Greg Mason, the Lake George Community Band’s Founder, Finds His Dream Gig
It takes more than a boat and a few rods to become a good Lake George fishing guide.
Greg Mason, who is best known for directing the music programs at the Bolton and Lake George schools and for founding the Lake George Community Band, appears to have precisely what it takes.
Now in his second year as the owner of Lake George Sport Fishing, he’s already a favorite of vacationers and sport fishermen alike.
“We guarantee fish,” says Patrick Mason, who, despite the responsibilities of a professional career with General Electric, has joined his father in the fishing charter business.
“We want to make certain it’s a fishing trip, not an expensive boat ride,” adds Greg.
The Masons dock their boat at Blue Water Manor, where we met them last Sunday to discuss fish and fishing.
Greg Mason has been fishing on the lake since 1975, the year he came to Bolton Landing to teach music.
“To feel the object in opposition to you, to bring in a near record sized fish successfully, is a challenge. We take out saltwater fishermen who think the same techniques apply to lake trout. They don’t. We show them how to fish for lake trout,” said Mason.
“Much of what I know, I learned from old timers like Frank Dagles, who fished the lake his entire life and whose father fished the lake. He had a technique known as ‘tunkin’ the bottom,’ where they’d let a weighted line out from a basket that dropped straight to the bottom. I also learned a lot from Frank Leonbruno, Dave Waters, Jughead Harris, Dave Green, Jamie Ellsworth and Ed Murphy, who sold me his business. I still spend hours with him, talking about fishing,” Mason says.
Greg introduced Patrick to fishing when he was still very young, just as he did the saxophone, his own instrument.
For Patrick, though, the saxophone fell out of favor. Fishing never did.
The winds, water temperature and time of year determine where they’ll go for lake trout, he says.
“If someone wants a trophy fish, we’ll do that. If someone wants to catch seventeen rock bass just to celebrate a 17-year-old’s birthday, we can do that as well,” said Pat.
Unless someone wants to mount a trophy fish, almost all fish are returned to the water quickly, Pat said.
“We have our own territory,’ said Greg. “We go deep. To catch the big fish, you have to.”
But the Masons do more than take their clients to all but unknown fishing holes where lake trout are likely to be found feeding.
“I like thinking of myself as an ambassador for Lake George, for its history in the French and Indian Wars, for its music and especially its science. You should see people’s faces when I tell them ‘Lake George is the smartest lake in the world,” says Mason.
He’s referring, of course, to the Jefferson Project, the collaborative effort of RPI, IBM and The Fund for Lake George to collect and analyze trends in water quality.
“The sensor platforms on the lake excite people, even if they initially find them mystifying. There’s so much on this lake to talk about. And because we get people from all over the world, the conversation is great. Sometimes it becomes so engaging that I have to say, ‘excuse me, but the fish seem to be interrupting us,’” said Mason.
“We’re on a mission; we don’t have to do this for a living. Just to be with people and on the lake and to be successful getting fish, that’s enjoyable,” said Greg. “We don’t have to compete with other charters. There’s enough fish for everybody.”