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Outdoor Journal: Ticonderoga area best spot to fish for bass in the state

Thursday, September 12, 2013
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If I had to choose the best bass fishing waters in New York state, it would be Lake Champlain, and to be more specific, the Ticonderoga area.

In the last two professional bass fishing tournaments held in the Plattsburgh area of this lake, the winners traveled 140 miles round-trip to Ticonderoga to fish. And since the weekend bass tournaments began there, and there have been at least a dozen, it took a bag of four-pounders to win, and that was the case of the recent Greenbush Bass Association’s event. Check out these weights.

A total of 46 teams, representing four states, competed, and it took a five-bass team limit of at least 18 pounds to share in the $5,520 cash purse. How good was the fishing? The top five winners all weighed in 20-plus pounds of bass.

Leading the way was the Connecticut team of Dan Stevens and John Gardiner with 24.14 pounds that was worth $1,890. The runners-up, Mike Garbo and Shawn Nolan, both from Ballston Spa, weighed in 20.76 pounds and earned $900. Third place and $540 went to Saratoga Springs anglers Nicole Girald and Carl Paquette with 20.40 pounds. Albany anglers Kevin Laraway and Bryan Keith were fourth with 20.27 pounds, and received $360.

Rounding out the top eight cash positions were: Chris Delong of Vermont and Tim Hawkins of Whitehall, 20.08; Vermont anglers Matt Sbordella and Dan Isfuna, 19.98; New Hampshire anglers John Levesque and Dan Cross 18.48; and Whitehall anglers Tim Lyons and Chris Paddock, 18.13.

There were two big bass awards, each receiving $450. The Queensbury team of Al Green and Tim Blanchette weighed in a 6.64-pound largemouth, and Saratoga Springs anglers Rusty Camarota and Glen Guilbgan had a 4.38-pound smallmouth.

There were actually seven bass over five pounds weighed in in this tournament. It might be worth a ride to the Ticonderoga boat launch and toss a few wacky worms around those weed clumps.

The Washington County Bassmaster Club also recently held a tournament on Lake Champlain in South Bay and experienced sim­ilar good fishing. The winner was Luke Musto of Queensbury, who weighed in 18.72 pounds. Mike Galcik of Schuylerville was second with 16.28 pounds that included the tournament lunker, a 4.28-pound largemouth. Tony Perrota of Greenwich was third with 15.05 pounds.

The final tournament of the Sar­atoga Tackle Bass Challenge was won by Saratoga anglers PJ Peculis and Henry Marshall with 12.60 pounds, which included the big bass of the day, a 4.44-pound largemouth. First place and big bass returned a total of $560. Second place and $270 went to Troy anglers Bill Goodermote and James Sausville with 11.82 pounds, and Jim Bubb of Clifton Park and Sean Noonan of Saratoga Springs took home third-place cash of $180 with 11.26 pounds. The top 10 teams in points in this year’s Saratoga Tackle Bass Challenge will fish a championship tournament later this month.

Reports on Saratoga Lake fishing have also been encouraging on walleye, panfish and bass, but pike still aren’t biting the way they used to. The ’eyes seem to be more active toward evening along the deeper (15 feet or more) weed lines on the main lake. Anglers trolling with live bait and lures are getting some 15- to 17-inch keepers, but no reports of bigger ones.

Panfish are in the weeds in Manning’s Cove and five to eight feet down in weeds off of Fitch Road.

Pickerel are still very active on smaller swim baits, spinners and small, shallow-running, Rapalas over the sunken weeds.

As for bass, the answer is still anywhere up to 15 inches, but the bigger ones aren’t as active. If you do catch a good one, I suggest staying there a while, and by all means, use the same bait/lure.

ABA not coming back

Last month, the American Bass Anglers returned to the Great Sacandaga Lake for their annual angler/co-angler tournament, but they weren’t pleased with how they were treated, according to tourn­ament manager Joe Angelone.

