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12/29/2008
Seneca Shorefishing 12/28 + Cayuga out of Taughannock 12/29

Got out with my buddy Mike over the past two days.   We always have a good time getting out for some serious fishing/fly-fishing and we do a lot of thinking and hypothesizing on the water.   We worked our Seneca shorefishing area for perch on Sunday and had pretty slow fishing.  We did nail around 8 or 9 fish, and 4 of them ranged from 1 to 1lb 6 oz.   So there were a few bass-sized fish in there.  The stomachs of the perch were loaded (just packed!) with minnows.  These fish clearly change their feeding preferences from day to day depending on what's available.    

We fished Cayuga for salmon today starting around 10:15 am.   It took awhile to find some fish - we worked some areas pretty thoroughly.   Turns out they were right where I'd left them a couple days ago!   I nailed a chunky alewife filled 17 1/2" brown on a deceiver using a sinking line.  Not long afterwards I had a decent hit fairly close to the boat.  I set the hook and my Diamondback Backwater 6 wt. rod snapped near the handle!   So now I'm holding my flyrod handle and fortunately I still have a gorgeous large landlocked salmon on the line!   As I handline the fish in, it started going crazy, with some insane jumps!  These fish are like steelhead on speed.   Just crazy!  Mike netted the fish - though he was dying to get an action shot with me playing the fish on the broken rod.   I wanted to salvage the rod and get that fish in!   We took a couple quick photos and I quickly released the most beautiful landlocked salmon I've ever caught.   There wasn't a mark on this fish.   It was just shy of 26" and a solid 6lbs.    We wound up hooking/missing a few more.   Mike set the hook and broke off a tube fly in one fish - he'd had 3 hits in a row!  

I kept the brown trout to eat.  It was full of bait and very fat.   These fish in Cayuga are finding bait - lots of it.  They're growing well and lampreys are under control.   My last 2 landed salmon were both in the 5.5 to 6lb. range and the dropped fish were around 20" to 22".   I'm not finding a ton of fish, but the fishing is very good and I think we'll see some 7 to 8lb or bigger fish by this spring.  H2O is 41 degrees.  Water levels are low, but not at winter draw down levels yet.     

12/27/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 12/27

After seeing the nice weather forecast, and watching the skies clear on the radar, I decided to take the boat out for an afternoon of fishing.   It's been kind of hard for me to get up early lately - I feel that I'm making up for my sleep deprivation that takes place from April through November, but it didn't matter today.   I launched the boat at 1:15 pm.  The lake level of Cayuga is LOW, even though it looks alright.   I found that out on the way back in at 4:30 pm when my prop got introduced to the rubble at the mouth of the marina!

I brought pike and salmon gear and fly-fishing equipment today.   I was psyched to try this rod that Mike Canavan sent me - a spinning rod with a split grip and interesting guide configuration.  The rod fished suprisingly well - it's a St. Croix Graphite III blank.   The rod cast light X-raps as well as heavier jigs with ease.   The handle was ergonomically pleasing and the guide spacing made complete sense when I cast and retrieved lures.   The rod has 3 relatively large single foot fuji guides, then there's a wide gap and 4 tiny guides and the tip top.   The rod was custom built for a particular spinning reel.   When reeling in, the line barely touches the outside of the larger guide ring - so there's next to no friction.   While fishing my index finger is on the blank.  I was very impressed - it cast and worked a variety of lure types well and was very light and pleasing to fish with.   I just received my new BASS Master magazine and can see that most major manufacturers of rods are now offering split grip rods.   Mike's been doing these for years - he's way ahead of the curve on rod building!    But I digress...

Water temps were around 41 degrees.  I had a hit and landed and released a 16" brown off the park.  It hit a white (small) X-rap.   I worked a few areas both N. and S. of the park, staying on the west shore.   Not much was happening.  I was hoping for a fish dinner and almost regretted releasing the brown!   In one of my favorite areas S. of the park I worked jigs and the X-rap for awhile, then went to the fly-rod.   I was pretty much getting ready to leave when I felt a hit and then a solid weight.   I knew it wasn't a snag since I was working an intermediate line and was in 20' of water or so.   The fish was heavy, but didn't do anything acrobatically - salmon can sometimes be a little lethargic (like steelhead) in the cold.   After some good digging near the boat I slid the net under it - it was a very nice fish - a 25" female that weighed 5lbs and 11.3 oz.    The last 25" salmon we caught in the winter/spring was in April or May and weighed 5lbs. 5 oz.   This fish (today) was in excellent condition!  No lamprey scars and FAT!   It's great to see.

A lot of people think that these salmon spawn then return to the lake, and then we start catching them.   My experience has been that the salmon we catch in November in the lake are not fish that spawned that particular fall.   I think that very few salmon survive spawning in Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.   In over 10 years of fishing salmon in the Finger Lakes in November and onwards I've caught 2 or 3 "post spawn fish".  That's it.  And one of those was on Skaneateles Lake - a lake with no alewives and no EMS problems.    The post-spawn fish I've caught were males.   I have yet to catch a post -spawn female (that I can remember) in the lake!    You'd think that after spawning the salmon (and browns) would be very hungry and aggressive like drop-back steelhead, but it isn't the case.   The fish I caught today had IMMATURE eggs in it - tiny skeins.  This was clearly a fish that was going to spawn in 2009, not a "drop back".   This fish was also loaded with alewives.   Cayuga has had loads of bait for years.   We haven't had a bait-shortage on this lake since I've lived here (since at least 1995!).  Yet some years the salmon are well-fed and on other years they aren't.   I think the baitifish have different depth preferences and it seems to me that if the alewives go very deep, the salmon don't always find them.   I'm not sure, but it's a theory.   

I had 2 fish hit today and landed 2.  I'm not complaining at all, but I didn't find any numbers today.  Conditions weren't my favorite for salmon - I like sun and north winds on Cayuga, but they weren't bad.   Re: guide trips - think of salmon fishing like steelhead or musky fishing - lots of effort and if you get one or two fish you're doing well.   Casting for these fish is a real thrill - it's not usually going to produce numbers, but you get to feel the hit and every bit of the battle!   Fly-fishing is also very effective for salmon.   I love it!    

Re:  Custom rods - they aren't for everyone, but they can be surprisingly affordable.  If you aren't happy with what's out there in the stores, or you do a lot of specialized techniques - let's say you do a lot of casting with 1/3 oz. spinnerbaits, or lake trout jigging you may find a custom rod the answer.  Plus it's cool as heck to have a rod with your name on it! ;-)    Mike can be reached at (570)888-0280 or email him at flytier@hotmail.com   

12/15/2008
Seneca Lake Shorefishing 12/14 + 12/15

Got out for around 3 1/2 hours of shorefishing on Sunday PM.   Had some great perch action landing 17 beautiful perch (at least 5 were over a pound, and the best was a 15" 1lb. 13.5 oz female - so I almost hit the legit 2lb mark.)   Fish were deep - probably around 50' of water.    Good old fathead minnows did the trick.   It was windy as heck on the lake and I was happy not to be in my boat.

Today I fished with my buddy Mike and we got out early and fished hard for perch again.  The bite was much tougher with us landing only 9 fish.  Mike got 8 of them!  I just couldn't hook up!   Same deal as 12/14.   Later on we switched gears and did some pike fishing.   We landed 4 total - Mike got one on a bunny fly and I got the rest on gear.   The best fish was a 30"er that hit a swimbait.  The others were hammerhandle - 20" to 22" fish.   It's good to see some successful spawning on Seneca with the pike (not that it's a surprise!)    Another shoreangler reported a small landlocked salmon - so it's good to know of a few of those around.   I plan on fishing Cayuga for salmon ASAP.   They should be there.  

So what do Seneca Lake yellow perch eat?   We've kept around 50 fish over the past couple weeks.   (I've got enough perch in the fridge and freezer to last me a couple weeks!)  Many of our fish are coming from water so deep that they are regurgitating their stomach contents before we can examine them.   But here's what we've found - sculpins, mysis shrimp, lake trout eggs and crayfish - along with a few of our fatheads.   So they are eating anything they can find - the fish we're catching are not selective!   The key to Seneca perch this time of year is to find active fish - fish that do what we call "eating stupid".   It's no fun fishing for neutral to negative fish.  

12/10/2008
Seneca Lake 12/10
To take the boat or not to take out the boat - that is the question!   If Hamlet was a fisherman, this is what he'd have asked today!  The weather reports were crazy between NOAA, weather.com and accuweather.com.   Strong south winds, strong northwinds - west winds.   Rain, freezing rain.  Warm temps till 3 pm then COLD.  We heard 3 different scenarios.   My buddy Mike and I decided to forego the boat and fish from shore.  We hit a couple of our favorite shore areas with a new target in mind - perch.   Well we got lucky, and Mike went for pike and I went for perch.   After nailing 5 perch I called Mike over and perch it was.   We spent the better part of an afternoon perch fishing and landed 18 beauties.  All nice Seneca fish ranging from a couple 10" (Seneca dinks) to 14"+ jacks.  Most fish were 12" to 13".  Some of these fish came from such deep water they nearly exploded as we brought them in.  Airbladders coming out of their mouths, eyes bulging out and blood running from the gills.   You'd feel a good weight and then the rod would just relent as the fish basically burst - so no catch and release today, other than "releasing to the grease".   Double hook minnow rigs did the trick again today.   Nothing fancy.
12/3/2008
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 12/3

Wow, what a day on Seneca Lake!  We didn't "crush the fish" - far from it, but it was a record breaker for me.   The absolute coldest day I've ever spent in my boat!   My buddy Mike and I launched the boat before 7:30 am.   It was brutal - air temps in the low to mid 20s augmented by a 15 mph southerly wind with 2' to 3' waves and a blue sky (for a while.)  Wind chills had to be in the teens and our minnow bucket started "slushing up" after a short time on the water!

Mike didn't bring gloves and he paid the price.   Baiting hooks - even just pulling in drift socks or an anchor was an invite to get your fingers feeling like they were being stuck with pins.  

Overall this was pure exploration for us.   I started fishing perch in Seneca Lake back around 1986 and it was a different ballgame back then.   More color to the water, shallower fish.   Skaneateles Lake fishes like Seneca did 20 years ago, but the fishing there isn't as good for big perch as Seneca used to be.  On Seneca fish are often deeper now and more of a challenge to catch.   I know a lot of good areas from all my time on the lake, but the perch patterns and how they relate to wind and water temperatures are all things I need to categorize - esp. on Seneca Lake.   So that was the goal today.

We had 44 degree water on top.  We spent a lot of time working the electronics looking for structure and fish.   Presentations on deep windblown flats were very difficult and poor at best.   We worked a couple major areas - limited by the strong winds and waves, and started on our last area by around 3 pm.  Of course, we never had a hit UNTIL we hit the last area.  I nailed a nice fish in 20' of water.   Then Mike nabbed one.  Then I got 2 more.  Then nothing.   We moved deeper (out to 45') and Mike thought he had a big fish - I figured he had a double.  I was right.   Then he thought he had a laker, until his rod load lightened up a bit.  He had a double of 14" to 15" fish, but one got off!   That was it - we'd had a few other hits but had to go due to my final classes (this week at Cornell.)   So we found the fish, but had to go.   The upside about Seneca fish is the size - they were all from 12" to 14.5" and hefty.  So catching 7 perch is like catching 7 bass.  

Fun stuff despite the cold.  The weather did moderate by 1 pm, but the winds kicked up again by 4 pm.  We never saw another boat on the water today.    

11/29/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 11/29

Got out today from around noon till dark.   I worked the southern portions of the lake, primarily for pike.   For some reason, the fly I had on wasn't triggering any good grabs for me.   I had 4 nice fish follow in my fly and not hit it.   One fish does that and I think "it's the fish";  more than one and it's a "me problem".    So I tried a few different things.   I eventually went to a chartreuse/gold deceiver tied with bucktail and an epoxied head.   I was just getting ready to motor up the lake when I decided to take a couple more casts and the fly got hammered!   I was in around 10' to 12' of water and could tell it was a really good fish.   I had it hooked solidly in the corner of the mouth and landed the fish - it was a nicely proportioned 38" beauty.   I think that's my 2nd. best pike on Cayuga.    It had a musky look to it - no spots; it was kind of blue and faded looking, but definitely a pike.   I took a couple quick photos and released the beast unharmed.   That was it on the day.

Around 3 or 4 years ago (check the reports from 2005), Cayuga had a strong class of 25" to 27" northerns.    The fish that are still around are probably  34" to 40" beasts by now!   If my buddy Mike and myself combine our last 3 fly-fishing trips for pike on Cayuga, we've caught a 38", 35" and a 33" fish.   Those are good pike!   We clearly don't have the Seneca numbers on Cayuga, but the size here is better on average.   I'm certain that Cayuga Lake currently holds some 40" plus fish pushing over 20lbs.   I did see a few bass cruising the shallows today.   Once we get some steady north winds I'll be giving the landlocked salmon a good go.   

11/28/2008
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 11/27 + 28

11/27:  I plan on doing a lot more perch fishing this winter than previous years (since I've been eating a lot more fish this season), so I bought a bunch of minnows a couple days ago and did a shakedown trip on Cayuga Lake for a few hours on Thanksgiving Day.   I tried a few different areas without a hit, then in my last spot I picked up one perch.    The water level is low on Cayuga, but it's still launchable.  Water temps vary from 44/45 midlake to 36 up north near Cayuga State Park.   The lone perch came from 17' of water.   I had no luck shallower.   

11/28:  I was going to hit Seneca today, but as I drove past the stack at AES I could see what appeared to be strong westerlies, so I went back over to Dean's.    I wasn't in the right mood to want to deal with strong west winds on Seneca!  It makes drifting tedious.   Anyways, I started right where I left off on the 27th and had some generally good perch fishing with some superb moments thrown in.   Using fathead minnows on double hook rigs I found good numbers of fish averaging around 9" on the lake's west shore.   I had a pretty steady pick all day, with some action from good schools (quite a few doubles.)   Wound up with around 25 or 26 decent fish.    Best fishing was in around 20' of water, though I'm certain I caught some as shallow as 17' and some around 25' to 27'.   

Cayuga Lake isn't a bad perch fishery.   It's just next to impossible to open water fish most of it in the winter with the freeze up on the north end and draw down making launching prohibitive at Dean's.    The fish run smaller than Seneca, Skaneateles, Keuka or Canandaigua - they are more like Owasco sized fish, but there's a lot more protection from nasty winds than on Seneca Lake.  I realize that wind triggers good fishing, but 3' to 4' waves on Seneca in the dead of winter doesn't strike me as being worth it for perch.   There are no crowds to deal with and plenty of fish.   

Cayuga's biggest perch are amongst the biggest in the Finger Lakes.   My friend's father in- law caught an 18 1/2" perch on Cayuga a few years back (the photo is on the bulletin board at Bass Pro Shops just past the fish tank on the right hand side below the stairs!)  The Cayuga perch could use some harvesting - 95%+ of the fish are between 7" and 9".   In May/June the bay just north of Sheldrake loads up with perch and it isn't hard to catch 100 fish in a day.    We caught around 30 to 40 in an hour or two this past May/June on plastics!    Fish were everywhere from 4' of water out to 23' or more!

11/25/2008
Seneca Shorefishing 11/25

Spend some time checking out a couple of my favorite shorefishing areas on Seneca Lake (I didn't have enough time to do the boat justice!)   Nothing much to report.  Lake levels are still good.   The lack of wind didn't help today, but it felt good getting out.    There's no reason the shore angling shouldn't be good now.   More cold temperatures can only help.   Tribs are low and clear.   

