Honeoye Lake 8/7


Fished Honeoye with my buddy Jarrod today. He’d never been there before, and we wanted to fish a lake that offered good numbers of largemouth bass. The wind forecast was another major factor, with southerlies forecast to gust into the 20s.

We arrived around 7:30 to a steady wind around 10 mph or better. I should start this by saying that Honeoye Lake holds special memories for me. I caught my first pickerel there in the early 1980s. My friend Jeff and I used to fish bullheads there quite often. I also learned how to fish Texas rigged plastic worms on it and caught quite a few nice bass and walleyes there throughout the 1980s and into the 90s. A lot of things were still the same on the lake (I last fished it a year or two ago.) And a lot had changed.

The layout of the cottages was pretty much the same – the “McMansions” haven’t sprouted up there, like they have on so many other lakes. It still has the ma and pa cottage feel to it. The south end looks the same. But the water quality appears to have degraded considerably over the past 25 to 30 years. I just think lakes like Honeoye and Conesus have too many cottages/homes on them. They are wall to wall. Andit’s possible thatnutrient loading has finally overwhelmed the lake.

Hopefully water quality will be addressed, but the lake’s clarity wasn’t there. And I realize that this may just be a summertime thing, but I never saw the lake look like this years ago, even during the middle of the summer. The amount of algae was staggering compared to the “old days.” The lake reminded me more of Port Bay, whereas it used to be clear and have a walleye/smallmouth feel to it midlake, and more largemouth habitat on its ends – though it’s always been a good largemouth fishery from end to end.

We caught quite a few bass today. Maybe 15 legal ones or so, which isn’t great for Honeoye these days, but the conditions were quite difficult with the high winds (gusting into the 20s) and algae bloom. And did I mention the weed harvester? Lots of prime weedbeds were gone. It’s now a crapshoot regarding weeds – here today, gone tomorrow. And the weed machines really murk up the bottom and leave parts of the lake looking like a muddy bowl.

The bass fishery here has been a numbers fishery over the last 5 to 10 years or so, whereas in the early 1980s it featured larger bass and plenty of pickerel – more like Cayuga is now. The pickerel population is down – we caught just one today. Didn’t run into the once numerous rockbass, though we did see some perch. Lots of small baitfish were around. I would chalk a lot of it up to today’s conditions.

The lake is clearly fished hard. A few bass had hook scars. The best bass of the day – maybe a 15″ to 16″ fish had a large head but was very skinny. Most fish ran right around 12″ to 13″. Just about everything we tried worked – pitching plastics, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and dropshotting all produced fish.

If there’s a harder fish to handle in New York State’s freshwater than a pickerel, I haven’t found it. One 20″ pickerel I caught thrashed as I was trying to grab it, and simultaneously slashed the base of my thumb and split my thumbnail! Just like a razor. Man, do these fish have teeth! I will take my revenge on the Cayuga Lake pickerel next time I’m out. I’ll make sure I have an ample supply of patties and “poor man’s lobster!”

All in all it was a satisfying day. We found a few different patterns that produced and caught fish in 3 or 4 areas. It felt good being on the former “home lake” and it triggered a lot of great memories. Cayuga’s north end water didn’t look great 7 or 8 years ago and now looks fantastic, so hopefully Honeoye will bounce back soon. But at this point in time, I don’t see it being worth a special trip.

Fish came from 7′ to 11′ FOW. We may have caught one or two shallower and deeper, but that was our most productive zone.