Lake Ontario/Chaumont Bay 10/11 + Keuka Lake 10/12


Lake Ontario/Chaumont: My buddy Mike and I were disappointed that we weren’t able to coordinate a Lake Champlain trip this season. Due to my spread-out teaching schedule at Cornell I have a tough time finding days off for lengthy trips. I’ve been hearing about the great fishing at Chaumont over the past few years from my buddy Craig. Mike and I have also been taking notes re: tournament weights and some real lunker smallmouths. Lastly, my buddy Jarrod did fisheries work on the St. Lawrence a couple years ago and told me about the record class smallmouth bass that ply the St. Lawrence region. I fished out of Black River Bay some years back (probably in the reports somewhere around 2006 or 07) and fished Chaumont with my buddy Craig a year or two ago, but never any great shakes out there. I was psyched to hit it with Mike and I spent some time going over my old map of the region.

We met at Gander off Rt. 81 and trailered Mike’s Lund, arriving at Chaumont around 7:15 am. Water temps were in the upper 50s in the bay. I have a system I use for figuring out “new” bodies of water for bass. Basically – start shallow and work out. We worked a creek mouth area that had nice green weeds and a combo of rock and sand for a while without any sign of fish. We tried an area Craig showed me and caught the first goby of the day. They are EVERYWHERE! Including some bullhead sized ones! Then it was off to find some new areas. We found a nice drop near an island and worked out into deep water using our electronics. Mike has a newer Humminbird unit and it’s very nice. A 3/4 oz Kastmaster spoon showed us that most of the fish we marked were perch. Most perch were dinks, but I did get a couple 9″+ fish. 46′ fow was the depth.

We tried another area that looked promising on the map with no luck. Lots of gobies. By this time 6 hours had passed without a single bass. But one of the reasons I fish with Mike is that we don’t give up. We fish and fish and then fish some more. He’s as focused and intense an angler as you’ll meet. If you have a fishing buddy that gives up easily – and you are serious about becoming a better fisherman, get rid of him/her! It’s that simple – else you won’t do too well.

We had run around quite a bit and I didn’t want to have him going everywhere, but he reassured me that gas wasn’t an issue. So I showed him one more place that looked good on the map and he agreed. We made the run and Mike impressed me by circling this massive expanse of water – yes, we were going to drift the whole$&@%$# thing! We had 4 hours of light left, so I guess we could do it.

We started working around 10′ to 12′ of water and I had a hit on a tube. Mike tried a spinnerbait, jerkbait and rubber jig among some other things. I went to a deep running X-rap and it stopped again. I then had a bass hit so hard it nearly pulled the rod from my hand. Only big bass hit like that! After one more miss, I put the rod to a solid fish – it was 18″ long and around 4lb 3oz! We were in business. I had the hot hand early with the tube jigs. They seemed to work best. We marked every place we hooked a bass with a waypoint and eventually had a nice little milk run of a drift. Mike got into a groove and we wound up landing 4 or 5 nice bass and then things appeared to slow. We were both pretty tired and I thought about working our way back towards our launch. Mike had a good feeling about what we were doing and wanted to keep fishing it – just milk it. So that’s what we did and it paid off!

When the fish jumped my jaw dropped. We couldn’t believe it! Mike had hold of a massive smallmouth! He felt a light “tick” on the descent of his jig and it was game on! I grabbed the net and jumped up to the front deck of his boat. As I did I tripped and ripped my pants at the knee, as well as scraped my knee. I nearly broke 3 of Mike’s rods as I fell, but I was ready with the net! The fish ran a couple times under the boat and I netted it! It was a class up from Willy’s 6lb Cayuga smallmouth from a few years back! We put it in the livewell as we collected ourselves a bit and got our cameras out. I took a cast or two as Mike dug out his camera and I hooked up what looked like a dink compared to Mike’s fish – it was over 4lbs and 18″ long! And it looked SMALL compared to Mike’s!

We took our photos and carefully weighed it on Mike’s super-accurate tech scale before releasing it in excellent condition. We figured maybe 6lbs if he was lucky, but the scale quickly went to 7lbs 1oz and beeped – confirming the weight! He’d done it – Mike was now a member of the 7lb club!!! We continued to fish and caught a few more – Mike had the hot hand late. Green pumpkin tubes with 1/4 oz heads were what the biggie and others came on. He went to a heavier head and did better as the wave action picked up. What a day!!! One we’ll never forget.

The numbers of gobies up on Lake Ontario are staggering. Bass are growing at record rates. This is only the beginning of what appears to be a tremendous fishery developing. There are likely 5 and 6lb fish lake wide on Lake Ontario – since the gobies are everywhere. Stay tuned!

Keuka Lake 10/12: Managed to be in bed by midnight 10/11 and got up and met David and his wife Beth at the Keuka State Park at 8 am. We had some good fishing with 1/2 dozen nice lakers landed, many more missed/dropped and one nice smallmouth dropped by Beth. They wanted to learn the technique to apply it on Canandaigua. Tons of bait was around Branchport and plenty of lakers. I was too tired to stay and fish after the trip, but the bite was just getting hot ‘n heavy. No doubt! Fish are moving up a bit – we scored from around 70’ on out. Fun AM.