Wednesday, April 22, 2015


By Spider Rybaak

Entrance to Toad Harbor last Sunday morning

Ice time was more stubborn this year than most, making a lot of folks worry we’d go from winter to summer without stopping at spring.

Trout anglers didn’t mind too much because the extended chill left local streams very fishable. Opening Day saw creek levels only slightly high, at levels you’d expect after a light rain, not during the thaw.

Unfortunately, what was good for trout anglers was terrible for Oneida Lake panfish fans. You see, panfish anglers saw NY’s biggest pond still crowned in hard water on April Fool’s Day. Worst thing was, the ice was thin and porous, solid enough to prevent bank-fishing, too weak for ice-fishing.
Friday night, April 17, warm winds finally took their toll on the ice. Come morning, a creepy fog shrouded the lake. When it finally burned off, the lake was iceless. Some backwoods bays still had sickly floes and small pockets of fragmented ice beating themselves against the banks, but nothing serious. By sunrise on Sunday, ice was as rare on the lake as fur on a catfish

Panfish anglers stormed their favorite spots looking for fish dinners. While the east end, especially Oneida Creek’s mouth, hosted the majority of activity, Oswego County spots saw their share of anglers, too.

On Big Bay, anglers swarmed the cuts at the Toad Harbor Fishing Access Site at the end of Shaw Drive. They came by boat and by land. And while the fish weren’t in as thick as they would have liked, crappie were coming in slow and steady, rewarding patience with fresh strawberry bass dinners.

Guys were also trying their luck on catching panfish in Toad Harbor Swamp’s outlet on McCloud Road. The Three Mile Bay/Big Bay Wildlife Management Area skirts the west side of the outlet, and most of the openings were occupied.

The water’s still a little cool but it’s warming fast and runs of crappies and sunnies can take place this weekend, next weekend for sure.

Oneida Lake shrouded in fog.

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