Lake George Village, October Smallmouth Bass ON-THE-BITE…40 feet down!

  • Paddle-tail Jigs Entice Deepwater Smallmouth Bass during PEAK Color Foliage
  • October Fishing on Lake George offers Exhilarating FUN, Finesse Fishing    
  • Morning Fog is Part of Stirring Fishing ADVENTURE

By Forrest Fisher

Walt Lockhart with one of many smallmouth bass we landed fishing the southern basin of Lake George in eastern New York State. Forrest Fisher Photo

The air tasted fresh.  One ray of sunlight was flickering through a tall tree to the east, lighting up the top layer of fog not far from Lake George Village.  We were here to fish for October bass.

The steamy vapor of hot coffee was bidding to escape my thermos lock-top cup.  The morning chill and hot java was perfect for a wake-up solution that followed a late campfire with friends the night before.  The coffee sparked my step as I studied the heavy fog cover on Lake George at 7:15 in the morning.

Adirondack serenity was everywhere.  Nature in this Warren County (New York) location was complete with stunning foliage color.  Very satisfying.  It’s hard to find wilderness-perfect moments in time, but I knew this was one of those.

A blue heron was beak fishing for breakfast to my immediate left.  A dozen wood ducks were bobbing the weeds along a shoreline of boat docks in Dunham Bay.  Overhead, there was a flock of Canada Geese silently flapping southward high above the fog.  They were not honking, they were apparently in stealth mode, except their wings created a slick-moving wind sound that had caught my attention.  More to study about that species, I thought.  We never stop learning.  I grinned.  Getting to 70 years young and still learning, life is good when you visit Lake George.

My fishing partner for the day was an old friend and fishing guide, Frank Tennity, who had brought along his usual 35 pounds, or so, of jigs, rigs, hooks, plastic worms, hard body lures, sinkers, a few fishing rods and related “other stuff” to catch fish, no matter the conditions.

I brought my coffee cup.  Ready here.

My fishing partner, Frank Tennity, is a charter captain from Conesus Lake, NY, but he was able to charm those Lake George smallmouth bass into the boat as well.  Forrest Fisher Photo

We met up with a fishing and hunting friend of local outdoor columnist, Dan Ladd (www.ADKhunter.com).  Moored at the Dunham Bay docks, Walt Lockhart welcomed us with a warm smile to the usual October morning fog of Lake George.  One warm and hearty handshake later, we hopped aboard his very comfortable 23-foot fishing boat.  The canvas cockpit made a difference, protecting from the fresh-smelling dew.

Convenience is important when the fog is so heavy you cannot see across the road.  We enjoyed the wait and sat in the comfy, covered boat.  We talked fishing, sipped coffee, joked about alarm clocks and after about 30 minutes, we could see 100 yards.

That was our green light.

The Lowrance sonar unit provided a split screen with a plotter and GPS coordinates using the Navionics (https://www.navionics.com/usa/) Lake George depth map.  The Navionics software helped us navigate to the “right spots.”

While we came to bass fish, Lake George is more well-known for lake trout and landlocked salmon in autumn, but we were up for the challenge of smallmouth bass.  Walt knew the waters from his many years of fishing experience at Lake George and we newbies to the area had high hopes to hook up with some fish.

“We have crayfish, emerald shiner minnows and smelt as the main forage here,” Walt explained.  “So we’ll throw something that will sort of imitate all of those.  I did also bring some live shiners if you want to try those.“

Some of the rods were already rigged with a ¼ ounce jig head that featured a large thin-wire hook threaded with a 4-inch Keitech plastic paddle-tail.  I was excited.

The boat moved slowly as the motor kicked into and out of gear at Walt’s direction.  We were drifting and fishing in between motor drive connections.  We made progressive motion along the south shoreline of Dunham’s Bay toward Crooked Tree Point and Lake George Village.  We casted our lines along the drop-offs near the weedline edge there without any response from the fish, but our first morning objective was to fish the sharp drop-offs with middle-level gravel shoals near Diamond Island and Dick’s Island.

The fog slowed us down, but we arrived after about 30 minutes of careful boat control.  The rocky shoals were marked with a bright buoy line and the sonar showed fish on top of the shoals in 25 feet or so.  The sun was rising and the fog was lifting.  The water was VERY clear and clean, as I could see my jig down about 15 feet.

