There's a substantial number of avid sportsmen and women ready to head north to the Oswego area this month to test their skills and tackle on the soon-to-start-running salmon that journey up the rivers from Lake Ontario to spawn. I can't say as I blame those anglers, for hooking into a 20-pound-plus king salmon is an adventure you never forget. But for those who'd rather wet their lines in closer-to-home waters, September is a wonderful time to enjoy some of the best fishing our area has to offer.
For starters, the cooler night-time temperatures allow water temps to cool down from their lofty summer levels, and that triggers increased activity in the fish, from predator species to prey species. Many members of the minnow family are preparing to spawn now, and the egg-laden females offer a high-protein delicacy to hungry pike, walleye, bass and pickerel that are storing up fat for the winter season. Walleye are perhaps the most popular gamefish in our local rivers, with smallmouth bass a close second.
On average, both of these will run larger now than those caught last spring. A walleye that was a barely-legal 15 inches last May will be 17-18 inches now. Smallmouths that were a foot will be a solid 14-15 inches now. It may not sound like much, but in both cases, the fish caught in September have "real shoulders" and it becomes apparent, both in their fighting ability as well as the larger fillets they can offer.