I received an email recently asking the status of the fall walleye bite, and the same day, I got a walleye report from John Franklin of Scotia which answers the question.
John is a Mohawk River walleye angler who spends a lot of time around Lock 8 and recently caught a very interesting walleye. The ’eye that hit John’s Rapala stick bait was a beauty — 29 inches, 10 pounds, eight ounces — but John said it was blue and silver. I suggested he contact DEC Fisheries for verification. John added that when he opened the fish, he found one eight-inch and one nine-inch inch yellow walleye in its stomach. Hopefully, he’ll let me know what DEC says. As for his other success around that area on the Mohawk, he’s caught about 75 walleyes.
There’s another species of fish in the Mohawk River that’s biting right now and frequently — smallmouth bass. And from the reports, I know they’re biting as far west as the Fonda stretch of the river. I just happened to be eating at the riverside restaurant in Fonda last Sunday, and I noticed a half-dozen bass boats fishing the riverbanks on both sides. I sat in my truck for about a half-hour watching them with binoculars, and they all caught smallies. Two of them were tossing what looked like either wacky worms or spider jigs, one was doing well with a crankbait, the other with some type of jerk bait.
I also heard the upper Hudson River has been very good for both large- and smallmouth bass. The whole 14-mile stretch between Schuylerville and Stillwater is producing. I also know of two 30-plus-inch northern pike pulled out and released there by a local angler who wanted to remain anonymous. He caught them both in the vicinity of the creek leading to Alcove Marina within an hour of each other, and both on a three-quarter ounce white and chartreuse spinner bait with dual willowleaf silver blades and five-inch white Mr. Twister trailer.
Most of the bass here are coming from depths of 10 feet or less, and key areas include points, creek mouths, rock and wood structures. For smallies, you might want to try the large underwater rocks in and around the mouth of the Battenkill, but be very careful boating in that area; those rocks will eat up your prop and in some areas, your boat. One other spot I was told is giving up a lot of smallies is the stretch of the river below Lock 4. I haven’t been there, but I’m going to try it.
Veteran Saratoga Lake walleye anglers are catching fish, but not divulging their spots or techniques. Normally around this time of the year, the bite improves and is best the first hour of dawn and the last hour of daylight on into evening. Trolling with the old spinner and worm would be one of my first choices on one rod, with a medium diving crankbait on the other.
As for Saratoga Lake largemouth bass, the recent Greenbush Bass Association open tournament held there indicates that the fall bite is on. All 21 teams weighed in five-bass limits, and all fish were released alive. The winners, Tom Kail of Burnt Hills and Paul Norton of Troy, took the first-place cash, $500, with 16.17 pounds. Saratoga Springs anglers John Jenkins and Dave Munger were second with 14.35 pounds, and Bill Goodermote of Troy and Chuck Sidoti of Latham were third with 13.60 pounds. Second and third paid $315 and $230, respectively. Big bass honors, $210, was won by Saratoga Springs anglers Bryan Keith and Jason Norton with a 5.84-pound largemouth.
The lure choices were primarily the usual plastics, Texas-rigged worms, wacky worms, quarter-ounce living rubber jigs with trailers and swim baits.
Speaking of plastics, there’s a new lure just introduced by Yamamoto’s Kinami line called the PsychoDad. This 3.75-inch crawbait has big round claws which act like swimbaits with a built-in rattle chamber. The tail has extra plastic that holds it up on the new style, straight shank, punch hooks with barb keepers. They can also be Carolina-rigged and as jig trailers. Go to www.baits.com.
Mike Galcik of Schuylerville recently spent a day on Saratoga Lake fishing for bass and found the largemouths holding in eight to 12 feet of water off the flats and around the points. He also hooked up with some walleyes in these same places, fishing a swimbait. The biggest walleye weighed five pounds. Saratoga Lake’s smallmouth action is spotty, but when it’s on, it’s usually happening around the Stony Point area of the lake. Crankbaits run over the rock ledges there as well as a weightless wacky worm or spider jigs on an eighth-ounce jig head should produce some tail-walking action.
The only reports I’ve gotten from the Great Sacandaga Lake are some walleyes and some smallies around the islands, just off the shore and trolling the breaks.
Larry’s Oswego Salmon Shop reports that the steelhead and rainbows are throughout the river, but remember only one, at least 21 inches, can be kept. Drift boats are definitely catching fish. I highly recommend it, especially if you’ve never been. You’ll be amazed at how well the captains maneuver these boats in the current, and you’ll catch fish. Bait choices right now are egg sacs, crazy egg beads and estaz flies.
The big run is nearing an end with some stragglers coming through, but the steelheads have filled the bottom end of the river. Best baits are salmon eggs, which mean beads, nuke eggs, glo-bugs, egg sacks and other egg imitations.