When spring arrives in the Capital Region, my mind begins to race, as I look forward to the endless angling opportunities that will be available come ice-out. Now is the time to put away the ice fishing gear and get ready for another season of open-water fishing. Every angler looks forward to those first few days of warm weather reassuring us that winter is finally over. One can’t help but to get excited about the possibilities that lie ahead such as the rising of an early morning trout, or the slow sinking of a bobber as a hungry crappie inhales your jig.
Stream trout fishing is a very popular tradition in our area and a rite of passage into spring fishing for many anglers. There are hundreds of streams and rivers stocked annually in the Capital Region which can be found by going on the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation website and searching for a body of water near you. They will be listed alphabetically by county and will show what species of trout were stocked and how many.
Spring trout fishing will revolve around water levels and weather. The best spring trout fishing generally occurs during warm spells which will slightly warm water temperatures. This will increase the activity level of the fish as the cold spring water can make trout lethargic. The Batten Kill, Walloomsac River, and the Kaydeross Creek are a few favorite locations. For tackle, you can’t beat a night crawler on a size 8 single hook with a small split shot. A high-quality fluorocarbon line will keep a wary trout from detecting your presentation. A good option for artificial lures is a small gold Phoebe Spoon or a Panther Martin spinner. A yellow with black dot pattern rooster tail will always produce a few good bites.
When it comes to rods and reels, it’s hard to beat a good combo which is designed for value and appeasing a large spectrum of angling needs. I really like the Daiwa Revros line which offers a large selection of rod actions and reel sizes at a modest price. A light-action spinning rod in the 6-foot range with size 1500 reel will be a good set-up for trout, panfish and even some light bass applications and should absolutely be part of your spring tackle arsenal.
Panfish are also an excellent way to “break-in” the season and typically provide lots of action. Spring crappie fishing is a great way to get kids involved in the sport, and they also make fantastic table fare. Crappie can be found in Saratoga, Ballston and Round Lakes as well as several other rivers and smaller reservoirs. During their spring spawning run, Crappie can be caught in very shallow water near silty bottomed areas as well as weeds and rocks. The tackle for spring Crappie is very simple. A small float or bobber with a 3 to 5 ft. leader and a small jig tipped with a fathead minnow.
Another favorite of mine, and highly overlooked in my opinion, is the Tomhannock reservoir. This gem of a fishing destination is just outside Albany County and is only accessible by foot. No boats allowed means hundreds of acres of tranquility nestled in the rolling hills of Rensselaer County. Known for its bounty of walleye and smallmouth bass, the Tomhannock never disappoints if you are willing to put in a little leg work.
The key to locating fish in the Tomhannock is to look for good shoreline structure. Rocks, points, weeds, and mouths of creeks or inlets are good locations to start fishing. A good presentation for walleye and smallmouth bass is a simple 1/4 ounce lead jig head and a variety of plastics. I like Custom Jigs & Spins Pulse-R Paddle Tails in white and chartreuse colors. Pair this presentation with a 7ft. medium-light action Daiwa Tatula Spinning combo spooled up with 10-pound J-Braid, and you will be equipped to do battle with any walleye or bass bold enough to take your bait! I will generally fish my way down the shoreline occasionally stopping to make long casts out into the basin of the reservoir. You will want to let your jig hit bottom and very slowly retrieve it back towards shore. By giving the jig a pop every once in a while, you will trigger more strikes and also help free your jig from snags as you are reeling. The key is to keep good contact with bottom while keeping as snag free as possible; this can be challenging as typically the process in a boat would be the opposite.
Springtime is the right time to get out and wet a line in the Capital Region. Good luck and tight lines!
Joey Greco is an NYS licensed guide with Justy-Joe Sport fishing charters (newyorkfishing.com) Joey’s philosophy on fishing and his recipe for success is to think like a fish, pay attention to details and never stop learning!