Fall temperatures are getting hungry bass to bite on rivers

Apparently, the cooler mornings and evenings have triggered the fall instincts in our resident river

Apparently, the cooler mornings and evenings have triggered the fall instincts in our resident river and lake bass populations.

This was evidenced recently when 12 of 15 two-person teams in the Mohawk Valley Anglers tournament weighed in five-bass team limits in the St. Johnsville area of the Mohawk River. Leading the way, with close to three pounds per bass, were Schenectady’s Vince Monini and Brian Ouillete with 14.62 pounds. Their bag of bass also included the tournament lunker, a 3.27-pound smallmouth. Second, just three one-hundredths of a pound behind, was another Schen­ectady team, John D. Irons and John R. Irons, with 14.59 pounds. Randy and Michele King of Johnstown, were third with 13.86 pounds. There were five smallmouths in excess of three pounds weighed in at this tourn­ament.

I found similar results on the Hudson River between Locks 4 and 5 with both smallmouths and even a few largemouths last weekend. I was fishing with a group of vacationers from Staten Island, and as usual, we were tossing Stik-O-Worms rigged wacky style throughout the day. This technique and bait was new for several of the anglers, but they were fast learners. Using the wind and current to our advantage, I motored the boat upriver into the wind and drifted back slowly over a four- to five-foot deep weedy flat on the end of the channel. This area usually holds a lot of smallies, and we had six different-colored worms out at all times. Each drift resulted in bites and hook-ups.

On our way back to the launch, I stopped at a few weedy, rock and sunken wood areas to see if we could hook up with a largemouth or two. We did get a few 12- to 14-inch largemouths, then Tim O’Connell’s rod bent in half. It was a fun battle to watch as the fish immediately dove behind some underwater rocks. Fortunately, Tim worked the fish out into the open water and brought him to the net. His largemouth measured almost 21 inches and according to the In Fisherman’s “Bass Length to Weight Conversion” chart, should weigh 5.78 pounds, which makes him eligible for the New York State Angler Achievement Award in the catch-and-release category.

The bite in smaller lakes, espec­ially for bass, is continuing to pick up. At Lake Lonely, Bill Parry told me the bass are biting throughout the day just off the visible weed line in the secondary sunken weeds. Plastic baits (worms, spider grubs, flipping tubes) are good lure choices. There have been a number of three-pounders and even a few four-pounders caught. As for the northern pike, the best bait is the real thing — live bait. You can either anchor and bobber fish or drift the bait.

Bill also said a few pike have been caught on spoons, spinners and spinner baits, but the six- to seven-pounders are more apt to hit live bait. Lastly, once you go under the Lake Lonely bridge and reach the end of the small canal, start fishing on the left and work all the way around the edges of the lake. According to Bill, the big pike bite occurs when it’s raining.


Last week, I did something on Saratoga Lake I’ve not done in years — in fact, I haven’t done it seriously on any lake or river: I used a crankbait. I did it after watching several pro bass anglers on TV credit their wins to crankbaits fished in six to 10 feet of water. And since Sar­atoga Lake has not been yielding anything much over two pounds recently, I had nothing to lose. I spent about two hours cranking (very hard for me, being a dedicated wacky worm angler), and caught at least a dozen bass, the biggest weighing in at two pounds, 11 ounces. It was nothing spectacular, but I caught fish.

My biggest almost-catch of the day was what I estimated to be a five-plus-pound northern pike that hopefully by now, has rid itself of my half-ounce Bill Lewis Firetiger Rat-L-Trap crankbait. I should’ve known better — that bait is a great pike-catcher, and I should have used them with a wire leader. In the past, I won several pike tournaments using only that bait. It works partic­ularly well for Canadian pike and walleyes, also.


I found something else to add to your tackle box — the Scrounger jig head by Luck-E-Strike Lures. It was recommended by Rick Clunn. For those of you not familiar with Clunn, he is one of the legends of the B.A.S.S. and FLW (Forrest L. Wood) pro bass fishing tourn­aments, and he recently responded to a group of outdoor writers who asked him, “If you had one lure to use what would it be?” The Scrounger is the lure that he chose. The Scrounger Jighead has an upright soft plastic bill that pushes water up and around, creating a rocking motion to the attached plastic bait of your choice.

It can be fished fast or slow, deep or shallow and it makes a great search bait when bottom-bounced. It can also be vertically jigged for deep-water smallies. It would be good for Lake George. And speaking of smallies, Scroungers are also offered pre-rigged (dressed) with plastic and/or bucktail trailers. The Scrounger is offered in sizes from eighth to one ounce, all come with Gamakatsu hooks and in eight color choices. Retail price is $3-$5.50 (www.luck-e-strike.us).

Categories: -Sports

Leave a Reply