Outdoor Journal: Bass were biting for SRA invitational
For the 40 years I’ve been fishing Saratoga Lake, I’ve watched and participated in the many bass tournaments held there.
And believe me, I’m sure they’ve totaled over 500 during that time. For its size — 4,028 acres — I don’t think there’s any lake in the Northeast that’s hosted more tournaments, and in spite of all that pressure, the bass fishing is still excellent.
I know over the last several years, the big three-, four- and five-pounder catches have been fewer, but in terms of quantity, it’s still very good, which is why the state parking lot and launch are filled with fishing boats every weekend. Pick any weekend starting in about mid-May and continuing through October, and count the number of bass boat trailers in the launch parking lot.
And speaking of bass tournaments, there’s another group that utilizes Saratoga Lake for its competition — the Saratoga Rowing Association. I say “share” because the SRA has the right to use the lake and the state launch for its spring and fall regattas. As a bass tournament participant, I know how many times we’ve filled the parking look with our trailers in that launch area when fishing a tournament. Those anglers who grumble have to realize the rowers also have equal rights to the water. And if you haven’t watched a regatta, you should. There are two coming up on Saratoga’s Fish Creek. They are the Tail of the Fish on Sept. 28, and Head of the Fish on Oct. 26. You’ll find them quite impressive and entertaining.
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with bass fishing tournaments. For the past several years, the SRA has hosted a no-entry-fee bass tournament invitational in mid-September. Chris Chase,
regatta director and varsity boys’ rowing coach at Saratoga Springs High School who represents the SRA, donated $3,000 to host the event. He chose Tim Blodgett of Saratoga Tackle and Nick Kearney to organize the event, which was held last Sunday.
Of the 34 boats that competed, 32 had five-bass team limits. Leading the way with 12.42 pounds was the Saratoga Springs team of Scena Meader and Dave Munger. They shared the $500 first prize. Second, receiving $400, were Mike and Kris LaPointe of Wilton, with 11.50 pounds. Dan Dyer of Saratoga Springs and Jeff Russell of Ballston Spa were third ($300) with 10.74 pounds, while the Stillwater team of Chris Graziano and Jason Micklas was fourth ($300) with 10.20 pounds.
Rounding out the top-eight cash winners were: Saratoga Springs anglers Arron Richardson and Ed Noonan, 9.76 pounds; Richard George of Greenbush, who fished alone, 9.70; Nicole Girard and Carl Paquette of Saratoga Springs, 9.68; and Brunswick anglers Bill Goodermote and James Sausville, 9.64 pounds. Fifth through eighth places returned $200, $175, $150, $125 and $100, respectively. Big bass honors and $200 went to the Schuylerville team of Art Thivierge and Jim Alheim for their 4.58-pound largemouth. After the awards, there was a pig roast with all the trimmings for the anglers. As one of the anglers that competed in this event, I’d like thank Chase and the SRA.
If you plan to go to Saratoga Lake, here’s a brief synopsis of Arron’s and my seven hours on Saratoga Lake. At 7 a.m., we made the run to the south end of the lake and started fishing out several hundred yards from the western shore, targeting weed clumps in 4-10 feet of water. Arron started with a spinner bait; I used a jig-and-pig which seemed to be what they wanted there. Within the first hour, we had caught a number of shorts and by 8:15, we had our five-bass limit (four largemouth, one smallie).
Moving to the east side of the lake, south of Snake Hill, we caught quite a few 14-inch fish, which we already had enough of. Then Arron boated a 151⁄2-inch bass and we culled the smallest. For the rest of our fishing time, we stayed on the east side of the lake, jumping to different spots with similar structure. The water depths at which they were biting remained 4-12 feet for the rest of our fishing day, and both drop shots and weightless wacky worms produced at least another 15 or more bass caught and released.
The bass are definitely biting on Saratoga and if you catch a big one, I suggest strongly you spend some time in that area. We found when we caught one from a clump of weeds, there was usually one or more there.
