Reports 4/29 – 5/1
Guiding has gotten off to a fast start for me thus far this season and the fishing has really been very good. Here’s how things went:
Thurs. April 29th, Skaneateles Lake: I had to postpone a laker jigging trip due to the high wind forecasts, so I was able to fit Tony in for some casting. My schedule is actually fairly wide open, so I have plenty of availability, though certain weeks and weekends are fairly booked. I’m not cutting back much on my guiding this year, though I will be doing less “lake hopping” (two lakes in one day) and less spreading out of 1/2 days. Over the past two years I have been extremely busy and just getting too worn out at times. No more 10 or more trips in a row for this guide!
Anyways, winds were forecast to gust up towards the upper 30s to 40 mph out of the west northwest, which could be downright brutal. We put on the raingear and decided to give Skaneateles Lake a good try.
Out of the big Finger Lakes – Keuka is probably the most wind friendly. Due to its high surrounding hills and its layout, this lake is fishable on very strong westerlies. Winds do a bit of funneling on the FLs too, so that’s always a consideration. Some lakes like Canandaigua and Skaneateles are narrow in areas, so you can get a “wind gauntlet” which can make for some very rough boating.
We chose Skinny because of the chance for rainbows/salmon and the winds blowing out of the WNW. Conditions were good when we arrived. My electronics weren’t working too well though. My flasher signal was weak and my Lowrance HDS wasn’t working at all. After checking the wiring I finally realized the HDS had blown a fuse – and I didn’t have a spare (I had a few, but they weren’t the right size.) The flasher’s transducer wire got pinched on my trolling motor mount. By the trip’s end the flasher wasn’t working.
I had a handheld thermometer and water temps were around 40 to 44 (N. end.) Fishing went pretty well. Given that one other boat was on the water and we ran down the lake, dealing with a lot of chop, I thought we did well. Tony nailed 9 or 10 nice smallmouths on the day. Most were in around 5′ to 12′ of water. We didn’t do much deeper than that – maybe a couple bass. He caught 2 landlocked salmon in deeper water – one was just over 16″ and one around 14″ to 15″. A few perch showed themselves. No rainbows or lakers. We were constrained by wind and couldn’t work some prime areas. North end temps were better than I’d have expected and if I had the trip to do again, I might have spent more time up there. Tube and hair jigs did the trick on the bass and salmon. He cast some spoons and stickbaits in places, but the jigs were the ticket.
Friday April 30th AM, Keuka Lake: Guided Lou andhis son Lukefor the AM on Keuka out of Branchport. Luke’s mom Della arranged the trip afew weeks ago as a send off to Luke, who’ll bedeployed this week to Afganistan. She wanted me to make surethey caught fish, so I moved the tripfromWatkins Glen to Keuka. After two to three days of very heavy winds, I wasn’t100% sure WG wouldbe very fishable. Deep lakers aren’t affected much by day to day weatherconditions, so Keuka it was. Fishing was good to very good. Luke hadthe hot hand and got his first laker within about 20 minutes. Fishing was steady and by day’s end the guys landed around 8 or 9 fish if my memory serves me correctly. Lou missed/lost quite afew; it wound up being Luke’s day. Water temps were in the low 40s. Fish were mostly deep – around 140′ to 165′ or so.
Friday April 30th PM, Seneca Lake/Watkins Glen: Guided Ed and John, who’ve joined me on probably a 1/2 dozen trips over the past two years. We were hoping for some salmon action. Conditions weren’t looking too encouraging at 4 pm when we got underway. The light/variable winds turning to south were N. at around 10 mph. The south end of the lake was pretty choppy, with most boats heading out of the canal turning around and heading back in. I was optimistic. I found an area to tuck the boat into and within around 10 minutes Ed had a salmon follow on a fly. John might have had a hit or two but after an hour and a half of casting the guys wanted to head in for a break. I tried a few casts with a flyrod and had a swirl on my streamer. The fish were clearly in. I motored them back in and went fishing on my own. The lake was flattening out and conditions were looking great. After 25 minutes or so and a few casts, they called, I picked them up and we resumed the trip.
Ed hooked a good fish that clearly wasn’t a salmonid. Turned out to be a clean looking 26″ northern! What a relief it was seeing a pike without ANY SIGNS of fungus or disease or lamprey marks! There is hope…. We tried another area – no luck, then went back to our primary area when John hooked a nice fish on a stickbait. After a great battle with plenty of runs and acrobatics I slid thenet under the salmon, which was the heaviest looking one Ed had ever seen. It was around 24 3/4″ long and boga-ed at 5.5lbs! John kept his hard-won fish for dinner and we headed in. Water temps reached the mid-50s on the south end and were around 45 to 47 uplake.
Saturday May 1st, Cayuga out of Dean’s Cove: Guided Joe and his wife Ann-Marie for some lakers. Joe likes to flyfish a lot, but we wanted to go with a relatively sure-bet that would get Ann-Marie into somefish and hopefully some big ones. Fishing was very good for most of the day. We found lakersfrom 130′ on out to 160′ or so – I should saythat we didn’t check much shallower or deeper. This time of year there are likely some fish moving up into 40′ to 60′ or less, but the majority are still deep. The guys did great – Ann Marie caught some beauties and Joe wasimpressed by howmuch the fish pulled. The quality of these lakers in really unsurpassed in the region. I know Hemlock Lake has some beauties, but for a lake accessible to larger boats, Cayuga is fantastic. Next to no signs of lampreys on these fish! They landed 8 or 9 nice lakers and dropped some too. Fish ranged from 23″ to 29″, with most being over 26″!
We tried some casting andfly-casting up north with a couple pickerel and a perch to show for our efforts before we headed south again to jig some more. Fishing slowed in the PM and we headed in. Afterdropping them off the sun came out and wind picked up. Jigging was still good and Icaught a beauty that will be smoked later today as Iwrite this. I got a phone call from Joe later and they wound up driving up to Skaneateles where they found a restaurant that cooked some of their catch! He told me the fish were delicious! I find fresh caught lake trout hard to beat. They don’t freezewell – so if you freeze themfor awhile and they taste bad (usually rancid,) you froze them too long. Try them fresh if you don’tlike them – and I think you’ll be impressed. If you aren’t, youprobably didn’t process or prepare them right, or maybe you just like bland fish. I have tips in “The Chef” section of this website. Click onto “About John” then click onto the chef.