By Spider Rybaak
|Dave France with a nice jack perch he took at the entrance to Big Bay.|
David France and James Daher are fishing buddies. They love perch. And their best spot in autumn is Oneida Lake.
Thirty years of working in the bait and tackle business has taught James a thing or two: “The lake turns over in August. By the end of the month, an algae bloom usually turns the water into pea soup and the perch all but shut down. By mid-September, the bite starts turning around again, slowly at first, accelerating as water temperatures drop. When the water hits the mid-50s, instinct tells the fish to prepare for winter and they go on a feeding binge. My magic formula at this time is: wind, weed edges and 13-foot depth,” says the colorful bait monger.
He and Dave like the west end of the lake, an area they call the “triangle.” Dave claims one of these spots usually produces.
“You gotta have a gentle wind,” says Dave, who spent his youth in Constantia. “You want it to blow just hard enough to agitate the surface into a ripple or slight chop. North and west winds are best.”
Launching at Oneida Shores County Park on the South Shore, they head due north. At the edge of the weed bed carpeting Big Bay, they search for the magical 13-foot depth. When it appears on the depth finder, they run along the line looking for fish. When some appear, James lowers the anchor, and both toss their bait over the side, weighed down with enough split-shot to get to bottom.
“When the bait touches down, I crank it up three to five inches off the floor,” says Dave, “and still-fish. I call this system vertical fishing; the only action the worm or minnow get is what the waves give ‘em.”
If they go without a hit for a half hour or so, they move east about two miles to Three Mile Bay and repeat the procedure. When the hits run out, they move again, this time south, to the weed edge crowning the channel drop-off at the western tip of Frenchman Island.
Minnows and worms work equally well for perch; but worms allow you to catch sunfish, too.
|James Daher with a super smallmouth he took on a fathead minnow.|
|Moonrise over Wantry Island.|