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Prime fishing still available on area lakes, rivers in August

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At the onset of the current fishing season, many anglers vowed, “I’m going to do more fishing this summer.”

In reality, though, other commitments beckoned. As a result, fishing often took a back seat.

Now that August is approaching, anglers should consider making an effort to fulfill their early-season vow. In essence, fishing time is slipping away because the majority of sportsmen put their rods aside and turn their attention to the approaching hunting seasons once September arrives.

Here ís a brief look at some of the late-summer opportunities on area waters:

ST. LAWRENCE RIVER

August means good angling for bronzebacks and walleyes along the entire length of the St. Lawrence River. Prime spots for smallies include mid-river shoals and island dropoffs, particularly where mild current is present.

Productive techniques include drifting with live shiners or crayfish and trolling diving plugs, such as naturally colored Shad Raps. Because of the abundance of gobies in the river, tube baits that imitate that species can be effective.

Since walleyes are mobile, visiting anglers would be wise to stop by a bait shop for current information about fish location. Walleye locations with significant current are best fished by drifting spinner and worm rigs.

Areas of light current are best fished with bucktail jigs tipped with a crawler piece. Trolling long slender plugs is effective in the evening and after-dark hours.

BLACK LAKE

Because of August’s high water temperatures, bass fishing on Black Lake can be challenging at this time of the year. Weedy bays, though, consistently produce largemouths for anglers who don’t mind fishing the slop.

Lures of choice include Senko-type plastic worms and slowly worked top-water baits. While slop fishers can often catch bass throughout the day, anglers who work weed lines and mid-lake shoals experience their best results in early morning and in the evening. These shoals also hold smallmouth bass as do steep dropping shorelines. Live crayfish are a consistent producer of August bass as are tube baits and crayfish-colored crankbaits.

BUTTERFIELD LAKE

While Black Lake heads the list of 16 Indian River lakes, Butterfield is also a good bet for quality fishing. Located at Redwood in Jefferson County, this water has good populations of panfish, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, and walleye.

Butterfield covers 1,005 acres, and it has two personalities. The southern half is generally rocky and deep, so it contains higher numbers of bronzebacks, marble eyes and yellow perch. The northern half is shallow and weedy making it the preferred location for bluegills, largemouth bass and northern pike. Some of the lake’s best fishing occurs in the transition areas between the two halves.

The angler should work live bait, plastic-tipped jigs or crankbaits for smallmouths and walleyes. Prime holding areas include points, rocky shorelines and island dropoffs. For largemouth bass and northern pike, try spinnerbaits and plastic worms along weedlines and in openings in the weeds.

RAQUETTE RIVER RESERVOIRS

Located in St. Lawrence County, all of the Raquette River reservoirs hold walleyes, but the four most popular impoundments are Carry Falls, Stark, Blake, and Rainbow. Walleyes are literally scattered across these reservoirs.

The most productive areas, though, are deep pools below dams, points, river-like stretches, tributary mouths, dropoffs and deep basins. Casting jigs tipped with plastic and a piece of crawler is the most common technique on the reservoirs, but trolling crawler harnesses or minnow plugs is also effective. Walleye anglers should expect to also catch yellow perch, smallmouth bass and the occasional northern pike. While the reservoirs hold some decent size walleyes, the majority of fish typically measure just under or just over the 15-inch minimum length requirement.

All four reservoirs have public access, and Carry Falls and Blake offer camping facilities through Labor Day. Since Carry Falls is the “holding reservoir” for the other impoundments, anglers should note that water levels on Carry often drop significantly in late summer.

TUPPER LAKE

The 4,800-acre Tupper Lake offers excellent angling opportunities. Among the favorite species are northern pike and walleyes. The lake’s abundant forage base translates to large, healthy fish, but it also means challenging fishing for anglers who must compete with nature’s generous food supply.

The irregular shoreline and numerous islands provide quality habitat for a variety of species. For pike, try castings spoons or spinners where weeds are present. For walleyes, cast crawler-tipped jigs or troll minnow plugs in rocky areas that have a dropoff. Other available species include smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch, lake trout, and landlocked salmon.

A state-owned ramp located off state Route 30 provides access. Once on Tupper Lake, boaters also have access to the 1,024-acre Raquette and 141-acre Simon ponds, and both offer quality fishing.

HORSESHOE LAKE

Located in southeast St. Lawrence County, the 384-acre Horseshoe Lake features tiger muskies and largemouth bass. Because this shallow-water lake lacks significant structure, weeds are the favorite haunts of both species. Live minnows, large spinnerbaits and perch-colored surface baits work well for tigers.

For largemouth bass, try surface baits and the traditional plastics. Horseshoe Lake has three carry-down access locations and numerous primitive campsites, all of which are located off Highway 421.

CALENDAR

Monday: Lisbon Sportsmen’s Club Hosts Trap and Skeet Shooting at Pray Rd. Property at 5:30 p.m.

Saturday-Sunday: Gun Show and Flea Market at Massena R&G Club.

Sunday: Sporting Clays Shoot at Black Lake F&G Club at 9 a.m.

Aug. 8 and 11: Hunter Education Course in Gouverneur (Pre-register at 486-0546 from 5:30-8 p.m.).

Aug. 11: SLRWA 11th annual St. Lawrence River Walleye Challenge Team Tournament (384-3450).

Aug. 12: Bowhunter Education Course at Ferari’s Archery Shop in Carthage (Pre-register at shop).

Aug. 13: Sporting Licenses for 2012-13 go on sale.

Aug. 14,16,18: Hunter Education Course at Mannsville Fire Hall (Pre-register at 785-2533).

Aug. 16-18: St. Lawrence International Junior Carp Tournament (www.northcountryguide.com).

Aug. 26: Bowhunter Education Course at Watertown Sportsman’s Club (Pre-register at 785-2533).

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