Lake George is a beautiful fishery in New York. Maryland bass angler Donald Warfield makes Lake George an annual fishing trip. He provides us a lot of information about Lake George as a New York bass fishing spot along with his report from this year’s trip.
Was this your first trip to Lake George or have you fished it before?
I have fished Lake George many times for the last 5 years. We usually do a early Summer and mid Fall trip each year. I started going to Lake George in 2013 as part of a youth Christian fishing retreat. I have been a volunteer for a Delaware based fishing charity called Reel Expectations since 2001. Reel Expectations can be found on Facebook.
What dates did you go up this year?
This year, we did a week long trip from June 11th through the 15th. The weather was fairly consistent this year. We did deal with some on and off rain and high winds but all in all it was still a good trip.
Where did you stay?
For the past few years we have stayed at the Blue Lagoon Resort. It is roughly 3 miles from the town of Lake George. They have a private boat ramp with docks. The rooms and parking are very good.
The owners, Tom and Michelle are extremely nice and great to deal with. They have a very nice setup and are always ready to help should we need anything. I highly recommend you check out their website and resort.
What boat do you fish out of?
I currently own a 2015 Tracker Grizzly 1860 center console with a 90hp Mercury engine. My Tracker handles Lake George well but with all smaller boats there are limitations on big lakes.
The hazards on Lake George are mostly the same hazards found on all bodies of water. The weather is always a big factor in safety. High winds out of the North or South can make Lake George become a rough body of water. The area between Dome Island and Oahu Island can become dangerous when high winds are present.
Also big boat traffic is also something to consider. Watching the wake coming off some of the bigger boats, Lake George ferries and racing boats also need to be considered.
There are also a lot of small and large islands all over the lake. One of the best things a new angler can do is purchase a map of Lake George. You can get one online or simply pull up to any gas dock or convenience store and grab one for $8.
The islands can be tricky. There are lots of very shallow spots and points connected to the islands. Taking your time around each area is a must until you learn the lay of the lake. I’ve seen spots as deep as 185 feet then skyrocket straight up to 3 feet of water. Lake George personnel do a good job marking hazard areas with buoy’s and markers, but it never hurts to stop and putt by an area to make sure.
This is a big lake. Did you mostly focus on one area of the lake or did you explore a lot?
It has taken us years of trips to Lake George to really learn the lake and its seasonal patterns. One week will not be enough to break down all of Lake George. Its just too big.
Each year we focused on a different part of the lake until we became more familiar with it. We now have a pretty good pattern for Lake George.
From a bass fishing perspective, Lake George is a phenomenal fishery. Lake George provides just about any type of bass fishing you want to do. If you love pitching docks, there’s a thousand to chose from. There are tons of islands, rocks, points, shoals to do some cranking, drop shots, jerkbaits etc. The topwater bite can be phenomenal when the conditions are right. We have even had days where we threw topwater baits all day long.
Where did you find the largemouth bass that you caught this year?
This year, the pattern was a little different. The harsh winter weather Lake George experienced had a definite effect on the smallmouth bass fishing. The smallmouth had already spawned and left the areas we were used to seeing and fishing for them. The big surprise was the largemouth had already moved up into a pre-spawn pattern already.
The bigger largemouth were caught in the 12 to 15 feet range of water, mainly in rocky areas. Some nice fish came off of docks and island points but the majority of the bigger females were still sitting in deeper water waiting to move up. I caught several 4 plus pounders each day.
What were your best baits for largemouth bass on the trips?
Some of the best baits you can throw on Lake George are black/blue, green pumpkin, watermelon, watermelon red flake worms or Senkos. Whichever favorite brand of worm you use will work in those colors. You can fish the worms weightless or Texas rigged but I prefer the smallest pinch weight I can get away with for that day. Heavy weights equals lots of snags and broken lines.
