Cayuga Lake 5/26 + 27


It’s been the first year in a long time that I’ve sat on the sidelines for the Seneca Lake Memorial Weekend Derby. I fished it hard over the past 6 or 7 years (at the very least.) My buddy Mike and other friends are fishing it this year and action has been the slowest I’ve ever heard it being. Trailering up to Geneva three days in a row was something I wasn’t up for this season and I didn’t feel like camping or getting a motel/hotel. Add in the very slow fishing and I’m happy to watch from the sidelines. I don’t mind a tough bite (it comes with guiding at times) but was not up for it this year.

Cayuga Lake remains the best (and it’s not even remotely close) fishing option for lake trout and landlocked salmon this year in the eastern/mid Finger Lakes. Canandaigua has been hot from what I’ve heard over the past few years. I don’t expect Seneca Lake to bounce back for lake trout for another 3 to 4 years. DEC will conduct coldwater gillnetting this summer on Seneca Lake. If they find lake trout numbers low (which I would have to bet on,) stocking numbers will likely be boosted. Natural production on the lake appears to have slowed down markedly over the past 8 to 10 years. There are wild fish around (most fish caught appear to be wild) but they aren’t available in numbers high enough to provide a quality fishery. So if stocking numbers are increased, it’s still going to take those yearlings a few years – like 4 or 5 to recruit into quality fish. So Seneca anglers may have a long wait ahead of them.

Here’s the breakdown on Cayuga the last two days:

5/26: Met Jack and Ben over at Dean’s Cove. I motored across to pick them up via boat. Jack was a longtime Lake Ontario Charter Captain. He was there in the late 1960s right up through the heyday of the 1980s. It’s always great talking to someone with that kind of perspective and experience. He fishes Keuka a bit and wanted to learn the jigging. Ben has had a place at Rocky Dock for nearly 30 years.

We really couldn’t have asked for a better day. The guys landed 6 or 7 quality lake trout in the 25″ to 27″ range. Ben nabbed a 26″ salmon well offshore over 120’+ of water. That was a first for me. In all the years of deep water jigging I’ve been around I have never seen a salmon come out that far offshore in Cayuga Lake. I know it happens all the time in Lake Ontario – we’ve caught big browns in the middle of nowhere out there, but FWIW I’d never seen it before on Cayuga or even Seneca this time of year. The guys also got some lakers shallow near Dean’s Cove. Very good day!

5/27: Guided my friend Mark for 1/2 day out of Long Point. The shallows were loaded with fish. We found that out later in the trip but we started deep (a fair number of boats were in shallow, so we went out.) Mark nabbed a 21″ salmon over deep water! So these Sebagos are really spreading out. Not a fluke by any means. Mark also caught some solid lakers deep. We finished the day shallow with both of us fishing and catching some nice lakers along the drop off. Plenty of bait was moving in everywhere and there were plenty of nice fish on the screen! It reminded me of how Seneca used to fish.