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Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 4/21 - 22

Guided Mark I. for two full days back to back.  Usually we space out our trips but the unseasonably cold weather has made good fishing days hard to come by.  Fishing wasn't easy by any means for landlocked salmon.

4/21:  Met Mark at the launch at 10 am.  My buddy Mike and his girlfriend Sue arrived at the same time.  They decided to fish lake trout first then chase salmon.  We focused on salmon, basically casting with gear until the wind came up and conditions became more suitable for fly-fishing.  We wound up sticking with the gear for the most part.  We saw a nice rainbow in one area but it showed no interest.  In another area Mark had a hold of a nice brown trout but the hook eventually pulled out.  Mark managed a solid 21" salmon a little bit later but that was it.  Mike and Sue did well with the lakers and later on Sue managed a 25" salmon on a swimbait.  Fishing was tough with cold water in most areas and then the wind really came up - gusting into the upper teens at times.

4/22:  We expected better fishing today with the stable weather and decided to start with the lakers.  Laker jigging has been really good in the mid-lower lake over the past two years with the presence of round gobies.  The lakers were gobbling good and Mark had a very solid morning landing 6 nice fish up to 28 1/2".  We had one wild fish.  All the lakers were very clean i.e. no signs of lamprey hits.   100' to 150' produced for us.  Overall the bigger lakers are up the lake around Long Point/Deans Cove north, where they are averaging closer to 27".  Most lower lake fish have been 20" to 22" or so.

Salmon fishing was a challenge. Despite conditions which I love - north winds and sun, a lot of salmon are still orienting towards the bottom of the lake, clearly feeding on gobies. In one area Mark had some hits and follows and landed a fat 18.5" salmon.  Another area produced a half hour of decent activity.  Mark nabbed a 21" salmon, an 18" brown (that jumped really high!) and his personal best salmon (on the fly that is - he landed a bigger one laker jigging a year or two ago),  a 26+1/2" beauty that jumped four times in a row.  After that he had another hit/follow from a smaller fish and that was it. We got lucky being in the right place at the right time.  Fish all came on olive woolly buggers.  The brown trout and smaller salmon were clean, the bigger ones had signs of lamprey (including one live lamprey that came up on the 21" salmon.)  We released all fish today apart from one laker destined for dinner.  Overall fishing was tough today and I talked to another 3 boats whom did not have much if any action.  I think it will take some more warm days/warm water before alewives move up and these fish start orienting more towards the surface.  We'll see.  Good numbers of salmon, browns, rainbows and lakers are out there.

Cayuga Lake out of Myers 4/14 PM

Met Carmella and Dean at the launch around noon and headed out.  It was much windier than forecast and cold on the lake with north winds blowing over miles of 37/38 degree water. Carmella fished for maybe 20 minutes and then relaxed as Dean did all the casting. It didn't take long for him to have a hit but that was the only action we had for a few hours.  We tried some different areas and worked a "two-pronged approach" fairly thoroughly - stickbait and jigs.  

We made a good run into the wind which wound up being fairly brutal.  No luck again. We hit our last area and Dean had a fish follow it and nail his stickbait right by the boat!  Finally - some luck.  It was a 21" salmon that was in great shape.  We released it and fished a bit more then called it a day.  So we came close to getting skunked but managed some "late inning" heroics.  The ride back to Myers was very choppy.  It was a trip to remember for a lot of different reasons.  Cold but fun.  This spring has featured some good fishing but it's been pretty challenging.  We are now looking at upwards of 2" of rain over the next couple days.   The warm rain on Monday should get the fishing going but the lake will likely be a muddy mess for a bit.  We'll see what happens.


Cayuga Lake 4/12 + 13

Guided Ron for two trips in a row - we went out of Myers yesterday and Long Point today. Fishing wound up being very good on both days though we had a little luck on our side yesterday.        

4/12 PM:  Went out of Myers around 1 pm.  We did around 6 hours and never saw another boat on the lake. It was a slow go to start.  Ron missed a salmon, a follow and two hits from a nice chunky brown and then a nice laker that engulfed his jig by the boat.  In area #2 he got a 17.5" salmon and then a 24" laker shortly thereafter. 

We had a fair amount of rain dump on us too yesterday.  Conditions were not super pleasant.

The next area produced nothing.  Area #4 produced a 21" salmon.  We tried another stretch before quitting and Ron nabbed 3 salmon - all cookie cutter 19"ers and a fat 18" goby fed smallmouth before heading in. Water temps remain in the upper 30s.                    

