Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 11/20 midday
Guided a half day trip on Cayuga Lake today with Dan and his girlfriend Madison. Dan and his younger brother Jon used to fish with me back in the late 2000s and early 2010s with their father Tony. Dan is into fisheries work and does some very cool research. Jon was out with me last year.
I had no idea what to expect today since it’d been a good 6 weeks since I’d been on the southern part of Cayuga Lake. Six weeks and probably a good 6 inches of rain! The lake is still at full summer pool and then some. The lake is clear and looks great. There’s a lot of debris along shore and there was a lot of waterlogged wood that I needed to clear out of the boat launch at Myers before I could launch. You never know when you could drive over a washed up dock section with some nails protruding. It was a mess in there.
Given the weather forecast for “calm conditions changing to south winds at 5 to 10 mph” I thought we might wind up laker jigging but instead we were greeted with 15 mph winds with gusts into the 20s. It was fairly nasty out. Dan started things out with a 15″ brown that hit a swimbait. They wanted some fish to eat but it was right on the mark so we let it go. I had Madison working a blade bait. I took a cast (it’s crazy how often this happens…) to demonstrate one approach to fishing it and nabbed a 16″ laker. We kept that for dinner. As the day went on, every time we decided to move, someone would get a hit. Dan caught a small rainbow around 11″ that was a wild fish. Nice to see, but not the size we were hoping for. Madison had a couple hits but didn’t convert.
We made a move and Dan wound up catching his best smallmouth to date – a fat 19 1/2″er that was probably around 5lbs. It was a goby-fed pig. After that he caught a 20″ laker on a tube jig. By that time Madison was pretty much totally frozen so we called it a day. As we were wrapping up, she spotted a loon in fall/winter plumage. She is an avid birder and that made the trip for her! So it was a great way to end. We kept the two lakers for dinner. Water temps ran from 49 to 51 degrees. We weren’t able to cover too much water given the wind, but it doesn’t look to me that there are any massive numbers of lakers shallow. Zebra/Quagga mussels have virtually disappeared from the nearshore area. Gobies eat those, so without the mussels the gobies are likely deep. Without abundant gobies around, the lakers don’t have much reason to move up. I think the nearshore laker fishing these days on Cayuga Lake is much better than it was “pre-goby” but it isn’t anything like it was 3 or 4 years ago when they were swarming the shallows. Stay tuned!