Outdoor Journal: Saratoga Lake bass are biting

The bass bite on Saratoga Lake isn’t good, it’s excellent!

The bass bite on Saratoga Lake isn’t good, it’s excellent!

Here are just a few of the good reports I’ve received. The first is one that happened in my boat. Several weeks ago, Dr. George May, a summertime Saratoga resident, and his 9-year-old granddaughter, Isabelle, of Maryland, learned how to fish the wacky worm, and she did quite well on her first fishing trip. Last Sunday, she did even better.

We started the morning off in Fish Creek, where she caught a number of panfish (bluegills, crappies and perch), a few keeper bass and the big one that got away. Moving out onto the main lake, where we saw the sunken airplane, we fished the lake’s west side, where she caught a few small bass and then the big one. Grandpa’s rod was bent in half as she struggled to reel it in, and we all sighed with relief when I slipped the net under its big belly. The largemouth tipped the scales at more than three pounds and was taken on a red, six-inch Stik-O-Worm. Lots of photos followed of a very happy little lady and grandfather.

The Tuesday evening Saratoga Tackle Bass Challenge weights have been respectable, with a little better than two-pound average and a number of catches in the high-four-pound range. The Wednesday evening South Shore Marina tournaments have been having simular results. All 62 teams in the weekend Northeast Team Bass event weighed in five-bass team limits.

In the upper Hudson River, both the large and smallmouth bass have come alive, despite the heat. Downstate visitors up for the Saratoga races, Marc, Sheree and their 10-year-old son, Sam, hooked up with quite of few of the freshwater species that populate the 14-mile stretch between Stillwater and Schuylerville. Panfish, pickerel and bass all liked the variety of Stik-O-Worms they were using. These baits have been working for me for several years. Sammy is the young man who last year caught and released a 211⁄2-inch largemouth on the Hudson River using a Stik-O-Worm.

If you have a young angler, what do you think they would like to catch better: a panfish or a tail-walking small- or largemouth bass? With the wacky worm, anyone can do it; actually, the lure will catch just about anything that swims. Sometimes, a youngster cannot get the knack of tossing the worm out and letting it sink. When that happens, try a bobber. Take a four-inch Stik-O-Worm with a 1/0 wide-gap hook pierced through the middle of the worm with the point exposed. Then snap on a red/white three-quarters-inch bobber about 18 inches above it. Let that float around and let them twitch it every once in a while. You will be surprised with the results.


This bobber trick will also work for adults. Just upgrade to the six-inch Stik-O-Worm and 2/0 or 3/0 wide-gap hook and adjust the depth for those sunken weed beds, etc. Try this while drifting along taking that on-the-water lunch break.

The Mohawk River bite is also on for smallmouths and walleyes. Schenectady angler Gerry Rosenbarker won the Mohawk Masters Singleman tournament at the Kiw­anis Launch site with a five-bass limit totaling 15.06 pounds. Jeff Zak­rewski of Troy had the biggest bass of the tournament, a four-pounder. The 16 anglers who competed in this event weighed in a total of 52 bass. All were released alive.

Glen Garver of Albany and Jim Shear of Glenville caught up with several nice 18-inch walleyes in the Alplaus stretch of the Mohawk. They also did well on the bass and panfish, all of which were caught trolling a rattling spot.

In four much-too-short hours, beginning at sunup, fishing around Mohawk Valley Marine and below the Rexford Bridge resulted in some nice smallmouth topwater action. Tossing my Pop-R around those old bridge abutment ruins on both sides of the river produced two smallies in the three-pound class and a number of 14-inchers. I had the same luck on the marina side of the river against the shoreline until about 7 a.m. Then they moved deep, and I switched to a pumpkinseed spider jig on a three-sixteenths-ounce jighead.

Further down the river, east of the bridge under those high bluffs, didn’t produce much, but I hooked up with a big pike that rolled on the surface just long enough for me to see it before it cut my line. My guess was it was about five to six pounds.

Exployees at Dave’s Bait & Tackle in Mayfield say everything is biting in the Great Sacandaga Lake. There are a number of walleyes being caught, the biggest being a 27-incher. Dave, along with other ’eye anglers, have been successful with red/white spinner harnesses tipped with worms and F5 floating Rapalas. The walleyes are deep, and they are using downriggers and lead line to get the lure down to the fish. Last Saturday, Bill Harrington of Northville was using this method, and his biggest catch was a 24-inch ’eye.

The smallie bite is anywhere from five to 25 feet down, and the Keitech grubs in various colors on a quarer-ounce jighead are doing the job.


For the past few years, the big fish reputation of little Lake Lonely in Saratoga County has not been what it used to be, but from the report I got recently from Bill Parry, owner of the Lake Lonely Boat Livery, it might be back. Within the past several weeks, two largemouth bass have been taken that tipped the scales at over six pounds. The latest, caught by Everett Saunders of Johnsonville, weighed 6.1 pounds on Bill’s scale. He caught the big bass drop-shoting a five-inch gold wacky worm, there’s that word (wacky) again.

And last weekend, Frank Miller of Clifton Park hooked up with a 41-inch, 14-pound, eight-ounce northern pike. He was fishing for bass and flipping heavy weeds with a Yum tube bait when the big fella hit. These are all trophy fish, and Bill tells me his rental boat and other customers are coming in with nice bass and panfish, too.

If you’re only going to catch one fish all day, make it a good one. And that is exactly what Shane Baker of Burnt Hills did. Fishing with his brother, Tom, on Round Lake, Shane caught a 24-inch, seven-pound, five-ounce largemouth bass. It was a midday catch, using a black rubber worm.

Last year, I had the opportun­ity to bass fish in Glen Lake in Warren County with Paul Galcik of Schuylerville, and we got into some very nice largemouth bass. This year, I was unable to join Paul while he was vacationing there, but he caught several nice largemouths — three in the three- to four-pound range and a lost one over five pounds. All were caught on a square-billed crankbait and a black wacky worm. A friend of his landed a 61⁄2-pound largemouth there in mid-June.


The Capital District Bassmasters’ two-day tournament at Chaumont Bay was dominated by Dave Goyette of Scotia, whose winning bag of five bass on day one totaled 16 pounds and was anchored by a five-pounder. On day two, he repeated with another 16-pound bag. He credited his success to fishing weedbeds 10-12 feet deep flipping a spider grub. Paul Ripchik of Vermont had the day two lunker, a five-pounder. This club is looking for boater members. If interested, you can email Tom LaRose at [email protected].


Bill Wemple of Schenectady was fly-fishing Spring Creek near Mumford with his nephew last summer for trout and wasn’t having much luck when a splash behind him got his attention, and he saw what he thought was a small trout splashing in the shallows. He watched the splashing for some time and thought it must be a trout caught on someone’s line that had broken off and he waded over to rescue it.

There was some algae on the surface, so he put his hand under it and grabbed what he thought was a trout and lifted it out of the water. What he really picked up was a three-foot snake that was taking this trout as its meal. Needless to say, he dropped the snake and yelled some expletives that his nephew heard 100 yards downstream and ran up to where Bill was. The two of them watched the snake swim to shore and slither up and begin swallowing the trout. They found out later that it was a Northern water snake, not poisonous, but it could still bite. Bill says since then, he no longer sticks his fingers in a stream where he cannot see them under the surface.

Categories: -Sports-

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