Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock State Park 1/13


Another cold day out on the lake but I decided it’d be worth giving it a quick try before the really cold weather hits us in about a week. I like keeping tabs on what’s going on in the lake and I also like running my boat on a regular basis.  Three boats were out fishing when I launched at noon.  Two went out of Taughannock and another from somewhere else.  On the way out a shore angler told me that a group of shore fishermen had caught a couple fish at Taughannock, but overall fishing had been slow.  The bread and butter shallow laker bite of the past few years (fish keying in on gobies) has been fairly low key recently.  That leaves some salmon and browns around and a few rainbows too.  Trollers I talked to (flat-lining with planer boards) managed some fish.  I tried areas I didn’t fish on January 3rd.  Fishing was slow for me.  I didn’t get much going shallow apart from a small salmon that hit a jig.  I had another follow too right afterwards but it wasn’t much to get excited about.  I wasn’t able to fish all the areas I intended to.  I moved out deeper and had some decent laker action.  I landed a solid one around 27″ and lost another just before I was going to get the net ready.  There was a fair number of them around in less than 100′.   i gave a couple other areas a quick shot without turning up anything.

I know I’m going to sound like a broken record on this one, but here I go:  Now’s the time to sign up to become a diary cooperator in the Finger Lakes.   These diaries are an important management tool used by DEC.  Contact either Region 7 (if you fish Cayuga, Owasco, Skaneatees or Otisco Lakes) and/or Region 8 if you fish Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Hemlock or Canadice Lakes. (I posted a link to the NY DEC Fingerlakes Diary Page below.) There are also warmwater programs going for bass, pike, walleyes and other gamefish if you’re interested.  All you do is record the date, time fished, basic areas, what you caught (if anything) and so on.  You get the diaries back after you submit them, so you’ll have that record if you want.

So what do you, the angler get out of keeping a diary?  Well, apart from knowing you’re helping DEC make management decisions, you also get surveys on regulation changes and stocking changes.   You also get information (sent out to you annually in a report) detailing catch rates, stocking rates, average sizes/top sizes, lamprey info, baitfish survey info and more.  You basically establish yourself as a stake holder on that waterway.  Your opinion matters.

How does keeping a diary affect what DEC does?   Here’s an example:  Landlocked salmon were first stocked in Keuka Lake in 1976 as fingerlings.  They didn’t do well, so soon after the DEC changed over to a yearling stocking policy. Numbers of salmon creeled by the 40 to 70+ diary keepers on Keuka Lake from 1980 to 1987 went as follows:

1980 – 2,

1981 – 22,

1982 – 55,

1983 – 100,

1984 – 41,

1985 – 114,

1986 – 61

1987 – 40.

That return of 40 fish in 1987 led to the termination of the salmon program in Keuka Lake.  The 24,000 yearlings were transferred to Seneca Lake and thus began the good to excellent salmon fishing we’ve experienced over there ever since.  (Funny thing is that salmon started showing up in Seneca Lake right after the Keuka program was started.  Salmon would swim down Keuka Outlet and wind up in Seneca Lake.)   However, in 1988 diary cooperators on Keuka Lake caught 212 salmon!   So the stocking program on Keuka was re-instated and both the Seneca and Keuka programs kept going until the Keuka one was finally terminated a couple years ago due to next to zero returns a year.

There are some major management decisions that are being contemplated now and/or will be soon.  Rainbow trout strains are being assessed in Skaneateles Lake.  We also have the burgeoning walleye population over there.  Brown trout stocking is being discontinued in Seneca Lake.  They were double stocked there last year, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.  My buddy Mike just caught a couple there yesterday.  Since he’s a diary keeper, DEC will see that some are being caught.

Some people are reluctant to keep diaries because they worry about hurting fish when you measure them.  That’s a fair argument.  But setting gillnets to assess how gamefish are doing is a lot deadlier.  So even if you were to harm an occasional fish trying to hold it steady for a measurement, it beats having dozens of nice gamefish wind up in gillnets as part of a survey.  Information needs to be gleaned somehow, and if anglers can’t provide it the only other way to get it is by taking samples of fish from the waterways.  To get more information, go to the DEC website: