Posts Tagged largemouth bass

Distance

Distance . . .

Rain on the Tenkara Rod
(NYC 03 17 2020)

I have long noticed that New Yorkers, prone to tailgaiting, often keep their distance from anglers fishing the city’s park ponds. Add a gray day with a little rain, and one can be positively alone.

The conditions have been ideal for late winter and early spring fishing. Add the COVID-19 pandemic and the additional space of social distancing, and there has appeared ample room to cast the long tenkara rod with fixed line, even along what is usually a busy path.

Such a spot afforded me my first take and solid wrestle with a fish in 2020. St. Patrick’s Day, normally a bustle of less than sober revelers in and around the usual business, gave me several hours of therapeutic solitude and a solid bluegill dressed in rich purple and orange colors.

Lucky Start: First Fish of 2020
(03 17 2020)

Spring arrived on March 19th, the earliest such equinox in 124 years. A similar gray and rainy start inspired me to go out again.

I’m glad I did, as the city of New York has since entered a stranger than science fiction time. Like the character Roux in The Plague by Albert Camus, I have witnessed the public space of Manhattan gradually empty into a quiet stage set of sorts. Spring flowers and singing birds have since taken over, giving a heartbreaking natural beauty to the city under siege.

I worked one fly for a few hours in Central Park in the shadow of the Mt. Sinai hospital complex (my employer!), and the reward, in a spring now without baseball, was the local grand slam:

Black Crappie

(NYC 03 20 2020)

Bluegill

(NYC 03 20 2020)

Largemouth Bass

(NYC 03 20 2020)

What a positive start to the 2020 fishing season.

I must set aside my angling avocation to focus on my professional role as a CRCST, managing the sterillization of surgical trays and assisting any way I can in the hospital’s PACU. The fear of sickness subdued by the duty to serve, and soothed by a few hours of good fishing.

Grateful I continue to be for fishing in general, and tenkara specifically, for the distance, physical and psychological, the sport provides from the weights of the world.

Hope
(NYC 03 20 2020)

— rPs 03 31 2020

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Icing on the Lake

Icing on the Lake . . .

 

Open Water = Hope
(NYC)

Punxsutawney Phil predicted on February 2nd an early spring. He has been correct but for two spells of clear, cold artic gale.

 

The ice left behind the windswept spells retreats by half after just a day or two warm enough to compell the morning doves to coo.

 

One can walk the pond’s bank, hear garrulous bluejay’s, and the polite tufted titmouse can be seen in the park’s bare deciduous trees. A streamer shuffled across the ice until it drops with a wake into open water can at this time of year lead to a large largemouth on the line.

Winter Bass
(NYC)

Black Crappie, too, the icing on the lake.

Crappie in the Cold
(NYC)

Thanks, Phil.

 

— rPs 02 27 2019

 

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50, Fish Day: Part I

50, Fish Day: Part I . . .

 

Sunbathed:
Prospect Park Lake
(NYC 08 08 2017)

Fifty approaches me with little time measured in days to act. My final fish day of my forties presented itself.

When had to be soon. Where was the infinite open question. I chose almost on autopilot on a free weekday. Choice chosen kept it urban, subway and walk to the water and back. My commute: one to the borough of Brooklyn, which I had not yet visited with rod and reel in 2017.

No secret of where remains at this lake in Prospect Park. Facebook groups and other social media, Tenkara Takes Manhattan in full fact, have announced with praise of bass fishing the over fifty surface  acres of water here.

I came in part to continue techniques for bullhead catfish, which I have brought to net here in the unphotographed past. Slow presentations of the Green Guarantee lured the fish, not catfish, both bass, caught at the beginning and at the end like bookends.

Prospect Largemouth
(NYC 08 08 2017)

That balanced outcome hinged on a decision.

The day all day had been cool enough for a summer sweater and benefited from good air. The light breeze left the water by late afternoon, sky set like a painting under a blend of sun and stunning, towering cloud.

I chose the close at a final spot facing west just before the sun dipped behind the park’s treeline. A barbeque party north across the cove set up, took off with island music and the smoke of grills just as I prepared my first cast.