For crank baits, I personally like the DT Series from Rapala. I usually will throw baby bass, sexy shad, pumpkinseed/bluegill or a crawfish pattern. I like to start out with the DT6, DT8 or DT10 to locate what water column the fish are in. I always try to match the hatch. I like to throw a lot of natural colors with Lake George being a very clear lake.
For topwater, throwing a Pop-R, Zara Spook, or Stutterstep in bone white, sexy shad, white, black or bass color is hard to beat. Don’t be surprised if a giant pike crashes your topwater bait! Have the net handy in the mornings.
Where did you find the smallmouth bass that you caught?
The Smallmouth bite was different this year. Rather than catching them everywhere, they were isolated to certain areas. The bigger female Smallmouth had dropped back down into deeper water but the males were still roaming around in pockets and small coves.
You would fish one cove, catch nothing. Then we would move 200 yards down, fish another small pocket and catch 10. We caught quite a few on topwater fishing in 2 to 3 feet of water just before dark each day.
What were your best baits for smallmouth bass on the trip?
The best bait this trip was a 7 inch green pumpkin Senko with a small pinch weight attached. My co angler caught lots of 1 to 2 pound smallmouth each day with this setup.
Overall, what are 5 pieces of advice you have for anyone planning a fishing trip to Lake George?
My 5 best pieces of advice for Lake George:
- Buy a map. Stop in town, stop at a gas dock while your on your boat, grab one online. For $8, it can give you a good idea of what is out there, what to avoid and what areas you want to hit as soon as you launch. I have a map with years of notes and drawings that I still use every year as a guide.
- You can’t do it all in one week. Pick areas that are your strong suits and go with it your first time out. Build off that and then move outward. Download Navionics on your phone and compare to a map to give you a good idea of an area you feel will be successful to your skill set.
- Make sure your gear and your boat can handle Lake George. Before you head to Lake George make sure your gear and boat are ready to go. You must have your boat inspected by the Lake George Commission before you can even launch. Do a visual check of your trailer and boat. We have had guys blow tires coming down the mountains into Lake George. Take the time to look over your boat, trailer and engine. You don’t want have a breakdown on the water, especially on vacation or in dangerous conditions. I would know. Make sure you have all safety equipment and that it is up to date.
- Take a kid or another angler with you. On Lake George you can give a kid a green pumpkin Senko and he might catch a largemouth, smallmouth, pike, bluegill, rock bass, yellow perch or catfish with little to no effort or experience. Plus you have a buddy with you to enjoy all that is Lake George.
- Best advice is the last. Its a lake! The fish can’t get out! Figure out where the fish are and repeat the pattern all over the lake. You can and will find them. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t find them on the first morning or if another angler catches 50 and you catch 2. They are there and they are trapped. Find out what bait they want, what depth or structure they are on and go get them.
- Bonus advice. Don’t spend 14 to 15 hours everyday on the water trying to grind out every minute catching fish. Take a break and get off the water. The fishing slows down in the early afternoon hours just about everywhere you fish. Get off the water and take a break. We would come off the water everyday at 2:30. It gives you a chance to relax, talk to your other anglers about what’s working and not working, use the bathroom and just relax. Plus you can run into town and grab a bite to eat, recharge and get back out there for an awesome nighttime top water bite.
What is in store in 2018 and 2019 for the Maryland Outdoorsman Channel?
As far at The Maryland Outdoorsman Channel’s future, its going to become a more how to and help channel than just showing myself fishing, hunting, crabbing or trapping. I get a lot of emails from kids or inexperienced adults that ask questions about the outdoors and technique’s I use. I have received emails from people who have said they are afraid or embarrassed to ask questions out loud.
I always start by telling them I am not a professional. I just happen to record my outdoor adventures and then I try to point them in the right direction. I think people like watching my videos because I show the fails where I miss a crab on the trotline or shoot 3 times at a goose and it fly’s off or a use a few words I probably shouldn’t have said.
You can see any of my Lake George Fishing videos if you go to The Maryland Outdoorsman Channel. Having fun outdoors and enjoying life is it what I want my channel to reflect.