Posts Tagged Perch
At fishpittsburgh we pride ourselves at being honest. I have never ice fished. The last couple of years friends of mine have been trying to get me out with them and things just didn’t line up. Footage like this where guys are pulling in perch and perch using Salmo Cubby Darters makes me think about getting into ice fishing. I can taste those little fillets.
One of the best fisheries in Pennsylvania is located in Erie County. Presque Isle State Park on Lake Erie is home to some of the best fishing I have ever experienced. Everyone knows how good Lake Erie can be, but no one thinks about how fishing the Presque Isle Bay. There are many species of fish and certain times of year some species are more abundant than other times. The Erie area is thriving right now so there is plenty to do inside and outside the state park. It truly has something for everyone.
Let’s start by talking about all of the species of fish that can be found in Presque Isle Bay. The most abundant species in the bay depends on the time of year in which you are there. The most consistent species you can find is largemouth bass. Fisherman can experience some of the best largemouth fishing in the state from the time the ice comes off the bay until the bay freezes over. From mid April until early July you can find a huge population of smallmouth bass that move into the bay to spawn. Panfish such as perch, crapie, bluegill, rock bass, white bass, and sunfish. During the cold water temperature time of the year you can find steelhead and trout that have migrated in from the main lake. There is a healthy population of northern pike. Some other species that can be found include: muskie, freshwater drum, carp, catfish, and alligator gar. Whatever your target species there are ample oppurtunies at Presque Isle State Park.
As many species as there are in the bay there are many more ways to catch fish depending on the species. In the spring and fall months fishing aggressive tends to be the best when fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwater lures are my favorite lures. During the water summer months I tend to switch gears and pull out more of my heavy punching gear because of the abundance of weeds. Heavy weights and heavy line are a must to get fish out of the mat weeds. No matter what time of year that I there I expect to boat 50 bass a day. It doesn’t always happen, but it happens more often than not. Some of my favorite soft plastics include berkley chigger craws and tubes of various colors. Creature baits such as brush hogs are also very effective.
Early in the year steelhead move into the bay. You can effectively catch these fish on your typical lures for them. Spoons, blade baits, and jerkbaits are some of the common lures used. For muskie and northern pike you should start with white spinnerbaits and swimbaits. Everytime I fish this lake I catch a couple of these guys early in the morning while I am fishing aggressively for bass. Try fishing Misery Bay for these toothy guys. Try looking that the beginning of the penninsula for carp and panfish. However, panfish can be found throughout the bay. If you are looking to find an alligator gar you should look in the lagoons and horseshoe bay.
There are ample opportunities to fish from boats and from shore. There are e public boat launchs in Presque Isle State Park. There is the Vista Boat launch which is more for small water crafts and jet skies. Niagara Boat Launch and the Lagoons Boat Launch and handle small to medium sized boats. The largest boat launch is the West Pier Launch. It will handle whatever boat you choose to launch. There is a marina attached to the west pier launch with plenty of slips to accommodate. There is also a boat launch on the city side of the by on Chestnut Street.
Presque Isle State Park offers many more activities that just fishing. There is a paved bicycle trail that can be jogged, biked, or walked on that goes the entire way around the penninsula. At the beginning of the park there is a shop that you can rent bicycles. On Graveyard Point there is a boat rental where you can rent kayaks, canoes, or multiple types of boats. There are plenty of picnic shelters that can be rented or used on a first come first served basis. Scuba diving is permit is certain areas of the bay, but you must be a registered diver and check in with the park before doing so. Water skiing is also permitted as this is an unlimited horsepower body of water. Except for the no wake and lagoons (electric only) area.
My favorite time of year to be at Presque Isle State Park is May. At this time the trees are turning green and the flowers are blooming. Let’s not forget that the smallmouth bass are in the bay spawning or getting ready to spawn. The largemouth bass fishing is unbelievable as well.
Southwestern New York is home to one of the best fisheries that I have ever been to. Chautauqua Lake has one of the best largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, perch, rock bass, and crappie populations that I have ever seen. Not to mention it is known for its large musky. This lake has something to offer every skill level, age group, and style of angler. Add to that the beautiful scenry and crystal clear water and you have the perfect get away.
Let’s start with some technical data. Chautauqua Lake is is approximately 17 miles long and 2 miles wide. The route 86 bridge seperates the upper and lower basin of the lake. In the upper basin you will generally find yourself in slightly deeper water and the lower basin. The maximum depth of the lake is 78 feet. There are 41 miles of shoreline and 13,000 acres of surface area. These numbers my sound quite large, but since there is an unlimited horsepower rating you can cover the lake in a hurry. The water clearity on the lake is very clear, but if an algea bloom happens you are not going to have any visability.
There are many types of structure to fish at Chautauqua Lake. The most abundant feature is the massive weedbeds. Weeds cover most of the shorelines throughout the lake and extends to the center of the lake in some places. Next, there is an impressive amount of boat docks that hold multiple species of fish all year round. Throughout the lake you will find small patches of lilly pads. These areas are usually quite shallow, but can hold decent amounts of bass and are often overlooked. Being the flipper that I am I found a shoreline in the creek that has a good number of laydowns. Although most of them are shallow, they can still be productive for largemouth bass. The most sought after spots on the lake are the rock piles that are scattered throughout. These will be very productive for all species. The second most common type of structure are the thousands of boat docks throughout the lake. Other structures include brushpiles and cribs.
