Otisco Lake is special among Finger Lakes. It was originally about 15′ to 20′ lower than it is now. The lake’s level was first raised during the filling of the canal system – in effect flooding the original shoreline. Then it was raised again. I believe the same thing was done on Skaneateles Lake too (one time.) This lake finally has a standard New York State launch on it and it is a good one! Mid-week and off-season boat traffic is generally light on this lake, though weekends in the summer can get crowded. It’s a great weekday option in the summer for bass/muskies.
Greg with a 39" Beauty!
Mark with a nice fly-caught smallmouth
Why go here? For me the main attraction is Tiger Muskies. This lake holds decent numbers of Tiger Muskies, including some 20lb.+ fish. This lake is the number #1 priority in NYS for Tiger Musky stocking – it receives the largest, healthiest tigers. I’ve done a lot of guiding here for Tigers over the past decade or more and my clients have landed fish to 46″ long and in the 25lb+ range. They can be fly-fished here too. In 2016 my client Dave V. had a memorable day fly-fishing tigers here and I learned a lot. A lot of musky fishing (whether targeting pure-strain or hybrids) is about the conditions. Weather, water, moon phase et.al. Muskies are always challenging to fish for. Don’t expect to nab a fish on your first time out though it is possible. Think of them more as a long term goal and you’ll have the right mind-set.
The other big draw on this lake are walleyes – which get big here as well. Most walleyes are caught by anglers casting stickbaits at night from shore from the late spring through fall. I don’t guide walleyes here. I rarely target them on my own either though I do enjoy it from time to time.
Brown trout are stocked here and from year to year their survival is variable. The lake is marginal brown trout water and they aren’t a species I’ll likely ever target here. Otisco also has some very nice largemouth and smallmouth bass. Other species found in the lake include both black and white crappies, yellow perch, white perch, bullheads and more and more channel catfish every year. This lake is loaded with suckers, redhorse and carp and it’s hard not to notice them jumping around all day long.
A typical young Tiger
People fish here for
White Perch are common in Otisco Lake and uncommon in Cayuga Lake. They can be a lot of fun to catch and are good to eat.
Freshwater Drum are the most underrated gamefish in freshwater. They check all of the boxes any gamefish would.
Black Crappie are the most common crappie species in the Finger Lakes. A few white crappie can be found in Otisco Lake. They are most often targeted in the spring and through the ice.
Is it a pike or is it a pickerel? It's both! Hybrid pike/pickerel show up on occasion in Seneca, Cayuga and Keuka Lakes. They are a gorgeous fish.
Longnose Gar are one of my favorite fish to chase on a fly-rod. The have been around for millions of years!
Chain pickerel are common in Cayuga, Canandaigua, Honeoye, and Keuka Lakes. They are also found in Seneca, Canadice, Hemlock and Skaneateles Lake.
Tiger Muskies are the sterile hybrid of a pure-strain musky and a northern pike. Occasionally they are called "norlunge" as well.
I think fishermen take carp for granted. They are so abundant in the area (and throughout the country) that many people don't value them.
Channel Catfish are found in pockets throughout the region. To the best of my knowledge, none of the Fingerlakes have large populations of them.
Walleyes are common in Conesus and and uncommon in Owasco Lake. Other Finger Lakes having populations of them include Honeoye and Otisco Lakes.