I am up here in New York fishing the Bass Pro Shops Northern Open on Cayuga Lake to get my mind right for fishing the final Elite Series event on Oneida. I am trying to get in tune with these Northern fish … an “Empire State of Mind” if you will.
They say a bass is a bass no matter where he lives; and from my experience, that is true in a lot of ways. However, to compete at this level I always need to refine my approach. Fish bite different baits on certain lakes. You’ve probably heard people say things like “they just don’t bite a jig on that lake” or “that is a topwater lake.” Knowing that kind of information in advance is helpful and can save a lot of time.
Cayuga and Oneida are not terribly far apart but I can see from my practice this week and my previous trips to Oneida that the lakes are quite different. Cayuga is 10 times as deep, and the water is much clearer. That makes the grass grow deeper here on Cayuga and the better fish seem to hold deeper. On Oneida, the grass grows a little shallower because the water is a little dirtier and it’s shallower as a whole. That said, there are some shallow fish to be caught on Cayuga, and I feel good about fishing for them.
Similarities do exist in that both have largemouth and smallmouth bass populations, and both lakes are full of grass. Tactics will carry over from one lake to the next but I can’t use the same pattern at the same depth on each and expect to do well. A stronger population of smallmouth on Oneida will also affect how I approach the Elite Series event there.
The lakes in East Tennessee where I cut my teeth on bass fishing were a great proving ground for me. The lakes there might seem similar to someone looking on a map but each one fishes differently. Lakes can be very close geographically but the fish behave differently. Bass are crazy.
No matter what happens these next couple weeks, I am looking forward to the challenge. Any day I get to fish is a good day, and the opportunity to compete is what drives me.
Dare to fail.