Outdoor Journal: Big fall bass out there, as young anglers show
Fall fishing has definitely peaked, especially in the bass category, with reports of quite a few trophies coming aboard. The biggest reported have been those of young anglers.
I had the pleasure to have one of the biggest taken from my boat which I got to net for 8-year-old Ryan Peck while his dad, Jonathan, got the camera ready. The New York City anglers spent two days with me on the upper Hudson River (Schuylerville). On the first day, Jonathan boated the biggest fish of the day, a four-plus-pound largemouth, and they caught and released a number of nice large and smallmouth bass, as well.
But on the second day, it took Ryan only one cast to take the big fish of the day lead, which he never relinquished. He was using an adult baitcasting rod and reel and a Bass Pro Shops six-inch Stik-O-Worm, rigged wacky style, when the big bass grabbed his offering in no more than three feet of water along the edge of some lily pads. I saw the flash and the big body, and Ryan set the hook and kept the rod up like a veteran as he reeled it right to the net. On the measuring board, it was just 21 inches long and had quite a belly. We quickly took a number of photos and returned the big bass to the water. According to the In Fisherman Bass Length-to-Weight Conversion Chart, his fish weighed 5.78 pounds. Later that same morning, he boated and released a 22-inch pickerel.
A young angler’s first bass is always good news. and 9-year-old Walker Pedinotti of Schenectady caught his with a Kevin VanDam KVD crankbait. He was fishing in the Stony Point area of Saratoga Lake when the 21⁄2-pound largemouth grabbed the bait. His grandfather, Jerry, told me Walker is hooked for life.
Remember those high winds and heavy rains we had all day and on into the night a few Tuesdays ago? That was the same day that the Saratoga Tackle Bass Challenge held the championship tournament from 1-6 p.m., and only eight of the 13 qualified teams showed up. I can’t imagine how those guys could even stand up in their boats with the big waves that this lake can produce. But Jim Bubb of Clifton Park, who fished by himself, did, and his 9.08-pound catch was enough to win the championship and the $400 that went with it. Jim, whose body and boat took a beating, used a blue/black jig with rubber frog trailer fishing weedlines in 10 feet of water on the main lake.
Schuylerville anglers Sal Isabella and Dean Foster were second ($250) with 8.42 pounds, and Carl Paquette of Saratoga Springs received $80 for his 2.74-pound largemouth lunker.
The Capital District Bassmasters reported their worst tournament result in recent club history when nine anglers found 40-degree temperatures and 15-25 mph winds on Oneida Lake. The total catch was 11 bass caught by just five anglers. Leading the way with a two-bass total of 5.98 pounds was Troy angler Tom LaRose. Second, with two bass weighing 4.24 pounds, was Bill Davis of Troy. Dave Beemer of Averill Park, also with two bass, was third with 3.58 pounds. LaRose’s 2.94-pound bass was the lunker of the day.
As a longtime member of the Capital District Bassmasters, I can attest to the fact that this “was not” the worst weight to win a club tournament. I know this because a long time ago, on the Mohawk River, in good weather, I won the tournament with a five-bass catch totaling five pounds, 12 ounces, all legal 12-inch bass.
The Mohawk Valley Anglers Club found the bass in the Mohawk River at AlCathy a bit more cooperative, with nine of the 13 competing teams catching five-bass team limits. The Rotterdam duo of Jeff Squires and Barton Metzold won the event with 15.65 pounds that included the
3.42-pound tournament lunker. The winners received a total of $255. The second- and third-place teams were also from Rotterdam. Vince Monini and Brian Ouillete weighed in 14.33 pounds and received $136. Floyd Squires and Jason Lane had 13.14 pounds and earned $108. The first- and second-place teams said they locked up (west) and fished the pool between Locks 9 and 10.
