Reports 3/8 – 3/11
We finally got a nice break in the weather with air temps reaching into the 50s and 60s over the past few days. Winds have been reasonable as well, which isn’t often the case this time of year. Fishing is good on both Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. My guiding season kicked right in with trips from Tuesday through Thursday. My availability is still excellent onwards going into the summer. Most dates are open but I am starting to get a lot of inquiries and dates are going fairly quickly. Book now for the best options.
Seneca Lake 3/8 PM: I almost booked this afternoon but was a little bit leery of the weather forecast, so I just went solo with my fly gear. I have not needed nor wanted to cast with spinning gear here at all this season – the fly-fishing has been top-notch. The drawback has been the size of the fish, but they are well fed and there are enough quality fish around to keep things interesting. I had a great day with 16″ to 17″ fish and one at 21+1/2″. Clearly some big fish are around somewhere – either deeper or in different parts of the lake. With a lot of small fish around, the smaller guys tend to get to the lures/flies first oftentimes.
Lamprey scars abound on at least 75% of the fish. Now people need to keep in mind that a lot of fish will show scars from last year. Fresh wounds are the ones that matter, and unfortunately they are pretty common too. I had two fish with live lampreys on them and I had one poor little salmon with two scars on one side and one on the other. If you’re keeping salmon on this lake, do the fish a favor and keep scarred up ones. They taste the same and this will hopefully allow for nicer looking and better fish next year on the clean ones. Fish do not show avoidance behavior to lampreys, which is interesting. Lampreys just swim up to the fish and attach to them.
Cayuga Lake has an 18″ size limit on salmon. Seneca’s and most of the rest of New York’s legal Landlocked salmon size limit is 15″. The thought with Cayuga is that due to lamprey predation, having more salmon in the lake will help the salmon survival. When they are a lot of host fish around, the lampreys tend towards attaching to one fish, then switching hosts. The trout would survive better. With too few hosts available, the lamprey just stay attached to one fish until they kill it, and then move on. But with beat up fish it also can make sense harvesting smaller fish. Why let lampreys kill them when you can eat them yourself? So the bottom line is that there are good arguments on both sides of the 15″ versus 18″ size limit for salmon.
Lamprey Attacks on a 17" fish
Cayuga Lake 3/9 out of Taughannock: Guided Mark I. here for a full day starting at just after 8 am. I hadn’t been out here in a while so it was back to square one here. We checked some areas for salmon for around an hour and half without any sign of fish, so we decided to go after lake trout on the jig. The lake trout fishing was very good and Mark wound up with 10 solid fish mostly around the 24″ mark with one at 20″ and one at 27″. No wild fish in the mix. Out of the two fish Mark kept, one had a big alewife in it. My buddy Todd was out in the afternoon fishing other parts of the lake and had two lakers stuffed with small perch and bluegills. No gobies. A lot of lakers were dropped too, which happens a lot when jigging.
We spent the latter part of the day fly-fishing and throwing some gear for salmon. We saw one small group of decent salmon and one loner but they weren’t interesting in our offerings. Fish are also staying near the bottom apparently looking for gobies. Beautiful day to be out and the numbers of Canadian Geese migrating over Cayuga Lake (along with a few snow geese) were awe-inspiring. And loud!
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/10 PM: Did a half day trip with John, whom I hadn’t seen in quite a few years – maybe 2012 or 2014. He has wanted to get out for some salmon on the fly for awhile and we finally coordinated a nice day. His fly-casting was very good, so the strong wind gusts didn’t pose any issues. Boat positioning and control is also critical for good lake fly-fishing and I took care of that. We had solid fishing. The fish weren’t as grouped up and eager (feeding positively) as they were for me on Monday (and last week) but the fishing was still very good. We had some nice fish on the fly, again in the 17″ range. John fishes other parts of Seneca Lake and reported some decent salmon action throughout the winter. I have heard similar stories throughout the mid to lower portions of Seneca Lake. Browns are pretty much absent although my buddy Mike did get into some shorefishing a couple weeks ago.
I should mention that the water color on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes has been stunning. No algae yet due to the cold, so the green tint is reminiscent of the Bahamas.
John with a fly-caught Salmon
Working a fly in green clear water!
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 3/11: Back out today for a full day trip with Ron. We’ve been trying to coordinate something for a while too and finally got a good day to fish. Eight plus hours on Seneca with some crazy winds didn’t sound like a picnic today, and factoring in the tougher lake trout action over there made Cayuga the better call.
We started just after 8:30 am and worked a bunch of stretches of water trying different tactics – tubes, stickbaits and bladebaits. We hit paydirt with the blades for lake trout in around 15′ to 30′ of water in one area, but the overall shallower bite left a lot to be desired, at least where we fished. There are some good areas I still haven’t been able to cover yet, but there comes a time when you have to decide what to do – keep searching or go with the tried and true and the latter is what we did. I went to the laker area that I had Mark in on Tuesday and we wound up with some great fishing. Ron actually had a point in time when conditions were perfect and he landed 5 or 6 fish on the same number of consecutive drops! The average fish was 24″ to 26″, but Ron caught a 28″er early in the day on a bladebait that was the top fish. We had one wild laker in the mix overall. It was pretty amazing seeing how clean the Cayuga Lake fish were compared to the Seneca salmon. We had only one old small lamprey scar on one lake trout on Cayuga – the rest were as clean as a whistle.
Cayuga Lake remains very low. There is some construction work going on at Myers that should be done this week or next week. My buddy Todd launched the other day at the private marina adjacent to Myers. His boat doesn’t draft much but he told me you have to be very careful there with the depth and rocks around. It’s also $10 a pop. Long Point shouldn’t be an issue for launching now.