Reports 6/20 – 6/25


Had a nice change of pace over the past week with four full days of fishing on Otisco Lake followed by an interesting trip on Sodus Bay/Lake Ontario. Then it was back to the lakers today on Cayuga Lake.

Otisco Lake 6/20 – 6/23: Did four days in a row with “Bobberman Perry” and Dave. That’s a lot of bobber watching, but we had some superb fishing for Tiger Muskies on day one, slightly slower fishing on day two and then a tough day three and good non-target species action on day four.

The guys landed 8 muskies over the 4 days – all on large suckers and shiners, with the exception of one around 39″ that Perry nailed on a crankbait. We fished banker hours for the most part. Another trophy was hooked and lost. Fish landed ranged up to 45″. 6 of 8 landed were between 39″ and 45″. The lost fish was likely 38″ to 40″. The condition of the fish was superb. Perfect fins, great coloration and thick bodied muskies with “gator heads.” The lake is in great shape with the lack of rain. The weeds were beautiful.

Bobber fishing with large suckers and shiners for muskies and trophy northern pike is a traditional method – it’s been around for decades. It’s fun and can be very effective. It requires skill and knowledge regarding where to fish, anchor placement, how to set up, how long to let the fish take the bait, and when to move. I have gained a lot of respect for the technique over my years of taking the “Bobberman” out.

Contrary to what many anglers believe – mortality with this method is very low. I had to see it for myself, but by setting the hook on the first run after the bobber goes under and the fish takes maybe 5′ to 10′ of line, probably 70% of the fish are hooked in the lip or corner of the mouth. Another 20% are hooked deeper but still easily removeable without damage to the fish. But If you don’t pay attention, or the bait is very small or just from bad luck, once in a while a fish swallows the bait. It happens. But fish are deep hooked sometimes when fly-fishing or casting lures. Mortality can occur. Over playing a fish can also kill them. Tiger Muskies are stocked for anglers. That’s the only reason they are in these lakes. So I don’t get too uptight about this stuff. But for anglers that don’t care to cast all day, I think bobber fishing with large bait is a great way to fish.

Day four was plagued with some small shiners and we wound up landing a fair number of bass. One good Tiger was caught. All in all it was a very productive trip with Day One being the best day I’ve witnessed on catching numbers of giants.

John at Otisco Lake Marine is trying to add onto the amount of off-road parking. Word is that NYS DEC is developing a State Launch just south of the Causeway on the east side of the lake.

Sodus Bay/Lake Ontario 6/24: What a wild day I had with Mark I.! These are the types of days I really love as a guide and an angler. I wrote down a list of stuff to bring including gar tackle, gear and fly-gear for drum and smallmouth bass stuff. Plus I always have vertical jigging gear onboard. Mark loves fly-fishing for gar. He’s landed some nice tarpon, bonefish and permit on the fly; he has fished! Gar fishing is a lot of fun for fly-fishers. It’s exciting sight fishing and the gar are cool to look at and handle. Plus they jump. Huge gar can fight incredibly well, though not all of them do.

We started around 7:30 am and I had Mark cast with some gear for pike. He used a large spoon. After about 5 or 6 casts he set the hook into a huge fish! Was it a 15lb+ northern? Maybe a foul-hooked giant carp? I didn’t know. It ran out a lot of line, then turned, ran some more and kept digging and pumping. We saw some gold! It was a giant drum! It pulled as good as any musky I saw all week long. That’s not an exaggeration. These members of the drum/redfish family fight hard! This one probably weighed 12 to 14lbs. Great fish and Mark was very impressed. I just wasn’t expecting a drum to hit a large spoon. Mark said it looked almost exactly like the redfish he’d caught except was thicker bodied and lacked the spot near the tail.

Then we went to the gar fishing on the fly. They were stacked as I have never witnessed before. They weren’t super aggressive, but they provided a lot of sport. Mark had a ton of follows and short hits and he managed to land four, including one nice one that I had to throw overboard when it went crazy. So I wasn’t able to measure that one but I had to save my hands! Mark also caught a 12″ bonus bass on the fly.

We then decided to run out to Lake Ontario. I love Lake Ontario and I think we have some great fishing there ahead of us in the future. But the bait situation is what it is. Mark was up for anything so I headed us out into the deeps. Why not try some vertical jigging? We set up around 60′ FOW and as I dropped my temp probe Mark dropped his jig. The north winds set up a fairly deep thermocline (for the Fingers, but average for LO) and I had 61 degrees on the bottom. Mark actually had a follow down there! Too warm for lakers and probably too deep for smallmouth this time of year, so I’d guess brown trout.

We went out deeper and Mark had a very aggressive fish chase his jig up. Was it an immature King? Nope – after a short battle I slid the net under a fat 26″ steelhead! The first we’ve landed on a jig in Lake Ontario. It was in great condition and we let it go and it took off. Some steelheader will be happy. Running deeper I found a pile of bait on bottom. Oh wait, there isn’t much bait east of Rochester. It was a pile of lakers! Mark found out as he landed a 20″ Canandaigua sized fish. No other fish landed. Awesome 2 hours of jigging! And I expect this fishing to continue like this for years. We’ve now taken Kings, Browns, Lakers and finally a Steelhead vertically jigging in deep water (during the summertime open water season) on Lake Ontario. And a lot of people said it couldn’t be done. If I lived away from the Fingers and closer to Lake Ontario you can bet I’d be specializing in jigging salmonids out there on the “big lake.” And anyone who says the lake still has a lot of bait in it probably fishes the same small radius. We didn’t see squat out of Sodus and I have decent electronics and know how to use them. The chase of that steelhead spoke volumes regarding how hungry these fish are. They are expected to do alright after the alewives collapse.

6/25: Cayuga Lake out of Long Point – Well today was back to the homeland. We started at 5:30 am today and had terrific jigging throughout the AM then a slow pick the rest of the day. Greg and his nephew Adam landed around 24 solid lakers up to 30″. Also one dink salmon. Great fishing and two lampreys came up that won’t be killing any more trout.

Regarding the Cayuga Lake Elite BASS event. I’m not thrilled with smallmouths being removed from their beds midlake and being hauled up north given the huge goby population on Cayuga, but that’s the way it goes. The pros have been doing a great job landing some tremendous bags of fish. This lake is fishing better than Lake Champlain now for bass – at least largemouths. Hopefully the clubs won’t go tournament crazy here over the next bunch of years, but I think that’s wishful thinking. There was a great little article on Bassmaster praising pickerel, which I thought was cool. Some people get it, some don’t. They are a cool gamefish and I’m glad we have them.