Touring Sackets Harbor

After the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open on Cayuga Lake, I went to Sackets Harbor, N.Y., to spend some time enjoying the sights and sampling the fishing on Lake Ontario. To say this small town is beautiful doesn’t do it justice. It’s an old school type of place with a permanent population of just under 1,500.

Tracey and I both absolutely love the place. We’ve celebrated several anniversaries here. A walk around the center of the village is like a trip back in time. Everything is restored, or original, from many years ago. I’ve always been amazed at how they made things back them. They had nothing close to the equipment we have today. Nevertheless, what they made was attractive and functional. It’s a real tribute to the work ethic of our ancestors.

I also have a soft spot for it because it’s one of the places I fished early in my career. One thing I’ll never forget is that this is the place where I made my first long boat ride. I’m talking about being miles from shore and dealing with big rollers. It was an experience. Someday I’ll write a column about that experience. You’ll laugh.

The only thing I noticed that I didn’t especially like was a lack of electric signs. As a sign maker, I can’t hold with that too much; but I will admit the policy gives everything a certain kind of look, a beautiful certain kind of look to be honest about it.

Do I have to tell you that I did a little fishing while I was there? Lake Ontario is full of smallmouth and the Black River, near Sackets Harbor, is no different. Once you find them you can catch them until you get bored. (OK, I never get bored catching any kind of fish but you know what I’m getting at.)

I upgraded my electronics to Gen2 (Lowrance) and thought I’d better learn how to use it before the tournament on Oneida Lake. An Elite Series tournament isn’t the place to learn. It’s the place to do.

It didn’t take long for me to find a rockpile in fairly deep water that I could target with a drop shot rig. I messed around with different weights, line lengths and sizes and colors of Berkley Gulp Minnows until I found the most effective combination. After that, it was nothing more than sitting tight, setting the hook and enjoying the fight.

But that was last weekend. While you’re reading this, I’ll be on Oneida trying to pattern the winning fish. I know everyone has read about what a great fishery it is and how everyone can fish to their strengths here. That cuts both ways.

It’s great to be able to catch a lot of bass. I’m not the guy who’s going to complain about anything like that. But it also makes it tough from a strategy point of view. You have to figure out something different that’ll help you boat the bigger fish. We’ll know if I managed to do that in a couple of days.

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