4/13 AM:  Today we launched out of Myers at 8 am and fished another 6 hours (due to a prior committment I had tonight, I had to change out my guiding schedule and do two- 6 hour trips rather than a half and full day.)  The deep laker jigging was very good and steady.  Ron landed 11 solid lakers and missed another 9 or 10!  Best fish was a 34.5" whopper!  Not a fat fish - so probably around 12lbs.  Most fish were healthy 27" to 28"ers.  Nobody else was out laker fishing that we could see.   Fish came deep - 130' to 175' FOW. Nice looking healthy fish with little or no signs of lamprey activity.           




Keuka Lake out of Keuka Lake State Park 4/10 PM

This elongated winter has made me a bit stir-crazy so I decided I'd give Keuka Lake a try. Cayuga's been fantastic but I do like to change things up on occasion.  I'll be on Cayuga Lake all year long! Regarding Keuka, last year I fished it once from shore without luck - that was it. I no longer guide over there on any regular basis. (If the laker fishing became great again, I could see Hammondsport as a good option when south winds are really strong - but that isn't going to happen anytime soon.) This year I would like to fish a few of the Finger Lakes that I haven't hit in a while, including Canandaigua and Conesus.  

Angling Zone friend Jeff was on Keuka last weekend with two buddies and they managed a decent day, landing a dozen lakers.  I really wanted to see if the lake's fishing had changed much.  Would I be able to catch lakers hopping tube jigs along the bottom in shallow?  Are there notably more perch around with the alewife collapse?  

Unfortunately I really wasn't able to answer those questions.  It was damn COLD out there!  I dealt with snow storms  - basically mini-flurries coming through and swirling winds interspersed with sunny periods.  So I spend most of the day working laker jigs like I used to out there.  I did see a ton of small perch in by the boat launch.  These were not fish big enough to bother fishing for, but I hadn't seen that before over there this time of year.  Laker jigging was slow for the most part.  The fish were in the same old areas I've always caught them in, but there was noticeably fewer of them and no bait to speak of.  I caught one laker casting a jig in around 40' to 60' of water.  I had follows in water from around 70' to 165' (feet deep.)  In four hours I landed just that one fish, then I tried one of my earlier areas and caught two more in short order for a grand total of three 19" lakers in 5 hours. Some of it was the weather pattern.  Even in Keuka's laker heyday I remember strong west winds and overcast/snowy conditions being tough for lakers over there in April.  The two I caught quickly came after the sun broke through and winds set up from the north.  Nothing to speak of in their stomachs apart from a small perch in one of them.  Two of them had gorgeous pink meat.  Water level is high (a little) and temps were 38 on top.  Nothing about Keuka makes me want to forego Cayuga.

PS:  If any of you reading this like baked goods, check out Tabora Farm & Winery's bakery between (just N. of) Glenora and Dundee on 4978 Lakemont Himrod Road. They have some good stuff very reasonably priced.  I was impressed.  

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 4/2 PM


Got out on my own for around 4 hours to check on the laker activity off of Long Point (basically the central to northern basin of the lake.)  I was scheduled to guide a full day fly fishing salmon but my client had a death in his extended family so I wound up having the nicest day of the week free.   After I was notified of the cancellation I contacted my buddy Terry and my original plan was to either fish Seneca out of Sampson for lake trout and maybe some perch or possibly head over to Skaneateles and toss some perch rigs and hair jigs around.  Terry got back to me late last night (after work) and told me he wasn't feeling up to going.  

Lake levels have come up maybe 2' from the winter lows and launching wasn't a problem. I started searching some areas with my electronics and dropping a few jigs. Once I got out into some deep water I found a concentration of lake trout and dropped my jig while I was putting in a waypoint.  I always detail the waypoint with what I found - so I was tediously typing in one letter at a time when my jig hit bottom. I had a hit right when I hit bottom so a couple seconds later I pulled up my rod and felt some weight.  I kept the rod bent while I finished off typing in the waypoint.  I had a cigar going too.  