Using his Lowrance sonar with Navionics map chip, Walt found lots of fish for us to catch.  Forrest Fisher Photo

Our 6-pound monofilament was thin and clear, a necessary tool to catch fish here with the extreme water clarity.  Over the next 20 minutes, we caught five bass, no giants, but the fish were so healthy looking and strong.  They each jumped above the water surface and electrified the chilly morning for all of us, but Walt wasn’t happy, he wanted to find bigger fish.

The wind was calm with a slight surface movement from the south as we moved to fish the steep drop-offs near Wood’s Point and Plum Point.  As we approached visibility to Lake George Village, we found fish.

Tightly packed schools of smallmouth bass were holding 40 feet down in 80 feet of water.  The fish were less than 100 feet from shore, that’s how fast the bottom drops in this location.  The bass were there and on a binge feed.  Sheer fun!  Among the three of us, we landed and released about 30 smallmouth bass, not giants, but up to 2 pounds.  Fun fishing.  It was one exciting hour!

For size and color details on the highly effective jig tail we were tossing, visit: (http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Keitech_Swing_Impact_FAT_Swimbait/descpage-KSIF.html), we were using the Sun Gill color.

The Keitech fat swimbait jig tails we used were VERY effective. The fish would hit them on the descent.  Forrest Fisher Photo

We carefully released all the fish as we caught them, then we moved to fish shallower water.  New challenge, same lures, the paddle-tail jigs.  We stopped to flip the docks along the Burnt Ridge Road boat slips on the way back “just to see” if any largemouth might savor an invigorating nibble for a freshly-delivered breakfast jig.

Sure enough, we hooked up with a few 2-pound largemouth bass to finish our short trip.

A complete morning, by 10:30 a.m. we were back at the dock with a late morning schedule to fill.

Our next destination was lunch with outdoor friends at the Docksider Restaurant (http://docksiderrestaurant.com/), a quaint little eatery with a cozy bar on nearby Glen Lake, just 10 minutes east.  The food was scrumptious and while there, we met other fishing friends that had just enjoyed a great morning of fishing Glen Lake for their renowned giant bluegills.

Located right on Glen Lake, 10 minutes south of Lake George Village, the Docksider Restaurant was a cozy place to relax for lunch and meet with friends. Forrest Fisher Photo

They wouldn’t tell us their fishing hotspot until we traded our Lake George smallmouth bass news.  Deal.

Tales of fishermen secrets continue every day, no matter where you are.  Even among strangers, it’s half the fun of fishing!

There is one very helpful free fishing booklet with maps, directions and tips on where to fish Adirondack lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, even offering what to use, where to access and who to call for more information.  The link: www.visitadirondacks.com, for Warren County see page 32.  For a list of local fishing guides and charter captains, or for accommodation contacts, drop a note to Kristen Hanifin at LGRCCCVB@LakeGeorgeChamber.com.

Autumn Color, Nature, Wilderness Air and Fresh Coffee at Lake George

  • Business Takes a NEW Direction
  • Lure of Autumn Bass Fishing, Lake Trout, Landlocked Salmon
  • Sights of Colorful Foliage
  • Plans for Waterfowl Hunting, Stream Fishing for Brook Trout

By Forrest Fisher

Rising fog from mountain valleys appear like slices of horizontal white pie resting between high, dark mountain peaks of the Adirondacks in the Lake George area. Forrest Fisher Photo

My workday plan was busy with a business trip from New York City to Montreal.  The airport traffic was heavy, the security lines long, longer than ever, the sky was clear and it was a beautiful day.  I was not happy with bumper to bumper traffic conversation between the interstate roadway vehicles and the morning disc jockeys were in a rant about their bummed weekend.  They made the congestion worse.  Then I suddenly realized, “I can drive!”

About two hours or so up the northbound highway, the traffic was gone and I discovered a wonderful sense of peace and quiet.  I left the long lines of airport security, the chaos of baggage, laptop checks and body scans behind.  All gone.  All replaced by a road trip drive that would change my persona for the day, maybe forever.

There was a faint sliver of fog rising from the valleys that appeared like slices of horizontal white pie resting among the high and very dark mountain peaks of the Adirondacks in the background.  Driving down Highway 87, the road signs announced Lake George and despite the near-darkness, I noticed that the autumn scenery was stunning in this particular area.  Signs advertised fly fishing, Hudson River rafting, rail trail bikes, historical sites, boating, biking, hiking and more.  These diverted my mind and were tempting me to consider a new daytime destination, maybe as just a momentary, side-of-the-highway, homesteader.  Yes, I thought, pull over, if only just to watch the enchanting sunrise.

