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Bass fishing on the river, need BTDT advice and "etiquette"


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My son and his friend are bringing friend's bass boat up to our cabin and want to fish the river. Friend and son fish smaller and collegiate tournaments, but have never fished the St. Lawrence or 1000 Islands area. Just read the thread below about bass fishing "bad manners," so I'm hoping I can get and pass along some advice from locals. They are good kids and I know they don't want to be "those" guys on the water.

Also, the river is different water with different kinds of boat traffic than they've fished before, and I know weather can be unexpected and unforgiving.

So, taking a 19' bass boat out on the river, what is your best advice for what to do, what not to do, where to go (generally) , where to steer clear of, what's different about this body of water/area than any other, and what to do to be a welcome guest instead of a PITA for locals and other boaters.

Thanks in advance!

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Not so much of an issue now that season is open and bass are off the beds. Most locals were complaining about guys fishing bass before the opener which is illegal here.
Water level is low and lots of shoals so you need to be careful. Use charts and GPS to avoid accidents.
The current in the main river can also be an issue but with a bass boat shouldn’t be a big issue in boat control. The bigger bays tend to be shallower and weedy with little current. Largemouths tend to be related to the weeds and smallmouths more on rocky shoals and deeper water.



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2 hours ago, Kevin J Legg said:

Not so much of an issue now that season is open and bass are off the beds. Most locals were complaining about guys fishing bass before the opener which is illegal here.
Water level is low and lots of shoals so you need to be careful. Use charts and GPS to avoid accidents.
The current in the main river can also be an issue but with a bass boat shouldn’t be a big issue in boat control. The bigger bays tend to be shallower and weedy with little current. Largemouths tend to be related to the weeds and smallmouths more on rocky shoals and deeper water.



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Thanks, and yes, he has GPS and charts on the boat. I'll remind them to be super sure of where they are heading.

Beyond the river are there harbors/bays that are good for bass fishing this time of year? Thinking about Chaumont, Sackets, Henderson, although not sure how sheltered those are from quick, oncoming weather. They're used to fishing big lakes, but from what I've seen, L Ontario can look more like the ocean at times when storms come up suddenly.

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1 minute ago, Kevin J Legg said:

Certainly could fish those big bays but Goose, Chippewa, and Eel
Bay are much closer and all hold fish. Also Lake of the Isles.


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Perfect! Our cabin is actually a bit south, a few miles below Henderson, so that's why I asked about the bigger bays, but I'll let them know about these, as well. Thank you!

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13 minutes ago, Kevin J Legg said:

Wow, if your below(south of) Henderson it’s a long run to the the places I suggested unless they’re trailing their boat. Much closer to Henderson, Chaumont, and Black River Bay. Unless wind is really bad they should be fine.


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Yes, they would have boat on trailer. They're going to be here for a week and wanted to explore  the entire area a bit, but since there are tournaments up on the river, they wanted to check out the river as well. We fish the Susquehanna River, but I wanted to prepare my son's buddy that St. Lawrence is a whole different kind of river.

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Some parts of the river are pretty congested, and as a result a speed limit of 30mph was enacted between Rock Island Light (just above the bridge) all the way to Chippewa. I think high speed is generally what most irritates “conventional “ fisherman, along with the practice of blasting by a bait fisherman at close distances.


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The speed zone goes from Rock Island light house (fishers landing) to Sunken Rock Lighthouse (by Bolt Castle) 30mph during the day and 15mph at night.


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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/9/2021 at 8:16 PM, Kevin J Legg said:

Not so much of an issue now that season is open and bass are off the beds. Most locals were complaining about guys fishing bass before the opener which is illegal here.
Water level is low and lots of shoals so you need to be careful. Use charts and GPS to avoid accidents.
The current in the main river can also be an issue but with a bass boat shouldn’t be a big issue in boat control. The bigger bays tend to be shallower and weedy with little current. Largemouths tend to be related to the weeds and smallmouths more on rocky shoals and deeper water.

