Cayuga Lake Salvation Army Tourney 9/8 + 9/9
What a crazy two days on Cayuga! My buddy Mike and I started Saturday AM around 7:30 am. The conditions were overcast and WINDY out of the south with 15 mph+ south winds to start. On top of that, we had forecasts for severe storms expected to hit the area between 1 and 2 pm, and weather spotters were likely to be activated incase of a tornado or wind sheer.
Given Sunday’s forecast for milder, sunny weather, I expected a typical late summer/early fall derby, with winning lakers/browns around the high 10s to 11lbs. Our strategy was to go for a large brown. From the year’s guiding, I knew 10 to 12lb lakers were very scarce on Cayuga. We’ve had a few, but day in and day out our lakers were topping around 8 to 9lbs. I have a ton of areas for browns and other non-lakers, but I don’t guide these fish for the most part because they aren’t as numerous as lakers. Most people would rather catch 6 lakers than maybe catch one brown.
We had a rough ride to our areas. I went up to the bow to secure the trolling motor while Mike took the wheel. A wave came over the bow and soaked me. Great start. Then my hat flew off. Nice. Anyways, we had some calmer areas to fish and worked them. The bite was tough. Overcast, windy days in September are usually tough bites for lakers, though other salmonids are usually more cooperative. We had a few short hits from mostly sublegal salmon. In one area Mike had a salmon hit up top. On my next cast I hooked a 19″ landlocked salmon. I kept it for dinner and put it on ice after breaking its neck. That was mistake #1.
I hooked a brown around 3 to 4lbs max. It hit next to the boat and I held it for a bit but it got off. No need to rush with the net. No biggie. I mean, a 3 to 4lb brown isn’t going to win anybody anything, right? Wrong. Mistake #2.
The storm came through around 2 pm as forecast. It appeared brutal. Surely this was it for day one. Wrong. The storm blew through. The sun eventually came out and the wind shifted nicely out of the north. We were already heading home. Mistake #3. At the launch we met some trollers who had a 10lb+ laker and the lead. There weren’t many non-lakers weighed in, but surely tomorrow and later on Saturday the board would fill up. Wrong. I joked about weighing my 19″ salmon.
On Sunday we had light south winds and overcast skies. Lakers weren’t aggressive in the AM. They would jar the jig but not really grab it. I had maybe 1/2 dozen hits like that. We fished all over the lake from Myers to close to Sheldrake. Even cast for bass for an hour – catching one largemouth. The sun made an appearance and we had 4 hours left to trout fish. I had a fish chase up a jig about 40′ then chase it down and hit it. Game on! I had a deep bend in the rod and told Mike it was “…a good fish.” It started heading to the surface rapidly like a big brown. I reeled up on it and torqued it some more. Then my rod straightened out! Oh no! The line broke near the knot. Guess I didn’t check it enough. Just missing lakers is enough to weaken the line. We landed a couple lakers, including one around 26″ to 27″. No need to weigh it in though. By now the board must be full of 8 to 11lb fish. Wrong.
There were plenty of boats on Cayuga fishing the derby. Jiggers, bait guys, trollers. I took a quick look at the board and recognized a couple former clients – so the jiggers did well (but you already knew that.) Went back to my trailer and started packing. Mike checked the board again and informed me that the non-laker category never even filled in. And a 7lb laker made the board. Hindsight is 20-20. We had a good time and never again will I chuckle at the person that weighs in a dink early on. You never know!!! And next time, we’ll keep in touch with the weigh-station so we know what’s happening.