Oneida Lake: still NY’s Walleye Hot Spot

By Spider Rybaak

A few of the winners line up.

Walleye season’s opening weekend proved once again what every pike enthusiast in Central New York knew all along: Oneida Lake is still your best bet when it comes to these toothy beasts.
From one end of the lake to the other, anglers netted pike, mostly walleyes, but a few northerns, too, including an 38-inch monster allegedly taken west of Frenchman Island.

Both sides of the Erie Canal at Sylvan Beach were lined with colorful anglers all weekend, from the opening minute straight through Sunday night.

Caughedenoy hosted loads of bank anglers throwing all the usual suspects, from Thundersticks and Rapalas to bucktail jigs and worms.

As expected, the crankbaits took the lions share in the plunge pool below the gates, primarily because they cover a lot of water and, most important, swim over most of the spot’s notorious snags.

Still, a couple old timers took their limits on bucktails. Not only by jigging them rapidly to keep them above the rocks, but also by steadily swimming them, a technique locals claim was developed exclusively for the fast water on the Oneida River’s biggest oxbow.

Brewerton contributed some walleyes, too. The NYSDEC’s Fishing access sites on both ends of the I-81 Bridge coughed up a few for anglers jigging Sonars in the deep water below the bridge, or running minnowbaits parallel to the canal’s drop-offs.

Out on the open lake, walleyes were hitting worms drifted on harnesses (spinner-rigged and plain), bucktail jigs, and Sonars.

The Cicero- Mattydale Lions Club held its 2015 Walleye Derby on Oneida Lake over the weekend, drawing 1,877 anglers to compete for more than $10,000.00 in cash and prizes.

Top honors went to Georgia native Jack Barber for a 27 3/8 inch walleye he took on a bucktail jig.
Herkimer native Mike Zucker won the drawing for a highly coveted 12-foot Low powered by an 8 horse. Merc.

Not surprisingly, jigs manufactured by Five-O Lure Co. and Voodoo Custom Tackle, a couple local firms, landed their users in the money.

The awards ceremony was held at Bartel Road Bait and Tackle, 5501 Bartel Road, Brewerton (315-676-2144). Bartel Road Bait and Tackle, a company specializing in all the popular Oneida Lake baits, announces its upcoming Pickerel Derby, May 26, 2015, from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m..

“The best 4-fish weight wins top prize,” says co-owner Kim Goffredo.

Tickets cost $10.00 and go on sale May 9.

“This derby is 100% payback,” says Goffredo, adding “ $8.00 goes into the general pot and $2.00 goes into the lunker pot.

“Last year we made 50 tickets and 151 anglers showed up,” claims Kim, suggesting anglers should sign up early.

For more info, call Bartel Road Bait and Tackle: (315) 676-2144.

At the weigh-in.