I was very excited when David Fonseca agreed to discuss his fishing with us. This fisherman is an urban angler who stalks the banks of New York City lakes and ponds. When I saw his Instagram, I could tell he is very skilled at catching bass from these waters. Here is what David had to say about New York City fishing…
How long have you been urban bass angling in New York City?
I was born and raised on Staten Island, New York. Growing up we had a city park across from our community called Willowbrook Park. It is a nice little pond that held some average size bass, bluegills and monster carp at one point. So fishing kind of was always a part of my life as a now and then pastime activity with my father and brothers. Although, the true angler in me has only been unleashed and devoted for the past 4 to 5 years mainly targeting largemouth bass.
I don’t think a lot of people think about packing a fishing rod when going to New York city. Why should they reconsider this?
Yes, the thought of freshwater fishing for bass and other species our waters carry isn’t something that’s known to most tourists or visitors. The city has so much to offer that fishing is definitely thrown in at the last of a million things to do.
I think that I would say I’d consider it for those that are here visiting, especially if you’re from another busy city from around the world because you’d be amazed on how peacefully and tuned into nature you’ll become. I know me personally…I get off the noisy train ride and loud streets…all that disappears once I walk down those paths to the lake.
I think it would be a more lasting memory to have captured then standing in front of a 100 year old monument with your kids that they’ll never know a thing about. They’ll always remember those smiles from landing some small bass, perch and whopper size bluegills in Central Park.
How pressured are the ponds and lakes that you fish in the city?
There are a few high pressured lakes we have, which is all due to many other anglers who know that’s where the big ones are. My home lake is one one of them. Therefore getting a fish to hit can get tough. If knowing that others have spent time working on them or I see a hand full of anglers out, I usually turn to finesse fishing and end up with landing some quality bass or just a slugfest of dinks…lol .
Without giving away any secret spots, what are you looking for in a pond or lake within the city to decide whether or not you want to fish it?
Well that all varies taking in consideration time of the year, what type of structure is around and if I equipped myself to approach those surroundings I may think the bass are being held up in.
Is most of your bass fishing from shore in the city or do you ever rent a boat when fishing?
I would definitely define myself a bank angler. Most of our city lakes don’t allow jon boats or kayaks to be launched on them, especially our reservoir. This doesn’t stop us from still slamming a big ol’ fat bass…lol.
There are few spots you can rent a row boat for the day but it’s more for the fun than it is for us anglers. Certain lakes do not allow fishing from the row boats any longer. But in all honesty, it’s not so necessary. Our lakes have wide open areas throughout to have plenty of casting room and experience a great time.
What do you find to be the best all around rod and reel setups that you have for bass fishing NYC?
Hmmm…with the way us bass anglers get with our rod and reel combos and having a different one for every different application, it’s tough to say what makes a good all around set up for me. I’ve become accustomed to having just a rod meant for just jigs and worms, my flipping stick, swimbait combo, etc. etc.
But if I’d have to only go out with one set up it would have to be a 7′ medium action rod with a spinning reel for the types of baits I prefer throwing. Normally I would hit the banks with 4 to 5 setups, 2 spinning reel outfits and 3 baitcaster outfits.
What are your top 3 favorite baits to throw for bass?
Plastics, plastics and plastics…lol. I’m big on using all soft plastic baits. From drop shots, Ned rigs, to Texas rigging…just love finesse fishing in general you could say. But I definitely would say I love throwing plastics, jerkbaits, and any topwater bait.
Key to success with soft plastics is always giving that nature presentation and making sure your not over working the type of bait it is. For instance, my favorite drop shot bait is the PowerTeam Lures 7″ Tickler. Just making the ever so gentle rod tip shakes gives that bait an amazing flutter that no bass can resist. I would keep it dead sticked at times too for a few minutes and just give it one easy shake to pressure that bass to make the hit. But once again it all goes by the time of the season and what the bass want to predict what to throw at them.
What is your personal best NYC best?
Alright, my new personal best was safely landed and released this year weighing at 5lbs 13oz. May not mean much to others outside the city. But for a small lake in the city, it’s a great feeling.
Now this was my first day out in general for 2017 as well. So feeling rusty but anxious to hit anything being last year was a great one for me. Was a fairly warm spring day and temps started staying steady so the prespawn had just begun .
Got out right after work. I had about 2 hours left of sunlight. So I grabbed my spinning rod to throw some hair jigs and a crank bait set up. Water Clarity was crystal clear so went right with the green pumpkin hair jig. Didn’t get anything.
Tied up a Strike King Red Eye Shad in a red craw pattern, worked it for a few different ways. Ripped it in fast, ripped it through the bottom, wasn’t till I completely slowed down my retrieving and gave it a short twitch and the bite was on.
After about a few 2 pounder’s and a 3 pounder, I got to a spot where there’s a nice drop off . Slowly cranked the bait sub-surfacing the rocks and right at the drop off…BAM !
Soon as she took the first leap out the water I knew I had a new personal best. As I got her closer she takes another leap out and I witnessed one treble hook came off. Now fear sets in but confidence stood in control. Worked her out easy and let her take some drag, which felt like forever…she then gave up and had her lipped on shore. Gear used was 7’4″ team KVD cranking rod and Quantum Smoke PT 5:3.1 reel spooled with 12lb Seaguar InvizX .
While the big bass on your Instagram page are impressive, perhaps my favorite is the picture of you fishing with your family. Are there specific ponds that you would recommend to anglers who are from NYC or coming to NYC that they can fish with their family for numbers of panfish and perhaps small bass?
Absolutely!!! Central Park has an awesome fishery to experience if you are in Manhattan, Prospect Park in Brooklyn or simply come see Clove Lake in Staten Island. You can spend a fun day fishing, picnic and other fun events the parks maybe doing certain days.
Just remember to have a up to date freshwater permit or license and everything in our 5 boroughs is Catch And Release! You can have as much fun as fishing for big bass or whip out the ultra light rods and land anything from crappies, bluegills, catfish and yellow perch .
Overall, what recommendations do you have for others for successful bass fishing in NYC?
My recommendations would be if you’re targeting good size bass, come with your A Game! NYC has some amazing all around well experienced anglers who have worked those waters hard. So it’s going to be a challenge for certain.
The only other one I would say and to me should be important no matter where you are is to respect our lakes and waterways from littering and throwing ripped up soft plastics into the water. Treat our backyards like you would treat your own and safely release all the fish as fast as possible. Our lakes do not get yearly stocked. They are all naturally populated since they were first stocked years and years ago. Let’s keep them protected so our grandchildren will have a place to share the same memories we do.
I knew I would love getting to know David. Thanks David for the great information about New York City fishing. I will be following David on Instagram @dave85_outdoorz.