Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Round Valley Reservoir Annual Bass-by-Boat

Sounded like we would be in trouble if we stayed out, but once the clouds crowded close, the thunder ceased. Very little rain ensued, and we motored back to the spot in minutes.

I remember a camping/boating/fishing trip here in 1978 with my brother Rick. We caught a lot of bass--all largemouths, all two to three pounds. In 2013, I caught a smallmouth from Fred's boat over two pounds, and I've caught a number of largemouths over three from shore, including one over five. But mostly, it's 10-inch bass, quite a few 12 to 14 inches, but not very inspiring size compared to the standard in memory going back almost 40 years.

I can be critical and still appreciate this reservoir greatly, as any readers of the book I'm writing will have no doubt. In this book, I don't quibble much about the size of bass. This blog post is just a passing take on what's going down. We caught a lot of bass yesterday, but none that weighed as much as a pound. The photograph below makes the bass look big, one of two I caught on the Chompers worm.

Otherwise, jigs did the trick, graced with four-inch twister tail worms and fat bodied four-inch twister grubs. A lot of rock bass, too. And I caught the first crappie either of us have seen in all these years fishing the reservoir. Fred's been out every year for the past 30. Topwaters caught only rock bass, though we had a lot of shifting light to make the lures seem auspicious. Besides the biggest smallmouth snatching a Chompers on descent to about 24 feet, bass hit in five to 10 feet of boulder strewn water, three of them largemouths.

I hoped for a big one while fishing 20-40 feet deep, but nothing happened. I even tried a Mann's Little George tailspinner, and though a small bass struck, leapt, and threw the treble, this happened in about eight feet of water among rocks.

Fred tried his new electronics, a real sweet graph of some sort I could have paid keener attention to, such as getting the name. I brought along my Round Valley Reservoir topographic map, and though the name of that escapes me, I can tell you Efinger Sporting Goods sells them for $10.00. Very detailed, complete with a map legend with half-a-dozen or so selections, including whereabouts of stumps, timber, roadbeds, building foundations, and creek channels. But it doesn't explain the creek channels--no streams feed Round Valley Reservoir--though it does explain some of the factors influencing the whereabouts of the gamefish species. It says, for example, that during winter the lake trout settle in the deepest water they inhabit all year. A number of us catch them from shore 15 feet deep. Not any 18-pounders, though.

All told, a real nice late afternoon and evening on the water.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Knee Deep Hybrid Striped Bass Contest a Success, Walleye and Hybrids Hit Night Topwaters yet

Got the report from Laurie about the Knee Deep Club's hybrid striped bass contest with 46 contestants. Results impress me, since so far, I've caught my hybrids in May, October, and November.

Bob Smith's eight-pound, six-ounce hybrid took first place, second place went to Brian Higgins at seven pounds, 12 ounces. Tyler Lambert had a six-pound, 13-ounce bass, Kevin Scanlon, six pounds, 12 ounces, and Eddie Mackin, six pounds, 10 ounces. These are all real nice bass bigger than my biggest in the photo, above, and I imagine many smaller got caught.

The catfish contest is coming up on August 15th and 16th.

Laurie also reports walleye and hybrids continue to get caught at night on topwater plugs, along with a few largemouths. Like last summer, persistent cool weather has pushed the season back. By now, normally this walleye and hybrid action is done, although hybrids get caught during the day on herring, at least some, particularly shortly after dawn. I haven't heard of trout being caught, however, as last summer rainbows came to the net in July.

Yesterday and today are hot ones, and for all we know, heat will come yet. (I'm one of the rare devils who thrives in hot weather like this.)

Looking forward to October! Looks my son and I will not fish Hopatcong this summer. Matt hiked in New Mexico until July 10th; we've always fished Hopatcong that first week in July.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

iBass360 Spruce Run Reservoir Tournament and Barbeque: Largemouth, Smallmouth, Hybrids

Tried to sleep at 10:00 last night to get up at 4:45, but while I got up on time, I didn't sleep until about 1:00. I hate insomnia, less because I lose sleep, than because the conflicts I fight seem unnecessary, compared to the time wasted and the pain suffered. I take melatonin, helps, but I quit the Ambien generic because of poor effects in the morning.

I caught an 11-inch largemouth shortly after we began. The cove really seemed to offer only two spots among many acres. Where bushes and branches overhang the water--with five-foot depths in front--my weightless Chompers did the trick and impressed Eric, since I had written my first article for iBass360 on the method.

Eric's the brand manager and editor. He loves to write and edit, and puts his enthusiasm into the articles that come his way. Normally, I'm very opposed to an editor's changing my words, besides any obvious errors or by solicitations for improvement I agree on, since what I write--is what I write. If the writer's personality doesn't emerge, the work is not by his hand. What I do for iBass360 is collaborative, and so I looked forward very much to this morning in the boat with Eric. The only stickler I had with my recent piece involves Eric's use of the words about bass believing by instinct--because I'm literal minded and feel it important that I be so. No evidence suggests bass believe anything. And I don't believe animals have instinct; I believe that's a notion we use simply because we don't understand how their brains work as functional wholes, without any instinct in the creatures sort of telling them what to do.

Anyhow, Eric and I had a relaxed, casual time, and as these first meetings go, they never get into the substance of such matters, if only because we want to relax.

I did wonder--in that first cove--what fish kicked up mud. The water only two or three feet deep, I saw those clouds clearly, but these flats were so barren of cover, and wide open without deeper water adjacent, I refused to believe bass responsible. Well, later on, when we all came in for the barbeque, Steve Vullo impressed me. He had nailed a three-pound largemouth on a buzzbait--on just such a flat, apparently. I told Eric later that I think I felt too impatient with the shallows.

I also caught a channel catfish nearly three pounds on the Chompers, about two feet deep where the shoreline dropped off to six or seven feet where Eric positioned the boat. What a fight! I thought for a moment I had hooked a pike, the way it peeled line in a straight line, drag screaming.

Later, I saw hybrids busting herring at the surface. Eric moved us towards the commotion with the electric. I cast a Torpedo. I haven't been hit like that since I fished bluefish with topwaters. I hollered out loud.

Eric hooked one with a lipless crankbait. I switched to a Rat-L-Trap. Soon, as I let the plug descend--fish marked all over about 13 feet down--I felt the grab, set the hook, and fought a real nice one. Judging by other hybrids I've caught, about five pounds. A good, long, hard fight--so, when the hooks pulled as the fish neared the side of Eric's boat, I didn't feel loss.

That's not the story behind my Mann's Little George, my silver-painted teardrop shaped, one ounce lead-bodied lure, which Pat at the Basking Ridge Post Office picked up for me at Cabelas along with five others years ago, my favorite of the batch. I let it descend, felt a tiny tap and refused to set, knowing there was no way to hookset. The lure fell another two feet or so, I felt a whomp, set hard, felt powerful resistance--and the line broke. The same knot which held the previous fish had gone bad.

Eric caught a couple of crappies on the crankbait, and lost two other good-sized hybrids, besides catching his first, a 3 1/2-pounder, about that weight.

This was an iBass360 event, the biggest largemouth caught 4 1/2 pounds, and a 4.3-pound smallmouth even a better fish. We're a group of bass anglers who believe in fishing and health, the redemptive quality of angling and the enjoyment that lasts a lifetime. By all means, join us if you're interested.