The monthly Dave’s Bait & Tackle big fish contest produced some good catches on the Great Sacandaga Lake. Oddly, the biggest walleye, caught by John Zeis of Wells, was bigger than the winning pike. John’s walleye measured 30 3⁄4 inches, while Dan Looman of Edinburg caught the winning pike — 28 1⁄4 inches. Zeis also caught the biggest trout, a 28-inch beauty, and Looman’s 13 1⁄4-inch white perch won that category. The biggest yellow perch was a 14-incher caught by Ron Smith of Catskill. Luke Olsen of Northville won the bass category with an 18 1⁄8-incher.
The 23 teams that fished the Greenbush Bass Open on the Great Sacandaga Lake found it a bit off on the day of their contest. The winners, Tim Paraso of Indian Lake and Matt Lieberman of Glenville, weighed in 13.70 pounds which included the big bass weighing 5.20 pounds. They received a total of $780. Amsterdam brothers Bob and Brian Bez were second with 11.19 pounds. The Wynantskill team of Bill Allie and Gino Beilawa was third with 10.46 pounds. Second and third places returned $345 and $250, respectively.
FISHING TIPS OF THE WEEK
This week, I would like to share two tips from local veteran anglers on how they catch walleyes on the Mohawk River and northern pike on the Great Sacandaga Lake.
Frequent readers of this column know about and have seen some of Amsterdam angler Mike Auriemma’s walleye catches. Here are some of the tricks he’s learned over the last 40 years of fishing the Mohawk. During the fall, ’eyes are attracted to the lock areas for oxygen and the great number of bait fish there — find the bait, find the fish. For a relaxing way to fish, he recommends trolling these areas with Shad Raps, Bomber Long A’s and Berkley flicker shad in silver, yellow and chartreuse. If there are no hits, don’t give up. Actually, his favorite way to fish is hands-on, jigging and worm or bait harnesses, but he also says versatility is the key to success.
One of these keys, and this is true in most freshwater fishing, is using a good rod that is super-sensitive to feel those all-too-frequent light bites. It is amazing how light a big walleye can bite. Mike’s fall lure choices are the Northland Mimic Minnow, Mr. Twister Exude and Walleye Assassin jigs in gray, white, yellow and black. When using these baits, move them very slow, lifting them up off the bottom six to 12 inches and letting them fall freely, and occasionally dragging them on the bottom. If one color doesn’t work, try another. Mike uses a worm harness that he makes, but also said that Hillbilly Lures makes a good one that you should be able to get at local bait shops.
When fishing around the locks, use a depth/fishfinder to find the deepest holes closest to the locks, but do not go inside the danger buoys. When fishing around flats and drop edges, it’s best to use an electric motor on a low speed. This will give you less chance of spooking the fish.
Remember, the cooler the water gets in fall, the bigger the feeding schools get.
His keep-or-release rule of thumb when catching walleyes is to release all the big females (25 inches and up) and keep the 15- to 20-inchers for the dinner table. Just bring along a camera and take pictures of the big ones and send them with all the details to me for Fish Tales.
Ron Kolodziej of Fonda, my traveling turkey hunting buddy, has spent many years fishing for northern pike on the Great Sacandaga Lake and shared a this information to with me. He says fall is the beginning of some of the best pike fishing there is. Right now, Sacandaga northerns will be in six to eight feet of water, less than they were in May, as they begin to prowl the shallows. Their major movement periods are at dusk, dawn and on overcast days.
His first choice on these type days is to troll Rapalas, Rebels, Junior Thundersticks and similar minnow imitations, including those big Mepps spinners. Start with the darker colors or natural finishes, and don’t be surprised if you catch a shallow walleye or two on the prowl.
One of Ron’s key areas when looking for these predators during the dropping of the Great Sacandaga’s water levels are the old stone farm walls located all around the lake. Work each one — and there are plenty to work — carefully, starting near shore and working out into deeper water. These walls are fish magnets for northern pike.
And lastly, this low water level is a great time for you shore fishermen to catch a good northern while standing on solid ground.
Thank you, gentlemen.