Last week’s bass fishing reports throughout our local waters were all very good. Not only were the numbers high, but also the sizes of the fish.
I believe that last Wednesday and Thursday on the upper Hudson River between locks 4 and 5 was my best trip out this year. That 14-mile stretch between Stillwater and Schuylerville holds plenty of smallies and largemouths.
On Wednesday, I fished with Kentucky anglers Jay Kilgore and Rob Cook and Greg Gilchrist of California, who were here working/enjoying the Saratoga thoroughbred season.
We started out slow, but Greg’s first bite resulted in a 21⁄2-pound smallmouth, followed shortly thereafter with a five-pound-plus largemouth just a 100 yards from where he had taken the smallie. From this point on, it seemed that almost every tree/rock/weed combination held a bass or two. However, big bass honors for the day went to Jay with a six-pound largemouth. But the one that got away, which I saw only inches from my waiting net, was an all of seven-pound largemouth that broke Rob’s line.
On day two, Jay and Rob returned, and with them was Dennis Lynch of Kentucky who started the bass fishing off with a nice under-the-log largemouth and followed up with a big smallie off a concrete bridge abutment.
This same stretch of water also gave up good-sized large and smallmouths until Mother Nature snuck in behind us, and she was angry.
We were four fishermen, miles from the boat launch, in an open boat in a torrential downpour complete with plenty of thunder and distant lightning. I had a tough time seeing where I was going, and when I finally got to the dock, the heavy rain turned to marble-sized hail that definitely disagreed with my bald head. Despite the rain, it was fun.
The walleye bite is on at the Great Sacandaga Lake. Dave Allen of Dave’s Bait and Tackle had a 20 ’eyes day, of which five were keepers
(15 inches plus). They were fishing in the southern end of the lake trolling Rapala, Challengers and worm harnesses in 25 feet of water. For the best results, watch your depth/fish finder. Find the bait, and you will find the walleyes.
As for the smallies, concentrate on the rocky shorelines, shoals and those old stone fences that extend out and under the water. Keitech baits are recommended.
As a reminder, the Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation’s 13th annual Fall Fishing Contest will be held on Sept. 6 from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Four places ($300, $200, $100, $50) will be paid in the bass, walleye, northern pike and brown/rainbow categories. The measuring station and award presentations will be at Sport Island Pub. Entry fees are $30. For applications and information, go to www.-gslff.com or call Jack Smith at 863-4271 or Randy Gardinier at 848-7248.
Lake Champlain continues to reward tournament bass anglers with some big fish, as evidenced by the recent Greenbush Bass Association open tournament at Ticonderoga that attracted 41 two-person teams.
First place and $820 went to Adam Bielawa of Ravena and Jerry Gibson of Averill Park with a five-bass team limit of 18.46 pounds. Finishing a close second were Jeff Russell of Ballston Spa and Mike Marini of Slingerlands (18.34 pounds), who received $460.
The remaining four teams cashing were Ben Benkowski of Rotterdam and Todd Mischitelli of Gansevoort, 17.60 pounds; Saratoga Springs anglers Nichole Girard and Carl Parquette, 17.45; Tim Blanchette of Queensbury and Art Gonyea of Schenectady 17.16; and Pennsylvania anglers Ed Kausmeyer and Mike Godfrey, 17. Third through sixth places returned $380, $280, $200 and $120, respectively. Tournament lunker honors and $410 went to the Schenectady team of Scott Marcharo and Joseph Feidner for their 5.89-pound largemouth bass.
Everyone fishing Saratoga Lake reports plenty of legal bass (12 inches), but tournament bags of five bass over 12 pounds has been rare. However, the team of Girard and Paquette caught the biggest five-bass team limit at a Tuesday afternoon Saratoga Tackle Bass Challenge this year.
Their five-bass catch, which included a 5.42-pound largemouth, totaled 15.80 pounds. First place paid $473 plus $210 for the lunker. Todd Brown of Mechanicville and Chad Brown of Saratoga Springs were second with 12.50 pounds, and Tom Kail of Burnt Hills and Paul Norton of Troy were third with 12.36 pounds and collected $189.
I spoke with a number of the tournament anglers, and plastic worms and creature-type baits are attracting the most bites, but jig and trailer baits poked through the weeds also recorded a number of bass bites.
There wasn’t much news on northern pike or walleyes here, but if you nose hook a six- to seven-inch worm (no weight) and jerk it over and around the weeds in Manning’s Cove and any other weed patch in Saratoga Lake, chances are very good that a pickerel will find it.
Another local bass club traveled to Oneida Lake for one of their tournaments, and they did quite well with 17 of the 19 teams that competed weighing in six-bass team limits. The winners were Schenectady anglers Gerald Simmons and Glenn Flagler with 17.95 pounds. Less than a pound behind were Brian and Bob Bez of Amsterdam with 17.57, and Troy anglers Pete Rice and Jim Barcomb were third with 16.73. Big bass honors went to the Schenectady team of Matt Lieberman and Timothy Paraso for their 4.28-pound bass.
In the small lake category, Round Lake bass are holding tight or just inside the deep weed edges. A quarter-ounce bell sinker below a 2/0 or 3/0 hook with a Z Man Turbo CrawZ or three-inch Gene Larew Long John Minnow should get some action.
The biggest fish reported this week was not caught locally; but it is worth talking about.
Leanne Waterman of Onondaga was fishing with her husband, Steve, on the St. Lawrence River when Leanne hooked up with muskie. They were trolling in eight feet of water when the big fish grabbed her spinner and Mr. Twister tail, and the battle began.
For 45 minutes, she fought the fish using an ultra-lite rod and reel spooled with just six-pound test line and no leader. When finally boated, the muskie measured 50 inches. After plenty of photographs, it was returned to the river.
It is interesting that Leanne is 5-foot-4, and her catch was only 14 inches bigger than her.