Fishing Reports 10/17 – 10/21


Lake Ontario/Chaumont 10/17: Where do I begin? I’d been looking forward to getting up to Eastern Lake Ontario with my buddy Mike (in his boat) for some BIG smallmouth bass. We settled on Wednesday, due to the decent weather forecast. Things went a little bit “south” from the get-go. Normally I bring my GPS unit and set it and don’t think. I didn’t even think about bringing it and sure enough we overshot our exit. After riding around circuitously, we finally arrived at our launch and tried going out of the State Park on Point Peninsula. The lake level was so ridiculously low, we decided to launch elsewhere. Sometimes it isn’t worth risking the boat, trailer and/or truck to fish. We’d left the Syracuse area around 7:45 am. After more circuitous driving, we finally found a good launch – the usual State Ramp at Chaumont. By the time we launched the boat at Chaumont it was close to noon.

The lake was a bit choppy but we arrived at our destination and in fairly short order Mike hooked and landed a 5lb 3oz smallmouth on a dropshot rig. No more fish in the area, but we tried another spot and I nailed one around the same size. 2 smallmouths with a total weight of over 10lbs! Goby fed fish provide those kind of slob bass. We weren’t able to fish too many areas before we called it a day. Tough, long day, but well worth it. Just monster bass.

Highpoint of the day wasn’t a 5lb+ smallmouth, it was this little chickadee that landed on my rod as I was fishing. Cute little bird. I reached over and it didn’t fly away. Instead it pecked at my hand a couple times before flying away. It was just one of those moments that only happen when fishing. Got a photo or two of the bird on my rod too! Stopping at Smoky Bones in Syracuse always makes for a great end to the day.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 10/18 PM: To fish or not to fish? We had forecast southerlies around 15 to 20 mph gusting into the 30s. The Hermans wanted to get out before a planned vacation and this was the only time slot that worked for both of us. Guiding Seneca Lake can be tough. The strong winds pushed the warm 55 to 59 degree water around 5 miles up the lake. What remained was ice-cold 44 to 47 degree water temps. Up the lake, we’d be looking at 3’+ waves. Not going there! We tried some salmon casting but sometimes the salmon move up with upwellings, sometimes they don’t and of course, trying to find them by casting isn’t easy, especially in the course of a half a day when we want to get some pike fishing in.

Some casting for pike proved to be slow. But as is often the case, the pike activate just as the sun is heading over the horizon. John set the hook onto a fish that ran under my boat and towards the shoreline. This was a big, strong fish and I was wondering if he hadn’t snagged a carp or hooked a big brown trout. After moving the boat around and unsnagging John’s line from the weeds, the fish proved to still be hooked. I slid the net under a 37″ beauty of a northern. Unfortunately it was tongue hooked and bleeding pretty heavily. We kept the fish – it weighed 11 1/2lbs. The stomach had 2 alewives in it. Two more pike followed – a dink and a fish around 26″ to 29″ that jumped and got off. Tough day to start, but things paid off. Tomorrow we wouldn’t be as lucky…

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 10/19 AM: Met Roy and Susan at the launch around 7 am. Nice conditions – we had overcast skies with some rain and light winds – maybe too light on the wind, but it looked good. Roy and Sue fished hard and we worked a few key areas. We saw a pike or two, but no takers. We even tried a little bass fishing without so much as a hit. The lack of wind hurt, as did the continued upwelling, though warmer water was moving back in. Tough AM and I fished a couple hours on my own afterwards without any luck – I checked on lakers as well.

10/19 PM Watkins: Nothing’s better as a guide as having deep confidence in the fishing pattern of the day. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t apprehensive about my afternoon trip after the AM skunking. Met Mike and Rod at the launch and told them the good and bad news – yes, we had landed a 37″ beauty the night before, but hadn’t had a hit this AM. They were great guys with a great sense of humor and realistic expectations regarding fishing. I talk about the “Fish Gods” but in this case the “Guide Client Gods” couldn’t have been nicer to me. I knew, as did the guys, that we’d have a good shot at some fish just before dark if not earlier. Fishing remained tough but Mike had a solid hit within a 1/2 hour and other hits were had, though they were light. We saw a nice salmon which was cool. Just before dark Rod missed a couple pike and finally nailed one around 26″. At least we weren’t skunked.

10/20 Cayuga Lake out of Myers: I had a feeling that the fishing would be better Saturday. We had more cloud cover and the severe front was settling in. Rod nailed a 33″ pike early on. Had some big fish follow and swirl for the lures. Mike nailed a 25″ pike then a chunky 17″ smallmouth that was his personal best. We set up for bass and the guys landed a couple more around 14″ to 15″ and they had a few hits. Rod then lost a big pike. Not the greatest catching, but decent action throughout the day – at least compared to the previous day! Saw a lot of vultures flying around – “buzzards.”

10/21 Seneca Lake out of Watkins: We had a 3rd day planned but some unforeseen events wound up in us cancelling the trip. I really wanted to hit Keuka for lakers and bass, but had already launched the boat, so I did a little scouting without much luck. Had a few hits on lakers or small salmon. Conditions weren’t great and I wasn’t disappointed that we didn’t do the trip – it would’ve been another tough pike day in all likelihood.

Lake Fall pike can be mysterious and they aren’t necessarily easy to catch. Their mood (aka activity level) can vary from mildly aggressive to downright negative. It can require a bass fishermen’s sense of touch – kind of like working a plastic worm. Work a lure too “horizontally” without stops and vertical motion and it ain’t hard to get skunked. Both fish landed on Saturday were barely hooked. Fish would hit and weren’t coming back. This wasn’t brainless “cast and wind” fishing. This required focus and perseverance. BTW: Fly-casting large streamers IS DEADLY on neutral to negative pike. Oftentimes it’s the BEST METHOD! Believe it or not….