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Neil McCauley

2015 Lake George, Ny - Exploring The King For Bass (Pic Heavy, 56K, Tl;dr)

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"Lake George is, without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw; formed by a contour of mountains into a basin... finely interspersed with islands, its water limpid as crystal, and the mountain sides covered with rich groves down to the water-edge: here and there precipices of rock to checker the scene and save it from monotony."
-- Thomas Jefferson, May 31, 1791

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I grew up fishing this lake, for 25+ years, but hadn't until this summer spent serious time on it the entire season. I ice-fished a few times in Feb-March, and went out a few days after ice-out, then over the next 3 months made about 25 trips, about 300 hrs on it this summer... mostly dawn-dusk trips, a few overnights, and two very grueling 24 hour marathons.

I mainly fished for SMB/LMB, catch and release but did keep bunches of rock bass and pumpkinseed for eating a few times, they were everywhere. Perch were here and there, a few jacks but nothing consistently, probably because I wasn't jigging much. A couple trips I targeted either Northern Pike or Lake Trout but had very little success.

Overall what I learned is:

- LMB and SMB populations are doing great here
- Most people I see out in boats fishing seem to fish way too shallow
- Shallow water (<20 ft)- any time, any day, any weather- is never productive for LMB/SMB >12" here in July or August. Period.
- The key with both species is finding structure where the thermocline (30-32') and bottom intersect- humps, submerged points, sunken islands, drop-offs, or even just flats- at 28-38' deep and near deeper water.
- Locating and fishing around "cover" (fallen timber, weedbeds, docks, et) is not very helpful on this lake in the summer
- Best baits are the ones that stay at the target depth (20-30') the longest - jigs, drop shot rigs, texas rigs, etc.
- ...But the most efficient methods (catch the most fish in the least time) keep the baits at target depth while also covering the largest area in the least time. For me this was speed trolling (3-4mph) deep diving crankbaits and weighted plugs. Honestly, the bigger the better. StrikeKing 10XD, 2-3oz Matzuo Kinchou plugs, etc.

The boat:
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Pants: Fjallraven Vidda Pros. There are inserts for foam knee pands so they were great for a canoe or small boat where you can be on your knees a lot. Also plenty of pockets, and reinforced seat because, well, you're sitting a lot.


Some of the routes and fish:
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I covered a lot of the South Basin, mainly around the major islands and open water structure. Humps and reefs. Only parts I didn't get to were Diamond Island, Dunhams Bay or any of the very southern end. Since I was in a canoe I didn't just jump spot to spot, I trolled along everywhere I went and found some fish in very strange places. Dink SMB will suspened 10-15 ft down almost anywhere in the lake, but esp over structure 30-40 ft deep. And the larger SMB and LMB will also suspend 20-35 feet down sometimes in up to 60 fow.

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Didn't really weight or measure any of the fish this year but I think largest of each species was around 20" and 4-5 lbs, not necessarily pictured.

Storm approaching:
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Got caught between 2 thunderstorm cells north and south of me on the lake, this one to the north dumping huge amounts of rain. Wind and waves got a little sketchy. I headed into a small bay and some people offered to tie up to their docks. It passed and I survived.

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1. Northwest Bay at sunset, 2. Moonrise in Harris Bay, July 3. This was an awesome night. Full moon, calm waters, tons of people at the lake but not much boat traffic since it was at night. When I first got there around 6-7pm the entire bay smelled like grilled steak. Fishing was great until around 11pm when it slowed down a little. Even though it was early in the season and at night topwater wasn't producing. Shallow crankbaits over 15-20 ft weedbeds on sunken humps worked best. 3. Sagamore Hotel at night.

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Lac Du St Sacrament - largest of one of the cruise ships on the lake. Snuck up on me one time while anchored at a mid-lake hump when the wind was from the opposite direction. It came within about 100 yds. :tard:

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Dome Island about 10mi down the lake. I did fish Dome quite a bit and it does have prolific numbers of SMB around it and the extensive reef structure to its north. The drop-offs to the south seem hold the bigger fish, but overall I found Dome Island to essentially be just a big dink sanctuary... tiny smallmouth after tiny smallmouth. It was hard to fish deep enough to avoid them while still catching something. There seemed at times to be hundreds, even thousands, of 3-5" smallmouth bass around the island and the reefs and it became a real hassle compared to other places. I have not once caught a LMB around or near this island. SMB have taken over, and I've started to think the lake is overpopulated with smallmouth.

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Most productive lure of the season and the year by far.

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Perch were there but I wasn't able to target them specifically. I plan on focusing more on them in the fall.

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Small cottage on the lake... Owned by Red Sox owner John Henry. No one was ever really there until August when the Sox were 15+ games back.

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One of many very nice SMB. It was very hard to fish for SMB and LMB separately. Toward the end of the summer SMB have been a bit harder to find.

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Beat up bass. I have been noticing a lot of jaw and mouth wounds in various stages of healing on basses mouths as the summer has gone on. This LMB actually had the entire lower jaw bone broken in the middle, bones no longer connected. It looked like it was healing though and the fish looked well fed.

If anyone is interested I have 4-5 very specific spots that always produce big fish, PM me. I trade info for fluorocarbon line.

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Nice story/pics.

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I live in the Albany, NY area and have never fished Lake George.  This is making me want to take a "sick day" and get out there before the season up here ends.  Where do you launch?

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Looks like you have unlocked a consistent pattern for deep clear water in the summer. I grew up fishing a lake probably very similar, just as majestic to. I also used a similar vessel. Trolling crankbaits was effective. My most productive crankbaits were a silver wally diver and a fat rap. Some years the smallmouth were focused on shad/baitfish, other years they were more into crayfish. I think trolling was best for fish keyed in on baitfish. That silver wally diver was beat up till it wouldn't run right, but I still used it and it still caught. I might as well post a little secret, try trolling floating rat-l-traps at high speeds.    

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Nice Story & Pics

 

Thanks for sharing.

 

A-Jay

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I live in the Albany, NY area and have never fished Lake George.  This is making me want to take a "sick day" and get out there before the season up here ends.  Where do you launch?

It's worth it! SMB has slowed somewhat but LMB fishing is still hot.

I launch from 2 places, one in Northwest Bay and the other further south. They're hand-launch only, so only canoes/kayaks. PM for details.

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It's worth it! SMB has slowed somewhat but LMB fishing is still hot.

I launch from 2 places, one in Northwest Bay and the other further south. They're hand-launch only, so only canoes/kayaks. PM for details.

PM Sent.  Thanks.

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Awesome, my style of post. :)

 

Love all the pictures and information, you beat me to creating the pic with all the nice fish... as mine is still WIP.

 

WolfyBrandon

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Nice fish! I'm a local of Lake George born and raised. Btw its not John Henry who lives in the large house on assembly point. His name is Phil Morris and he's a co owner. The LMB and SMB populations look great IMO. I caught over 10 5+ pounders this spring during the spawn and some quality 3.5 and 4 lb. smallies. The lake looks great and fishs great too!

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That's really cool! Thanks for sharing!

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