Once I got up on the bow the fish felt pretty heavy.  It was sunny and gorgeous outside so I figured I'd razz Terry a little bit for not being up for a trip.  So I took a quick photo with my cellphone and sent him the shot.  The fish wasn't moving.  All I was thinking was "Man, anybody that doesn't think lake trout fight is crazy!" Another thought that crossed my mind was "Man, I wish this was the Memorial Weekend Derby and I was on Seneca Lake - I'd have the Grand Prize!"   I figured I had a 14lb to 20lb goby-fed laker.  I mean heck - we've had gobies in the lake for years now and these laker have got to be getting big - at least some of them!   Another five minutes goes by and I still have made zero headway on the fish.  My medium/heavy baitcaster is doubled over!  So I call Terry and tell him what's up.  He says "Dude - you got a sturgeon on!" He had caught one before off of Lake Erie in Canada but I was very doubtful that that was what I had.  From what I've always read, they like shallower water - like 15' to 50' or so.  Plus somebody, if not us - would have certainly caught one by now if they grabbed gaudy paddletail jigs - especially bright chartreuse jigs fished vertically for lakers.  I could see one taking a brown bucktail or something like that crawled along the bottom.  Sturgeon mostly scavenge and eat stuff like crawfish and gobies.  It just didn't add up to me - except for the fact that it was heavy and I had no control over it.

The fish started moving up while I was still on the phone.  Next thing I know, my line is heading out horizontally from the boat.  I couldn't wait to see the big laker!  Then a monstrous shark-shaped fish that was white hit the surface - head first, then dorsal then tail fin.  HOLY SHIT!!! It WAS a sturgeon!  Terry said - "take a picture" and then I hung up.

It ran all the way back to the bottom - basically right back down to 150'!!! So my work was cut out for me.  I didn't want to overplay the fish so I really torqued on the rod as hard as I could without breaking anything.  I got my camera out while doing this and found the battery dead, then the spare was dead too.  Bummer.  After another 10 minutes I finally made headway and the fish came up as if in an elevator!  I got the beautiful primitive fish up to the boat.

I was probably around 4+1/2 to 5 feet long.  I'm guessing 40 to 50lb range but I don't know - maybe it was bigger maybe not.  Hard to tell because I didn't have a way to measure it.  I just didn't want to harm it.   It had a lamprey on its dorsal area.  I kept the fish in the water - it just kind of hung there motionless.  I unhooked it my reaching down and popping the jig out - yes, it inhaled a 1+1/2 oz white jighead with a chartreuse Lunker City Shaker on it.  I did manage a couple shots of it with my cheap flip phone.  Needless to say, my arm was toast.  Some people have told me that sturgeon they caught didn't fight that well.  Bringing this one up from 150' of water was very difficult. Not a spectacular battle, but certainly a very strong fish and watching it surface will be ingrained in my brain til I die.  

I did manage a couple nice lake trout too afterwards but they were obviously anticlimactic!  Photos will be up shortly!



Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock Park 3/29

Got out with my buddy Shahab for a day of casting and fly-casting for salmon.  Fishing was slow but steady today. I had all the early action including 3 solid salmon running to 23" - two on jigs and one on a fly.  I then picked up a nice laker and a 20" clipped rainbow all on jigs. The rainbow was chrome and absolutely gorgeous.   Shahab picked up a nice laker and salmon to finish out the day.

In the goby-era fish have become quite selective in their feeding zones and habits, especially while the water is still very cold.  We had 37 to 38 degree water today in most areas.  The south end of the lake is starting to show some murky water approaching 40 degrees.   Fishing remains challenging yet productive on this lake.  It was the opposite "bite" from what I experienced with Todd on Sunday.  Stay tuned!


Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 3/25

Had a great time and great day fishing with my friend Todd.  He guided in Alaska for years and is good with both conventional gear and fly-gear.  We got out at around 10:45 am and worked a few areas both casting gear and fly-tackle.  We didn't get off the water until nearly 6:30 pm. The first area yielded a solid laker for Todd. We worked another area and got right into fish.  We had some good follows and I finally nabbed a nice but small salmon around 16".  Things really picked up from then on and we wound up landing another 10 or 11 solid fish.  I caught a few on flies fishing a full-sinking line including a fine 22" chunky brown and a salmon around the same size along with a smaller one.  Todd did great on a tube jig catching a bunch of fish including another laker.  Best fish of the day was Todd's 25" dropback salmon.  He also lost a chromer that was bigger with a spectacular jump near the boat. 

March really tends to get the salmon frenzied a bit on Cayuga Lake.  We certainly didn't encounter this density of salmon earlier in the season fishing the areas we fished and the way we like to fish (casting/fly-casting.)  Lamprey wounding is moderate.  Nearly all the fish over 20" had signs of lamprey activity.  One of my salmon came up with a small lamprey.  Water level remains low.  Water temps were around 37.  It was cold to start and on the run over to the fishing area the boat spray did a good job icing up the rods I had hanging off of the back of the boat.

