My Band Of Brothers… I’m betting every angler you know can tell you a story of connections and friendships rising out of their fishing experiences. Let me tell you one of mine. Hope it stimulates you to share some of yours.
This happy story covers generations of angler ages and more than 12,000 of miles combined travel. Back in 2015, longtime New York fishing partner (and former colleague at Beringer) Bob Berman and I heard about the big smallmouth bass bite in the St. Lawrence River, which separates the state from Canada. The river is two miles wide where the big smallies live, near Clayton, N.Y. It is also a deep-water passage that carries ocean-going container ships right to Lake Ontario for their journey to Toronto, Canada.
It’s a hoot to look up from your skinny 24-foot bass boat to see an 800-foot steamer heading right for you. Good for fishing, though. Our pro guide, Dean Meckes, said “Get ready, the bite goes nuts when a big ship passes.“ We caught doubles every time. Apparently those big propellers get the bass excited. Worked for me.
You may know this as the Thousand Islands vacation area – we stopped counting at 250 – and Chaumont Bay, right close by, is the largest freshwater bay in the world. Yep, lots of special things to do and see.
Bob did a pro guide search so we could plan a trip and he found Dean. We were lucky enough to get a booking with him during at the top of the fall smallmouth bass season – that very same year. Check out Dean at deanmeckes.com or call him at 315-405-1706. Tell him Noah Tedeschi, Bob Berman, Stan Press and Bill Ryan sent you.
I flew to Syracuse, N.Y., met Bob at the airport and drove up to Clayton for our adventure on a stretch of water that was new for both of us. That was a perfect trip. In beautiful farm country, staying in an old river town and fishing for trophy-size bass left us thrilled. We caught and released 33 five-pound smallmouth bass in three days! Ask your bass buddies – that is a bonanza of fat, strong and beautiful fish. Weight for weight, stronger than largemouth bass.
Couldn’t keep this secret, so I told the story to my longtime fishing partner, St. Helena angler Stan Press. To make a long story short, Stan took his grandson, Noah Tedeschi of Connecticut, up to fish with Dean. Since then, Noah and friends have made it a regular stop on their angling vacations.
Now I want to go back. Can’t wait for breakfast again in Clayton’s Koffee Kove. By the way, they will fix your boat lunch, too. Careful where you sit; the mayor holds a 6 a.m. meeting with his staff there every morning. His table is right in front of the cash register.
And Now The Rest Of The Story… It took four years after we discovered this special fishery for Bassmaster Magazine to name the St. Lawrence River the Best Bass Fishery in America – No. 1 in their Annual Top 100 for 2019 (by the way, our own Clear Lake ranks No. 4).
Meanwhile, Back Home… it looks like the king salmon bite in the salt has returned. Here’s a Monday Hot Sheet report from Mike Aughney of Reel Magic Sport Fishing (875-2628) at Bodega Bay: “There are salmon up and down the line, and you just have to go find them, get your gear in the water, and stay with it. There were Bay Area party boats outside of Point Reyes, and they put together some good score with big fish.”
Captain Trent Slate out of Loch Lomond Marina (415-307-8582) told the Hot Sheet that he had posted six limits of ‘Mega Hawgs’ by 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Look for this ocean bite to continue, even as early pods of king salmon line up for that long trip home upriver to make a bunch of new babies.
River Salmon Predictions… from my 26-year pro river guide, Kevin Brock (800-995-5543): “Hey Bill, the king salmon fishing will be great this year on the Feather; can you get away in late September or early October to get into this good fishing?”
You all need to know that some years ago, Kevin put me onto my biggest king salmon ever – a 45-pounder on the Feather. Caught it, filleted it and shared it with my neighbors.