Cayuga Lake Algae Bloom is underway!


It looks like the Grinch has arrived a week to ten-days early this year!  I’ve heard from a couple sources that a mid-lake algae bloom has just started.  There is a sign at Long Point State Park warning about it.  Friends were on the lake today and also noticed it.  The south end remains clear.  My friend/client Ryan reported 4′ of visibility up around Dean’s Cove, which is good.

There’s plenty of information about HABs online.  I’m no expert on it and there’s no reason for me to talk about it apart from the fishing, the main question being:

How does it affect the fishing?   

My answer is this – It makes fishing much more unpredictable.  That’s it. I could leave it at that.

Lake trout don’t know what an algae bloom is.  The algae bloom is concentrated on the surface of the lake.  The lake trout don’t come in contact with it – as far as I know.  (By the way, I wouldn’t hesitate to eat a lake trout caught during a bloom.  They are in the cold water below – not swimming in the algae.)

The algae really affects the light penetration.  My feeling is this – if the bite would have been slow or tentative without any algae around, with the algae, it may be downright brutal.  What might be a 2 to 3 fish morning for a good jig fishermen can turn into a zero fish day.

As a guide, I have a responsibility to my clients to try to get them into some good fishing – the best fishing I can find for them.  I prefer to move trips to other lakes if I can.  That being said, a slow day on Cayuga Lake can be better than a good day elsewhere, but I have to do what makes the most sense.

I often get texts from clients while the bloom is going.  They’ll usually go like this:  “Hey, just wanted to give you a report.  We’re on Cayuga up at so and so area and have landed 9 lakers so far.  The algae hasn’t hurt us at all.”  That’s great, but from one day to the next can be a complete 180, and nobody wants to get skunked or have a brutal day out there if they could help it.  Guided a full-day during a tough bite with a bloom is tedious.

The severity of the bloom will often dictate the effect on the fishing.  A friend of mine jigs for rainbows using his live-scope sonar.  He does just fine during the bloom.  If you troll, you may not miss a beat either.  For jigging, sometimes the morning will be a complete bust, but we’ll get a bite-window once the sun gets high overhead.  The algae is just another variable that goes into the sometimes-complex formula of fishing success.

If you have a rental or cottage on the lake, I would probably just go out and fish and see how things go.  Play with different colors of jigs.  The black jig has been killer for us at times during the bloom.  For me, I much prefer to move trips to another lake where I do not have to deal with the added variable of the algae!  Different strokes for different folks.

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