Monday, September 22, 2008

Lake Neahtahwanta: Fishing on Fulton's Edge

Wes Coy and a Lake Neahtahwanta largemouth bass

Stories about fishing on Lake Neahtahwanta are about as common as hair on a bobber. And that's just wrong; considering this 683-acre lake laps the shoulder of NY 3 on the west side of Fulton, Oswego County's second largest city.

Wes Coy told me about a friend of his who was a native to the city. Over the years he’d caught several trophy bass, northerns and crappies in the lake.

So last Tuesday, along with Wes’ friend Paul Wilson, we decided to give it a try. We launched at the North Bay Recreation Area into a typical summer of 2008 kind of day -- windy, rainy and unseasonably cold.

Loads of fish appeared on the graph. Each of us got solid hits in the first few minutes. All short strikes, they were exciting nonetheless. You see, the roils the fish made in the shallow water sent our imaginations into overdrive.

An hour into the trip the clouds opened up. I started complaining about the foul weather.
"Ain't no such thing as bad weather," retorted Paul, "just bad clothes and bad attitude.”

To prove it, he sat down ostensibly to take a break, and started snoring a couple minutes later.
In the meantime, Wes and I fished the shoreline, pounding lily pads, root balls, mats of floating vegetation, float plane pontoons, docks, duck blinds, weed beds, all the usual stuff.

"How’re they hittin'?" asked Paul when he woke up.

“Pretty good, but they’re just nipping the tips of the baits,” Wes said. “Last night’s thunderstorm and this cold front are making them a little skittish.”

Sure enough, when the sun came out around noon, Wes nailed a keeper largemouth in the grass next to the recreation center’s docks.

The day’s highlight came at the very end. Wes was telling the story of how a bass pro buddy of his won a big purse in a national tournament in the last few minutes of competition.

Just then, a monstrous bucketmouth struck his Bass Bone with such force its swell flooded the mat it was hiding under. Feeling the hook penetrate its jaw, it plowed through the slop into a channel feeding the adjacent swamp, tangling Wes’ line, and breaking off. The wake it generated while barreling into the lowland will remain in our memories forever.

Lake Neahtahwanta's bass, pike and panfish will be feeding heavily from the middle of this month through first ice. Your best bet is to go on nice, clear days when the year’s waning warmth stirs the fish into a feeding frenzy in preparation for the lean winter months ahead.

Here's Wes in a moment of truth on Lake Neahtahwanta: a big bass hit, Wes Hooked him, the beast dove under a mat of vegetation and got off.

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