There are multiple campgrounds and resort areas around the lake. There is campground called Chautauqua Heights that is on the Northeast side of the lake near Dewittville. They offer camp site for the entire year to just one night. The sites include tent sites, electric sites, and sites for RV’s. Chautuaqua Heights also offers multiple levels of cabin rental, from rustic to luxury. Some of the other features include well maintained bathhouse, basketball court, mini golf course, horseshoe pits, jungle gym, swimming pool, and game room. There is also a camp store. Another campground is called Camp Chautauqua. It is located on the Northwest side of the lake near Mayville. There facilities are very similar to Chautauqua Heights. Another area you can stay are the Irwin Bay cabins which are also near Mayville.
To my knowledged there are 5 public boat launchs on Chautauqua Lake. The most used boat launch is in Long Point State Park. There is a beautiful marina and boat launch that is well maintained with plenty of room for boaters to park there vehicles and boats. Another launch is located in the town of Mayville. This is a much smaller launch but typically is not as busy. It is perfect if you are staying in the Mayville area. In the middle of the lake on the West side is Pendergaust Point. This is a very nice boat launch that is maintained by the state. There is also a boat launch in Bemus Point and one where the creek enters the lake in the South. There are multiple marinas throughout the lake that have there own private boat launchs as well.
There are plenty of things to do near Chautauqua for the entire family. The famous city of Bemus Point is a festive town that always has something going on. From festivals to classic cars shows it leaves something for everyone. You can find some great restuarants around the entire lake as well. The Erie wine trail makes its way through Chautuaqua as well. Add those to all the activities on the water and in the campground, and you have a great vacation destination.
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.
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 ever 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 up 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.
One of the most versitile lakes that we have in Western Pennsylvania is Pymatuning Lake. It offers something for every angler at every age and skill level. Pymatuning Lake is a great family destination because there are multiple campgrounds, beaches, and great fishing. The lake is has over 17,000 acres of surface area and is one of the largest lake is the state. Even though part of the lake is located in Ohio. Pymatuning has an average depth of approximately 15 feet but don’t let that fool you. This lake shallows very quickly and has many boating hazards such as stumps, standing timber, and submerged islands. The maximum horse power was recently changed on Pymatuning Lake is 20.
First let’s talk about the marinas located on the Pennsylvania side of Pymatuning Lake. There are three marina’s located on the Pennsylvania side of the lake. The southern most marina is Jamestown Marina and it is located near the dam. There are plenty of slips, gas station, concession, and a public boat launch located here. The Espyville Marina is located by the causeway on the north side of the lake. Espyville Marina has the same amenities as Jamestown, but the public launch is on the south side of the causeway. The causeway spans from the Pennsylvania side of the lake to the Ohio side of the lake along route 285. The last marina is called Linesville Marina. It is the northern most marina in the lake and has the same amenities as the Jamestown and Epsyville Marina.
There are three campgrounds located in Pennsylvania that are on the lake. Jamestown Campground is located in the south end of the lake. It has a private beach, playground equipment, camp store, and boat launch for campers only. The two camground on the north side of the causeway are Tuttle and Linesville Campground. Both have the same amenities as the Jamestown Campground. All three campgrounds allow pets on certain sites and also have electric and water hook-ups on certain sites. Reservations can be made through the DCNR website. Typically, these campgrounds open on April 1st and stay open until late October.
There are a few other boat launches and sites to see and use. Manning boat launch is located between Tuttle Campground and Epsyville Marina on the Northeast side of the lake. Snodgrass boat launch is another commonly used boat launch which is located on the Southeast side of the lake. Both boat launch have ADA accessible restrooms. Another great attraction of Pymatuning Lake is the spillway on the north end of the lake. The carp really stack up at the spill way and you can feed them on one side and fish for them on the other. There is a little bite of something for everyone at the spillway, which makes it a great family destination. Another place you should see is the causeway. The causeway run East to West across the lake along PA route 285. The causeway offers a place to fish and site seeing.
Pymatuning Lake offers great fishing for a number of different species. Smallmouth and Largemouth bass are frequently caught and can be sizable. Largemouth bass are often caught in shallow weeds, stumps, laydowns, and rock piles. Some common lures for largemouth bass are spinnerbaits, tubes, jigs, crawbaits, buzzbaits, shiners, minnows, nightcrawlers, and crawfish. Smallmouth bass are often located in slightly deeper water, but don’t be surprized if you find them spawning in the spring alongside largemouth bass. These bass are often caught on jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, drop shot worms, crankbaits, and jigs. Try tipping a jig and grub with fathead minnow on the rocky drop-offs. Muskie are often taken by trolling or by casting. Larger lures are necessary for catching these monsters, but there are plenty of them in the lake. The southern end of the lake by jamestown seems to hold more muskie than the northern end of the lake. Try fishing behind Jamestown Island near the dam for the best muskie action. There is an abundent amount of pan fish for any skill level to catch. Crappie, Perch, and Bluegill can be caught on typical panfish lures and small bass lures. The stump field by linesville launch and clark island is a great place to try to get some panfish. At one time Pymatuning was know for its great walleye fishing. Although the size of the fish wasn’t as good as some locations it was good for catching high numbers of walleye. Today the walleye population is a bit lower, but the size has increased. Whatever species of fish you desire, Pymatuning Lake is a great location to find them.
There are some good sources of information about Pymatuning Lake. First, check the PA Fishing and Boat Commission website. Then take a look at the Pymatuning Lake Association website.