Thursday, 29 October 2020 15:17

From the Race Course to the Lake

By Drew Ziehnert | Sports
Photo provided. Photo provided.

While going to college at Siena, I have always worked every Friday night at Dicks Sporting Goods in Saratoga Springs. One of the best parts of the job is that you get to meet and discuss fishing and hunting tactics with people from all over the capital region. Over the summer, I had the chance to talk to one father and son duo who shared the same passion for fishing that I do.

They came to me one Friday night with a tangled fishing reel and explained that they did not know what to do about it. I could tell that they were new to fishing, but seemed to enjoy it as they said they were trying to get out every single night. 

We have all been there when first starting out and it can be overwhelming dealing with the various line tangles and “bird nests” as we like to call them. After I was able to free the tangled reel and explain to them how it happened, I realized that this was not the average father and son duo, but I just could not piece together who they were. They explained to me that they were just staying in Saratoga for the summer because of the Saratoga Springs Race Track. This still was not a dead giveaway as plenty of people travel to Saratoga Springs in the summer for the track. I knew I recognized this person from somewhere, but I just could not put the pieces together. 

When the father walked away to go look at lures, I asked his son what their last name was. He replied with “Alvarado,” and I knew in that instant that it was none other than Jockey Junior Alvarado. 

When he returned, I explained to him that I was a huge fan of horse racing and that we had a shared passion for fishing. It just so happened that Junior had won three races that day, including the “Perfect Sting Stakes.” After talking about horse racing for a bit, he explained to me that they had been fishing Lake Lonely every night, but just did not know the techniques to catch fish. As a New York State Licensed Fishing Guide, I knew I had to take these guys out and show them what Lake Lonely has to offer. So, we planned on fishing during a dark day the following week.

On Tuesday night, August 18, Junior and his son Adrian met me at Lake Lonely Water Sports for an evening of Bass and Pike fishing. Adrian told me that they had not caught a single fish since arriving in Saratoga Springs and I assured him that not only were we going to catch fish, I was going to make sure he caught the biggest fish of his life. So, we set out in my 18ft bass boat prepared to catch some fish.

Based on the time of year, I positioned the boat right on the edge of a weed bed where I knew the bass and pike were waiting to ambush anything that moved past them. The best part about this spot was that we had a view of the 15th hole on the Saratoga National Golf Course, which makes for an incredibly scenic backdrop. 

For this trip I wanted to let Junior and Adrian practice their casting, while I had some live bait out from the back of the boat. This way we had two different presentations that the fish would bite. I like using slip bobbers with live bait when taking people out so they can feel the excitement when the bobber goes under. It did not take more than five minutes before Adrian shouted, “The bobber!” and he was reeling in his first largemouth bass. After a good fight, Adrian had reeled in a very nice two-pound bass. Junior soon followed and shouted, “Fish On!” and caught the next fish using a crankbait. 

Fishing soon turned into a classic father and son contest as both Junior and Adrian were catching fish left and right. By the end, I think Adrian was able to take the title of “Fisherman of the Night” and left Junior wanting to catch more next time. Adrian had also caught the biggest fish of his life when he landed a 23” Northern Pike. We finished off the night with Adrian helping me drive the boat back, despite nearly knocking his Dad’s hat off. I can gladly say that Junior and Adrian will be back next summer to win some more races and catch some more fish.

Drew Ziehnert  is a New York State Licensed Fishing Guide and owner of Ziehnert Guide Service. Ziehnert is an English Education major from Siena College.

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