For those of you that bypass the homepage to check on reports, I do have some rods and reels for sale on the homepage.   Good lake trout jigging rods that are also good all-around baitcasters - good for bass and pike.   I also have a few RH baitcaster reels available.  Good way to get into a quality baitcaster at a low price.   It's all good stuff, but after spending around 4K on fishing tackle this year, I can't justify buying any more stuff until I get rid of some of the stuff cluttering my apt!

11/24/2008
Cayuga/Taughannock Shore Fishing 11/24
I managed about an hour and 15 minutes of casting while wading around the perimeter of the park before some snow storms moved in.   Nothing to report fish-wise.  I never had a hit or saw a sign of anything.   Water levels on Cayuga have dropped a lot - they aren't quite at their winter drawdown levels but it's getting there.   I hope to see some good salmon action on Cayuga this winter.   Once we get some steady northerlies I'll be back giving it another try (hopefully in the boat.)  Didn't take a water temp, but they must be in the mid-to upper 40s by now.   
11/14/2008
Otisco Lake 11/14
I got out on my own on Otisco Lake today.   The goal was to get a Tiger Musky on the fly.   I fly-fished hard from around 6:45 am till around 12:15, then I did some gear fishing until around 3 (not just for Tigers.)   I never raised a musky.   I did land a chunky 18" smallmouth bass on my streamer, missed another and had a couple bass follows on streamers (jerkbait anyone?).   The highpoint of the morning was watching a (!) school of at least 3 nice sized brown trout - fish in the mid-20s inch range follow in my streamer.   So there are some nice browns in this lake.     I saw one other boat on the lake trolling.   Hard to figure what was up.   I worked from the shallows (5') out to around 18' or 20' with streamers.   I fished good musky areas - at least we did well during the summer and fall in these places AND fish are caught through the ice in these areas.    There was a full-moon on the 13th, so maybe a lot of the muskies fed at night.   Maybe my flies weren't running deep enough, weren't big enough or I wasn't in the right areas.   Who knows?   But I found out what didn't work!    Water temps were at 49/50 - very warm for this time of year.  
11/12/2008
Canandaigua Lake 11/12
I hadn't fished Canandaigua in mid-November before, so my buddy Mike and myself shot out there today, arriving at 7:30 am.   It was cold outside!   We worked some shelves for smallmouth bass.  My hot area from the last couple months held up OK, with some follows on jerkbaits for both of us.   I hooked and lost a very nice (4lb) smallie on a tube jig then landed a chunky fish (probably around 3lbs) on a white X-rap.   We tried different tactics, but weren't able to find any decent numbers of bass this AM.   We didn't have time to fish many different areas - just my one stretch for bass.   I did nail a bonus perch.   We checked a few good lake trout shelves for personal "research" and found decent numbers of fish on them.   Fish were found in 85' to 100' over 150'!    We had a few short hits and I managed to land a 20" fish on a Hopkins spoon.   The male had recently spawned.   H2O was 50 degrees.   A few perch fishermen were out and action is reportedly very good in around 15' to 20' of water.   I did have a pickerel bite-off as well today.    These days are getting too short and we had to call it quits before 3 pm due to my classes this PM.   
11/8/2008
Skaneateles Lake 11/7 + 11/8

Did full day trips yesterday and today, here's what happened:  Fishing conditions weren't great on either day.   On Saturday we had zero wind and mostly cloudy conditions.   The Hermans did well on smallmouth bass, some perch and some lake trout.   Water temps have come up a bit since last Monday;  we had around 53 degrees.   There were nice sized schools of lakers around some of the points on the lake.   Most of our fishing was done in around 5' to 30' of water.  

Today was Arti and his friend Steve.   They fly-fished 95% of the time and cast tube jigs and hair jigs the other 5%.   Sinking lines were deadly on lake trout, big perch and some decent smallmouth bass.   Arti used a Type 5 full sink line and Steve used my Rio Deep 7 set up.   Woolly buggers and leech patterns in olive worked very well.   We saw a few nice rainbows around the shorelines but they were spooky.  Another day with very little wind until late in the afternoon.   Water temps again were around 51 to 52.   A drop of 2 or 3 degrees should move trout in towards the shorelines.   We'll see!

11/6/2008
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 11/6
Did a PM guide trip with Wesley and Han for some pike.   As I arrived at the ramp at Sampson I noticed the lake was like glass.  The forecast 10 mph North winds did not materialize.   No problem - we'll start with laker jigging.   We gave the lakers one hour.   I marked decent numbers of fish from 85' to 110' of water (which are the only depths I searched - so there may be more fish out deeper.)    Wes had one solid hit on the retrieve and we did mark a fish chasing or two.   The breeze gradually came up so we went for some pike.   Nothing was hitting that I could tell at first.   We worked a couple prime areas with no sign of fish.   We tried the west shore and I took a few casts and missed one.   The guys might have been a bit skeptical, so they encouraged me to keep trying.   I missed another and then I landed a nice pike on a Rat-L Trap.  The guys saw what we needed to do differently.   By this time, the sun was starting to set.   Wes managed to nail a northern on the trap.  Han got the technique down, but didn't hook up.   He did fine though, since I'd taught him how to cast a couple hours before!   So he was a new spin-fisher.   The swim bait stuff isn't always that easy.   When fish are hitting aggressively you can't fish them wrong, but when the bite gets tough it does take some technique/touch.   Water temps were around 53.   Expect good pike fishing throughout the rest of the fall/winter - but as always, day to day conditions will alter the bite from slow to excellent.  
11/5/2008
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 11/5

A couple days ago I got a phone call from Perry, who'd emailed me on occasion in the past.   He'd put his boat away for the season, but was jonesing to get out on Seneca Lake for some pike fishing with his friend Dave.   "Sure" I replied.  He told me the only catch was that he wanted to use live golden shiners.   He just loves watching the pike take the bobbers down.   I don't have a problem with live bait at all, I just don't use it in my guiding for an assortment of reasons - mainly I haven't seen a need for it; it's hard to get in my area without a 40 mile round trip; it's hard to keep alive; and it's expensive.   But he brought his own, so off we went.   Last year he'd done great on minnow - ran out actually.   He's fished Seneca for pike for over 30 years too, having caught some monsters, but it wasn't to be today.

We never had a hit on the minnows today.   We fished them with slip bobbers in a lot of good areas.   It was hard pinpointing exact spots to fish - I nearly always drift and cast baits, so that was a challenge.   With swimbaits a couple fish were hooked and one landed.   But they just weren't gobbling the minnows for us today.   By the time we went to swimbaits our breeze had died - we were lucky to get what we got.   But the guys have caught hundreds if not thousands of pike before and they were happy to kick bait and still fish - enjoying the day.   So that's what we did.   H2O crept up to 53 in places.   It became pretty clear to me that a lot of the action we get on our artificials is due to reaction bites - aggravating fish, and not necessarily strikes out of hunger.  

11/3/2008
Skaneateles Lake 11/3
It felt good getting out today with my buddy Mike on Skaneateles Lake.   We started at 7 am with a steady south wind.   Mike nailed a nice 17" to 18" landlocked salmon in short order on the N. end of the lake.   We worked areas south and didn't do much for the first hour or two - apart from a nice smallmouth bass and a laker.   But we worked some different areas and found a couple shelves/points that were paved with lakers and a few greedy jumbo perch that were gobbling laker eggs!  In some areas it was a laker every cast with a jig.   Flyfishing for lakers wasn't quite as effective, but was still worthwhile.   Mike nailed a nice laker around 22" to 23" among a bunch of others.  Most fish were 15" to 17".    I caught a couple very nice smallmouths, and casting an olive woolly bugger got me one of the nicest rainbows I've caught on the lake - a 23" silvery beauty that was thick bodied and fought great.   It was the result of a LONG cast - maybe 90' and hit way out.   We were lucky to land it, and after a quick couple photos we released it  - still "green".   We kept lakers and perch today.    Water temps range from 46 to 50 degrees.   Great fishing today and it should hold up for another week (on the lakers).  
11/2/2008
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 11/2
Good to very good pike fishing continues on Seneca Lake.   Did a 1/2 day trip with my friend Eric (who's pike photo is on my homepage) and his dad David for Dave's birthday.   Pike action was a little slow when we started just after 7 am, but picked up quickly when we got some wind.  Eric fly-fished for the most part, sticking with his own Type 6 sink tip.   He landed one fish on the fly and missed one or two.   The sink tip probably just wasn't getting the fly deep enough.   David did very well with the gear fishing, landing around 9 or 10 nice fish.   Eric picked up a few with the spinning rod as well.   David wanted to learn laker jigging, so we set up for those.   On his first drop he landed a nice 28" 7lb. 12 oz. laker!   Eric nabbed a 25" fish shortly thereafter.    Fish were in 85' to 105' and the big laker was LOADED with baitfish!    H2O is at 51.   We only saw a couple other boats on the lake - it was very quiet out there.
11/1/2008
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 11/1
Did a full day with Ron and his son Matt today.   Fishing was good to very good on Seneca's north end.   The guys landed a bunch of pike (probably 20) from around 23" to 31"+ and a couple bonus largemouth bass up to almost 3lbs.   The weather was odd - lots of cloudy and sunny periods.  The wind stayed out of the north, generally around 5 mph.   Fish were in around 10' of water give or take.   We scouted around for some lakers but only marked a few inactive fish.  Water temps were 51 degrees.   All in all a very enjoyable day.   Ron lived in Alaska for 9 years and has fished a lot - he left impressed with the Finger Lakes pike fishing.   
10/31/2008
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 10/31

Well the Halloween weather forecast felt like a "treat" today, but when I arrived at the launch at Sampson State Park I felt "tricked".   Shades of last Friday - with hauling 20+ mph winds from the S.   So much for the "5 to 10 mph" forecast.   I met Connor and his dad Dick at 8 am and we took the nasty run across the lake.   Pike fishing was very slow for us this AM.   Connor nailed one small pike that looked like it had scoliosis (sp) or something like that.   Another hit was missed and that was it.   The wind appeared to diminish and we went back across the lake, but it picked up again.   Another couple pike were landed incl. Connor's nice 32" fish (on a Rat-L Trap.)   Some fish appeared to have moved shallower (10') into the murky water on the first break.    Before releasing his nice pike, Connor wanted his dad to snap a photo.  I handed him the pike and showed him how I like to hold them.   After a quick photo (or non-photo as we found out later!) Connor wanted to release the fish quickly since he saw some blood.   We had a problem "detaching Connor's hand" from the fish!   Turns out his hand slipped up the gill rakers a bit too much.   The blood wasn't from the northern!  It was from Connor!  

Dick wound up landing a pike then we tried some other things w/o luck.   Connor suggested a little laker jigging, so we gave it 2 hours.   We found nice numbers of fish S. of Sampson (and near Dresden) in 85' to 100'.   Dick was the "laker man" and managed to land 2 nice 20" wild fish.   Both hit on the retrieve and one came from around 35' to 50' of water!   So the jigging isn't bad at all now.   Water temps are around 51, so lakers can be anywhere.   All in all not a bad day, despite the very slow start this AM.   The lake calmed down too and the afternoon's forecast 20 mph + winds never materialized.   We didn't encounter any other boats fishing today.  

10/26/2008
Seneca out of Watkins 10/25

If I said I was looking forward to yesterday's guide trip out of Watkins Glen, I'd have been lying!   The weather people were calling for "one to two inches of rain and winds at 20 to 30 mph with higher gusts" - or something like that.  I called Dave and asked if he wanted to postpone, but it wasn't an option.   They know what they were in for - clients Dave and Rich turned off the weather radio halfway through the forecast!   But this was their only day to fish, so we had to chance it and keep our fingers crossed.    On top of this, add in the slow action we'd experienced out of Watkins over the past month and we had our work cut out for us.  

Fishing started out OK, with a couple pike landed during our first 2 hours of fishing.   We were happy that the wind and rain stayed down.   Water temps were brutal at the south end of the lake, due to the Friday's strong southerlies.   We had temps as low as 39 on the surface - that's colder than what lake trout like!   The water LOOKED cold.  It was ultra clear and green.    So we had a decision - run up the lake and risk a nasty ride back, or stay and fish for lethargic pike in 39 to 44 degree water.   We ran up the lake - knowing that winds could come up and make for a nasty ride back down in potential 2' to 3' waves and 40 degree water splashing us incessently.   We were able to find water temps in the low 50s about 10 miles up the lake.   We worked a few different areas, then decided to fish a stretch that was terrific last year, but had been a big dud a couple weeks ago.   But a few weeks ago we had a tough high pressure day, with the usual bluebird skies and no wind.   The gamble paid off and we immediately got into nice pike and stayed on them for the next few hours.     As the trip wound down we headed south and fished the cold stuff, managing a few more fish.   Overall a great fishing day, though my "water resistant boots" let me down big time.   I was sloshing water all day long and finally took the boots off and wrung out my socks.   $500 in rain gear and I have soaking feet!   Go figure.  

My advice for anglers is as follows regarding pike in any Finger Lake - and most lakes in general.   Every year the weeds set up differently.   Last year's hotspot can be void of fish a year later - or even 2 weeks later!   I've seen a lot of this on Cayuga Lake.  You can't get married to "spots".  You need to keep moving.     Lure selection is not nearly as important as finding fish.   You need the right lure for the depths and the activity level of the fish, but staying in a spot that isn't producing and switching out lures every 5 minutes rarely works.    You're probably in the wrong area or fishing the wrong depth.   Keep the weather in mind.  Clear bluebird days often produce the best pike fishing early and late in the day.    Calm conditions can be tough in any clear lake.  

Dave from yesterday's trip got me going on the swimbaits a couple years ago and I'm still grateful.   These baits are easy on me, the fish and are versatile as heck.   We used 3/4 oz. heads today and chartreuse, mahi-mahi and atomic chicken (!) bodies.    Around 16 or 17 nice fish were landed.   And the predicted weather never materialized - we had winds under 10 mph all day long!

10/24/2008
Seneca out of Sampson 10/24
Did a scheduled full day trip with Russ and Donna that wound up being truncated into a 1/2 day outing due to the weather.   The forecast 10 to 15 mph winds basically went from about 7 mph first thing in the AM to 20 to 25 mph by 9 am.   We took a half dozen waves over the bow somewhat.   Of course, with these conditions you know the pike fishing was excellent!  Pike bit well all AM long, though the muddying water and trying conditions did slow down our action for the last hour or two.   Nothing new to report "fish wise" - they are the same size and in the same depths.   We used quite a few 3/4 oz. swimbait heads in order to counter the wave action.   No pickerel or bass in the mix - just pike today.   We're back out tomorrow with conditions forecast to be pretty brutal - winds in the mid 20s to 30 mph and 1" to 2" of rain!    We're hoping for a decent AM before the harsh conditions set in.  
10/20/2008
Seneca out of Sampson 10/20
Did a 6 hour trip today with the Hermans.  It was going to be 1/2 day, but the pike started hitting so well around quitting time we kept going for another couple hours.   The fishing was fairly slow to start, with a few good fish landed within the first couple hours.   As clouds rolled in and the wind subsided, the bite got better and better.   John and Eleonore managed to land 23 solid northerns!   The swimbaits were the ticket, with 2 deep hooked fish coming on spoons.   One fish was kept due to being hooked mortally.    H2O is around 58.   Fishing remains good in 10' to 15'.   We saw 2 other boats on the entire lake today!    The fall foliage is still very compelling.   The fish were in very good condition - only one or two showed signs of abrasion/fungus.   Most were robust and clean.   Both shores were productive today.
10/19/2008
Otisco Lake 10/19

Got out on Otisco for much of the day today with my friend Jared and his buddy Kevin.   Kevin grew up in Chicago and is an avid musky angler, having fished a lot in Wisconsin and a bit on the Niagara/Buffalo Harbor and St. Lawrence River.   He's fished with the editors of "Musky Hunter" magazine as well, so I was psyched to have him on board.    We started around 7:30 am with cold air temps and plenty of fog coming off the lake.   I'm a musky novice and am eager to learn more about the sport.   Since this season I've been feeling good about being able to locate tigers on this lake and we set up on some deep weeds I'd found with electronics.   Within about 10 minutes Jared had a hit from a nice fish probably in the mid-30(s) inch range on a crankbait.    About 10 or 15 minutes later Kevin had a hit from a smaller, but still decent fish.    We worked a few different areas without luck.   Once we got back on the deeper weeds I had a hit and set into an 18" smallmouth!  Not what I wanted, but it was cool to catch a big bass on a musky lure.  A few more bass were caught incl. a nice 3lb+ largemouth by Jared. 

