Lake Ontario/Henderson Harbor 10/5, Owasco Lake 10/6
Got out for a half day of fishing on my own on Tuesday then did a full day trip on Owasco Lake yesterday.
10/5 – Lake Ontario/Henderson Harbor: I have some planned days off this month and I fully expect to get out and fish a bit. Doing well on my last three trips (over the past two years) on Oneida Lake for walleyes has given me a little bit of the walleye bug. It doesn’t hurt that the population of adult walleyes up there is at approximately a million adult fish, which is a recent high. But after a few trips, I was hoping to try somewhere else and connect with some better fish. I had a good day at Oswego two years ago by “accident” on nice walleyes (while bass fishing) and last time I fished Henderson my fishing buddy managed a nice walleye in the morning one summer day, also while bass fishing. The drive up to Henderson is a haul from my place – at least 2 hours and change (which I know is nothing for some people to drive….) so I don’t get up there very often. I enjoy fishing the Golden Crescent area and eastern Lake Ontario a lot. What’s not to like? It’s a beautiful part of the state and very uncrowded this time of year. There are bass, pike, walleyes, perch, drum, pickerel and even muskies around to be caught. The drive is also very nice with foliage near peak already.
I was well rested and on my game. I prepared tackle the night before and didn’t forget anything. I also did a little bit of map study and had a game plan. Nobody was at the launch over at Westcott when I launched. I spent the day working three main areas. I had bladebaits, tube/hair jigs, jerkbaits (shallow and deep) and dropshot set ups. I also brought a pike/musky set up just incase I came across some good habitat for them. In the back of my head I thought about running a ways out and targeting lake trout and whitefish but with my late start and some traffic/road construction delays I decided to stick around the bay and nearby lake.
Within about 10 to 15 minutes of working my first area I hooked up on a bladebait. I had a strong fighting fish and was wondering what it was for awhile, until I felt the circular fight as the fish was wearing out – it was a drum of course! Some people get disappointed catching drum, and it’s understandable when targeting walleyes or in a bass tournament, but you’d have to be in a coma not to appreciate their fighting qualities. They are also a beautiful fish and many prized saltwater fish are basically the drum’s saltwater cousins.
Nice 22" Drum on a Bladebait
I caught another one within a couple casts later!
A bigger Drum
Both the drum fought great and were really beautifully colored fish. The sunlight was reflecting gold and various blues and greens. My day was already a success.
I did some dropshotting and hooked up a fat 17 1/2″ smallmouth. Great fight and had some aerial action as well. The drum fight every bit as good but don’t jump.
My second area was a more expansive piece of structure. I was primed to work it for awhile. Fortunately I hooked up on my first drift. The fish fought well – like a drum but with more of a surging motion rather than circular. Did I hit paydirt? Yep! I slid the net under a gorgeous 24″ fat walleye. This was after being out for about 90 minutes. I got lucky, pure and simple!
And just like with the drum, within another couple casts later I was hooked up again! This time (just like with the drum) I landed a bigger fish – a 25″ walleye.
On my second drum, one of the hook tines broke off my Lazer Blade. In my kit I saw a feathered treble made for replacing the tail end of an X-Rap. I put that on my blade bait. I’m not sure if my modification made the difference, but it clearly didn’t hurt. It will be hard now to fish a blade without a feathered trailer after getting these two fish!
I had great conditions and continued to work the area where I picked up the fish. No more hits. I then tried another large area and never got bit again. So I got pretty lucky. The fish were big males. I know some monster fish (females) get caught throughout the lower St. Lawrence and these area bays in the winter, so I hope to be back before the ice puts the ka-bosh on the open water fishing.
Cooler right before the ice went in!
Those Oneida fish are perfect eating size, but it was nice getting into some better quality fish. I did notice that the larger fish have more dark meat along the skin/lateral line like lake trout. I made sure to cut most of it out. I’ve eaten walleyes up to 27″ and found them to be fine. Any fish larger than that I would probably let go anyways.
Owasco Lake 10/6: Guided Ron here for a full day targeting lake trout starting just after 8 am. Water temps here are around 67 degrees. The lake trout bite was very good to start and kept going for us until around 1 or 2 pm when it slowed quite a bit. After that he caught one or two more. We wound up with 13 nice fish caught including two 28″ers. The lakers look great here – really nice, clean (there are no lampreys here) fish. They were fighting very well too. He lost a nice rainbow and missed at least two others. Fish were well distributed throughout the lake. We had fish from 70′ out to around 110′. No photos today.