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  • Lake Champlain State of the Lake Meeting

    This meeting has been time-stamped and posted on YouTube.  Just check out the “Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department” channel, or do a search on it, and it will come up.  I pay attention to this meeting every year.  There are biologists there from Vermont’s Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, New York’s DEC and also U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Feds.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSiEwiaCJDs

    There are a lot of management similarities between the Finger Lakes – mainly Cayuga and Seneca Lakes and the management of Lake Champlain.  Both lakes (thinking of the two largest Finger Lakes as one lake) are “two-story” fisheries, featuring lake trout (both stocked and wild), landlocked salmon and other salmonids.  Both are nationally renowned bass fisheries.  Both have storied histories of great fisheries and then habitat degradation, over-fishing, invasive species – notably lampreys, Dreissenid mussels, cormorants, waterfleas, gobies (in Seneca and Cayuga) and more.

    Largely because of the involvement of USFWS plus the fact that Lake Champlain is located on the borders of two states (and Quebec,) it receives a lot of attention.  Lamprey containment and eradication methods used here are cutting-edge.  Landlocked salmon are a very important component of the fishery and a goal of the Feds in terms of restoration.  You can be sure that issues and opportunities as well as new and successful methods used here to help manage the fishery will make their way over to the Finger Lakes.

    They are now dealing with more wild lake trout production (Seneca Lake in the late-1980s/1990s anyone?)  Alewives displacing rainbow smelt (we’ve had both here for a while), complaints about poor Landlocked salmon fishing/runs (Cayuga Lake – “hold my beer…”) and much more.  Bottom line, is that if you’re interested in Finger Lakes fisheries, you’ll find this presentation informative, entertaining and fascinating.  You also appreciate the Finger Lakes even more than you already do!

  • Bill Alexander of MTO Lures/Xstended Life Baits at All Seasons Outfitters on 5/11, noon to 5 pm

    If you’ve ordered jig heads or bought jigs/baits from Bill Alexander, you know what a terrific lure maker he is!  He will be over at All Seasons Outfitters in New Hartford (near Utica) on Saturday May 11th, from noon to 5 pm showing some of his newest virtually indestructible fishing plastics.  These baits incorporate a mesh that keeps them on the hook for fish after fish after fish after fish.  He markets Ned-type baits, Senko-like baits, craws and much more.

    Bill just returned from field-testing some of his plastics on sea-trout in North Carolina – they had over 52 seatrout come on ONE of his baits!

    Bill’s website is no longer online, but he still molds jig heads not only for lake trout, but most other applications.

    All Seasons Outfitters is on 4505 Commercial Drive in New Hartford.  It’s right next to the Texas Roadhouse where the Seneca Turnpike meets Commercial Drive.

    https://allseasonsoutfitter.com/

     

  • Recap of Silver Lake Marine’s “Lake Life Celebration”

    I had a good time at Silver Lake Marine’s Lake Life Celebration last Saturday.  I wasn’t sure how the turnout would be due to the cold, windy weather, but it was very good.  The area around Perry and Mount Morris really has the best characteristics of small-town America – lots of nice, down-to-earth people and a great sense of community.  I was pleasantly surprised to see Jeff Harter there, whom I had met at the Rochester Boat Show. He’s the Dealer Account Manager of the Aluminum Boat Group for the Brunswick Corporation.  Crestliners have become very popular boats in New York State and his dealers do a great job making his job easy.  There are no major changes upcoming in the Crestliner boat lines.  We’ll be seeing some more consolidation – that’s about it.

    State Park Police were there from Letchworth State Park along with one of the Park Managers.  I never realized that Letchworth State Park was 17 miles long!  It’s a great park and if you’re in the area, it’s well worth a visit.  That’s another reason to check out Silver Lake Marine – you’re a very short drive away from one of the top State Parks in NY.  There’s a gorgeous set of waterfalls on the Genesee River over there, along with a swimming pool and other attractions.

