Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 12/30 + 12/31
What a fantastic year on Cayuga it has been! I've been loving it. It started out promising with some good lake trout and brown trout fishing and just went up from there. The only real glitch was the algae bloom we dealt with for a week or two in July. But we did catch fish through that, which wound up being better fishing than we encountered the prior year during the muddy water/bloom. I will be updating the site as much as possible this week. My webmaster will be working on the site as well and I will find an easier/better way to present and upload photos.
12/30: Guided Steve and his friend Brad for a half day. These guys were "fly-only" so we left all the spinning tackle at home. It was a "live or die by the fly day." Duck season was open so we did have to keep the hunters and common areas in mind. We started out targeting pike/pickerel. Lo and behold I see a nice fish beelining for Brad's large bunny pike fly. It crushed the fly and things got crazy. It wasn't fighting like a pike – we had 3 or 4 nice jumps and some hard runs. It was a nice brown probably in the 6 to 7lb range. Brad really put the brakes on the brown as it headed towards a dock and the hook pulled out of the fish's mouth and into its dorsal. Once that happened he didn't mess around and the hook pulled out. Steve got most of the action on video so that was pretty cool. Other browns and even a salmon or two came chasing the big black fly. Steve had a follow from a brown as well as a pike or pickerel.
We tried another pike area but were plagued with muddy water. Brad had a couple hits and follows from pickerel. Then we tried a couple other things and settled on a lake trout area. Brad hadn't ever caught a laker and Steve's prior fish had come from the Niagara River and up in Canada. A big goal of mine this season is to really get the Cayuga Lake winter fly-fishing for lakers dialed in. Now that they are common in the shallows (and salmon don't seem to show up in good numbers until later in the season), it makes sense to get more efficient at the lakers. We've been getting a few lakers on our salmon flygear set-ups over the past couple seasons but haven't really got them pinpointed as well technique-wise as we have on the conventional gear. I had an idea and I put it to work. In short order Brad hooked up with a solid fish but the leader broke as it ran. The connections were solid, I believe the fish just ran the line over some mussels. In a nutshell Brad had another hookup and drop and a follow. Steve wound up landing two solid lakers, including a 30"er on a Clouser minnow. Great fights on the fish!
12/31: Last day of the year and last day fishing of the year. I've been doing late season solo and duo trips on this lake since I first bought my boat back in 2002. I've had some memorable trips (and I'm sure some not-so-memorable ones – but they've been forgotten, since they weren't memorable! 😉 Today was in the former category.
The first thing I wanted to do was continue with the laker fly-fishing. I brought along a couple different line setups and gave it a go. I also wanted to see how well my trolling motor would hold me in a heavier chop/more wind. Things went well. I hooked two fish and landed one around 23" long after a strong battle. I have more work to do but know what I need to.
I worked some areas casting with spinning gear for browns and salmon without much luck. The bite seemed off today – maybe it was the weather coming in. I expected the low pressure system and incoming front to get fish biting but they didn't seem as "on" as yesterday. Either way, I ended the year with a real bang. I was getting ready to move and told myself "one more cast." But after that cast I had to take another towards a point. I cast my Rapala Flat Rap, got a couple cranks on it and it got crushed! A real GATOR pike! Fortunately for me, the lure on 8lb test (and obviously no wire) was mostly on the outside of the pike's mouth. And as much as I hate to admit this, the pike also didn't put up a great fight after one or two good runs. I had it in the net and it came out. Luckily I got the net in front of it and had it halfway in and the pike surged forward into my net. The lure popped out in the net. I measured the fish and took a couple crappy (with my flip-phone solo) photos and let the fish go. It was clean, fat and went 41". Probably my personal best pike. I caught a 41" around 6 or 7 years ago fly-fishing but this one was fatter. Great way to end 2018!
Water temp was at 41. Lake level is good for winter. It's a little low overall – maybe down 2'. Expect the lake to stay up for another week or so depending on how much rain we get tonight.