Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oneida Lake's Hot Weather Bass

Monster rock bass like this one punctuate the catch along the Long Shore.
Anglers worth their weight in rubber worms know Oneida Lake is one of the hottest bass spots in the Northeast. What many don't realize (including me, up until a couple days ago, anyway) is how shallow you can find smallmouths in the dog days of summer.

Wesley Coy, a colorful local who describes himself as "a jerk on one end waiting for a jerk on the other," showed me.

Not your average jerk, Coy makes extra income as a bass pro on the U.S. Angler's Choice Tournament Trail, a national circuit that holds seven competitions annually on Oneida Lake.

I told him I wanted to catch some largemouths and he took me to his favorite spot, "the Long Shore," stretching roughly from Shackleton Point east to the Oswego County line.

We drifted over a patchwork of weed beds, rock piles and boulders clinging to a wavy floor ranging from three to eight feet deep. The water temperature was 78 degrees.

Convinced bass preferred cooler water on hot, muggy days (air temperature was in the 90s), I braced myself for getting skunked.

Big mistake.

On my second cast, I nailed a smallmouth weighing well over two pounds on a spinnerbait.

Almost simultaneously, Wes got one about three pounds on a black/blue flake JDC Bass Bone hooked wacky style. Then he got another and another.

I switched to a YUM Dinger hooked wacky style on a 5/0 Eagle Claw Lazer, Wide Gap Worm Hook and started catching fish again.

Toward the end of the drift, bucketmouths finally made an appearance. We boated several ranging from one (mine) to three (Wes's) pounds.

In about three hours, we caught 15 keeper bass--including two 3 ½-pound bronzebacks--several smaller ones and some rock bass

At the end of the Long Shore we headed for the north side of Dutchman's Island. We caught several more, including the best of the day, a four-pound smallie that struck Coy's bait.

Next time I hear the usual: "Oneida Lake's smallmouths move to deeper water in the heat of summer," I'll politely agree and head for Oswego County's weedy and rocky shallows instead.

Wes Coy holding a typical Long Shore bucketmouth.

Wes Coy with a four-pound Long Shore bronzeback.

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