    There was some live entertainment, a food truck, ice-cream truck and some terrific baked goods, along with some of the area breweries and businesses.  Silver Lake Marine has some nice Crestliners in stock if you’re looking for a boat.  They are also a Mercury and Yamaha dealer if you’re looking for a motor.

    I had a chance to meet some area anglers and got caught up on Conesus Lake fishing from one of them.  By the way, NYS Operations still hasn’t put the docks in at the State Launch at Silver Lake, so a lot of the fish have been left alone.  (Keep in mind that it’s very likely that docks may still be out for many state launches.)  The lack of easy lake access (due to the docks being out) along with the very limited ice-fishing season, should make for some good crappie and northern pike fishing in Silver Lake this spring/summer.

    I still have some openings in April.  This Thursday and Friday remain open, along with Sunday.  The weather forecasts are calling for some rain later this week and then highs around 49 on Sunday.  April 23rd through the 26th are open as is Saturday the 28th, then we’re into May.

    Enjoying the day downstairs in the showroom - the service area also had activities going on. SLM was even running "shuttles" between the two areas!

  • Silver Lake Marine Lake Life 2024 is this Saturday! Plus some odds and ends…

    After the success of last year’s grand opening of the new service center at Silver Lake Marine, Quinn decided, “why not make this an annual kick-off event for the boating season?”  This Saturday at the marina there will be live entertainment, baked goods, craft beer and cider, a food truck and other activities going on.  Silver Lake Marine will also be kicking off their biggest boat sale of the year.  They’ve got plenty of room inside the new service center and showroom incase the weather isn’t good (which it doesn’t look to be.)  I’ll be down there tying some jigs and flies.  Silver Lake Marine is very close to Letchworth State Park, so if you’ve never seen the falls on the Genesee River, you can check those out as well.

    You can get more details on their website:  https://www.silverlakemarine.com/

    I spoke to Region 8 Fisheries and it looks like the region will be adopting the same liberal walleye regulations that are currently on Skaneateles Lake, on Keuka Lake as well.   I can’t say this with 100% certainly, but it appears that the state is heading in that direction.  Walleye populations are expanding on Keuka Lake and every one of those fish can live upwards of 20 to 25 years.  The alewife population on Keuka Lake is very low, so perch fry and freshwater shrimp are the main forage in the lake.  Even if you don’t care one iota about Keuka Lake’s trout population, the facts are what they are – this lake really can’t support another predator given how little food there is over there for gamefish.  I think this is a great call.  This won’t get rid of all the walleyes, but it will allow guys that are out perch or bass fishing from the late-fall through spring to keep any walleyes that they catch without breaking the law.

    I still have some open dates in late-April!  The weather is finally predicted to get better.  This is one of the best times of the year for catching big lake trout on Cayuga Lake.  Cayuga and Seneca Lakes are fishing fair to good for landlocked salmon (along with shallow lake trout on Cayuga).  Skaneateles Lake fishes very nicely this time of the year for large perch, bass, trout and even a few walleyes.  Fly-fishing lake trout is available on Keuka Lake and I can also do a deep jigging trip on Canandaigua Lake if you like to fish over there.  Pike season opens on May 1st.

  • Region 8 Diary Summaries

    I just received my diary summaries in the mail on Friday.  Here are the takeways:

    Canandaigua Lake:  This lake continues to provide excellent lake trout and rainbow trout fishing.  It took cooperators targeting lake trout an average of 1.1 hours per legal fish.  That’s a great catch rate.  No word on what the largest lake trout taken was.  Twenty percent of Canandaigua’s lake trout taken were wild.  Rainbow trout catch rates were also excellent, at 1.4 hours to catch a legal rainbow.  All rainbows in Canandaigua Lake are wild fish.

    Production of young fish in the Naples Creek system remains excellent.  Young-of-the-year production has been lower than in past decades, but age-1+ production is amongst the best it’s been since sampling records from the 1960s.

    Diary cooperator numbers increased to 25 anglers, from 18 the prior year.  Canandaigua Lake will be surveyed this coming summer.

