Sodus Bay of Lake Ontario is an underrated bass fishery. This little piece of water often gets overlooked for the big smallmouth bass fishing that happens on the main lake. But Jacob Zaremski knows that Sodus Bay largemouth bass fishing can be sensational. Jacob took the time to provide his approach to catching largemouth bass on Sodus Bay.
How long have you been bass fishing on Sodus Bay?
I have only been bass fishing on Sodus Bay for about three years. Although it is an hour drive from my houseand I have 4 to 5 other productive bodies of water near my house, Sodus is one of my favorite places in the Finger Lake region in Upstate New York. It is one of those special bodies of water where you can use any technique and catch them.
Another great feature to Sodus is the access to an impressive smallmouth fishery in Lake Ontario. With my short stint on Sodus Bay, I have found ways that work for me and what I see as the best ways to consistently catch good size and quantity. That being said, I am far from an expert and have had my teeth kicked in on a couple tournaments as I am sure we all have.
Describe Sodus Bay to fellow bass anglers that have never fished it before. What are its best features?
Sodus Bay is relatively shallow bay with a good number of docks and marinas that consistently produce good numbers of bass throughout the entire season. Along with docks and marinas, there are a few islands towards the north east corner and a few creeks draining out of the south end of the bay.
For the best results, most fisherman look towards the scattered grass for tightly concentrated pockets of fish. Because Sodus Bay is connected to one of the best smallmouth fisheries out there, Lake Ontario, it is often overlooked. With that being said, a majority of the tournaments I have fished have been won in the bay with largemouth instead of smallmouth.
Your pics show that you are really good at catching Sodus Bay largemouth bass. What do you consider an average 5 fish limit on Sodus?
In the short time I have been fishing tournaments here in Upstate NY, I have noticed that you can almost always catch a limit by burning docks. Whenever I have been in trouble on Sodus Bay I can run to the docks and catch a 10 to 12 pound limit pretty quick. I have found an average limit in most tournament series is 13 to 16 pounds.
I tend to have the mindset that in order to win, I need to have at least 18 pounds and hope that Lake Ontario did not fish well that day. My best 5 fish day came on a day of fun fishing back in college when we weighed 21.2 for our best five fishing from 7 AM to 3 PM. Deep cranking consistently produced 3 to 3.5 pound fish while the 4’s & 5’s came on top in very shallow water and flipping scattered grass.
What is your first choice bait on Sodus Bay for largemouth bass?
My first choice is a Strike King Greg Hackney Hack Attack Jig. I tend to alternate between Bama Craw (Green Pumpkin & Orange) or Black and Blue depending on water color. As far as sizes, I alternate between 3/8, 1/2 & 3/4 oz depending on the depth or cover that I am fishing.
I keep my jig colors very simple and focus on where I am fishing more than what jig I have on. The bass on Sodus seem to relate to structure underneath the grass just as they would as if it were offshore structure. In the spring, before the grass comes in, I head out and scan areas I know will be covered in grass come summertime. When scanning I am looking for humps, rocks, ditches and other pieces of structure that the bass might relate to during bass season.
What is your second choice bait on Sodus Bay for largemouth bass?
My second choice is a Keitech Easy Shaker nose hooked on a Trapper Tackle Dropshot Finesse Hook. As far as color, I alternate between Silver Flash Minnow and Sight Flash. While this does not lead to many big bites, I have confidence that I can fill a limit if I am struggling on tournament day.
I find this technique best presented on outside weed lines in 10 to 12 feet of water with deeper water, 18 to 20, relatively close. My second method of presenting this bait is flipping into holes in scattered grass or flipping to dock posts in the marinas.
How about your 3rd choice?
My third choice would have to be a topwater of some sort. I rotate between a River2Sea Whopper Plopper 110, a Heddon Zara Spook or a Booyah Pad Crasher. For the River2Sea Whoppler Plopper I use Bone, the Heddon Zara Spook I use Flitter Shad and the Booyah Pad Crasher I use Leopard Frog. I do not yet have a ton of confidence in throwing topwater on but it has produced some of my biggest fish.
My confidence is that I can catch big fish, but consistency is always my concern. I fish the Zara Spook and the Whoppler Plopper in the same areas on the edges of emergent grass. For the Booyah Pad Crasher, I fish it over heavy cover, near reeds in very shallow water and near shallow docks.
