Outdoor Journal: Sacandaga, Saratoga offer great bass fishing

f you are a bass angler, I bet I know where you will be Saturday when the sun comes up — on the wate

If you are a bass angler, I bet I know where you will be Saturday when the sun comes up — on the water for the opening day of the regular black bass fishing season in New York state.

We are fortunate, especially with gas prices already over $4 per gallon, to live within an hour’s drive of some of the best largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing waters in the Northeast.

Let’s take a look at two local lakes — one noted for smallmouths, the other for largemouths — and how to approach each of them. in terms of finding, patterning and catching bass.

GREAT SACANDAGA LAKE

There must be a reason that the national tournament Bassmaster’s Weekend Series, regional Northeast Team Bass and numerous bass clubs choose this 42-square-mile reservoir for hosting their events every year. It is because of the excellent smallmouth bass fishing.

Opening day here should find the smallmouths still relatively shallow, and you may even find some areas of the lake where they are still spawning. Those that are not are still relatively shallow, so I would confine my searching to 10 feet of water or less.

Because I usually start my search in the Sacandaga River, I put my boat in at the state launch in Northville. From there, I set the electric trolling motor on low and fish my way down the river shoreline around all the weeds and riprap. And this includes those weedy patches out from the shore, as well.

After working both sides of the river, head southeast for about seven miles, out and around Kenyon Island to Deer Island. This little island is surrounded by marker buoys, P6–P9. The six- to eight-feet-deep water about 50 yards off the Northampton side of this island can offer some very good topwater smallmouth bass fishing.

Another three-mile ride southwest is a series of buoys (N, M7-M9) just before you get to Beacon Island. After you have thoroughly

spinner baited and jerked a rattling Rogue over these shallows, move into the little bay just behind the M8 buoy. In here, you might want to try a pumpkinseed-colored tube bait on a quarter-ounce jighead and/or a weightless wacky worm rig.

South of Beacon Island is Vandenburgh Point, and the M1, 2, 3 and 4 buoys. Fish this buoyed area inside and out. Stay in the deeper water, and make long casts into shore. Also, try the tube and the wacky worm out deep.

As long as you are down there you should also try Scout Island, which is a little less than a mile to your left when you are facing Vandenburgh Point. About 75 yards off the west side of the island is an underwater stump field that holds good concentrations of smallies. It is also a good idea to work all around the island. This is one of the best spots on the lake to work with a weightless wacky worm.

One last pattern that works well for smallmouths in the early part of the season is to fish the “fences.” Throughout most of the Great Sacandaga Lake shoreline are a number of old farm stone fences that were covered with water when the lake was flooded years ago. It usually isn’t too hard to find these fences. If you look along the shoreline, parts of these fences are us­ually visible on the shore, and you can see exactly where they enter the water. These underwater

fences, especially those that extend out into the deeper water, are excellent smallmouth holding structure, and you will find them all over the lake. More than once, these fences have helped me top off a limit in a tournament situation.

SARATOGA LAKE

No bass fishing story would be complete without mentioning our local “bass factory,” Saratoga Lake.

What can you say about a lake that produced 20-plus-pound, five-fish individual and 26-pound, two-person, six-fish team limits of largemouths at many of the tourn­aments held here? The biggest bass last year in a contest tipped the scales at more than seven pounds, and at one tournament, there were six bass weighing over five pounds. And all these fish were released.

One of the keys to fishing Sar­atoga Lake is learning how to fish in the heavy weeds.

Too often, anglers will shy away from the really heavy weeds and fish the visible weed lines. But in the majority of cases, the bigger bass are coming from eight to 10 feet of water over heavy weed growth. Next time you are on Sar­atoga Lake, notice those boats out near the middle of the lake.

Chances are, the angler(s) are standing up and fishing almost vertically down into the water with long rods. They are flipping and pitching the holes and deep heavy, submerged and overgrown weedbed humps.

Their lure choices are usually heavy half- or three-quarter-ounce black and/or blue living rubber jigs trailed with a soft plastic twin tailed jumbo chunk. The other lure choice, which should be no surprise, is the wacky worm.

But for the past few years, ang­lers have added weight to this presentation, which was orig­inally introduced as weightless. They have been adding a drop shot weight (half- or three-quarter-ounce) about 10 inches beneath the center-hooked and barb-exposed wacky worm. And they are fishing this in the thickest weeds on the lake. Don’t laugh until you try it. You don’t pull it through the weeds; you just jiggle it with your rod tip. It works!

Now let’s take a look at some of places to dunk this worm.

As you head out into the main lake there is a deep drop in front of the old Kaydeross Park. Stay out in the 12-15-feet deep range and cast/pitch your lure into the shallow weeds. Let it sink to the bottom and then, using only your rod tip, work it back down the drop and back, very slowly, to the boat. You can actually work this drop and weed line all the way south toward the mouth of the Kayaderosseras Creek.

Continuing on the eastern shore, my next stop is usually the south side of Manning’s Cove. Start fishing about 200 yards out from the Saratoga Lake Sailing Club in eight to 10 feet of water. There are plenty of weeds to dunk your wacky worm in here, and there is also a weed-covered rock pile that — if you find it — usually holds very good largemouth bass.

Out from the sailing club are two danger buoys that should not be overlooked. This heavily weeded, shallow shoal is a bass magnet and usually attracts a lot of boating

angler attention. Fish on top of the shoal and all around the edges of the drop. On a given day, it sometimes looks like a merry-go-round of boats as they circle it.

About a 11⁄4 miles south, and well out from the western shore, are danger buoys G and G1. This is an area similar to the one by Manning’s Cove and should be fished exactly the same. However, if you happen to get out at the crack of dawn and/or at dusk, you might want to work a Pop-R or Rattling Rouge over the shallow weeds. Sometimes, the smallmouths will venture in there along with the largemouths.

One other important factor when fishing the deep and heavy weeds in Saratoga Lake: Quite often, the fish will school, and when you find a hole with one, there is usually another with it. Therefore, it is wise to have a buoy marker on the deck nearby that you can drop in the water when you hook up with that three- to four-pounder.

This whole off-shore area in the southern end of the lake has plenty of deep weed cover, and any and all of it can hold good largemouth bass. It is worth taking the time to work your way around with these same plastic baits, dipping as many holes as you can or just tossing it out randomly into the cover. When you catch a good fish, and then another, punch it in your GPS. Now you have your own “spot.”

On the eastern — or Route 9P — side of the lake, there is a very large main lake weed area. I usually begin fishing at Danger Buoy B and stay on the outside edge of the deep weed line.

Actually, the best way to work this area thoroughly is to zig-zag your way south in and out of the weeds. These depths will vary from 8-15 feet, and the bass are at all levels. There are some distinct weed points out there, and when you find one, fish it thoroughly before moving on.

Now when the wind blows on Saratoga Lake, it can get quite bumpy. This usually doesn’t affect the fishing; it just makes it more difficult. But if you are uncomfortable with it, head down into Fish Creek. Here, there are over five miles of more protected water that you can fish.

Work your way down one side of the creek and up the other, fishing in and out of the weeds. Be careful of your depth once you go past Stafford’s Bridge, and obey the five mph speed limit down there. If you are a Super Frog and Rat topwater lure fan, this is the place to toss it. Chances are good you will get a few blowups, and one could be a wallhanger.

These two lakes are not the only good bass fishing waters we have in our area, but they are two of the best. And if you happen to find bass boats on any of these “spots,” don’t tell them who told you about them.

Good Bassin’.

Categories: Sports

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