Outdoor Journal: Bass are biting, but release only
I don’t have to tell anyone who has been on any of the local lakes or rivers fishing that bass are biting on everything.
What I do want to remind everyone of is that until the third Saturday in June, the 15th, it’s catch and immediate release, and artificial lures only. This is a delicate time for bass because they’re spawning and protective of their beds. Consequently, catching them is quite easy.
Take photos and get them back in the water as soon as possible. If you get a good one, take the photo and measurements and have it reproduced by a taxidermist for a wall of fame.
When there is talk about an early largemouth bass bite, Saratoga Lake has to be one of the most discussed bodies of water. There were not too many parking spots left in the state launch site near the Route 9P Bridge Saturday, and most of those out on the water were in bass boats.
Mike Galcik of Schuylerville spent a few hours out there and caught and released quite a few largemouths. His biggest were five pounds, 13 ounces; four pounds, nine ounces; and two more four-plus-pounders. He found them in all types of structure in the lake and the creek.
If you like top water, now is a good time to toss that old plastic frog over the grass and pads in Fish Creek. You’ll probably only hook up with one in three of those that bite, but they’re still fun. When you miss one, toss a plastic worm back in the same spot. There’s a good chance that the fish is still in the vicinity.
The pike bite has slowed down here, but Mike Reese Jr. of Middle Grove recently pulled one in fishing off the state launch site that definitely proves there are still good ones swimming around here.
Landing the fish required some fine angling skills and the help of an incoming boating angler with a net. Mike was casting a Shad Rap lure using a broken, taped Ugly Stick with 10-pound-test line when the pike hit. It was at least 20 minutes later when he brought the pike to the helper’s net.
On the Saratoga Tackle’s scale, his 36-inch northern pike weighed in at 8.8 pounds. He also said he caught and released over a half-dozen bass. The pike however, is now at the taxidermist.
Another lucky angler who pulled a nice northern pike out of Saratoga Lake was Saratoga Springs angler Joe Armstrong. He had a 20-plus-fish day that included bass up to five pounds, pickerels and a 30-inch pike. All were taken on a 23⁄4-inch crankbait on eight-pound-test line.
Smallies are alive on the Mohawk and upper Hudson in the Stillwater stretch around the Admiral Marine launch. Start on the rock point across from the launch and work up the eastern shoreline. There are 14 miles of bass holding water there, and you are apt to catch bass anywhere. Don’t be surprised if one of those bites has teeth. I’ve caught quite a few 30-plus-inch pike in my 20-plus years of fishing these areas.
Schroon Lake pike and smallmouths have come alive, primarily in the extreme north and south ends of the lake. Both species are coming from in and around the green growth, but I think there are also plenty along the channel drops on both sides of the lake. Trolling a big crankbait down 10 to 15 feet should get some results, as will drifting the same spots with big live bait.
The Schroon River produced some very nice rainbows for Wilton anglers John Watson and his 16-year-old daughter, Sarah, and their friend, Mike Ryan of Albany. The guys each caught several in the two-pound class, but Sarah outfished both of them with several twos and even a three-pounder.
Dave’s Bait and Tackle in Mayfield reports a slow walleye bite, probably due to the cold and rain we’ve been experiencing. There are some ’eyes being caught, but they’re scattered all over the lake, and where they’re being found isn’t consistent.
They’re catching a few around the shorelines in five- to 15-foot depths and also down 34 to 46 feet. The catches are coming on lures, jigs and live bait. The pike are also few and far between, but if you’re going to fish for them, the best chance is with big live bait.
The trout catches here are all on casting lures such as the CP Swing and Mepps Nos. 1-6. Areas to try are around North Hampton Camp site and in the river.
SMALL LAKE REPORT
Now that the water is back to a normal level, Lake Lonely fish are a bit easier to get to. I talked with an angler who had rented a boat from the Lake Lonely Boat Livery and who said he had a good pike on that pulled him around for 10 minutes or so, but was not able to net him because he “didn’t have a net.” The pike hit on a big shiner fished about five feet below a bobber.
This little lake always has big pike surprises throughout the summer. The bass are also biting there, primarily at the far end of the lake, near the golf course.
I heard rumors of several six- to seven-pound largemouths caught on Ballston Lake, but I haven’t seen photos or been given any names. The same type of rumor has surfaced regarding Round Lake, but no proof.
The other bass that’s still biting is the stripers in the Hudson River. The Port of Albany and on up to the Troy Dam is still getting a lot of fishing pressure while the spawn is on. Actually, they’re still catching stripers all the way south to Poughkeepsie.
Hundreds of anglers have entered the River Basin Sports Shop striper tournament, which ends at noon Saturday. The fish to beat right now for the first-place cash of $6,393 is still the 471⁄2-incher caught by Bill Walsh. Low to cash is a pair of 443⁄4-inch stripers that will share $697.
Sizes now are 22 to 36 inches, and the bigger ones still appear to prefer bottom-bounced chunk herring. Trolling at mid-depths with deep diver plugs has taken some three-footers, while shallower waters fished with shallow running lures like the Bomber 17A and Rapala F18 are attracting some of the smaller fish, up to 30 inches.
The 33rd annual free Youth Fishing Contest held at Albany’s Six Mile Waterworks on Fuller Road attracted 110 kids. The winners were determined by total inches of all the fish they caught.
The winners in the 6 and younger group were: Ben Fugitt of Clarksville, 90 inches; Haylee Thiele of Ravena, 74 inches; Maxwell Arcolano of Watertown, 28 inches; and lunker, Anthony Hill of Clarksville, 13 inches.
In the 7-9 age group, the winners were: Alvia Fugitt of Clarksville, 75 inches; Karlita Karczewski of Troy, 64 inches; Pietra Giglioggi of Troy, 55 inches; and lunker, Kate Cooper, Duanesburg, 101⁄4 inches.
The 10-12-year-old winners were: Brook Discipio of Latham, 142 inches; Liam Blesi of Glenville, 124 inches; Max Jackson of Loudonville; 113 inches; and lunker, Joshua Fugitt of Clarksville, 141⁄2 inches.
Ryan’s Farmers Market will host its 15th annual Free Kids Fishing Tournament at the Six Mile Water Works from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday.
This contest is for children 16 and younger. Contestants must bring their own equipment and bait. Prizes will be awarded to the top five in each of three age-group categories. The winners will be determined by the total inches of their biggest three fish caught. Only one fish can be presented to be measured at a time.
Pre-register at Ryan’s Market on Railroad Avenue in Albany or at the site on contest morning.
There will be a number of prizes raffled off during the contest, and all money collected will go to Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York. Help make a child’s wish come true. For further details, call 459-5775.
FATHER’S DAY IDEA
If dad needs a new spinning reel, and most of us do, Wave Spin Reel is having a closeout on its DH4000 and DH5000 spinning reels. Regularly priced at $84 and $92, they are on sale now for $30.
The 4000 weighs 12 ounces, and will hold 170 yards of 12-pound-test line, The 5000 weighs 12.5 ounces
and holds up to 160 yards of 14-pound-test line. Both reels have a 4.9:1 gear ratio, and will give you longer and tangle-free casts. Both these reels are good for bass, pike, etc. Check them out at www.wavespinreel.com.
If you’ve had a good day on the water, especially if you had a young angler with you, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include: full name, city where you live, where you were fishing, bait and/or lures used, number of fish caught and sizes of the bigger ones and any techniques you want to share. You can send photos, but I cannot promise they’ll be published with your tale.