As far as boating on the lake, how does your Nitro do for fishing it?
Because of the shape of Sodus Bay, there is always calm water. The wind can be blowing 20 to 30 MPH and there will still be relatively calm water somewhere. I have a 2012 Nitro Z-7 that I purchased from Bass Pro Shops in Auburn, New York a few years ago.
Being a smaller boat, I am able to fish shallower water easier than others who have larger boats. One of the only conditions I will not go out on the bay is when pleasure boater traffic is heavy. The public launch has a relatively small launch and parking lot that makes loading and unloading time consuming. Usually, I do not have a problem if I am on the water before 7 AM and off before 2 PM when fun fishing.
How important are electronics on Sodus Bay?
I find electronics on Sodus Bay to be important but not a must have. Between docks and structure that is visible above the water, you can find and catch bass in good numbers. Where electronics come into play is finding small irregularities in an outer weed edge or a piece of structure that is located at the end of a point.
Like I mentioned before, most of the work I do with my electronics is done in the spring time before bass season opens. Once I have possible irregularities underneath the grass marked with waypoints, most of the scanning I will do the rest of the year is to monitor the outer edge of the grass to find irregularities and check on locations where fish should be depending on the time of year and conditions.
Overall, what are 5 pieces of advice that you have for anyone fishing Sodus Bay for the first time?
#1 Keep your boat moving until you find the fish you want to catch. I have found a lot of dead water on Sodus Bay. At least water that is dead that day. I have found that once I catch one or two big fish I can sit there, break down the spot, whether it be grass, docks or drop-offs, and catch a good limit. The pattern may not work on the other side of the bay. So having the patience to sit on a spot and fish it thoroughly will help fishing on Sodus.
#2 There are always fish shallow on Sodus Bay. Whether it is fishing docks, grass or reeds, you can always find fish shallow on Sodus. So if you are having a tough day on Sodus, go flip a dock or other shallow structure.
#3 Look off-shore for pockets of fish that are usually overlooked by most anglers. Some of my biggest fish have come from deeper than 20 feet.
#4 If you are looking to fish a tournament on Sodus Bay, everyone will be talking about running the lake. While Lake Ontario has some great isolated structure with impressive smallmouth bass and there are other bays that are close enough to fish on a tournament day with good populations of bass, do not overlook Sodus Bay. There is always a potential for a 20 pound bag without running too far.
#5 Know your grass. Make sure you can identify different types of grass so that if you get on a good bite in a certain type of grass, you can duplicate that pattern in other areas of the bay with the same grass. It will also help you eliminate water.
Who are your sponsors and why are they important to helping you fish Sodus Bay successfully?
I have always been hesitant to reach out for sponsors and commit to supporting a product. I consider myself relatively new to the competitive side of fishing. I started fishing competitively in my last two years of college and have only been regularly fishing tournaments for two years.
I have started working with two companies in the past year. The first one being Trapper Tackle and the most recent is Cranked Fishing. Trapper Tackle has an innovative design to replace one of the most important tools in our bass fishing arsenal. In 2016 their Dropshot Finesse Hook won the ICAST New Product Showcase Best of Show Award and in 2017, their Round Bend Treble Hook won the award for Trapper Tackle again.
I have always made a point to replace trebles on my hard baits and to use what I see as the best hooks for my plastic baits. When I first saw a picture of their hook design, I was intrigued because I always had trouble with my dropshot plastics and hard baits. The dropshot hook keeps my plastic positioned correctly and the trebles keep the fish pinned better than anything else I have tried.
The two hooks that won the award are the two that I use the most for sure. They also make other style hooks that I have not used yet simply because of my short time of working with them and the long winters in Upstate New York.
I just started working with Cranked Fishing a couple months ago after following their content on Instagram. When I started, there was great apparel and other fishing accessories. Since then, there are now high quality vibrating jigs and flipping jigs that are beginning to extend the reach of this great company. Along with great products is a News & Tips section with articles that can help you catch more fish with a ton of different techniques. While the Cranked Fishing team is smaller than the larger brands that everyone already knows, there is a great group of people behind this team that will allow Cranked Fishing to continue to grow.
Great information Jacob! Thank you! Jacob posts about Sodus Bay and all of his New York fishing on Instagram @jzfishing.
Read More about Lake Ontario Largemouth Bass Fishing: Rob’s Lake Ontario Kayak Bass Fishing Trip Report