Fishing with young anglers is always fun, and my recent trip to the upper Hudson River between Stillwater and Schuylerville with Marc Holliday of Westchester and his 12-year-old son, Sam, was very enjoyable, and “fishy.”
In spite of the heat, humidity and water temperature in the 80s, everything was biting. Marc was first to boat a fish, a nice largemouth bass, but after that, it was all Sam.
Since the water was so high, the fish were closer to the weedy shoreline in five feet of water or less. Sam’s first fish was a healthy three-pound largemouth he caught on a six-inch black, red-flaked Venom Slingapede fished wacky-worm style. Shortly after that, he brought a 20-inch northern pike to the net, and before we left the area, he and his dad had hooked and lost (bite-offs) two others.
For the next hour or so, we followed the eastern shore, fishing under the overhanging trees and weed edges and catching largemouths. Marc hooked up with a nice pickerel. There were a lot of short bites to keep us busy.
Earlier that morning, Sam told me that he would like to catch a smallmouth bass before we left, and we decided to leave the channel and head for a rocky area where we had caught smallies before. Unfortunately, the spot I really wanted to fish was taken, by four large, anchored, dredging barges. Heading back downriver, we caught a few smaller fish off the rocky shoreline, but our last move to a bay on the eastern shore produced just what I wanted Sam to catch.
I pointed out to Sam where I wanted him to toss his Slingapede (an underwater rocky point), and he was right on target. I don’t think the lure had sunk more than a few inches when Sam yelled, “Got one,” and this fish did not want to be caught.
It was fun to watch a rod-bending battle between a young angler and a smallmouth bass that did not want to be hooked. But Sam did a great job, and brought him to the net. It was definitely the big bass (three pounds) of the day. But it wasn’t over yet.
On our way back to the launch, we stopped at one of my big bass spots, and we did catch a big fish, but it wasn’t a bass. It was a chain pickerel that was about 25 inches long, and, yes, Sam caught that one, too.
Saratoga Lake showed it still has big bass swimming there, as evidenced by Saratoga Tackle’s Bass Challenge last week. The tournament was won by the Saratoga team of Dave Munger and John Jenkins with five largemouths totaling 13.76 pounds worth $495. Tom Kail of Burnt Hills and Paul Norton of Troy were second with 13.38 pounds, earning $297. Also in their bag was the tournament lunker, a 5.12-pound largemouth worth an additional $220. Third place and $198 dollars went to Art Thiverge of Schuylerville and Mike Jennings of Greenwich with 11.90 pounds.
A benefit tournament was on Saratoga Lake Sunday for the Gateway House of Peace in Ballston Spa. Jim Bubb of Clifton Park and Bill Chicaway of Cohoes won with five bass totaling nine pounds. Second was Danielle and Matt Rubino of Stillwater with 8.76 pounds. The East Greenbush team of Frank
Miano and Richie George were third with 8.50 pounds. First through third places returned $240, $170 and $110, respectively. Big bass honors and $90 went to the Saratoga Springs team of Mick Loan and Mike Schliecher for their 2.58-largemouth. Including an anonymous and very generous donation, the tournament raised a total of $540.
Saratoga Lake is primarily noted for its largemouth bass population, but last Friday morning, my son, Sean, and I ventured out for a test run of my new used outboard motor, and we just happened to have some rods with us. It was very hot and humid with water temperature in the 80s when we pulled in to a rock/weed area in the southern end of the lake.
We began fishing in about 15 feet of water, and Sean boated two nice smallies on his first four casts. I got my first shortly thereafter, and this continued for about an hour. The majority of the fish were smallies except for two largemouths and two big chain pickerels. They were still biting when we left. The only two baits we had with us were wacky worms and small jigs. I think a topwater bait early in the morning would produce and be a lot of surface fun.
If you like smallmouth fishing, launch at South Shore Marine and head right toward Stony Point. Fish the weeds and rocks.