    Keuka Lake:  Cooperator numbers are at an all-time low here, with only 20 anglers keeping diaries.  Because of this, trip numbers were also low this year, with only 296 trips recorded.  For comparison’s sake, in 1995, 81 cooperators recorded 2,342 trips!  That’s a huge difference by any account.  Not much has changed here – lake trout catch rates were slightly slower than in year’s past, with 1.6 hours to catch a legal salmonid (all being lake trout, with the exception of two rainbows.)  Kept fish averaged 19.4″ and 2.4lbs a piece.  Sixty-one percent of caught lakers were kept here – it’s probably the highest harvest rate in the Finger Lakes.  For my money, the Keuka Lake lake trout are the best tasting and are the perfect size to eat.  Salmon and browns haven’t been stocked here since 2018, so they are pretty much non-existent except for a very rare wild brown that may drop down on occasion from Cold Brook.

    A few walleyes were taken by cooperators – the largest being over 8lbs!  The forage base, like Skaneateles Lake, is mainly young perch.  Alewife numbers are very low in Keuka Lake. Speaking of forage, the Bath Hatchery cisco-raising facility has now been completed and it’s hoped that production goals of 100,000 fingerlings per year will be met this year.  Cornell and DEC are trying to find ways to help their survival upon being stocked in the lake.

    Seneca Lake:  Like Keuka Lake, cooperator numbers here are at an all-time low, with only 18 cooperators.  Trips were also at an all-time low, with only 157 trips recorded.   Back in 1991, 143 cooperators recorded 4120 trips!

    Catch times per legal salmonid in 2023 were 3.3 hours.  Thirty-two percent of lake trout caught were wild fish.  About 1/3rd of the catch was harvested.  The average harvested lake trout weighed 4.5lbs and was nearly 23″ long.  That’s a well-fed fish!

    Only 27 landlocked salmon were caught.  Around 2/3rds were released and about 2/3rds of the fish caught were legal sized.  No rainbows were caught by cooperators and only a few browns were landed.

    Forage netting showed a very abundant alewife population.  Round gobies also showed up with 128 being collected of various year-classes.

    More bass sampling was done, with most fish collected being sub-legal.  Larger adult smallmouth on this lake are mostly pelagic, which is probably why relatively few legal fish were sampled (this is my opinion here, not a statement from the DEC report.)   Legal sized bass here were 23% of bass collected.

    The first perch sampling done in recent history was conducted in order to procure some baseline numbers.  DEC reported good numbers of 1 to 2lb perch here, which would constitute a “medium-high population.”  I think perch numbers here were much higher in the 1960s through 1990s.  Fishermen don’t seem to be taking too many perch here now, given how few boats are out and how often I do see the boats out perch-fishing moving around.  Either way, rest assured, if guys are doing well on perch here, they aren’t going to talk about it!

    Lamprey control efforts (sampling and treatments) are slated for this year.  Wounding has been decreasing on adult salmonids over the past few years.

    Many anglers I know are now keeping DEC diaries.  What I am seeing on Seneca and Keuka lakes, are very few anglers fishing at all.  The only real trout/salmon pressure I see on Seneca Lake is during the Memorial Weekend Derby.  Overall, I don’t get the impression that there are a lot of serious anglers out on Seneca and Keuka Lakes that aren’t keeping DEC books.  People are just fishing Canandaigua and Cayuga Lakes instead of Keuka and Seneca Lakes respectively.  Lake trout fishing is really getting good on Seneca Lake – we had great catch rates there, especially in June, July and early-August.  Even if you’re only fishing a few days a year on Keuka or Seneca, it’s a good idea to keep a DEC book.  Otherwise, with fewer inputs, the picture of what’s happening on the lakes becomes less clear.

