Andrew Zellar is a New York angler who loves tournament fishing. We talk to Andrew about his tournament and recreational New York bass fishing. Andrew also happens to live minutes from Oneida Lake. So we get some of his thoughts about this amazing bass fishery as well.
How was your 2017 New York tournament fishing season?
2017 was a learning experience, which is the nice way of saying I didn’t make any top three cuts! With that being said I did learn a lot, I fish a team tournament trail and my partner and I really started to get a good rhythm just too late in the season. I also had a ton of fun!
What were some of the highlights?
The BASS Open on day two this year was my biggest highlight I think. Being able to go out on day two knowing I was not in contention to finish in the top 40 but going and enjoying myself and putting a great bag together on that day was awesome.
Honestly the entire season was pretty special, being able to have the ability to fish tournaments is pretty special. It’s something I put a lot of time and resources into and I don’t take the experience for granted.
What tournaments will you be fishing in 2018?
In 2018, I am going to be fishing with a new team trail. Central New York Bass Fishing Association (CNYBFA). The 2018 schedule has a few lakes I have never fished a tournament on, of those I am probably looking forward to both Cross Lake and Three Rivers.
Cross Lake is a pretty small lake but has Seneca river access, so you can spend the day on the lake but have the option to hit the river. The lake does have potential for some five pound plus largemouth which adds an additional level of excitement for winning by pounds and not ounces.
Three Rivers has always been one of my favorite places to fish! The river has a ton of fish in it, both large and smallmouth bass and good size of both. The weights I am guessing will be tight but having the excitement of catching a lot of fish and having to maximize weight will add some fun stress!
Which tournaments in 2018 do you expect to be your biggest challenge?
I’m going to guess that both Otisco and Owasco both will end up being my biggest challenge. I have nearly no experience on either. I have fished Otisco once, and it wasn’t my best day. I’ve never fished Owasco.
I plan on doing some pre-practice before the tournaments but I also would like to get out before the season kicks off and just try to get a feel for the lakes. Hopefully that experience gives me enough confidence to develop a winning game plan.
You fish Oneida Lake a lot. What do you enjoy about fishing this lake?
I am extremely lucky to be able to fish Oneida as often as I do. I live about 5 minutes away from Oneida shores and work about 20 minutes away. I can hit the lake at 5 am, fish until 830, get off the water and be at my office at 9.
I try and do this as often as I can! In addition to accessibility the lake also offers a lot. I can go out and toss a tube, drop shot, top water and throw a jig around and most days catch some really nice fish in just a short period of time.
What has been your best day on the lake?
I have too many great memories to just name a best day. My personal best smallmouth was on Oneida that I caught throwing a tube, my favorite way to catch them. I have also fished two BASS Opens on Oneida. I didn’t do particularly well during those events but I had a great time! Learned a LOT and I have had awesome boaters.
The BASS Opens for me were eye opening. The first tournament I ever fished, at any level, was a BASS Open. I was very much unaware of what I was doing but it sounded fun, thought I could hang with them and went for it! At that point I learned more in those two days of fishing than I had probably ever learned.
The finer points of what it takes from going out and getting lucky to going out and making your own luck. After fishing that event I was 100% all into tournament fishing. I dedicate a lot of time to becoming a better tournament angler.
What other New York waters do you consider favorite places to either tournament or recreational bass fish?
I have always liked Onondaga Lake. The lake has great fishing and has nearly no traffic aside from some other bass fisherman. The Lake is special for me because it has some big largemouth! The best largemouth I have ever caught in New York were all out of Onondaga and the mouth of the Seneca River. Of course neither of those fish were caught during a tournament.
Of course the St. Lawrence is always amazing for great Smallmouth! Tournaments on the St Lawrence offer big weights and lots of smallies if you can get on them!
The St. Lawrence is a unique and special place because of trophy smallmouth potential. A lot of people think the state record will be broken out of the river soon, I would agree with that. Obviously the gobies have had a profound impact on that.
You love fishing with Gambler baits. What are your favorite Gambler baits?
For me it has to me the Stinger creature bait. When I am flipping just a creature bait around it’s my go to bait. The colors and textures of the bait is what originally caught my eye and I started throwing them and almost right away I was landing fish.
My fishing partner was using a different bait and I was going behind me catching great fish! This actually happened during a tournament, and we were able to cull every fish in the box in a very short
period of time.
I find they work best on isolated wood lay downs. When I come across a tree, I always give the Stinger a throw and it has always worked well for me.
When are you pairing these baits with Woo! Tungsten?
Anytime I am throwing just a Gambler Stinger I am throwing it with a Woo!Tungsten weight. Woo! just makes the best tungsten, period.
What weights are you using with the Stinger?
The weight depends mostly on the rate of fall I am trying to get. I typically start with a 3/8 oz. I also pair it up with a Woo! Tungsten flipping bead. I find the bead and the Woo! Tungsten make a nice clicking noise that I think attract a few extra strikes.
For those people who haven’t converted from lead to Tungsten yet, why should they?
Tungsten is a far superior then lead! Tungsten is as awesome as its reputation claims, from feeling, size, and durability it will help you catch more fish.
When drop shooting for example, you can really start to feel the difference between being snagged, getting bit and just dragging along. Tungsten also has a smaller profile which I like because I find that you can fish more places with it without issues.
New tournament rule for 2018. You can only fish the entire tournament season with 3 rods/reels on the deck rigged with 3 baits. What combos are you picking with what baits?
I would go with a 7’6 medium heavy Bass Pro Platinum rod with a 8:1 Johnny Morris Platinum reel. I would use this setup for throwing a jig. My ideal jig would have a crawfish color, a brownish and orange color.
Second rod is a tube rod. Probably a medium light 7 ft Bass Pro Carbonlite spinning rod.
Third would be another Johnny Morris Platinum rod and reel set up. A 7’6 medium heavy and 8:1 reel. This would be a top water setup, a Evergreen JT Topwater.
These are my favorite baits to throw, I have the most confidence with them. I feel that with just being able to throw those three things I would be able to use them in just about any condition on any type of water. As far as rod and reels I think the Basspro Platinum series is amazing! They work amazingly well and the price point is perfect. I would put that rod and reel setup against any other setup any day of the week!
Follow Andrew on Instagram @azellar_fishing.
Thank you Andrew!