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Fish Oneida Lake's surf from the turf

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    SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Covering more than 51,000 acres, Oneida Lake is a huge presence in central New York. So big, in fact, most guys wouldn't even think of fishing there without a boat.

    However, there are times when this massive lake relents — some say it becomes liberal — temporarily becoming an affirmative action pond where foot anglers have as good a shot at the pike as their mechanized buddies.
    May is one of those times.

    Having recently endured winter, the fish are into luxuriating in the warmer temperatures provided by the sun's increasing presence. Since the water is warmest near shore, they storm the shallows in incredible numbers.

    Still, Todd Frank, New York's most successful professional tournament angler (he placed third in the 2005 PWT standings) said temperature is the most important play you can make early in the season.

    "I've seen them come in so close the first week or so in May, their dorsal fins break the surface," he said.

    Another benefit surf-and-turf anglers will find to their liking right now is how short the weeds are. They won't grow to a height sufficient to raise your blood pressure until the end of the month.

    Where to go

    Bordered on the east and west sides by villages, punctuated with public holdings ranging from village, county and state parks to wildlife management areas and Department of Environmental Conservation Fishing Access Sites (DECFAS), Oneida Lake has more than enough room to walk about and cast a line.

  • Brewerton DECFAS south: This site offers parking for roughly 25 cars and access to several hundred yards of riprap lining Oneida Lake's western shoreline along the shoulder of I-81, up to the southeastern corner of the Interstate's bridge over the Oneida River.

    There's a handicapped platform. You'll have to hike down a paved path about ¼-mile to get to the water.

  • Brewerton DECFAS North: This site is on the north shore, across the I-81 bridge from the above site (take Bartel Road to US 11, turn right, go over the bridge, several hundred yards later, take the next right (CR 37) and continue to the I-81 overpass.

    There's parking, a handicapped ramp and fishing in the main channel draining into the New Erie Canal (Oneida River).

  • Toad Harbor: This site offers parking for about 20 cars, several hundred yards of fishing access in the Three Mile Bay DEC Wildlife Management Area, at Phillips Point.

  • Godfrey Point DECFAS: More a boat launch than a fishing site, this spot nonetheless boasts about 100 feet of decent shore fishing in the early weeks of the season.

  • Sylvan Beach: This resort village boasts about a mile of sandy beach for early season fishing.

  • Verona Beach State Park: The park beach stretches for about 1,000 yards.

  • South Shore Boat Launch: This site offers about 50 feet of surf fishing access.

  • Oneida Shores County Park: This park's fishing beach on Muskrat Bay is best known for early spring bullheads, but the walleyes cruise the area until mid-May.

    How-to

    Surf and turf fishing is about as basic as it gets.

    Some guys fish worms on bottom. However, the best way to go is to cast crankbaits like Rapalas, Smithwick Rogues, Bombers and ThunderSticks.

    Best bite is an hour before and after nightfall and dawn.

    Material from Fishing & Hunting News
    published 24 times a year.

    Visit them at www.fishingandhuntingnews.com.