This week, let’s take a little look at fishing from shore. As I get older, and it gets harder and harder to get into and out of my boat, I find myself on the shore more and more often.. While I truly love being out in a boat, I have also had some great fishing from shore, both at night and in the daytime.
In many ways, shore fishing is a lot like fishing from a boat. A number of methods are available to the shore angler. One of the best known is still fishing, also known as "forked stick fishing." This is really pretty self explanatory. You cast out your bait, prop your rod in a forked stick, on a rock, on a commercially made rod holder or whatever. This method is used most often for suckers, carp and catfish, but will work on other species as well. Night fishing this way is even more fun. Build a fire, (where permitted) cook some hot dogs and just relax. A little bell, which clips to the end of the rod, makes a really nice bite alarm. A Night Bobby, which is a bobber with a battery and LED in it, is another good night bite indicator. A couple of years ago, I bought a battery powered rod that lights up.
Probably the biggest danger to the night angler is taking a fall in the dark. Especially along the Allegheny, the banks and shorelines are often extremely rocky. It is imperative to watch your step. Of course, lake fishing requires the same caution, but not to the extent the river does. As I have aged, I find it best to use a stout walking stick on any bank, day or night. I have one I made from a piece of diamond willow my brother-in-law gave me.
Shore angling can be both fun and productive in the daytime, too. At Oneida Lake, it is the only type of fishing permitted. This is a really nice lake, and we've made some very good catches fishing there. Last year, however, was less than good. Perhaps the fish have simply moved from the places wherein we used to enjoy success. I still hear reports of great catches, although they have eluded my buddy and me. There are some big panfish in the lake. Incidentally, even if the fish aren't hitting at Oneida, a trip there is seldom a waste of time. There are beautiful birds, both on and off the water. To add to the excitement, a pair of bald eagles nests along the lake as well, and they are often visible. Bub and I have seen loons there around this time. One cannot help but wonder if the birds are nesting, as you would expect them to be farther north by now.
One of the best places around for the shore angler is Lock and Dam #9, located in Wattersonville. There is a pier built especially for fishing, and it's nice. Also, you can fish from along the shoreline if you so desire, although the bank is a bit rough to handle.
When you cast a line here and get a strike, you never know what will be on the other end of your line. Carp and suckers are very common, along with some big smallmouth bass, rock bass, catfish and walleyes. On one occasion, Old Bub actually caught a longnose gar, about twenty inches long. In a lifetime of fishing in a lot of places, that's only the second one of those I've ever seen, and the other one was tiny, swimming near the surface of Lake Ontario. If you are really lucky at #9, you can get into the walleyes, perhaps the best eating of all the freshwater fish.
One other place for shore fishing that shouldn't be overlooked is farm ponds. Of course, you have to get permission to fish them, but if you do you might be in for a panfish bonanza. You get mostly bluegills, but they are often huge.
Shore fishing is great fun, and you don't have to bother hitching up a boat. Give it a try.