This afternoon I had a chance to read over my NYS DEC angler diary summaries of Seneca, Keuka and Canandaigua Lakes. As most of you know, I have guided Seneca Lake fairly regularly in the past. As late as in 2012 I did 29% of my trips there, as opposed to 31% at Cayuga – and I spent a lot of time there in the 2000s. Keuka was a lake I guided back when I lived in Trumansburg, which is closer to it than I am now. I averaged around 15 to 25 trips there a year back in the 2000s into around 2012, just before I moved to Lansing. I primarily guided there for lake trout but would do occasional smallmouth bass trips there when the conditions were good for them. I have done occasional lake trout jigging trips on Canandaigua Lake for regular clients that live out that way, but it is not a lake I have fished a whole lot, however growing up in Rochester, all these lakes were more in my orbit than the ones I guide and fish now.
The reason I write this is that I do get a lot of questions about these other lakes. I do have profiles of them elsewhere on this website.
Canandaigua Lake is probably just behind Cayuga Lake in lake trout abundance and great fishing. For people targeting lake trout on Canandaigua Lake, it took an average of .9 hours to catch a legal laker. That might even be better than Cayuga Lake. Fish averaged 21 inches long. Top fish caught and weighed by diary cooperators was a 17.69lb monster! Canandaigua might have a few bigger individual lake trout in it than Cayuga Lake, but overall I think Cayuga Lake is better on average for 4 to 9lb fish. Without the presence of lampreys, lakers have a better chance of reaching trophy potential, even though Canandaigua doesn’t have the forage base that Seneca or Cayuga Lakes have. The percentage of wild fish over there is around 14%. All the rainbows there are wild fish, mainly spawned in Naples Creek and its tributaries. Rainbow trout fishing was also excellent on Canandaigua.
Keuka Lake also has a terrific catch rate – 1.3 hours to catch a legal lake trout in 2020. Other salmonids are rare there and strictly bonus fish. All lake trout there are wild and especially tasty.
Seneca Lake was slow again for trout in general. It took an average of 5 hours to catch a legal salmonid over there. Kept lakers averaged 22.5 inches. 44% of the lake trout caught were wild fish. Salmon numbers ticked up a little bit over there in 2020. They will tick up a lot this year. No diary cooperators caught any rainbows or brown trout on Seneca Lake last year.
Cooperator numbers were down on all three of these lakes last year. Covid could probably be blamed for a bit of the decline in trips and anglers, especially when boat launches were temporarily closed. Keuka Lake will be losing one of its main cooperators in 2021 with Keuka BigFoot Charters retiring. I don’t believe a single Seneca Lake Charter Captain keeps a book anymore, which to me is bewildering. So every year DEC has less data to work with. At least they are seeing a large enough lake trout sample size on Seneca to be able to ascertain the percentage of wild fish. Hopefully some of you will sign up this year. We should see the Region 7(Cayuga/Owasco/Otisco/Skaneateles) summaries within the next week or two.