Posts Tagged bassmaster weekend series

Oneida Lake – New York

When traveling with the Bassmaster Weekend Series last year I came upon a couple fisheries that are truly amazing. Today I am going to focus on Oneida Lake in New York. Even though we are a Pittsburgh based website and try to keep the lakes local to Western Pennsylvania, I felt that I had to tell people about this lake. I will be the first to tell you that I am not an expert or even pretend to know a lot about this body of water. However, this is one fishery that you don’t have to know in order to have a great day of fishing. Through the article I will touch on the most abundant species, camping, fishing techniques, and geographic features.

First, I feel that it is important to know what kind of lake you are going to be fishing before you get there. Oneida lake is twenty-two miles in length from East to West and is anywhere from one to five miles wide North to South. The surface are of the lake is 50,000 acres. This makes it the biggest lake in New York State. Oneida Lake is located just North of Syracuse and was formed by glaciers during the ice age. Because it is a natural lake the water is clear to slightly stained most of the time. However, you could hit it during the algae bloom and see why it was nicknamed the green lake.

The first thing I noticed about the lake was the pure size of the lake. I had been on some large bodies of water, but next to the great lakes it was the biggest. For its size this body of water is relatively shallow. I fished the lake for 4 days and the deepest water I located was 30 feet. What you have to watch for is the islands and shoals that are thrown throughout the lake. These shoals are not always marked on makes and could be completely submerged if the water level is high. It is my recommendation to get a map or rely heavily on your gps unit while travel on Oneida Lake. Another thing that I notice was that because the lake runs east to West the waves can build very fast and can be very dangerous. High winds don’t necessarily have to seem high at this lake. 15 mph winds will cause three to five foot waves. You add in shoals that are all around and you can have a recipe for disaster.

Located at the South Western corner of the lake is Oneida Shores State Park. They have over fifty campsites which most of which have electric and water hook-ups. The bathrooms and shower house are very well kept. There is also a sand beach in the State Park. Launching your boat is free if you are camping in the campground, but there is a small launching fee if you are just using the launch for the day.

Oneida Lake may be one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries by sheer numbers that I have ever came across. There are many local bass tournaments held at Oneida Lake, but there are a surprising amount of professional tournaments held there ever year. Circuits such as the Bassmaster Elites, Bassmaster Weekend Series, Anglers Choice, and the BFL are just a couple of the many professional bass circuits to come to Oneida Lake every year. This species of smallmouth is somewhat shorter but very heavy. I was very surprised that a sixteen inch smallmouth bass was anywhere from 2.25 pounds to 2.75lbs. What I discovered was that when you found one of these guys there was a pack of them there. Once you turn on that school it was absolutely unbelievable. Prior to my trip to Oneida Lake I had probably only broke a spinnerbait about two times in my life. During my 4 days there I broke 8 spinnerbaits. Most of which were because of how vicious the hits are and how strong the fish are.

For anyone that heads up there in search of smallmouth bass I have a few suggestions as to what depth, structure, and lures to use. Knowing that smallmouth bass are predator fish the depth can vary throughout the course of the day. Also, the time of year will play a part in deciding what depth to fish at. As a rule of thumb, shallow points, points on the islands, or tops of shoals should be fished early in the morning or late at evening. The fish in these areas are aggressive can will hit topwater baits or other moving baits. My recommendation is to throw poppers with a rear red feathered hook or to throw a double willow spinnerbait. You may need to cover water until you find them but when you do watch out. The rest of the morning and the middle of the day I would focus on the eight to twenty foot depth range. I realize that this my seem pretty vague but typically eight to nine foot of water is a weed line that extend to the surface and when you back your boat off twenty-five or thirty yards (a minimum in clear water) you will more than likely be sitting in fourteen to sixteen feet of water. Several techniques seem to really work well in this depth range. I would start by covering water with spinnerbaits. Natural shad colors seem to work best and silver blades seem to be better than gold. Other moving baits that I would try are jerkbaits (hard and soft), lipless crankbaits, and in-line spinners. Yes, I said in-line spinners. These work surprising well up there and got bites when the bite would seem to have died. Dragging tubes and beavers were also effective. Drop shoting a wacky hooked 4” green pumpkin senko is also effective. The smallmouth bass in this lake are not hard to find but when you launch at Oneida Shores, drop your trolling motor and go to the right. There are a lot of tournaments that release a lot of fish there and it is well stocked. Just stay in the 8 to 10 foot range.

