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· It's been a long time...
899 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Canadice Lake Revisited - Good Times & "Cool" Pics, 11-9-03 (A Long Post)

Canadice Lake is nestled right smack dab in the middle of the Western Finger Lakes, and this 650 acre gem, along with its neighbor to the west, Hemlock Lake, are owned by the City of Rochester and managed as a source of water for the city. Therefore, there are some very specific restrictions regarding boating there. The boat must be 16 feet or less, and gasoline motors must be less than 10 horsepower. A permit is required for each person using the lake, but it is free and available at a station at Hemlock Lake or online. There is no development along the lake’s shoreline, and the lake is as pristine now as it was 100 years ago. It is truly a breathtaking body of water. Smallmouth Bass are more common than Largemouth, and the fact that this lake has a comparatively lower amount of angler activity than other Finger Lakes made this lake a tempting spot to try for fall Smallmouth action using traditional Western New York presentation methods.

Back on June 8th of this year, Noel (wnybassman) and I fished this lake from my boat, the infamous “MicroBass.” We found a post-spawn pattern which put many bass into the boat, with the largest being a 3 pound, 8 ounce Smallmouth. We never forgot that day, and talked occasionally about making our way back before the end of this year. It might not have happened, but on Friday, Noel suggested we try it again today, and so we made the plans and made our way to Canadice Lake this morning for a shot at fall Finger Lakes Smallmouth there – a body of water which we barely got to know 5 months ago.

Last night was the coldest night of the year so far, with temperatures down into the teens. It was quite frigid out this morning as we loaded up my truck and headed out. The day was promised to be bright and sunny, with a high of about 40 degrees, and very light winds out of the SW. Perfect wind and direction for drifting Canadice Lake in a small, tin boat!

We arrived at the Canadice Lake public launch at about 7:00am. No one else was there, and we had the launch, and lake, all to ourselves. The public launch is not exactly what you would call a true launch. It’s really just a clear area of gravelly shoreline which slopes ever so gently down into the lake. I mean EVER so gently. Launching and loading small, trailered boats like mine is often a challenge.

The air was in the mid-teens as we arrived and prepared to launch. The weather was going to be very cold, but tolerable with bright sun and light winds. We had the lake to ourselves for most of the day. Would our efforts to try this lake, which neither of us had never fished this time of year, be worth it?

The air cold was bitter, and we had some rigging to do on my boat before launching it. My Fishin’ Buddy 1200 depthfinder was not available for us, as it being worked on by none other than Tony the “Bassin Dude.” It had been malfunctioning all summer long, and I was finally able to get it Tony, who offered to fix it, just a few days ago. So, for depth, we employed one of Noel’s extra Eagle FishEasy depthfinders. We rigged up the transducer on my transom-mounted trolling motor with wire ties (which were quite brittle in the frigid air), but then we realized the worst – we had no way to connect it for power! We didn’t bring the power cable with it’s special connector!

What to do? Give up? No way! Realizing it was too risky to try to rig up some way to connect the depthfinder to the battery without knowing the polarity of the posts on the back of the unit, we decided having depth knowledge by electronics was not an option – and thus, a serious handicap for locating Smallies. We wouldn’t even have the simple luxury of knowing the water temperature. Noel asked if I had any marker buoys, which I didn’t, and then came up with the idea of taking some sticks to fashion some of them! I gathered rocks, and took out a roll of 15 pound P-Line CXX fishing line! Perfect! We put our buoy ingredients into the boat, loaded up our gear, and launched it, letting the MicroBass float off the trailer with a long rope tethered to it. Noel hauled the boat up to a makeshift “dock” of three large boulders lined up into the water. We hopped in and pushed off, unaware that the problems for us had only begun…

Without knowledge of our fishing depth, we gathered the necessary parts for “marker buoys” in case we needed to fashion them, and I shot this photo. The stone “weights,” covered in frost, felt like ice in my hands as I gathered them.