Water temps were around 59 - much warmer than usual for this time of year.  Fish seem to be in an early fall pattern.   As we continued working some mid-level to deep weeds Kevin was in the midst of a story when a nice sized musky grabbed his homemade bucktail right by the boat as he was "turning an 8"!   It made the day!   Jared netted the fish as I grabbed my camera.   The fish was stocky and measured a solid 36"!    After a couple photos we let the beautiful Tiger go.   After I dropped the guys off I fished a bit more and managed to raise a small Tiger (mid to upper 20s).    All in all a fun day and a great learning experience.   The guys wished they could have fished all day - but they had no idea the fishing would have been as good as it was, so they had made other plans for the afternoon! 

 

10/18/2008
Skaneateles Lake 10/17
Got out at 11:30 am on a "catch 'em and eat 'em" mission on Skinny.   I was hoping to catch some nice perch and see what was happening in general.  Water temps were at 59 on top.   Perch and smallmouth bass were the active fish today.   I mainly fished likely perch areas - flats and wide shelves in around 10' to 23' of water using light hair jigs.   I managed to catch around a dozen perch and a few bass.   Most perch were over 10" and I had 3 around 14" to almost 15"!    Bass were very active but I didn't target them.   I did manage to lose a very nice smallmouth that appeared to be over 18".    I forgot how weak 4lb. test was!    I enjoy getting out and catching enough fish for a few meals.   I wasn't able to find any perch schools.  I'm no perch expert, but I'd imagine the schools are either deeper, or the fish are still scattered a bit or I just didn't find any.  Usually the colder the water, the more the perch school up - so I'd say it's still a bit warm.   I will be doing a lot more (personal) perch fishing this fall/winter on Skaneateles, Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.    I will report general fishing conditions and depths.    No trout in the mix this PM on Skinny.   Colder water temps will move them up shallower - I'm looking forward to it! 
10/15/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 10/15
A couple days ago I got a call from George, who has a house on Cayuga Lake.  He and his buddy Roger wanted to learn how to jig lake trout and some other patterns for Cayuga Lake fishing.   We met at 7 am at Taughannock and I showed them the jigging pattern.   Within a half hour Roger hooked and landed a spawned out laker around 26" on a shaker.  He missed another on a spoon.   The guys felt good about the jigging so we headed south looking for bass and pike.   I had the guys work swimbaits, Rapala jerkbaits, tubes and a little bit of dropshotting.  We had one follow of a small pike in our first area, then George nailed a 15" smallie on an X-rap.   The lake calmed and fishing slowed.   We did see a couple nice salmon near the south end of the lake.   They are out of temperature looking for spawning streams!   Another area provided a follow from a dark salmon, but no grabs.   PM laker jigging was slow, with a few more hits but no hookups.   Overall a pretty slow day on Cayuga.   Foliage is in peak shape.   I'd give the lake a couple more weeks before hitting the bass/pike in the southern portions.   North end fishing should be good for largemouths and pickerel.  Perch action is good.   Salmon and trout are starting to stage.   Water temp is still around 60.  Shallow weeds are still green.  
10/13/2008
Keuka Lake 10/13

Did close to a full day trip with Michele, her dad John and Tim (aka "the lamprey eater";-).   I told Tim he was on his way to becoming a local legend!   I've been tired of running down to the bluff or Hammondsport and told the gang that I was certain that there was a limit worth of fish in Branchport.  Over the years I've fished this area a lot for lakers and done well.   What often happens is that people (myself incl.) run all over the lake and start catching fish at say 11 am.  What people don't realize is that the fish were inactive and simply started hitting at that time.    It can be hard to stay put and just fish until they start hitting!    At least if you run around you feel you're doing something!   I've known this for awhile, but it can be hard to put it into practice!

We stayed up there near the north end of the arm and we did well from the get-go.   We had a decent laker within 15 minutes and within the first hour Michele dropped 2 nice fish on spoons.   By 11 am we'd landed 7 nice fish up to 24", incl. two doubles.   Things slowed up over the next hour and 2 more were landed.   By 1:30 pm the bite quit and we called it a day at 2.    As usual, a lot of the Keuka fish are suspended.  Bait was scarce.   Best action was from our start at 8 am (so they were probably hitting well at first light) till about 11 am.   The steady barometer probably helped our fishing a bit.   Sppons (3/4 oz. Silver Kastmasters + 1 ounce Hopkins/Stradas) worked well as did the usual flukes and Lunker City Shakers in white.   H2O ranged from 60 to 63 degrees.   Fish are nearing the spawn, but are still actively feeding.   We had lakers with alewives (and even a small bluegill!) in their stomachs!

10/12/2008
Owasco Lake 10/12
Guided Charlie and Brian for the full day today.   Water temps are at 60 and we even had 63 on top on the east shore.   Fishing started out promising with a laker on Charlie's first drop in 85' of water around some bait.   The guys dropped/missed a fair number of fish as they learned the technique - both on spoons and on plastics.   The bite picked up as winds diminished around noon and a couple more fish were landed.   Things slowed for us during the PM, but we managed a decent smallmouth and a few more lakers mid-lake fishing a point.  These fish were close to the spawn.   I had a good report from past client Mike (from 10/1), who made out very well on lakers today.   We found the best fishing to be around 100' to 105', with decent fish (esp. suspended) out to 110' or more.   All in all a very good time was had today and the weather couldn't be beat.   I'd expect laker fishing to move more towards the points soon, but the north end flats are still worth checking for at least another couple weeks.   
10/11/2008
Seneca out of Watkins 10/11

10/11 AM:  Did a 1/2 day trip with Matt and Mike.   Fishing started out promising when Matt nailed a nice pike on his first cast.   Another good fish and then a smaller pike were landed and despite our searching, that was about it.   We checked a few areas for lakers, marking a few but not getting any hits.   I'm not seeing the overall numbers of pike on Seneca's south end as I saw last year, but it's still early yet.   It was loaded a few weeks ago!

PM:  Picked up Paul and Mark at the launch.   We headed up the lake and checked out a bunch of areas.   Mark landed a nice northern within an hour or so and Paul lost one.   Fishing remained slow with the bluebird skies and lack of wind.   Conditions were perfect for lake trout so we set up for them.   It didn't take long for Paul to nail a nice 20" fish.   Then he landed 2 more and lost one - all solid 4 to 5lb.+ fish.   We went back to pike fishing but didn't find any takers.  Many lakers are still around bait and feeding.

10/10/2008
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 10/10
Had very good fishing pretty much all day long with Rob and his wife Sue.   We started at 7:30 am with good fishing on the east shore.   We then went across the lake and did well till we quit at 3:30pm.   Around 15 nice pike were caught and released today.   Nothing under 25" and nothing over 31" or so.    The usual swimbaits did the trick.   I saw a nice school of perch in the marina!   Also a smallie or two cruising shallow water.   Smallmouths have moved in around the Watkins Glen pier for those shorefishers interested.  Water temps are at 60 degrees.   Foliage is around 40% peak.   
10/8/2008
Seneca out of Sampson 10/8
Guided Charles and Mike today for the full day.   The lake wasn't too choppy when we started - the winds were around 8 to 10 mph out of the south.   Pike fishing started well with 3 nice fish landed.   Then the winds came up!   Fairly heavy whitecaps.   We worked the west shore and managed to stay on fish all day long without too many lulls in the activity.   A nice pickerel was brought to the boat as was a nice largemouth.   I mean a NICE largemouth!  This was the biggest largemouth I've seen on Seneca - a 20" to 21" fish that was a solid 4lbs +!   This fish looked like it belonged on Keuka, Conesus or Cayuga Lake.   It hit a 3/4 Sworming Hornet/Swimbait combo.   Bright chartreuse with a TyGer Wire leader!     The winds eventually diminished but then came back up.   Water temps are around 60.   We landed and released around 15 to 16 nice pike - quite a few around 27" to 30".   The guys were used to the rough water, since they like to fish sharks offshore from Montauk!    Both guys were very good anglers and did a great job with the fishing today!
10/6/2008
Canandaigua Lake 10/6
I'm really "attacking" this lake this fall.   It's been great.   After fishing I get to stop at a Panera Bread or Mac's Cheesesteaks and stuff my face!    Today I worked another "alien area" as well as one of the spots I found Friday.   Fishing was decent - not great, but certainly not bad; I had to work hard for my fish but it paid off.   I landed 4 nice smallmouths incl. two that were in the 18" range and pretty fat.   I also caught 3 nice largemouths.   Rounding out the day's catch were some rockbass, a few 9" perch and a pickerel.    The highpoint of the day was casting my X-rap, getting hammered by a good (18") bass and watching another smallmouth in the same size range trying to steal the X-rap from the other bass!   It made my day.    My Friday spot fished well on today's northerly (as it did on Friday's westerly).   A couple smallies and a largemouth came off that area.   Top tactics today included cranking a perch colored Big-O and a Rapala DT-10;  jerking a white X-rap and popping an alewife colored tube jig.   Water temps are at 62 degrees and colder on the north end.   Fishing pressure was incredibly light - just a few perch guys out in the AM.  
10/5/2008
Seneca Lake 10/4 + 10/5

Watkins 10/4 AM:   Did a 1/2 day trip with Jodi and James.   Pike fishing was very good in the AM with a half dozen decent fish landed.   Many of the smaller (25") pike are showing signs of stress or something.   Some fish have what looks to be abrasions on them and are thin.   One pickerel was also caught.    The action was best early and in the fog; things slowed up by 10 am.  

10/4 PM:   Did a PM trip with Trent and Ed from Cornell.   Action started out very slow with nothing to show for the first couple hours.   We had a hit or two and Trent had some follows from some "silvery fish" that I didn't see - maybe juvenile salmon or rainbows.   To their credit, the guys kept fishing hard and stayed with "the program".  Action picked up late in the trip and at least 1/2 dozen nice pike to 32" were landed.   A bunch were missed/lost as well.   Swim baits and a Rat-L Trap did the trick.   Lots of boat traffic out of Watkins - probably due to the nice weather!  It's downright gorgeous out there!  The great evening bite was a sign of things to come....

10/5 out of Sampson:   We got a late start today as Barry and his daughter Julie misjudged the time of arrival.   Fishing started out good with Barry having a follow from a very nice pike over 32".   Action was decent in the AM with at least 1/2 dozen fish landed.   We tried some laker jigging with a few hits but nothing special.  Plenty of bait and some fish were in 80' to 110'.   Better jigging could probably be had earlier in the day or downlake.   The PM pike bite was fantastic.  We had a bunch of doubles and another dozen or more fish landed (we stopped counting.)  The fish were all quality - mostly 29" to 32" well-fed healthy pike.   As usual, we released nearly all fish - keeping a few smaller fish for the table.    Best action was from around 8' to 15' or so.    Swimbaits dominated!   Lunker City Shakers with the 1/2 oz. Sworming Hornet jig/spinners have been terrific.   Water temps are at 62.   In my opinion, that's the upper threshold water temp for super pike action in the Finger Lakes.  Fish are fighting great too - terrific surges and some surface acrobatics!   It was Barry's birthday and the lake gave us a great present!   Combine the active pike with the great foliage and it's heaven on earth for fishermen in the Finger Lakes right now!

10/3/2008
Canandaigua Lake 10/3 + Whitney Spillway shore report 10/2

Whitney Point Spillway 10/2:   I took my Cornell fishing class over to Whitney's spillway.   The water flow was minimal.   Visibility was about 1'.   1/8th to 1/4 oz. jigheads with chartreuse twisters produced some smallmouths.   Mostly undersized fish, but a couple were legal.  I'd wait a couple weeks before fishing here.

Canandaigua Lake 10/3:   I arrived at the State Launch around 10:30 am and was underway shortly thereafter.   I think I saw one other boat fishing on the day!   Foliage was looking good as I motored out.   The goal was to fish some "alien areas".   I am finally getting a lot of this lake locked into my brain.    It's fairly similar to Skaneateles Lake structurally.   Water temps were 63 on top.   The winds were strong out of the west.   I started on the west shore around an area I'd seen some smallmouths at last month.   A few casts with a white X-rap produced a couple good hits.  I set into a nice perch around 11" in 10' of water.   I worked further up the lake and had 2 to 3 nice smallmouths come out for the stickbait in one area but I couldn't get any grabs.  One of the fish had the bait right up to its mouth.   I tried tubes and other tactics to no avail.   I motored across to the windy portion of the lake and worked the X-rap and a tube jig.  In one area a school of around 8 or 9 nice smallmouths followed out the X-rap, but no hits!   It was pretty wild.   I kept covering water and as the wind started whipping I nailed a nice 18.5" smallie on the X-rap.   Another decent (15") fish came on a tube.   Rockbass and perch were also hitting and I managed another 3 good 10" to 12" perch.    After a front blew through I had a tough time buying any hits.   I switched to a jigworm and tried some other tactics.   Hooked another couple (small) bass and that was about it.   I kept the small smallmouth and all the perch.  The bass and perch had crawfish in their stomachs.   I wound the day up at 5:30 pm.   The last 2 hours were very slow fishing.   Most bass/perch came from 10' to 20" FWIW.      

10/1/2008
Owasco Lake 10/1

Did a full day with Mike and Andy.   Fishing started a little slow but picked up and remained decent all day long.  Best action was from 80' to 110' or so.   Fish are scattered on the N. end flats.  Bait pods are scattered as well.   The usual 1 oz jigheads and white shakers worked best.    The guys landed around 16 fish - all lakers up to 26".  The fish were in good condition - well fed.   Drifting produced the best action, and the bite before impending storms was best.  Water temps are down around 63 degrees.   If anyone thinks bass fishing in Sept/early Oct. is easy here they should check the results of the Rochester Bassmasters tournament here last Sunday:   http://www.rochesterbassmasters.com/pages/2008owascoresults.htm

There are some excellent bass fishermen in the club and some of them did some serious "pre-fishing".   Like many of the alewife driven Finger Lakes, many of the smallmouths are pelagic in the summer/early fall and are offshore chasing baitfish.   Later in October and November, inshore bassin' will pick up.  

