Harsh weather? Clean up your fishing gear
If you went fishing for any species last week, you’re one avid and dedicated angler.
When I woke up last Friday morning, I had all intentions of tossing some garden worms and a spinner into the Kayaderosseras Creek that runs along Geyser Road and then heading over to Saratoga Lake to see if anything wanted to bite on my wacky worm. When I stepped outside, I decided that it would instead be a good day to get my tackle in order for the “warmer” weather fishing. I was not happy about the dusting of white stuff on the ground and the numbers on my outside thermometer (31).
This change of plans wasn’t a bad idea, because most of us end the fishing season with zero equipment maintenance, and that includes leaving lures tied on, even some with hard night crawlers. And how about those reels with bird’s nests of line that everyone was going to work on over the winter?
Start by cutting all of the hooks and lures off and checking all of the line, chances are, some of it will need to be replaced. Remove the reels from the rods, and remember that little tube of oil that usually comes in the reel box? Use it.
Take a Q-tip and check each of the eyelets on your rods by rubbing it all around the inside. Replace any nicked eyelets before using the rod. Chips in eyelets are one of the main reasons for losing fish because they fray and cut the line. Check the hooks on all lures and either sharpen or replace them.
River Basin Sports reports Hudson River temperatures in Catskill are 45-46, a bit higher around Kingston. Herring are already up at the Troy Dam, and stripers are in the Bethlehem area, where a few 18- to 26-inchers have been caught and released. Water around the dam has been muddy, as are many of the creeks emptying into the river.
These early catches came on night crawlers, but bloodworms bounced along the bottom are working much better now. If you can find clean water, a 10-herring daily limit can be caught using Sabiki rigs. Remember, nets can’t be used to capture herring in creeks.
There’s another striper tournament being held on the Hudson River. Hosted by Billy Joe’s Restaurant, Newburgh, on April 27-28, proceeds go to the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association and its youth angler programs.
The entry fee, which can be paid until 8 p.m. Friday, is $40. The prize list ranges from $1,000 for first and $75 for seventh. There’s a Lowrance-sponsored prize for the angler who releases the largest striped bass alive.
There is secondary contest that could earn someone a $100,000 reward. This “Fish of a Lifetime” contest requires the striper must be over 48 inches and weigh more than 50 pounds. The cost to enter this event is $35, and contestants must have also entered the regular tournament.
The weigh-in stations, in addition to the restaurant, are at Croton Yacht Club and Atlantis Marina, Staten Island. Only one fish may be entered per day. The two-day total weight will determine the winners. One pound will be added to any weight for a live release. For information, go to www.stripedbassderby.com
The anglers I know who are braving the cold are bass guys/gals. I’ve seen a number of snowmobile-suited guys standing on the front deck of their bassboats with their foot on the trolling motor pedal, tossing all types of artificial lures. I miss those early days, but I also enjoy writing about it from my warm home office, watching Hank Parker Outdoors and the Bassmasters hauling in big bass in some warm climate.
One local weekend bass tournament angler I know who’s been out several times is Mike Galcik of Schuylerville. He braved the weather and fished the upper Hudson River stretch between Stillwater and Schuylerville recently, and he caught bass. His biggest was over three pounds, and he had some big pike “follows.”
Mike was using a Chatter Bait one day I fished with him on northern Lake Champlain and made me a believer when he boated eight bass with the lure, and I had only landed one with a plastic worm. The other bait he had success with on the Hudson was a small, square-billed crankbait, which I found works on some of those smallmouth bass “around the locks” and holding in moving water at the creek mouths.
I think the water temperature should be about right for a smallmouth bite on those lakes and rivers that are ice-free. Forget about the Great Sacanadaga Lake for now; the last time I talked with Dave from Dave’s Bait and Tackle, he said the lake still had ice. I would keep in touch with him regularly because it should be clearing soon.
The Hudson and Mohawk Rivers are open and both have good populations of smallies in them. Start fishing deep, 10-15 feet, with small jigs with trailers, deep-diving crankbaits and drop-shot rigs with four-inch worms. Just remember, bass, northern pike and walleye seasons are not open, so release them unharmed.
Panfish are in season, and I’ll soon be trying my luck for crappies on Saratoga Lake. Once Lake George is open, some of its back bays (I can’t remember which ones) hold some really good schools of big crappies. On Saratoga Lake, I start with a slip bobber and fatheads and/or small, brightly colored tiny tubes or small twister tails fished on an ultra-lite rod and reel with four- to six-pound test line.
If I’m not satisfied with the results using the bobber, I try the tiny tubes/twister tails without the bobber before I leave. I cast leaving the bail open and let the lure free-fall to the bottom, then slowly lift and drop the jig all the way back to the boat/shore.
On Saratoga, I’ll probably begin in about 10 feet of water out from Fitch Road on the eastern shore and fish along the weed lines. This is one of the best spots on the lake for all types of panfish, and filling my livewell with 15 big bluegills would be fine. Manning’s Cove has several creeks that attract crappies, as does the weeded shoreline from the Sail Boat Club south. If I spend the day, I’ll probably cover the entire eastern shoreline.
I expect that the fish will be shallow (five feet) early and depending upon what happens, I’ll move out a little deeper as the sun gets higher. Here’s a presentation tip — especially in clear water, make longer casts and use the “gunfighter” approach — keep the sun at your back. Yes, it can be important.
Bill Parry, owner of Lake Lonely Boat Livery (now open) told me a week or so ago when the water was down in the creek, it had large schools of bluegills, but now that the water has risen to normal level, they’ve moved out to the main lake. So we know they’re there.
SALMON RIVER REPORT
Capt. Kevin Davis of “Catch the Drift” said that heavy rains have raised the river, but fishing has been good for drift boats. Anglers have been hooking up with double-digit steelheads, browns and occasional lake trout. The higher water levels have made various areas along the river unfishable from shore, but they’ve been catching fish behind the hotels. The upper section of the river between Altmar and Pineville is holding plenty of fish and obviously receiving the most fishing pressure. Fish the gravel areas in the mid- to upper sections using single egg patterns and small black stoneflies for the best action. Other areas include the Upper and Lower Fly Zones, Schoolhouse, Wire Hole and Trestle. If you want to avoid the crowd, the mid- to lower end of the river is the place to go.
The list of suggested fly patterns I received are: steelhead stone, size 8 in red, orange and purple; hare’s ear, size 10 in blue, pink, orange; glo-bugs, size 10 in Oregon cheese and blue, and woolly buggers, size 6 in brown, black, olive and white. They recommend egg sacks, trout beads, pink worms and jigs for spinning-rod anglers. I suggest going early enough to stop by the various bait and tackle shops to find out what’s happening, where and what they’re biting on.
And don’t forget, if you go out on the water, let me know what happened so I can add it to the next Fish Tale.