Fishing out of your comfort zone
Bass season has come into full swing in St. Lawrence County and I could not be more thrilled to get out and hit the St. Lawrence River and get my fix of that exciting action. I thought this would be no better time than to talk about what has made me so productive on the river over the past few years catching giant smallmouth bass. Every time my father and I are launching or coming in for the day I always make a point to speak with other fisherman at the launch for one reason. I just want to see what they think about the fishery and if they are catching fish. Many anglers I speak to are the weekend or after work angler and just don't have the time to spend on the
water like I do, but it does not mean they can’t catch some of these giant smallmouth that roam our area. When speaking to some of these anglers there are two common factors that I hear, there are no fish out there or they only caught a few small ones.
Many anglers fish by history and this is one of the biggest mistakes that can be made on the river. I recall in my younger years going out with my father and his friend Donnie every opening day of bass season. We would head to Robert Mosses state park and fish the calm water below the dam. During that time weeds were plentiful and this area held thousands of smallmouth. There were plenty of seasons when we would have 100 fish days just throwing a yellow mister twister to the weed line, the action was non-stop. We returned one season excited to put the smack down on a bunch of bass and pulled into our normal fishing haunts. This season was different. As we looked to where we used to catch fish all we saw was barren rock and sand, no weeds and tons of tiny little shells stuck to all of the rocks. That day came and went with only a handful of fish being caught.
It was not long after that the announcement of invasive species hit the media, the zebra mussel had infiltrated the river system, which resulted in weeds being lost and water clarity which looked similar to the Bahamas. Of course people were concerned about the fish populations as it appeared the fish had died along with the weeds. To make the situation worse the goby came along another invasive species, which is an egg eating monster. As humans we are always trying to come up with ways to fix things or make things better although many times we over think
problems and make things worse. This was just the case with what took place with our invasive species; the zebra mussels and goby's did not hurt our fishery to the extent that people thought it might.
The effect of the zebra mussel was crystal clear water, being able to see bottom of depths up to twenty feet. The Gobies ended up being a virtual game fish buffet with smallmouth, walleye and northern taking advantage of this easy meal. By taking a moment to understand a couple of factors about these two invasive species anglers can greatly improve their catch ratio. Zebra mussels have changed the clarity of our water which resulted in fish moving deeper. This is a simple concept to understand fish need cover to feel safe and roam about, with the lack of vegetation fish now feel comfortable with more water over their heads. The Goby is a bottom
dweller, mainly because it does not have a swim bladder which would otherwise let it maintain buoyancy in the water column. So what you get is a buffet of little fluttering creatures that will come off the bottom to feed or move about up to around two feet. Depending on the time of year gobies can be brown with black spots, to a light gray color. Normally on the river you will see the
average size around three to four inches.
Take into account all of thesefactors and throw your old fishing haunts out the window and here is how you catch more fish. A tube jig or drop shot bait presented along the bottom in a slight current will produce fish. Imitate the natural bait as closely as possible using three to four inch soft plastics in green pumpkin, watermelon or purple smoke colors. Move out from the shoreline into deeper water where fish can feel protected. Sometimes it’s hard to leave your comfort zone and fish something you are not used to but the end result in trying something new will reap big rewards trust me. So the next time you are out fishing for the day take an hour or so and experiment with something different and just maybe you will catch that trophy you have been searching for.
Dont Chase your Dreams....Catch them!!!