Empire State Anglers Head for the Border


The New York East Division 23 of the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series, operated by American Bass Anglers, hits the mid-point of the season Aug. 6, 2011, on the St. Lawrence River.

Competitors will run out of French Creek Marina, located at 250 Wahl Street in Clayton. Registration begins at 4 p.m. Aug. 5, 2011, by the ABA stage trailer at French Creek Marina. Anglers fishing the Boater Division may weigh in up to five bass in any combination of largemouth, smallmouth and Kentucky spotted bass. Co-anglers may weigh in up to three bass.

One of the most historically significant rivers in North America, the St. Lawrence forms part of the international border between the eastern United States and Canada, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. The river originates at the outflow of Lake Ontario near Kingston, Ontario, and Cape Vincent, N.Y. It flows about 744 miles from Lake Ontario to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, an estuary off the Atlantic Ocean.

In places, the river stretches two miles wide and may drop to more than 200 feet deep. In addition, the river flows around numerous islands, some in Ontario and some in New York. Since the St. Lawrence forms an international boundary, anglers need to purchase a Canadian license if they plan to fish on that side of the river.

?Canadian waters are not off limits during the tournament,? emphasized Joe Angelone, tournament manager. ?Canada is enforcing its existing border laws. All boaters who plan to fish Canadian waters must check in with Canadian authorities. Canadian licenses can be purchased by contacting the Thousand Islands Bait Shop in Alexandria Bay, N.Y. Competitors can call ahead to make arrangements to pick up their licenses.?

Failure to check in with Canadian customs to fish on that side of the border can result in a substantial fine. American anglers will need to inform Canadian authorities that they plan to fish a bass tournament and will not be docking or anchoring in Canada. They also need to provide their boater registration numbers and place of registration, dates of birth for people in the boat and also provide proper identification such as a passport. Canadian authorities will not accept just regular drivers licenses for identification. For information on Canadian customs, call (888) 226-7277.

The St. Lawrence offers some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the world. For big brownies, many people fish the river between Alexandria Bay and Clayton. For smallmouth, look for areas with rocky bottoms and current in about 15 to 30 feet of water. In the very clear waters of the river, use light monofilament or fluorocarbon line and work grubs or shaky head jigs. Cast upriver and dance the bait over the bottom with the current.

For largemouth, look for weedy coves around islands. Fish the weeds with spinnerbaits or Texas-rigged soft plastics. Run crankbaits parallel to weed lines. Some anglers use a finesse worm on a split-shot rig, something like a smaller version of a Carolina rig. Put the split-shot about three feet above the bait on 6- to 8-pound fluorocarbon line. A drop shot tipped with a grub or other finesse plastic can also work. Some of the best fishing for largemouth bass occurs near Wellesley Island.

During a two-day BWS tournament in September 2010, Charles Sharrock of Peekskill won the Boater Division with 10 bass weighing 38.56 pounds topped by a 4.44-pound kicker. Leading wire to wire, he landed 19.89 pounds the first day and followed that with another 18.67 pounds. Craig Alderman of Apalachin landed the Boater Division big bass, a 5.57-pounder.

?I stayed in the river around the north end,? Sharrock said. ?I found some fish in practice and used a drop shot the whole tournament. I fished it from 10 to 40 feet deep, but most of my fish came out of 30 feet of water. The color looked like a yellow perch. The fish were eating it up. I probably caught about 50 fish in the tournament. I upgraded all day long.?

In the Co-Angler Division during that September 2010 tournament, Frank Appaluccio of Sparta, N.J., won with two three-bass daily division limits weighing 19.94 pounds including a 5.02 pounder. Finishing Day 1 well back in the pack with 7.44 pounds, he vaulted into first place with a 12.50-pound effort, the biggest one-day stringer for any co-angler, on the final day. He caught most of his fish by flipping a green pumpkin Berkley Chigger Craw. Larry LaClair of Churubusco, N.Y., set the tournament lunker standard with a 6.06-pounder.

For more information on this tournament, call Angelone at (256) 777-6152 or ABA at (888) 203-6222. Online, see www.americanbassanglers.com.

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