With warmer weather, the bite is back
It seems like the hot, humid weather has all the freshwater fish biting, especially in some of the waters in the North Country.
One of the big angling surprises for this year, although those of you who fished Saratoga Lake in May and early June probably already know, is that the bass bite is back.
They’re not all big three-pounders, but the sizes are legal, which makes it a lot more fun. And from my experience, wherever you find green weeds, you’ll find bass.
However, a new young lady bass angler, Susan Christman of Clifton Park, after just one lesson on how to flip a Senko from Tom Kail of Burnt Hills, landed a real trophy just three days later.
Last Thursday evening, Susan and Tom, on her second trip, began catching average Saratoga bass, and it wasn’t long after her first flip that Tom heard Susan yell in the back of the boat, and he knew by the bend in the rod that she had hooked a good one.
Despite undersized gear, she pulled a big largemouth out of heavy weeds and brought the 5.51-pounder aboard. Tom said Susan is now addicted to bass fishing. I’ll bet she reminded him the 4.3-pound bass he caught the afternoon before in a Saratoga Lake weekly tournament was smaller than hers.
And speaking of Tuesday night competition, the Saratoga Tackle Bass Challenge attracted 20 teams, all of which boated five-bass limits. The winning weight was 13.26 pounds, caught by the Saratoga team of Carl Paquette and Nicole Girard, who received $450 plus an additional $160 for their 4.60-pound lunker. Second place was another Saratoga Springs team, Dan and Dave Dyer, with 12 pounds. Paul Norton of Troy and Tom Kail of Burnt Hills were third (11.30 pounds). Second and third places returned $270 and $160, respectively.
Nearby Lake Lonely bass are biting, and a young angler fishing off the shore near the Lake Lonely Boat Livery pulled in a 6.6-pound largemouth using live bait. That’s a big fish for the creek leading out to the lake.
They’ve been catching decent bass on the main lake in the deeper weeds, but the pike bite is not as good. Pike in the 25-inch category have been hitting shiners, but not consistently.
At Round Lake, a young angler, Tom Barnes of Burnt Hills, recently had a good day on the water. He landed a 21-inch largemouth that tipped the scales at four pounds, nine ounces on a black plastic worm. That same day he also caught several other smaller bass and perch while drifting around the lake.
Dave’s Bait & Tackle’s monthly big fish winners for June showed that the Great Sacandaga Lake fish are also continuing to bite. This lake’s pike reputation was definitely upheld when George Albert of Rotterdam caught the winning 411⁄2-inch pike. George also had the second-place catch of 27 3⁄4 inches, and Chris Barth of Edinburg, was third with a 23 3⁄4-incher.
John Zeis of Wells took first place in the walleye category with a trophy 273⁄4 -incher, and he also tied with Bill Harrington of Northville for second with a 23-incher. Zeis was also third with a 22-inch ’eye.
The yellow perch winners were Dave Harper of Rotterdam, 131⁄4 inches; Ron Smith of Catskill, 13 inches; and George Albert, 12 7⁄8 inches.
Barth was first in the white perch category with 13 1⁄2 inches, and he and Ted Kroup of Gloversville won both second and third places with 13- and 12 7⁄8-inch catches.
In the bass category, the winners were: Keith Smith, 165⁄8 inches; Jen Whitting, 16 1⁄2 inches; and Keith Simonds, 16 3⁄8 inches.
In the trout category, Dave Harper of Rotterdam had a 20-incher and Doug Blowers of Northville a 17. George Albert and Luke Olsen of Northville tied for third with 16-inch catches.
The 25 teams that fished the Schen-ectady Elite Anglers tournament on the Great Sacandaga Lake also found the bass population active, weighing in a total of 135 bass, including 20 six-bass team limits.
The winners: Tim Paraso and Matt Lieberman of Indian Lake had 12.75 pounds, while the Schen-ectady team of Bob and Brian Bez had 11.22. Rounding out the top five teams, were: Schenectady anglers Brenden Murphy and Gerry Rosenbarker, 10.53; Jason Lane and Floyd Squires, 10.45; and Saratoga Springs anglers John Jenkins and Dave Munger, 10.23.