There is also a decent amount of largemouth bass in Oneida Lake. The largemouth bass tend to win bass tournaments but they are harder to find. I feel that the reason that they are harder to find is that most of the shoreline is covered in mat weeds and it looks very similar. Plus, the population of largemouth isn’t as high as smallmouth. Unlike the smallmouth I would stay fishing in the mat weeds. I would start by working frogs and buzzbaits overtop of the mat. Once I found an area that I felt would hold fish I would punch the weeds with a minimum of ¾ ounce weight with your soft plastic of choice. Personally, when I flip mat weeds I am using a one-ounce weight with a beaver or tube. I find the sender profile help get it through the mat. Other options are heavy jigs. Something that I noticed was when I can across a log that was in the weeds I typically got bit there. Big Bay and the channel have been known to produce big bags of largemouth bass. If you want to go off the beaten path check out 3 Mile Bay. I had some success there.

Walleye and perch are also abundant. I was able to catch multiple walleye while dropping my senko. I think if I had targeted walleye a little more we could have had a nice bag of walleye at the end of the day. Even more so than normal you are going to need light line because the water is so clear. May is supposed to be the best month for walleye fishing at Oneida Lake.

I found myself catching an unbelievable amount of Pickerel during my time at Oneida Lake. The pickerel were not always big, but they were a lot of fun. White buzzbaits in the shallow water over the weeds really seemed to get them going. Each day I was there I would say that I caught at least ten pickerel. If you like catching these guys this is the lake for you. I know I truly have a blast a throwing topwater and spinnerbaits for them. The first day of my tournament I managed to only land 3 bass, but caught about 30 pickerel. Not something I am proud of because I feel that I am a quality bass fishermen, but that just shows you how many pickerel are in the lake.

If you are heading up I recommend throwing a few other lures. For all of the mentioned species I would try some swimbaits. It is a misconception that northern fish won’t attack these big lures. Give them a try and you might be surprised. Another lure I would try are jigging spoons. I feel that the smallies would eat a lure falling down and hoping across the bottom just was well as a lure being cranked passed them. Don’t be afraid to experiment as well. Burning a spinnerbait over twenty feet of water sounds crazy, but it works and works very well.

The next time you are looking at taking a fishing trip, I highly recommend visiting Oneida Lake. It is close to wine country and offers something for everyone. Not to mention that fishing is some of the best that I have ever experienced. If you have any questions about the lake or information that you would like to share with me or everyone else feel free to add a comment at the bottom of the article or shot me an email.

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Lake Dardanelle-Weekend Series National Championship

After the regional competition at the Potomac River I started getting ready for the national championship at Lake Dardanelle.  For those who don’t know Lake Dardanelle is a man made lake on the Arkansas River system.  It is located about 2 hours north west of Little Rock, Arkansas.  This was going to be a first for me for a couple reasons.  I have never fished a tournament in the south, west of the Mississippi River, or longer than 2 days.

Lake Dardanelle had been off limits to all anglers in the tournament from October 4th until the first official practice day, November 1st.  My wife, Jessica, and I left from our house Friday around 8:00 pm and arrived at Lake Dardanelle State Park where we were going to camp Saturday afternoon.  I have stayed at a lot of state park campground over the years, but I believe that this could very easily be the nicest state park I have ever seen.  Once we got camp set up we walk down to the water to take a look.  To my dismay I say the darkest muddiest water that I have ever had to fish.  Arkansas had recieved 8 inches of rain the week before the tournament started, and since it was a river system the water color would never settle down.

Sunday morning rolled around and I decided that it was time to start practicing.  Not knowing a lot about the lake I had decided to practice in certain areas and really work them until I figured something out.  The first day of practice I decided to stay with 10 miles of the launch site.  I fished Illinois Bayou, Dardanelle State Park Bay, Delaware Bay, and a few other creeks.  To my dismay, I was only about to catch 2 bass and only 1 was a keeper.  The keeper was caught on a shaky head jig with a green pumpkin worm in about 22 feet of water.  The dink was caught on a berkley chigger craw flipping shallow wood cover.

