Trout angling isn’t the only game in town

When you talk about angling in April, most people think of trout, but there are several other lit

PHOTOGRAPHER:

When you talk about angling in April, most people think of trout, but there are several other little species that come alive at this time of the year — the panfish.

This is a broad category that includes perch, bluegills, crappies, pumpkinseeds, etc., and not only do they offer excellent angling

action, but when filleted and prepared in any number of ways, they can provide some excellent eating.

Right now, these species are beginning to stage for the start of their spring spawning period as the

waters start to warm. Find the warmer shallow waters, and you should be able to find the fish. And when you catch one, don’t run off, because more than likely, the

remainder of the school is nearby.

Panfish can usually be found in just about any lake, river or pond, but here in our area, there are several lakes that offer some excellent spring fishing. Ballston Lake, Lake Lonely and Rensselaer Lake are three of the finest. Let’s take a look at these lakes, in terms of where the fish should be.

BALLSTON LAKE

Don’t let its 274 acres fool you. This little lake produces all types of quality fish throughout the season, but right now, its bluegill and crappie populations are the best biters.

Because the deeper waters in

the southern end of this lake take longer to warm, the north end is really the best for panfishing. Here is where you will find the weedy shallows which warm up the fastest, and therefore attract the spawning fish.

One of the better areas — and where I would suggest you start — is at the very north end, in the

vicinity of the public pier. Start with your boat in five to six feet of water, and work it out and in. Fish this whole end of the lake thoroughly before moving out. They are there; you just have to find them.

For crappies, they may be out a little deeper, eight to 12 feet, just off the weed edges. This is a good place to use your depth/fish finder to locate the suspending schools.

From there, start to work the eastern side, fishing tight to shore. Position your boat in five feet of water, and work both in toward the shore and out toward the middle of the lake. Don’t move too quickly because you want to cover as much water as you can until you find them. Work your way all the way down past the Good Times Rest­aurant boat launch to the widest part of the lake, and find the small creek mouth. This creek area may not hold too many fish right now, but they are staging nearby, so work the area over before leaving. And come May, fish it again because the crappies will be there, both in numbers and in size.

If you have the time, work your way back up the other side, fishing the same pattern.

LAKE LONELY

This is another little lake that has always been a nice place to get away from the crowd and still be able hook up with a lot of panfish.

In February, they were catching some big crappies here through the ice ranging from 10 to 15 inches, and there are still plenty of them there. You can plan your day around this lake very easily.

Begin fishing the left side of the lake right at the two channel markers at the end of the creek leading to the lake. The first visible point on this side can be very good early in the spring because beneath it is a small rock pile that attracts both crappies and bluegills.

Continue down that shoreline, keeping your boat right on the weed edge. Fish both inside

toward the shore and out toward the main lake. There is a secondary underwater weed line here that can attract crappies for their spawn. Throughout most of April, depending upon how quickly the water warms up, the general rule is that the bluegills will be in, and the crappies out deeper.

In the north end, in the area known as Mud Bay, fish in eight to 10 feet of water out from the creek mouth for crappies. In May, as the water warms and they begin to spawn, they will move shallower.

Heading back down the other side of the lake, the water is deeper, and you should concentrate on the weeded areas for the bluegills.

When the ’gills are in, this is where most of the action is going to be. Fish the pockets in the new weed growth, and keep moving until you find them. There are also crappies on this side of the lake, but they are deeper during the early season, and the run-and-gun method is also the best way to find them.

RENSSELAER LAKE

For those of you who do not have a boat, this 35.3-acre lake, also known as Six-Mile Waterworks, has the very best shoreline access and fishing in the area.

Located on Fuller Road in Alb­any, Six-Mile Waterworks has a variety of fish and an exceptional amount of panfish. There is a large public parking lot and picnic area right off of Fuller Road. This is the place to take the kids, and there is no fee for fishing, parking or use of the picnic area.

You can walk and fish your way along the whole shoreline on the Fuller Road side of the lake. The beauty of this lake is that the panfish seem to be everywhere you go. Because this lake is shallow, with a mean depth of just 11 feet, spawning usually begins earlier, so when you find one, there is usually a school of them.

The primary catches will be the pumpkinseeds and bluegills. but quite often. they will be big ones. The crappie bite will vary. Longer casts out into the deeper water can often add a crappie surprise or two.

Categories: Sports

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