Reports 7/30 – 7/31
Just wrapped up the busiest month of my guiding "career" thus far. I did a fair amount of "lake hopping" which is something I'm unlikely to do much of again, if at all. Fishing remains very good in general in the area, though I've had a slow report or two coming off of Cayuga Lake for lakers after the heavy rain we got on the AM of the 30th.
7/30 AM – Seneca Lake out of Sampson: I hadn't been on Seneca Lake in a while, but TJ was staying on Keuka Lake and was looking to do some fishing. I recommended Seneca. The weather map was looking a little ominous, but we decided to go for it. Sometimes storms to the west of the area dissipate as they unleash their torrential downpours and other times they pick up steam. Anyways, we met at Sampson at 6:30 am and conditions were ominous. Very still and quiet. Nobody else had launched. No sign of rain to start but action was kind of slow. TJ was stoked to land a nice wild 22" laker after maybe 1/2 an hour or 45 minutes of fishing.
Then the rain started. I put on my Bass Pro Shops "100 MPH Raingear" which is good stuff. I haven't found anything that keeps my 100% dry, but it's pretty close. TJ had a rain jacket. We couldn't see the west side of the lake after a while. Rain just poured and poured and when we hoped it would slow down, it got worse. My bilge pump was running on the boat and TJ had a steady stream of water running down off of him. Soaked to the bone. We discussed options but he stuck it out. Finally we saw some clearing to the west of us.
We tried the west shore without much action, so I ran up north towards Belhurst. The sun came out and on his first drop or two he was in business. He wound up filling his limit with 4 more fish. He then hooked a monster – a 33" laker that we released. Tremendous fish and great way to end the day. He later told me he'd come very close to ending the trip earlier. I wouldn't have blamed him a bit. I give him a heck of a lot of credit for hanging in there and reaping the rewards of a great day. I've heard of a few slow reports from Seneca, but I didn't find any evidence to back that up. There are still terrific numbers of fish and baitfish up around Geneva. Sampson looks decent too.
7/30 PM – Otisco Lake: I did my PM trip with Dan (again) and his other brother Jim. Tiger Muskies were the target again. I was a little bit worried about the effects of the cold front that had moved through around noon time. The winds were strong out of the west. There are some varying schools of thought regarding muskies and other esocids with cold fronts. I don't subscribe to "Musky Hunter" or go online at all on musky forums – so I am out of the loop, but I know that a lot of musky fishermen like steady weather. Stormy conditions can be good too. Some people claim (like "In-Fishermen" magazine articles or RichZ's blog) that cold front conditions can be good for pike, but I don't notice that much, with the exception of the fall or winter. The other school of thought with muskies is that "the best time to fish is anytime you can get out." We have caught some very nice fish during cold fronts, but we've always had to work hard for them and a little bit of luck also plays a part. Unfortunately the guys had no luck today. We fished hard for around 5 hours, working different lures and a lot of different areas both shallow and deep. I was really hoping Dan would get one after watching his brother hook two on Tuesday, but it wasn't to be. But 8 hours of fishing without a musky is nothing in terms of musky fishing. It took me a heck of a lot more time than that to get my first Tiger on Otisco Lake – lot of DAYS over the course of YEARS! Fishing was harder then, but with muskies you have to put your time in. The guys did a great job with the effort and I hope they give it another try down the line.
7/31 AM Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs: Guided the Hermans, who told me they wanted bass today. Shifting gears from lakers to muskies to largemouth bass fishing is a challenge for me. I don't have time to keep my tackle in good order. The more you do something, the better you get (usually.) But if I just did lakers during the summer, I'd go crazy. I like the challenge of bass fishing on Cayuga Lake and today was a challenge.
A lot of my style of guiding is working with people's experience (or lack thereof) and hopefully expanding their fishing repertoire. When I started taking the Hermans out around 9 or 10 years ago, nearly all of their fishing had been live-bait with guides in Canada. Over the years we've jigged a lot of lakers as well as fished pike and bass on different water bodies. We haven't pitched for bass or skipped docks. Today we did some of the latter in midlake areas and it paid off. The rain from 7/30 really muddied up a lot of the lake. We found some clearer areas and John wound up nailing (and releasing) two superb largemouths – a 21"er and a 20". Both fought great. And he did a great job with the casting. I had Eleonore throwing a baitcaster very well today. So the pitching will come down the line. As an added note, a large school of gar was hanging around Frontenac Island today. John had one nail his crankbait! It was very cool! It got off, but it was neat.