  • A good reason to keep a DEC Diary for Region 7 on Cayuga Lake

    A lot of anglers, including myself, have been disappointed with the landlocked salmon fishing over the past few years on Cayuga Lake, especially after they did so well there after NY State changed back over to the Sebago strain of salmon around ten years ago.  It’s easy to complain about it, but survival of landlocked salmon throughout the decades has always been variable.  We’d see a good year or two and then some poor years.  The quality of stocked fish, water temperature, forage availability, number of predators – both fish and birds along with countless other factors all can help to make or break a year-class of fish.

    DEC has been experimenting with stocking salmon in the tributaries of Cayuga Lake and directly into the lake itself.  THEY ARE CLIPPING SALMON.  Fin-Clipped fish were direct stocked whereas the tributary-stocked fish were not clipped.  DEC can check fins at the fish ladder in the fall, but this would only offer a small sample size of salmon.

    If you keep a DEC Diary on Cayuga Lake, make sure you check your landlocked salmon for fin-clips.  Mark “no clips” if they are unclipped (do not leave the “fish icon” blank – that would indicate that you did not check it!)   If they’re clipped, you know what to do – circle the fin that was clipped in your fish drawing in the diary.

    If you care about salmon fishing on Cayuga Lake, you should seriously think about keeping a diary – at least while this assessment on stocking locations/strategies is being made.  You do not need to reveal your fishing location in the diary book.  You can just write in “east or west shore” or your launching area (e.g., “Taughannock”) so there’s nothing to worry about in that respect.

    Best way to get into the program is to call the Region 7 office and speak to a fisheries technician or biologist.  I have heard of quite a few people emailing the region and not receiving a response over the years.

  • Booking Trips in the Winter

    I’m happy to say that I am completely booked up this coming week from Wednesday through Saturday – that’s a first for me in February – and this is my 20th year guiding. We’ll see how long the mild weather lasts. I’ve had a decent number of inquiries regarding winter fishing and all I can say is that the best thing to do is look at the extended forecasts.  When a day appears to show fishable weather (meaning something that you’d like to fish in), let me know.  I will typically take a deposit and pencil you in for the date.  If the weather conditions wind up being worse than what we hoped for, or somewhat unfishable, I’ll either refund your deposit or we can sit tight and wait for another opportunity.

    If your availability is minimal, you can send me a deposit and send/text me a list of open dates (typically three or four) and I will put those down on my calendar while watching the upcoming weather.

    Unfortunately, unless I have no inquiries for a date, it is often tough for me to reach out to clients preemptively, although I do try at times.  Oftentimes when the good weather days show up in the forecast, they get snapped up fairly quickly.  So please keep an eye on the long-range (10 to 15 day) forecast and reserve the date.  You have nothing to lose!

     

  • Updates – Moving into February

    I have done some updates on the “lakes” and “species” parts of this website.  Nothing major, but I added some photos of some of the nice fish clients caught last year and some observations for the fishing outlook going into 2024.

    The Rochester Boat Show winds up today (Sunday January 28th.)  Foot traffic was noticeably slower than previous years, despite the nicer weather.  Fortunately, a better percentage of people that showed were there to buy boats or at least take a good look at what’s out there.  It’s always fun meeting new people at the show and I got to spend some time chatting with Jeff Harter, Brunswick’s dealer accounts manager.

    Manufacturing has returned back to normal after the pandemic.  If you order a new boat, it won’t be here in a week, but the longer pandemic-era waits are a thing of the past for now.  I was impressed with Crestliner’s new Hawk line of boats.  They are less expensive than the Fish Hawk series but include many of the great Fish Hawk features – like the spaciousness inside and the wide beam.  Check them out if you’re looking for a new fishing boat and are budget conscious.

    The Fish Hawk continues to improve with the newly designed AP-X hull.  When you are moving at a good clip and make a sharp turn, this hull really “grips” the water better than conventionally designed hulls.  It’s like a double-edged ice-skate.  See why I think the Crestliner Fish-Hawk is best boat and value in its class!   I could run any boat I want, but I’ve had great luck and performance with the Crestliner Fish Hawks going on over 20 years now.