Cayuga Lake Shorefishing 3/6 PM

Got out for around an hour and a half for a bit of shorecasting. While fly-fishing  I had one definite hit and landed the fish - a nice chunky 21" dropback salmon that I released.  That fish hit an olive clouser fished on a full sink type 4 line.  That was it - I cast some jigs around as well in hopes of a lake trout but never had any hits.  Water level remains low.

Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 2/27

Got out with my friend Shahab for a day of casting and fly-casting starting at around 11 am and running until 5 pm.  We had a very solid day of fishing mostly pretty shallow (less than 15' of water) for lake trout and salmon.  I had one very nice "tank" of a brown trout follow in a jig.  We both caught nice lakers and salmon - probably around 10 to 12 lakers were hooked on the day with around a half dozen netted.  We landed 4 salmon from a dink up to a 23" dropback.  A few of my salmon came on flies.   Jigs were the key lure for the non-fly caught fish.

The big news is that the marina/launch area at Taughannock is scheduled to be dredged this week and up until March 9th.  The park officials may find a way to keep the launch open on the weekend and it is possible that the project could be completed before March 9th.  It definitely needs it!  It is hard to traverse the channel.  Add in some high winds and waves and most boats will be bottoming out.  If the lake level comes up, launching might be possible at Myers - but that still could be doubtful.  Long Point is probably doable.  Seneca launches should all be good as well.  I will post any updates as I hear about them here.

Cayuga Lake 2/24 out of Taughannock

Guided a full day with Mark I. concentrating on fly-fishing.  We worked around 5 or 6 different areas of the lake with a slow go to start.  He had a good brown chase in his streamer as well as a small salmon.  Eventually he had a solid hit or two but no hookups.  A switch to a tube jig on a spinning rod yielded 4 nice lake trout from 21" to 25" in less than a 1/2 hour.  Those fish came from around 10' of water.   A lot of fish are clearly searching the lake's bottom looking for gobies.  He hooked one laker on a fly a little bit later.  The biggest laker had gorgeous colors despite being a hatchery fish.

Working one stretch for salmon resulted in a solid hit and a bit later Mark nabbed a solid 21" salmon on a streamer fished on an intermediate line. The salmon had a small lamprey attached.   All in all, somewhat slow fishing for awhile but a productive day.  Water temps were 38 degrees.  Lake level is still very low.  At least 1/2 dozen boats were out today along with quite a few shore fishermen.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 2/20

Got out here on my own for around 5 hours starting at 12:30 pm.  I worked a long stretch of water fly-casting for salmon.  I had a little bit of action but nothing special - a hit here, a follow there.  Eventually I connected with a couple short fish while casting gear.  Pike fishing was pretty good.  In around 90 minutes I landed a couple and had around 3 follows both from pike and pickerel.  

It appears to be another fairly mediocre year here for salmon.  We've also seen slow shorefishing here this season thus far.  I've had one good secondhand report of solid fish being taken on one occasion.   I ran into a couple small groups of short fish (14" range.)  Legal size is 15" here (18" on Cayuga.)  Next year we may see an uptick in catchable numbers of salmon if these short fish are well distributed and escape the lamprey gauntlet.  

Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 2/15

Got out for the first guided trip of the season with John and Andrew.  The lake level is extremely low (as low as I've ever seen it) but I was able to launch ok.  I had the guys work various hair and tube jigs along with spoons and stickbaits.  Fishing was pretty slow for us during the first hour but John eventually managed to connect with a nice 21" laker on a spoon.  I actually saw two halfway decent largemouth bass up shallow in 37 degree water - not something you tend to see very often! 

In another area Andrew connected with a beautiful 26" landlocked salmon.  Great fight with some good runs and acrobatics.  John also managed to catch another laker.  We had a couple follows from other salmon too.

After the half day trip ended I went back out exploring a bit.  I had my fly gear but stuck with spinning tackle due to the conditions.  A big laker around 27" followed in my jig but never hit it.  I caught (yet another) dropback salmon from last year's amazing class of two year old fish - it was a nice 21"er.  I checked out the laker jigging and found good numbers of fish from shallow out to 80'.  I didn't look deeper but I'm sure they are out there in good numbers.  I managed a 25" one eyed lake trout on a Shaker.  The one eyed fish out of Cayuga was in much better condition that a two eyed (normal) lake trout I managed to catch while ice fishing on Keuka Lake earlier in the week.

