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Fishing Forecast: Panfish are biting at several spots on Saratoga Lake

Thursday, May 2, 2013
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Based on the number of boats I saw on Saratoga Lake last weekend, the panfish and bass are biting.

The weedline several hundred yards out from Fitch Road/Route 9P is holding plenty of panfish, and the crappies and bluegills are very active.

“They were biting almost everything,” one of the anglers at the state launch told me. And employees at Saratoga Bait and Tackle agreed because they were selling a lot of fathead minnows, as well as flashy tiny tubes and grubs. Apparently, where you catch one, there should be more.

The panfish action is also picking up in the area around the creek mouth in the back of Manning’s Cove. The “Ditch” east of Manning’s is also holding bluegills and crappies. When leaving Manning’s, take a right (south) and motor down to the white wall on the west shoreline. Fish this area with either live bait or tube jigs, concentrating on holes in the grass. If the sun is shining, a good pair of polarized sunglasses will help spot targets. Use an electric motor on a low speed sparingly, or even better, use a paddle.

The next stop should be in front of South Shore Marina. Work that area in and out to six-feet depths and don’t overlook any of the docks — they attract panfish. Fish the area all the way down to Brown’s Beach.

I’ve also heard the panfish bite is on in the north end of Ballston Lake. This is also a good spot for canoe and kayak anglers, and if you like to fly-fish, a little wet or dry fly will get a lot of attention. Shore anglers can also enjoy the panfish bite on Ballston Lake right off the public fishing pier on outlet road. This is a good place to bring the kids.

Capt. Justin Mahoney of Highliner Fishing has been catching quite a few lakers on Lake George. Recently, Billy Bischoff of Ballston Spa and his son, Hunter, caught some big lake trout with Justin, trolling stick baits anywhere from just below the surface down to 50 feet. Water temperatures are around 50 degrees, and the lakers are still feeding on smelt. The biggest laker Justin has hooked recently was a 10-plus-pounder. You can see photos of the fish the Bischoffs caught at www.lakegeorge.com/fishing-report/2013/04/cool-temps—hot-fishing-on-lake-george.html#comments.

There’s also a good panfishing bite just beginning on Lake George. I saw a photo of 10 crappies recently caught “around” Dunham’s Bay by an angler who did not want his name revealed because of the fishing flu (he called in sick to work, then went fishing). His crappies were all over 12 inches, and he said that he caught about 25 in just two hours.

He found them in about eight feet of water using his depth/fish finder. They were act­ually holding about two to three feet off the bottom. All of his fish came on fatheads and small chartreuse and white tiny jigs fished beneath a slip bobber. The back bays in the Southern Basin all offer good panfishing opportunities.

CATCH AND RELEASE BASS

Just about anything you toss, live bait or lures, is going to attract bass. They’ve begun their pre-spawning ritual at all our local lakes and rivers. It’s now legal to catch bass, but they must be released immediately, and you can only use artificial lures from Dec. 1 to the third Saturday in June. It won’t be long before the females will be moving into the shallower waters to spawn. The rules say artificial only, but I encourage pinching down the barbs, especially when using plastics. The less you handle these fish, the better.

STRIPERS GETTING BIGGER

The lead keeps changing in the River Basin Sports striper contest as the 40-inchers have arrived in the Catskill area. As of last Monday, there were 10 fish registered measuring 40 inches or more. There was a tie for first with two at 44.75 inches, followed by 43.5, 42.5, two 42.3, 42, 41.5, 41 and a 40-incher. Winners are determined by length.

Areas to concentrate are the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, which always holds fish, as does the stretch from Poughkeepsie to Norrie Point. The Albany-area stripers are biting, but they’re smaller. Go to www.riverbasin­-sports.com to see what you’re missing.

FISHING TIP/TOOL

Here’s a tip to help with the problem of twist caused by line memory after spooling new line on spinning reels. Once you spool the line, remove the spool from the reel and hold it under hot running water for a few minutes. Slowly heating the line will adapt the line memory of the manufacturer’s spool size to the size of your reel spool. This will help with longer and smoother casts and almost eliminate line tangles and backlashes.

Here’s a tool every angler, boater or shore fisherman should have on his belt — the Quarrow Big Turtle 12 Pocket Tool.

I saw it in action in Florida and was quite impressed with its many uses (tools). It’s like having your own tool belt. This stainless steel unit’s tools include split ring pliers, wire cutters, wire crimpers, a jig eye cleaner, serrated knife, fish scaler, hook remover, knife blade, file, flat-head screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver and a coil lanyard. As one who usually drops at least one set of pliers into the water each season, I think the lanyard feature is a good one. Dimensions are 6.625 inches long by four inches wide by a half-inch deep, open. Folded, it fits into a nylon carrying case. Total weight is 8.8 ounces. The Big Turtle 12 costs $20 (www.basspro.com).

 
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