I dropped the trolling motor into the water and gave the handle a twist to get us away from shore – nothing happened! Nada! I remembered that I had a battery condition checker in my boat box and it showed my battery was at full charge! We figured that some water must have frozen up inside propeller shaft, or perhaps a switch was frozen or even broken inside the head. If the latter, then not good! Noel said “Well, we’ve got an outboard.” True! But yeah, right…

I choked up the throttle, and gave the cord a pull – no go! It wouldn’t pull! It was stuck, and I didn’t want to force it too hard for fear of damaging something. If water had frozen in the lower unit, how could my motor be stuck if it was in neutral? I pulled the cowling off the outboard and carefully tried turning the flywheel, which was nearly immovable. What was going on here? We sat in the water for a few minutes, disappointed, starting to realize that our day might be done before it had even started. Noel lightened the moment by saying “Well, we’ve got oars.”

Well, we continued to contemplate the problems for a couple more minutes. For the heck of it, I pulled lightly on the outboard’s cord again, and it turned! The lake water, which we estimated to be in the mid to upper 40s, evidently thawed out any water which had frozen up the lower unit. It took about 15 pulls, but, at last the outboard came to life in the freezing air. It was so cold out that even with throttle choked completely and idle mixture control fully on the rich side, the motor wanted to stall, but I kept her gently going, and she warmed up. Still no trolling motor though, but that was okay. I put her in gear and off we went, all six horses running wild! At least we could get to our destination and try to take advantage of the drift as best we could, without knowledge of depth……yikes…….well, at least were fishing! :yes:

As we motored across the lake, I flipped the trolling motor on again, just for nothing. It WORKED! Water had been splashing on the motor unit – perhaps it was frozen up with ice and just needed a little thawing! We were in business, BUT, could we figure out how to find those deep Smallies without any way to gauge the water’s depth?

Noel and I went to an area which had produced Smallies in the spring for us. With the knowledge that Smallies tend to be homebodies, we didn’t figure that they would be far from the shallow depths that we found them in June. We also knew that the shoreline dropped off rather sharply, and that at depths down to the 20s, a stringy weed species was present, then followed by another ledge which dropped off even deeper. We approximated the depth and cast out our tubes and commenced our “Erie drag” in the blind. Were we in 18 feet of water? 22? 28? 30+?

Noel almost immediately felt a strike, and upon setting the hook, he was only hooked up for a second or two. Was it a fish? We liked to believe so. I had a Rogue jerkbait on, and I threw it toward shore – no takers after several casts. Off it came, and on went a jigging spoon. Noel continued to work “the depths.” No takers on the spoon, which we both found a bit surprising. I went back to a tube.

Suddenly, I felt a thump, and I set the hook. I was fighting a fish! What could it be? A Smallmouth? Trout? A deep pickerel? As I winched it in, it was a beautiful Smallmouth! I got it to the boat, but it broke free of my tube, swam along the boat, and went back down. I lost the fish, which we figured to be a good three pounder! How deep were we fishing?

We put off the idea of setting up a “buoy” for the moment, and continued to fish. Not long after, Noel set his hook on a fish, which turned out to be a dandy very likely going over three pounds. It was a beauty, thick and chunky! Our first photo was taken, and the fish was released.

The classic “tube” fish for Noel. This Smallie was over three pounds – most of fish we caught were this awesome level of quality!

And so it went. We dragged, we caught fish, we took photos as the lunker size grew from the mid-3s to 4 pounds, zero ounces (on my digital scale). We began to notice a pattern emerging within our results. The Smallies, for the most part, were staying below the depth of the stringy weeds, whatever depth that was! We continued our drift. I again tried the jigging spoon, and again it produced nothing. Back to tubes, and back to fish. And on the morning went toward the afternoon, fishing a post-cold-frontal condition with bluebird-clear skies, the brightest sun, variable light winds (mainly from the SW) and flat water – the very ingredients of a lousy day on the water, and we were breaking the rules to beat the band, even “doubling” a couple times!

Another 3+ pounder by Noel. We knew that there had to be fours, fives, and the elusive sixes around us somewhere. Although larger fish would come, we didn’t see any over five. But, they HAVE to be there!

Then, with the winds shifting all around us, from the N and even E at times, our dragging became difficult. The pattern was dying as we went fishless for quite awhile. I did a “depth test” by dropping my tube down and hand-gathering the line back up. I came up with about 50 feet of line! We figured that some of our dragged Smallies had to have come from 40+ deep water! Perhaps others in 20s deep or even less. It was strange, but it worked for us, despite the fact that a 15 or 20 foot lateral move could change our depth by 10 feet or more.

