Got out with my buddy Mike for some fly-casting and gear fishing for salmon/trout. Winter fishing is tough on equipment. My starting battery was dead on arrival at the launch. Fortunately I had a brand new spare. Usually I'll charge my starting battery after not using it for awhile (it's been almost two month since I had the boat out) but my onboard charger had some issues. Later in the day my trolling motor started acting up (basically not working.) My old Motorguide has seen a lot of use over the years. It seemed like a contact issue. So the "storage gremlins" were really active over the past two months. Mike told me he left the bananas at home, so I couldn't blame him for my issues. I do keep a spare trolling motor at home, so this one might be heading to Barrett Marine for some service.
The wind was also howling. I saw sun and highs of 45 on weather.com. On weather.gov I saw highs of 41 and winds south 5 to 8 with sun. Both sounded good, but the reality was highs around 40 and south winds around 11 to 13 or more. It felt like it was in the low 20s out there. The water level rose up at least a foot, which was great to see for this time of year. Water temperatures were around 38/39.
Fishing was interesting. In our first area we had a slow go for awhile with the flies. I finally had a salmon around 18" grab a fly at it was motionless near the boat. After a good run under the boat and some topwater action the fish got off. Next fish was a 13" brown on a hair jig. Mike nabbed a nice 23" laker on a swimjig and I managed a couple nice dropback salmon around 21" to 22" on hairjigs. We had other hits and follows. We weren't able to fish some of our better areas due to the wind. All in all I'd call it good fishing but not up to par with what we had last year at this time. But I chalk most of that up to the day and our conditions. The fish are out there.
It's fantastic to see the dropbacks out on Cayuga Lake this year. Mike caught one from shore last month. In all my years fishing the Finger Lakes for Landlocked Atlantic salmon I can remember very few drop backs - maybe one a season if that. I think we are seeing dropbacks for two main reasons: 1.) We had terrific runs of salmon this fall, so a lot of fish spawned and made it back to the lake. 2.) These fish have more energy by incorporating gobies in their diets. Less thiamine deficiency likely leads to stronger fish that can survive the spawn. No matter what the reason(s) are - it's great seeing these fish. They may not be as pretty as the ones that haven't spawned yet, but they are full of vigor. I had great fights from these fish and they were released to fight again.