9/28/2008
Seneca Lake/Watkins Glen 9/27 + Keuka Lake 9/28

Seneca Lake 9/27:

Did a 1/2 day trip with John and Roger.   These guys do an annual Canadian trip for pike and were looking forward to some good pike action on Seneca Lake.   The fishing proved to be tougher (more "challenging" ;-)  than expected.   We started with a fairly good fog and calm conditions.    A hit here and a hit there were missed.   A few pickerel or small pike chased and hit Roger's spinnerbait, which he worked just off weed edges and in shallow.   Eventually John hooked a decent fish which got off after I tried grabbing it around the gill plates;  it was no big deal, since the guys were C & R anyways, but John didn't want to count it!   The guys provided me with coffee, a beer and cigars, which goes a long way to ensuring a successful outing.    I was handed a rod and told to help get the skunk out of the boat.   I managed to hook and land a nice 29" northern in about 10 minutes on a swimbait.   So I earned my one beer!    I kept on the guys like the harsh teacher/guide I am and we worked a bunch of areas.   Some wind came up and we hit one of my favorite areas which I hadn't fished all fall.   We found the pike!   Around 1/2 dozen fish were hooked in short order and maybe 3 or 4 landed.    Fish ran from around 29" to 30" and were well-proportioned.   The guys hadn't caught deep pike before often, so they did have a good learning experience (at least I think they did.)   The swim baits came through in 10' to 15' of water.   I went out afterwards and tried a few new things with OK success on the pike.   H2O was 64.  

Keuka Lake 9/28:

Got out with my friend Dave B.   The goal was to hit some "alien areas" on Keuka Lake and see what the bass were doing, as well as get a few lakers for dinner.   My "new" areas provided some fun fishing and in some moderate to relatively heavy rain me and Dave had a lot of action - mostly on small pickerel and bass.   I got a 17" largie on an X-rap.   Dave nailed a few 12" to 14" largemouths.   Then I had a SLOB follow in my deep running crank to the boat.  This bass appeared to be at least 4 to 5lbs and over 20" - maybe 21" or 22"!    We also caught a few perch and chunky rockbass.    A couple smallmouths were hooked - a couple small ones and one decent fish.   We didn't get the chance to work any smallmouth areas thoroughly.   We had some good hits on lakers near the Bluff area but didn't capitalize.   A run to Hammondsport produced one 20" laker.    We lost track of time and weren't able to get onto the lakers at 10 to 11 am - which has been the hot bite time.   I didn't mark much bait anywhere - even in Hammondsport.   Few boats were out and H2O was around 66.   The lake has re-loaded itself with small nuisance pickerel.   I hadn't seen so many since the early 1990s.  

9/26/2008
Owasco Lake 9/26
Did 6 hours of guiding by alternating a group of 4 guys two at a time.   A client of mine had his boat out and took some of his associates fishing.   I started out at 7:30 am with John and Rich.   Fishing was decent with a pretty steady bite throughout the day.  The guys landed 7 nice lakers.   After 3 hours we switched parties and Scott and Roger joined me.  They did well with another 8 or 9 lakers plus the last fish of the day - a nice 28" brown!   The fish was a bit thin and weighed 6lbs. 9oz.   There's plenty of bait on the lake's north end.   Best laker action was from around 75' out to 100', though we did hook suspended fish out to 110' or more.  
9/24/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 9/24
Did a 1/2 day with Pat and Glen from the Trumansburg area.   Fishing tends to be a bit spotty in late Sept. on Cayuga for lakers - good one day, slow the next.   Today was pretty decent, with the guys each hooking 3 fish and landing 2 of them for a total of 4 solid lakers taken.   Fish had alewives in their stomachs, so they are still feeding.  There's still plenty of bait around and some perch were in the marina.   Trollers are picking up a few nice salmon.  Water temps were 65.   Expect good fishing for perch, bass and some pike.   Shore fishers are getting some lakers (at least they were early today.)   Foliage is starting to color up.   The areas around the park are loaded with lakers.   Propagation netting is scheduled to begin on 10/6, so if you're going to fish lakers do it over the next 11 or 12 days.    Don't forget that fishing licenses expire on 9/30!
9/22/2008
Keuka Lake 9/22
I've been guiding/fishing all over the region lately.  Today I did a full day with Bill aka BC.  I'd done some bluefishing/striper fishing in the past with him and hadn't seen him in at least 6 or 7 years.   He wanted to get better with his electronics as well as get some lakers.   Fishing started slow at 6:15 am.   There are lakers in all the usual areas.   My best fall action on this lake over the past couple years has been midday.   I think the sunlight penetration is better at this time; those bluffs prevent a lot of AM sunlight from reaching the depths - just a theory.    BC landed 3 fish by noon, and dropped at least 3 others that he had momentarily.   He did some casting for smallmouths and picked up one around 13".   I took a few casts and caught one slightly smaller on a Super Fluke.   We did find some decent fish during our hour or two of bass casting - during one cast he had at least 2 to 4 BIG smallies come out for his X-rap.   Bait numbers were OK at Hammondsport and sparse elsewhere.  H2O was around 68/69.  
9/21/2008
Skaneateles Lake 9/20 + Owasco Lake 9/21

Skaneateles 9/20: 

Did a half day trip with Steve Jr. and Steve Sr. on Skinny Sat. AM.   The best area I'd scouted last week was virtually fishless, so we went into search mode.   Things were slow for the first hour or so then Steve Jr. started getting some hits on a jig/worm and tube jig.   A few fish came to the boat and we started to find a pattern.   In one area, a few small salmon or rainbows were hitting Steve's tube jig! Working X-raps worked well for smallies running from around 10" to 13" with some bigger fish mixed in.   What the smallmouths lacked in size, they made up for in aggressiveness.    Steve Jr. was an "alumni" of the Lindners' "Camp Fish" back in the 1980s.  He also was a counselor there and knows the Lindners, having fished with Ron and Jim.    So it was a fun trip hearing some firsthand stories about some of my favorite anglers.  My Al Lindner impression passed the test with the guys as well.  So that was a highpoint of my day!

After the trip ended, I went back out on my own and worked some areas I hadn't fished in a while as well as some "alien areas".   Working new areas is one of my favorite things to do in the world.   I pick a landmark and say to myself, "I'm going to work from here to there" - or something of that nature.   Things went well.  During one cast with a jerkbait I had 4 to 5 nice smallmouths (14" to 17"+) come out of the woodwork chasing the bait.  I hooked some good fish and they got off.  Finally landed a 17" and a 15.5" fish, after losing a couple nice ones.   The best areas I found were shelves in 10' to 15' of water with plenty of small smallmouths and YOY (young of the year) perch on them.    I feel I'm getting these Skinny smallmouths dialed in.   Canandaigua/Keuka are next!

Owasco 9/21: 

Day 2 with "the Steves" started similarly to our first day.  Action was kind of slow in the AM on Owasco.   We started at 8 am.  My buddy Jarod was on the lake and called me up with a up to the minute report!  That's always helpful.  We started off nailing a few fish in around 70' of water.   Then the wind came up a little and some misty rain moved in.   We worked our way out to deeper water.   As the wind subsided the fish started hitting aggressively and coming off the bottom "Owasco style!"   The guys wound up nailing just about a dozen lakers to 26" before we wrapped up our 1/2 day.   After the trip I went back out trying a few different things w/o any luck.   I ran into a good bass fisherman I know from the Rochester Bassmasters and he reported catching around a dozen pike on the day.  Not much doing on the shallow/mid-depth smallies yet.   Jarod encountered some bass in the depths, but they weren't hitting great.  H2O is around 66.  Water levels are starting to drop.  

9/19/2008
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 9/19
Full day guide trip with the Hermans today.   We started at 8 am with the lake encased in a surreal fog.  Air temps dropped to below 38 degrees last night!   We had water temps in the mid-60s and bluebird skies.   Pike action wasn't great in the AM, but it wasn't bad either.  Eleonore had the hot hand and landed 4 fish to start - all around 24" to 25".   John nailed one fish as well.   Swimbaits, deep running crankbaits and deep running stickbaits worked today, and I think one was taken on a spinnerbait.   The action died from around 9:45 am till 2 pm.   We may have had a fish hooked an hour or so.    Perserverence pays off, and the bite picked up again around 2:30pm - we worked my favorite areas AGAIN(!) and larger fish activated - 29" to 32" fish.   Another 4 or 5 fish were landed before we called it a day.   All in all, around a dozen nice pike were caught and released today.  The action wasn't nearly as good as it was a week ago, but by fishing good areas hard we managed to have a good day.   Weeds are starting to die off and there were some baitfish shallow.   Most pike came in less than 15' of water.   Very few other boats were out there!
9/17/2008
Canandaigua Lake 9/17

Had a lot of fun on Canandaigua Lake today after a circuitous AM of driving.   I arrived in Canandaigua just before 7 am and decided to launch at the State Launch on the south end of the lake at Woodville.   The goal was to nail a quick limit of lakers then do some exploring.  The Canandaigua lakers are delicious.  Exceptional eating as far as I'm concerned.    As I drove down Rt. 21 I knew something was wrong when I saw a truck with a boat trailer heading north!  Sure enough, I arrived at the launch and found that it had recently been repaved and was closed for a couple days!   So I headed back north - having wasted about an hour.  

I scrapped my previous plans and decided to spend my AM exploring "alien areas" of the lake.   I found a superb deep flat, and on my first drop with a jig I was attached to a laker!   But it got off, as did about another dozen fish/hits.   It was a fun AM, due to lots of "action" , but only one 24" laker landed.   Fish were hitting hard, but I couldn't hook them, or couldn't hang onto them for long.   I think we're nearing the spawn and fish aren't grabbing really well.  I did hook fish on bottom and chasers, but most obviously weren't hooked good.    I explored the area for bass and hooked a beautiful largemouth around 3lbs or better on a crankbait.   It got off after 1 1/2 jumps.   The lake was gorgeous and there was very little boat traffic.   Water temps were around 68 to 70 and a few perch boats were out.   Not a great day catching, but I had very good action/activity all morning long, and I'm sure I'd have landed some more fish had I been on the water at 7 am as scheduled!  I'll be back soon.

9/13/2008
Skaneateles Lake 9/13
Did some "prefishing" for a scheduled guide trip this weekend.   I found plenty of smallmouths surrounding the perimeter of the lake.  Most fish were small, though I did see at least a dozen good fish (15" to 17"+) mixed in with the scrappy dinks ;-)   I fished from around 11:30 am till dark.  I probably landed at least 20 to 25 fish, with only 1/2 dozen to 10 being 12" or over, and most of those JUST 12"!  Best smallie was around 16" and I did land a nice chunky largemouth that was also around 16".   A small olive colored X-rap worked very well, as did green pumpkin or watermelonseed super flukes, green pumpkin tubes, perch crankbaits, a jig head and finesse worm and assorted drop shot plastics.   Yes - pretty much everything worked.  I did try deep water with jigging spoons w/o luck.   I also did some deeper dropshotting.   I didn't have time to jig lakers though I would have liked to have.   The thermocline was around 70' down.   BTW - Perch anglers reported "finally finding them" in 50' of water.    Wind conditions were calm today.  I expect windier conditions to activate more of the big fish.  This bassin' should also improve markedly week by week as water temps decrease.   
9/12/2008
Seneca Lake out of Watkins 9/12
I went out of Watkins today from 11 am till around 5:30 pm doing a little scouting before scheduled pike guide trips Sunday and Monday (which were just cancelled.)   I was very impressed with the great pike fishing.   I landed plenty of fish - at least 12 to 14 nice northerns, and I lost/missed another 15 or more.   I did NOT go back through productive areas!  Just kept working down the lake!    Fish range from around 8' to 15' of water.   My best action came on swimbaits fished on 1/2 oz. Sworming Hornet jig heads.  Spinnerbaits produced a couple, as did a swimbait fished on a 1 oz. jig head.   The pike are hitting aggressively (gobbling! ;-) and wire leaders are a MUST!   I had 3 bite-offs on 40lb. Maxima shock leaders before I went to wire (TyGer Wire).   After that, there were no bite offs.   Also in the mix was a pickerel and a couple 12" to 14" smallmouths (caught in a "non-pike area".)    The good news for pike aficionados is that there are some small pike in the mix - so we've had some successful spawning on Seneca recently.   A lot of last years (and this spring's) 29" northerns are now around 30" to 32"!   It's fantastic!   Please practice catch and release on these fish - let's work together to keep Seneca Lake a tremendous pike fishery!     Water temps ranged from 65 to 67 degrees.  
9/10/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 9/10

Did a 1/2 day with the Hermans.   Fishing started out promising around 7 am when Eleonore landed a solid laker on her first drop with the jig.  We fished N. of AES and fish are still abundant in 85' to 90' of water.   A couple more fish were landed and one solid one lost (due to a broken line.)   Bait is still abundant.    Surface temps were 69 degrees and I'd expect them to drop fairly rapidly with the cool nights and windy/cool days. 

Shore fishing (with the usual eggsacks and slip sinkers) is producing lakers off the walls at Taughannock Point.   It's a good opportunity for catching lakers for the non-boat owner or shorefisher with little time. 

9/8/2008
Cayuga Lake 9/5 - 9/7

Did a full day laker jigging trip with Jeff K. on Friday.  We had some hits throughout the AM but nothing super solid.  Some of the fish were probably browns/salmon.   We tried a bunch of areas and perservered.  Lakers really turned on around 2 pm and Jeff nailed some (at least 4 or 5) nice fish in short order.   Perserverance pays off!

Did the Salvation Army Derby with Jessica this past weekend.   We fished hard Sat. from around 7 am till 5 pm or so.   We landed around 9 nice lakers - incl. a couple 28"+ fish but nothing we felt good about weighing in.  The bite was tough with fish hitting during brighter skies.   On Sunday we took it easy and got on the water around 9:45 am.   We caught some fish, but again - nothing special.    The wind on Sat. got ridiculous and we had "fun" boating through the 3' to 4' waves on Cayuga.  It was as rough as it gets with the exception of major cold fronts in the winter!   

The fishing is slowing down on Cayuga.  Lakers are gradually getting into the spawn mode and the feeding binges are becoming spottier.   Around 12 years ago when we started doing some jigging - this is the time of year we'd START.   We'd snap jig spoons and bucktails around Taughannock Park.   Some guys would get 30 or 40 lakers in a morning doing this type of fishing.  I no longer prefer to do it.  I'd rather chase fish in their feeding modes, so I'll be moving a lot of my laker guiding over to Owasco and Keuka Lakes, where lakers spawn later in the year and the "pre-spawn feeding binge" extends into Sept. and Oct. respectively!  

9/4/2008
Lake Champlain out of Ticonderoga/Crown Point 9/2 - 9/4

Had a great time with my friend Mike on Champlain.   We were hoping for monster gar (I was optimistic that the hot weather of the last couple weeks would keep them around the surface) and some largemouths on top.   We didn't get what we wanted, but what we got wasn't bad at all.   We arrived at around 3 pm on Tuesday to a fairly empty boat launch at "Ti".    We motored right to one of my favorite gar hotspots and didn't see a single one.   Topwater bassin' only provided a few barely legal and sublegal bass.   We covered a bit of water then checked into the Sportsmen's Cottages at Crown Point in Vermont.  

Day 2:  We got out around 9 am (this is vacation!) and headed back out.   We worked an area a friend had suggested.   We spotted a few small gar - not the fish we came to Champlain for.   We kept trying for shallow, slop oriented bass.  Water temps were around 75!   Warm.   There was bait and young bluegills/sunfish present in the shallows, but not a lot (at this point in time.)   We worked the shallows throughout the trip - hoping for a "frog bite" but it didn't happen.   We moved out to some deeper water and started working crankbaits.  I had a solid hit and after a strong battle landed a healthy looking pike @ 38 1/2" - probably 13 to 14lbs!   A very nice fish!    After releasing the pike we continued working the cranks and checking the shallows.   Nada.

