A wild ride on the St. Lawrence?

Tracey and I are up in Waddington, N.Y., on a short vacation. I’m also using the time to get a quick look at the St. Lawrence River before it goes off-limits. I’ve never been here before and I have to say that’s it’s an interesting place.

For openers, it’s not nearly as crowded or as metropolitan as most of the places we go. There are very few boats up here to create a lot of holiday traffic. It’s mostly bass anglers and the occasional multispecies fellow out for a day on the water. It’s a real joy to fish in that sense.

But that’s not what I want to talk about today. It’s the fishing that’s really got my attention.

I’ve fished a lot of places but I’ve never seen a place quite like this. The water is clear to the point that, in places, it doesn’t look like it’s there. You can see down farther than anywhere I’ve ever been. It’s actually kind of spooky. That doesn’t seem to affect the smallmouth, though.

They’re still spawning — the water temperature is 65 degrees — and they’re doing it in water less than 5 feet deep. In fact I’ve caught a few in less than 2 feet of water. My experience yesterday morning tells the tale.

I saw a big rock sitting out in the middle of nowhere. It was maybe the size of a refrigerator. Half of it was out of the water. I could see all the way around it, and all the way to the bottom. I’d swear that there wasn’t a fish anywhere near that rock. I looked, too. Nevertheless, I fired off a small topwater bait. I wanted to be sure.

My lure landed with a soft splash. Within a second or two, the water under my bait exploded. I don’t think I ever saw the fish hit. I might have seen a quick flash but I’m not even sure about that. When I got her to the boat she weighed right at 5 pounds. Tracey duplicated my catch a couple of minutes later, near the same rock.

We’re going to have one heck of an experience come August 8. The fish here are big and they’re biting. I’m told by the locals that the fishing will get better over the next four or five weeks. They say it peaks in August. If that’s right, there’s no telling what the final weight will be on Sunday. It might rival Lake Erie. In fact, I think there’s a chance we’ll set a new smallmouth record.

In case you’re thinking I’m just excited after catching a few good fish let me point something out to you. Last weekend there was a local tournament up here. It was a one day deal. The final weight busted the scales at 27 pounds, 8 ounces. True, one day isn’t four days. But, then again, local guys aren’t Elite Series guys either.

I’d suggest everybody hold their hat tight when this one starts. It’s going to be a wild ride.

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