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Noonan: 3 days of fishing adventures & friendship

Noonan: 3 days of fishing adventures & friendship

Ed Noonan's weekly column on the region's outdoors scene
Noonan: 3 days of fishing adventures & friendship
Bert Wilmer shows off a catch.
Photographer: Ed Noonan

Once a year, my good friends from North Carolina, Bert and his wife Laura Wilmer, visit. Years ago, Bert was a Navy dentist here at the Wilton site and while here he joined the same fishing club I was in, the Capital District Bassmasters. Each year in the summer they visit us, and Bert and I compete in a 1-on-1 bass fishing three-day tournament which we named the North/South Challenge. Winner of the tournament gets to keep a special trophy for that year.

On our first day last week, we went to Saratoga Lake and the bite was very slow. The wind was blowing all day and we started fishing in Fish Creek where we pulled a dozen or so largemouth out of 5-to-7 feet of weeded areas. It was definitely a Wacky Worm bite and nothing else worked. At the end of the day we argued about who was in the lead and settled on it being a tie.

Hoping to get more fish-bite action, we decided to fish the upper Hudson River the next day. Here we did better catching both large and smallmouth of all sizes. At the end of the day, Bert’s best five bass were a bit heavier than mine, and on the ride back to the launch he was all smiles.

However, we were up for a surprise.

When I began driving my boat onto the trailer, the motor stuck on full throttle. Quickly, I turned the motor off and then on again, but no matter where I put the throttle the engine roared and I had to crank the boat on by hand. On my way home, we stopped at Saratoga Tackle to stock up on some worms. I told Dean Foster of Schuylerville, who worked there, what had happened. I did not know that he was a boat mechanic and he said it “could” be just a broken cable and he said, “Let’s take a look.”

He looked and thinks it is either a cable or the throttle lever. Unfortunately, he was not available to fix the boat for a few days. So, the third day of our tournament would have to be forgotten.

Now I expected Bert to be happy, but when I dropped him off at his hotel he did not say anything. An hour or so later, the phone rang and Bert said; “Pick me up at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning. We are going to fish with John Ernst of ‘A Line in The Water.’ … He also said he knows you.”

At the launch, John and I shook hands, and I thanked him for taking us out. He said he would do the guiding and we would do the fishing. Now, I do not want to give up where he took us, because when he told me where we were going I laughed and said that was where I ruined my whole lower unit. He smiled and said not to worry, we will get there. Before going right into this shallow, rocky water he lowered his electric trolling motor, programed it and pushed the start button. It was awesome; it knew the path to take and we never hit a rock or grounded the boat.

This day was probably one of my best catch-a-smallmouth days that I have had on the Hudson River. The race was close between Bert and I, but in the last half-hour of the tournament, I Wacky Wormed two 3-pound smallmouth. I congratulated Bert and I had to add: “Guess the trophy stays above my fireplace where everyone will see it.”

I also suggested now that he is retired he should do more fishing practice. Sorry, Bert!

King George Fishing Derby

The fourth annual King George Fishing Derby will be held Friday through Sunday on Lake George with over $15,000 in prizes. You can register until 4 p.m. Friday online at kinggeorgefishingderby.com/registration or in person. There will be adult and junior divisions. Fishing includes lake trout, landlocked salmon, and largemouth/smallmouth bass. The cash prizes in the adult category — minimum sizes, 27 inches for lake trout; 20 for salmon; and, 16 for bass. Cash prizes are $2,000, $1,000, $500 and $250.

In the junior division it is 23 inches for lake trout, 12 inches for bass. There will be a number of merchandise prizes for the youth.

Registration fees: $50 for adults, $30 for juniors.

Bears are not pets

On Aug. 23, Environmental Conservation Officer Jeannette Bastedo responded to a complaint of a woman feeding black bears in the town of Hurley. When Bastedo arrived at the residence, one bear fled the property and a large male bear continued to feed from a dog food bowl on a raised deck. After several blasts of the siren on Bastedo's patrol vehicle, the bear left the deck.

ECO Bastedo found multiple, large bowls full of sunflower seeds and containers full of water on the deck. A mother bear and two cubs were spotted in a tree nearby. The woman responsible for feeding the bears said that if she took away the food, the bears might try to get into her house.

Bastedo explained that feeding bears is prohibited because it causes the animals to become habituated to receiving food from people rather than from the wild, and as a result the bears can lose their natural fear of humans. The habituation of bears receiving food sources from humans unfortunately can result in negative incidents for bears and humans alike. ECO Bastedo issued the woman a ticket for unlawfully feeding black bears, returnable to the town of Hurley Court.

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