    Mercury Motors also continue to improve as 4-Stroke engines are now becoming the norm, even for large boats that used to have automobile-manufactured inboard engines.

    Now’s a great time to order a new boat if you’re in the market for one.  There are some great incentives out there and Jeff is committed to giving customers the best deals/value that he can.  Contact Skyler (585) 237-5185 X- 103 or Sam over at Silver Lake Marine if you’re looking for a fishing machine this year!

    We shall see how the weather pans out in February and on through to March this season.  So far, it’s looking like we’ll have another fairly mild week before things freeze up again.  Lake levels should be rising quite a bit now.  I took a look at Irondequoit Creek and the Genesee River when I was in Rochester for the boat show and both of them were FLYING high!  There should be some good fishing in “the creek” this week and the river in a week or so.  Those steelheading days are gone for me, but it was nice checking out my old stomping grounds.

    My schedule is wide-open right now and we should see another great spring for deep-water lake trout jigging on Cayuga Lake.  Seneca Lake keeps getting better and better and it should be a good landlocked salmon spring again as well as another great lake trout year over there.  See my forecasts or more accurately, observations, by clicking on “the lakes” portion of this website.  Book now for the best choice of dates in 2024!

  • Heading into the 2024 season

    I just dropped my Angler-Cooperator Diaries off at the Region 7 Fisheries office and had a chance to catch up with some of the staff over there.

    Biologists are aware of concerns/complaints about Cayuga Lake’s salmon and brown trout fishing.  Around 60 to 70 salmon showed up at the fish ladder this past fall and were passed above it.  That’s better than what I thought the numbers would be.  4 or 5 years ago, when the salmon fishing was terrific, they had over 300 salmon at the ladder.  Some different stocking sites have been utilized over the past year or two and we’ll see if they yield better results.  The quality of the fish being stocked is supposedly very good.

    New York hatcheries will be stocking a new less-domesticated strain of brown trout this year throughout the state. It’s hoped that they will retain more “wild” characteristics in the hatcheries.  I know I cringe when I see the freshly stocked brown trout swarm around Long Point’s marina harbor for weeks getting picked off daily by various bird species and lake trout.

    Around 30 new diary cooperators signed up this past year to assist with gathering fishing information for Region 7 lakes.  That’s great!  DEC needs accurate data in order to best manage the fisheries.  The diaries play an important part in their general “picture” of what’s going on out there.  A lot of anglers think it’s important as a cooperator to catch fish, but it’s just as important when you are NOT catching fish.  Some cooperators become disgruntled when the fishing is slow and stop cooperating.  That’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face.  It makes no sense. There’s only so much that DEC can do, and management changes take time to make.  I contribute a lot of lake trout data to DEC on fin-clips, lengths, catch-rates and so on, but I don’t give them much of a picture on what’s going on with salmon or brown trout out there.  I can’t take clients out to “see how the salmon fishing is.”  If I don’t feel confident in it, we aren’t doing it or we’re going to a different lake.  Some anglers are Cayuga-bound, either through having a place on the lake, or just enjoying fishing over there.  If it takes 12 hours to catch a legal salmon, DEC needs to know that.  That’s the first step in getting some changes made.

    I know cooperator numbers have been low on Owasco Lake for a while.  Other lakes that really could use some participants include Seneca, Keuka and Canandaigua Lakes.  Tributary cooperators are also needed in Region 7.

    We have a couple more days with highs in the mid-30s and then we’re off to a good freeze which should help make the ice-fishermen happy.    The State Launch at Skaneateles Lake was locked up just before the last snowstorm. Cayuga, Seneca and Keuka Lakes remain fishable/launchable.  I’ll be at the Rochester Boat Show with Silver Lake Marine on January 26th and 27th.  Time sure flies…

  • Happy New Year! It’s been 20 Years of Fingerlakes Angling Zone – where does the time go?

    I hope everybody checking out this website has a great New Year!

