It’s said that 5% of anglers catch 95% of the fish.
Scottie VanDerWater is living proof of that. He catches more fish in a day than most guys catch in a month. And he really stands out when he’s doing it. You see, he’s only seven years old.
Almost 47 inches tall, he’s kind’a small; in fact, he’s the only guy I know who’s caught carp as long as he is, and some that outweighed him to boot. And even though he struggles a lot harder than most seasoned anglers while pulling the brutes in, he doesn’t give up and almost always gets his fish.
While it’s clear he’s a natural born fisherman, having a father who used to make a living as a licensed charter specializing in the Oswego River drainage, doesn’t hurt. Indeed, with Scott senior at his side, the pair has yet to see the river throw anything at ‘em that they couldn’t handle.
Last week, the elder Scott invited me to go fishing with him and the boy. I accepted quicker than a carp sucking down a dough ball.
Considering the higher than average heat and humidity slamming our area, Scott Sr. decided the best, most convenient setting for our fish story would be Fulton. “We’re going for panfish, catfish and carp,” he reasoned, “species that love hot weather.”
We made it to downtown Fulton by 11 a.m. The temperature was already in the high 80s. Severe thunderstorms in the Finger Lakes a couple days earlier raised the Oswego River a couple notches.
Our first stop was the upper pool; more specifically, the water gurgling out of the powerhouse turbines on the west side of Lock 2. The place was loaded with huge carp, gars (a primitive fish that swam with the dinosaurs), panfish and smallmouth bass. And everything was biting…except the gars. Worms kept the two Scotts busy catching panfish and bass, and I nailed my share of the critters on Berkley Power Bait Atomic Teasers.
After a couple hours of exciting action the fish turned off completely. Figuring we still hadn’t caught a carp or catfish, Scott decided to try the river downstream of Lock 3.
We parked in the Canal Landing lot at the southeastern corner of the Oneida Street bridge, crossed the canal, and headed downstream to the spillway, I fished in the rapids on the west side of the wall, the Scotts tried their luck in the canal on the east side.
We caught everything Scott Sr. promised that morning, and then some, including a keeper crappie, so many smallmouths that we stopped counting after 15 minutes, a 14-inch bucketmouth, a green sunfish (the elder Scott says “they used to be uncommon around here but I’m getting more and more every year,”) and the biggest bowfin (another primitive species that’s been around since the dinosaurs) that’s ever slipped through my fingers (it was just too feisty and slimy to hold). Sheepshead ranging from five to 15 pounds, swam so close you could count their scales.
But the highlights of the day were Scottie Jr. catching the two biggest fish: a four-pound catfish and a 15-pound carp. It’s fascinating watching a 38-pound kid fighting a fish almost half his size, in fast water, no less. He did what was needed and landed both.
Afterwards, he never bragged…Just smiled all the way home.