Otisco Lake 8/24 + 25, Skaneateles Lake 8/26
My whirlwind guiding "adventure" keeps going and going. From July through August I only fished 3 days on my own. All in a row on Cayuga and Seneca Lakes with my buddy Mike. That was it. The least amount of fishing I've ever done. I'm not proud of it, but full time guiding is like farming – you have to make hay when the sun is shining. The fishing's been good to great so it's been a fairly smooth ride. September will be more of the same. I had a couple 1/2 days off that were spent driving to Utica to get my Minn-Kota Terrova trolling motor repaired. When it would turn (the steering mechanism) it would make a horrible grinding noise. It needed a new steering motor. That was after about 12 months of use. I was 2 or 3 months out of warranty. I like both Minn-Kota and Motor Guides. The perfect trolling motor isn't out there yet. For lakers and deep fishing, the auto pilot/spot lock features are great. But servo controlled motors aren't good for working weedlines. Cable steering is much better for that.
I'm doing a lot of the usual observing and learning a lot. So the funny thing is by not fishing, I'm still improving as an angler by learning new areas and making new connections with weather and fish activity. It probably wouldn't work at most jobs – telling your boss that you are actually working while thinking or daydreaming, that you are improving your performance, but it might be worth a try….
My buddy Mike works at the South Otselic Hatchery. They raise all NY State's Tiger Muskies, a decent amount of walleyes, heritage strain brook trout and once in a while some other species. He reports to me that the Tigers they have raised this year are doing very well and will likely be stocked as 10" fish. That's a good thing if you like Tiger Muskies. Otisco Lake is #1 on the Tiger stocking priority list. That lake gets the biggest, nicest Tigers!
Otisco Lake 8/24 + 25: Got out with Bobberman Perry and his friend Dave for two full days of still-fishing for muskies. They bring all the gear- rods/reels, bait, tackle and I provide the boat and occasional suggestions. I have nothing against bait fishing for the species I typically target, but I enjoy casting better and I also don't want to have to deal with procuring bait and anchoring. But they are good with what they do. Perry learned slip bobber fishing from old time guide Bob Cass on Seneca Lake (targeting pike)in the early 1970s and knows when to set the hook on a running fish. 95% of our fish are lip or mouth hooked. Anyways the guys were able to purchase some very nice suckers and fair sized shiners and off we went at about 9:30 am on Monday and a little earlier Tuesday.
Boat traffic was next to nothing. 3 or 4 boats out at a time, if that. The fishing was good but weird. Last year we had some real lucky breaks – we "ate the bear." We had a 41" Tiger Musky that was lip-hooked and managed to get one hook tine lodged in an anchor rope – and we landed it! We had fish nearly jump out of my old net. We got LUCKY!
This year the "bear ate us." We had one really good sized fish jump and throw the hook. Dave hooked a beauty that was coming in then dove down and tangled his line in something nasty – breaking off in the process. Perry broke one fish off on a hook set (tackle issue.) We had a big musky take a swipe at a bobber! (Yes, surface fishing for muskies here is a decent option on the right day.) We had an emaciated 23" walleye that probably weighed a pound! We had a nice channel catfish, perch and bass gobble shiners.
Overall I thought the fishing was good. The guys hooked 5 or 6 muskies, most nice sized fish in the 34" to 37"+ range. We had some tremendous jumps! Perry landed a 33" musky, nice channel cat, walleye and 12" perch. Dave landed a nice bass or two.
Skaneateles Lake 8/26: Guided Leo and Ada for our second full day of fishing. Their trips are "catch 'em and eat 'em" missions. I encourage them to keep rock bass on Skaneateles Lake. They wound up keeping close to 50 of them that were all over 8". We released another 50 or more. Just ridiculous rock bass action. These fish compete directly with smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and everything else on the lake so I think harvesting rockies is a good call here. Around 30 smallmouths were landed – 2/3rds were legal sized up to 19", though most legal fish ran 12.5" to 13.5". Nearly all but 2 or 3 were over 10", so they are fun fish. We kept a 1/2 dozen of the legals. They also landed an undersized rainbow. Dropshotting was all we did. Action lakewide was available from around 20' to 40' FOW. We never ventured shallower than 10'.