Lake trout are abundant in the Finger Lakes region with Seneca Lake being the most famous for its lake trout fishing. Lakers are absolutely the top predator in the region. I’ve caught plenty of lakers with northern pike, yellow perch, brown trout, sunfish and bass in their stomachs! I’ve never caught another type of fish with a laker in its stomach.
Cayuga Lake is my pick for the most consistent laker action on large fish year ’round due to an abundant forage base and generally good to excellent lamprey control. Expect Cayuga Lake to provide good to excellent lake trout action on some big fish in 2021. Fishing is top-notch on Cayuga Lake throughout the entire year! When Cayuga’s round gobies move up shallow and the lakers follow, the fishing can be fantastic.
Seneca Lake was neck and neck with Cayuga Lake as the top lake trout lake in the region. (For now, Seneca would be one of my last choices in the area for good lake trout action. Overall I rate Cayuga first, then Owasco or Canandaigua as second, then Keuka and lastly Seneca/Skaneateles for summer jigging action.)
Keuka Lake generally provides top-notch lake trout action from September through December and then again in the spring for all wild fish. The numbers can be great although these fish run smaller than the Cayuga and Seneca fish. Summer fishing over the past couple years has been pretty good on Keuka Lake.
Owasco Lake’s laker action has been solid over the past 4 or 5 years. We had a lot of good to great fishing in November of 2020. These fish are in balance with the forage base and the fishing pressure on them is light. Expect some big fish out of this lake! My client Greg hooked a monster here that we never saw in 2016. He’s landed 32″ lakers and said this fish was a notch or two bigger! The north end flats produce for much of the year, though the south end is also worth checking out. Mid-lake points are tough to beat come October and November. We had a couple fish around 31″ to 32″ in 2020.
Canandaigua Lake is another good laker producer – kind of like a cross between Keuka and Seneca. A lot of the fish are Keuka sized but there are some bigger ones to be found. The lake’s wild fish number around 15% of the population.
Skaneateles Lake has some decent fishing too, though numbers have been down in recent years. I think this lake really hits its peak in the fall. I don’t vertically jig here much. I find that casting in May and November is a great way to connect with “Skinny’s” wild lakers. Most fish here are small – averaging 16″ to 18″. The lake holds a few real trophies, but we haven’t encountered them with the way we fish.
If you like eating fish, you’ll enjoy keeping some lake trout. They are superb smoked and excellent on the grill as well as in the pan or in chowders. We have plenty of lakers in the region and they could use some harvesting, so I encourage clients to keep and eat them. The 15″ to 22″ fish from Canandaigua, Skaneateles and Keuka lakes are beyond compare on the dinner table!
The bottom line is that we have terrific lake trout fishing in the Finger Lakes! Pick your lake…..