Highway 87 runs north-south and Exit 21 and 22 provide easy access to Lake George Village and Dunham’s Bay Resort, where I found morning coffee. Photo: www.visitadirondacks.com

Rocky bluffs jutted upward and outward along the freeway, as I tried to focus on driving and not the scenic beauty.  That was just not possible.  The scenic views were an immediate visual award, an instant lottery prize win, just for making this drive.  I sensed myself grinning to the view, perhaps that was one honest measure of my sheer contentment.

A few minutes later, in the distance, the brilliant orange ball of morning sun began to tiptoe upward.  It was only a dull orange color sky at first, and then the first sliver of the sun crest rose just above the lowest horizon in the east.  I pulled off the roadway at Exit 21 and decided I needed a cup of java just to watch the morning light.  Driving down Beach Road in Lake George Village, sort of exploring too, my business trip had become an adventure.

I continued along Highway 9L just for a few minutes, it was October and many business places were already closed for the season, but it was so quiet, so enjoyable.  Then I came to Dunham’s Bay Resort (www.dunhamsbay.com).  I went in and asked about coffee. Yes!  They had fresh java and all the mixings, it smelled so good.  I toasted a cup to my decision to drive and thought about those poor folks that were probably still waiting in the airport line, grinning again.

A cup of fresh morning java from Dunham’s Bay Resort catered to my view of the morning sunrise at Lake George. Rose Barus Photo

I moved to the front of the resort and sat in one of the outdoor lawn chairs.  The warm Lake George water and chilly mountain air caused a fog to form on Dunham’s Bay right in front of the resort.  It became thick and started to settle before it started to rise.  I went back in for more coffee.  With cup number two, I realized I was looking at the highest mountain tops to the west, visible above the fog.  They suddenly emerged into a sea of brilliant color as the sun lit them up.  A flock of ducks went squawking by in flight, high overhead, that I heard, but could not see.  My brief adventure continued.  The natural intense lighting of the sun was doing everyday work.  I was inspired by the dazzling beauty and the coffee tasted so good.

An immediate urge for home ownership in the area seemed an almost immediate necessity.  How did I ever miss this Lake George area before?  Perhaps, if only for now, I might try for a short stay.  No.  Maybe on the way back, I thought, that way I could stay a day or maybe two.  Today, back to reality, there were meetings planned and work to do.

Vibrant autumn foliage was evident along Highway 87 and the pristine upper Hudson River. Rose Barus Photo

I realized that with the flight reservation and airport plan from the start, my fly rod was not with me.  On the next drive north, there might have to be a stopover.  Imaginary fog would be the cause, I’d need to pull over to stay safe.  Again, I’m grinning.  What a plan.  I realize that this drive to a brief coffee stop has me totally energized.

A new essence for realizing the seasons of the year was added to my list of “important things,” the autumn colors of October on Lake George are unforgettable.  Perhaps I must remember to do this again, maybe when NOT ON BUSINESS next year, I thought to myself.  It is a family type of destination, I could bring everyone, the grandkids too.

Historic sites abound near Lake George Village, adding the need for a second or third trip to “see it all.” Forrest Fisher Photo

My cellphone is activated and the calendar is reserved one year ahead around the seasons and the scenery just recorded only to memory.  Of course, I’ll never forget this day.

The backcountry is a new priority.  I return to the ribbons of roadway heading north with a new vision of the stunning foliage and clean, spring-fed, waterways that are abundant here.  These waters are filled with trout and untainted crustaceans.  Pleasantly now, I’m in a new comfort zone for effective business and again, I’m grinning.  Driving was such a good idea.

Time spent in the Adirondack Mountains of New York during autumn are positively special.  October is the month of color transition in the Lake George area of the Adirondack Mountains and lush green leaves turn to brilliant colors of bright yellow, orange and red.  They are unforgettable.

Color and visions from morning light to sunset are remarkable all around Lake George.  Accommodations are at low rates and fishing charters are still running.  The crisp air is right for a fall getaway.

Not sure I can wait for next time!

For Lake George information, visit www.visitlakegeorge.com or call the Warren County Tourism Department at 518-761-7653.