    I thought it might be fun and entertaining to give a little bit of background on my guiding business, since 20 years is a pretty big milestone in any endeavor.

    I was floundering a bit in the mid-1990s in Rochester NY – I wasn’t as thrilled with where I had grown up – in Penfield, as I had been when I was younger.  The development had gone hog-wild over there and the small farm town turned suburb was quickly morphing into Henrietta – which always reminded me a bit of suburban New Jersey (I had a friend that lived out there for a couple years) – i.e., endless shopping centers and congestion. (Our family had lived in Henrietta for a few years before moving to Penfield.)  A short trip to Wegmans used to take maybe 7 minutes by auto, now I’d be stuck in traffic for 25 minutes just trying to go a few miles away.  In terms of work, I had done temp work at places like Xerox, Mobile Chemical, JD Brush (one of the worst temp gigs I ever had…) and elsewhere for temporary agencies like Manpower, Tad and Kelly Services.  Those were all dead-end gigs and as temps, no matter what our background or brainpower, we were always the low end of the totem pole at work.  I worked at a medical billing office for a long time (since High School) off and on and that was a decent job but didn’t offer any advancement potential.  Medical Billing also looked like a huge headache, and my old boss eventually sold the business.  He was always complaining about it.  I wasn’t passionate about any of the jobs – but after all, it’s called “work,” so you do what you must do to earn money.  I sort-of liked carpentry and woodwork but again, I wasn’t super-hyped about it and never really got a break in it (I never met anyone that wanted to mentor me.)  Fishing was my favorite thing to do and my old-time favorite places to fish, like Irondequoit Creek and Genesee River (both mainly for steelhead) had slowed down notably since the 1980s and early-1990s. I was ready for a complete change of scenery.

    I decided to move back home and save money for a year, and then move down to Trumansburg near Ithaca.  I had good memories of the area not just from boy scouts, but also from going smelt-dipping down at Taughannock in the mid-1980s and checking out music at the Rongovian Embassy with friends of mine.  My friend’s father moved to Lodi back in the 1970s and maintained a campground just south of the point (Eagle-Ridge Campgrounds – funny, back then there weren’t really any eagles around!)  Trout fishing and smelting there in the early 1980s left a big mark on me.  Long story short, I worked a bunch of odd jobs – primarily at restaurants, but also some temp-gigs at Cornell and elsewhere before the manager of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Fly-Shop, Tom, had seen some photos of nice lake trout we were catching fly-fishing from shore on Seneca Lake and asked me if I’d ever considered guiding.  That “ear-bug” was the genesis of my guide service.  Funny, I’d never considered guiding before.  What did I have to lose?  I went ahead and got my guide’s license and captain’s license.  At that same time, with total “synchronicity” my favorite Uncle (actually my great-uncle) had passed away and remarkably left me just enough money to purchase a boat package.  I would have bought something anyways, but it might have taken longer and I likely wouldn’t have been able to afford the 18’er I wound up getting.  This was in the fall of 2001.

    Once I bought the 18′ Crestliner with 80 hp Yamaha, I was free to explore.   I had fished like a madman since about 1978 or ’79, slowing down occasionally here and there, and now was at it again, only this time in a boat.  I did quite a bit of boat angling and had experienced fishing most of the water bodies around central New York since the mid-1980s.  I had various fishing buddies and that helped a lot – having fishing mentors is invaluable to shortening the learning curve, although you still have to put the time in.

    I was working in restaurants during the late-1990s and early-2000s.  This schedule was great for finding time to fish.  I started teaching a few Physical Education classes at Cornell starting around 2003 and my boss Phil, was a good angler and also a good influence towards pushing me to guide.  We started fishing some bass tournaments as a team for a couple of years, which really helped my bass fishing.  I spent about a year at Bass Pro Shops in Auburn as well.  Phil was a paramedic as well as Cornell’s Director of Safety.  He suggested a web designer that Bangs Ambulance had used.  This person was too busy, but recommended a friend to me, who wound up designing my website, which went live late in 2004.

