Lake Neatahwanta: Making kids’ fishing dreams come true

Marshall Kise, an instructor for McGrath and Associates Carp Angling Services, wading in Lake Neatahwanta while giving lessons in Tenkara, a fly-fishing technique developed in Japan.
Marshall Kise, an instructor for McGrath and Associates Carp Angling Services, wading in Lake Neatahwanta while giving lessons in Tenkara, a fly-fishing technique developed in Japan.

Submitted by Spider Rybaak

From the shoreline, Lake Neatahwanta in Fulton looks like it’s in bad shape.

A slick of blue green algae reaches out from the bank like an undulating coat of cracked paint. The smell is awful. 

Fulton resident Leah and son Clayton admiring a white perch the youngster caught from the pier in Lake Neatahwanta during last Saturday’s class.
Fulton resident Leah and son Clayton admiring a white perch the youngster caught from the pier in Lake Neatahwanta during last Saturday’s class.

A short fence on both sides of the pier keeps little animals and kids away from the water.

Fish don’t seem to mind these troubled waters, however. Indeed, a kids’ fishing class conducted on the pier at Bullhead Point by local author Spider Rybaak, and McGrath & Associates Carp Angling Services Saturday, July 12, saw 10 kids and two adults catch more than 30 fish in less than two hours.

White perch made up the vast majority of the catch, but bluegills and strawberry bass were also caught.

In addition, McGrath had two solid hits from catfish or carp; no one knows for sure because the critters got away before they could be identified.

Like Oneida and Onondaga lakes, Neatahwanta suffers from massive algae blooms. Unlike its Onondaga County relatives, it’s much smaller and shallower, gets funky earlier, and the blooms linger longer.

What’s more, being located on the edge of a city, the algae explosion’s odor, color and texture really get noticed.

From a pier view, however, the lake’s in great shape. Fish are abundant beneath its green sticky waves. Huge carp break the surface joyously; channel catfish reach bragging size; northern pike and largemouth bass are plentiful enough to draw serious anglers in expensive boats.

But its greatest draw is panfish. Sunfish, white perch, yellow perch, black crappie and bullhead are abundant.

The kids proved it on Saturday, one of the hottest, stickiest July days in recent memory.

McGrath & Associates Carp Fishing Services and Spider Rybaak will conduct another free fishing class on Lake Neatahwanta from 9 to 11 a.m. Aug. 9. Shakespeare rods and reels, bait and tackle by Berkley, Marukyu of Japan, Alvey, Cortland Line Co. and Eagle Claw will be provided free for the day.

So come out and see what this funky little pond on Fulton’s west side has to offer. All you need is a fishing pole, patience and a wish; the fish will do the rest.

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