My North Country fishing contact, John Gereau of Westport, tells me there is good ice from Port Henry to Vermont and in Bulwagga Bay on Lake Champlain.
The area they call The Hole at Port Henry does not seem to be attracting smelt this year. The anglers believe the fish have changed their patterns, and the schools have moved out into deeper waters. John said he’s marked large schools of them on his depth/fishfinder, and has been finding them in the bellies of lakers.
Other species are biting, and well. The perch are in the 10 to 15 feet range throughout the area and off Chimney Point State Park. Fish a perch fly or jig tipped with a meal worm. It’s not uncommon to catch 50 to 60 good-size eaters, and chances of catching a 11⁄2-pounder are good. The Westport area, as of last Sunday, hadn’t yet buttoned up — the third year it’s been this way.
Norm’s Bait and Tackle (597-3645) of Crown Point, Lake Champlain, said they have a good perch bite on tipups baited with medium shiners and fatheads in water six to 20 feet. The lake trout are also setting off flags tipped with suckers. Norm has been catching northern pike off the Ferry Launch at Ticonderoga. His biggest on that day was over eight pounds.
If you’re going to try that area, Norm rents shanties both at Ticonderoga and Crown Point. The daily rates are: four-man, $50; six-man, $75. Heated two-bedroom cabins are $120 per night.
Gereau said they have been catching smelt in the Upper Saranac, and he recommends trying Pelkey Bay off Route 30. He fishes a few hundred yards off shore in 45 to 55 feet of water using perch fly rigs tipped with cut bait. A sliver of skin from the side of a smelt or Swedish Pimple will also work. Old-school smelt anglers are still catching them on hand lines with a flasher and hook.
Another good area is the bay off of Moss Rock Road, a bit of a walk best reached with a machine, but be sure of safe ice before going out. Gereau fishes about 300 to 400 yards out from shore in 50 feet of water where the fish are usually suspended five to 10 feet off the bottom. If you have a depth/fish finder, it will help there. This area will sometimes yield 100 to 200 smelt.
Closer to home, the Great Sacandaga Lake is continuing to produce a good perch and walleye bite. Dave’s Bait and Tackle in Mayfield reports plenty of ice and perch 12 inches and larger. Lee Gustuni, a visitor from Pennsylvania, caught a bunch of them, the biggest being a 16-incher. He was using hunt bait and shiners in 15 to 28 feet of water.
The walleye bite is also consistent, with plenty of keepers biting in and around the islands and channel edges dropping into 25-plus feet of water. Tipups and live bait are working best. Good areas include Beacon Island, in front of the North Hampton Camp site and in front of Lanzi’s On The Lake restaurant.
They say the pike bite on Great Sacandaga Lake has slowed, but I think Chuck Mault of Gloversville will disagree. He pulled a 411⁄4-inch pike through a hole in the ice that took top honors in that category in the Reid Hill Fish and Gun Club’s contest this last Saturday. “Bear” Brandow of Schenectady was second with a 357⁄8-incher, and Justin Glinski of Northville was third with a 33-inch catch. Brandow also had the biggest walleye, a 21 1⁄2-inch ’eye, followed by Brian Mooney of Schenectady with 21-incher. Frank Young of Gloversville had a 20 1⁄4-inch catch.
Winners in the perch category were: Jim McNamara of Schenectady, 14 3⁄8 inches; Randy Garstensen of Johnstown, 14; and Ira Cromling Jr. of Broadalbin, 13 5⁄8 inches.
Only two trout were brought in, and the winners were Brent Phetteplace of Amsterdam, 20 3⁄4 inches, and William Gifford of Mayfield, 19 1⁄2 inches.
Saratoga Tackle reports all types of machines are running on the ice, including trucks, but not my truck — ever!
The pike bite amazingly continues, but not as much as those pesky, fun-to-catch pickerel. A number of the pike have been caught in the 30- to 34-inch size — always fun hand-lining them through a hole in the ice. Suckers and shiners are the best pike bait there, and should be fished off the weed edges and sharp drops. Manning’s Cove is a good place to start, but don’t overlook in front of Brown’s Beach and South Shore Marina. Don’t be surprised, either, if you catch a few largemouths, apparently the big ones are biting. Take a quick photo and put it back.
Saratoga anglers Tim Blodgett and Trevor Stay “got into” the panfish recently several hundred yards off of Fitch Road, a favorite place for pan fishermen. They were fishing in eight to 10 feet, jigging with small spikes. Their catch consisted of bluegills, pumpkinseeds and crappies. Walleyes are biting one or two hours before and after sunup and sundown.
The small lake report this week is good. Blodgett, who was at the kids event at Moreau Lake, said the pickerel bite there is tremendous. All it takes is a shiner on a tipup fished in seven to eight feet of water just about anywhere and they’ll bite it — a good place to take the kids.
Lake Lonely is also rumored to have given up another 40-plus-inch northern on the north end of the lake on big live bait. The panfish bite has also picked up recently, with bluegills and crappies all over the main lake. Good depths are five to 10 feet, and jigging with the tiny tubes and/or grubs should get you enough for a meal.
If you’ve had a good day on the ice, email me with all the details at, firstname.lastname@example.org.