    First edition of the Website - I'm finally up and running!

    Once I got into editing my home-page, I started adding a lot more content.  My web-designer Jason, did the little fish drawing on my early logo.  The logo was supposed to be tilted a bit counter-clockwise, but I didn’t like the optics of it, so you can see that the water-line isn’t horizontal.  Nobody cared!

    A little later on...

    I left my cheap little apartment in Trumansburg in 2012 and moved to Lansing.  Around this time I also hired a professional logo-designer to make my logo better and usable for various merchandise.

    More detailed basic Fishing Reports on the home-page

    Until maybe 10 years ago, I felt a need to continually check on pretty much all the lakes I guided regularly on a continual basis, so if I hadn’t been on Owasco or Keuka Lake in a while, it was time to head over there to update my reports.  That amount of driving and fishing wasn’t sustainable; it became draining physically and mentally and it took a toll on my equipment – i.e., my truck, boat, trailer and trolling motor.  And after a while, I felt like I had a pretty good feel of what to expect.  Conditions and fishing success became a bit more predictable.  Keeping detailed records helped a lot with this.  After a decade of full-time guiding, I also wound up with contacts – many of whom were very good anglers, on many of the lakes, so a quick text, phone call or email could provide me with the info I needed – which was generally water temperature, clarity and anything else of significance.

    Clients also tended to favor certain types of fishing.  I thought when I started, that fly-fishing for landlocked Atlantic salmon would be my main draw.  Boy was I wrong!  Even when the fishing was top-notch, relatively few people were interested in taking a winter or cold-weather trip, and even fewer had experience fly-fishing out on the lakes.  I had no issues using spinning gear for them, but even on great years, the casting for them was never super-consistent.  Conditions had to be just right, and they rarely were for long.

    With bass, most guys I’d guide from other parts of NY, PA and NJ would say – “I can catch all the bass I want back home.  What we can’t catch are lake trout.”  So, the bass guiding pretty much dwindled down rather quickly.  I had bass trips on Keuka and Cayuga Lakes where we’d get into some nice bass after jigging lake trout and the clients were asking, “hey, can we go back for lake trout?”  People like catching good numbers of BIG fish and there’s less effort involved angling-wise targeting lake trout.  You don’t have to make precision casts and learn to work numerous different lures.  There’s no getting around all those factors.  I was never a big fan of guiding bass on lakes like Cayuga anyways for a number of reasons – too many tournaments and practicing anglers, casting docks is tough for casual anglers, conditions change often, and it can be tough to stay focused and on bass consistently – to name a few reasons.  With pike, even with the spectacular pike fishing on Seneca Lake from 2006 – 2008, more people wanted lake trout overall, although I did quite a few pike trips back then.

    My guiding “tree” has been pruned back quite a bit since I started.  Back when I started, the typical Finger Lakes guide/charter was a troller – for trout and salmon.  There were a few old-time guides that guided multi-species, but almost always on their respective home lakes.  Not many people were lake-hopping like I was for different species of fish, although I think multi-species/multi-lake fishing was getting on people’s radar.  A couple other guides started right around the time I did doing casting trips.  Nowadays, there are more guides and some specialists out there, so people can hire guides that are fanatics of certain species and are well dialed in.  When I started, I saw the need to be a bit of a “jack-of-all-trades” to provide services that nobody else was providing.

    I’m averaging more trips now per year than before, but most tend towards lake-trout jigging and most are on Cayuga Lake, with Owasco Lake next, followed by Seneca Lake.  I rarely do gar trips anymore.  Pike trips have also been relegated to 5% of my guiding now.  I have a few dedicated fly-fishing clients, but that’s still maybe 5% to 15% of my annual trips depending on the year.

    I will be updating the species and lake profiles shortly.  I may also write an article on how the fishing has changed since I started guiding.  My rates are staying the same in 2024, barring any crazy inflation.  For now, it’s full steam ahead and I’m hoping for another great year!

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