Owasco Lake 5/16 + 17


Did two 6-hour days with Fred from D.C. on Owasco. He has a place on the lake and we did some fairly successful laker jigging last August. I expected fishing to be good over the past couple days, but it proved to be tough for us. We spent a few hours searching and jigging for lake trout with meager results – basically a few hits and a chaser or two. We searched a lot of water from 35′ to 110′ deep and marked very little bait and scattered, mostly suspended fish. I used to catch a lot of shallow early-season lakers in this lake, but it hasn’t been the case over the past couple of years. My guess is that many fish are still in very deep water or just very scattered. We marked lakers virtually from end to end of the lake.

On Thurs. we went after pike on the fly. Fred had a few hits in the southern end of the lake and a follow or two, but no solid hookups. He wanted me to fish a bit as well, and I did manage a 27″ northern on a swim bait. So at least a few fish were around. On a point a ways up from the south end Fred had a good-sized pike follow in his lure, but no grab. The laker jigging was slow on both days. After the trip ended I did some jigging myself without any luck. I did land another nice pike near the north end of the lake on a tube and missed another. Some decent sized bass were in the shallows, but they were pretty skittish with the calm water we had.

Today the only real action was a couple of healthy 18″ smallmouth bass on a tube jig. Lakers remained slow. My friend Jared did well on largemouths and a couple smallies working swimbaits and stickbaits in very shallow water. He fished hard and he managed to land a gorgeous 16lb. 41″ northern pike on a swimbait! We photographed the fish for him before he released it. What a slob! I didn’t expect any walleyes given our late (8 am) starts on both days. However I did see some suckers and a nice walleye mixed in with them in the outlet in the morning. The night bite should be picking up by the week. Water temps remain very cold on Owasco: 49 to 53 degrees. I was very surprised to not see any lakers in the mix – whether jigging or casting. In 2002 and 2003 I used to pick up a lot of bonus lakers while working tube jigs around points and shelves when water temps were this cold or colder.

Fred was interested in picking up some techniques and lure ideas for pike, walleyes and bass on Owasco Lake. Here are a few lures that have worked well for me over the years:

1/4 oz. round head with a Bass Pro Shops shad colored tube: This to me is THE lure for many applications in the Fingers – esp. Owasco. My old fishing buddy Terry turned me on to these lures over a decade ago and I still love them. They can be fished from 1′ to 23′ of water comfortably. They require a good sense of feel to fish well, but virtually any fish in fresh water will hit them. We’ve caught everything from bass, pike, walleyes, carp, cats, gar, panfish and trout/salmon on them. Don’t fish the Fingers without them! I often use them as a search bait – it can be more tedious at times, but negative/neutral fish respond well to them. I like to use them on 8lb test clear Trilene mono.

Rapala X-Rap – White, perch and the olive back are all good colors. Smallmouths and northerns love them and salmon and trout will also whack them. Fish them on braided line and a fairly stiff rod for best action.

Super Flukes: These work great over the milfoil beds that will be very common in a month or two. Also good off ledges and in the shallows. Great for bass and panfish. Pike/pickerel will bite them off too. Good when it gets too weedy for the X-rap.

Double Willow Spinnerbait: Great over windy weedy flats for pike and bass. Walleyes also hit them. White and white/chartreuse and shad colors work well in clear water.

Swim Baits: like a Lunker City Shaker on a heavy jighead are terrific for pike and even walleyes. One of my clients, Dave Seegers really showed me what a great pike bait they can be. They are versatile as heck and it’s easy to de-hook pike that hit them, with minimal damage to the pike.

Rapala Husky Jerks: Awesome lure! One of the best nighttime stickbaits to cast for walleyes. Good pike lure and bass lure too, but if you’re into a lot of pike it’s often best to remove the middle treble hook, or switch to a swimbait in order to minimize the “maiming” that will take place.