Urban angling in a borough park. I concentrated, landed the fly at the end of a log submerged inches from the surface. The textbook log scenario scored a quick take, hard, weighty, just as the fly blended into subsurface obscurity. A strong run to the right, then back to the log, and gone. The spider’s line of 7X tippet had stretched well enough to keep the fly knotted, yet had not allowed a hook set enough into the bass’s gristled mouth.

The rebound cast, plagued by thought, snagged onto what was more wood below the waterline. There the fly sank deep where it rests even now.

The decision, again, it simply exists over and over. Here, had the universe told me to call it a decade, or did I have enough resolve to apply perseverence into the beyond, like the runner going into uncharted distance, toward the good finish rich in personal symbol and satisfaction?

Amber shades on under setting sun, drum machine high hats tsking in the rear distance, I managed to knot onto my level line another fresh four feet of demanding 7X and a size 8 Green Guarantee.

The second cast back at the log felt a yank bend the repaired Yamame rod into an arch and the fish held me in static stand off. Strong as a snag, the head shake with tip of tail above water followed before a grip of lower lip and a photo: sun setting on the final fish of my forties.

Sunset Prospect
(NYC 08 08 2017)

Largemouth, fitting for a writer of reportage, one brought to hand and released with ethics intact and an A for effort as time passes and blends into a blur into the past, past positive.

— rPs 08 09 2017

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Salad Days

Salad Days . . .

Modest Largemouth (NYC 06 2017)

. . . of June.

 

Pond shallows, turtle banks, all is lush.

The largemouths chase small fry.

Feathered bright as the white sky.

Herons all angle up modest luck.

 

(3) – a three-pound athletic bass was wrestled to the shaded green bank, the two of us tethered by 6X (4 lb.) monofilament tippet of a kind ideal for tenkara. Two runs had just bent the TUSA Yamaha rod into a bridge arch over turmoiled topwater. There had been a witness, Jesse Valentin, who earlier, with, together we watched the tall white bird spear pinch a brace of bluegill.

June = Bass

King Sunfishes.

20170602_134242

Jesse; “Heron 1, Bluegill 0” (NYC 06 2017)

Heron Approved.

— rPs 06 05 2017

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May Day! Grand Slam.

May Day! Grand Slam. . . .

May Day, White Sky
(NYC 2017)

The sky spreads a flat sheet of bright white cloud down to the horizon line in New York City on May Day 2017. Weather much cooler than felt in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s hotter and dustier novella set in this place and date in 1919. The sun, though, glows today despite the veil. Sunscreen is advised for those who best use it outdoors.

Fish, though scattered, are feeding, and falling for a Green Guarantee, which has made good for one grand slam already this season, enough freshwater sport fish for one day.

 

Yellow Perch
(NYC 2017)

 

Largemouth Bass
(NYC 2017)

 

Bluegill
(NYC 2017)

 

Black Crappie
(NYC 2017)

 

Four denominations, penny, nickel, dime, and quarter, found scattered on the journey path added a parallel coincidence too cool not to mention.

And in parallel, the view:

Pond in Parallel, White Sky
(NYC 2017)

And the Yankees are winning games in the Bronx.

May Day!

Grand Slam.

Good Times.

— rPs, 05 01 2017

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Bass Trio

Bass Trio . . .

 

Rock Bass

Rock Bass (09 2016)

Rock Bass
(09 2016)

 

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass (09 2016)

Smallmouth Bass
(09 2016)

 

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass (09 2016)

Largemouth Bass
(09 2016)

 

September is a fishing month for bass.

This may be the best bass time of all.

What a (foot)ball!

Fishes keep biting, again and again,

When you continue to release them.

 

— rPs 09 23 2016

 

Postscript: The fly pattern used in all three examples was my Green Guarantee, size 8; my one fly for freshwater tenkara.

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Bass at First Light

Bass at First Light . . .

 

Earth Day: Bullfrog and Boulder (NYC 04 2016)

Earth Day: Dawn, Bullfrog and Boulder
(NYC 04 2016)

 

Spring’s risen sun seems to hover just above the tree line when positioned beside the freshwater in Central Park. The Hudson River’s brackish waters on the West Side of Manhattan and The Bronx are still flowing under full shadow at this early daytime.