Monday was the day I was going to travel.  I decide to make about a 20 mile run up to Shoal Bay and all the fingers it entails.  The water was still chocolate milk colored and then some.  I fished from the mouth of the main river all the way to the back creek with only catching 1 fish on a carolina rig in 8 feet of water.  It was my 1st dink of the day.  Once I got to the very back of Shoal Bay I found a creek that had 2 feet of water clearity and plenty of standing timber and stumps to fish.  I didn’t make it very far into the creek and I caught 3 14″ dinks and had another 8 hits that I didn’t set the hook on.  30 minutes in the area and I decided that this would be my starting spot on wednesday.  After a couple more hours fishing in Shoal Bay I decided to fun another 5 miles to Piney Bay.  The water color there was slightly better than the main river.  This excited me.  It didn’t take me long to get the first keeper of the day.  I nailed a 3 1/2 pound largemouth on a black and blue jig in 3 feet of water in viney weeds.  I manage to get only 1 more dink in that bay before I called it a day.

Tuesday, I decided that I needed to run back to Shoal Bay to look over the clear water in Shoal Bay and some other spots near Dardanelle State Park.  I went into the creek just looking and not sticking any fish.  There were other boats in the area and it was the day before the tournament started.  I went through a bunch of different lures, and I got hit on just about every lure that I threw in the creek.  Feeling very confident, I check a couple more areas in Shoal Bay with no success.  Then I ran down the lake towards Dardanelle State Park.  That is when I realized that the river had became very rough from the wind.  2 to 3 foot waves had developed and there was a very short distance in between them.  You add those waves with all the debree of a high muddy river system and you have dangerous conditions.  It wasn’t until I reached my next spot that I realized I have broken my locking pine to my trolling motor.  My practice was officially over because I only had 18 hours until the tournament started and I had to fix a trolling motor.  I managed to make a couple make shift pins out of steel later in the day because no one had Motor Guide parts that I needed.  Now it was off to the pretournament meeting and to bed.

Wednesday morning I was launching 10th in the first flight for the first day of the tournament.  I had made my mind up that I was going to fish Shoal Bay in the clear water most of the first day.  I got their and right away I started catching fish.  Before long it was noon and I had caught 12 dinks and no keepers.  I had lost the only good bite I had that morning.  Around 1:00 I decided to run back towards Dardanelle State Park and work a couple spots that I had in deeper water.  I had no luck for largemouth, but my rider and I caught about 30 white bass.  Day 1 of the event was over and I was tied in 108th place with zero keepers.  The only lure that worked for me was a swim senko and a paca craw.

Day 2 I was in the 2nd flight and decided to start the day in Piney Bay where I had caught 1 nice keeper in practice and 1 other dink.  Wouldn’t you know it at 8:20 I managed to get a 3.10 pound largemouth on a black and blue jig flipping the viney weeds.  It was the only fish that I would catch that day besides 1 other dink.  Though I was disappointed to this point I still had a chance to make a check because that one fish put me in 87th place and they were paying 50 places.

The 3rd day I was in the third flight and new I needed at least 6+ pounds to get into the top 50 and collect a check. I had scrapped all of what I had learned in practice and decided that I was going to run and gun fishing as much water as I could during the day. I was also not going to run more than 5 miles in any direction from the launch. It took a little while but at 10:00 I caught my first keeper of the day. A nice 2.4lb largemouth. I caught it flipping shallow viney weeds once again. At this point I had decided that I was going to flip as much weeds as I could find the rest of the day. Hoping to get 2 more good bites. It wasn’t meant to be. I had caught an 8 pound drum, but that was my only other fish. That one fish was enough to move me up to 78th place overall.

