Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 1/31 PM


Guided John for a 1/2 day starting right at noon. The boat trailer parking area had around 7 or 8 rigs parked in it. It was a great day to be on the water with warm air temperatures, light winds and good fishing conditions. The water level on Cayuga Lake is very low. It’s another year of the Canal Authority (or whoever regulates Cayuga’s water level) seemingly seeing how low they can get the lake. I do realize they can drop it further, but I think it’s low enough. It is great for shore fishing – you can wade right up to the dropoffs!

John really loaded the boat with bananas today. He’d never heard of the guiding superstition that ranges all around this country. Anyways, I absorbed enough potassium today to ward off any cramps I might get while swimming this week. I brought gear for pike, lake trout and casting for salmon/trout. You never know what the conditions will dictate. We tried pike for a bit without action. Casting for trout produced a follow from (what appeared to be) a nice sized laker and a couple decent salmon. But they followed and wouldn’t hit. John kept insisting I fish, but I don’t like to fish on guide trips. Clients aren’t there to pay me to fish. It’s YOUR day when you are out with me, and I frown on guides that fish all day while purportedly trying to assist others in catching fish. But some folks are adamant. He insisted I try, so I took one cast and hooked a decent fish that wound up being a laker. It’s hilarious, because as a guide that kind of thing (like magic) happens more often than you might think. I’ve spent many a day casting all day and not catching anything or much but it’s always weird when that happens.

So at least John had dinner, but I really wanted to see him catch fish and I know he wanted them more than I did. We switched gears and went back to pike fishing. He had another fish – this time a nice northern around 32″ follow in a Rapala and not hit. I wasn’t about to pick up a rod. He kept at it and finally set the hook into a solid pike that measured 34″. Incidentally, for what it’s worth that happened just after I finished off the last banana.

I was impressed to see some better quality salmonids around than just the dinks of the past few months, though I don’t think a lot has changed – most fish are still sublegal. What I’ve noticed thus far this year that I hadn’t seen before is the number of lakers that are prowling the shallows! This was the third or forth we’ve encountered this season and usually we encounter ZERO. On Finger Lakes without many baitfish, and even ones with a lot of bait, on occasion you’ll see opportunistic lakers roaming the shallows in the winter when they have a predatory advantage. They will gobble up sunfish, minnows, sculpin, freshwater shrimp, perch, pike, bass, bullheads and anything else that gets in their way. It was very common to see that take place on Seneca Lake in the late 1990s and early 2000s when alewife levels were low. Same with Owasco Lake. But Cayuga is loaded with alewives. What I think is happening is that some lakers are keying in on the abundant and oftentimes shallow gobies that ply the bottom of Cayuga Lake. But I hadn’t seen this before on Cayuga and it’s adding another dimension i.e. a bonus species to our winter salmon casting (as opposed to jigging for laker) trips.

Water temps ranged from 37 (south end) to 41 on the east shore. Looks like the mild winter will continue!