Thursday, May 23, 2013

May Bites

By Spider Rybaak

Scott showing his walleyes as friends Anthony Sokolowski (left, Phoenix) and
Austin Pollmanteer (center, Central Square) cheer.

May sees some dramatic changes in Oswego County’s world class fisheries.  Most notably, steelhead move out of the tributaries-- out of the minds of most anglers-- and are replaced by walleyes: the other fish everyone wants to catch.

Walleyes prefer to spawn in rapids, too. In average situations, they procreate in creeks and peel out for deep water soon afterwards. Not in Oswego County.

You see, our walleyes are spoiled. They have major river systems to court in. Feeling safe in the relatively vast and deep rapids of the Oswego and Oneida Rivers, they aren’t under  any real pressure to beat fins back to the lake immediately afterwards, and stick around in the warm, caressing currents to pig out on all the minnows playing in the whitewater. 

Normally, the action is best the first week or two of the season. This year, however, for reasons varying from late bursts of unseasonably cold weather keeping the streams cool,  to the heavy rains we’ve had recently, the walleyes are extending their stay in the bubbly. 

Three hot spots of note:

Caughdenoy: The plunge pool below the dam has enough walleyes to draw lines of anglers on both sides of the river around dusk. Crankbaits like Smithwick Rogues account for most of the fish.

Phoenix : After years of so-so opportunities, this place is coming back…in spades. By 9 p.m. last Saturday evening (May 18), native son Scott Davie caught two fish about 20 inches long in the rapids on the west bank on a Thunderstick. 

Oswego: Larry Muroski says: “On a scale of 1 to 10, the walleye bite is at 7. The action stretches from the railroad bridge downtown, north to the former Coleman’s Restaurant. Shad Raps and Challenger Minnows are catching most of the fish,” continues the colorful owner of the Oswego Salmon Shop, (315-342-2778). 
But that ain’t all. 

“The dam in Oswego offers an unbelievable smorgasbord right now,” reports Muroski.  “Massive quantities of bluegills, yellow perch, monster rock bass, 15-pound sheepshead , and huge smallmouths are up there.”

[Smallmouth season is closed until June 15, but catch-and-release fishing with artificial lures is permitted: editor]

“Huge channel cats are in the tailrace below the powerhouse,” Muroski adds, suggesting: “still-fish half a shiner on bottom .”

If catfish are the apple in your eye, “The placid water above the dam in Caughdenoy holds trophies,” says Rob Goffredo, owner of Bartel Road Bait and Tackle (315-676-2144), Brewerton’s newest tackle shop. “Fish cutbait on bottom,” he advises.

Bear in mind, the rapids below the dam in Caughdenoy are the Oneida River’s only fast water and draw loads of catfish, too. While trophies are always possible in the plunge pool, most of these guys are spawning age, generally running from 16 to 22 inches, perfect eating size. They’ll take worms and shrimp.

2013’s Free kids Fishing Classes

May’s one of the best times to go fishing—and to teach kids how to fish.

This lesson was brought home last Saturday. Mike McGrath and I conducted our first kids fishing class of the year at Fulton’s Lake Neahtahwanta. 

Owner of McGrath & Associates Carp Angling services, Mike is the East Coast’s foremost expert on these freshwater behemoths. He proved it by landing 20 of the beasts ranging in size from 7 to 20 pounds, raising the eyebrows of all the youngsters and adults at the event.

Back at the gazebo, I was instructing the kids on how to fish with worms and lures, and showing them how to keep the bait out of the reeds and bushes. Roughly 15 showed up, and everyone caught a sunfish or white perch. 

Two more kids fishing classes are scheduled for this summer on Lake Neahtahwanta:

June 8 

July 13

And three are scheduled for the Veterans Memorial, on the west bank, in Oswego :

August 10

September 21

October 19

Sponsored by Berkley, Alvey, Shakespeare, Sampo, Mustad and Marukyu Baits of Japan, the classes are held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Tackle and bait are provided; or bring you own.

Kids 16 and over must possess a fishing license.
For more information, contact McGrath at ; 315-882-1549; or Spider at
Rob Goffredo, owner of Bartell Rd. Bait & Tackle, Brewerton's newest tackle shop,
fishing with a friend for cats above the Caughdenoy dam.

Fishing for walleyes in Caughdenoy.

Scott Davie unhooking one of his walleyes.
Marshall Kise, McGrath's main man, holding a carp caught by his student Dominick Evans of Weedsport.

Oswego's Carp Master, Mike McGrath, explaining the mysteries of his favorite fish.

Allie Waldron, Hannibal, holding her sunnie.

Ma Holden of Hannibal holdin' one of three pumpkinseeds caught by her daughter.