A 4 pound, 13 ounce bronzeback I nailed on a tube thrown in relatively shallow water – a pattern that would became key to our continued success and extended time out there. Uhhhmmm.....nice fish, and yeah, go ahead and laugh at the photo! :D

We contemplated leaving soon, fully satisfied with the many Smallies we caught from nothing. We also discussed the possibility of Smallies moving shallower to take advantage of the warming effect of the sun on this bright day. Noel, for the heck of it, made a cast into shallower water ahead of the boat, say at the six foot depth, and hopped his tube back. He was almost immediately bitten and brought in another dandy Smallie! I followed up, and did the same! The shallower action caused us to lose many tube jigs, but we had plenty on hand, and continued to fire away at the shallows. Noel tied on a Husky Jerk and gave it a shot in the productive area, and we were sure it was going to get devoured, but there were no takers. I continued with the tube. Finally, I caught a 4 pound, 13 ounce Smallie! Then, a bit later, Noel and I doubled up on the tube bite, Noel getting a 4 pound, 1 ouncer and I put a 4 pound, 15 ounce Smallie in the boat!

Lunker for our day was this 4 pound, 15 ounce Smallmouth. Once again, this was caught on the shallow pattern. It was like Senko fishing with tubes. You got the classic tube “thump,” followed by the line racing off in some direction. Yeah, I know you are laughing at this photo, too...

At about 1:30pm, we decided to call it a day, and as I packed up some gear to get ready for the run back to the launch, Noel cast out to the shallows one more time, and put one last upper-3s fish into the boat! As we approached the infamous launch, I ditched our “marker buoy” parts, giving them back to nature. We fumbled to get the boat back on my trailer. Between both Noel and I nearly falling into the cold water on two separate occasions, and a damaged trailer bunk, I’d say we did it well!

It was another day for the books. Obviously, tubes work here as they do elsewhere, presented just the same. No more wondering. We figured to have caught around 30 quality bronzebacks. Size ranged from a couple 12” fish to my 4 pound, 15 ounce lunker. Hits ranged from solid thumps, mushy strikes, to the fish “just being there.” Noel and I did the calculations, and figured our best five went over 22 pounds – after culling out a solid 17 pounds! All the fish were fat-and-happy and spectacular in coloration. They were caught without any knowledge of their actual depth. We only had approximations that were, at times, WAY off. We semi-seriously wondered if we would have caught as many fish had we stuck to one depth or a small range that would have produced enough fish to keep us “locked in.” It was a fantastic experience to be able to find serviceable patterns for the Canadice Smallies under the equipment handicap we faced - and quality fish at that! No Largemouths or other species were caught, and all the fish were released alive.

We saw only one kayaker and two other boats on the lake the whole day. It was peaceful, quiet, and like heaven on earth. The day was sunny and only a few small clouds dared to break the dominance of the blue skies. It eventually did get above freezing outside, but not much. Thank goodness for the sun and the lack of strong winds.

Back at Noel’s house, I couldn’t wait to see the photographs, and as we looked at them on his computer, I must say that I have never heard Noel laugh so hard in all the time I’ve known him. Of course, I found myself laughing, too. I think you know why. (Can you say “Dumb Donald” from Fat Albert?) I didn’t even post all the photos, either (to that end, thank goodness). :p

Noel, it's always good times fishing with you. Has been for two years now.

I would have to say that if you haven’t fished Canadice Lake, you should. It’s entirely different than the other Finger Lakes without the shoreline development, tons of people, and big boats racing around. With just a little knowledge of Smallmouth seasonal behavior, the right gear and plenty of layers of clothing, this lake produces “Erie-esque” numbers and quality this time of year. Hey, if you’re really good, you don’t even have to bring a depthfinder!

Good fishing to you!

Tight Lines…

· Registered
408 Posts
Rob, what can I say another top notch report!

Rob what you have experienced is what I have often experienced. I am a Long Island boy that until recently have been fishing without a depth finder and have had to make due. On most LI lakes they are all shallow(8 feet or less) and no smallies so it is not nearly as bad but I vacation in the adirondacks where there are a lot of cool little lakes with large depths and smallies and it is hard figuring out what to do without knowledge of what is under you. Next year those Adirondack fish will not know what hit them because I'm going up with a depth finder.........LOL

Again, Great Report Rob! - Joe

· Pitchin' Fool
4,397 Posts

Great report on a great fishing day, Rob and Noel. It shows your resourcefullness trying to figure out the depth and locating the fish with your baits , instead of relying on electronics.

