Cayuga Lake 5/28 – 30


Fishing for lake trout in Cayuga Lake is following its normal “post-deep bite/pre-thermocline” pattern.  You can call it the spring transition.  As I mentioned last week, the crazy spring deep bite is done with.  Fish are still feeding but not nearly as recklessly or as much throughout the day.  Fish have preferred temperatures throughout the water column and are both deep and shallow.  Fish are reacting more to daily/hourly conditions and are likely feeding more at night.  Fishing was good for us on 5/28, tough on 5/29 and very good to excellent today (5/30.)

5/28:  Guided Paul and his adult sons Adam and David for a half day starting at 8 am.   We went with a later time so we could avoid the predicted showers.  We got pretty much soaked throughout the morning. Like an idiot, I didn’t wear my good raingear, thinking the weather predictions would hold true.  I wear old Bass Pro 100 mph raingear for wind protection.  It’s also good for keeping my clothes clean while filleting fish.  It was great stuff while it lasted, but now it’s pretty much good for blocking the wind – that’s it. I have some Simms raingear which is fantastic.  I can wear that during a steady all-day downpour and stay bone dry.  It’s expensive stuff, but well worth it if you spend a lot of time in the rain.

We had a very good bite first thing in the morning.  The guys hooked a lot of fish shallow.  Only a few made it to the net though, which happens.  Things slowed down for us mid-morning and then the guys had another burst of action.  A half-dozen fish were landed on the morning and another 8 to 10 were dropped.  Overall it was still a fun and productive day with all fish released.

5/28 AM:  Guided Paul and his wife Marie from Staten Island.  Paul enjoys a lot of saltwater inland fishing.  His wife was basically along to enjoy the water – she wasn’t too concerned with catching fish.  Fishing started out good for us just after 7:30 am with Paul landing a solid lake trout.  He was impressed with the way they pull!  Lakers do fight really well this time of the year when they are shallow.

Paul with a solid fish

Fishing quickly got tough after that first fish.  We moved around and scouted some mid-lake areas without much luck.  We headed back north and got into a small bite window just before the end of our trip.  Paul landed another good fish and dropped one just before I could net it.  Marie had some hits but didn’t land/hook any.

5/28 PM:  My afternoon trip was with Ed and Brian.  Ed is the source of the infamous stepladder story and was out with me last month.  I took them right to where our AM bite left off and the guys nearly had a double hooked on their first drop of the jigs.  Ed lost his but Brian landed a nice fish.  Our bite window closed right down shortly thereafter.  A couple more bites were had and then Brian hooked a nice rainbow or salmon.  He thought he lost it after it jumped and swam towards the boat.  However the fish was still hooked – but not for long.  It got off!

With the lack of wind all day long and the heat, it made sense for me to move my clients around a lot, and that’s what we did.  We finished off on the west shore with Brian hooking two more fish in a row and landing one that we kept for his dinner.

This past Saturday and last Saturday were the slowest lake trout days I’ve had thus far this season on Cayuga Lake.  We (my clients) still landed some fish.  Just about anywhere else in the country, a couple lake trout in a morning or afternoon is a fine day.  It is very important to keep perspective.  I decided to stop posting numbers of fish in the double-digit range earlier this season.  If we catch single digit numbers or get skunked, I will write about it.

If you want an idea regarding fish numbers, you can email me or check last year’s reports, when I did post numbers.  Every fish we catch still gets logged into a DEC Diary – length, fin-clips and numbers.  We have had some stellar, superb days this spring on lake trout.  But I do not want people to have unrealistic expectations.  It wasn’t uncommon 10 to 15 years ago to land 30 or more lake trout a day on Keuka Lake, whether jigging in the spring or fall or ice-fishing (my friends tell me.)  But I would literally meet people (not my clients but other on-the-water anglers) that were disappointed only catching 15 fish when “….last time we caught 34” or something along those lines.  For a half day fishing on Cayuga Lake, a half dozen fish is a nice catch.  Get a dozen on a full day trip and you’ve done very well.  Anything more than that is superb.

The only consistent world class fishing in the Finger Lakes in my opinion is the lake trout fishery.  One could make an argument for the yellow perch, rainbow trout, brown trout and landlocked salmon.   But those fisheries vary. You could certainly make an argument for Seneca lake and world-class pike fishing during some years.  You could also argue that tiger musky fishing in Otisco Lake is world class.  I would agree with that.  But for a native species across most of the Finger Lakes, I’d have to say “Lake Trout.”

5/30:  I had a last-minute text from Tracy wanting to know if I still had Memorial Day open.  Yes I did!  I took out her son Mike and his friend Noah.  These guys hammered fish last year, landing numerous lake trout, a salmon and at least one rainbow.  They are passionate young anglers and very talented.  One of my favorite sayings to clients to encourage them after we had a slow day the day before, is that “fish eat, $hit, and spawn – that’s all they do.   Spawning takes place in the fall (for lake trout) and Sh!tting doesn’ t take them long, so they mostly eat!”

And that’s what they did today.  After yesterday’s tough day, the bite today was very good this morning with a couple doubles (or near doubles – i.e. I net one fish and another is hooked simultaneously.)   The guys did great with a double-digit day of solid lakers up to 30″.

Noah and Mike's double

Mike with a solid

Seneca Lake News:  There was an event on the “other” lake trout lake this weekend, as most of you know.  My friend “the Baconater” (hopefully Wendy’s didn’t trademark that) filled me in on the info.  One of his fishing partners had the lead for a bit on Saturday going into Sunday.  I checked the live leaderboard pretty regularly.  On Sunday afternoon my friend Mike took the lead by a few hundredths of a pound!   Then someone knocked him out by a hair.  After that somebody finally nabbed a 10lber and that settled the Grand Prize.

Bacon’s crew landed 7 fish on Saturday.  They did better than we did on Cayuga Lake.  I have not linked two sentences like that together in over 7 years, maybe longer!  Yes, somebody did BETTER on SENECA LAKE that we did on CAYUGA!   Are we finally seeing the sleeping giant Seneca Lake come back?   Maybe.  They nabbed four fish today (they didn’t fish Sunday.)  Mike took 4 all weekend, so maybe the Baconator team just got lucky.  They are top-notch jiggers, so it wouldn’t be luck on their part, but just lucky from the perspective of now-stingy Seneca Lake.

Fish apparently are looking good over there.  As was to be expected, the browns were running small.  They just can’t survive into their 3rd year in the lake with the current (or at least last year’s) lamprey problems.  Salmon and rainbow tend to survive better and that showed in the results.  No massive salmon this year made the leader board, but a 7lber did and that’s a world class landlocked Atlantic salmon.

With lampreys gradually getting under control it is very likely that next year it will take an 11 to 12lb lake trout to win the derby.  We’ll see.