Sunday, July 9, 2023

A ‘wacky’ start to fishing season

sandy river beach

With the middle of June comes bass season, which, as dates go, is more meaningful than the opening day of trout season 10 weeks earlier. The opening of trout season often finds the weather too cold or the streams too high for productive angling (at least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).

Bass, of course, are always “in a mood,” and the weather is more commodious for fishermen and women as well. So on the opening weekend we were at the mouth of the Boquet where it flows into Lake Champlain. This is good fishing, but beyond that it has a rather exotic, almost beachy feel to it.

Seagulls called from the sandy spit that reaches far into the lake, and other shore birds popped in and out of the marsh across the river from Willsboro’s Noblewood Park. I started out fishing with a medium-sized blue and silver spoon for the scientific and carefully calculated reason that it was still on my rod from last fall.


As is typical, a mat of seaweed had accumulated near the shore, and something big was jumping just beyond. Unprepared, as usual, I didn’t have a weedless rig which might have been productive, so I walked further downstream to where the water opened up.

Worms and crankbaits weren’t working either, but a switch of a spinner did the trick, and the smallmouth began to hit. I’m not enough of a bass whisperer to know why one piece of glorified scrap metal works better than another on any particular day, but there you have it.

The Department of Environmental Conservation, in its Fishing Line newsletter for June, suggested a “wacky-style” soft stickbait, such as a plastic worm with a circle hook through the middle instead of the head.

“No one really knows what makes this rig so attractive to bass,” the DEC writes. “It might be the lifeless way it falls through the water. Or it could be simply that it annoys fish who can’t believe that anyone would attempt to catch them with something so ridiculous. One thing is certain, it catches fish when nothing else does.”

Photo at top: The mouth of the Boquet River is a good spot to hook a smallmouth bass. Tim Rowland photo

Editor’s note: Tim Rowland is taking over “Water Line” while Zach Matson is on family leave. Sign up for this free, weekly newsletter here.

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Tim Rowland is a humor columnist for Herald-Mail Media in Hagerstown, Md., and a New York Times bestselling author. His books include High Peaks; A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene and Strange and Unusual Stories of New York City. He has climbed the 46 high peaks, is an avid bicyclist, and trout tremble with fear when they see his approaching shadow. He and his wife Beth are residents of Jay, N.Y.

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