It can be done!

Us downstaters , and especially us Long Islanders are very jealous of your bountiful smallies. Beautiful fish, boys. Betcha the fishing made you forget the frigid temps.


· Administrator
21,736 Posts
yes, it is absolute torture for us downstate boyz to see all these unbelievable bronze pics......

you guys are certainly blessed with these waters that produce so well this late in the season....

right now , where I am, smallie possibilities are actually the best on the NYC reservoir system.......Rob, could you imagine if you had to fish that water with a ROWBOAT yesterday????

but you guys are fantastic, Rob, you are the man with the Plan, and what can we say about Noel.....

thanks for the great report

· Registered
242 Posts
Re: Canadice Lake Revisited - Good Times & "Cool" Pics, 11-9-03 (A Long Post)

Rob J in WNY said:
Between both Noel and I nearly falling into the cold water on two separate occasions, and a damaged trailer bunk, I’d say we did it well!
Geesh, sounds like something Ted would do!!! :D Sorry, Ted, just too much fun!

It would be a blast to have a Tx on that lake. Such a shame to have it so underutilized. Great report and well done!!!

Seth v

· Registered
179 Posts
Great job Guys! I have to say, as I was drinking my morning coffee, reading the paper, and then cleaning the garage, I thought about whether you two decided to go, despite the weather. It must have mighty cold! I have only fished Canadice lake once by kayak, but I think I might try to get there more often in the spring. You guys tackled all the conditions, and really had a great day. Rob, please note that i DID NOT say anything about the pics!:D

· Wishin' I Was Fishin'
1,083 Posts
Super read and nice pix

Geesh, sounds like something Ted would do!!! Sorry, Ted, just too much fun!
Boy, a guy puts the plug in the wrong hole, just once in 10 yrs. and they just won't let you live it down.:D

But, not to take away from an awesome post. Great job guys! I'm "brown" with envey!:D

It did seem strange to wake up on a weekend day with daylight coming through the bedroom window. What's up with that?:confused:

C'ya on the water,

· Registered
81 Posts
Great Job guys and of course yet another outstanding report RobJ. I love the pictures and all the detail. Keep up the good work!

Can't believe BassRat hasen't picked up on this one yet:

Boy, a guy puts the plug in the wrong hole, just once in 10 yrs. and they just won't let you live it down.

You might want to rephrase that one Ted! It just sounds funny you know.

· Dragging Bass
2,657 Posts
This was indeed an awesome day on the water. Both of us were silently thinking to ourselves on the way there that the day may not be very productive, mainly due to the post cold front conditions in combination with very lights winds and ultra clear waters. That first cast of mine that produced the familiar "thump" along with brief weight before being lost convinced me that there might be a decent bite. I was right.

Yeah, it was cold. Be with a bright sun and fairly calm conditions, it wasn't bad at all. Plus, both of us are certainly used to dressing for the occasion, and. I am getting VERY used to fishing with gloves on (I am just about to the point of being able to tie knots with gloves on :D ) the only problem the cold created, was the overspray from the boat motoring down the lake, and that overspray landing on my rods and freezing instantly. The entire length was covered, including the reel. My first cast was interesting, with ice exploding off the spool as I tried to cast . It took a few tries to get it where I wanted.

What a day though, when most of the fish we caught were 3 1/4 pounds or better. Six fish over 4 pounds. We just couldn't break the 5 pound barrier, but we both know 5's, 6's and even 7's exist in this small lake. The real big ones might be around later in the fall, and who knows, maybe we'll get another shot yet this year!

Thanks Rob, for the fun time on the water! I am glad I came up with the idea :D

PS Rob said "almost went in the water", but in fact, I had one leg up to my knee and the other up to my ankle while loading the boat at the end of the day. I guess we'll just call that "Partially submerged" :D

· It's been a long time...
899 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for all the great compliments, everyone. It was a day to remember, catching gobs of slobs from a 12 foot boat. I've gotten much too used to fishing of the stable decks of high-performance bass rigs. The "MicroBass" has only seen water perhaps a dozen times this year.

If and when I get a bass boat of my own, the MicroBass will probably be used exclusively for Canadice & Hemlock Lake or any other restricted boat access only. I will likely not get of it. She's been too good a boat, with too many memories, for me to let go of very easily.

Tight Lines...
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