So is the bass fishing closed prior to the 3rd Sat in June for catch and release on the river? I thought they changed it and it was legal on the great lakes? It wouldnt hurt my feelings any as Im old school and believe catching bass off beds is like fishing in a barrel. Not sporting at all in my opinion and even worse if these BASS pros take them off the beds 50 miles away for a weigh in. I cant believe the DEC would let them do that or even the organization itself. All they care about is money and glory. Nevermind the resource. I did see a bunch of guys bass fishing before the season opened myself. It sucks.



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I’ve seen a big increase in fishing pressure on the river both before and during the early bass season. Many more recreational and tournament fishermen and many from out of state. This is good for the local economy but perhaps not for the fishery. Tournament fishermen catch many fish with most being released but still stressed. Recreational fishermen and those fishing with guides keeping many for the table.
My grandsons are starting to enjoy fishing and I hope DEC keeps a careful eye on maintaining the sustainability our great resource.


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IMG_1758.JPG

There is no catch and release bass season on Lake Ontario in Jefferson county. There is no catch and release bass season on the St Lawrence including its tributaries in Jefferson and St Lawrence counties


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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, nasc620 said:

IMG_1761.JPG

Here is the section for Lake Ontario in the rules and regulation book.


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OK, phew, this can be as confusing as in Pennsylvania and the various trout rules and regulation re: catch and release on which bodies of water and when. :) So, fishing catch and release in elsewhere before the June opener is allowed, but not at all on Lake/River/tributaries in Jefferson until June opener, correct?

Edited by SkookGirl
Clarified Jefferson
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Thanks for the clarification. So catch and release fishing for Bass is prohibited outside the open season in Jefferson AND St Lawrence counties including the St Lawrence river. Too many are abusing this rule and breaking the law though. These spawning bass need to be protected. Problem is many of the bass remain on the beds after the opener like this year. It could be trouble a few years from now if this keeps up. The tournaments every week are pounding this area too. Jeez I hate tournament fishing. Spoils the beauty of the sport.

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Thanks, all! Kid and his buddy had a great time, and I passed along all the info and advice, so hopefully they weren't a nuisance. :) They caught some hefty smallmouth, a few large, a of pike (too many, he said, and they liked to snap off his line!).

They did go up to Waddington for two days to watch the bass tournament up there (and fish). They are tournament fishers themselves, but hopefully they'll continue to find ways to be responsible and respectful anglers themselves. I know their local tournaments won't hold competitions during spawn, low water or other otherwise stressful competitions, and my son just spent a week at river conservation and fly fishing camp where there was a ton of emphasis on keeping rivers healthy now and in the future, so we're doing our best to balance our behaviors on the rivers and lakes.

Thanks again!

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  • 2 weeks later...
Perfect! Our cabin is actually a bit south, a few miles below Henderson, so that's why I asked about the bigger bays, but I'll let them know about these, as well. Thank you!
If they fish chaumont they could launch in chaumont or long point state park. If they want to fish stony or galloo they could launch out of the isthmus state launch. If they leave out of henderson we always used to fish bass and gull islands. If they are after smallies the drops and humps are usually most productive.

As for etiquette, no one owns the water. I would recommended not running 50mph close to guys still fishing. Being a chaumont resident that's really the only thing that torques my shorts. We usually call those ones bassholes.

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I’ve seen a big increase in fishing pressure on the river both before and during the early bass season. Many more recreational and tournament fishermen and many from out of state. This is good for the local economy but perhaps not for the fishery. Tournament fishermen catch many fish with most being released but still stressed. Recreational fishermen and those fishing with guides keeping many for the table.
My grandsons are starting to enjoy fishing and I hope DEC keeps a careful eye on maintaining the sustainability our great resource.


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That and the eyes in the winter...i can't believe they haven't instituted a slot limit for the winter. This is also coming from a guy that loves jigging them thru the ice.

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That and the eyes in the winter...i can't believe they haven't instituted a slot limit for the winter. This is also coming from a guy that loves jigging them thru the ice.

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Couldn’t agree more. Need something like an 18-26” slot and with one over 26” for trophy or non releasable fish for the lake and St Lawrence River.


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