Lake Ontario out of Oswego Harbor 4/6


Had a fun trip up to Oswego Harbor with my friend Todd.  We arrived at around 11:30 am just in time to talk to three different groups of anglers coming in from the morning’s fishing.  One guy didn’t fish much – he was just taking his boat out for the first time for a “shakedown.”   The other groups each managed a couple browns.  The brown trout fishing has become more difficult, or at least was on Monday – likely due to the onshore winds and recent rains that really dumped in and spread out a LOT of warm nice green water. (Plus it was a sunny, bluebird day – not ideal brown trout conditions.)  So you are likely to have browns from along the shoreline out to well over 50′ of water (and deep is where one group caught their fish while targeting early Kings.)

We worked an area around the harbor and I thought I was snagged for a second, when all of a sudden my “snag” started swimming!  It was moving powerfully and deliberately, so I knew it wasn’t likely to be a trout or salmon.  Sure enough, a really big carp had sucked in my tube jig!   I fought the 15 to 20lb fish for a minute or so and then my hook popped out.  I wrote an article years ago on early season carp for the Mid-Atlantic Fly-Fishing guide.  Carp get very aggressive in the early spring as water is just starting to warm up.  There isn’t much food around for them and they’re hungry, so it’s one of the best times to catch carp on lures.

I had a couple bass hits after that and Todd may have had a follow, then we made a run and tried another area.  We wound up with too much warm water to really cover casting.  I don’t mind trying it – i.e. the “needle in a haystack” stuff, but if it we don’t see a sign of life within an hour or two, I’d rather try something else.  So we wound up checking the deeps for trout/salmon.

I fired up a cigar and Todd dropped his jig a bunch of times.  He had two half-hearted follows from what were likely lake trout.  No grabs.  We tried a shallower area that had some warmer water and after a few drops my rod loaded up!  It wasn’t fighting like a King, rainbow or brown – it wound up being a 29″ laker!   An ugly laker if I have to say so myself.  Once in a while we catch a messed up looking fish in the Finger Lakes, but they are the exception.  This fish had a lot of issues, but was still a solid catch.

We wound up working some shallower warmer water and we got into some nice bass.  I hooked and finally got a 15″ to 16″ Cisco in my boat, so I was able to get some photos.  Finally!   That fish made my day, though most people would just dismiss it as a “trash fish,” it was a cool catch.  They used to be common in most of the Finger Lakes.  Now they are only found in Skaneateles and perhaps Hemlock Lakes.  Of course they were recently reintroduced into Keuka Lake.  No word on if they are surviving well and reproducing there yet.

Cisco in the boat!

Close up of the mouth

How do you tell a cisco apart from a whitefish?  From what I have read and understand, you look at the mouth.  A cisco has an underbite (the lower jaw protrudes a bit) whereas the whitefish has an overbite.  Both have very small mouths for their size.  They both have adipose fins, just like trout – which they are related to.

Todd with the old "hold the fish close to the camera trick!" And it will look bigger!

We caught bass up to around 19″.  All solids!

Ugly but Fun-to-catch Lake Ontario Lake Trout

A face not even a mother might love!

Of course the Governor has now extended our “NY IN PAUSE” – aka – “thou shall not work” ruling until April 29th.  Cases of Covid-19 remain very low in the southern tier and my neck of the woods, but we’re all being punished or “restrained” due to all the issues with the virus downstate.  So I’m on break for at least another three weeks.  I could write a diatribe on it, but we can evaluate the heavy handed power plays going on throughout the country after this pandemic winds down (which it appears to be doing already.)  So much panic for what?!!! Even in Rochester, where we still see less than 1/10th of 1% of the population with confirmed cases.  The vast majority of deaths are people that had serious pre-existing conditions.  LET THEM SHELTER AT HOME and let the rest of society go back to some degree of normalcy, especially in counties with like 20 cases!   Whatever.   You can’t get a haircut unless you’re the Mayor of Chicago – her personal appearance is more important than the commoners.   So she issues “stay at home” and non-essential workers to cease operating orders, except when she wants a hair cut.  Unreal.  Maybe Governor Cuomo will call me for a fishing trip to ward off some of the stress while dealing with this pandemic!  I can only hope!

Fishing has varied throughout the region.  Perch fishing has been excellent on Owasco Lake and my buddy Mike had some very solid lake trout jigging over there with some 30″+ fish.  Diary cooperators report some improving brown and rainbow trout fishing here.  I’ll have to give it a try soon!

Cayuga Lake’s northern portions (basically Long Point and north) has been SMOKING for big lake trout!  Fishing is as good as it gets with a lot of double digit days.  Anywhere from 100′ out to 165′ is producing some terrific numbers of fish.

Salmon action remains good on Cayuga.

Seneca Lake perch fishing remains slow from what I’m hearing.  I saw a photo of a real nice salmon out of there recently.  The fish looked to be 27″ to 28″ long!

Skaneateles Lake has been fair to good for perch.  Salmon and lake trout action is good to very good and a few rainbows are around.  Bass have moved up in a few areas but are still pretty lethargic.

Expect good to excellent perch fishing and lake trout action on Canandaigua Lake.  It’s also a great time to go after crappies and bullheads throughout the region.