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Outdoor Journal: Striper bite on Hudson starts to warm

Thursday, May 16, 2013
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If you happened to be anywhere near the Hudson River in downtown Albany, you probably noticed the fleet of fishing boats and anglers lining the shore.

They’ve been fishing all the way up and down the river for several weeks, catching smaller 20- to 30-inch fish at first, but with the water warming, the “striper bite” is nearing its peak, evidenced by some of the bigger catches lately.

Last year’s winner of the River Basin Sports annual striper contest, Bill Walsh of Rock Tavern, is again leading a record field of 775 entries with his 47.50-inch striper that tipped the scales at an even 47 pounds.

Bill was on the water early the day he caught this brute and saw the stripers in large groups, splashing on the surface — a sign the spawn has begun. He caught a number of 20- to 30-pounders, but when he set the hook on this big one, he knew this was what he was looking for.

When he landed it, those fishing around him heard him yell: “That’s a six thousand dollar fish.” He was referring to the first-place $6,393 cash that will be awarded this year in the River Basin Sports Striper Contest. The remaining four places will pay $1,976, $1,511, $1,046 and $697, respectively.

I haven’t heard for sure exactly where those big stripers are in the river right now, but I know the Alb­any area is producing nice catches. Capt. Joe DeMarco of Upstate Charters had good rod-bending results on the river with Brent Marrow and his son, Brent Jr., of Clifton Park and Danny Lessard of Saratoga Springs. The trio boated a number of stripers ranging in size from 14 to 23 pounds. All were caught on live bait.

Galway anglers Jack Douglas and his son, Jeff, also spent some time in the Albany stretch of the Hudson River, had three good fish on and landed one of them. Jeff battled a nice one that measured 37 inches. Don’t wait, go down and get ’em.

YOUTH ANGLERS

You might remember several weeks ago I wrote about 12-year-old Breck Breen’s first wild turkey hunt success mentored by Mike Galcik of Schuylerville. Well, this kid can also fish.

He and his dad, Tim, recently spent an afternoon fishing from the shore in Dunham’s Bay on Lake George. Using jig-and-pig combos, they caught a lot of bass. Their catch included five three-pounders. The biggest was a four-plus-pounder, caught by Breck. I wouldn’t be surprised to get an email that he shot his first deer this fall.

First fish catches are always good stories, and this one is about 9-year-old Ryan Mariano of Scotia, who joined his grandfather, John, of Schenectady at Collins Lake in Scotia on opening day of pike fishing. I’m sure grandpa was rowing while Ryan tossed his small Beetle Spin lure around. And in the four hours they spent on the water, Ryan caught four, 20-plus-inch pike, all on four-pound-test line.

GREAT SACANDAGA LAKE

The Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation’s Spring Fishing Contest attracted 158 anglers, and their catches proved this lake continues to produce good freshwater game fish catches.

George Drygula of Amsterdam won the pike category with a 41-inch beauty. George is a well-known pike angler who now has more than 28 pike over 40 inches long to his credit, a very impressive achievement. I don’t know where he catches these monsters, but I can tell you he likes 12- to 18-inch live bait. Second, with a 373⁄8-incher was David Ryder of Broadalbin. Third went to Jeff Smith of Schenectady with his 363⁄4-inch pike.

Roger Dillenbeck of Gloversville won the walleye category with a 233⁄4-inch ’eye, followed by Chris Graziano of Saratoga Springs with a 225⁄8-incher. Bill Dingman of Gloversville had an 181⁄4-incher. The trout winners were Josh Rumrill of Gloversville, 193⁄4 inches; Beecher Lapan of Queensbury, 157⁄8; and Steve George of Gloversville, 155⁄8 inches.

Dave’s Bait and Tackle in Mayfield reports the walleye bite is coming mostly on jigs and worm harnesses in water five to 20 feet deep. He also reported ’eyes occas­ionally can be seen chasing bait along the rocky shorelines.

As a reminder, Dave’s monthly fishing contest has started. The top three anglers in the pike, walleye, trout and perch categories will receive gift certificate prizes.

Entry fee is $10. For information, call 863-8318.

SARATOGA LAKE

I’d like to apologize to those who went to Saratoga Lake’s public launch last weekend and found the launch closed for the New York State Scholastic Regatta. I don’t always get those dates. Check with Saratoga Tackle. The shop usually has them.

The pike bite that was good during the ice fishing season is now not as good, according to those who have been tossing a bobber/minnow rig around the lake. There has been only one 30-incher rumored to be taken from the shallows in Manning’s Cove. Some mid-20-inchers are being caught, but the majority are 18- to 20-inch “hammer handles.” The places that usually hold pike are holding a bunch of pickerel, and they’ll hit just about anything offered them as long as it’s moving.

I spoke to three anglers from Troy who came to Saratoga Lake for pike, and they said that in their eight hours on the water, they caught and released at least 30 pickerel and a half-dozen pike. They found the best action by drifting a weedline, dragging a bobber and live bait behind the boat and casting spinner-type baits. They also said they caught quite a few nice largemouth bass.

Speaking of bass, the spawn is beginning, and they are the most vulnerable at this time. When you catch one, be as gentle as possible and release it quickly. Remember, no keeping bass until the third Saturday in June.

Panfishing there continues to be excellent. I met a fisherman in Sar­atoga Tackle early Sunday afternoon as he was coming in for more fathead minnows and gas for his boat. He said it was his third time buying bait that day. He didn’t say where, but he said there were enough fish out there for everyone. Later that afternoon, when I drove by Fitch Road, I saw him and his boat off shore about 200 yards, and he and his partner’s rods were bent. I think I’d start my panfishing right there.

In the little lake categories, Lake Lonely’s panfish bite is still very good, primarily in the far end around the golf course. Lake Lonely Boat Livery reports a good crappie and perch bite along the right side, just after leaving the channel going into the lake. The fish seem to be holding in eight to 10 feet of water, and both are eating the small minnows or tiny tubes on jig heads. Toss them out and let them float slowly to the bottom.

NEW TROUT WATER

On May 1, the Department of Envir­onmental Conservation announced several new fishing right easements on property formerly owned by Finch-Pruyn Paper Company.

These fishing rights provide prev­iously unavailable access on nearly 10 miles of shoreline on some of the best trout waters in the Adirondacks. These rights allow the public to walk along the stream banks for the sole purpose of fishing.

These waters include three sections totaling 3.1 miles of the Cedar River in Hamilton County. Fishing Brook, located between Long Lake and Newcomb, will open four miles of shoreline for anglers. A 1.6-mile stretch of the Branch immediately upstream of Palmer Pond along with .7 miles around the pond, both in the Essex County town of North Hudson, is also now available. English Brook in the Warren County town of Warrensburg will open up a .4-mile stretch of the brook.

There are excellent maps of these new fishing opportunities available at http://www.dec.-ny.gov/lands/71954.html.

GOODBYE BIRDS NEST

Before the late Doug Hannon, known as the Bass Professor, passed away, he introduced a revolutionary line guide that allows more accurate casts with less vibration and line friction. He called it the Micro Wave Line Control System, which is a set of eight or nine small guides called the guide train.

This system was tested very carefully by thousands of anglers along with other identical rod/reel outfits with conventional guides. Those who tested them were able to act­ually feel and see the superiority of the Micro Wave Line System.

And remember those accuracy, distance and fishing-time-robbing wind knots? They’re no longer a problem with the MicroWave System. For more information, go to www.wavespinreel.com.

 
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