He said there was a lack of cooperation from the Department of Environmental Conservation in regard to being nickeled and dimed out of fees entering the park for registration meetings and the tournament.

That resulted in next year’s scheduled visit to Great Sacandaga Lake being canceled. They’ll be going to Cape Vincent on the St. Lawrence River, where they’ll let ABA have a facility free to use for the registration and also will charge no launch fees. It’s estimated the anglers in these tournaments bring up to $200,000 revenue to the local economy.

I spoke with Dave Allen of Dave’s Bait Shop in Mayfield about the situation, and he, like other area bus­iness owners, wasn’t happy about losing the income generated by the ABA tournament.

As for the fishing on the Great Sacandaga Lake, Dave’s Bait and Tackle’s monthly fishing contest results indicate things are getting better, especially with the smallmouth fishing.

Only one pike was brought in to measure, a 36-incher caught by Art Georglas of Scotia. He also won the walleye category with a 171⁄2-incher. Keith Simmons of Gloversville had the best yellow perch, a 13-incher, and Dan Looman of Edinburg won the white perch category with a 131⁄2-incher. As for the smallmouth, it took a 20-incher to win — caught by Luke Olsen of Northville.

Allen said he’d been out walleye fishing recently and did very well catching 16 ’eyes in 25 to 30 feet of water. He was tight-lipped about the spinner harness he was using, but said he’d share the information with anyone who visited his shop.

Lake George lake trout are biting, according to Joe Greco of Justy Joe Charters (www.newyorkfishing.com). He recently took the Breen family of Wilton, Tim, Brenda and his son, Breck — who just happens to be my 13-year-old turkey hunt buddy — out for the day, and they bent a lot of rods.

While trolling, they caught well over a dozen ranging in weight from five to 10 pounds.

Tim told me it was “absolutely a great day on the water.”

They fished varied depths with several different spoon-type lures. He also said that pulling a 10-pound laker from several hundred feet down is quite a challenging and fun experience.

First fish

Bass fishing on the upper Hudson River near Stillwater continues to be very good. I was fishing with John Ginnis of Clifton Park and his 11-year-old daughter, Olivia, and 7-year-old son, Spencer, hoping to get the kids hooked up with their first freshwater bass.

It didn’t take long. After a few misses and “almosts,” Olivia set the hook on something that bent her new rod almost in half. It’s always fun to assist and watch a youngster’s excitement with their first big bass. She fought it like a pro and brought it to the net, a beautiful smallmouth weighing very close to three pounds. It came on a pumpkin, wacky-rigged Stik-O-Worm from a sunken rock pile in about 12 feet of water.

Spencer was next. He yelled, “Got one!” as the big bass did a little tail-walking on the water. When we finally got it in the boat, it weighed over three pounds. That fish was also lured in to a Stik-O-Worm.

For the next hour or so, they caught smaller bass and watched a three-foot pike follow the worm to the boat, but not bite it. Then, Olivia hooked up and landed her first chain pickerel, which measured 25 inches. Before we finished, she added a nice largemouth to her day’s catch.

Big bass of the week

John Mariano of Schenectady and his wife, Karen, were spending his birthday on Ballston Lake recently when he received quite a gift, but it was one he did not keep.

Those who’ve fished Ballston Lake know it’s home to big bass, and that day was no exception. Because of the stained water, John decided to try a funky-colored, laminated Senko, which I assume he fished wacky-style, when his big bass grabbed it. The largemouth weighed seven pounds, one ounce.

That’s truly a trophy bass, but after the photo shoot, John returned it to the water. His total catch of bass that day during their four hours (noon to 4 p.m.) was six bass in the two-plus-pound range. Happy birthday, John.

Public fishing halted

Public fishing access at the New York Power Authority’s Crescent Plant, a small hydroelectric facility on the Mohawk River, straddling the border of Albany and Saratoga counties, closed last Monday. Workers are rebuilding eroded areas of the river shoreline.

Fishing access in the immediate vicinity of the plant will be closed through October for safety reasons while work is under way.

 
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