We fished hard, working a lot of different areas.   We caught some legal bass, but nothing special.   We worked around a marina and saw one decent 3lb fish but it chased half heartedly and didn't grab.  We did catch and see some bass around the marina in shallow, but again, nothing great.   We tried a creek and caught small bass and pickerel.   After trying and giving up (again!) on the frogs and topwater, we decided to do more deep cranking.   I took a cast around a steep dropping shore that Mike wanted to work.   I got distracted (maybe picking out a backlash) and had a quality 2.7lb (guessing) bass whack my crank on top!   Ironic, isn't it?  A day and a half trying topwater - we go to deep cranks and I get whacked on top.  Mike then hooked and lost a beauty on a crank - a solid bass of at least 4lbs that fought wildly.   It may have been even bigger.  We were in 18' of water casting slightly shallower.    We had a couple more hits then saw a disturbance.   My cast resulted in another beast of a northern - another 38.5" fish - but thinner.    Beautiful pike with the same colors the big gar have around "Ti".   Kind of faded - greyish/white.    Another small bass or two and we headed back in for food and a couple cold ones. 

Day 3:  We launched at the town of Crown Point.   We'd been comparing notes with our neighbors at the cottages and they'd done well on Day 1 fishing shallow water (bordering deep water) with Senkos.  They had a slow Day 2 highlighted by an 8lb bowfin!    We headed out and again tried some surface stuff.   Nada.  I nailed a nice 2lb+ fish on a spinnerbait.   Then I used my electronics to mark some weeds coming up around 5' in 10' to 12' of water.   We cast various lures and worked a fairly non-descript area.   I landed a couple more quality largemouths - 2lb to 2.5lb fish.   Trying a popular area, but away from shore resulted in a wild fight from a 18"+ smallmouth that was at least 3lbs.   A spinnerbait fooled the smallie, and cranks the largemouths.

Overall we had a very nice trip.   Teamwork kept both of us thinking and fishing hard.   We both knew early on that we were going to push the topwater thing.   When I first fished Champlain around 5 years ago, we had tremendous frog fishing in late September.    By AM of Day 2 I knew we'd probably do better in 8' to 12' of water or more.   That depth was key for the big northerns and I'm convinced we could have caught more by patterning those areas - basically steep dropping channels near shore bordering weedbeds.   We didn't spend all that much time on them - instead we kept working new and different areas.   Shallow bass were either non-existent, or more likely just inactive.  The lack of reaction bites made me think that there weren't many big fish shallow in the areas we worked, but I may have been wrong.   The amount of bait and active gills in shallow made us think we could do well there.   Like on the Finger Lakes (and Black Lake a couple years ago) the key areas in late summer/early fall were either the transition from shallow flats to deep water (with submergent vegetation) or just steep dropping banks.   Another day on Champlain would have been great!   We'll be back there next June or July looking for monster gar and bass.    

 

9/1/2008
Sodus Bay 9/1

Did a full day with Mark and Charlie "going for gar" on the fly-rods.   This was as late (in the season) a gar trip as I've ever done and it went pretty well.   Tons of fish were "breaking" in the morning as we set up around 8:15 am.   Mark nailed the first one at 9:30.   The bite never really got going great, but it had its moments.   Most of our fish came from 15' to 22' of water, down around 10'.   I've learned a lot about gar over the past couple years and continue to learn.   We wound up with 7 or 8 fish landed up to around 37".   It was a fun day with spirited discussions about lots of stuff.   Now it's time to get ready for Champlain! 

One of the high points of the day was when Charlie noticed a large bald eagle flying overhead.  What a majestic bird!   I'd only seen juveniles in the wild before in Alaska.    

8/31/2008
Owasco Lake 8/30 + Cayuga Lake 8/31

Did 2 one-half day trips on Owasco Lake yesterday.  Started the AM trip with Bob his son Hunter and Hunter's 9 year old son Robert.   The forecast called for occasional showers and that's what we had until we got out onto the lake.   Then it poured!   Robert was well-dressed with his $1.95 poncho (I'm not kidding here - he stayed very dry!)   My Cabelas Guidewear was great except I wore sneakers, which got soaked.   Hunter and Bob also got drenched.   But after around 1/2 hour the rain eased up.   This trip was meant to be about Robert and that's how it went.  Young Robert did a great job with the fishing and he outfished everyone, landing 5 nice lakers on his new favorite - a spoon!   Fish were caught by all, but the crew (apart from Robert) were pretty much soaked, so we wound up a little bit early.   It was a fun trip apart from the rain.

My PM trip was with Alex and his younger brother Oliver.   They live near the Ottawa River!   One of the great fisheries in North America as far as I'm concerned.   (Check out www.jeffcyr.com/  if you want to see what I mean!)    They do some laker fishing up in Canada but hadn't jigged them before.   We had some very good fishing - nice steady action, and picture-perfect weather!    A nice bunch of lakers were landed, and we also found a group of smallies, with Oliver landing 2 up to almost 20" and Alex losing one.  The guys might have dropped another good bass or two as well.   Fun day and Alex is really passionate about fishing.   Fishing remains best (at least for us) on the west shore mainly S. of Buck's Point.   We caught fish from 60' out to 110'.  Don't neglect the "deeps" on Owasco Lake this time of year.   Oftentimes when the shallow bite dissapates, the deep bite gets going.   Both bites were going at the same time this AM.

Cayuga today was a trip with Steve and his brother Stu.  They were out with me earlier in the season out on Seneca Lake hammering lakers.   My first trip with Steve entailed plenty of hard fishing with mediocre results.   This was maybe 2 or 3 years ago.  The fish Gods have rewarded us handsomely since then!    We started out with slow action on lakers, but Stu hooked and landed the first fish - a nice 23" landlocked salmon!   After that, the laker action was quite steady and we landed fish until we quit at 2:30pm.   As a matter-of-fact, the last drops produced a double!   At least 16 to 18 lakers were landed from dink size (one) to 29".  Most fish were 23" to 28".   Another fun day with fish being caught from 75' to 100'+.   The park was mobbed on the way back - just a ton of boat and people around for the last "hoorah" of summer.  Both shorelines produced fish today for us.

8/28/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 8/28

I took out Syracuse Post-Standard columnist Dave Figura and his photographer Jim C. today.  The day started out with overcast skies and a good chop out of the south.  The guys got the basics of the jigging technique down and managed to land a few small lakers N. of AES.   We had hold of a couple bigger ones too.  On the West shore we hooked a triple!  Fun stuff - and a couple fish were landed.  Jim got some great photos that will be up on the Syracuse Post-Standard's outdoor section on their website.  Expect a jigging article around a week from Friday.   Dave interviewed me and I gave him the "lowdown" on the jigging technique.   I had a lot of fun chatting and laughing about stuff with Dave and Jim - they are great guys and I hope to see them on the water in the future.

PM:  Did a guide trip with Dennis, who joined me last year on Owasco Lake in late August.   The fishing went from good to very good/excellent as the wind declined.   He caught a bunch of beauties incl. a 32" fish that probably weighed 11lbs or better.   We kept the smaller/med. fish today.   Fish were on bottom and chasing very aggressively at times.  We got 'em around 80' to 90' today - a tad bit deeper than the past week.  Plenty of bait is still around and fish are still gorging themselves.    Dennis did a great job hooking and playing fish.  He lost 2 pigs that were probably over 30" given their fight - but he did things well, the fish just got off - it happens.

8/26/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 8/26

Did a full day trip with Pat, John and DJ today.  We had a lot of fun from the get-go!  Despite our late (8:30 am) start, the fish cooperated all day long.  The fishing started with calm conditions and occasional chasers and fish on the bottom.  As the wind came up, fish began to chase more often.   The fishing never got "hot n' heavy" but it stayed steady enough to keep us all focused.   All lakers landed today and the guys wound up landing around 15 or 16 nice fish.   We released a 30"+ wild laker along with a few of the dinks.  Most fish ran 22" to 27".    One of the high points of the trip was getting John going on these lakers.  I specialize in working with people that struggle at times with their fishing and he started out struggling but then came through with some very nice fish!    Fish are still feeding heavily and the stomachs were fairly full of alewives.    Best depths were around 75' to 85' with one fish taken in around 56'.   One nice brown followed up John's jig, but didn't hit it.   It's safe to assume that browns are well distributed along the west shore from Sheldrake south to Ithaca!   

Lunker City Shakers produced nearly all the fish, though a white Reaper (available at Wal-Marts) did entice one or two.   These days the Shakers have become our "bread and butter jig" thanks to a suggestion from Mike Canavan.   On some days the broader profile (but less action) of a white reaper (www.arkiejigs.com/)  can produce as well or better, though the long tail with result in some short strikes.   Zoom flukes and Lunker City fin-s fish are also steady producers of nice fish.   There's always a place for spoons like a 3/4 or 1 oz. Kastmaster or a Hopkins/Strata type of spoon.  I have seen days when the spoons outproduce the plastics, but it doesn't happen often during the summer bite.   Plus the treble hooks on the spoons tend to maim more fish than the single hook plastics (yes I realize I could change out the spoon hooks ;-)

I get asked on occasion about our jigging gear.  I prefer 7' rods in Medium or Medium Heavy for jigging.  Baitcasters get the nod due to their superior line control on the descent, great ergonomics and the ability to easily let out more line or reel some in.   Flipping switches are great when you can get them.   I look for reels with smooth retrieves and drags.   Garcia/ABU, Bass Pro Shops (Rick Clunn Reels) and Quantum/Shimano make some fantastic reels.   The Rick Clunns get a special mention.  I've used the same LH Rick Clunns for 4 years of guiding and the drags and reels in general still perform great!   The ABUs are also solid as heck!    Great rods include Fenwick HMX and HMGs and Bass Pro Shops Extreme or Johnny Morris Rods.   My line for guiding lakers is 14lb Smoke Fireline (8lb diameter) with a leader of Spiderwire XXX mono testing 12lbs.  The leader is around 14' long and double uni-knotted to the braid.  I check knots thoroughly and have yet to have a double-uni fail (after I've made sure it was strong from the get-go.)   My favorite rods are the ones that Mike Canavan makes for me.   They are designed for jigging lakers and are super comfortable and light to fish with.   Jig heads are custom poured 1 oz round and Erie heads.  Lighter weights also work fine, but I like the one ouncers since they are easier for beginners to feel and they produce more "bang" on the bottom of the lake!  Jigs are tied on with Trilene knots (Palomars are also great) and the line is checked (I try to break the knot) after every fish and every few missed hits.  

8/25/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 8/25

Back out of my home port for 2 one-half day trips.  Started out with Chip (from last week), Paul and his 9 year old son Josh.   The wind was out of the NW so we stayed on the west shore as much as possible.   Fishing started out with a quick bang as Paul landed a 22" laker.   But hits were few and far between for the next hour or so.  We quickly checked out the east shore, but it appeared that fish were negative all over.   3 more nice lakers came and one was dropped - all in short order.   The last two days have featured some small "bite windows" then things slow up.   Top fish were two 29"ers.   Josh did well with the baitcaster but wasn't able to hook anything.   :-(   Oh well, it happens - he remained positive throughout the trip and the fish Gods do owe him!

My second trip was with Dave and his daughter's husband Kevin.   I tried to switch the trip up to Owasco due to the increasing wind gusts, but Dave and Kevin were already close to Taughannock by the time I called.   We decided to give Cayuga a try, then possibly move to Owasco if necessary.  I played a hunch and worked some areas I rarely ever take people to.   Basically places south of the park.   The hunch paid some big dividends!   We managed a couple very dinky lakers, but in short order Dave set the hook into a "big fish".   After a fun and thrilling battle we boated a 24" 6lb. 14 oz brown!   What a little slobola!   This fish was in full spawning colors with a big hooked jaw!   More fishing yielded a 22" laker and another dink or two.   Then Dave hooked up again - this time we landed a 24" 4lb. 12 oz Landlocked Salmon!   Another great fish - especially for jigging.   Trollers catch their share of these nice fish, but to catch them fairly consistently jigging is super cool.   If someone had told me 10 years ago that we could catch beautiful coldwater species in August with nothing more than a med. bass rod and a jig, I'd be all ears!    Be ready for some explosive fall runs of salmon, browns and rainbows in the Cayuga tribs and then some spectacular FLY-FISHING for these salmon come November!!!   It's going to be the best in a decade if all goes as we hope it can!

8/24/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 8/24
Slow AM on lakers with my buddy Mike S, but at 8 am the bite picked up markedly and we landed 8 or 9 nice fish up to around 29".   My friend Mike Canavan swung his boat by and showed up a beauty that pegged his scale at 14lbs!   So some nice fish were around.   We stayed mostly on the east shore and in around 110' of water as we were reeling up Mike S hooked a nice Landlocked Salmon that measured 24" and weighed 4lbs 11oz on my TEC Scale.   The laker bite slowed, but fish kept hitting our neutral colored flukes on the west shore.   All in all a fun day with good fishing.    Nothing much has changed - except we did see some better action a little bit deeper at times.  
8/23/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 8/23

Did a 1/2 day AM trip with Kenny and his son Zack.   We started at 6:15 am and worked the east shore.   I'd fished the west shore yesterday and decided to try the east to start.  It was a good call.  The guys (esp. Kenny) got the technique down in short order and it wasn't long before we were into fish - mainly in 75' of water.  Kenny caught some beauties today - fish up to over 31"!   All were released.   We had a great time and he was really digging the fishing.  Zack nailed a few nice fish as well.  I did procure another big lamprey eel - so I will try to document with detail how to cook these things.    I know that 95% of those of you reading this are probably gagging (!) but once you behead the eels, they look like something you'd eat!    We did try the west shore today but conditions were pretty windy/rough over there.    The bite seemed to slow by 10 am. 

 

 

8/22/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 8/22
Fished a full-day with the Hermans.  We started at 7:30am and fishing was good from the get-go.   Fishing for us was best in around 65' to 75'.   Great mixed bag action with plenty of large lake trout (averaging 27" to 28"), a nice 23" landlocked salmon (can't wait till this winter/spring!) and a beautiful 26" brown.   We released all but one laker and the salmon today.   The salmon was in excellent condition - very well fed!   Cayuga is the best Finger Lake I know for big lakers and nice sized other salmonids.   The lake is in perfect balance with plenty of baitfish and great growth rates on the trout/salmon!
8/21/2008
Lake Erie out of Barcelona 8/19 - 8/21

Well I finally made it down to Lake Erie after years of wanting to get over there.   I had a slight problem on my Yamaha motor so I stopped over at Silver Lake Marine on Tuesday, had them order a part, and then had it put in on Thurs.  In between this maintenance I fished Erie.  

Most people will say, that the biggest problem with fishing Lake Erie is a four letter word - W I N D!   According to the weather forecasts, I should have had a beautiful 3 days on L. Erie, but the "less than 1' waves" turned into 2 to 3 footers or better on Tuesday afternoon.  So I didn't go out.   There's a big Cabelas PWT (walleye tourney) happening on Erie out of Dunkirk this weekend, so there were walleye guys everywhere.   As I gazed onto "white cap filled Erie" a couple brothers walked down towards me and we talked.  They were tourney guys from Michigan and also decided against going out.   They had been up for two days and still hadn't launched their boat (a big boat I might add.)    I reserved a cottage at South Shore Cottages and worked on my tackle before getting to bed early.   I didn't have the energy for Chautauqua Lake - my back up plan.  

