Gurney's Inn
August 02, 2006

LI's Best Freshwater Fishing

If you're an avid freshwater fisherman and haven't read Long Island's Best Freshwater Fishing by East Ender Tom Schlichter, you're missing out on sage advice by a true authority in the angling world. Tom's a former field editor for The Fisherman magazine and it's never a surprise to see his face on the cover. His career includes an impressive blend of writing for both local and national magazines and his most-recent book is the fourth he has authored. Tom is also currently the Marine Editor of the Fire Island Tide.

One of the special qualities Tom's latest book possesses is the ability to transport the reader from one fishing spot to the next while creating a comfortable feeling of familiarity with each location. From page one, you'll be instructed by a true master of the lunker who has shared the best hot spots, baits and techniques to increase your catch. He has a healthy respect for nature and an amazing philosophy about the fish he catches and releases.

What's great is that you can stay in your own neighborhood to find some interesting angling experiences. As an avid saltwater fisherman, I had rarely thought about freshwater fishing until I spoke to Tom and he made me aware of the terrific, off the beaten path fishing hot spots that are well described and mapped out in his latest book. I was hooked (no pun intended) when he described the sight of an osprey lifting an eight-inch bass out of the quiet shallow waters of Swan Pond in Calverton.

Little did I know that this weedy watering hole is packed with rather aggressive small to medium-sized largemouth bass as well as some pickerel, perch, bullheads, bluegill and pumpkinseed (these are types of freshwater fish, not the names of 70's bands!)

There is a really good chapter on Fort Pond in Montauk and, to quote Schlichter, "it sports several ledges and shelves, a couple of significant drop-offs, two large, shallow flats and a bottom that ranges from mud to sand, gravel and small boulders. Such a wide array of habitat makes this lake suitable for a variety of fish, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white perch, big yellow perch, bullheads, huge carp and plenty of sunfish. A new addition is walleye."

Anglers will love the tips that Schlichter includes in each chapter as they are specific to the exact location. For Fort Pond, the following list appears:

* Drift small, live white perch for walleye in deep, open water; live-line yellow perch for bass just outside weed beds.

* Twitch three-to-five inch plugs in shallow coves for bass in spring and early summer.

* This lake has a large population of crayfish. Crayfish imitations should work especially well when jigged among deep-water rocks and along ledges.

* The small section of lake that lies north of Industrial Road is sometimes more productive than the main lake for largemouth bass.

* Smallmouth bass here are fairly elusive but will smack tube lures or live shiners worked along deep water rock edges at the midpoint of the eastern shore.

* Carp to 30 pounds inhabit this lake. Work the south end shoreline in spring and early summer with dough ball baits.

* This is a windy lake so pick your days carefully.

If you've yet to experience the art of freshwater fishing, consider it a part of your "to do" list because it is not only rewarding, but something that you can share with your children who might not yet be ready to make the jump to the hectic pace of saltwater angling. And a quick read through Long Island's Best Freshwater Fishing, is sure to make your expedition that much better.

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