Keuka and Seneca Lake Reports 4/12 – 4/14


Keuka Lake 4/12: Guided Michael, Dan and Johan for a full day. They wanted to get into some numbers of lake trout after a some tough fishing on Seneca Lake over their past couple trips during the fall last year and perhaps the year before (if I remember correctly.) Keuka didn’t disappoint. We started around 8:15 am with Johan landing the first few fish. After a bit, Dan and Michael got their technique together and before long everybody was catching nice lakers ranging from 17″ to 22″ on average, with Dan landing a couple big ones around 24″ to 26″. Conditions were great and we caught fish from 60′ out to around 130′. Best action was probably 125′ to 130′. Fun trip with 30 legal lakers landed.

Keuka Lake 4/13: The winds were forecast to blow into the high teens and low 20s, with gusts into the low 30s. Fortunately they held off for most of the AM. We started just after 8:15 am. Dan and Michael got things rolling this time with Johan coming on strong later. Another great day with over 30 fish landed. As usual, I am exhausted as I write this and my brain is spent! But the best fishing we had was deeper on Sunday, with good action from 130′ to 145′. The warmest water this time of year (before the shallows warm up) is on bottom and deep. On Saturday I cleaned a bunch of lakers and they all had varying amounts of alewives in their stomachs.

Seneca Lake 4/14: Guided Ed and John for a half day. Ed really wanted to get into some Landlocked salmon on the fly and the conditions looked promising, though winds would be up a bit. A handful of fly-fishermen were out working the south end of the lake. All the former Cayuga Ithaca Pier fly-fishing contingent that I remember from when I first moved here and were boat-less. Cayuga Lake’s salmon fishing has been slow the past 2 years. We’ll see what happens there this year. But Seneca’s been solid for probably 15 to 16 years at least.

It took a while, but Ed nailed a couple beauties that he took home for supper. One was just under 5lbs at 4lbs 14 oz and the other was 4lbs 3oz. Fish around 23″ to 24″. One had an attached lamprey. John caught a nice 2lb brown that was clean and 16.5″. The winds got pretty gusty and we wrapped up around 12:30 pm.

The Right To Be Foolish:  Postscript to 4/13: Some things are very predictable in the Finger Lakes Region. I know every year we’ll have some good to great fishing. We’ll have fairly uncrowded lakes. We’ll also have beautiful fall foliage. And unfortunately, when we get the first few hot days of the year, we’ll have people going out in kayaks, canoes and even SUPs (stand-up paddle-boards) in conditions that are akin to playing Russian Roulette. What conditions might you ask? Icy cold water. Dangerous waves. High winds.

We didn’t see any other boats out around 2 or 3 pm as we were slowly winding down our full day trip on 4/13. Most fishermen had headed in – perhaps with their limits and some most likely wanted to go in due to the windy choppy conditions. Fishing wasn’t easy with 15 to 17mph winds and gusts into the mid-20s and even low 30s.

Our fishing had slowed down. We were at least a mile or two north of Snug Harbor, out from the west shore of Keuka Lake – maybe 1/4 to 1/3rd of a mile from shore. One of the guys noticed some kayaks out on the lake. I scanned the east shore and spotted one kayaker. But it wasn’t what the guys had seen – they saw two kayakers. Then I saw the two. So there was a kayaker on the east shore and two of them heading across the lake. Crazy. We didn’t think much of it – though we all thought it was stupid to be a few miles up the lake in kayaks in those conditions. But sadly, it’s a fairly common sight in this area.

After working the area for around 15 minutes, I decided to move us over to the eastern portion of the lake. Johan suggested trying further south again – maybe going shallower. It had worked before, but I figured we’d give the east shore a try – where we’d seen the fleet earlier. We motored over and started fishing. Within 5to 10 minutes Dan heard a shout. Michael said it sounded like “help.” We searched around us and someone saw a swimmer! Out over 140 FOW! We quickly reeled up and I fired up the outboard and pulled up alongside him. Johan and I helped him onboard. He was pale white and thought he’d been in the water for5to 10 minutes. Johan really took care of things – we got some warm clothes on him and I called 911.

The ambulance pulled into the Hammondsport Hotel a couple minutes after we did. It was a 5 minute run back there from where we’d been fishing. The 911 Operator had asked me to ask the youth if he was experiencing chest pain – yes, he was – a little. He had been kayaking with the other 2 guys and his kayak had filled with water due to the waves and sank.

The EMTs put him on a stretcher. He was too weak to walk. They were going to send a boat to search for the others, but we went out and found them. His two “friends” were nonchalantly paddling back towards the town launch, completely oblivious to the fact that their friend was probably 10 minutes away from certain death or brain damage and had been taken away in an ambulance.

The renter of the Kayaks told us he’d told the guys (college age boys) to stay along the south end of the lake where it was calm. So much for that. It was amazing that the two guys in separate kayaks didn’t pay any attention to their friend or even bother checking on him. Maybe at least a glance back once in a while.

A couple years ago we pulled a lady into our boat who’d tipped her canoe while out with some girl scouts. That was a potentially scary situation, but somewhat under control. What happened to us yesterday was a very scary matter of life and death. Call it fate or an act of God, but there is a young man who is very, very fortunate that a few people out fishing had been nearby him and heard his cries for help. For nobody else was around and it was on a complete whim that we wound up where we were! His friends could never have reached him in time and they were probably a mile away.

As fishermen, we are the eyes and ears of the water. And unfortunately this time of year when we see kayaks out there and canoeists – sometimes without lifejackets, or with toddlers onboard we almost have to expect these things to happen. My buddies joke about Darwin, but I defy anyone not to help. Hopefully this will be a wakeup call and a life changer for these college students.