Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock State Park 12/22 – 23
Cayuga Lake continues to offer supreme lake trout fishing. Hungry lake trout averaging 22″ to 26″ with respectable numbers of bigger fish are plying the shallows of the lake and they are hungry! A few bonus browns are around and I’d expect some salmon and an occasional rainbow too, but we’ve only encountered browns thus far this week.
12/22: Fished today from around 10:30 am till about 4:15 pm with my buddy Mike. We had cold conditions and a good south wind to start. Temps were forecast to warm up and winds diminish as the day went on. I started with blade baits and tube jigs and Mike went with swim jigs. He had all the early action – including a few 28″ fish, two of which were wild. I missed a few. We worked a bunch of areas around the lake and everywhere we tried was productive. We wound up landing around two dozen lakers. Mike dropped what was likely a nice brown.
Mike kept three lakers and I kept five for the smoker. I cleaned them and found that only one of the eight fish had anything in its stomach – a small goby.
12/23: Guided Zach and his friend Jeff today for a 1/2 day starting at around 10:45 am. They were the recipients of the knowledge gleaned from yesterday’s outing with Mike. I expected good fishing but I didn’t know how good it would be. We had even better conditions in some ways to start. I brought swimbait, bladebait and tube jig setups along with some gear for casting salmon/browns (stickbaits.) The guys had a fantastic half day of fishing. Zach managed three chunky browns running from 15″+ to around 17″ – all were nicely colored and clean fish. Jeff landed a bonus smallmouth that was his personal best, right around 18 1/2″ and pretty chunky. The main show was the lake trout – we had around 17 or 18 of those at least. So another superb day! I cleaned five fish for Jeff. A couple lakers had gobies in them. One fish had two small gobies and another fish had one.
Mike with a couple solids!
Holding a couple average lakers
Best lake trout of the day!
So what is going on with these lakers and gobies and how will this play out? Zach has a place on Cayuga Lake and saw dozens of dead gobies over the summer. Clearly there was a die-off on his end of the lake. I did not see many dead gobies around Long Point or elsewhere this summer. We talked to some lake front homeowners today while out on the water and they reported seeing fewer gobies this summer, but no die-offs.
Cayuga’s lake trout are long lived and many fish have clearly acclimated to eating gobies over the past decade. Will they continue to roam shallow as gobies become fewer and farther in-between or will we see them gradually work back out into deeper water? Over the past couple years I’ve seen a massive exodus of lakers from the shallows to deeper water over the course of just a week or two. Last year it happened in March. We went from top-notch nearshore fishing to a very slow bite for no apparent (i.e. visibly apparent) reasons. It appears to be that lakers are finding a few gobies, so that may be enough to keep them shallow. A couple of Mike’s larger lake trout were males that still had milt in them. These fish didn’t spawn and probably weren’t going to spawn this year. The browns Zach caught today appeared well fed. We should start seeing some dropback salmon. One of my stream fishing buddies tells me that the salmon are pretty much out of the creeks now.
Lake Ontario’s goby numbers seem to remain high. I haven’t heard word of many or any lakers being taken shallow during the winter over there. I find that odd but there are plenty of gobies out deep in the big lake. I caught some last November out of Oswego in around a hundred feet of water. So lakers can forage out there for them. Cayuga’s sheer depth nearshore may make it easier for lakers to move in (or “up.”) I would guess the Canadian side of Lake Ontario, which has some sharper drop-offs may see more inshore winter lake trout action. Will we see salmon on Cayuga Lake start foraging up top again anytime soon? Mike thinks it may happen. We can keep our fingers crossed. I do find it hard to believe that this spectacular winter action will keep going for much long! It feels a bit too good to be true.