After the tournament was over I think that I should have traveled farther up river to Spadra. I don’t know if that would have helped me because over 1/2 of the field was fishing up there. What I would have liked to do is stick to my guns more that flip the entire event. The only keepers I caught were doing that. I learned some important lessons down there. Never be satisfied with the water you find in practice. There are always better spots out there. Another lesson which I relearned was to keep listening to your gut. If it says flip then flip. If it says throw a chatterbait, then throw a chatterbait. Once again I cannot put enough emphasis on how well this circuit is run. Take off was smooth, weigh-in was smooth, and even though the fishing was tough it was still an enjoyable tournament. I look forward to fishing the circuit again next year. I would like to end by thanking the ABA staff who put so much time and energy into the event and made it such a pleasurable experience.

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Potomac River – Regional Championship

Recently I competed in the Bassmaster Weekend Series regional championship at the Potomac River.  The tournament was held on October 16 and 17, but I decided that with a new triton boat on the line and a bid to the nation championship on the line that I would go practice from Monday the 12th thru Thursday the 15th.  I was fortunate enough to room with a great group of guys from Pennsylvania.  I would like to thank Steve Hughes, Gus Glasgow, Ted Glasgow, Steve Allard, Mark Hughes, and my dad, Ron Cancilla, for a very enjoyable trip.  It was nice to be part of a group of guys that acted like a team to help one another develop winning patterns together.  For me it was my first trip down to the Potomac River and the guys gave me important information on dangerous areas and what to look for as far as fish habitat.

Before I left for my trip all I heard was how great a fishery that the Potomac River has become.  I believe that if we would have got better weather I would have seen that.  Unfortunately, with falling water temps all week, the conditions got more difficult as time went on.  Here is my experience.

Monday was my true first day of practice and decided that I should stay close to the launching site of the tournament.  The tournament was launching from Smallwood State Park on the Maryland side of the Potomac River.  Smallwood State Park is a beautiful facility, but has a $10 launching fee per day.  Smallwood State Park is located on Mattawomen Creek and is known for its number of bass.  That was apparent right away as I boated a bunch of small keepers on white spinnnerbaits, chatterbaits, buzzbaits, and a series 1XS strike king crankbait.  A keep largemouth bass during this season at the Potomac River is 12 inches and most of the fish that I found were in the 13-14″ range.  Around mid day I decided that I would try a couple of my lake spots that I wanted to hit with little success.  I did manage to catch a snakehead.  For those who don’t know these are fish are an invasive species that you are supposed to kill when you catch them.  I however did not kill the snakehead that I caught because I didn’t have a picture of the fish with me to determine if that is truly what I caught.  Later that night I confirmed that is what I caught.  After Some main lake spots, I decided to run to Belmont Bay and the creek in the back of it.  The water looked fantastic, but I only managed 3 keepers in there.  The water temperature was 65+ degrees depending on where we were fishing.  The weather was warm 70’s and mostly sunny.

Tuesday I decided to make my longest run of practice.  I decided to fish Aquia Creek, the Arcandale Flats, and Wades Bay.  There is not a lot for me to right about Tuesday because I only managed to catch 4 bass.  The best was on a series 4 strike king crankbait.  It was Tuesday that I finally saw the results of catching the tides wrong.  However, it would take me until the last day of the tournament to learn how to fish the tide change properly.

Wednesday I decided that I would spend less time running the big motor and more time trying to catch fish.  I decided to fish Chickamoxen Creek, main river areas, and 1 other small creek.  Up until 2:30 I was having very little success only catching 2 keepers all morning.  I had found some rip rap in about 3 1/2 feet of water at high tide.  Feeling a bit defeated I switch to finesse fishing a shakey head worm on a football shakey head jig.  Wow, did it work!!!  I stuck 4 fish on the 400 yards of water and had many more hits.  I figured that I would have had about 13lbs of fish with my best five fish that day and was confident that I would get those fish to myself in the tournament.  The weather starting changing Wednesday though.  It started sunny, but the wind picked up and overcast move in.  The water temperature had started to drop as well.