On Tues. night the lake calmed down and I was stoked for Wed.   I launched at 7 am out of Barcelona.   For those of you unfamiliar with Barcelona, it's more the "walleye/lake trout" launch for Lake Erie, though Kotaro Kiriyama of BASS did great there on 5lb. smallmouths during the Elite Series tourney a couple weeks ago.   The wind didn't lay down for long and I had 1 foot waves out there in no time.   I motored out due east of Barcelona and headed out.  I marked a fair number of fish on my way out.   The activity zone seemed to be around 40'.   I dropped down my temp probe and was surprised to see the thermocline was so shallow on L. Erie.  The temp change was from 40' to 50'.  Below 50' the water temps were in the mid-40s.   I tried an assortment of lures on the deep marks - jigging spoons,  spoons inserted into goby colored tubes, dropshot worms/goby lures, and fluke/shakers.    Not much doing.   Working marks for the first couple hours didn't pay off at all.   It's a hard call on Lake Erie, because there's so much diversity "species wise".  A mark could be a carp, catfish, bass, drum, white perch, burbot - who knows?    I decided that I'd be better off working some cover/structure - like a dropoff or hump.   Everytime I decided this and motored off, I'd run over a school of fish or a few big hooks - so it was frustrating in a pleasant way.  

I worked some areas with my goby dropshot rig and started getting a few hits.   A rockbass was the first fish of the trip in around 25' of water.   The lake started getting nasty with NE winds around 10 knots or better.   Occasional waves came over the bow.  It wasn't fun - it was basically the same conditions as the day before.   I worked around Van Buren Point.  Excellent structure out there!   Before I knew it the clock said 1 pm and I still hadn't caught much of anything.   I decided to "stop screwing around" and took my boat back out to 40' of water where I'd been marking the most fish and where the thermocline met the bottom.   I looked for the widest 40' flat/shelf I could find.   In the moderately heavy wave action, I settled for whatever I could get.    I figured something would start hitting sooner or later.   I dropped my BPS Goby down on my new Canavan Dropshot rod and felt some weight as I picked up!  Paydirt!   My first Lake Erie bass - it was a nice 18"+ smallmouth!    From 39' of water.   I took my time bringing it up so I wouldn't have any air bladder problems.   I snapped a quick shot and released the fish.   Before I knew it my boat had drifted way off my area.   Eventually I got back on 40' and felt another heavy weight on bottom.  This fish rocketed right up from the bottom and jumped around 30' away from the boat!   Another solid smallmouth - this one bigger than the last.  It dove back down a couple times - what a great fight!   This fish was 19 1/2" - a solid 4lber I'd imagine.   I released it and felt I would be in business.   But the wave action kept intensifying and I didn't hook any more fish.     I worked my way back to Barcelona w/o any more fish.   The ride back was nasty, but not dangerous.  Lots of 2' to 3' waves with an occasional 4 footer.

I got interviewed for the Lake Erie DEC Creel Census at the launch.  It was nice getting some fishing info re: walleyes, lakers and bass from the DEC person.  Some boats had done well on walleyes today, others struggled.   I weighed a 9lb walleye caught by some Canadian anglers.   The walleye guys were some of the nicest fishermen I've ever met.  Every single one I talked to was personable and friendly, as well as open with information.  

That evening I met up with John Sander for a bite to eat in Fredonia.   It was great catching up with John and as usual I pestered him about when the Finger Lakes Edition of the Sanders Guide would come out.   Let's hope next year sometimes!  Most of it has been done.

Today I drove over to Dunkirk, where there's generally better bass fishing from what I've heard.   Unfortunately the launch was overflowing with walleye boats.  There was no parking to be had anywhere!   So I drove the 15 miles south to Barcelona again.   The lake was calm, but it was sunny and bright as heck out.   I decided I'd work out to 130' of water - hoping for bass and maybe some lakers.    The flat areas off Barcelona aren't very conducive to much great bass fishing as far as I could tell.   I marked a lot of bait and some hooks.   I had some hits, but no hookups.  I even had hits down 60' over 120'.   But nothing solid.  Trollers scored on walleyes, drum and white perch yesterday at 40' over 60'.   Today's reports were much slower.  A guy I talked to hammered walleyes on the NE wind, and only had one to show for todays calm/onshore conditions.   I fished until just after noon, then had to get back to Silver Lake Marine.

So basically tough fishing for me on Erie.    2 albeit nice bass and one rock bass to show for a day and a half of fishing.   I felt good about what I'd found on the smallmouths, but wasn't able to return back to my areas.  It would have been a time consuming 15 mile run today and I wasn't up for it.   A couple more days on Erie would have been nice, and I will return - probably in the spring or fall and I'll work Dunkirk to Buffalo Harbor - generally better bass areas.   I did see quite a few dead and dying drum.  I hope it isn't VHS, but I'm skeptical.   These trips make me appreciate the Finger Lakes!  My buddy Jared called me when I was fighting waves on Erie.  He'd fished Owasco the day before and nailed around 15 lakers and a 26" brown trout in a half day of fishing!   The bass we catch on Owasco are Erie sized fish.   The wind is only a factor on the rare occasions.  We don't have many blow-out days on the Fingers!  Lakers are also easy to find with our terrific shelves and basic structure.  No need to comb miles and miles of featureless flats!    When I lived in Rochester I would take steelhead trips over to Salmon River or drive to Oak Orchard Ck. for browns.   I usually did better when I came home - fishing Irondequoit Ck., Webster Ck. or the Genesee River.   I keep learning that lesson over and over!

 

8/18/2008
Owasco Lake 8/18

Did a 1/2 day with Paul and his wife Karen today.  Paul wanted to fish Owasco for bass and I was reluctant to do it "traditionally" knowing how many fish suspend out in open water.   But we decided to do 2 hours bassin' and 2 hours on the lakers.   The wind made me hopeful.   We started out working a weedy shelf and worked shallow to deep.   Nothing was happening shallow for us.  So we hit the deep weededges.   Karen did halfway decently with a big deep running crankbait.   The first fish was a dink rock bass, but at least there were fish around.   Then came a 15" to 16" smallmouth.   Then she hooked and landed a solid pike - a 29" northern.  Nice fight.  Nothing was hitting Paul's Senko, spinnerbait or jerkbait.  We went out for lakers and the action was very good.  

Karen again had the hot hand nailing a couple nice lakers.  Many fish were hooked and lost but both Paul and Karen got their share.   No bonus bass/trout.   Another solid day on Owasco Lake.   I'm not seeing a lot of bait on this lake, despite what I've heard from others.   Small bait balls here and there.     

8/17/2008
Owasco Lake 8/17
Great fishing today with my former fishing class student Andrew and his dad "Sak".   I need to thank them for giving me mom's great recipe for "Graw Praw" - a fantastic Thai dish!   We started at 8 am today so the guys could get some breakfast and relax a bit.  It didn't bother the fishing at all!  Laker action was what we've come to expect from Owasco Lake in mid-late August - super!   The guys landed around 15 nice lakers in short order.  A fair number of fish were lost and hits were missed too.   We had 2 beautiful bonus smallmouths - one on bottom in 85' of water!   We had a 19" and one just under 18".   We did a drift and I saw a silvery fish clear the water by 2'!  It was a nice 18" to 19" chunky rainbow for Andy!  Way to go!   We released all fish caught today except for one mortally wounded laker.   Sak was hoping to outdo Andy today.  I told him a brown or walleye might do it.  Wouldn't you know that on the next drift he hooks a beauty - a 27" healthy looking brown trout!    What a fight!  A searing run and then lots of dogging and a few more runs.   All in all a terrific AM on Owasco - and it all happened before noon!    Fish range from 52' to over 100' of water.  Our best action was around 85'.   What a fun lake!  The few brown and rainbow yearlings that survive the hungry laker/walleye gauntlet grow up to be nice fish!  We heard from reliable sources of a 30" brown taken recently as well.    
8/16/2008
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/16

Did a full day trip with David and Carol today.  We met at 7 am, a little later than I've been starting lately so Carol could get some extra sleep.   It was a picture perfect day with a nice light breeze and some sun to start.   Fishing started out a bit slow and we tried a bunch of areas so I could see how far south lakers and bait had moved.  We wound up fishing the same areas where I'd been taking people recently.   Some hits were missed as Dave and Carol worked on getting the jigging technique down.   Dave wound up nailing the first laker and while he was reeling in the fish, Carol hooked up!   So we had a double.   I landed Dave's fish, then checked his line and jig and dropped it over the gunnel as I landed and took care of Carol's fish.   After landing Carol's fish I looked over at Dave as I heard some splashing!   He had a big silvery fish on right by the boat - thrashing by the surface.  It got off.   What happened was that as Dave went to grab his rod, the fish was already on!  It had hit the jig as it dangled overboard!   I see something new just about everyday!

Dave landed another nice laker.   On the east shore Dave lost a beautiful LL Salmon around 22".   Carol managed to land a nice laker as well, that had a lamprey on it (Check out "Tips/Articles" under "The Fishing" to read more about that lamprey!)  All in all a successful day though we had quite a few missed opportunities.    Jigging can be tough to learn when the fish are hitting on bottom and subtlely.   If you're only catching fish on the retrieve, there's a good chance you're missing a lot of hits.   

7/25/2008
Late July to Mid August Fishing in a NUTSHELL!

Unfortunately, all my reports from mid-July to mid August disappeared when I switched my webhosting and domain registration.   Oh well, things happen.   For those of you who like to check out these reports for an idea of "what's happening, where and when" for future reference here's what was going on:

Cayuga fishing was fair to very good and downright excellent at times in the AM.  In general, the AM bite (starting at "dark thirty") was most productive with lakers available mostly midlake up to Dean's from 55' to around 75'.   The flats N. of AES produced volumes of fish.   A few bonus browns were also showing up.

Seneca Lake was also producing fair to good fishing - both AM and PM.  The bite wasn't as good as in 2007, but fishing was still decent.   Best action for us was the mid-lake Sampson area, but we took some fish around Severne Point.   We didn't do much pike fishing, but it wasn't easy in general.   Windy days and an early start produced some decent pike action - but it took some skilled fishing to be able to deal with the neutral fish and weed clutter.  

Owasco fishing was decent.  Not great but not bad for jigging lakers.   Sodus Bay produced good gar fishing and OK largemouth fishing depending on the day.  Lake Ontario was tough for us for smallies, though in all fairness we didn't put in a lot of time on the big lake and only went out of Sodus.      

7/19/2008
Otisco Lake 7/18 + Seneca/Sampson 7/19

Otisco Lake 7/18:

Got out with my buddy Jarrod at 5:30 am.   We worked our musky lures hard, mainly on the north end of the lake.   Didn't have a hit or follow.  We worked the south end and Jarrod had a 25" fish grab his swimbait, but he wasn't able to hook it.   He caught a decent white perch on the N. end and we decided to fish for those around noon after 6 hours + of no musky action.   I set up a dropshot rod and he went with a blade bait.   Wouldn't you know that he caught a 17" walleye  and I caught some bass?   It's a good example of how "multi-species" angling helps make an angler better!    Word is that a 44" 21lb. Tiger was trolled up on the 17th.   So the big fish are in there!

Seneca Lake 7/19:

Fished with Chris and his daughter Kristen for 1/2 day.   The laker bite was pretty good in the AM off Sampson in 75' to 90'+ water.   Young Kristen lost her first couple fish, but landed a nice 30" laker with a little "battle help" from Chris.   Chris landed 3 nice eating sized (20") fish before we headed in.  After the trip I did a little casting for pike and picked up a nice one on a swimbait in around 10' of water amongst a lot of weeds.  Lakers picked up and I managed to land a few in short order on the west shore in around 80' to 90'.  Plenty of lakers are around in the mid portions of the lake.   Surface temps are around 76!  Who says Seneca Lake doesn't warm up?  

One of the reasons I love fishing Cayuga and Seneca Lakes is that the fish are safe to eat.   Testing is done around every 5 years on Finger Lakes fish.   Trace contaminents show up from wineries, but they are below Federal Guidelines.   Results just came back from Cayuga's lakers and not only are they safely below Federal Guidelines, the levels are LOWER than they were 5 years ago!  That's great news for the FL Angler.   You can feel good about eating fish out of Cayuga Lake!

7/16/2008
Seneca/Sampson 7/15 + Sodus Bay/Lake Ontario 7/16

Did an evening trip on Seneca Lake with Brian and his dad Don.  The great thing about the laker jigging pattern is being able to show up on a lake during the middle of a hot sunny calm afternoon and catch fish right off the bat!   Brian had his limit worth of fish in about 90 minutes!  He landed 4 nice fish.  Don had some good hits and opportunities but just couldn't convert.  The bait from Monday AM had moved out, but some fish were still around.   A good time was had by all.

I got to Sodus Bay a couple hours before my scheduled 11 am guide trip for gar.  I wanted to try out my new Canavan Custom Dropshot rod.   I worked out to around 30' of water and caught a few rockbass and a goby.  Gobies were pounding my dropshot baits.   I might have seen one or two bass (or trout) jump.   If I had more time, I'd have worked out to 50' - I think many bass might be deep.   The Canavan rod was fantastic!   Great ergonomics and a nice action.   

At 11 am I picked up Arti and Beck and we checked on the gar.   Our predicted "gar hot" sunny calm hot day didn't quite materialize.   We didn't see much to start but after around 45 minutes some gar began to show themselves.   Fishing was off and on for the afternoon, but Arti had the hot hand landing 4 nice fish up to around 43".   Most of the fish came on deep LC-13 fly-fishing setups.

Nothing I know of in freshwater compares to gar fishing - NOTHING!   It's the closest thing to a saltwater-like experience you'll find in freshwater.  We were fishing in 15' to 20' of water and the gar were acting like pelagic fish!   Schools of fish are cruising around showing themselves from time to time and we chase them around.   The hits are aggressive - basically violent slashing bites!  It's like catching a dinosaur - these fish have been around unchanged for over 100 MILLION years!   Their scales are like armor - interlocking.  Their bill is bony and full of teeth.  It's like fishing for reptiles!    Gar fishing will continue through the summer.

7/14/2008
Seneca Lake 7/11 + 12, Cayuga 7/12 + 13, Seneca 7/14

 

I spent a lot of time on the water over the past week/weekend.  Here's what happened:

Seneca 7/11: 

Had a slow day with Tony on Friday.   We went out of Watkins, since he didn't think he'd be able to meet me further up the lake due to transportation issues.   I thought pike would be a good option out of Watkins, but he hadn't caught a lake trout yet and wanted to, so that's what we did.   The winds were the usual strongish morning southerlies.   As I demoed a jig on the south end I had 2 hits - browns, salmon or rainbows maybe?    We worked a lot of areas up to Valois and then across to Severne.   Fish were around but very negative.  Our predicted sun never showed up (it actually did - but around 4 pm!)    Tony gave things a great effort and finally landed a decent laker near Severne.  After another quick hookup and a couple light hits we thought things might pick up, but it was not to be.   We kept trying, but fish just weren't grabbing.   He worked very hard, but nada.   We worked back down the lake and tried for carp on the fly a bit.  While trying for carp we saw a nice sized gar!   Shapes of things to come on Seneca maybe.  I don't know.  Old timers say gar were common on Seneca's south end back in the 1970s.   They appear to be coming back.

Tony's a very accomplished fly-fisherman and we just had tough fishing - no two ways about it.  He did things very well.  The tough laker action was a foreshadowing of things to come for the weekend.

