- Drop-Shot Rigs Simplify Lure Location
- Venom Worms Offer Unique Action on Drop-Shot Rigs
- Colors, Bottom-Weight, Make a Difference
By Forrest Fisher
When the wind on Lake Erie kicks up waves that churn over the top of the 7-foot breakwall at Chadwick Bay in Dunkirk, New York, it’s too rough to go bass fishing there. In Chautauqua County, though, there are many other inland lake options that can offer the green light on those days.
Mike Joyner and I had joined fishing educator, tournament bass angler and longtime friend, Scott Gauld, at Cassadaga Lake, a little waterway located near the village of Lily Dale, just 15 minutes away. See: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/26964.html.
We launched at the state boat access located on the Middle Lake, the scene was pristine, not crowded and offered two floating docks for launch and retrieve.
Giant fluffy clouds masked a brilliant blue sky and there was a rising red glow of sunrise glimmering over the trees in the eastern horizon. But surprisingly, to the north, there was another cloud line of demarcation, as a cold front with dark rain clouds was visible in that direction. They seemed to hover there and we hoped they would stay away. They did and we didn’t get wet.
Scott explained that we would try our luck by fishing the weedline in the Lower Lake (there were three lake parts to Cassadaga Lake: Upper, Middle and Lower) and that would put our lures in about 10-12 feet of water. He described the details that we start out by trying one of his old favorite baits he had used successfully there several times before, while fishing with his dad.
He reached into a storage compartment on his new Nitro bass boat to hand each of us a 4-inch Salty Sling plastic worm (Venom Lures), then helped us rig up in drop-shot style using rather unique Size 1 “Standout hooks.”
Green-pumpkin copper and green-pumpkin candy were the plastic worm color choices.
We were using 7-foot Quantum rods with Sixgill open-face fishing reels loaded with 8-pound test Berkley Nanofil braided line that had 6-feet of Stren fluorocarbon leader (8-pound test) tied on to the end of the braid. Scott said, “The braid will give us better feel and the fluorocarbon will help keep us in stealth mode so the fish can’t see our line.”
I felt like we had a distinct advantage, such was the confidence in Scott’s voice.
The plan was to toss the drop-shot rigs a few feet in front of the boat and allow them to reach bottom, then lift slightly and check, sense, feel for the slightest tap from a feeding fish. Both smallmouth and largemouth bass lived in the lake, but so did crappie, walleye and musky too. Lots of possibilities.
The standout drop-shot hook was tied about 8-10 inches above a specially made 1-1/4 ounce sinker made by the Western New York Bassmasters fishing club, that allowed for quick descent and positive contact with the bottom. Scott demonstrated what to look for and how to react with a demonstration. “Cast out, let it hit the bottom, lift the rod ever so gently, feel for a fish, watch the rod tip, if you get no reaction from a fish, then lift the rod tip and gently swing the bait toward the boat a foot or two – watching it the whole time, then drop it to bottom again and repeat.”
We observed this process while he cast a few times and visually showed us how to work the bait back to the boat. What he stressed for us to know and learn was to sense for that possible VERY LIGHT TAP, the strike signal, from a feeding fish. A moment later, he said, “There’s one! Fish on.” He lifted his rod tip to set the hook and started reeling. A beautiful, healthy, 3-pound largemouth bass came aboard about 30-seconds later. My camera woke up to capture this really handsome fish.
We were having a friendly contest with two buddies in another boat. Hardy, old time anglers and long-time friends, Leon Archer and Wayne Brewer, were fishing with pro bass angler, Scott Callen, in another bass boat.
Mike and I grinned at each other because it seemed that Scott had insight and skill for this Cassadaga Lake waterway. The fish went into the live well to be released after we weighed them and finished fishing later in the morning. The plan was for each boat to weigh in a three fish bag of bass for the top-gun honor. A little friendly competition.
One moment later, Mike hooked a smallmouth bass and brought it aboard. We caught several fish along the weedline and enjoyed just working the baits and learning this new fishing method.
We caught many other fish, smaller bass, a perch, and then I even hooked-up with a giant musky. He looked like about 45-inches or so, maybe a 30-pounder, using one of Scott’s Rattle-Shake swim jig lures tipped with a white Venom Skip Shad tail. The big fish swirled at my bait, grabbed it, and took off with my line like a freight train to Texas.
Then, in less than five seconds, he spit it back toward the boat, the line went twang, and the bait went airborne as it came flying back right past my ear. WOW! The rod was a just little too light to set the hook into the jaw of that monster, but what a huge fishing moment! I’ll never forget that fish. Unforgettable memories are made of this. Pure fish power.
Our three biggest bass tally weighed in at a little under 10-pounds. A very nice morning of fishing, fun, good natured joking, busted laughing and serious hook setting above talk-to-fish expressions. There were one or two comic expression, “Oops, that one got me,” or “I should’ve set the hook sooner,“ or “Thought that was a weed.” Fishing with friends, it’s the best.
One other new secret to learn on this trip was the covert hooking of the plastic worm. The worm was hooked by pushing the hook point right through the worm diameter about a half-inch from the heavy end of the worm, so the rest of the worm just dangled freely. It looked so very real in the water. Tantalizing.
The rod, the line (type and size), the hooks, the weight, and where you cast was important too, but the most important thing was the technique of hooking up the Salty Sling worm to the hook. That’s what gave the worm the action that provoked the fish to strike.
It was deadly.
I added a little diagram to the “fishing secrets” book I keep after each trip for future use and to share with some youngster learning to fish along the way when the chance to help a kid occurs.
Cassadaga Lake is a sleeper lake for sure. When the bigger nearby waterways of Lake Erie and Chautauqua Lake are too rough with wind or rain, this is one secret spot to be aware of.
Lots of cooperative fish for catching and releasing for the fun of fishing. Especially with friends. Right now, you know at least one way to fish and what to do when you get there.
Tight lines everyone!