Saturday, June 18, 2016

5-Pound Bass Squareback Canoe Maiden Voyage

Maiden Voyage of our Old Town Sportsman Saranac square back canoe on Spruce Run Reservoir. Last summer, fishing an informal bass tournament with iBass360, Eric Evans and I happened upon a whole bunch of big hybrid stripers, hooking many. This made such an impression I felt desperate to get back out on the reservoir last summer, and since that never happened, felt eager to try this June when supposedly the hybrid fishing is at some of its best.

Matt and I found quite a number of hybrids in the same spot. Not as many as last July, but a lot, all of them marking on the graph as big fish. These fish today wouldn't hit at all. Wind almost completely absent, it would have been so easy to put live herring over the side on medium split shot. The hybrids positioned 10 feet under the canoe! Sure, we jigged and jigged. We cast. We trolled. And the truth is, not always will hybrids take live herring, either. I didn't kick myself for not having any. I wanted us to try with lures, like last July.

Later I wanted to beach the canoe, have us take a swim. Then I realized getting underwear wet isn't comfortable. I also realized the sun had got low. Fifty-five pounds of thrust got us almost two miles from where we launched at Black Brook Cove, but it would take some time getting back.

We started moving in that direction, entering a fairly large cove, trolling. On the way out, the graph marked a big fish at 14 feet, so I slowed the motor speed to the lowest selection and allowed my Rat-L-Trap and Matt's tailspinner to drop. Seconds later, fish on. Not a tremendous strike as a hybrid hits, but whatever this fish--big.

"I don't know what it is," I said, having expected the fish on the graph to be a hybrid. "It's heavy."

The fish didn't come easy.

"Get the net." Seconds later, right in front of us, a five-pound largemouth leapt three feet out of the water. That half-ounce Rat-L-Trap shook off easy as butter.

I kept the line tight on the jump! "At least five pounds," Matt said. We can never know. Maybe it was four. Maybe it was six.

Today I managed to use the planer board. Planning this trip weeks in advance, I realized Spruce Run's gradually sloping flats with 15 to 20-foot depths mean the planer board makes sense, unlike on Lake Hopatcong with tightly dropping shorelines. We managed to troll a Mann's Little George off the board without ever getting hung up, getting down relatively deep in about 12 to 15 feet of water over bottom a little deeper.

"Lake Hopatcong is where we never get skunked," I said later.

"That bass was a good fish," Matt said. He meant it doesn't matter we didn't get to measure and photograph the fish. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Fished Around the Corner

Not by the water since the 4th, I started to feel the need a couple of days ago, and instead of taking my black Lab Sadie to the Bedminster dog park, opted for the North Branch Raritan with my fly rod at sundown, not with designs on fairly recent stocked trout--no doubt some remain; I've witnessed rainbows caught at this spot in August--but smallmouth bass. Instead, just after I waded in for a camera shot I decided not to post, a largemouth of less than a pound came in close, stimulated to search the water I stirred with my wading boots.

I could have used my waders, very limited by shorts with my cell phone and wallet in pockets, no desire to get my underwear wet, but Sadie never left my side as the arrangement worked out. My fly casting seems to have improved a lot this spring. I cast a lot on the Salmon River last November, too, so maybe I just don't remember. A lot of getting OK at it is just telling yourself you're as in on the action as many who do no other kind of casting.

A beaver as big as Sadie swam on under the U.S. 202/206 bridge as a tractor trailer and a dozen cars zoomed overhead.

One hit during this short stint. Could have been anything. The Muddler looked plenty deadly in the water, but what drew this scant attention--dead sticking it in the slow current, river low. Just long enough, I guess, before it would have settled on bottom.