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Home » » Outdoors with Larry DiDonato - Bass Season Opens on June 15th

Outdoors with Larry DiDonato - Bass Season Opens on June 15th

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 7/3/24 | 7/3/24

The season to catch and keep largemouth and smallmouth bass , (collectively known as "black bass") opens on June 15th. Many largemouths have a dark band extending the length of their body, with a greenish coloration in many waters, with the jaw extending past the eye (jaw doesn’t extend past eye in smallmouth bass). Smallmouths, like the one pictured here, are also called, "bronze backs," as many have bronze colored tones on the upper part of their bodies with mottled black and bronze colored areas throughout.

 The open season to catch and keep legal sized largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, begins on June 15th and ends November 30th. The “catch and release” bass fishing season is open from December 1st through June 14th on most waters in NY, but remains closed on all waters in St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Franklin and Hamilton counties. This includes Lake Ontario (in Jefferson County) and the St. Lawrence River. For these specific counties, targeting largemouth and smallmouth bass, including catch and release, is prohibited until the season opens on June 15th

The two subspecies, collectively known as “black bass,” inhabit lots of bodies of water across NY. Many of these lakes, ponds, and rivers provide outstanding opportunities to catch trophy size large and smallmouth bass. This not only gives local anglers a chance to catch a big bass, it draws national-level bass fishing tournaments to NY every year. Special fishing regulations exist for some waters, so be sure to check the current fishing regulations for season, size, and creel limits in the fishing guide or on DEC’s website, before heading out to fish.

Black bass are a great species for beginners to target as they can be relatively easy to catch. If you’re interested in taking that next step and going "beyond the bobber," DEC says give bass fishing a try. Fishermen can use a spin-casting (push-button) or medium action spinning rod rigged with a soft stick bait fished "wacky-style." This method can prove to be very effective in catching black bass plus other species found in NY waters. “It's great for kids too because fishing it really just involves casting it out, letting it sink to the bottom and reeling it in with a twitch-pause action. Most times, bass will strike on the drop. Some other popular lures include crank baits, spinner baits, and tube jigs.” 


• Tie a 1/0 or 2/0 offset circle hook onto 8-12 lb. monofilament fishing line. Use heavier monofilament line or consider tougher, more abrasion-resistant, braided line in weeds and other thick cover. 

• Select a 5-6” plastic stick bait of your color choice. (My favorite is a green/white, green with metal flake, or “pumpkin” Gary Yamamoto Senko stick bait.) Purple and watermelon colors are also good choices for most NY waters. 

• Slip an o-ring onto the middle of the bait. Most tackle shops sell a special wacky rigging tool that helps prevent tearing the bait when sliding the 0-ring on and off. 

• Slide the circle hook point under the 0-ring.

 *If you really want to be effective and consistently catch big black bass, consider using Gary Yamamoto Senko stick baits fished “wacky style.”  “Senkos,” as they are known, are not cheap, but while other brands may work fine, “Senkos” are infused with an oily fish scent that not only attracts bass to the soft plastic bait, but causes them to hold on to it longer as they attempt to eat it. This gives beginners as well as experienced anglers an extended chance to set the hook on a big bass! 

Check out the DEC website for information on learning how to get started in fishing and where to go:

DEC Species Spotlight: Largemouth Bass

Scientific Name: Micropterus salmoides

Nicknames: Bucket mouth, Melon head, Hawg

State Record: 11 lbs. 4 oz., Buckhorn Lake (Otsego County), 9/11/87

Identification:  Dark band extending the length of the body, greenish coloration in many waters, jaw extends past the eye (jaw doesn’t extend past eye in smallmouth bass)

Where to Fish: Often found in shallow, weedy areas of lakes, ponds and rivers, as well as submerged cover (logs, docks and stumps).

How to Fish: Chances are there’s at least one lure in your tackle box that will work for bass. Spinnerbaits, crank baits, and soft stick baits are all usually effective. Perhaps the most popular is the wacky rig, which is essentially a plastic worm with a hook inserted through the middle (or use an o-ring), casted out and twitched/bounced on the bottom. Bass cannot resist it-trust us on this one! For more details on bass fishing techniques check out the link below or go to and type in the key words:

Fishing for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

Safe Handling: Bass can easily be handled by gripping their lower jaw between your thumb and forefinger. If holding horizontally, be sure to support the back of their body with your other hand. Otherwise, you can hold them vertically. The rough texture you feel in their mouth are their very tiny teeth.   

Fish Fact: During spawning season, male bass guard the nest until fry are fully free swimming, which takes 1-2 weeks after hatching. Not all fish species demonstrate this level of parental care. 

For more information, visit DEC’s website for freshwater fishing regulations.

Happy Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping until next time!

News and Notes…

Norton Hill Wildlife Club’s 2024 Trap Shooting Schedule 

Trap shooting at Norton Hill Wildlife Club at 946 Big Woods Road in Greenville begins at 10:00 am on the following Sundays: June 16th, July 14th and 28th, August 4th and 25th, and on September 15th and 29th.  Cost is just $5.00 per round. Bring your own ammo. Trap shooting is open to all; you don’t have to be a member to take advantage of this opportunity. 

Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.




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