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.  2022 and 2023 have also yielded some decent walleyes for us on Skaneateles Lake – fish up to 27″ or better.

Around five or six years ago, oddball walleyes turned up in Seneca and Keuka Lakes in DEC nets. Walleyes stand little chance of establishing themselves in Seneca Lake, with its large alewife population.  However, more and more 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 have been able to successfully reproduce here.  This will likely result in wiping out what few alewives are left in Keuka Lake and also putting more pressure on the perch population there.  DEC nets this past summer (2022) did turn up quite a few walleyes on Keuka Lake this past summer, so we will likely see a Skaneateles Lake situation here in the future.  I caught a 22″ walleye in Keuka Lake in December on a tube jig.  It was a well-fed healthy-looking fish.

These fish are very good eating and highly sought after, which makes sense given that they are part of the perch family – for all intents and purposes they may as well be overgrown perch. 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 have encountered them over the years while 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….

Large Conesus 'Eye

Owasco Lake Walleye

An average Skaneateles walleye taken while smallmouth bass fishing

Keuka Lake walleye caught in late 2023 near the Bluff