If there’s a harder hitting fish in our region I haven’t found it yet! These fish are native to the region and are never stocked. Big pike love soft-finned forage fish and cold water. They find plenty of each here in the Finger Lakes. Pike in this area are neglected due to the fact that most anglers target trout, salmon, bass and perch.
Seneca Lake is really the “King Finger Lake” when it comes to pike habitat and potential. The lake’s pike fishery has gone through some real boom and bust cycles over the past 40 years. During the fall of 2017 I witnessed some of the best pike fishing I’d ever seen in the region in my lifetime here. 2018 was also solid. 2019 and 2020 have been fair years on Seneca. There are good numbers of small, young northern pike around but not many larger fish due to lamprey predation. We have been seeing signs of disease on pike, especially in the southern half of the lake in 2020.
Cayuga Lake has been slow for pike this season for us thus far. They can be challenging to pinpoint on Cayuga. Weed growth continually changes on this lake and some areas are hot one year and void of fish the next year. Owasco is coming on strong as a top-notch pike fishery. The fish appear healthy and well-fed and there are very solid numbers of young fish here as well as some nice 5 to 12lbers. Keuka Lake offers an occasional bonus fish. Pike love just about any lure, especially flashy, gaudy colored ones. Fly-fishing is deadly for pike of all sizes and I consider fly-fishing for pike one of my specialties.
Giant pike aren’t common in the Finger Lakes, but all the Finger Lakes with good pike populations – i.e. Cayuga, Seneca, Owasco, Conesus and even Keuka Lake have produced 20lb+ fish over the years. Fishing during the winter is one of the most productive times to chase pike in the Finger Lakes region. Fish are often quite active and the weed growth is limited – concentrating the fish.