Oneida Lake 8/13


After another busy week with trips I found enough energy to get up and join my buddy Mike in his boat on Oneida. The plan was to get on the water around 10:30 am and fish till dark. Mike hadn’t done any fishing around Big Bay so that’s what we intended to do – work some areas for largemouths. I brought along a cooler with ice so I’d be ready to take home some pickerel for fried patties.

We set up a driftbag and worked our way through the bay. The winds were blowing pretty good out of the southeast. My buddy Craig told me that anytime you see “south winds” on the forecast for Oneida, you better be prepared for east winds and that was the case! Each lake has its wind quirks – likely due to the topography. I had a fish just smash a jig but somehow didn’t hookup. That’s been my history on this lake lately – set up and then get hammered hard by something early on and miss it. We had a few hits but nothing special. We did another quick drift then set up in deeper water. Mike landed a big pickerel in the deep stuff. He wasn’t crazy about the pitching when we didn’t have fixed targets (which we couldn’t see due to the wind and sun angle) – which is understandable, so he wanted to go into the river and try some pinpoint areas. I would have stayed in the bay, given that we started mid-AM and two drifts basically covers about .0001% of the bay. I know there are hundreds, if not thousands of bass, pickerel and bowfins in there, but I was up for trying the river. My old fishing buddy Terry and I had done OK there in the past dropshotting.

So off to the river we went. There were legions of panfish around – young perch, rockbass and so on. The river is loaded with nutrients from Onondaga Lake, so that’s to be expected. There was a lot of boat traffic, cut up weeds, shore fishermen and other distractions on the river. Boat control wasn’t easy with the currents and negotiating the shoreline vs. staying out of the way of the boaters. We pitched and dropshotted various areas. I occasionally threw a fluke or crankbait. I’d like to spend a full day here during midweek when the traffic is down, but the river wound up being a bust for us. Panfish and some small bass was what we encountered. The river has a good channel cat populations – so that would be fun sometimes to try.

After some discussion, we decided to finish up our day in Big Bay again. The wind was still up and the sun starting to get low. Mike wanted to work a particular area he’d seen on the map. I had a pickerel grab a spinnerbait and we both knew we were in business. Good weed clumps became visible as we drifted down. We wound up landing a few bass up to around 17″ and a half dozen pickerel or so. Most fish came by pitching tubes and Chigger Craws.

Overall on Oneida Lake this year we’ve had very consistent largemouth fishing on the lake’s west end – pretty much regardless of the weather pattern, we’ve been able to weasel out a few decent bass. I feel if we’d stayed in the bay and worked it all day – and esp. if we’d started early, we would have landed good numbers of largemouth bass.

I admire shallow water BASS pros like Tommy Biffle and Bill Lowen. I find that for most bass guys with reasonable, not professional skills -working slightly deeper is much easier. I’m no shallow water expert! It takes a lot of practice to be able to cast or pitch a lure so it lands on target without much of a splash. Boat control and approaching very shallow fish is something that takes a lot of work/fun practice. Add in current and it’s very challenging. These guys dissect areas piece by piece. It takes a certain mentality to be able to do that. A bass boat helps too. We didn’t work a lot of the shallow stuff. But pinpoint pitching accuracy is needed on the river – you get one good shot at a target and that’s it.

Next time we’re out here, it’ll likely be for smallmouths. I’m looking forward to it!