St. Lawrence named top bass fishery in nation

CHRISTOPHER LENNEY/WATERTOWN DAILY TIMESBen Seaman, left, loads a smallmouth bass into a bag that Dante Piraino is holding on the first day of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Northeast Regional at Whittaker Park in Waddington. Bassmaster magazine has named the St. Lawrence River the top bass fishery in the nation.

MASSENA — When it comes to best bass fisheries, the St. Lawrence River is tops in the nation, according to Bassmaster magazine.

The magazine announced Monday that, for the first time ever, the St. Lawrence River earned the top spot in the nation in its 2019 rankings.

“Over the past seven years, this incredible smallmouth fishery has cracked the Top 10 in Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes rankings two times. In both 2015 and 2018, the St. Lawrence (also known as the Upper St. Lawrence River) ranked eighth on the list. This year, though, the New York fishery would not be denied as the No. 1 bass fishing destination in the country,” Bassmaster officials said in a news release.

“The St. Lawrence is not only healthy right now, but seems to be showing off,” James Hall, editor of Bassmaster Magazine said in a statement.

“There have been years where a spirited internal debate was required to assign the top spot in the rankings. This year was easy after looking at the unbelievable weights being produced at the Upper St. Lawrence River. And on top of that, the scenery is stunning. If you are looking for the best angling experience in the country right now, the St. Lawrence River should be your next destination,” he said.

Bassmaster officials cited the recent Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops as one of the reasons why the St. Lawrence River earned the top spot.

“In this event, a 26-pound, 6-ounce limit of smallmouth was weighed in. However, the most astounding statistic is that the average weight of the entire 149-team field was 20.3 pounds. The winning team from Sam Houston State University averaged 24 pounds, 4 ounces per day. The Carhartt Big Bass Award for that event was a 6-pound, 7-ounce giant. Suffice it to say, the St. Lawrence not only has big smallmouth swimming around the many islands dotting its waterscape, but a lot of them,” the magazine article stated.

“What a great thing it is to get that recognition,” Town Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said. “It’s been a lot of work to get this recognition. We’ve always had this unknown jewel out there. We’ve worked hard to promote it. We’re also working with the New York Power Authority to build facilities (at the Massena Intake) so people can get access to it.”

Donald Meissner and Linda McQuinn have traveled to various shows and produced videos to promote Massena’s fishing opportunities, and Mr. O’Shaughnessy said those efforts have paid off. Massena is hosting four tournaments at the Massena Intake this year — Bass Nation on July 13 and 14, Cashion Rods on Sept. 7, the 2019 Costa FLW Series northern division tournament from Sept. 19 to 21 and the Big Bass Blowout on Oct. 5 and 6.

The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Waddington Aug. 15-18.

“It’s an honor to be recognized as the number one bass fishery by Bassmaster magazine. Bassmaster has been a tremendous partner for the county and the river and we are thrilled to see that they have grown to know and love the river more and more each year. The county, chamber and a number of partners across the county have invested a tremendous amount of resources to help promote the St. Lawrence River for sport fishing and recreational enjoyment, as well as environmental management and research to ensure that it is an asset for future generations,” St. Lawrence County Chamber Executive Director Brooke Rouse said.

“We all recognize the river’s role in opportunities for increased quality of life and economic development. It is a tremendous honor and opportunity to be named as the number one bass destination, and nicely timed between the Bassmaster College Series that just had its extremely successful inaugural event and the Bassmaster Elite that will be held in Waddington Aug. 15 to 18th,” she said. “We appreciate the recognition and will certainly be leveraging it in our marketing to continue elevating the St. Lawrence River as a premier freshwater fishery.”

Mr. Hall said the process of creating the rankings takes more than two months. State fishery agencies across the U.S. are polled and rank the fisheries in their states based on stocking efforts, catch rates and angler access. Then, B.A.S.S. Nation conservation directors add to the potential lakes list based on the thousands of tournaments they hold across the country. And finally, the data from dozens of tournament organizations, as well as big bass programs from various states, are analyzed to create the ultimate list of the Top 100 lakes.

The rankings are debated by a blue-ribbon panel of fishing industry insiders, and the final result of this research and debate is Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes rankings published in the July/August issue of the magazine.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(4) comments

JohnMcElroy

Promotion for the St Lawrence, sure is and needed. Our St Lawrence is not a popular fishing destination for anglers across the nation. It is a fast moving body of water, not as rough as the Ohio or Missouri but still way up in the north where the season is short. Yes we have 26 pound smallmouth bass and the reason is the river has not been fished out not even close. Lakes across the nation that have been stocked and produce only 6 pound bass have been fished out because they are in warm weather locations where anglers would rather be. Come to Waddington or the Massena Intake 3 times a year for bassmaster series and yes you will catch 26 pounders in this rough water cold St Lawrence. Promote all you want and thanks but our season is short and most who come will return to their warm weather lakes and be happy with 6 pounders. Good luck Steve and thanks a bunch for promoting this area.

Gracie02

Agreed...great bass fishery... I'm assuming the 26 pound reference is a daily 5 fish total... Not just lots of fish..but a beautiful clean river as well... and we're charged with keeping it that way..

Jeremy

Are you saying you think you can catch a 26 pound smallmouth in the St Lawrence?????

JohnMcElroy

You can try it but doubt you will pull in ONE fish that weighs that much. Great Northern maybe.

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