Looks like the high, muddy water conditions haven’t hindered the walleye bite on the Mohawk River during the last week.
I received a number of reports from bait and tackle shops and anglers who have had very good catches. The best report was from Schenectady angler Dan Stadler. In a full day on the water, he put together a very impressive walleye catch.
Fishing the Mohawk River pool between Locks 7 and 8, he hooked up with more than 20 legal walleyes (15 inches), half of which were bruisers. The largest, a 28-incher, tipped the scales at eight-plus pounds.
Dan was willing to share his techniques, but was rather vague on the exact location of his catch. He did say that all the fish were taken from 14-18 feet of water, and that he was fishing right on the bottom. He was drifting with the current and when he hooked up with a walleye, he would fish that area thoroughly before moving on.
All his fish were taken on artificial lures. One was a four-inch Creme Scoundrel that looks like a real night crawler, the other a Creme Midget Crawler in what they call their Live color. These were threaded on an eighth-ounce jighead and bounced/hopped along the bottom.
During his day on the water, Stadler also boated and released a number of smallmouth bass using the same technique, but with a different lure — a 31⁄2-inch green Strike King swim bait with black dots. Swim baits are the new soft plastic bass lure that have been catching quite a few bass since introduced last year. And for smallmouths, they seem to be deadly.
Dan’s biggest smallmouth measured 181⁄2 inches, and after tail-walking its way across the surface, it made one last jump and landed in the bow of the boat. All of his bass were caught casting this bait towards the major river points and riprap.
An angler who has been having success with Saratoga Lake walleyes recently is Phil Calarusso Jr. (Stillwater), of the Big Red Outfitters. His technique has been casting deep-diving crankbaits. His lure color choice is determined by the water clarity. In shallower
water, 10 feet and less, he uses more natural colors, including the color of the baitfish the walleyes feed on, including perch and shad with blue, silver and white added. For the murky, muddy water which we have had a lot of lately, firetiger and any of the florescent colored crankbaits are good choices.
The Great Sacandaga Lake fishing has also been good for walleyes, according to local bait and tackle dealers. Sizes are averaging 16-20 inches with a few mid-20s occasionally hooked. Most of the catches have been 25-40 feet deep. Those that are catching them consistently are using downriggers and in-line planer boards. Many of these fish are suspended over the deeper main lake waters which includes the deeper holes near Sand Island.
On downriggers, the hot lure has been the Rapala F-5. The old spinner and a night crawler harness is the best producer on planer boards. For those not too familiar with in-line planer board fishing, it’s a method of trolling that gets your lure out to the sides of the boat.
For more information on the use of planers, which help in walleye fishing, go to www.bigjon.com.
The smallmouths on the Great Sacandaga are also biting — and just about everywhere on the lake. I recently took George May of Florida, who loves topwater fishing with light tackle, to the area around Mayfield and Broadalbin and we had quite a bit of tail-walking action. Almost immediately
after shoving off from the launch dock at Wally’s Driftwood Inn at 5:30 a.m., we had action. On about his third cast with a green-and-
orange-bellied Pop-R, next to a vacant dock in the bay, George caught the first of four nice two-pound smallies that he landed and released before leaving the small bay.
From there, we worked the six-to 10-foot waters around Kunkel and Priddle Points and on down into the narrow channel leading to Mayfield Dam. In all these areas, we had good smallmouth topwater action with fish ranging from 9-15 inches.
Over in the Broadalbin area of the lake, we found topwater fish in the Woods Hollow and Shady bays, but by 9 a.m., the topwater action had ended. Switching to the weightless green-pumpkin-colored wacky worm, we continued to fish major points and the many under water stone walls that line Sacandaga’s shore. This proved to be a good move and resulted in a number of catch-and-released smallmouth.
Before leaving, just off the
No. 5 buoy on the far end of Scout Island, George hooked up and lost what we believed to be two very good 3-pound-plus smallmouths that jumped and spit the worm just out of reach of the net.
And speaking of good smallmouth catches, Gerry and Anne Edwards of Colonie found their first trip to the Upper Hudson River a rod-bending experience. The river was still quite a bit high, the current was moving and the waters were muddy when we launched the boat at Stillwater at mid-afternoon, but it had little effect of the bass bite.
Only minutes after leaving the dock and before I even started the engine, Gerry had a nice two-pounder. And for the remainder of the afternoon, we drifted both shorelines and caught a number of similar-sized smallies and even a few good 15-16 inch largemouths. But the highlight of the day was when Anne hooked into what we thought was a five-pound-plus fish. She battled the fish for several minutes, and when it made a run past the boat, we saw another bass trying to take the worm away from the bass that had it.
Wrong! When I netted the fish, there were two, 15-plus-inch smallmouth — both attached to that one Eagle Claw 3/0 Kahle hook. Now that’s a fish tale.
Several days later, three anglers visiting the Saratoga area on thoroughbred racing business, Eoin Harty, Jim Bell and Jay Kilgore, found out how good the largemouth bass fishing can be on the upper Hudson River. For five hours, they dodged raindrops while tossing five-inch blue/black weightless wacky worms to underwater grass edges, rock ledges and fallen trees all along both the east and west shores in the Stillwater pool.
The smaller bass, both small- and largemouths, came early, but the last two hours of the trip, the sizes increased. During this time, about 20 fish came aboard and were released. The largemouths ranged in weight from two to four-plus pounds, and Jay, who wanted to catch a good smallmouth, did. His smallie, which did quite a bit of out-of-the-water acrobatics, weighed around three pounds.
The Hudson River bass are definitely biting, and the lures to use right now are plastics (tubes, worms and spider grubs). Fish the weed edges, riprap, downed trees and any of the rocky structures.
Two bass champions were crowned in Syracuse last weekend at the ESPN/Bassmaster final Elite Series tournament of the year — the Champion’s Choice, held on Oneida Lake.
The first was Friday, when Texas pro Todd Faircloth,only weighed in six pounds, six ounces and missed the top050 cut on Oneida Lake, allowing Michigan’s Kevin VanDam, who did make the cut, to earn his fourth Bassmaster Toyota Tundra Bassmaster-of-the-Year title and the $250,000 that goes along with the award. As the runner-up, Faircloth received $100,000.
On Sunday, Dean Rojas of Arizona, won the Oneida Lake Champions Choice tournament with a four-day catch of 20 bass totaling 65 pounds, two ounces. His reward, $102,000. It was his third Bassmaster win, and his first Elite Series win. Rojas caught mostly largemouths, using a hollow-bodied frog and flipping a Slurpies Brush Beaver with a one-ounce worm weight.
Two local anglers who competed in the co-angler division did quite well. Doug Hammond of Westerlo placed 7th with 22.13 pounds and received $2,750, while Roger
Michael Zalucky of Clifton Park placed 10th with 21.12 pounds and received $1,500. Co-anglers fish from the back of the boat with the pros for three days and can weigh in just three fish per day.
If you’ve had a good day on the water and would like to share the experience with other anglers here in the Fishing Report, email all the details to: [email protected].