At the end of the day I managed two salmon - a 19"er and a 20".  I kept the 20"er and it was loaded with gobies.  Salmon seem to be very scattered.  There's no need for them to bunch up too much with the abundant goby population on Cayuga Lake.  Overall I am not seeing great numbers of one and two year old (years in the lake that is) fish out there.  They are clearly around and the fishing isn't bad, but not on a par with last year.  I expect salmon fishing to improve once alewives start moving up.  I think we will see another good salmon year but the best fishing may not happen until things warm up a bit more.  Water temps ranged from 37 to 39.   


Seneca Lake Shorefishing 2/1

I managed to get out for around 2 1/2 hours to do some shoreline casting and fly-casting. In hindsight, I probably should have launched my boat since the conditions weren't as windy as they were forecast to be.  Of course, if I had been in my boat and the wind kicked up as forecast, I'd have been complaining and kicking myself for not shorefishing.   

A couple boats were out of Watkins Glen perch fishing.  They were moving around a fair amount when I stopped by the pier.  I have no idea how they were doing, but oddly nobody was fishing the marina area.

Shorefishing was slow.  The conditions weren't great but weren't bad either.  The only action I had were two splashes/swirls by my stickbait when I was finishing my retrieve.  I was wearing waders and along a shelf adjacent to a dropoff and never saw the fish despite looking in that general area at the time, so the fish had to be very small salmon in all likelihood - i.e. 13" to 15" fish.

The Rochester Boat Show was this past week (the final day is Superbowl Sunday - so it's still going as I write this.)  We had a very good turnout yesterday after a slow Friday.  Silver Lake Marine has some beautiful new Crestliners as well as some nice used ones (like Sportfish and Raptors.)  Check out their website if you're in the market for a new boat this year.  Even a 16.5' Crestliner FishHawk has a beam around 86"!  So they are very stable and roomy -i.e. very comfortable boats to fish out of. 

Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 1/28

Got out with my friend Eric today for around 5 hours of casting and fly-fishing.  According to yesterday's forecast we were supposed to have NW winds at around 5 mph and sun but today the forecast was changed to light and variable i.e. oftentimes non-existent winds. That can make the fishing a bit trickier.

Using hairjigs resulted in three lake trout hookups for me - one that I didn't bring to the net (maybe a 25" or 26"er.)  The fish are fighting with a lot of vigor.  I landed on nice salmon on an intermediate fly-line - it was over 21".  Apart from that, we had a few other possible hits.

Eric landed the fish of the day (maybe one of the season) on his spinning gear.  We thought he had a lake trout.  When I netted the fish I thought "hybrid pike/pickerel," but nope - it was the most massive pickerel I'd ever seen!  It wasn't a state record fish but it was in that ball park.  28 1/2" long and incredibly fat!  This pickerel had to be at least 7lbs - at least by my estimation.  It was very thick bodied and again, it had some serious length.  I will get a photo up of the fish once Eric sends me the pics.  Best pickerel I've ever seen by a long shot - I've caught a couple 27"s and seen a skinny 28" but this one was proportioned more like a walleye.  Eric also had a couple other hits and got one other pickerel.

Overall the lake trout and brown trout bites have been good to very good this winter. I'd call the inshore lake trout fishing good to excellent.  I have never seen it better.  Landlocked salmon action has not been as good as last year so far. Thus far I'd call it "fair" fishing. A few areas have good numbers of young sublegal and barely legal fish.  In general, I am not sure what's going on. I know from the overall fishing in 2017 that there are good numbers of salmon around.  We are unlikely to repeat what we saw last year.  It's rare that we have two banner years in a row.  Seeing dropbacks is a great sign.  Some salmon are clearly feeding on gobies along bottom while others are up higher.  I kept my salmon today and it had a couple alewives in its stomach. It also had a lamprey scar.  Water level is still good for the winter and the temp is 38/39.

Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 1/26

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  On 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.  

Cayuga Shorefishing 1/10 PM

Got out for around an hour and a half on the east shore on Wednesday.  I didn't fish a whole lot (between talking with a friend and smoking a cigar) but gave it a good 45 minutes without a hit mostly with gear due in part to the high winds.  People continue to catch lake trout and a few browns from shore.  Occasional salmon are showing up here and there.  We should see another good salmon year on Cayuga Lake.  These Sebagos are hard to predict.  Last fall we encountered a few out over 120' of water down maybe 40' while jigging lakers.  I never used to find the older strain ("Little Clear" fish) out there.  

Lake Ontario Sodus Bay Cross Lake Skaneateles Lake Owasco Lake Cayuga Lake Seneca Lake Keuka Lake