Outdoor Journal: Many anglers getting an early start on bass
The New York state bass season will open Saturday, and from the reports I’ve gotten from those who’ve been taking advantage of the catch-and-release season, there are plenty of bass out there.
Since mid-May and on into June, every time I’ve driven around Saratoga Lake, I’ve seen numerous bass boats all over it. Just last week, I spoke with a group that really got into them. Mike Miller and Denise Sheehan (former Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner) caught and released a couple of dozen bass. Included in their catch were two six-pounders. Mike said the bite was pretty much lakewide, and it all came on the red flake and yellow-tipped tail wacky worms.
Talking with other anglers throughout the week at the state launch, I found out bass weren’t the only thing biting on Saratoga Lake. The pickerel bite continues to be very good, and anywhere a live bait or lure is tossed is apt to attract them. The sure lure for me to catch pickerel here has always been a six- to seven-inch brightly colored plastic worm pierced through the nose and worked slowly over the weeds. The key is long casts and keeping it moving.
The panfish in Saratoga Lake and in many of the other lakes and rivers are in the shallows (three to six feet). Manning’s Cove is a good starting spot for panfish. Sneak in there quietly, especially around the small creeks, and you should catch some hand-sized bluegills and occasional crappies. South of Manning’s, below the sailboat club, there’s a white stone wall holding a lot of bluegills and some perch. Stay about 30 yards out from the wall and watch the openings in the weeds. Many of them are still bedded there.
I found the best way to approach these fish is to drift through the areas. With a good pair of Polaroid glasses, you’ll see them in the openings in the weeds. Tiny tubes, twister tails, fathead minnows, etc., fished weightless, if possible, will trigger a bite. Be sure to have a rod rigged with a wacky worm nearby. Some of the holes in the weeds are holding bass, but you can’t keep any until Saturday.
The recent storms have pushed the bass back into the shallows in the morning. Start in the grass using Texas-rigged plastics, and don’t be afraid to run a rubber frog slowly over the weed cover. As the sun comes up, the bass have been moving out, but if they’re still biting, stay shallow.
When you move out into the deeper water, work the 12- to 15-foot depths, just off weedlines. Good choices would be a deep-diving crankbait like the Mann 20 plus, Carolina rigs pulled along the bottom or drop shot a wacky worm. Don’t forget docks. Many are in deep water and hold some very big bass. Just remember to be careful of the docked boats. And don’t forget all those islands in the Narrows are surrounded with rocks and deep drops where smallmouths like to hide. Start shallow and work your way deep.
A friend of mine has been doing very well on big crappies in Lake George. Fishing the bays on the south end was all he would tell me. He did say he was catching most of them on fathead minnows.
The weekday bass tournaments will be returning to Saratoga Lake this year. Saratoga Tackle’s partner tournament will begin Tuesday with takeoff and weigh-in at Lee’s Campground, next to the state launch. Entry fee is $60 plus an optional $10 for lunker. For further information, call 584-3952 or go to their website at www.saratogatackle.com.
Nearby Lake Lonely will host its weekly Tuesday afternoon singleman “one bass” tournament beginning Tuesday. Each angler will fish alone and be allowed to weigh in one legal bass. Entry fee is $10. For this tournament, those who want to fish and do not have a boat can rent one for $15. This will include the boat and an electric motor. For information, call 587-1721.
South Shore Marina will hold its Wednesday afternoon partner tournaments beginning next week, with takeoff and weigh-in at the marina. Entry fee is $29, and it includes launch fee. For further details, call 584-9125 or go to the website at www.southshoremarinaofsaratoga.com.
HUDSON RIVER STRIPERS
The large striper angling fleet that’s been fishing the Hudson River has dwindled considerably, especially in the Albany area. The reports of 30-plus-inch stripers are few and far between. Most of the big females have spawned and headed back to saltwater. There still are some 20-inch males that may bite.
The River Basin Sports 26th annual Hudson River Striper Tournament has ended, and the winner was Bill Walsh of Rock Tavern with his 47.50-inch striper, caught early in the contest (May 8). This is a repeat win for him. This year’s catch was a quarter-inch smaller and 1.8 pounds heavier than his winning catch last year. Walsh, who was one of 775 anglers who entered this event, took first-place cash of $6,393. That’s about $136 an inch.
The other cash rewards went to Tyler Kritzman of Hudson, 45.75 inches, $1,976; Dave Smith, 45.25 inches, $1,511; John Neidhardt of Accord, 45 inches, $1,406; and a tie for fifth between Frank Tamburro Jr. of Hudson and Justin Brown of Hastings, who both had a 44.75-incher for $349 apiece.
The Ryan’s Produce 15th annual Kids Fishing Tournament, a benefit for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York, attracted 90 youngsters to Six Mile Waterworks in Albany. The winner of the up to 7-year-old age group was: Gionanni Degeorge of Colonie, who is quite a young man. This little 6-year-old was rather sad that day because his dad had to leave with the military. When he won first place and the biggest fish of the day awards, the first thing he did was call his dad and tell him it was the best day of his life.
Other winners in this category were Skyllar Fleming of Albany, second place, and Kayla Zostant of Schenectady, third. Kamron Fleming of Albany and Isobella Charland of Loudonville tied for fourth.
In the 8-12 age group, the winners were Brooke Discipio of Latham, James Easton of Cohoes and Tara Berlin of Galway. Shelby McNamara of Scotia and Madison Martel of Waterford tied for fourth.
In the 13-16 age group, the winners were Tyler Hoffman of Albany, Shannan McNamara of Scotia, Giovanna Raponi of Albany, Spencer Raymond of East Nassau and Justin Luther of Rensselaer.
The donations from the parents, contest sponsors and raffles held that day amounted to $600 that was given to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Last year’s record brook trout catch lasted only one year. Rich Beauchamp of Mayfield now holds the record with his 22.5-inch, six-pounder. The previous record, William Altman’s catch, weighed five pounds, 14 ounces. Beauchamp’s fish was caught at Silver Lake, which was fishless in 1976. The new record brook trout was caught on a lake clear wabbler and worm.
In 2002, DEC began an experimental stocking program for brook trout. Currently, they are stocking a Windfall strain native brook trout in Silver Lake.
EARLY RETIREMENT PRESENT
Tim, Frame of Scotia who retired earlier this month as a teacher in the Schenectady school system, had a retirement bucket list.
At the top of his list was a northern pike over 40 inches that he could mount. As a camp owner on the Great Sacandaga Lake, he definitely was fishing in the right place. June 1, he was trolling a black/silver Storm Thunder Stick at 2.2 mph, down 15 feet over 20- to 25-foot depths. It was about 8:15 p.m., a mile from the Conklingville Dam, when he got the hit. I’m sure it was an interesting angler/fish battle that took place. The trophy pike measured 451⁄2 inches and tipped the scales at 21.14 pounds. Great catch, Tim, and enjoy your retirement.
A company that makes athletic shoes and its web site were mis-identified in last week’s column. It is Zeko at www.zekoshoes.com.