Fishing Reports 7/7 – 7/10 (including Red Cross Derby!)
Skaneateles Lake 7/7: Guided a full day with Anthony and his brother John. The guys are both from Australia with John still living there and Tony living in Ithaca. Fun trip. Bass fishing is fair on Skaneateles now. It isn’t the (somewhat) easy stuff we’re used to seeing this time of year. A lot of fish are still in the spawn and post spawn mode and aren’t feeding real aggressively. The guys worked jerkbaits, dropshots, tubes and flukes and encountered quite a few fish, though many were small. A few halfway decent fish were landed early on, nothing huge. A couple largemouths from the south end were also caught along with a pickerel. Rock bass and yellow perch were also in the mix. Smallmouth fishing improved as the day went on with some areas featuring nice concentrations of decent fish. Anthony enjoyed the challenge of the flukes and we watched a lot of fish come after the lures – some good ones too! John got confident with the tube – it was great to watch. He fishes barramundi and had some great stories and photos!
Cayuga out of Taughannock 7/8: Guided Mike and his son Jacob and daughter Maddy from Ithaca. We started at 5:30 am and the laker bite wasn’t exactly hot and heavy. The gang worked for their fish today with young Jacob having the best luck early. Jake and Mike each landed a couple nice fish. Maddy dropped one. The bite never really heated up and we tried a lot of different depths on both sides of the lake. But even a somewhat slow laker jigging day is often productive when the day is done. It was a fun day and I had a good time chatting with everyone. Some solid lakers too!
Red Cross Derby!
I had a long week, between a lot of guiding and wondering where I’ll be living when I move out of my apartment at the end of the month. Fortunately I found a nice apartment (in Lansing) and that headache is in the rearview mirror! But my buddy Mike called late in the week (after not hearing from me much this week) wondering whether I was still up for the derby. I entered it – so of course we’re fishing it. But the key this year was to have fun and take it easy – fish hard in the AM, get off the lake when things slowed and fish in the evening only if we felt like it. Here’s how things went:
Saturday 7/9 AM: We launched at Seneca Lake State Park at around 5:45 or so. I knew from past experience and recent guiding that Seneca’s north end flats (as usual) were holding plenty of lakers and sizeable numbers in the 10lb + range. Cayuga Lake had been tough over the past week. Seneca wasn’t exactly on fire, but a tough day there is often better fishing than a tough day on Cayuga – if that makes any sense. Fish had been holding well in the 65′ to 75′ range. But I also knew from prior reading (Earl Holdren’s great book) and experience that there are likely many springs on the bottom of Seneca and lakers often are surprisingly shallow. North winds also cause some minor upwellings of colder water and the winds basically blow warmer (lighter) water down the lake. The west winds and light northerlies are also better on Seneca oftentimes.
So we set up shallow – in around 47′ of water. In a nutshell, on Mike’s 3rd drop of the jig he hooked a big fish. We were too tired to get too wound up over it, so it was business as usual. A long strong fight with some good runs and I slipped the net under the fish. What a beauty! We figured 10 to 11lbs, but Mike and I often underestimate fish weights. We kept fishing and caught another 5 or 6 fish, but nothing likely bigger that 8.5lbs. After further consideration we thought that we’d best get off the lake and weigh the fish before it lost any weight – so we got off around 11:15 am and headed to Watkins. I was happy for Mike, since he’d fished this derby and the Memorial Day one quite a few times and his fishing partners usually caught the board fish. We got to Watkins and the fish surprised us – 11.96lbs and in first place. It was also the lunker for much of the day.
Saturday 7/9 PM: We noticed that the brown trout and rainbow trout categories were wide open for the most part, and we weren’t going to drive back up to Geneva again, so Cayuga is where we went. The launch at Taughannock was busy but we had no problems slipping in. I had a couple ideas for jigging some non-lakers, so we went to an area I like. Fishing proved productive. We landed a couple lakers, but better yet – Mike landed a 5lb 24″ salmon. And still better yet, he got another one even bigger – a 6lb+ salmon! Both jumped high and fought well. When we got to the weigh station at Myers, we were surprised and shocked to see Mike’s 11lb laker in 2nd place. We didn’t feel too bad, cause the first place laker (and lunker trout/salmon) was now a 16lber from Cayuga!!! What a beast!!! But this revelation made us reconsider our plans. What were our chances of landing a 17lb laker? Next to none! I’ve never caught one or seen one that big on Cayuga or Seneca. How about a 9lb brown or 7lb rainbow or salmon? That I knew we could do. So we had our strategy for Sunday.
Sunday 7/10 AM: We went back to our area and were fishing by 6:15 am. I had the hot hand early, landing and releasing a 22″ salmon. Then I got a laker and had a follow and three light hits from a huge brown. I knew we had a chance. Mike caught a couple lakers then I lost a big fish that was likely a brown. My 12lb leader snapped. I should have re-tied it after Saturday’s fishing, but I didn’t and I paid a heavy price. It won’t happen again! We kept fishing and eventually in 70′ of water Mike hooked a nice fish. As it got closer to the surface it took off horizontally and we knew it was probably a brown! After a great jump and run I got it in the net. We knew it was over 10lbs and possibly 11 to 12. We weighed it in and it was over 11lbs and leading the brown trout division. It was 28″ long. We fished till around 1 pm and I’m pretty sure I had a rainbow around 3 to 4lbs follow me in. So we almost had the “Grand Slam.” The winds calmed and bite slowed. We were tired and had done well, so it was time to call it a day.
What a great derby! I was thrilled for Mike. He’d paid his dues and had a fantastic event. It was a win-win, since we split our winnings down the middle when we do derbies and the publicity is always good for Fingerlakes Angling Zone. We made the right calls and took some chances (with nothing to lose) and everything came through. The 16lb+ laker was massive and caught by trolling. As usual, Jon Evans was dominant on the bass – both largemouths and smallmouths. As a bass fisherman, he’s on another level – certainly on the Finger Lakes. I won a Canavan Custom rod at the awards ceremonies so that was nice too!
It surprised us that Seneca Lake produced none of the top landlocked salmon. The 2nd through 5th place salmon were all within 2/10ths of a pound of each other, so I was glad we were able to weigh in the fish quickly without losing weight. I think trolling was tough due to waterfleas and masses of floating weed mats. Are there still any non-believers regarding jigging? This technique can be deadly on all salmonids! It’s fun too.
Results of the derby are here: www.reelingforrelief.org
Jon Evans website is here: www.fishingthefingerlakes.com