Bill Parry of Lake Lonely Boat Livery told me the bass bite on Lake Lonely has been good all month, and he believes it will continue. He said that the average bass that they have been catching is about 21⁄2 pounds, and although there haven’t been any five-plus-pounders reported, there have been a number of four-pound largemouths. Weed edges are the key, and the number one lure is a dark green, pumpkin-rigged wacky- or Texas-style.
The Great Sacandaga Lake reports from Dave’s Bait and Tackle in Mayfield are that the heavy rains and rising waters have definitely changed the walleye bite. The best ’eye fishing is more toward the evening from 7 p.m. until dark. Those who are catching are trolling the shoreline in 15 feet of water with Rapalas and traditional spinners-and-a-worm rigs. If you have a fish/depth finder, locate the schools of baitfish, and you should find the ’eyes.
Big bass continue to be steady with a few 18-inch smallmouths being taken around the islands, shoals and shore lines. Keitech soft baits seem to be getting the best results.
Lake Champlain is still producing the biggest bass, as evidenced by two recent tournaments held out of Ticonderoga. Last Saturday, the Greenbush Bass Association attracted 33 teams, and it took a four-pound average of a five-bass catch to win.
Leading the way with 20.58 pounds was the team of John Blake of New Lebanon and Charlie Lindsey of Stephentown. First place returned $625. Second with 18.04 pounds was the Nassau team of Bob Rings and Zach Sharpe, who received $400.
Rounding out the top five teams were: Saratoga Springs anglers Ben Benkoski and Todd Mischitelli with 16.46 pounds; Ted Spiezio of Greenwich and Nick Bromirski of Cambridge, 16.45; and the Pennsylvania team of Ed Kausmeyer and Mike Godrey, 16.21. Third through fifth places returned $300, $200 and $130, respectively. SpiezIo and Bromirski had the tournament lunker, a 5.47-pound largemouth worth $330.
Sunday, the Capital District Bassmasters held their club event at Ticonderoga and had similar results. Latham angler Sean Wilkes had the big bag, weighing in five largemouths totaling 21.74 pounds, which included the biggest bass of the event, a 5.57-pounder. Non-Boater (fishing from the back of the boat) Paul Ripchik Jr. of Saratoga Springs was second with 17.6 pounds, followed by Tom LaRose of Troy, 16.4; John Whaley of Troy, 15.12; and Mike Slowikowski of Ballston Lake, 13.45. Mike also had a 5.50-pound bass in his catch. Ten of the 13 anglers who fished came in with five-bass limits, and there were four bass over four pounds.
Last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the professional Forrest L Wood (FLW) Everstart Northern Division Series circuit fished their Lake Champlain tournament out of Plattsburgh. There were 125 pro anglers and 125 co-anglers competing.
Tom LaVictorie Jr. of West Rutland won the pro division, by traveling 140 miles, round trip, each day to fish the Ticonderoga area. He led the tournament all the way, and had a total winning weight of 53 pounds, one ounce that earned him $34,915. That’s $2,328 per bass — more than enough to pay for the gas.
One of an angler’s most important tools is sunglasses, and I just got a pair to replace a pair that didn’t float when they blew out of a 60-plus-mph bass boat. They are the Marlin by Fisherman Eyewear, which has been around since 1974. They feature a cut-back wrap-around design with good eye coverage. The wrap-style frame is constructed from a lightweight and durable polycarbonate. Most importantly, they’re polarized, which eliminates the glare off of the water, allows you to see the line better and also, grass, rock and other structures underwater that hold fish, and can ruin a prop. The lenses are durable and protect 100 percent against UV A and B rays, Tri Acetate Cellulose (TAC) lens with a thickness of 1.0 m. The gray lens is an all-around lens and ideal for both medium and bright sun conditions. The Marlins come in a Fisherman Eyewear-logoed cotton storage bag, and there are five to choose from. Retail price is $20 to $25 (www.fishermaneyewear.com).