The walleye bite continues to be primarily in the northern end of the Great Sacandaga Lake. Spinners and worm rigs trolled slowly around the islands and shoals in 15 to 20 feet of water are producing five tasty filet ’eye limits. It’s a good idea to keep a hair jig nearby, and when you boat a walleye, mark the spot, then do a little jigging.
As for smallmouths, tournament anglers are fishing early with Pop Rs and jerk baits (both soft and hard) in the shallow rocky areas including points. When the top-water action slows, switch to wacky worms and spider jigs fished deeper, and don’t overlook those stone walls that continue out into the water.
Fishing guide Dan Stadler of Schenectady is having quite a good year on the Mohawk River, both in the Crescent and Alplaus stretches. He estimates he’s caught around 100 walleye this season.
He’s been using a lot of Berkley Gulp emerald shiners and jigging with chartreuse twister tails. He sometimes adds the Gulp trailer to the back of his jigs. On occasion, when things slow down, he trolls the channel edges with various stick baits. These same Gulp baits are also catching a number of smallmouth bass.
Mark Storti of Schenectady and his 9-year-old son, Sam, had quite a multi-species rod-bending day with Stadler recently on the Mohawk using these lure choices. They caught a number of walleyes, the largest being 19 inches, some real nice smallmouths, big rock bass and lost a big northern pike. Dan’s biggest pike this year measured 34 inches. Unfortunately, Dan can’t remember exactly where he has been catching these fish.
Lake Champlain is a bit of a ride, but from the results I’ve received from the bass tournament guys, it’s worth it. The Northeast Bass tournament trail took advantage of the early opening of the black bass season there, and the 66 teams that traveled to South Bay weighed in some very impressive five-bass team limits. They weighed in a total of 329 bass (1,000.75 pounds), of which 324 were released alive. There were 65 five-bass limits with an average weight of 3.04 per bass. Three teams weighed in over 20-pound limits, and there were five bass more than five pounds brought to the scales, the biggest being a 5.50-pound largemouth.
Last week’s FLW Tour Major on upper Lake Champlain out of Plattsburgh launched a 150-boat field of professional anglers with an equal amount of co-anglers (amateurs), and their numbers were awesome. The winner, David Dudley of Virginia, weighed in a four-day, 20-bass total of 78-pounds, eight ounces — just shy of four pounds per bass.
His winning six-figure check was $125,000. But that wasn’t all. This Lake Champlain win gave him the FLW Angler of the Year title, and he received an additional $100,000. Several local anglers who fished the co-angler division received a check. Mechanicville angler Glenn Bab-ineau finished fifth and received $2,464, and James Schineider of Rexford was eighth and received $1,456.
Lake Champlain has always been a bass factory, all the way from South Bay to Canada. There’s really no one lure I’d recommend fishing in this magnificent lake. A survey of those cast-for-cash anglers revealed a list of six lures. For the water chestnut bass, which are usually good-sized, and other surface weeds, use top-water soft rubber frogs and rats. They’ll bring them busting to the surface. In the plastics category, use the wacky- and Texas-rigged worms in the more open and weedline waters, and the final choices are the old jig/pig combo and the new chatter baits.
This week’s final fish tale took place in Casco Bay, Maine, where my good friend, retired Navy Senior Enlisted Advisor Trident Prototype Jack Cornell and his son, David, both of Saratoga Springs, found a way to sneak up on some healthy striped bass.
Using a canoe, the two quietly paddled up within casting distance of the feeding bass. It worked very well, and Jack’s biggest catch of the day was a beautiful 10 pounder. Having fished with Jack before, I knew he was quite familiar with fishing the ocean from small boats.
Years ago, he talked me into taking his little 14-foot motor boat miles out into the Chesapeake Bay late one afternoon to fish for sea trout. The fishing was great, but the sudden storm, high seas and the roller coaster ride back in the dark made for a wet and interesting return to dry land. But we ate fish that evening.