Once again, Lake Champlain takes the spotlight for big bass catches in tournaments, and again it took a 20-plus-pound, five-bass team limit to win the Greenbush Open, recently fished out of Ticonderoga. The winners, Dan Stevens and John Gardiner of Cromwell, Connecticut, weighed in 22.55 pounds of largemouth which they anchored with the 5.98-pound tournament lunker. Their reward was $700 for the win and $300 for the lunker. That’s about $125 an hour for fishing. Second-place anglers Chris DeLong of Castleton, Vt., and Tim Hawkins of Whitehall were close with 21.49 pounds, and received $400. Rounding out the top-five cash places were: Saratoga Springs anglers Nichole Girard and Carl Pacquette, 19.82; Rich Bishop of Hannacroix and John Hock of Schenectady, 18.02; and Cambridge anglers Ted Speizo and Nick Bromisi, 17.73 pounds. Third through fifth received $240, $140 and $120, respectively. Thirty teams competed.
The 15 teams of the Mohawk Valley Anglers Club found the St. Johnsville section of the Mohawk River smallmouth bite very good, and all weighed in five-bass team limits. The winners — Bill Kested of Westerlo and Bob Misuraca of Ravena — weighed in 14.77 pounds and received $220. Second were Ken Fredericks and Leon Vanwormer of Rotterdam with 14.68 pounds. They received $140. Rotterdam anglers Vince Monini and Reed Poultan were third ($70) with 14.38. Big bass honors went to John D. Irons Sr. and John D. Irons Jr. of Rotterdam, who had a 3.48-bass.
In bass club tournament news, 16 members of the Capital District Bassmasters competed on the Mohawk River at St. Johnsville and the smallies’ bite again was good. In the boater’s division, Ballston Lake angler Mike Slowikowski won the tournament with five bass totaling 14.95 pounds, and in his catch was the day’s biggest bass — a 4.32-pound smallie. Dave Beemer of Averill Park was second with 13.03, and Dave Goyette of Scotia was third with 11.41. The winner in the non-boater category (those who fish from the back of the boat and compete only against other non-boaters), was Paul Ripchik Jr. of Saratoga Springs with 6.69 pounds.
PRO BASS TOUR
Speaking about smallies, those that were recently caught in the Bassmasters Bass Pro Shops Northern Open were, “huge,” especially for New Jersey pro Mike (Ike) Iaconelli. For Iaconelli, a 14-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, Classic winner in 2003 and Bassmaster Angler of the Year in 2006, this was his last chance to make the 2014 Classic. He had to win because the winner of this tournament received an automatic Classic berth.
On Day 1 of the three-day event, he led the field of 123 pros with a bag of five smallies totaling 23 pounds, 15 ounces. However, there were 10 other pros who had weighed in 20-plus pounds.
Iaconelli got a break from Mother Nature when the Day 2 fishing competition had to be cancelled due to high winds.
But on Day 3, Iaconelli came out blazing again, weighing in the heaviest bag of bass, 24 pounds, nine ounces, winning the event with a total two-day catch of 48 pounds, eight ounces. As winner, he received a Triton 19XS bass boat with 200 hp Mercury outboard and $5,000 in cash. But his biggest reward was his “ticket” to the Classic in Alabama in February. If you want to see some giant smallmouth, go to Iaconelli’s Facebook page.
Using a drop shot for bass is nothing new, but there is something that will definitely add to its attraction — the Secret Weapon’s Recoil Rig — and it definitely brings the wacky worm and all the other soft plastic baits used for drop shotting alive.
The rig uses a Spectra-wrapped latex band that stretches to about twice its normal length of five inches. Beneath the hook about four inches, attach a swivel and then the Recoil Rig with your weight. When twitched slightly with your rod tip, it allows for stationary vibration of the bait and can make the bait swim in place. You can also flip it under docks, fallen trees, holes in the weeds, etc. Once it is on the bottom, just start twitching.
Go to www.secretweaponlures.-com and watch the demonstration videos.
Retail prices of the Secret Weapon packages begin at $10.