Trees just beginning to sprout leaves offer a canopy as fine as a newborn’s hair. Lots of sunlight filters through the bright green around the water. Slight haze of pollen catches sun as it suspends over large frogs and the occasional turtle that surfaces to swim by. One woodpecker provides the beat of nature’s jackhammer, a mellow sound on wood set a few decibels below that of steel on asphalt no doubt going on deeper in the city.

The water stirs by the early riser. The bass are active.

When, in spring, the pond weed returns in its first growth to just below the surface, a predatory zone forms. Below sits a few openings, a few here and there holding depressions, and the flat roof top of golden green weed.

Poppers and other surface gurglers draw strikes on top as does a Green Guarantee, unweighted, pulsing in the emergent column. The deer belly hair of the green pattern’s wing adds buoyancy as it pushes water when pulled to simulate a pulse.

Largemouth bass, bigger pickles in the green trout class, make up the bulk of the dominant Centrarchidae in the Five Borough’s still waters. Such bass are bright, alert, and frisky, able jumpers worthy of 4x tippet.

First Bass Of 2016 (NYC Spring 2016)

First Bass of 2016
(NYC Spring 2016)

 

Urban Angler alum, Christopher Chang, worked a selection of poppers on a conventional 3-weight floating line and landed several respectable bass of the first size class. Such fish range two to four pounds and are breeding females. Each one caught quickly and humanely released. Action enough to satisfy a busy world traveler set to serve the Peace Corp. in Peru for the next two years.

Christopher Chang holds a bass lured by a popper. (NYC 04 2016)

Christopher Chang holds a bass lured by a popper.
(NYC 04 2016)

 

Ebisu’s lillian slip-knotted onto the traditional tapered line of tenkara matched with a sporting 6X tippet again continued to produce good numbers in variety as well:

The Obligatory Bluegill (NYC Spring 2016)

The Obligatory Bluegill
(NYC Spring 2016)

 

The Obligatory Bluegill . . .

And,

Bass Above The Weed (NYC 04 2016)

Bass Above The Weed.
(NYC 04 2016)

 

Second Bass of 2016 . . .

 

– rPs 05 12 2016

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Tippets and Tibbetts

Tippets and Tibbetts . . .

 

Tibbetts Brook (06 2015)

Tibbetts Brook
(06 2015)

 

George Tippett, a colonial loyalist, lost his land where a major skirmish in alliance with native tribes was waged against the British crown during the American Revolution. The battle was lost, the war was won. The outcome turned the land over and again, a name alteration emerged into a new standard, and land acquisition through marriage came to Jacobus Van Cortlandt.

Tibbetts Brook flows, rather meanders, meanders down through a forested vein in The Bronx. Two parks: Tibbetts Brook and Van Cortlandt, give the northern frontier of New York City freshwater fishing as close as the salt of the Hudson River where the striped bass swims.

Water Lily, Spatterdock, and sediment flats offer a few fit and fat Centrarchidae with an appetite. Females, finished doing duty and ready for a meal, make up the bulk of the menu in June. Scattered few have fallen for a kebari. Others have been and may be in future flushed by frisky waterfowl or a passing cyclist if one pauses to inquires “How’s the fishing?” or “Catch any?” The most polite individual encountered, the one I ally with, is instead the semiaquatic genus Ondontra. The only one of its kind, the Muskrat deserves a most elevated status for its humble, pleasant nature and mild, herbivorous ways.

Calm water, or perhaps rippled from a sustained breeze, both enjoy the presence of the solitary bass of several pounds lurking below. Patterns may take the form of a size 6 Green Guarantee streamer or perhaps a kebari of a different kind, such as the foam Panfish Spider. Experiments on the latter pattern using all game feather and fur remain ongoing and make for awesome time at the vise.

Tippet, here in 2015, takes the form of three to six feet of 4x monofilament knotted to a twelve foot Level Line or Traditional Tapered Line. The less opaque Level Line makes a better choice in skinny water and finds itself used more often for this fly fishing. The line and leader formula gives a surging bass of three pounds sporting opportunity to break free into cover. Fishes with a face full of weed can come with this territory, making a stiffer 7/3 flex like that of the Tenkara USA Yamame rod a prudent choice.