Cayuga 7/12:

Kicked off the Red Cross Derby at Taughannock on Cayuga.  I was hoping to scout a bit earlier in the week but was exhausted so I didn't.   As I drove back from the Steely Dan show at 1 am on Friday night I wondered whether I'd have the "fuel" to make the derby, but after meeting my friend Jared at the launch, I felt a surge of adrenaline - so off we went at 5 am in the fog.   The flats N. of AES were mobbed.   I'd never seen so many boats there.   We worked the shallows (from 45' to 75' - mostly around 55') and found some decent fish.   We landed around a dozen lakers and Jared popped a 30" fish that was a bit thin, so we released it.   I then landed a fatter 30" fish and we decided to keep it for the smoker (along with some others) and possibly weigh it in depending on what the board for the derby looked like.   The bite quit for us early and we contemplated some pike fishing.  On the way south at around noon we stopped into Myers and I was shocked to see how low the laker weights were - so we weighed the fish.  Barney said "6lbs" when I brought the fish up to the scales - but I'm 6' 4" and the fish was 30" and fat, so I don't know what he was thinking - he's usually very accurate with his guesstimates!    But the fish weighed in at 9.8lbs (heavier than I'd have thought) and made 2nd place for the time being.  He re-checked the scale - and I tried my Tech Scale.  Both read around 9.8!   I knew it'd probably drop down to 9th or 10th by Sunday, but we couldn't help but wonder if the bite really was "that slow".  It was - from reports we got from some trollers.  We tried an hour of pike without luck (except Jared had ahold of a possible brown for a few seconds casting over deep water) and we decided to motor over to Seneca for the evening bite.

Seneca 7/12 PM:

I expected good things from Seneca since it's been great over the past month or two.   We grabbed some coffee and headed to Geneva.   5 + 20 were seriously backed up.  I thought there might have been an accident, but there was a massive Triathlon going on and the launch was closed off.  Major hassle!!!   We got out after an hour delay and I met a happy follower of this website who tipped me off on some good action further south.   We worked the N. end but found very warm water and a lack of bait for the most part.   We motored to Sampson and found fish but few grabs.   We finished up at 10 pm after rerigging.   17 hours of fishing in hot weather after 2 hours of sleep on Friday night and around 4 hours of sleep Thurs. night.   Yet we were wired and ready for Sunday after another whopping 3 or 4 hours of sleep!

Cayuga 7/13:

Sunday rolled around and we met at Taughannock by 5:05 am.   Very few boats were there, which made us (correctly) think that most boats had slow action out of there on Sat.   We worked on of my favorite areas for a while and nailed 2 fish.  We then worked some "community holes" and popped another 8 or 10.   But nothing big.   My fish was dropping on the board - it was at 4th place by 11 am Sunday.  We needed a couple big lakers but it wasn't to be.   A wicked storm came through and we thought action might pick up afterwards.  Most boats cleared the lake and fortunately the skies cleared of thunder/lightning.   We hooked a double and thought we might hit a hot "storm bite", but nada.  Just more lookers.   We tried some other stuff and wrapped up around 3 pm.   My fish dropped to 10th place and the Red Cross folks were nice enough to tell me that I didn't need to show up for the awards presentation.  They would mail my check.   I enjoy hanging out at the awards ceremony, but after so little sleep I was ready to pass out.

Seneca 7/14:

I told my client on Sunday that I expected these lakers to start hitting after being fairly lock-jawed for at least 3 to 4 days.   And hit they did!   Fishing started out excellent today out of Sampson with Jim's wife Phyllis nailing a couple nice lakers in short order.  85' to 95' seemed best.  Large schools of bait had moved in and fishing was very good.   Jim hammered a bunch of fish - I think over a dozen and Phyllis probably got 7 or 8.  Fish ranged up to around 27".   Lots of hatchery fish for whatever reason.   Flukes and Shakers worked very well.   If the derby had been held today, we'd have seen a lot of big fish make the boards!

Overall it was very interesting to see the progression of the laker "bite" over the past few days.  The going was tough just in time for the Red Cross Derby, which was weird.  The jigging thing continues to pick up momentum.  Overall, trolling will often produce more fish day in and day out.  Seth Greene was a commercial "meat fisherman" and his rigs work well, as do the modern set ups, but jigging offers the thrill of the chase and the fun of the bite, plus it produces big lazy fish and works very well when fish are inactive.   The jigging from around 6:30 am till 9:00 or 9:30am was very good all weekend long.   The key is landing numbers of fish.  A 30" plus laker is about a one in 15 to 20 fish on Cayuga and we needed to find more fish.   I had a great time and encourage others to participate in this annual event - which benefits a great organization.   Re: Jim from today - Jim's from near Pittsburgh PA and was very impressed by the Finger Lakes fishing.   I met some folks from Utica that have been having a great time jigging lakers out here.  

7/10/2008
Cayuga Lake out of Cayuga State Park 7/10
Did a full day with Jim - the target species were bass, lakers and gar.   Casting for bass wasn't exactly "hot 'n heavy" in the AM, after hitting our first areas with just a pickerel to show,  I figured it'd be best to try lakers before the morning bite dissipated.   Jim had a couple good hits from lakers early on, but he wasn't used to the fish hitting so lightly.   He picked up one fish around 16" and after slow responses from other fish, we checked on some gar areas.   Jim's a worldwide fisherman - probably the most well-versed "fisher" I've ever had on my boat.  He's fished Peacock bass and other species in South America; he's fished Africa;  the Gaspe' Pennisula, The Ponoi, Alaska, Costa Rica, Montauk, the Bahamas, the Keys, British Columbia - you name it!   He's an excellent caster with fly gear, spinning and bait casting tackle.   We found some gar and he had a few hits and finally nailed his first gar on a fly.   The fishing was slow today, no two ways about it.  Not a great catching day, but we had fun.   After the trip was over I did a little casting for bass and nailed a 13" largemouth and a small pickerel.   I'd had enough and called it a day.  Water levels were good and temps got into the low 80s in some areas.   Plenty of gar were around, but nothing much over 37".   
7/9/2008
St. Lawrence River/Thousand Islands 7/7 + 7/8

Got up to Cape Vincent around 10 am on Monday.   The last time I fished there was back in 1980 while up with my friend Chris.   We still-fished and trolled for smallmouths back then and did pretty well.   I was going to launch out of Clayton, but I couldn't contain my enthusiasm, so I stopped at the Cape.   There's a nice public town launch there so off I went.  

The river (or Lake Ontario) is wide there and there are plenty of shoals.  It's generally a good smallmouth area.   As I launched my boat the wind started picking up and the river began to whitecap.  Oh well.   I worked some smallmouth stuff around Carlton Island.  Didn't do much except for a perch.  I did see a nice sized drum.   It was hard to drop shot and work deep stuff with the wave action.  I settled for throwing bubblegum colored super flukes in the shallows south of the island and managed a decent 15 to 16" smallmouth bass and lost another.   Tons of perch were everywhere.  I jigged up one decent perch on a spoon in 40' of water.   Caught another bass off Millen's Bay on the fluke and that was it for the first morning/afternoon.   OK fishing - not great by any means - but a start.   BTW, I couldn't help but be a little disappointed in the rudeness of the pleasure boaters out on the river.  There is zero respect for "right of ways" , minimum distances between watercrafts and other "trivial ;-)" regulations out there.  People are just oblivious on the river.   I had big yachts and bayliner type boats zinging by at close range.  It's just the way things are up there.   I rarely encounter that sort of ignorance on the Fingers! 

I met my buddy Jared at Clayton around 5 pm and we set up "camp"on the ESF island and after a little tour and a bite to eat we went fishing.  He's done a ton of fisheries research on the river, mostly on muskies.  He also fishes it a lot and knows plenty of good areas.  I was psyched!   I gave him the helm and let myself be guided for a change - which felt great.  

He asked me if I wanted to catch some pike.   Of course I would.   So we went to a bay that featured a nice weedy flat surrounded by deep water.  He said we'd get a pike within 10 casts.   I threw my shaker along the outer weed edge with confidence.  The area looked great.  On my second cast I had a solid hit ala a pike or big walleye.   I set the hook and was surprised at how strong the fish was.    It beelined for deep water and I couldn't do anything but watch line peel off the reel - like hooking a big carp.  I was confident in my 14lb. Fireline and 40lb bite leader.   I tightened my drag a little bit.   The fish dogged me determinedly for a bit, then switched directions and ran again.  It ran near the boat.   I kept expecting the fish to give up or at least tire out.   I said to Jared "this isn't fighting like a northern".   It wasn't a big drum either, which would have been a good guess - except the fish didn't do the circular type of drum fight.   I kept repeating - "this isn't a northern".   I've caught a lot of pike up to around 16 to 17lbs - and this wasn't fighting like any of them.  I didn't know what it was.   I saw a brownish drum like flash and Jared saw a greenish flash and long shape.    Then my jig popped out of the fish's mouth!   What a bummer!

Jared then caught a nice fat pike - around 32 to 34" long and probably 9 or 10lbs.   We hit a couple other areas before it got dark.  I got a small pike and a bass.   We tried night casting for walleyes without luck.  The midges (small non-biting insects) were very thick out there.  I couldn't help but talk about the "one that got away".  On the next day Jared told me that he "didn't want to say anything, but felt that I probably had a musky".  I didn't think about it at the time I had the fish on, but that may well have been what it was.  It fought very much like the nice Tiger Jared had hooked a couple weeks ago at Otisco.  Strong runs, some herky-jerky dogging, then a run or two under the boat.    The other ESF people at the island had a 20lb+ dead musky in a cooler that was destined for Cornell for autopsy.  VHS is still around and some locals "called in the dead fish" after they found it.  Looking at the musky, I couldn't help but think that's what I'd hooked - though mine wasn't a 20lber - the fish I hooked felt like it was around 12lbs or so.   Hooking muskies isn't too uncommon around the area we fished in late June/early July according to Jared.  

We tried some largemouth fishing on day 2 in a south shore bay.  No luck.   We then worked a nice shoal for smallies.  Jared hit some nice fish there and I caught one or two.  Goby tubes on a 3/8th tube head did the trick.   He had a meeting to attend to so we took a break and I drop shotted another nice bass from the island's shore.   Rock bass and perch were everywhere - just like I remembered from 28 years ago!

Over the course of the trip Jared pointed out the hundreds of smallmouth bass beds all over the river shoals and around the islands.   He saw tons of big smallmouth bass spawning on them.   The weird thing about places like the St. Lawrence River and Black Lake (to name a couple) is that catch and release fishing really isn't that popular over there.   Guides are well known for their "shore lunches" and tackle stores are full of photos with happy fishermen grinning over big stringers of bass.   They harvest plenty of bass.   Jared recalled talking to a boater fishing around the ESF island who was wondering "where the bass went?"   He said they'd hammered them the week before.   Did you keep them?  Yeah we kept 10 nice ones.   Jared told him - "Well there was another 20 + boats that also fished the area over the past week and hammered and kept fish.  We'd seen around 50 bass total - so maybe you have your answer as to 'where the fish went' now!"

We hit a few other areas on Day 2 and Jared managed a big smallmouth on a wind blown shoal.  I kept the boat positioned.   He also took a couple more decent fish.   I felt out of the groove - just a day late and dollar short on every lure I selected.   It was a bit of a fishing rut - not making adjustments, having too many rods out and general lethargy.   But a good thing to deal with!

Overall, I enjoyed the river and the trip a lot.  Next time, I'd try further downstream.  I'd also get a Canadian License if I stayed longer.   The US side gets fished HARD!   Beautiful area, plenty of fish - though it can be challenging.   The current, big water, deep fish and wind make for challenging angling.   The post-spawn smallies can be tough.  DEC has netted smallies on bottom in 120' of water in the river!  Many fish are often in 30' to 50'.   Back in 1980 we often fished 40' of water - and this was BEFORE zebra mussels!    I wouldn't feel confident in any tournament with what we'd scraped up.   According to Jared, the fish were around beds a week ago and the fishing had been great - it wasn't hard to get 8 or 10 nice bass in one area.

 

 

7/6/2008
Seneca Lake 7/6 Sampson
Guided Ken and Kenny (Jr.) today on Seneca.   I pointed them in the right direction and last night they had a terrific nightbite on Seneca, nailing over a dozen nice lakers up to 32".   This AM the fishing was slower.   We worked from Sampson to the north end and points in between.   The biggest news today and yesterday was that the fish moved deeper.   The thermocline is setting up and we found our best action in 85' to 95' of water.   I'm sure we'll see more shallow laker action, but apparently the deeper bite is on.   The bite slowed around 9 am - and never really got hot.  Around 1 pm we picked up a couple more fish.  Bait is everywhere.  The guys landed 8 fish today up to 31".   We're seeing some beautiful coloration in some of the fish this year - orange/red on the fins, including the tail(!) which is a new one for me.   Ken has lived in Alaska, Wisconsin and in the south and he feels NY offers some of the most diverse angling around.   Who can argue?   I won't ;-)
7/3/2008
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's 7/3
Fished 1/2 day with Ira and Josh.   Laker action was OK - not great but not bad.   The guys landed 3 legal fish, the best 2 being around 27"+.   A few fish were lost and some hits missed.   Fish were hitting lightly, but not grabbing great.   We found a lot of bait and quite a few fish.   We had our best fishing from around 65' to 75', but we marked fish from 55' out to over 100'.  
7/2/2008
Canandaigua Lake 7/2

It was great getting out on Canandaigua today.  At 6:45 am the first boat of the day was launching at the N. end State Launch.   The winds were blowing pretty good out of the south, which can make for tricky boat control on this beautiful lake.   For those of you who've never been on Canandaigua Lake - it's gorgeous.   Lush forested hills - higher than those on Skaneateles Lake!  It's basically "Skaneateles West" size and appearance wise, but there's much more development on it and the fish community includes alewives and smelt and no landlocked salmon.   The water quality is very high and the lakefront residents own some of the highest priced lake front anywhere.  Danny Wegman's house is on this lake!    The boat traffic gets ridiculous here in the summer due to the lake's proximity to Rochester and surrounding populated areas.  

Had I known my laker bite would peter out by 9:00 am, I'd have gone right to my best laker areas, but I hit some other areas first.   I nailed 4 nice lakers and lost probably another 4 to 6.   Most fish were 17" to 20", but my best was a 27 1/2" 7lb. 6oz beauty.  There are no lampreys in this lake.  That, combined with the super high water quality make these fish some of the best eating lakers in the region.   I kept after the lakers well after they quit biting, and had nothing to show but a couple missed hits/fish for the next 3 hours.  

I tried working some Super Flukes for smallmouth bass and had 4 nice bass chase my flukes in, but they didn't gobble them.   I didn't have time to try much else as I had an appointment in town at 3:30.   I did do some dropshotting in order to test out my brand new Fenwich Elite Tech Dropshot Rod.   A couple nice rockbass and sunfish quickly grabbed my dropshot worm.  The rod is fantastic and I can't wait to hit some good smallies on it.

When I got back to the launch at 2:30 pm the north end of the lake was the zoo I'd expected earlier.   The lake was churning due to all the boat wakes.   A good number of jet skiis were out as well (well behaved ones.)   But that's to be expected during a holiday week.    

7/1/2008
Otisco Lake 7/1 Paydirt!

About a week ago my schedule in July and August was looking pretty bare.   I think high gas prices and an uncertain economy have resulted in people taking a more "last minute" approach to vacation planning.   I've been kind of excited at the prospect of having a bit of fishing time to myself.   When I began "Finger Lakes Angling Zone Guide Service" in 2005 I figured that if I was lucky, by my 4th or 5th year I'd be doing 3 or maybe 4 trips a week.   I always thought I'd have plenty of fishing time and time to develop new patterns and learn or "master" ;-) new lakes.   But my wildest expectations were surpassed - thanks to those of you out there who book or have booked trips with me, and before I knew it I was doing 4 or more trips a week.   I just wrapped up 17 trips in 14 days a couple days ago!   I love doing all the guiding, but I do enjoy getting out and fishing on my own a bit.  Exploration and the thrill of discovery is what motivates me as a fisherman - not just doing the "tried and true".   My July schedule is now starting to fill up pretty quickly, so my "personal fishing time" is going to be a bit limited.   I'm still planning on fishing Lake Champlain/George, Lake Erie, the Thousand Islands and Lake Ontario (to jig Kings.)  