Thursday I decided to try to find more rip rap for my shakey jigs.  The weather had turned nasty though.  Cold rainy conditions should have allowed for my pattern to hold up, but it killed the bite.  Around 9:30 I decided I would give Belmont Bay and its creek another try.  I had no success.  Around 11:00 I decided that I was going to start at the Occoquan River mouth and fish the weed line with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and chattebaits, until I found a spot with some fish or I found a lure that worked.  After about 1/2 mile and 15 lures I found a lure and stretch that was loaded with keepers.  They weren’t big keepers, but I figured it got tough these fish may get me into the top 50.  My lure of choice was a lucky craft flat crankbait that had a less aggressive wobble in about 5-7 feet of water.  The water temperature was now around 58 Degrees and falling.

The first day of the tournament was Friday and I managed to draw 1st flight and boat 25.  That made me feel good since there were 167 boats in the tournament.  The weather was rainy and windy and the air temperature would never get higher than 45 degrees.  I had made my mind up the night before that I would start on the best fish that I found with my shakey head pattern.  From 7:15 – 10:45 I worked these fish hard and only managed to catch 1 keeper that was 12 1/4″.  My rider managed a small limit using a white spinnerbait.  At this point I decided to make the run into the Occoquan River and work the fish I had found the day before.  Over the next 3+ hours I caught 12-15 more keepers on the same lucky craft crankbait working a short stretch of water.  The key to the spot was that at low tide the fish located themselves on the weed edge.  Pulling crankbaits through the weeds was frustrating, but it was producing fish.  At 1:30 I decided to leave the fish and try a couple of spots on the main river that I though could give me a big bite.  Check-in came and I managed no more keepers.  I weighted 5 keeper largemouth bass that weighed 8.34 pounds.  For the Potomac River those are bad numbers, but I was sitting in 37th place.  The game planning started for the next day.

Saturday morning came and I was in 2nd flight and was boat 112.  The wait in the morning about killed me, but the weather was even more brutal.  The air temperature would once again never break 45 degree and it would rain/sleet all day.  Through the course of the night I had decided that I was going to sit on the one school of fish I had located in the Occoquan River all day.  What I hadn’t truly realized yet is how the tide effects where the fish were located in the spot I was fishing.  I ran to my spot right away and started working my fish with the same lucky craft crankbait.  After 2 hours of fishing my stretch I had no keepers on my weed edge.  Then I remembered the words that Steve told me before I left that morning.  “You will be surprised how shallow that the fish will go when it is high tide.”  I pulled out my spinnerbait rod opened my box and picked out a spinnerbait with 2 small nickel willow blades and a pink/white skirt.  Normally, I would only throw this spinnerbait for smallmouth, but I was desperate.  Three casts after I started beating the bank I caught my first keeper.  Then it was back to nothing.  Figuring it was a fluke I decide to work my weed edge with some other lures for another hour.  Once again no luck.  At this point the tide was going out so I decided to work the weeds in between the bank and my weed edge.  I decided that I would also drift to not spook the fish.  Oh my how it work.  In the next 10 minutes I loaded the well with a small limit.  But I had my limit.  As I finished my drift I realized that 10 boats saw me catching fish and swarmed my area.  Knowing that the fish were shallow I knew that many trolling motors and depth finders would kill the bite in a hurry.  And it did!  I never caught another fish shallow.  Slowly the boats disappeared and around 1:00 I was the last boat on my stretch again.  At this point I figured that the tide was such that the fish would have relocated at the weed edge.  Since the water had dropped all the water to 52 degree I made a lure selection that even I didn’t believe I was using.  I went to a lucky craft point 78.  You have to understand that if there is one technique that I feel inferior in using is hard body jerkbaits.  But you want to talk about instant results, my first cast I caught a keeper on a 5 second pause.  It would be the first of about 15 fish that I would catch in the next 1 1/2 hours.  Using a 5 -10 second pause proved to be key in getting strikes.  Looking back I wish I would have used the lure all morning because I think I would have caught more fish, but it was the adjustment I needed to move up the leader board.  Day 2 of the tournament I weighed 5 largemouth bass that weighed 7.81 pounds.