Fights are fun, and fishes landed by bending rod and body in the protracted wrestle strike the profile of a true football. Nerf nerds might appreciate a comparison in the mix as well. A female, long and muscled, at this time of year will feel deflated and seem somewhat airy next to an earlier one heavy with eggs, the kind of bass an angler with a soul let rest, as she is best then left alone.

Aggressive females: the after party is a second story. Hungry, collected, they strike if presented a morsel of opportunity during a cruise in open water. A big girl emerges from cover with a slow, confident pulse that excites. Casting form may suffer from adrenaline jitters unless absolute focus is maintained.

The female Largemouth Bass now wants to bite, to pounce on prey lingering too far from a green algae mat or lily pad or stand of pickerel weed. The pond permit, the Bluegill, shares the pattern. Olive and silver in tone with distinct vertical bars, the ladies inhale a fly, hold it in mouth often without the hook penetrating, making release easy if forceps have been brought along.

 

Aggressive Female Bluegill (06 2015)

Aggressive Female Bluegill
(06 2015)

 

Meanwhile, male Centrachidae are too busy to bite. Young bucks are swift, nimble, and chase instead of take. Try your best. The men are interested in pushing you away, not pulling. Noses nudge a fly pattern along, far away from nests full of fry, far from from a potential hook set. Smart behavior expressed by strong fish.

From bottom to top, from end to end, full fishing reportage takes at minimum a full day to cover. The explorer angler’s hike, jog, or bike best includes some time in between to stop and read the informative historical markers and enjoy the wildflowers. Tippett’s land has changed, as has the legacy of his name. Still, scattered spots along this namesake brook in the Bronx may offer encounter with the kind of Largemouth Bass that can begin and end a memorable day in one respectable cast.

 

A size 8 Panfish Spider lured this solid female largemouth bass to the top. (06 2015)

A size 8 Panfish Spider lured this solid female largemouth bass to the top.
(06 2015)

– rPs 06 12 2015

Postscript: In Memory of Andrew Victor Amici, United States Navy, 1950-2015

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Football Helmets and Fall Fishes

Football Helmets and Fall Fishes . . .

The Reach of Tenkara (photo taken 09 2014)

The Reach of Tenkara
(photo taken 09 2014)

The night game of summer has moved on to new rules played in the daylight. Rain may pass through, and the reopening of the sky brings good time to go outside and fish. When the dark does descend, quickly and almost cold, home calls as the nostalgia door opens to college year memories or past seasons, some of national championship caliber.

Part of my own continued education in life experience has been set amidst a geography where home waters caress manes of watercress. There trout abound. Other neighbors on the stream, offered perhaps a polite wave from a fly fishing undergraduate, have included names of Harvey, Humphreys, and Meck and a Gordon, too, among many others; my constant sense of the eastern provincial in America stays connected, centered on a Pennsylvania county as well as five boroughs of New York City.

Neighbors of the urban angle abound also and some distant shores have been or shall be explored alone and together with even more others. Before such diversions, the sharpened focus on a single bass, any bass, remains first in line.

Largemouth Bass (photo taken 09 16 2014)

Largemouth Bass
(photo taken 09 16 2014)

Bass season is again back in session.

Temperatures drop to fifties and sixties Fahrenheit. Sunlight remains bright, often unfiltered, but days of rippled gray skies do pass. Rain remains brief unless it’s a hurricane trailing through for four to five days. Ponds again begin to clear and darken. A frosting of bright duckweed foots cattails and pickerel weed. Slow presentation with a long horizontal reach, a natural fishing problem for tenkara to tackle and bring to quick resolve, can take a kebari to the bass level (a multifaceted pun too compelling not to intend).

The largemouth and smallmouth bass alike, after striking your pattern in a singular fashion near the water column’s bottom, bring fast reactions to the top. This athleticism has had a portion of its antecedence come from the fish’s own daily hunting. Black and blue damselflies, measured in inches, still pass time in the air. Nymphs that resemble such varieties in various stages of development swim and crawl throughout a still water. Bluegill fry swim in small schools, too. Bass can be lured when these larger naturals are mimicked by an equal kebari tied to a generous tippet matched with a Level Line or a Traditional Tapered.

