UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Ohio River

All Options are Open on Oneida

All Options are Open on Oneida

Day one of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division finale kicked off on Oneida Lake this morning with pleasantly cool temps, light sprinkles with a clearing sky and just a chance of rain in the forecast– a welcome respite for pros who battled adverse conditions through much of practice. Presented by Ranger Boats, the tournament promises a lot of fish-catching action, and both smallmouths and largemouths could contend for the win.

 

About the Fishery

Just more over 20 miles long and 5 miles wide, Oneida isn’t a huge lake by most standards, but it still provides plenty of territory to fish. The whole lake is quite shallow, so bass can live virtually anywhere, and between the grass beds and rocky shoals, there’s something for everyone. With bait ranging from perch to gobies to shiners, there are also plenty of options for feeding, and both largemouths and smallmouths can be found throughout the lake

 

Current Conditions

At the moment, summer is in full swing on Oneida. Last week, the water temps pushed into the low 80’s because of a spell of hot weather and little rain, but since the weekend, rain and slightly cooler weather have the water closer to the high 70’s. There’s is a light algae bloom going on in the lake currently, and the clearest water is in the southeast corner, with the heaviest stain being on the north shore of the lake. Despite the bloom, the vast majority of the lake is likely to be very fishable.

 

Tactics in Play

Oneida’s clear and mostly shallow water make it an excellent topwater lake, so you can expect to see plenty of walkers and poppers on deck, but that’s not all.  Jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, umbrella rigs and crankbaits will get some play for the smallmouths, but the typical staples are likely to dominate. That means that spinning rods and swimbaits, drop-shots, tubes and the like will see a lot of action. On the largemouth side, swim jigs and spinnerbaits should be good bets for covering water, and plenty of pros will slow down with a jig, frog or soft plastic to pick grass or docks apart.

Though many pros will be fishing fairly shallow by default, even if they are far off the bank, there seems to be a stronger contingent of shallow anglers than expected. Some pros have reported that the schooling bite isn’t as strong as usual, with fewer flocks of birds diving on bait pushed to the surface by marauding bass, and that might well bring more shallow and isolated structure into play. Nevertheless, Ed Casey won last week’s FLW Bass Fishing League event on Oneida, and says he caught all his bass offshore and is planning on doing the same this week.

 

Critical Factors

The wind – Oneida doesn’t have many places to hide, so a really big wind could make it hard on the anglers. On the other hand, slick calm conditions can be very conducive to a good topwater bite and a moderate wind could position the bass.

Water clarity – It’s not uncommon for algae blooms to temporally make parts of the lake murky or unfishable. The blooms usually move with the water, so a place that was clear one day might not be the next.

Pressure – Oneida has hosted a pile of tournaments this summer and the fish are beginning to wise up. Additionally, the best areas and schools are often found by more than a few pros. Overcoming pressured bass will be key.

Largemouths – The last few years, smallmouths have dominated on Oneida. That might be changing now. Even if largemouth don’t win, it’s possible that a green kicker or two will be key.

 

Dock Talk

There’s no doubt that the Oneida is fishing well for some and tough for others, and is generally just a little “off” from usual. That has some pros scratching their heads.

“I think the full moon draws fish shallow,” says Jamey Caldwell. “I think there is going to be a mix, there will be big bass caught shallow and deep.”

Caldwell’s concern about the full moon moving fish was somewhat echoed by David Barnes Sr., who believes that a lot of the bass are feeding heavily at night.

“I need to get two or three first thing in the morning,” says Barnes. “Then it’s just a grind.”

To illustrate the power of fishing pressure, Barnes also relayed a story of one bass swimming out to look at his wacky-rigged Senko on a drop-shot and, after looking for a moment, just turning away.

Without a doubt, Ron Nelson is one of the more optimistic pros headed into the tournament, even if he’s all but given up hope of catching the Johnston brothers in the Angler of the Year race.

“When I first came here it was dead slick calm and there was no movement,” says Nelson. “But, as soon as that wind gets going it sets those fish up in predictable places.”

Nelson in particular is hoping to capitalize on a largemouth bite he found in practice, and he believes that a few green bass per day will be key for the eventual winner.

 

Cory Johnston

Points Watch

Oneida is the culmination of the Northern Division season, and with that comes the Strike King Angler of the Year award. The reward from winning can be rich, as the $2,000 prize package includes deposits for the 2017 season of FLW Series competition, and the winning pro – as well as the rest of the top 40 pros and co-anglers – qualify for the Costa FLW Series Championship.

Currently, a trio of Canadians lead the standings, topped by Cory Johnston with 486 points, Bob Izumi (482) and Chris Johnston (476). Just behind them, Ron Nelson of Berrien Springs, Mich., has 472 points and Casey Smith has 468. The pros in the top five have already had stellar years: Cory Johnston will be chasing an incredible third Northern Division AOY title, Chris Johnston won the Walmart FLW Tour Rookie of the Year award and is going for his second Northern Division AOY and Bob Izumi cracked the top 10 at the 1000 Islands just weeks ago and is a smallmouth expert to the first degree.

 

Tournament Details

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 6:30 a.m. ET

Takeoff Location: Oneida Shores County Park, 9400 Bartell Road, Brewerton, N.Y. 13029

Weigh-In Time: 2:30 p.m. ET days one and two, 3:30 p.m. ET on day three

Weigh-In Location: Oneida Shores County Park on days one and two, day three at Walmart, 3018 East Ave, Central Square, N.Y. 13036

Complete details

Tags: oneida-lake  jody-white  morning-story  2016-08-18-oneida-lake 

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