MALLORYTOWN, Ontario – There are many reasons that a group of local anglers make sure they schedule a guide the first day of the year's initial bass trip of the year on the St. Lawrence River.
Although they have fished the same waters for years out of Caiger's Riverfront Resort, learning about those waters is an ongoing project. Of course, that is true even when fishing "home" waters, which is a reminder some anglers probably had with the opening of Pennsylvania's regular bass season last Saturday.
For casual anglers, who may not have fished their favorite spots since late last summer, they may have had less success than hoped. Fortunately for them, getting a refresher course is as easy as visiting a local tackle shop or talking with the "regulars" on the lake or river.
Unfortunately, when traveling to one's home-away-from-home waters, a bit more effort is often required. For that reason, no matter how many years one has been fishing such waters, and no matter how much has been invested in a boat and tackle, it is wise to book at least a half-day trip with a local guide.
Using that formula for nearly 20 years has helped produce some memorable fishing trips to Caiger's, located in the heart of the 1000 Islands on the banks of the St. Lawrence. Tamaqua businessman Tom Banditelli, the co-owner of Caiger's, is usually at the lodge when the local group makes its first bass trip for the opening of bass after the last Saturday in late June.
Unfortunately, Banditelli's duties helping to operate the business limit his fishing to a few hours in the evening, so for that reason, as soon as the dates of the trip are finalized, plans are made to spend the first full day with professional guide and tournament fisherman Doug Amos. A retired high school principal and teacher, he lives along the St. Lawrence within sight of the lodge and has fished the river his entire life.
It is no coincidence that after a day on the water with Amos, one has an edge in the group's daily, unofficial "friendly" tournaments. And while a day of catch-and-release bass fishing on the St. Lawrence is satisfying, so too is not being on the losing team paying for dinner.
Every year, while making the five-hour trip up Interstate 81 to Caiger's, anticipation runs high for that afternoon's four-hour trip with Amos. Often, a six-hour trip after breakfast is also booked for the following day.
"Although there is no preseason targeting of bass in Ontario, we know where the fish are from being out here since the beginning of May fishing for Northern pike," Amos said. "And while bass are traditionally going to be found in the shallows when the season opens, there exact location will change from year to year.
"It is also important to pattern the movement of bass in the spring because there are times they will be found in deeper water off points. This is especially so if they are using channels to move from one location to another before moving closer to the cover along the shore.
"Another thing is know what these fish want, and as much as I favor soft plastics like Senkos, flukes and tubes, so far this year, stickbaits like the Rapala Minnow, seem to be what they want. These baits also allow you to cover more water to locate bass, and then, switching to the soft stuff allows you to finesse the fish."
Knowing that kind of inside information can be invaluable when trying to out-fish friends who may be reluctant to switch from baits that worked in previous years. And while almost all traditional baits are productive on the St. Lawrence, knowing what the current "hot" bait is means a lot – especially when the check arrives after dinner.
For more information about fishing in the 1000 Islands at Caiger's Resort, call Tom Banditelli at 570-668-5066 or access the Web site at www.caigers.com. For more information about catch-and-release fishing on the St. Lawrence River with Doug Amos, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.