Cayuga Lake out of Dean’s Cove 11/27 + 28
11/27: I plan on doing a lot more perch fishing this winter than previous years (since I’ve been eating a lot more fish this season), so I bought a bunch of minnows a couple days ago and did a shakedown trip on Cayuga Lake for a few hours on Thanksgiving Day. I tried a few different areas without a hit, then in my last spot I picked up one perch. The water level is low on Cayuga, but it’s still launchable. Water temps vary from 44/45 midlake to 36 up north near Cayuga State Park. The lone perch came from 17′ of water. I had no luck shallower.
11/28: I was going to hit Seneca today, but as I drove past the stack at AES I could see what appeared to be strong westerlies, so I went back over to Dean’s. I wasn’t in the right mood to want to deal with strong west winds on Seneca! It makes drifting tedious. Anyways, I started right where I left off on the 27th and had some generally good perch fishing with some superb moments thrown in. Using fathead minnows on double hook rigs I found good numbers of fish averaging around 9″ on the lake’s west shore. I had a pretty steady pick all day, with some action from good schools (quite a few doubles.) Wound up with around 25 or 26 decent fish. Best fishing was in around 20′ of water, though I’m certain I caught some as shallow as 17′ and some around 25′ to 27′.
Cayuga Lake isn’t a bad perch fishery. It’s just next to impossible to open water fish most of it in the winter with the freeze up on the north end and draw down making launching prohibitive at Dean’s. The fish run smaller than Seneca, Skaneateles, Keuka or Canandaigua – they are more like Owasco sized fish, but there’s a lot more protection from nasty winds than on Seneca Lake. I realize that wind triggers good fishing, but 3′ to 4′ waves on Seneca in the dead of winter doesn’t strike me as being worth it for perch. There are no crowds to deal with and plenty of fish.
Cayuga’s biggest perch are amongst the biggest in the Finger Lakes. My friend’s father in- law caught an 18 1/2″ perch on Cayuga a few years back (the photo is on the bulletin board at Bass Pro Shops just past the fish tank on the right hand side below the stairs!) The Cayuga perch could use some harvesting – 95%+ of the fish are between 7″ and 9″. In May/June the bay just north of Sheldrake loads up with perch and it isn’t hard to catch 100 fish in a day. We caught around 30 to 40 in an hour or two this past May/June on plastics! Fish were everywhere from 4′ of water out to 23′ or more!