Irondequoit Bay/Lake Ontario 5/30 + Oneida Lake 5/31


I was able to do a bit of non-guide related fishing over the past couple days. On Wed. I fished Lake Ontario up by my “hometown” of Rochester with my buddy Shahab. We started at Russell Station (warmwater discharge) with some great smallmouth bass fishing. Lake temps were pretty warm, so there wasn’t a huge temp differential but there was enough. Nice 16″ to 17″ bass were whacking my tube jigs and each hookup brought 2 or 3 followers! Other fish in the flow incl. a gar, gizzard shad, perch, carp and a big school of drum. Shahab nailed a nice perch on the fly. The fishing got messed up by some people in a bass boat who thought they were “on the wrong side” of the flow after they saw us catching fish. So they motored across the flow and back 3 times, spooking everything. I still gave them a few tubes to try – being the nice guy that I am 😉

We checked out the Genny. TONS of alewives were in the estuary. I guarantee there’s some good nighttime walleye fishing around, but probably next to no one does it. Not much doing for us up the river, but it’s a scenic ride and I’d never done it before so we went for it. Later on off the pier we saw a big gar and missed a few hits (drum?).

In Irondequoit Bay gar were everywhere! Some big ones too. We had a few hits/follows but then the wind came up and made things tough. Shahab nailed a couple decent pike on the fly. Pesky northerns – we wanted big drum! We didn’t see many drum, but I’m sure they were around. A few bass rounded out the day. Overall it was a fun day, but we seemed to be off on our timing – always being “a day late, a dollar short”. We should have fished the gar earlier when the bay was calm and avoided the trip up the river. But hindsight is always 20/20. H2O in the lake was in the upper 50s. Russel was low 60s. I Bay was 69 to 74.

Oneida was a blast today with my buddy Craig Nels. I’ve fished Oneida on and off (usually about once or twice a year) from 1987 or ’88 on till about 3 years ago. I don’t know the lake very well, so Craig called the shots today. It was nice being guided for a change and Craig’s 21′ Skeeter bass boat does around 72 mph. so we had fun and didn’t waste time running around! We had some good bass fishing peaking by late afternoon. We probably landed 15 to 20 smallies – mostly around 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 lbs. We lost some 3lbers as well. The smallies were active from 2′ to about 15′ of water or so. Plenty are on the shoals and many are starting to bed. Drum are everywhere! I’ve never seen so many drum in my life – whether here or elsewhere! Craig said it was the most he’d ever seen on Oneida. They were EVERYWHERE WE WENT from 6″ of water to as deep as we could see! And we saw monster schools of hundreds of fish. They are all over the lake from small to large fish and they appear to be in the spawn mode – not hitting well overall, but enough are taking to make it fun. We landed 3 of them, but had a fair number of followers. Tremendous fly-fishing opportunities await and many were tailing and rooting around! Weeds aren’t up yet with the exception of some shallow bays/coves. Craig nailed a couple nice walleyes. Other species caught incl. a few largemouths, pickerel, rockbass and drum. We caught/hooked fish on tube jigs in various colors, buzz baits, spider grubs, cicadas, superflukes and jerkbaits. We saw a few nice bowfins too which was cool. They are all over – on shoals and in the usual bowfin type areas. I kept a couple rockbass and a drum for dinner. The smaller drum are very good on the table and just about everyone I know who’s tried them out of Oneida likes them. Craig is no exception. The meat is firm and white – good stuff. They are so abundant in Oneida Lake that they are basically a wasted resource. It’s well worth keeping a few and trying them out if you’ve never had them. They are freshwater cousins of the popular redfish family and they taste very similar from what I’ve heard. H2O in Oneida was 69 to 70. BTW – one of the researchers from the Cornell Fisheries station on Oneida went out last summer with a dozen students and caught a bunch of drum. They cooked up the fish. 12 out of 12 students liked eating them.