of course I was set on Merrill Creek Reservoir. I thiink it best that got dashed since I became out of sorts last night and haven't shaped back to normal, not related to the loss of that outing plan. Great day at work Friday, well, I move by turns of fortune that at least in 51 years have always ended well. (The secret to this, by the way, is contained in one word: reason.)

I like a strong mood conducive to physical action. On seldom occasion, this normal drive evaporates and I vascillate uncertainly in a no-man's land of a vaporous, jellyfish-variable breeze. How could Jimi Hendrix stand it? He sure praises it to the ends of the universe in "With the Power," but the guy depended on barbiutates to try to firm up his responses otherwise.
One night the wind wasn't right for him. He suffocated in the ambulance.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fishing Spots Considered: Diamond Backed Terrapin, Bird Photographs Suggest Wilderness

Since I plan to fish Meadowlands stripers some time this weekend, I thought I would share some images captured there a couple of years ago. I really wonder how common (or not) diamond backed terrapins.

Just have to get the tide schedule and meet the sweep of forage out towards Hackensack River, which draws bass in as the water goes out. My only fear is that with this weather the place will be jammed. Last year we did best in chilly, raw weather.

I was dying to be reborn on Merrill Creek Reservoir Sunday. I had phoned all the bait shops, to find herring at the most reliable--Dow's. Yeah, I would drive the 90-mile round trip just to buy bait. But coming back from walking our Labrador, Sadie, I saw my wife drive in, and went over to greet she and my son.

"We have a problem," She said.

Times like this I still need to tell myself to behave well, even though I'm 51. I just sucked it up and set our hopes on the 29th, although that date is unlikely too because of school demands. Matt's off for an overnight occasion with friends and will do school work most of the day Sunday. Our inflatable boat seems all ready to go. Registering it was easy and inexpensive. The 55-pound thrust MinnKota Endura, etc., does not seem to me to have been very expensive, since we will use the equipment, I hope, through Matt's college years during summers. 

The herring is for trout, crankbaits and tube jigs for bass--largemouths and smallmouths--although I bought a couple of nice Matzua crankbaits at Dicks this week and have trolling them in mind for trout, just ranging water with an eye on the map and the graph--spot a fish, drop a herring down. Matt uses nightcrawlers--not exclusively--for bass. A Worm Blower, a hypodermic needle on a air injecting device like a container of reel lube, adds buoyancy, and I have to say it's simple and effective. In fact, I read in J.B. Kasper's "Freshwater" report in The Fisherman a couple months ago that a six pound brown was caught at Merrill Creek on a nightcrawler floated above split shot from shore by use of a Worm Blower.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Buck Perry's Principle Reconsidered: Do We Ever Stop Fishing?

Buck Perry, known as "the daddy of structure fishing" and much talked about during the 1970's, had a lot to say himself. Since fishing involves so much more than catching fish, inevitably his obvious principle that the purpose of fishing is to catch fish--about as tautological as anything can be--irritated me. 

Of course this is true. To fish is to try to catch: the proposition "to try to catch" is in fact embedded in the meaning of the word fishing. But I kept trying to see my way around the compulsory feeling of trying to catch, as if trying to catch is a value at all costs. Why not fill a bathtub with bass and employ a bunker snag? Or why not get temperamental and doubt yourself at points along every retrieve just to be sure you are really fishing? Is it possible to fish with grace? Or do you have kick yourself in the ass to make sure every cast "counts."

Maybe the question is: Are you an angler--a fisherman--or not? Because if you are an angler, then when do you every really stop fishing? When do you ever stop intending to catch if you are indeed a fisherman? Do you have only conscious intentions? Isn't it possible intentions keep on actively seeking objects while you are consciously occupied otherwise, or asleep? Doesn't action necessarily follow from identity? So if you are an angler, then every act of yours has no separation from fishing. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Encounter with a 16-Inch Trout from under Route 206 Bridge makes my Evening on North Branch Raritan River

 As I drove into AT&T World Headquarters this morning at 9:30, the Pequest Hatchery people had just scooped a heaping netfull of brookies to drop from the entrance bridge. Getting back there--this time below the bridge--at 5:15, I found the place jammed like I've never seen before, took my place between a right and a left shoulder of two others, and assessed that the trout weren't cooperative. Plenty there. And that's a 20-inch or so brown I snapped a shot of as this angler beheld it before release. With low water, the trout just stayed in place as I had feared they would. None had moved up to the second bridge, and the water is so low anyhow that bottom is visible through that run.

I managed to catch one after ten minutes or so. Shortly thereafter the guy next to me caught a six-inch shiner, slammed it to the ground, and kicked it back into the North Branch where it frenetically shook with spasms of pain, then died from shock to rest belly up on the bottom. I gave the guy a fiercely disgusted look and walked off.

Every life is sacred. Fishermen who don't know this suffer from toxic dementia of some form. No, that's not to give into the lunatic professors who believe fish possess moral lives. But it is to respect all life as living, until only necessity ends it.