A largemouth, hooked on such a kebari of size 8 or 10, may jump three times and roll on each leap skyward. Size varies by location. Any fish that is perhaps best sized to a September zucchini may be noteworthy to big fish fans.

Smaller fish – dill pickle bass and slab bluegill – still insist on being counted. Vigorous takes by a quarter pound fish inhales the pattern deep in the mouth, doubles the perceived strength of pull during breaking sprints, which brings added utility to the longer tippet with its greater capability for stretch.

Be mindful to bring clamps with a few inches of reach. To release a bluegill hooked so deeply, first fold the fish’s spiny dorsal fin down with the inside of your wet fingers, grip the fly with the teeth of the clamp, twist as far as necessary as a slight downward push on the pattern is made. This most often dislodges the hook with minimal penetration of the fish’s interior. Most small fish will thrust voluntarily from hands placed low over the water and depart with a resounding and reassuring splash.

A net facilitates the unhooking of an autumn bright bluegill. (photo taken 09 16 2014)

A net facilitates the unhooking of an autumn bright bluegill.
(photo taken 09 16 2014)

Orange Jewelweed and pale purple clusters of New York Ironweed border many New York stillwaters by late September. The green of leaves has acquired a more yellow cast. Some bluegills exhibit similar rusted or buttered bellies below strong barred sides. The bass remain silvered and green with a distinct black lateral band. Colored patterns all that would fit on a football helmet with ease.

The Football Helmet Bass (photo taken 09 2014)

The Football Helmet Bass
(photo taken 09 2014)

– rps 09 24 2014

Postscript: Read more about the damselfly and dragonfly at Backyard and Beyond here: http://matthewwills.com/2013/08/07/lilypad-forktail/

And here: http://matthewwills.com/2013/05/31/dragonfly-pond-watch/

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Gray and Green

Gray and Green . . .

Bluegill and Ebisu (photo taken 05 15 2014)

Bluegill and Ebisu (photo taken 05 15 2014)

Weather patterns vary by season and region. One consistent to spring in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania is a stretch of about three weeks between late April and the middle of May. I call these the gray and green days when the trees bear pastel leaves and flowers under an overcast gray sky that gives forth a fine mist or scattered light showers. This is a time dominated by water, cool temperatures, clean air, and the palpable smell of earth.

Ponds become stage center for a community of living things during these salad green days. Cattails, phragmites, and pickerel grasses have reached halfway to maturity and stand about knee high. The yellow flag has not yet begun to bloom, although the dandelions on the surrounding lawns now blend golden blooms with pale gray spheres of seed. Wakes in the shallows could be a turtle surfacing for a breath, or bluegills and bass sprinting below, preparing to construct beds for spawning.

The overriding dampness will normally keep most people engaged in indoor activities. The angler, however, and this angler for certain, becomes compelled to go forth and fish as often as possible.

Tenkara equipment provides an ideal tool here and now. Between the edge of the flooded grass and the mats of pondweed starting to form at pond center often resides a strip of open water varying between five and thirty feet in width. Here fish can even be seen for sight casting chances at times. The long telescoping tenkara rod easily reaches over the shoreline vegetation and the limber nature of the pole allows accurate fly placement along the near and far edges of the plants where aggressive panfish and cruising bass swim in abundance.

Tenkara fishing along a pond edge. (photo taken 05 08 2014)

Tenkara fishing along a pond edge. (photo taken 05 08 2014)

Evenings tend to produce the best fishing. The stillness that often settles after the day allows for more accurate casting and also the opportunity for topwater action using dry fly patterns (Deer and Elk Hair Caddis) and panfish poppers (Foam Gurglers and Rubber Leg Spiders) . Two recent visits to my local waters have produced some good catches, including:

Bluegill

(photo taken 05 15 2014)

(photo taken 05 15 2014)

Green Sunfish

(photo taken 05 15 2014)

(photo taken 05 15 2014)

Largemouth Bass

(photo taken by Tony Panasiti 05 08 2014)

(photo taken by Tony Panasiti 05 08 2014)

The gray and green days have about another week or two left in them before brighter, warmer weather arrives. Go forth and fish if you have the time.

– rPs 05 16 2014

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