The fall is quickly approaching in Upstate NY, and while to a lot of people that means deer hunting and the (sadly) having to prepare to put your boat away for winter. But before any of that is the promise that serious bass anglers know and love: this is the best time of year to catch lunker bass.
It’s often believed by many that the best time to catch bass is during the spawn. While it’s true that fish are easy to find when guarding eggs, the cool temperatures of September and October offer up the most productive fishing you’ll find all year if you know where to go and what to do. Right now the water temperature at Oneida Lake is 64 degrees in the main lake (the section in the middle that resembles a riverbed when you look at it closely), and 60 degrees in the bays that are 11 feet deep and less. The initial cold snap will make the bite very tough, but after that it ignites a feeding frenzy that is unlike any other time of year.
This is the time to get out your jigs, your tubes, your jerkbaits, and throw your spinnerbaits all day long when there’s a little chop on the water. If there are deep creeks feeding your lake you can find largemouth there chasing shad. Main lake points and secondary points in these creeks are great places to start right now, with fish moving further in as the weather gets colder. As we move further into October the secondary points will be more and more productive at places like Smith Mountain and the Potomac River. In places like the Chenango or Susquehanna River, smallmouth are moving back into the shallow water feeding areas and they can be highly aggressive. White 1/2 oz spinnerbaits with tandem blades or firetiger crankbaits and deadly.
In other places that don’t resemble river systems like Oneida or Cayuga Lake you can find fish in the same places you find them in the spring: rocky points, isolated rock piles, and riprap banks are great places to throw jerkbaits or crayfish imitation lures. It’s also considered the best time to throw umbrella rigs, though they’re highly controversial and people rarely seem to be without some sort of opinion on the ethics of throwing them; rarely can anyone debate their effectiveness this time of year. Slightly less controversial yet nearly as productive is the Carolina rig, which is always great to throw when the leaves are changing colors.
So if you can keep your boat out of storage a little longer, and your bow in the case for just a few more weeks, you might find yourself rewarded with one of the best days you’ve ever had on the water.