In today’s interview, we chat with Steve Maddox of New York. Steve is an avid angler who happens to live across the street form Oneida Lake in New York. Steve loves going after Oneida bass and walleye from his kayak. He shares how in this interview.
How long have you been fishing Oneida Lake?
I actually grew up in North Syracuse and used to ride my bike to the lake when I was a little kid. I moved out of state in 1998 and just recently moved back a little over a year ago. We live just across the street from Oneida and have dock/shore access. So I basically fish every day now!
What I love most about Oneida is the variety and consistency of fish here. I grew up bass fishing and walleye fishing with my friend, his dad and my dad. I have yet to master the walleye fishery but I am gaining experience every day.
What kayak are you fishing out of?
I currently use a Field & Stream Eagle Talon 120 and it suits me well. There are plenty of more expensive kayaks out there but I have been pretty satisfied with this one. The pro’s for me are the shape and speed for moving from place to place. It has plenty of room for all my stuff and I am able to troll with it with my setup effectively.
I have fished in some pretty crappy conditions without any issues. I fish Maple Bay most of the time and can handle almost all wind conditions out there. The con’s are that I cannot stand in it and it can be heavy with all my gear.
What are your key accessories to any trip on Oneida from the kayak for fishing?
I would feel naked without my Helix 5 Humminbird fish finder. That thing goes from my kayak, to my canoe, to my boat and even to the ice in the winter. I have all my marks on there, rock piles, holes, etc. and it goes everywhere I can go. Besides that, my Scotty T-Mount setup allows me to troll when necessary very effectively. This T-Mount will also travel to my canoe and boat for additional setups.
What are the key indicators from the weather forecast that you are looking for to know whether it is safe to be out on the water?
Winds from any where except from directly North are suitable for me. Living in Maple Bay I can hide in spots to keep out of the bad stuff most days. I feel comfortable in most winds up to about 15mph and waves up to 1 to 2 feet max. I never am far from shore in bad conditions and always have a PFD on. I always have a plan if something happens and make sure to let someone know where I am headed when out alone.
In the summertime, will you fish weekends or is it too busy?
I am fortunate that my job allows me to work from home so I fish weekday mornings, sometimes at lunch and early evenings. Living next to a marina is a blessing and a curse. Some of the weekend boaters will get WAY to close and don’t seem to care at all. I try and steer clear of the heavy traffic areas and use a light on the back of the kayak at all hours to help.
What are your favorite smallmouth bass baits for on Oneida?
I have two primary types and you might laugh at the most successful one. The classic white head/white body Mister Twister has always produced for me from the very beginning. As a kid, that’s all I ever used for almost everything. It’s a confidence bait for me.
I also use stick baits like the Lunkerhunt Kraken Jerkbaits. They work well for just about everything else.
What are the keys that you are looking at on your graph for finding smallmouth fishable water?
It really depends on the time of the year, winds and water type but usually boulders, large rock piles and drop-off’s. I have spent a lot of time finding and marking piles and drop-off’s all around me on the lake.
Mornings are different then the hot afternoon’s and evenings. The biggest thing you can do though, is on the clear water days, paddle until you find the piles or the large drop-offs and mark them for later in the day or for your next trip. It will pay off later!
Do you ever fish for Oneida’s largemouth population?
YES! The bigger bass that I catch are largemouth. A lot changes when focusing on them. I tend to fish much shallower water and fish structure like docks, logs/fallen trees and weed lines. As the water warms, and the weeds start to grow, it becomes a bit easier to find them. I have a few secret spots that I fish that are very productive with lily pads.
My favorite bait is a pumpkin Finesse worm wacky rig setup for early season. Later on, a Texas rig works well. I am also a huge fan of topwater and that lure will vary greatly on the amount of open water holes available.
While we mostly cover bass fishing, I also saw that you go after walleye from your yak on Oneida. What are the keys to being successful for walleye from the kayak on this lake?
Good question! If I am trying to find the walleye, I will usually troll with Hammer Blades made by the Brian Hammer. I have yet to master walleye but I am catching on quickly. The night bite in the fall has been my favorite so far but I need to spend more time on the spring bite.
What are you doing with your YouTube channel?
Well…I am using Giuseppe Barbieri as my inspiration. I am really just messing around with it and will be adding more as the season progresses. I will be posting videos catching all sorts of fish from the kayak in different spots around Oneida and Ontario. Stay tuned!!
Tell us a bit about YakTribe.
YakTribe is a really cool, low-key and engaged national association. If you are travelling, and wish to fish with someone, all you have to do is post it on the YakTribe forum on Facebook and you’ll find a buddy in no time. No drama, lots of great tips and great pics. The motto is, “Real People. Real Stories. Real Connections.” I would suggest everyone join and give a shout out to Heath Panganiban. He’s the founder of the group.
One of the things that I really enjoy about following Steve on Instagram is what appears to be an extremely positive approach to fishing and life. Perhaps, that is why his handle is @happykayaker. Thank you Steve for giving us such a great perspective on Oneida Lake fishing!