Judging by all the war games being played on game boxes, I guess it's going to be hip for people to kill each other pretty soon. Is life worth any better? It's always up to individuals to judge. If they can. Get caught up in a lust for power and you may be mentally disabled.

I got a call from my wife. She had left her lights on as Matt practiced baseball. So instead of driving directly to Route 206 bridge, I went to Miller Lane at the police station and gave her Civic a jump start.

Later, a 16-inch or so trout swam out from under the Route 206 bridge to nose my salmon egg and refuse. When it turned, it's side seemed like a mirror reflecting the chilly green of river water. I realized very soon that once again this spot hadn't been stocked; it hasn't for three or four years. Another guy had caught a 12-inch brown trout, and when he cleaned it, discovered pink flesh and showed me. We agreed the fish was a holdover, not from the fall either. Fall trout are at least 14-inches. And although a few breeder browns get stocked with these early brookies, as far as I know 12-inch browns don't make the scene until May.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Don't Throw Out the Baby with the Bath Water: Keep what each Decade Offers

It's a prettier spot than I saw on the South Branch Raritan today off Route 523 near Flemington, but despite what everyone else seems to say, I think water levels are great right now. The river looked beautiful, and no one fished it, nor the Neshanic River on the other side of Route 202. At any rate, I like clear water, and from my vantage in the lot above, the South Branch looked good enough to drink.

That's the Salmon River photographed. In some respects, no comparison.

As my son and I walked out the door this past Friday, I had an insight. By current social standards of cool celebrity, we could seem awful square walking out the door with snake sticks. Who goes into the outdoors to encounter creatures and photograph them?

Instead of succomb to any sort of embarrassment about it, I immediately had the idea: "Don't throw out the baby with the bath water." Each decade we pass through offers something to keep. I was born in 1960, but this was just after the 1950's when people stood ramrod straight. Developments in the 1960's progressed, and so on with each decade since, but to fail to keep what is good from each is to have learned nothing along the way.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pre-Spawn Largemouth Bass: Blues Clues as May Approaches for Better Fishing

 Felt like I had been thrown back a month or so. Last year I began fishing Mount Hope Pond after the first week in May. Many places look like early May now, but up here above Route 80 the trees aren't green as they are elsewhere. The wind came from the northwest so strongly that 59 degrees felt cold. My whole impression felt bleak and stripped away as if the wind stole my presence of mind.

I fished a Senko-type worm all of 15 minutes on the off chance a bass would hit while staging down below these shallows where they spawn.

The contrast to how I knew this place a year ago in May drove me back to my vehicle. For those of you who had two-year-olds about 10 years ago, I took out my Blues Clues "Handy Dandy Notebook" to write a paragraph, which lifted my mood. Then I read for a half hour as I ate lunch.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Reflections on Blog Archives

Last night I went back into Litton's Lines archives to read some posts. I felt them as fresh as though written presently.

I have a friend in mind who might frown on my being publically outspoken in others more recent. He once told me that words can do more harm than nuclear weapons, a suppostion I could not agree with. He's a photographer who tends to shun language. Or maybe it's a symptom of something worse than that.

If you go back in the archives and spend some time just enjoying pieces I've written, you might agree with me that most of them are really fairly soft spoken, even when I implicate officials in "No Fishing at Merrill Creek Reservoir," for example. But on occasion I write themes that run strongly against the grain of everyday ordinary realities. If no one did, no progress could exist for the obvious reason that everyday reality is always the same. It is, without something rustling the window curtains at least.

I think what makes this particular brand--Litton's Fishing Lines--a stable, reliable source is its chief form of accounting for particular outings. I began writing very young. The first article I attempted to write got published in what was then The New Jersey Fisherman at age 16. By age 18, 25 stories of mine had been published, one of them in the world's largest circulation fishing magazine at the time Fishing World. Those are chiefly how-to and where-to. For Litton's Lines my accounts of outings celebrate themes just as particular as the score. If you enjoy an intangible contact high, that's because I embed universals, but I always do so in ways inherent to the experience recalled. I recall the line about today's Tom Sawyer getting high on "you," the rock band Rush's lilting exclamation. I think these words of the song are sort of silly, but that's about what contact high amounts to. The strict definition is that a contact high is a psychological transference from someone under the influence of drugs. I find that conception way too limiting. It's not a drug that's essential to such suggestiveness, but personal presence; whether involving a drug or not, we all know the experience of being turned on by someone.

When I remember my beginnings, I never fail to be grateful to getting published early, because it seems to have ensured that I will always write with freshness--that is, youthfulness and vigor, and if I seem to go over the top sometimes, this is not really because I lack ordinary sensibility, but because I have spent 35 years writing constantly to have produced a life of my own that is tiered rather than level on the flatland of the moment. I see possibilities people I know do not see. And I try my best to relate them, to make a contribution.

That doesn't mean I see none of the possibilities they see.