Bassmaster Eastern Open #4 – Oneida Lake – Syracuse, NY
The last Bassmaster Open of the year at Oneida Lake was the tournament this season that I was most unsure about. Leading up to this tournament, I knew the Smallmouth fishery would come to play. Other than that, I had a lot of things assumed from my last trip to New York for our Lake Champlain tournament last year.
With the hurricane getting ready to come through Florida, we decided to leave before the evacuation traffic became a problem on I-95 Northbound. We left town at 12pm Friday and drove straight through to Oneida making it there at about 8:30am. We couldn’t check in to our hotel till 3pm, so we went to the lake and started riding around to look at the lay of the lake. I tried for about 4 hours to catch a Smallmouth, but for what ever reason, I couldn’t get the fish I was graphing to bite. After a long day we decided to head in and get some sleep after the long ride. Unfortunately I had a small issue with my boat that kept me off the water, so I road with a buddy the second day. After a day out deep, we just couldn’t get a consistent bite going offshore. I wanted to take a look up a creek that I had seen on Google Earth. We road up to the creek to an area I looked at and told my buddy “that has to have fish on it.” So my first cast at that spot after not getting a bite in 2 days produced a 10 inch bass. After that I reflected on some things I wanted to do and was able to fix my boat in time to fish the tournament.
Tournament Day 1
I started out day 1 on shoal outside the river to try for some early morning Smallmouth. After about 20 min with no action or schooling, I headed up the river to focus on largemouth the rest of the day. I started at the area I caught my only fish in practice throwing a popping frog. I targeted clumps of grass in about 2 – 3 ft of water that were serving as current breaks. I caught about a 3 ft Pike on my 5th cast which was a little discouraging at first, but I kept throwing. My first largemouth was almost 3 pounds! I kept slowly working my frog around picking apart every clump of grass I came to. After the sun came out and the fog had fully lifted, I started throw a 4in wacky rigged senko around docks, seawalls, grass clumps, and laydown trees. My 5th bass of the day was a 4lb 13oz Largemouth that led big bass of the tournament for day 1. After weigh in I was sitting in 36th place with 14 pounds.
Tournament Day 2
For day 2 my goal was to try to be as consistent as possible. I put my head down and started throwing my popping frog again. after about 2 hours without a bite, I noticed that the conditions had changed a bit. We went from having no wind at all day 1 to a 15mph wind out of the east. With there being a ripple across the surface, I picked up a buzzbait and caught a 4lb largemouth on my 5th cast. I knew day 2 would be as much of a grind as day 1 so I kept going throwing a buzzbait and senko all day to put together a 12lb 13oz limit for day 2. That was good enough to take home a 20th Place Check.