Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 4/2 PM
Got out on my own for around 4 hours to check on the laker activity off of Long Point (basically the central to northern basin of the lake.) I was scheduled to guide a full day fly fishing salmon but my client had a death in his extended family so I wound up having the nicest day of the week free. After I was notified of the cancellation I contacted my buddy Terry and my original plan was to either fish Seneca out of Sampson for lake trout and maybe some perch or possibly head over to Skaneateles and toss some perch rigs and hair jigs around. Terry got back to me late last night (after work) and told me he wasn't feeling up to going.
Lake levels have come up maybe 2' from the winter lows and launching wasn't a problem. I started searching some areas with my electronics and dropping a few jigs. Once I got out into some deep water I found a concentration of lake trout and dropped my jig while I was putting in a waypoint. I always detail the waypoint with what I found – so I was tediously typing in one letter at a time when my jig hit bottom. I had a hit right when I hit bottom so a couple seconds later I pulled up my rod and felt some weight. I kept the rod bent while I finished off typing in the waypoint. I had a cigar going too.
Once I got up on the bow the fish felt pretty heavy. It was sunny and gorgeous outside so I figured I'd razz Terry a little bit for not being up for a trip. So I took a quick photo with my cellphone and sent him the shot. The fish wasn't moving. All I was thinking was "Man, anybody that doesn't think lake trout fight is crazy!" Another thought that crossed my mind was "Man, I wish this was the Memorial Weekend Derby and I was on Seneca Lake – I'd have the Grand Prize!" I figured I had a 14lb to 20lb goby-fed laker. I mean heck – we've had gobies in the lake for years now and these laker have got to be getting big – at least some of them! Another five minutes goes by and I still have made zero headway on the fish. My medium/heavy baitcaster is doubled over! So I call Terry and tell him what's up. He says "Dude – you got a sturgeon on!" He had caught one before off of Lake Erie in Canada but I was very doubtful that that was what I had. From what I've always read, they like shallower water – like 15' to 50' or so. Plus somebody, if not us – would have certainly caught one by now if they grabbed gaudy paddletail jigs – especially bright chartreuse jigs fished vertically for lakers. I could see one taking a brown bucktail or something like that crawled along the bottom. Sturgeon mostly scavenge and eat stuff like crawfish and gobies. It just didn't add up to me – except for the fact that it was heavy and I had no control over it.
The fish started moving up while I was still on the phone. Next thing I know, my line is heading out horizontally from the boat. I couldn't wait to see the big laker! Then a monstrous shark-shaped fish that was white hit the surface – head first, then dorsal then tail fin. HOLY SHIT!!! It WAS a sturgeon! Terry said – "take a picture" and then I hung up.
It ran all the way back to the bottom – basically right back down to 150'!!! So my work was cut out for me. I didn't want to overplay the fish so I really torqued on the rod as hard as I could without breaking anything. I got my camera out while doing this and found the battery dead, then the spare was dead too. Bummer. After another 10 minutes I finally made headway and the fish came up as if in an elevator! I got the beautiful primitive fish up to the boat.
I was probably around 4+1/2 to 5 feet long. I'm guessing 40 to 50lb range but I don't know – maybe it was bigger maybe not. Hard to tell because I didn't have a way to measure it. I just didn't want to harm it. It had a lamprey on its dorsal area. I kept the fish in the water – it just kind of hung there motionless. I unhooked it my reaching down and popping the jig out – yes, it inhaled a 1+1/2 oz white jighead with a chartreuse Lunker City Shaker on it. I did manage a couple shots of it with my cheap flip phone. Needless to say, my arm was toast. Some people have told me that sturgeon they caught didn't fight that well. Bringing this one up from 150' of water was very difficult. Not a spectacular battle, but certainly a very strong fish and watching it surface will be ingrained in my brain til I die.
I did manage a couple nice lake trout too afterwards but they were obviously anticlimactic! Photos will be up shortly!