Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/17 + 18
Cayuga Lake continues to offer powerhouse fishing for a variety of species. The lake trout bite here on the 17th was superb; it was slower on the 18th. There's a ton of bait around and the fish are super clean with very few, if any signs of lampreys.
6/17: Guided Nick and his son Dave for a full day. We had some tremendous fishing – the guys timed things perfectly and despite it being their first time ever lake trout jigging they landed around 25 solid lake trout. The fish hit well first thing in the AM (we actually started just after 6 am) and then it picked up speed around 7. We had a little lull from 10 to around 12 and then things heated up again. High point of the day was a nice 30" rainbow trout that Nick caught and we released unharmed. He also caught a 14" rainbow. It's great seeing some bows around! Fish came from around 50' to 90' FOW. The usual plastics did the trick.
6/18: Guided Ken and his son Gus for a tight (4 hour) half day. The guys don't fish a whole lot but were hoping for some action. They landed 6 lakers on the day. We started at 6:30. The bite (while we were fishing) was noticeably slower than on the 17th but my guess is that it would have picked up later. Either way, it was a fun and productive day. We had one dink – most fish are running 24" to 25". We also had a 28"er.
I've seen more fishing pressure on Cayuga Lake over the past couple weekends than I have in a long time. I think a fair number of anglers are foregoing Lake Ontario trips and deciding to stay local. Some of my recent clients have been primarily Lake Ontario fishermen in the past and are checking out the great fishing over here.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s there was a big exodus of anglers to Lake Ontario from the Finger Lakes. The top Lake Ontario guides were ofter former Fingerlakes Guides. They had a big jump on the know-how and making the transition to the big water fisheries. Now we will likely see a reversal of this trend.
NYDEC will be cutting back on King Salmon stocking on Lake Ontario next year in order to help prolong the King fishery. Spring trawls on Lake Ontario show two very poor years in a row of alewife production. The huge alewife class from 2013 (yearlings spawned in 2012) are greatly diminished in numbers. There are far too many predator fish in Lake Ontario now. Anglers that think there are too many alewives in LO are delusional. They probably still think the world is flat, since that's what they can see with their eyes. What do scientists know?
In Keuka Lake a couple of years ago, it appeared as though baitfish were on the rebound. We saw more bait there in 2013 and 2014 than we'd seen in a long time. Lake trout caught through the ice after the super cold winter of 2014/15 were FULL of bait. The fish were in good condition. All seemed well. They were spitting up alewives and a casual observer would have thought that everything was status quo.
But lo and behold, within a few months there wasn't a single alewife to be found and we haven't seen ANY in the year and a half since! Lake Huron's crash was the exact same – record numbers of alewives and then nothing. It doesn't take long – just a few months and it was like night and day. DEC knows what they are doing. Sure, they aren't perfect, but they know that the foundation of the Lake Ontario fishery right now is basically a castle made of sand.
Anglers in the Rochester area and further west think there's plenty of bait. That is a small portion of the lake. I talked to a bunch of guys coming off of Oswego and some Sodus area trollers and they are seeing nothing out there. Kings are roaming the whole lake earlier in the season than ever before – why? Because they aren't finding enough to eat!
You will see a major reduction in alewives next year. That is not debatable. And within a few years it will result in a huge spike in natural production of Lake trout. There's nothing that can be done to change this. Lake trout are an apex predator. They will dominate Lake Ontario with a vengeance, just like they do in the Finger Lakes. Millions of wild Chinooks leaving the Salmon River will be met by hoardes of hungry lake trout. The same will happen with a lot of freshly stocked browns and other salmonids. That's what's happened in Lake Huron and is now happening in Lake Michigan. It will happen here too. That's the way of the ecosystem. There will likely be great classes of walleyes and perch produced and we'll probably see Atlantic Salmon doing better.
Lake Ontario will still provide some great angling but the writing is on the wall for the trophy King fishery and DEC can only slow their demise. That's my take on it and in a few years maybe I'll be proven wrong. Time will tell!