Saturday, March 31, 2018

18-Inch Largemouth

So I got the mild afternoon I hoped for, slipping out the front door without thought of anyone or anything else, driving up the highway to Bedminster Pond. Once again, a bass hit the Savko Bucktail Spinner on the first cast, small like most of the eight I caught, not quite nine inches, but the big one felt like a snag at first, then rolling towards the surface, roiling outward a big boil, me a little nervous about my drag setting for a moment, but then reassured that the cold water made the fish lethargic enough not to break the six-pound test, feeling how good it is to begin the year with a largemouth over three pounds.

There's a lot of bass in that pond, which becomes thoroughly weeded-in by May. I missed hits from other small fish, all of them I pulled in would have measured nine inches or a little less, besides one about 10 1/2 inches, but the big one goes to show there's probably a real lunker or two under the surface of these five or six acres.

No one else fished, but when I pulled up, a conservation officer underwent the process of busting a party with fishing rods and no licenses.

I lowered my window and interrupted him, "Can I ask you a question?"


"Would I be fishing too close to the river in that far corner?"

"It's no issue to me."


Sunlight still fell on it when I began, a chop on the surface at the northeast end taking most of the afternoon's warming. On down the shoreline, fishing was good, too.

I tried the northwestern corner, too, on my way out, though it seemed too deep and cold to harbor any bass, but this is when I best felt my usual defenses coming down, and the wild world breaking back through to me, which it never fails to do when I give it a chance. All of our hopes and possibilities begin in nature.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


This post comes quickly on the heels of the former I posted earlier in the day. It's very early in the morning now. About Bedminster Pond, there's another pond up the highway further I've never been to, though I'm told the hike into it is pretty far and the fishing declining steeply compared to former years. I wanted to fish there with Mike Maxwell last spring, who had fished it a year or two before, and Fred chimed in about the place, fishing it during the fall for one bass, if I recall rightly (he can fill me in), but I'm still curious about it.

Ancillary to this fishery going south, apparently, I hear the Paulinskill Lake, not the lake closer to Newton, the lake close to the Delaware River, may vanish entirely, as the Columbia Dam is targeted for removal. I'm thinking of fishing that lake this summer, putting the squareback on it. Someone told me about a six-pound largemouth caught there; Fred knows where to launch, I'm sure I recall rightly. Big bass like that... Every year, I hope for a largemouth as big or bigger than the lunker I caught at Round Valley four years ago, slightly better than five pounds, but I don't hope too much, because it never seems to happen, although I lost one two years ago of about five pounds on Spruce Run Reservoir.

Steve Vullo says he and I will fish late in April, and I have my hopes this will work out. Vullo certainly does offer me the chance, if indeed we go, of boating a really big bass, because this man knows where to find them. Notice that the small lakes and large ponds I report on result in plenty of largemouths better than three pounds, but these two lunkers I just told you about came from reservoirs. That's where Vullo fishes too, the big reservoirs especially.

Spring is here, despite this wintry weather. I felt surprised at warbler calls--worm eating warblers, I think, first to arrive each year--in a tree canopy while walking Sadie this afternoon. Then I looked at the pond and saw some brown algae scum on the surface. Water temperature, however, has not been out of the 40's. Just as if spring changes happen anyway, despite this cold. Maple buds are big and red, too.

Checked on a post...was it 2013 or 2012? Pretty sure 2012. Yes. Proves I've known Fred going on six years, not five; wow, time does move along. That initiating event in Lakehurst was a whalloping good time, involving no less than mystical connection at nighttime success with largemouths on topwater plugs. Two of those bass almost seemed to leap into my kayak, they were so revved at chasing my plug, clear out of the water.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Hankering to Get Out

Another day off and this wintry weather still persists. Not only is it chilly today, besides some days forecast for the mid 50's, the 10-day forecast well into April offers no relief. At least trout will hit, but I wouldn't mind trying Bedminster Pond, and I went online inquiring about Pompton Lake last night, as its northern pike have me a little fascinated. I've been up there, but never fished it before. Other possibilities came to mind last night, too. Over the course of the past decade, my son and I together, especially, have hit a lot of the waters here in the state's northern tier, some places to the south, too, but a lot remains yet to explore, and I don't want to die feeling I didn't get around to more. I recalled Mike Maxwell and I going to Mountain Lake last June, a new place for both of us, and the memory of pulling into lake view and circling the 138 acres, I believe is the amount, is very, very appealing. We caught nice bass, too, sighted a musky.

It's a real world out there I haven't visited in a while.

Fred Matero and I have kept a running dialogue for what, five years now, about places to fish in this northern tier. He's gone where I haven't yet, and vice versa. I never forget telling him about Hoffman Park and giving the pond a thumbs down, but he went and tried it anyway, catching a four-pound largemouth! Noel Sell and I do the same, and Oliver Round has secrets plenty about little wild trout streams.

The world is Nada without engaging its geography. And so, we do.

I got word from  Raritan Headwaters Association by email, had forgotten the spring river and stream cleanup. I participated a few years ago, which proved to be a very nice morning, encourage any of you to do the same, or become citizen scientists through the stream monitoring program. Though I haven't done that, I do know it involves the side benefit of discovering macro-invertebrates, which fish feed on. Many of the streams have wild trout. In the email sent, there's an excellent photo of a spring peeper frog, mention of which I read before viewing, reminding me that I haven't heard a single one yet this early season, making this year the latest in all my New Jersey life to have heard any. And as I said--not yet!