As weigh-in concluded I knew that my 10 bass weighing 16.15lbs would be close to the top 20 anglers who would receive a check.  I ended up finishing 21st out of 167 competitors.  I felt very good about my finish because I had never been there, I had a bad practice, and I made the adjustments I needed to.  Like most tournaments I did make a few minor mistakes that cost me probably 2 or 3 lbs and several places in the standing.  Even so, I reached my ultimate goal of going to the national championship at Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas.  Starting November 1st I will be competing against 199 other competitors for $100,000 and a bid to the Bassmaster Classic this February.  Check back in a couple weeks to see how that trip goes.

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ABA New York West Division on Oneida Lake

This past weekend I fished as a rider in the last divisional event for the bassmaster weekend series, New York West Division on Oneida Lake.  This was the championship so it was a two day event held on Saturday and Sunday.  Much like Leo has said in the past, these guys from the ABA do a fine job at putting on a tournament.

Leo and I arrived at Oneida Lake Thursday afternoon and practiced both Thursday and Friday.  We found some solid spots around some of the shoals that littered the lake.  The main pattern was a 3/8 or ½ oz white spinnerbait over 10 or so feet of water.   Let me tell you that the smallmouth in Oneida are some of the strongest fighting smallies I have every seen.  In fact I didn’t talk to too many guys that didn’t have at least one spinnerbait broken by these guys, I myself broke two.  The secondary pattern was to pull a green pumpkin tube or beaver.

Day one of the tournament was not what I would call and nice day on the water.  Heavy winds produced some bumpy conditions, 3 to 5 footers.  Despite the bad weather conditions my boater was on good fish and I was able to get limit of solid fish using my ½ oz white spinnerbait on day one. This put me right where in needed to be for day two.

On day two the wind had died off a little but the rain moved in.  My boater had some smallmouth he fished in practice about half way down the lake so after a few stops in the morning we decided to run down and see if we could get into them.  We pulled up to spot and within an hour had a small limit.  We worked this area for the reset of the day and we were able to cull up but not quite to the quality of fish from day one.  Once again just about every fish came on a ½ oz white spinnerbait, a few came on a green pumpkin tube.

I was able to put together my first top 5 finish in this series, finishing 4th.  All in all it was a good weekend of fishing.  If I learned one thing from this trip it was that I’m more out of shape then I ever thought possible.  Throwing a ½ oz spinnerbait for four straight days had my arms sore.  I have no idea how KVD does it.

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Canandaigua Lake

This past weekend I participated in the fourth divisional event for the bassmaster weekend series, New York West Division.  As I have stated before these tournaments are the best run tournaments that I have everCanandaigua 007 taken part in.   Canandaigua Lake was the fishery where the tournament was being held.  I have truly fallen in love with the finger lakes because of the beauty and how healthy the fish are.

I arrived at Canandaigua Lake around 8:00 AM Thursday morning.  Since I have never been to the lake I decided to take a drive around and get a feel for the lake.  This is what I discovered.  The lake had shallow flats infront of the docks which did or didn’t have weeds.  In this finger lake the weeds were more sparse and hard to find.  I also found that some of the docks were in 20-30 feet of water.  That condition I had yet to find in New York.  But like seneca lake once you got into the 20 to 30 feet range then the water dropped off to 100 feet.  The lake is about 16 miles long with a creek in the South end of the lake.

Now lets get to some fishing talk. Thursday I devoted my first 6 hours to looking for smallmouth bass. Talked to some of the locals they told me that it was going to take 18lbs to win this tournament and that it would be smallies. I was drop shotting, dragging tubes and beavers, and powerfishing. I even gave jerkbaits a decent amount of time. I had no luck for bass, but the rock bass and perch were all over my drop shot rig in about 25 feet of water. Around 2:00 Thursday I decided that I was going to find some back upCanandaigua 003 largemouth bass. I went to the first set of docks that had weeds on them and started flipping. It didn’t take long and I had caught 2 keepers and stopped sticking fish on this stretch. I started heading back up the lake trying points and good looking docks. Still convinced that smallmouth bass would win this event I spent most of my time trying to find them. I did hit a set of docks that looked perfect and my first flip I caught a 3lb largemouth. I spent some time throwing a homemade chatterbait in the weeds and all I managed to get were pickerel. They are a very pretty fish. The last bass I caught for the day was my lunker. I found 1 laydown on the lake that had good water under it and I flipped in and bam. 4+lb largemouth. I stopped fishing around 6:00 PM Thursday night. After that day I realized that I could get a limit of largemouth that was decent, but not going to win the tournament.

