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An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bass fishing tips for central New York

It is no secret that bass is the most popular fish species in New York State. This Saturday is the third big opener of the fishing season with the opening of bass season. From the St. Lawrence River to the Hudson River anglers will be out in force after either smallmouth or largemouth bass.
It is not quite such a big deal as it used to be before regulation allowing the catch and release before the season, but it is still a day that anglers look forward to. Jefferson, St. Lawrence and some Adirondack counties do not allow pre-season catch and release so the opening is still a major event for many anglers on eastern Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and much of the Adirondacks.
Locally, Oneida Lake is one of the top spots for smallmouth bass and with the changing ecology and weed growth the largemouth population has become a major attraction for anglers. I was talking to Ted Dobs about the opening of bass season on Oneida Lake and he was eagerly looking forward to it. Dobs recommends drifting with minnows until the algae gets thick in mid-July.
Don’t buy crayfish since they won’t be a significant part of the bass menu until late July or August. Bass are feeding on minnows now.
Later on your best bet might be using a drop shot rig. He recommends six pound fluorocarbon line, size 1 drop shot hook in black nickel finish, and one-quarter ounce weight depending on wind, etc. Use any fluorocarbon knot and run the tag end back through the hook. Dobs recommends using three-inch Berkley Gulp minnows in smelt, emerald shiner or black shad patterns.
Those who prefer smaller waters have no shortage in central New York. Some of the popular spots include DeRuyter Reservoir, Cazenovia Lake, Eatonbrook Reservoir, Redfield Reservoir, Lake Delta, Canadarago Lake or Whitney Point Reservoir. Those who prefer stream or river fishing should consider lower Chenango River, Mohawk River, lower Fish Creek, Oswego River, Black River or the estuary of the Salmon River.
One of the most popular spots for bass fishermen will be the St. Lawrence River. Even though the shallow weedy bays provide good fishing for largemouths, it is the smallmouth bass that will attract the most attention. Anglers come from all over the state and even other states for the great fishing that the St. Lawrence has to offer.
I was talking to Captain Al Benas of Thousand Islands Charters earlier this week and he said that the bass in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence have spawned and moved off the beds. Anglers fishing for pike have found smallmouth bass as deep as 20 feet. Since post spawn smallmouths often are not actively moving about, Benas likes to drift with live minnows parallel to rocky shorelines and thus cover a lot of territory.
Further downriver, near Ogdensburg Mike Seymour guides for bass, pike and muskie. Last summer when I fished with him we caught lots of smallmouth 2–4 pounds using live bait. Seymour explained that it was important to use enough weight to get the minnow down near the bottom and take the slack out of your line so you could feel the bass hit in the strong current.
The St. Lawrence offers great fishing but it can be confusing or intimidating finding good spots in all that water. For information on guiding services contact Benas at 686-3030, Myrle Bauer at 686-2122 or Seymour at 379-0235.
In the Adirondacks, the water is colder and in some waters the bass may have not yet spawned. You probably will do well to search for them in areas adjacent to the shallow spawning areas. Work your way into deeper water using plastic lizards, jigs, crankbaits and Mepps spinners. 
Some of the top Adirondack bass waters include the Fulton Chain with largemouths in First and Second Lakes and smallmouths in Third, Fourth, Seventh, and Eighth Lake. Indian Lake, Long Lake, Tupper and Saranac Chain all provide excellent smallmouth fishing. Largemouths are found in Lows Lake, Durant, Abanakee, and Oseetah. Blue Mountain Lake and its connecting lakes of Eagle and Utowanah have both smallmouth and largemouth.
In the northern lakes, my advice is to start in the northwest corner since that is where bass usually spawn. Work the shallow areas and gradually fish deeper until you find fish. You might start looking for aggressive fish with spinners or small crankbaits but if the action is slow try a slower approach with jigs and curly tails or plastic worms.
Bass throughout the central New York have spawned a while ago due to the warmer water temperatures. If you are fishing big waters you might want to drift and cover more territory while casting or using live minnows. In small ponds, look for areas where two types of cover converge (e.g. weeds and tree tops). If the grass or weed growth is significant try Senko worms rigged wacky style.
In waters where there are both largemouth and smallmouth they will usually be found in different cover and habitat, especially as the season progresses. They are different and call for different tactics particularly later in the season but the one thing they have in common is they are great fun to catch.
FRIENDS OF NRA BANQUET: Don’t forget the Friends of NRA Banquet tonight at the Rusty Rail. There will be raffles, silent auctions and auctions for all types of sporting equipment in addition to a great meal. Friends of NRA is the organization that funds local projects such as equipment or range improvement for local rod and gun clubs, youth activities, teaching sporting clays for women and more. Enjoy an evening with fellow sportsmen and support a good cause.
X-BOW BILL IN TROUBLE: The latest word from several people who have been in contact with legislators is that the crossbow bill many sportsmen have been hoping for is in trouble. Assemblyman Sweeney, chair of the Conservation Committee has sponsored a different bill (A10583) that would basically extend the present useless bill with even more restrictions. His office is essentially following the line of New York Bowhunters, Inc.
Bill A9682 would mirror the Senate version which would allow use of crossbows in archery season but it may not be acted on. There are other assemblymen on the committee so if you want to see it passed, you need to contact as many of them as possible immediately.
VNSP EVENTS: Vernon National Shooting Preserve continues its full slate of activities such as its Tuesday and Thursday shoots and dinners. In addition, they have lots of special events including Sunday’s Strawberry Blast NSCA Shoot. July 8 is a benefit for the Hunt of a Lifetime program, and July 13 and 14 is the Shotguns & Sheilas Event. Contact Bonny  for details at 982-7045 or
FREE FISHING DAYS: June 23–24 is designated “Free Fishing Weekend” where anyone can fish NYS waters without a license. It is designed to give people the opportunity to sample the fantastic fishing the state has available. Since no license is required it is the perfect time to introduce a friend to fishing or parents to go out with their kids and enjoy a family outing that hopefully will continue as a lifelong sport.


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