Reports 11/4 – 11/8
Got back out on the water last Wednesday after a good 8 or 9 days of pretty windy, cold, winterlike weather. I’m a pretty firm believer in former Fishing Facts/In-Fisherman writer Rich Zaleski’s theory that the fishing is generally best when the weather does what it’s supposed to do – i.e. warm up in the spring and cool down in the fall. A cold snap after a big warming trend in the spring can really hamper the bite. Warming trends in the fall aren’t quite as harsh, but they can also play havoc with the fishing. That being said, it’s always worth getting out in November when we hit 70 degrees!
11/4 Cayuga Lake: Got out on my own for a short excursion of around 4 hours. I was looking forward to fishing Cayuga and seeing what water temperatures and levels were like. The lake is still at a good level and launching remains easy at Myers. With the drought still in full force I’m optimistic that the Canal Authority will keep the lake up for awhile yet. I tried various areas and techniques that should produce bass and trout/salmon. I had some nice lakers up shallow following bladebaits. I lost a big laker on a tube jig when my line broke (angler error – I should have back-reeled the fish instead of letting the drag handle it.) I did land a fat 21″ landlocked salmon. I also saw a few feeding salmon surfacing. Water temp was in the low 50s.
11/5 Cayuga Lake: Guided Mark I. for a full day starting at 6:30 am. We wanted to start early in order to have a better shot at pike. We had a slow go with the fly-rod. Mark tried gear and within 10 minutes landed and released a 35″ beauty. Had he stuck it out with the flies, he might have caught it via the fly-rod, but one never knows. Whether fishing fly-tackle or gear, it’s fun catching fish. We both prefer catching them with the fly when possible, but sometimes it’s just not the way to go.
Mark did some nearshore casting with gear for trout/salmon and had a couple nice salmon follow but no grabs. Laker jigging resulted in at least 3 nice lakers up to 29″. He also took a 21″ salmon on the laker jigs. With water temps around 51 degrees literally down to 150′, you can have either species just about anywhere. Later in the trip he caught a nice laker on a bladebait. Needless to say, as usual the fish are moving shallow for gobies. There are tons of gobies in Cayuga Lake this year.
Mark's 35" Northern!
11/6 Skaneateles Lake: Guided Gordon for an abbreviated full day. Due to traffic/road construction and other issues he encountered on the way down we wound up doing a truncated trip. The lake remains very low of course. Launching is a very tricky proposition at Mandana. The lake is so low that nearly any boat trailer would go off of the launch ramp. The boat would float off just fine, but driving the rig back up wouldn’t go too well. A person with chest waders could probably lift the trailer over the lip, but that’s a lot of hassle and could result in some problems if things don’t work out. At the State launch, we have high concrete abutments that are maybe 15″ wide. One way to launch is simply dump the boat out and then drag it back onto the ramp and just wade out with knee-high boots and hop in. Another trickier way is to do a “tightrope” walk or crawl onto the concrete and lower yourself down. Elderly or overweight people would have a very tough time getting onboard at this point in time. Fall off and you’re getting hurt at worst and soaked at best.
Gordon is mainly a fly-fisher. With swirling west winds alternating with calm conditions and a high sun the fishing was very tough. The once numerous rainbows that made fall fly-fishing so much fun here are now fairly uncommon these days likely due to walleye predation. Both rainbows and walleyes favor the same temperature range. We had no luck for awhile, even when trying some gear. Boat control was tricky at times with 20+ mph swirling gusts and plenty of leaves being dumped in the lake. Eventually we tried some different areas and Gordon caught some nice perch and a laker with a hair jig. But overall it was tough fishing.
11/7 AM Otisco Lake: Guided Kevin and Drew here for a half day starting at 6:30 am. Driving at dark-thirty through Tompkins County (which has received national media attention for the sheer number of deer we have here) during the rut can be a recipe for disaster. I have had more close calls with Bambi than I am comfortable with over the last couple seasons but have remained unscathed. Yesterday while driving back from Skaneateles Lake in the dark I had two deer in front of me on Route 38 that I was able to narrowly avoid. You’d think with this in mind, I would be more careful, but I was tired (up at 4:20 am) and not thinking about it. Sure enough, about 5 miles away from my apartment I hit a doe. Fortunately I didn’t hammer her too hard, just bumped it on my driver’s side below my headlight. But there was damage and it wasn’t a great way to start my day.
I met Kevin and Drew at the ramp and we headed out. The winds were out of the south around 6 or 7 miles per hour but Otisco valley was a great buffer and the lake was like glass, which meant very tough conditions for Esocids. I don’t care whether you’re targeting pike, pickerel, pure-strain muskies or tigers, glassy conditions on clear water along with a high sun and cloudless sky is tough going. Panfish King Drew managed a couple nice perch on a jerkbait. Kevin had two Tigers follow in various lures. One was a pickerel sized fish around 22″ and the other a nice “teeny bopper” around 25″ but neither committed. The guys liked the lake (it was their first time on it) and we’ll be back. The conditions improved significantly during the day and we gave one last area a shot. Drew managed to nab his first Tiger – a small one at 19″ but a Tiger nonetheless. That fish would’ve been stocked last year. My buddy Mike raises the Tigers and he said the growing season this year was fantastic and the fish that went into the lake looked great. So that’s something to look forward to if you’re a Tiger aficionado.
One interesting thing about Otisco Lake is that its water level is artificially high. I believe it’s around 10 feet higher than its natural level. I’m guessing “the pond” was probably originally a marsh but I don’t know. But the number of stumps that remain in this lake is impressive. It’s good fish attracting stuff, but I was pretty amazed at how many were still around about two feet or so below the surface. God forbid this drought continues into next year, because if the lake gets much lower people will start losing lower units. I didn’t look around the south end, but I recall a lot of even shallower stumps there that were visible when the lake was at full pool, especially on the lake’s west side. The late Bobberman Perry used to gripe about snagging what he called the “VW bus” or “bug” down at the south end of the lake on numerous occasions. It was like Charlie Brown’s kite eating tree, except it was Bobberman Perry’s rig eating tree.
Drew tries the old "hold the fish up to the camera trick to make it look bigger" but fails miserably!
11/8 Owasco Lake: Guided Derek, Gino and Chris for a half day of laker jigging starting at 8:30 am. Man do I like guiding lakers! No need to get up this time of year at dark thirty. No driving through a deer gauntlet. No walking a concrete “tightrope.” No need to bring 12 outfits and numerous gear bags. They also often hit well during sunny calm days. What’s not to like? (As an aside – I enjoy all the guiding I do, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it(!), so don’t take this as me not wanting to do other trips apart from lakers!)
Derek got into a fish on his first drop of the jig. From there on we had a pretty darn good couple hours of jigging before the wind completely died and the sun got high. That’s when our bite quit for the most part, though Gino caught a nice 27 or 28 incher around 12:30 pm. Top fish of the day was a 10 1/2lber that Chris nabbed. It was a 31 1/2″ beast! The guys finished the day with 9 solid fish in the cooler ready to get smoked. Fish were a mix of pre and post-spawn. Water temps remain around 51 to 52.
Chris's Big Laker!
Gino with a good one
Another Gino fish....
Derek with one
Open Dates: I’d be remiss if I didn’t list what I have open.
November 15th, 20th – 24th, 26th – 30th
All of December remains available.