Friday, Jon and I head to the lake early to see if we could get an early bite. I had a couple points that I had marked to try and we ran right to the first one. 10 minutes into the day I caught a 2lb largemouth on a popper. Off of that point was a nice weed line and we worked it down shore about a 1/4 mile to the next point. Jon had a nice smallmouth bass follow his swimbait to the boat twice but couldn’t get it to commit. We decided to keep looking for smallmouth. After alot of looking around we came back to the point where Jon had the smallmouth follow his lure in. The sun had came out at this point and all of the sudden there were smallmouth everywhere and they were big. We fished for these 4 and 5 pound fish for about 1 hour and the only bite I managed to get was a 2lb smallmouth. After that bit of frustration I decided I need to find more largemouth spots. Around 4:00 PM we called it quits for the night and went to eat and charge the batteries.

Now it is tournament day and we arrived at the launch at 5:30. The tournament was set to launch at 6:30 so we had plenty of time. Or I thought I did. I started pulling rods out and testing the equipment. I quickly realized that my front light wasn’t working. After messing with it until 6:10 I gave up. I couldn’t find anything wrong with the wiring and couldn’t get it apart to check the bulb. The next crisis was that my rider for the day didn’t get there until 6:15 and was getting a traffic violation. It doesn’t stop there. Because the light didn’t work we had to wait until 6:47 when safe light happens to leave the canal. We were the last one to leave and we were boat 12. If you think that is the end of my bad luck you are sadly mistaken. When I was finally able to run I went to pull my trolling motor up and I a couple strainds of my rope broke. I was lucky though and it made it through the day. Finally, we got to go fishing, but running full speed is out of the question because there is a 45 mph speed limit on the lake.

The first spot I wanted to start at was where I say all of the smallmouth. There were 5 boats sitting on that point so I decided to run to a largemouth spot. I didn’t catch a bass until 9:00 AM. It was worth the weight though. A nice 3lber. 5 minutes later I put a 2lber in the livewell. We decided to go try the smallmouth spot, but once again there were 5 guys there. I then ran to another set of docks and caught a 14″ and 12 1/2″ keeper. Not big ones but I was glad to have them. Then the bad luck hit again. A nice 2lber hit in a dock and I ripped his lips off, and left him in the dock. I tried a couple other spots and decide at 1:15 to try to get some smallies. No luck because my head took me to the docks in from them. I am glad it did because my first flip I caught a 4 lb largemouth. Now I have my limit and decided to fly through the docks until the tournament was over. I lost 2 more fish that would have called my 12 1/2 by at least 1 lb. I finished the tournament with 5 bass that weighed 11.65lbs. It was good enough to finish 8th place.

Currently I am sitting in 4th place in the standings and the last tournament is the divisional championship at Oneida Lake. I will be looking to hold that spot, so that I can head to the Potomac River for the regional qualifier.

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Chautauqua Bass Tournament

I fished in the third division event in the New York West Division of the Bassmaster Weekend Series on Saturday.  The tournament was held at Lake Chautauqua and was run by the ABA.  These guys do a great job making sure the tournament runs smoothly and the weigh-in is fast to help get the fish back to the water.

Last week I had stated that I was really excited for the upcoming tournament.  Friday’s practice left me feeling about that I would be able to land about 13-15 pounds of fish.  Depending on how many big bites I was able to get.  Friday I found fish in the weeds, on docks, and on laydowns.  I only stuck 1 fish in each location, but I managed about 13-14 lbs worth of fish and 2 of them were in the 3 3/4lb range.  The key to my bite on friday was to leave the lure fish perfectly still.  The water temperature varied from 66-70 degrees depending on the end of the lake and time of day.

Towards the end of practice on Friday and during the pre tournament meeting Friday night the winds started to pick up.  You guessed it, a cold front was about to come through.  Throughout the course of the night we got hit with high winds, heavy rains, and even a little bit of hail.  This being said I new that the conditions were about to get even harder on the lake.

