By Joey Greco
Two of my favorite things in life join forces during June, July, and August; fishing and the Capital Region. There are a staggering number of action-packed angling opportunities right here in our area. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by an endless number of rivers, lakes, ponds, and creeks most of which are teeming with a variety of freshwater fish species. During this “warm water” period these systems become plentiful with forage, vegetation, oxygen and of course hungry fish awaiting their next meal! Fish generally feed very aggressively during summer months to keep up with their rapidly increasing metabolism, which is regulated by water temperature. This can translate into some of the most fantastic fishing of the year! Here is a quick breakdown of Capital Region hot spots, including some of my personal favorite techniques that will hopefully help you catch “the big one”!
Saratoga Lake, aka “the fish factory” is one of the best fisheries in the area for action and numbers. Whether it’s bass, crappie, bluegill or walleye, this lake will never disappoint, and even the novice angler can typically experience some success here. During June and July, we love using our Costa Del Mar polarized sunglasses to actually “sight fish” for crappie and bass hanging off weed edges and under docks. Bring a light-action Daiwa Procyon spinning rod spooled up with some J-Braid and a few curly tail grubs on a 1/16 oz jig head and you will likely return with a tired arm. Try casting at these fish from a distance and on a slow retrieve wait for the classic “tick” of a bite.
This lake is a great place to take kids fishing as the abundant bluegill population will keep them busy for hours with a few simple pieces of equipment. Some worms and small jig head in the 1/32oz size are all you need to catch these hard fighters on 4 to 6lb test line. Look for deep weeds and wood, docks or other vertical structure where these little critters like to hang out all summer. Access this lake at the state launch at the north end off of Route 9P.
Lake Lonely is a small lake that can pay big dividends! This small murky lake in Saratoga County has a great population of northern pike, black crappie and largemouth bass. To target bass and pike, black weedless jigs flipped on heavy braided line to the edge of weed lines will produce many strikes come June and July. For more information contact the Lake Lonely Boat Livery for week-to-week reports, boat rentals, and advice.
The Battenkill and Metawee Rivers have some of the finest trout fishing in all of NYS. Sections declared “catch and release only” consistently produce some really incredible specimens, and anglers travel from all over to fish here. All your classic stream trout lures will produce fish here such as gold phoebe, small trout imitating stick baits and a variety of flies and streamers. Small yozuri stick baits in gold or trout patterns can be red-hot during high water conditions. Consider hiring a local guide if you are unfamiliar with these bodies of water.
Lake George is near and dear to my heart as I was raised fishing there with my father. Lake trout, salmon and smallmouth bass rule these gin-clear waters. Lake trout can be caught trolling lead core line with fluorocarbon leaders and a variety of spoons. We love our Mooselook wobblers in gold, silver, and the classic OBD or “orange with black dots.” For Smallmouth Bass live crayfish are the ticket and anglers can experience 50 to 100 fish days when the bite is right. Our favorite month for bass is late August and early September. Fish in 30 to 50 feet of water during this period and look for large schools of bass. This is a clear water fishery and using the lightest line possible will increase your catch rates. Stop by Fish 307 and see Jeff Goldberg for bait and tackle needs, he will get you pointed in the right direction.
Brant Lake is another great hidden gem that does not get very much angling pressure and has some real monsters living in it! Work the lily pads early in the morning with frogs for Largemouth bass and troll lake clear wobblers with a #4 hook and half a nightcrawler for trout during the daytime. The “ledges” on the northern shoreline of the lake hold some nice trout early in the season. You can access Brant Lake at the state launch on the very southwest end of the lake.
The mighty Mohawk River! Thousands of people drive over some of the best fishing spots every day. With the abundance of dams, bridges and rocky structure populations of smallmouth bass and walleye thrive and do not get nearly the attention they deserve. Jigging is my favorite technique in the Mohawk and using a variety of jigs 1/8 to 1/2 oz in conjunction with plastic swimbaits, and crayfish imitations are lethal. I love the Custom Jigs and Spins Puls-R Paddle Tail in White and Chartreuse/Orange core. Casting into deep holes, along dams and rip-rap and retrieving the bait against the current, making periodic bottom contact, is a deadly technique for walleye and bass.
This section of the Hudson River is highly revered for its spring striped bass run but also has some phenomenal fishing for plenty of other species. Smallmouth Bass grow very large in this stretch and can be caught on a variety of crankbaits and crayfish imitating jigs. Many streams in Greene County produce bountiful catches of brown, rainbow and brook trout as well. The Catskill Creek is a favorite and access sites can be found on dec.ny.gov.
To fish for these wary creatures stealth is essential to ensure the fish are unaware of your presence. Salted minnows, nightcrawlers, and Mepps spinners are great producers for trout anglers of all experience levels. During the summer months look for active fish early in the morning and work deep water retreats later in the day. Learning how to “read the river” will come with experience. Any current seam, wood structure, deep pool or other small variation in the habitat could potentially hold trout.
There you have it! Whether you’re looking for the biggest fish of your life, a wily trout or you’re just happy getting outdoors to wet a line there is surely somewhere nearby to experience summer fishing in the Capital Region. Fish ON!
Joey Greco is an NYS licensed guide with Justy-Joe Sport fishing charters (newyorkfishing.com) Joey’s philosophy on fishing and his recipe for success is to think like a fish, pay attention to details and never stop learning!