Cayuga Lake out of Myers 7/31 – 8/1


Cayuga Lake 7/31: “What a difference a lake makes” – that was the story when Greg (from Saturday on Seneca) and Dave joined me on Cayuga Lake for a 1/2 day trip. After 10 fruitless hours on Seneca on Saturday, the guys wound up landing 28 lake trout in around 3 hours today! That’s a big difference. Dave fished Cayuga on his own on Saturday (when we were struggling on Seneca) and said the laker bite was “stupid.” When baitfish numbers get low, catch rates go up. Fish are hungrier and more willing to chase and hit lures. Oneida Lake with its gizzard shad is a great example as is Keuka Lake over the past decade (and more) as well as Owasco in the early to mid 2000s. It’s amazing how there are a few top-notch charter captains on Lake Ontario that haven’t figured this out. Catch rates on Lake Ontario for Kings have been super high this year. So there can’t be too much bait, can there?

Now one could argue “what’s the deal then with Cayuga?” There’s a ton of bait plus plenty of fish and a great bite, but I would say it’s more like Lake Ontario fished in the 1980s. It’s supporting a lot of predators as well as bait. Things are good for now on Cayuga. But unlike Lake Ontario, there’s bait EVERYWHERE on Cayuga. Lake Ontario has a lot of bait mainly on its western portion – west of Rochester. Go to Sodus, Oswego, Mexico and Stony Point/Henderson (as I have over the past 6 weeks) and you will not see much bait. There’s some, but not nearly what guys are seeing west of Rochester. Thus the high catch rates out west – cause that’s where the majority of the fish are! It’s very reminiscient of Keuka Lake just before the alewives disappeared. But I guarantee that the catch rates east of Rochester on Lake Ontario are much lower than they are out west.

But the bait numbers on Seneca are another story. Factor in a reduction in laker stocking (to help give the silver fish a boost) and then bad lampreys – which affect the silver fish (e.g. rainbows, browns and salmon) much more severely than lakers and you have a tough bite. Guys that target salmon, browns and/or rainbows get ticked sometimes when there are too many lakers but people need to be careful for what they wish for. Reduce the laker population too much and add in a serious lamprey infestation and guess what? You get nothing. Very slow fishing.

Back to the reports: My PM trip was with Mark and his sons Jared and Jesse (I probably got the wrong spelling on Jared but anyways…) The bite was much slower to start though the guys landed a couple fish in fairly short order. We had to work some different areas. A couple more nice lakers showed up late and then Jared (if I am not mistaken) had a great fish hit up top. Another rainbow! I’ve never experience more bonus rainbows while jigging on Cayuga Lake than this year. Actually on any FL for that matter. Unfortunately for this nice rainbow, she got completely wrapped in the braid and likely wound up on the grill. They are top notch eating so it was Mark and his boys’ gain, but we like to release rainbows when we can.

8/1: Guided Tim and his sons Andrew and Steve in the AM. They fish Lake George a bit as well as Cayuga. The jigging bite started with a bang – Andrew and Tim landed fish on their 1st and 2nd drops respectively. Then it got darker outside with some rain and fog and the fish quit. We worked a few different areas and eventually got another decent bite going with some nice fish landed and a couple good ones dropped, including what was probably another rainbow or salmon.

It was a good trip and learning experience I’m sure. People tend not to get as much out of trips where the fishing is super-hot. It’s better to have to work a bit at finding them and that way it’s more of a reality check. You see what’s involved in finding fish and how the bite varies throughout the day. Otherwise people tend to second guess themselves when out on their own and they aren’t hammering fish right away.

PM: My PM trip was with Ryan, who’s joined me a couple times before and his 10 year old daughter Brooke. With the stable sunny weather the bite improved markedly and they had some very good to excellent fishing. Around 11 or 12 nice lakers were landed on the day. Brooke landed her first one – a wild 16″er and then a 26″er all on her own, which was awesome. You see a lot of kids landing lunker fish in some of the derbies but I often wonder how many of these trolled fish are really landed by kids. Is the kid pulling the rod out of the holder and setting the hook or are two adults stabilizing the rod while the kid uses both hands to crank? I’m suspicious when I see giant fish caught by 7 or 8 year olds, when it’s a ton of work for a ten year old just to land a 5lb laker. And then there are the Lake Ontario Charter shots with the 10 year old holding a giant King. Yeah, right. There are adults that can’t handle landing a King! I’m not trying to be a Scrooge here because it gives kids a big thrill, but when a derby has a kid’s division and money is involved, keep it honest because the kids that really did the work are getting hosed.