Fishing fair despite weather
Usually by this time of year, the weather has been a predictable pattern and the fishing is the same. A lot of it depends on the water temperature and levels as well as the biological clock from some species like salmon. Typically the warmer weather means tougher fishing for bass and walleye but anglers compensate by fishing deep. Warm temperatures and low water conditions usually force many trout fishermen to concentrate on late evening or night fishing.
But this year the water temperatures, at least on the larger bodies of water and rivers, are still cooler than normal. And the rapidly changing weather temperatures and frequent windy conditions have meant that there is little pattern to locating fish or predicting their behavior.
In some cases this can be good. When I recently returned from a two week trip, I checked with some local anglers about Oneida Lake fishing. The reports that I got indicated that with more moderate temperatures the fish were more active than they normally are at this time of year.
Several have said that walleye fishing has been better than it normally is in August. They have been catching walleye in the deeper area using stickbaits, bucktail jigs tipped with nightcrawlers or worm harnesses. Others have been taking walleye in the shallow water by using jigs or spinner and worm harnesses worked through the weeds.
Trout fishing on most of the areas streams has been decent but you have to fish in periods of low light and cooler conditions like early morning or just before dark to have any consistent action. Deeper pools or areas of aerated water like deep riffles at the heads of pools are best. However some areas of the southern tier or different parts of the region have suffered from a lack of water and trout fishing action is practically non-existent.
Salmon are scattered all over Lake Ontario and have not concentrated in pre-staging areas yet. But frequent strong winds will mix the layers of water of different temperatures and the salmon move frequently. This makes it very difficult to have any general pattern of depths or areas to find them in.
While talking with my friend Billy Hilts of Niagara Tourism earlier this week, he said that some nice salmon were being taken in the local derbies in Niagara and Orleans Counties. But the same variable and ever-changing weather makes it difficult to pin point a location or specific depth to find them. Early in the week people were catching salmon about 80 to 100 feet below the surface in areas over 300 to 450 depths.
Most of the salmon were being taken on Magnum spoons or Pro Troll E Chip Flashers with a green glo fly behind. Steelhead out west were being caught in the same areas but 40 to 60 feet down on spoons.
On my recent trip to Cranberry Lake in the Adirondacks, the St. Lawrence River near Ogdensburg and the Golden Crescent area of eastern Lake Ontario, I encountered a variety of fishing conditions. While we were at Cranberry Lake it was rainy and windy so my searches for smallmouth bass were usually short and rather fruitless except for some small bass.
Up on the St. Lawrence River, I fished with my good friend Mike Seymour, who guides out of the Ogdensburg and Waddington areas. Mike said that the colder water there has disrupted the pattern of smallmouth bass and they were tougher to find on a regular basis. We drifted with worm and spinner rigs for walleye in the deeper areas of 50 feet without much success. Other anglers were having similar results.
We later trolled stickbaits over shoals about 25 feet down surrounded by deeper water and had a little better luck. None of the fish were monsters but Mike pointed out that the 18 to 20 inch sized fish were the better eating ones. While we filleted the fish on a friend’s dock, Mike showed the lateral red line that he removes to improve the taste. He said that large walleye have that red area all through the meat so it gives the fish a different flavor.
In his opinion the colder spring hurt the local population of walleye because the fish had not finished spawning and moving to deep water by the time the season opened. Thus a lot of people were catching many big fish for a long time and probably impacting the population of walleye for this year.
Conditions change, individual anglers have different tactics and different lures or baits make a difference. That is what makes it interesting and challenging. But even if it isn’t as great as we would like it to be, remember that it still beats painting the front porch or sealing the blacktop driveway.
Youth Goose Hunt: The Oneida County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and the Madison County NWTF are teaming up to offer a special youth goose
hunt again this year. Following the successful youth turkey hunt in May and the goose hunt in 2013, the Federation and NWTF are following a similar plan to introduce youngsters who may not otherwise have the opportunity to goose hunting.
The dates are September 20 and 21. Saturday, September 20 will be the meeting with parents, ECOs, and hunter mentors, target practice and other preparation for the next day’s hunt. This day starts at 9 a.m. until done. The actual hunt will take place on Sunday, September 21. Youngsters will have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary for goose hunting and then actually experience it with the guidance of an ECO or hunter mentor in the field.
The program is open to youth age 12 to 17. A small game license is necessary for youngsters age 12 to 15 (they do not need a federal wildfowl stamp for this hunt) plus a HIP Number. Youth ages 16 to 17 will need all three. Interested participants should contact Scott Faulkner 315-225-0192, ECO Steve Lakeman 315-734-6648 or ECO Ric Grisolini 315-240-6966 for an application for this program. Space in the program is limited so be sure to register early.
LOC Derby: The Annual Lake Ontario Counties fishing derby will kick off its Fall Derby on August 15 and run until Labor Day. There will be over $52,000 in cash prizes, including a $25,000 prize for the top salmon. Register at www.loc.org or register in person at All Seasons Sports on Route 13 in Pulaski.
One Square Mile of Hope: Have fun, be part of a Guinness World Record and support a great cause at the same time. Join in the world’s largest “raft of canoes and kayaks” to regain the world record and raise money for breast cancer research.
One Square Mile of Hope – 2014 will take place on Saturday, September 13 at Arrowhead Park in Inlet. Boats will launch from twelve put-in places around the head of Lake by 11:30 a.m. and head for the rafting-up area (with all paddlers wearing PFD’s).
Special Opportunity to Visit Restricted Wetlands: The public will have a special opportunity to visit restricted portions of three Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties starting Saturday, Aug. 16 and continuing through Friday, Aug. 29. Opening these refuge wetland areas to the public for a limited period gives visitors a chance to connect with nature through hiking, canoeing and bird watching, with minimal impacts on wildlife.
For additional information, bird lists and maps, contact DECs Regional Wildlife Office at 315-785-2263 or visit the DEC web page at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8282.html.