At the start of the tournament the winds were relatively mild and out of the west.  I started on a weed line where I caught on of my good fish the day before and punch a few lure in the 8 feet of weeds.  With no success I moved to the shallow flat adjacent to the weeds looking for an agressive bite.  Once again, I couldn’t get an agressive strike.  I went back to the weeds for another 20 minutes or so with no success.  At this point I worked towards a long row of docks and started fishing them.  The first dock I threw at I pulled a 5lb largemouth bass.  At this point I was thinking that I had a great chance to get a big weight.  After working the rest of the docks on the stretch and not getting a hit I ran to another spot.

I pulled into a set of docks that had a bunch of potoon boats.  The potoon boats were key to my pattern.  On my very first cast I hooked up with a small keeper that jumped off.  A few casts later I caught a small keeper.  Ten minutes later I caught another small keeper.  To say that least I couldn’t find our where the big fish or even average (2.5lb) fish had gone from the week before.

After fishing all of the docks in that area, I decided to run back to my first spot in the weeds.  That decision was based on the fact that I caught a couple big fish over there in practice and I thought it was a matter of time for the weeds to turn on.  I was wrong.  Once I decided that I wouldn’t get hit anymore in the spot it was time to move again.  I tried to hit a couple more spots, but there were guys on them.  So, I decided to run south to fill my limit.

When I arrived at the creek I decided to flip the lay downs that I caught a 3 3/4lb fish from the day before.  There was a big difference this time though.  the wind was ripping from the North and blasting the shallow shoreline with waves.  This made it very difficult to flip the laydowns, but I managed to get a 2lber and my limit with another small keeper.  I tried multiple other spots and had no success.  Looking for a couple more good fish I went back to the north to find guys in every spot I wanted.

Before I knew it the tournament was over and I had to leave.  Overall, I finished with a 5 bass limit that weighed 11.48lbs.  It was not what I had planned for, but it was good enough to place 16th and give me some valuable points toward the AOY standings.  After the tournament I moved up in the standing from being tied for 9th place to being tied for 5th place.

If I had it to do over I believe that I would have never left the northern end of the lake.  Conditions were tough, but if I would have tried more things in the areas I had fish maybe I could have gotten a couple more good bites.

Now it is time to get ready for the fourth event which will be at Canandaigua Lake, NY on September 12.  I am really looking forward to fishing that tournament because I have never been to that body of water.

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Well after spending this past weekend practicing at Chautauqua for my upcoming B.A.S.S. tournement, I am pumped to get back up there.  Every time I go to New York to fish I leave thinking about the next time I will be heading back.  The combination of beautiful lakes, great fishing, and friendly people make it a pleasure to visit.

This past weekend the weather made fishing more than a little difficult.  Saturday the wind was ripping and there was a mix of rain and sun shine.  The lake laid down towards the evening and I was able to get some nice fish.  Sunday I woke up to the wind being a little more calm, but it rained the majority of the day.  The surface was temperature varied.  I saw temps as warm as 74 degrees and as low as 68 degrees.  The lake seemed to be turning over because there was a thick layer of green alge floating in the water.  It was so thick in certain spots that it affected the sonar.

The fishing wasn’t stellar, but I did manage to get some really nice largemouth.  The aggressive bite was not on at all.  I also couldn’t get bit punching weeds.  Which is very confusing because that lake is covered in weed cover.  I managed to find a pattern that I managed to catch 5 keepers saturday that weighed over 13 pounds, and 5 keepers sunday that weighed over 14 pounds.  I fished this pattern about 1/10 of the time I was on the water.  I feel that if I would have worked 2 of my spots that I could possible end up with the 20 pound bag that I will need this saturday.

If you remember my post about Chautauqua in the spring I was catching mostly smallmouth.  This trip I only managed 2 smallmouth and a bunch of largemouth.  I am not real sure where they have disappeared to but I know if I am going to win I better find them this friday.

For anyone that wants to check out weigh-in we will be at Long Point State Park.  Weigh-in should start around 3:00 pm and last for at least 1 hour.  The Bassmaster Weekend Series – run by the ABA does a great job with fish conservation and public relations.  Come on out and see it for yourself.

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