Walleyes are common in Otisco, Honeoye and Conesus Lakes. Owasco Lake still has a fairly good population that are remnants of a stocking policy over there dating back to the 1990s and early to mid-2000s. There are a few in Cayuga Lake but you could fish it for a lifetime and never catch one. Walleyes, like channel catfish and crappies, seem to draw fanatical anglers that illegally stock them in various waterways. Skaneateles Lake has been victim to an illegal introduction that has proven very “successful” in terms of walleyes produced naturally. In 2021 we caught a fair number of walleyes here, ranging from 17″ to 27″ long.
Over the past few years, oddball walleyes have shown up in Seneca and Keuka Lakes in DEC nets. A few are being caught by anglers in Keuka Lake. Keuka Lake’s forage base is very similar to Skaneateles Lake’s. With low number of alewives in Keuka (and none in Skaneateles Lake) walleyes may be able to successfully reproduce here. That would likely result in wiping out what few alewives are left in Keuka Lake and also putting more pressure on the perch population there. We’ll see what happens on Keuka. DEC will be doing some lake trout and bass surveys/netting in 2022 on Keuka Lake.
These fish are superb eating and highly sought after, which makes sense given that they are part of the perch family. The best fishing for them is usually at night – since they are nocturnal. Casting stickbaits like Rapala Husky Jerks can be very effective.
I fish walleyes occasionally, but I don’t specifically guide them. My clients tend to catch a few every year when pike fishing Owasco Lake or bass fishing on Skaneateles Lake. Pulling an “all-nighter” is effective for walleyes – especially on alewife-driven fisheries, but it’s not my favorite thing to do, since the disruption in my sleep schedule tends to mess me up for a few days. Many walleye anglers are highly secretive. I can’t figure it out, since the average person isn’t going to pull that “all-nighter”. They aren’t hard to catch if you pick the right night and are patient and perseverant. Look for water temps in the upper 50s and lower 60s. Find some spawning alewives and cast the flats, making sure to stop your lure frequently. This is easiest before the weeds come up to the surface. Overcast windy days in the spring and fall can be productive for daytime walleye fishing.
One of the coolest things to do in the Finger Lakes Region is get out and fish all night long – especially out on Conesus Lake. The activity level of the gamefish when alewives move in is outrageous. Giant pike, tiger muskies, walleyes and huge bass all feeding like crazy, jumping and splashing all over the place. As soon as the sun hits the water everything dies right down! It’s like night and day….