What I like most about fishing this time of the year is that no matter what your level of experience, everyone is a great fisherman.
With water temperatures approaching 70 degrees, the fish swimming in our local lakes and ponds are spending a lot of time in shallow water looking for food or good places to lay the eggs of the next generation. This means that the fish are easy to entice with a baited hook or your favorite lure. Finesse and subtle presentation are not required at this time, you can “chuck and wind” to your heart’s content.
Spinnerbaits, rattle baits, crank baits, swim baits and jerk baits are about as un-subtle as lures get and the fish will eagerly respond to the commotion they make. Concentrate your efforts in shallow water less than 10-feet deep where the weeds will be thick later in the summer. You should find these areas teeming with male Bass clearing nests for the big females to lay eggs in. They will be aggressively defending their turf and anything that passes near them will draw a vicious strike.
Fishermen I’ve talked to report catching 30 or more bass in just a few hours as well as numerous Pickerel and the occasional Pike and Rock Bass. Remember to release all the Bass you catch. Currently, Bass season is Catch and Release only and the rules state that you may fish for them using artificial baits only. While you can’t prevent them from taking live bait and nightcrawlers, you are not supposed to target them with those baits. Handle the Bass you catch gently and release them as quickly as you can so they can get back to the serious business of defending their nest from raids by hungry Bluegills.
Many anglers I know will move quietly through the shallows just to see the fish and note their location for later in the season when the tournaments begin. Bass season will open June 20 statewide but if you can’t wait that long, head up to Lake Champlain where the season opens on June 13. In the meantime, enjoy the catch and release season or try your luck fishing for some of the other species of fish swimming in our local waters.
Heading to the Launch
Memorial Day reminded us of the sacrifices made in defense of the freedoms we all enjoy. It was also the symbolic start of the summer season for many boaters. I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of boaters headed to their favorite launches eager for a fun filled day on the water. If you are one of those headed out for the first time this season, take a little time before you hitch up your boat and check to make sure you are road and water ready.
Some of what you are about to read will seem ridiculously obvious, especially if you are an experienced boater, but it may save you from a disappointing and stressful experience. First, check to make sure your boat and trailer registrations are valid and the stickers properly affixed in the appropriate places. Expirations dates for multiple year boat registrations can be overlooked and trailer registrations renewed last winter while your boat was in storage may have been put away for safe keeping along with the sticker that belongs on the license plate. I’ve been guilty of the latter oversight and earned an official document as a result.
Next, thoroughly inspect your trailer’s tires for roadworthiness and lube the wheel bearings. Replace the bearings if you can’t recall the last time you did. Don’t forget to make sure the spare tire is ready for service and you have the appropriate jack to put said tire to use should you need it. Also check the hitch coupler to make sure it locks securely to the ball on your trailer hitch and that the safety chains are present and in good condition. USE THE CORRECT SIZE BALL. I’ve seen too many boaters pulled over on the shoulder of the road with flats, missing wheels or separated from their trailers because they overlooked these things.
Now check the required safety equipment you need to have in your boat. Personal floatation devices of the correct size need to be present and free of cuts and other damage. Flares have an expiration date. Make sure they have not expired. Depending on the vessel you captain, you will also need to have the right combination of horns, whistles, lights, flags, throwable PFDs, anchors, ropes, paddles, fire extinguishers, etc. Don’t get an easily avoided ticket. Your starting and trolling motor batteries should be fully charged or replaced if more than 3 years old. All of these things sound obvious but if you spend a day at the boat launch, you will see they are often overlooked. One more thing, DON’T FORGET THE PLUG.
A busy boat launch can be an intimidating place to be. I’ve competed in fishing tournaments that fielded more than 100 boats out of one launch and have seen firsthand the chaos that results from poor manners.
Don’t be a ramp hog.
When you arrive at the launch site, pull your rig out of the way and prep your boat before taking your place in line. Many launches will allow multiple boaters to wet their boats at once. If you need to use a particular side of the launch, allow others in line to pass ahead while you wait for the lane you need to clear. Patience is often in short supply at the ramp. Inexperienced or first-time launchers can make a hash out of things on a busy weekend. If you fall into that category, try to gain experience during slower weekdays and ask for help. Backing and launching a boat is not a difficult thing to master but you need to start somewhere and a busy Saturday at the lake is not the best place learn.
The worst battles I’ve seen at the launch are those that occur when one spouse tries to direct the other spouse in the backing of the trailer down the ramp. Miscommunication, misunderstanding and inexperience result in mistakes and embarrassment that strain marital ties.
Keep Your Boat Clean
Invasive species, both plant and animal, are often transported from one body of water to another by boaters who neglect to check their boats and trailers for hitch hikers. New York is taking a tough stance against invasive species and those who transport them. You may have encountered lake stewards at various launches locally and in the Adirondacks. Their job is to educate boaters about the damage these invasives can wreck upon the ecosystems they enter and how boaters can help stem the invasion.
The Department of Environmental Conservation will deploy lake stewards in 14 new locations and add 11 more boat wash stations in the Adirondacks. Many organisms can survive in as little as a drop of water and plants can remain viable for extended periods of time as long as they remain damp.
Draining, disinfecting and drying live wells and bilges is strongly recommended. Also remove any visible plant material and attached animals from your boat and trailer. Failure to do so may result in your being turned away at the launch or being issued a ticket. We all need to be responsible for the environment and while we may not be able to halt the movement of all unwanted organisms from place to place, we can minimize our contribution to the problem.
Tim Blodgett, owner of
Saratoga Tackle & Archery, can
be reached at (518) 584-3952.
His store is located on Route 9P,
Saratoga Lake next to the state
boat launch. For further information,
visit Saratogatackle.com or
find Saratoga Tackle on Facebook.