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Finger Lakes Smallmouths
Smallmouth bass fishing may not be the favorite kind of fishing for most western New Yorkers, but it may be the kind of fishing that offers the best opportunity to brag about one's efforts. This is generally true of the Finger Lakes and particularly true of Canadice and Hemlock lakes.

These water supply reservoirs for Rochester are among the smallest of the Finger Lakes, but with the special regulations that prevent shoreline development and restrict boating speed there is a tranquility that adds to the fishing pleasure. In deed, if one could be transported with a blindfold to either of these lakes, they might think they were on a Canadian wilderness lake when the blindfold was removed.

Despite propulsion limitations that hold gasoline engines to ten horsepower and under or allow electric trolling motors or oars, most fishing boats plying these lakes are rigged with down riggers for deep trolling for such species as lake trout, brown and rainbow trout. These rigs will catch smallmouth bass, particularly late in the summer when surface temperature drives the bass deep. However, June is a great time to catch smallmouth bass in the shallows along the shore.

This is interesting fishing because this time of year the bass are hanging in blow©downs along the shore or in weed beds about 60 yards off the bank. This situation presents the possibility of fishing both types of cover at the same time. One angler can fish the weeds with a surface plug like the Ghost, White Rat, or the old fashioned Tiny Torpedo while another angler can work the shore line with jigs, spinners or crank baits. You might experiment with retrieve speed for jigs, spinners and crank baits to find the depth the bass are feeding. Usually, it will be near or on the surface.

It does not take a mental giant to figure out where to fish this time of year. The smallmouth are either in the very visible trees or the equally visible weed beds which grow just about to the water surface. Most of the time the bass will be divided between the shore©line cover and the weed beds.

Normally, a mayfly hatch comes off sometime during July and if you happen to be there when the hatch begins you will be in for an unforgettable experience. Fish will be in a feeding frenzy everywhere you look. Of course, they will not all be smallmouth bass, but you can't have everything.

It is also quality fishing because many of the smallmouth bass will weigh in around three pounds or a little heavier.

Catches can average better than two pounds per bass, which is good smallmouth fishing even in the most famous smallmouth fisheries around the country.

The smallmouth fishing is good but under utilized throughout the Finger Lakes system. We are featuring 272©acre Canadice and 836©acre Hemlock because of the uniqueness of the experience.

Both lakes are enjoyed by canoeist, many of whom have no thoughts of trying to catch a fish.

Encounters with wildlife are just about guaranteed if you spend some time on either or both of the lakes. The hilly woodlands on both sides of the lake are teeming with whitetail deer. Last year while fishing Hemlock, a very young fawn followed a friend and me as we fished the east bank. We knew the doe was close by, but leery of fishermen. The spotted fawn kept pace with us for about 20 minutes before fading off into the woodlands.

Likewise, waterfowl feed regularly on the south end of both lakes. Both wild mallards and wood ducks nest in the area. An osprey competes with you for the fish. Little outdoor adventures like these are a bonus you can't experience on the populated Finger Lakes.

Special regulations for the lakes require that all boats be registered with the Rochester Upland Water Supply. This is a no*fuss deal. An application blank and temporary permit can be obtained at a usually unmanned registration booth near the launching ramp on Hemlock Lake. Besides motor restrictions, there are reasonable rules against any act that could pollute Rochester's drinking water.

Hemlock Lake is located on U.S. Route 15A, just south of the town of Hemlock on the Livingston©Yates County Line. The launching ramp is on the north end of the lake. Canadice Lake is about a mile east of Hemlock Lake in Yates County. The launching ramp is off Canadice Lake Road about mid©way of the east bank.

For the latest lake and fishing conditions, call the Department of Environmental Conservation regional office at Avon. The number is 716-226-2466.

Smallmouth bass may not be the most prized fish on the Finger Lakes, but the combination of big bass and the feeling of getting away from it all supplied by Hemlock and Canadice lakes is a first class outdoor experience.

Uploaded: 2/21/2004