Corky Cansdale

Corky Cansdale shows off a walleye caught from Oneida Lake.

We left Wolcott at 4:30 a.m., which would be an OK hour if you went to bed at 7. However, if you didn’t get six or seven hours of sleep, it’s very early because you must rise at 3:30 to get ready.

The birds don’t even chirp until 5. And, did you realize that birds don’t toss and turn all night? At 9 p.m. they close their eyes and sleep. Of course, I’m not privy to what goes on when the lights go out.

Anyway, this a fishing story, not a study of birds.

Corky Cansdale and I are once again teaming up for an angling adventure. We must team up because I don’t have a boat. I have downsized from many watercrafts and now own a kayak and a Sears 11-foot John boat, which is now a small green lump in the woods. It’s resting.

Today’s adventure would take us to Oneida Lake for some springtime walleye. After a 70-minute drive, we launched at Charley’s Boat Livery off McCloud Road. It was my first time at Charley’s; what a great place to enter the water.

The water level was high, like most of our waterways in upstate New York this spring, but it was an easy launch nonetheless. The livery has a neat little canal that takes you to Oneida Lake. While it’s a short ride, the early light and the chirping birds placed me in a calm, serene mood. And, this location keeps you out of the wind, a plus for launching on Oneida Lake.

We motored out between the buoys, passed Frenchman Island, and worked 20-25 feet of water. Walleyes were our targeted species, and I needed to solidify my reputation as “Mr. Walleye.” If I recall, I earned that title years ago while fishing the Gouin Reservoir in Canada. During our weeklong fishing expedition back then, I caught the largest fish. That was probably 10 years ago, but I’m wearing that crown of achievement no matter what.

Cansdale starting with the Rapala Jigging Rap, while I threw out black-and-purple bucktail jigs. Nothing happened; then, I hooked a walleye. “Mr. Walleye” was on a roll.

I casted out and grabbed another one using a gold blade. The blade is a heavier spoon with two treble hooks. You hook your leader to the top, and if the treble hooks don’t dangle you feel the lure vibrate through the water. If they dangle after casting you haul the blade in and start over.

“You know if I catch another walleye, I’ll limit out,” I told the guy in the stern of the boat. “Three is the limit on Oneida, and I just caught two record fish. Wowser.”

Cansdale agrees they are record fish all right.

I cannot tell a lie: They were indeed record fish, as in a record for the smallest walleye I’ve ever caught. Both fish were around 8 inches in length. Not 8 pounds. Eight inches.

The good news is these 2-year-old fish were very healthy. No fungus, spots or any other ominous markings. It’s always great to see year-of-class fish.

We moved around and caught a mix of fish. My pickerel and sheepshead give a noble fight. Both hit the perch-colored blade. Cansdale fought a whopper white perch and reeled in a nice 18-inch walleye with the Rapala jig.

The sun popped out from the light fog, and as soon as Oneida’s surface rippled and developed a small chop, the fish began to hit — not many hits, although Cansdale’s perch-rigged, ultra-light rod brought in a nice perch.

Cansdale yelled something at me and immediately a walleye hit my blade. We both tried to remember what he said, but we’re old and can barely remember what lake we’re fishing. Anyway, it was a nice keeper and went into the box.

We gave it until 11 a.m., which tallied out to five hours casting spoons and jigs. Skipping across the water was as smooth as it gets when you have a nice, heavy 18-foot Alumacraft with a 75-horsepower Evinrude pushing it.

We located the small canal and loaded the boat on the trailer. The ramp fee was only $5, and I gave it to the livery owner, Heather Gass. She was feeding her birds. Grape jelly for the orioles and some nice sugar water for the hummingbirds.

It was a fantastic day on the water. What a great day no matter what we caught. Another one for the memory storage part of our brain.

Fishing funny talk

I was talking to my writing colleague, Bill Hilts Jr., from the western section of the state. There will be a fishing challenge coming to Wayne County June 22. The New York State Outdoor Writers Association is teaming up and will be challenging the video guys from the adventure TV show “Rush Outdoors.”

Four experts — ha, ha, I mean outdoor writers — will beat any video guys fishing Lake Ontario. John Lenox of “Rush Outdoors” didn’t think so, saying, “Prepare to go down.”

I told him I doubt that. We are not fiction writers, just real-life scribes, and we will humble you guys and tell only the truth.

Anyway, during my conversation with Hilts, we were finalizing our winning tactics and procedures, and what we intended on doing with our trophies.

“Where are you? I asked, hearing waves in the background.

“We are fishing Lake Erie out of Dunkirk,” Hilts said. “I had the state-record walleye on, but a firefly landed on my line and burned it. I lost the trophy fish.”

Crossbow news

State Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner and state Sen. Jen Metzger introduced crossbow bills recently. While this legislation does not provide full inclusion, it offers significant movement toward it.

What do A7627 in the Assembly and S5818 in the Senate do?

• Change crossbow to the bowhunting privilege from the muzzleloader privilege.

• Replace the special longbow season with a special archery season and add crossbow.

• Allow 12- to — 15-year-olds to hunt with a crossbow, removing the prior prohibition on 12- and 13-year-olds.

• Authorize those 55 and older to use a crossbow in a special archery season.

• Authorize those physically unable, as determined by a physician, to draw a longbow and use a crossbow during a special archery season.

• Allow youth to hunt wild small game and wild upland birds with a crossbow.

• Change the term bolt to arrow.

• Remove the 200-pound maximum draw weight and the minimum 17-inch width restriction.

• Repeal the prohibition on the use of mechanical devise with a bow and authorization (permit) for disabled hunters to use crossbows which may be discharged only using one’s breath.

• Authorize the state Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt regulations authorizing the taking of wildlife using a crossbow and to include a summary of such regulations in the hunting syllabus.

• Reduce the setback to discharge a crossbow to 150 feet consistent with a longbow.

The New York Conservation Council has been collecting crossbow letters of support and has submitted more than 4,000 of them to the Assembly and Senate so far. If you have not submitted one since January, please download it, fill it out, and return it through the mail, or scan it and email it to

For sportspeople who do not know who their legislator is, visit

Photo contest for sportswomen

Following the success of DEC’s statewide photo contest for women hunters, the second phase of the “WomenHuntFishNY” contest to celebrate women anglers in the state begins June 17 and continues through July 8.

“Women are an underrepresented, yet growing segment of New York State’s angling public, and we want to highlight them in action,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a press release. “Collecting and sharing photos of these female anglers — of all ages and abilities — will inspire women and girls to get outside and cast a line.”

Women who fish in New York state are encouraged to share their photos by emailing DEC welcomes photos of all aspects of safe, legal, and ethical fishing. Contest categories include:

• Freshwater fishing.

• Saltwater fishing.

• Ice fishing.

• Youth (girls) fishing.

• Mothers and Children/Multi-Generational.

• Action shots (casting, reeling, or landing the big one!).

To be considered in the contest, photos must depict women fishing in New York state. Fishing photos entered in DEC’s fall WomenHuntFishNY hunting photo contest will automatically be entered for consideration. Participants are strongly encouraged to include a sentence to describe their image or experience.

The deadline for contest entries July 8. However, sportsmen and sportswomen are encouraged to share photos with DEC any time of year. All submissions will become property of DEC to be used in promotions and outreach. Winning entries will be featured on DEC’s website, social media posts, marketing campaigns, print products, and future outreach to inspire future generations of female anglers.

To view more photos that were entered in the 2018 “WomenHuntFishNY” statewide photo contest, visit 72157707390408894.

Chris Kenyon’s “Outdoors” appears every other Sunday. Contact Chris at (315) 879-1341 or

Recommended for you