A goal of mine for a long time has been to figure out Otisco Lake and the fishing there.   I first fished the lake for walleyes in the daytime in the early 1990s on my buddy Terry's boat and found it tough.   We've always caught bass there, but I've wanted to catch a legal Tiger Musky for awhile.   I didn't go back until a bit later and the tiger musky population was down.   They are up again now and I've been fishing the lake more regularly lately.   Today I got up around 3:30 am and was on the lake before 6 am.   I had some good ideas on how I was going to target muskies and I couldn't wait to get on the lake!    There's nothing better than fishing with confidence!

I worked an area which produced a nice fish for my girlfriend and some action for my buddy Jared.   No luck.  I tried another area and had a huge bass go for my musky lure.   A bit later I had my first visible follow from a musky around 28" give or take.   I worked an array of different lures on flipping sticks and my musky rod including Musky Chatterbaits, 9" Sluggos, Giant Shad Raps, Swimbaits and other stuff.    I tried some other areas but felt a strong urge to return back to the top area.   After 10 minutes of casting my lure was 2 rod lengths away when in an instant a decent musky whacked my plastic!    I was prepared - having checked my knots and leader thoroughly, and after a couple wild jump/thrashes and two or three runs under the boat I landed a 32" Tiger Musky!   I took a quick (bad) photo or two and released the fish.   Over the past 3 trips on the lake we've had musky action everytime, so I feel I'm starting to get them dialed in a bit.   After throwing heavy baits on my Fenwick Techna AV musky rod, my flipping stick feels like a light spinning rod!   Musky "hunting" is a lot of fun - it's all about anticipation and expectation - the "thrill of the chase".   I'm looking forward to doing more musky fishing on Otisco, and hopefully Waneta/Lamoka, Chautauqua and maybe the St. Lawrence later this season.  I can only hope.   More new waters and experiences/patterns to come....  :-)

BTW - if the current good musky trend on Otisco holds up, I expect to be able to successfully fly-fish these fish.   I think the best fly-fishing will be in May before the weeds come up and possibly just before ice-up in November.   Time will tell!

6/30/2008
Seneca out of Sampson 6/30
Not much new to report.  Did a full day guiding with Tim and his son Lucas.  Pike fishing was slow.   I'd probably fish further south if I was strictly targeting pike.   Laker fishing was good.  We had a decent bite throughout the day with fish up to 30".  It took the guys some time to get the feel for the technique, but they managed to do it.   We hit fish at Sampson, Geneva and points in between.   A thermocline is setting up.   July should be some good to excellent fishing for lakers!
6/26/2008
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 6/25+26

Excellent lake trout fishing continues on Seneca Lake's north end.   Guided Matt and Mike on Wednesday and the guys did a great job nailing a bunch of nice lakers up to 31".  Fish hit best in the morning until around 11 am or so.   After the trip I scouted the shallows for carp with my fly-rod.  Found a few nice pods of fish, but no takers.  Carp fishing the lake is excellent sight fishing practice.  Today's client Richard was out on the lake a couple days ago and nailed a fish over 30lbs on a jig!   So he got me thinking...

Today I guided Richard and his parents for the full day on Seneca Lake.   Things started out a little rough with threatening skies, a choppy lake and tricky boat control.   I had lines tangle both my trolling motor prop and my Yamaha prop!   But once we got things straightened out the fishing picked up.  The winds calmed a bit and the fish started hitting in 55' to 85' of water give or take.  Richard really loves to fish and it shows - he's a very passionate angler.   Rich's dad Tony landed the big fish of the day - a 31" to 32" slob.  Around a dozen nice lakers were landed - they were all stuffed with bait.   Fun trip and a nice way to end this couple week guiding "run".   I'll probably take a day or two off before heading back out on my own.  

6/24/2008
Sodus Bay 6/24
Just returned after a full-day with the Hermans.   We were hoping for some gar and drum but the strong west winds made spotting and fishing to gar pretty difficult and not worth it.  We didn't see any drum, though I'm sure a few are still around.  Throwing Senkos, Super Flukes, spinnerbaits and tube jigs produced some nice largemouths today up to around 2.5lbs.   We didn't encounter any pike - which doesn't surprise me since Sodus Bay's pike fishing has been a shadow of what it used to be for years now.   We did see plenty of gar but we didn't fish for them.   I showed John how to pitch for bass and he had fun learning the technique.  No fish on the jig 'n plastic, but he will get them next time!  Bay temps got into the low 70s today.   The big lake was way too rough to try smallmouth fishing.  I should be back on the bay/lake soon.   
6/23/2008
Seneca 6/21, Cayuga 6/22, Seneca 6/23

Seneca 6/21:

Launched out of Sampson with Jesse and Josh.  We started with some fly-fishing and spin-casting for pike.  Action was good first thing in the AM with a couple decent pike caught on each technique.    Fishing slowed and we headed north for lakers.  Lake trout action was very good to start then became excellent as strong T-storms approached.  I don't recommend anyone taking any foolish risks around storms, but the falling barometer can trigger feeding frenzies.   We caught some big fish then ran south and got off the lake just as the rain started coming down in droves!    Fish came on flukes/fin-S fish and shakers.  Best fishing was around 45' to 65'.

Cayuga 6/22 AM:

Had a good time with Paul and Charlie out of Dean's Cove.   They wanted to learn the technique and we worked hard on it - I gave them the full "tutorial".   They fish Hemlock Lake a bit and I'm looking forward to seeing how the jigging works over there.  It WILL work there.  Lakers are lakers and on the one time I fished the lake I had a chaser - and it was a poor day near the spawn.   Anyways, the guys landed 3 big fish and missed and dropped some.   I had a lot of fun talking music with Paul, who happens to be a bluegrass musician.

Cayuga 6/22 PM:

After the full-day with Paul and Charlie I was able to get in a 1/2 day with Dan from last week's trip.  Things started with dead slow laker action and after 2 hours we had nothing to show.  But I knew we had a good chance at a hot evening bite, so we stayed around Dean's, rather than running North for bass/pickerel.  Sure enough, as the sun sank a bit at 6:30pm Dan started hooking up.  He landed 3 nice fish in a 1/2 hour, then landed another 4 fish before we finished up around 8:30!  Perserverence paid off.    One fish was a 28" wild beauty.

Seneca Lake 6/23:

Today I did a full-day trip with Paul.  He wanted to see what the "region had to offer".   We started with pike and he had a couple hits and a bite-off.   It was fun to at least see a vicious attack from a pike.  There are a lot of shredded weeds on the surface of Seneca Lake and it made pike fishing a pain in the butt at times.   We went after lakers and the fishing was superb!   Pretty much as good as 6/19.   Paul landed around 8 to 12 nice fish - many in the 27" to 28" range.   He had a TON of hits and lost quite a few fish.   He was very impressed by the size, beauty and fight of the lakers.  He'd caught a 30lb striper earlier in the year and he felt some of the laker battles were reminiscent of striper fights!   He did a little piking at the day's end and picked up a northern.   Paul was a kindred spirit and the day was one of the most enjoyable days I've spent on the water.   I've met and guided a lot of great people this season - I absolutely love that aspect of guiding! 

6/20/2008
Seneca Lake/Geneva 6/20

I started this AM at 6:30 with my buddy Shahab.  We grabbed our deep fly-fishing setups and tried for some lakers.  It wasn't the best opportunity we'd had, since most fish were deeper than 40', but we tried anyways.  Shahab did manage one decent strike, but overall the fly-fishing didn't work out.   We did some conventional jigging while waiting for our lines to sink and had some good fishing.  

At 10 am I dropped off Shahab and met Chris and Dan at the launch.   They've been out with me before - Chris many times.   Lake trout fishing wasn't as hot as yesterday (we weren't expecting miracles!) but it was still very good and the guys managed to land over a dozen nice fish up to 30".  Fish are stuffing themselves with the abundant alewives.   We did some pike fishing and action was fair - Dan landed 3 and Chris managed one and lost a nice bass.   Weed growth is growing rapidly and the pike are starting to spread around a bit.   The key to good pike fishing now is to commit to it - the more wind the better in general.   There are enough pike in this lake to make for good fishing all summer long.   Water temps are in the low 60s and I think we'll see a thermocline shortly.  

6/19/2008
Seneca/Geneva 6/19 Wow!

There's good fishing and then there's great fishing and then there are the days you remember vividly for the rest of your life.   Kelly Rettig and his son Mike have been fishing with me over the last 3 years.   They've experienced some terrific pike fishing and very good lake trout fishing - today was the "end all Finger Lakes lake trout day".   Today we saw why Geneva christens itself "Lake Trout Capital of the World!"   The late Toby Wood used to love fishing the northern portions of Seneca Lake and it's easy to see why after today.  We got into fish right from the get-go and there were very few lulls in the action.  Just fish after fish after fish!   All our soft plastics worked - flukes/fin-s fish in white, white ice, golden shiner, smelt, chartreuse and 3 or 4 other colors.  Berkely Gulp.   Lunker City Shakers - you name it - the fish hammered it.   Fish hit on the drop, the jig and the chase.   5 to 6 fish chased at a time.  We caught bright fish, dark fish, wild fish and hatchery fish.  Old fish and young fish.   Healthy looking clean fish and scarred old fish that looked battle weary.   5 lampreys were brought aboard - and no, I didn't eat any of them ;-)   The guys landed over 70 lake trout!   We took a break with some pike fishing and after landing a couple pike we went back to the lakers.  I rarely fish on guide trips but I couldn't help but join in a bit.   It took no time at all to land 3 or 4 fish.   It just doesn't get any better!   Fish came from 27' to 80' of water - most were in 35' to 60'.  

The guys have wanted a 30"+ laker for the wall and I mentioned Ray Grander's fantastic replica mounts - each scale hand painted by an artist in every sense of the word.   A lot of taxidermists I've seen have a knack for making a beautiful fish look like a piece of plastic with large phony looking eyes and gaudy paint jobs.  Ray's fish look like they can swim off the wall.   His rainbow trout are unreal!  One look at your mount and you'll be transported back in time to the moment you caught the fish!  Check his replica mounts out at Pinewood Flies in Pine Valley NY - just north of Elmira and around 15 miles south of Watkins Glen.   Freshwater or saltwater species - Ray does them all and well.   There are photos of his mounts on www.flyfishingonline.com/  but there's nothing like seeing them in person! 

6/18/2008
Cayuga Lake/North End 6/18

Guided Dan and Dan today - things started out rainy but calm.   We started with bass fishing south of the State Launch.   The shallow fish of last Sunday had scattered a bit, but the guys each managed nice largemouths around 17" - maybe 2.75lbs or so, and some pickerel, a smaller bass and a couple misguided small perch/bluegills.   We tried the new shallow running X-Rap - it's a sub-surface spook type lure (can't remember the official name of it.)   We did see some baitfish (alewives) up shallow, so I'm sure the fish are feeding heavily.   H2O was in the 60s and eventually reached the low 70s.  

The cloudy conditions were prime for lake trout jigging, so after around an hour and a half of bassin', we headed south.   During my first couple years of guiding I fished different areas all the time and wasn't very "spot oriented".   We caught a lot of fish and some beasts up to 34" to 35".  Eventually, I became "spot oriented" - mainly due to a lot of 1/2 day trips - I felt a need to fish "where they were" and take people there.   I realized that this compromised our fishing a bit, so today I had the guys fish a bunch of areas I never fish much - we approached the lake like a new lake and the day like a new day.   The approach paid off and Dan's (aka Dan #1) second laker was a 32" beauty!   We found good concentrations of fish in some "new" areas and the guys managed to fill their limit as well as release the pig and drop/miss a few nice fish as well.   I'll be keeping this approach - I love it!  

I expect terrific lake trout jigging in July on both Seneca and Cayuga Lake the way things are shaping up!   I intend to fish Canandaigua once I get an open date.  

6/17/2008
Seneca Lake/Geneva 6/17
Good to excellent fishing today with Darren and David!   We did a 1/2 day starting at 7am and the fishing was good from the get-go with 3 nice fish landed within 1/2 hour.  Fishing then slowed when the sun came out, but within the next hour it picked back up.  Bait and marks were everywhere from 25' to over 100'.  Interesting stuff.  We worked the same areas we'd fished yesterday.  Yesterday's fish were all hatchery (clipped) fish and showed signs of lamprey attacks.  Most of today's fish were clean and possibly wild.  We had one dark fish with beautiful colors, reminiscent of an Alaskan or at the very least a Skaneateles laker!   Water temps were in the low 60s up top.   Jigging should only get better and better!  
6/16/2008
Cayuga/Dean's 6/15 + Seneca/Sampson 6/16

Cayuga 6/15:

Did 2 one-half day trips on Sunday on Cayuga Lake.  The first trip started just after 7 am on Cayuga Lake after a foggy morning.   Laker action was alright - not great, but not bad.  I taught the jigging technique to Adam and Kyle and they did a good job with it, landing a couple nice fish.  A few good hits were missed as well.  Fish and bait were around in around 40' to 75' of water give or take.   Our best action was on the west shore, though we didn't motor around too much.  

My PM trip was with Barry and Julie, who joined me last year for some very good jigging on Cayuga.   We didn't have any luck jigging early on, so we moved to the north end of the lake for some pickerel/bass fishing.  Pickerel fishing was OK with a couple decent fish landed.  Plenty of nice perch and gills were around.  We found a nice concentration of bass incl. some very big fish in shallow.   Barry landed his personal best largemouth - a nice 19" fish on a superfluke.   We went back to Dean's and both Barry and Julie managed to jig a laker.   My guess is that the evening bite is good!  

Seneca 6/16:

Today Freddy and Nelson joined me for a full day of fishing on Seneca.  The lake was whitecapping as we left the Sampson marina.  Pike fishing started out slow for us, but picked up as the sun came out.  Daredevles and swimbaits accounted for the most fish.  Nothing over 29" and no pickerel or bass in the mix today.  Many fish appear to have vacated the extreme shallows.   The weeds are really starting to grow and the fish are using them.  Alewives were in shallow too and I'm sure the pike are chowing on them.  Laker jigging started out well with both guys having hits but unable to convert.   Nelson landed the first fish - a nice 3lber.   Freddy got a 16" laker then Nelson nailed a 25" fish.  A couple others were dropped.  Lots of fish were chasing on the sonar, but they weren't committing.   Both shores of the lake produced fish and a couple chased all the way to the surface!   30' to 75' was best.  

6/14/2008
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 6/14
Guided Chris and Phil for the full day.  They wanted lakers and we fished hard for them.  We found a ton of bait and lakers in 35' to 75' of water.  The bite varied during the day, but in the afternoon we hit a good streak of laker action.  Around 7 fish were landed - one 17" fish, but the rest were all 25" to 29" and up to 8lbs.  It was nice to see the Seneca fish showing some weight!   They are feeding heavily now.  Rumor has it Keuka Lake's bait has made a comeback as well.  It's good to hear!   I also spotted some nice shallow carp - a good fly-fishing opportunity!
6/13/2008
Skaneateles Lake AM/Sodus Bay PM 6/13

Today was a long day!  I met Gary at the State launch on Skaneateles Lake at 5:45 am.   So I was up at 3 am!   We went over a bunch of good smallmouth bass patterns.  He caught a lot of fish - mostly smaller 9" to 12" fish, but he did managed 4 or 5 nice 14" to 16" fish.  We saw a couple nice (big) rainbow trout around.   I don't catch too many rainbows on the green pumpkin tube jigs - they seem to hit streamers and hair jigs better - but a couple fish did show themselves on the tubes.   A couple rockbass were caught as well - they seem to be recovering from the VHS virus of a year or two ago.  Fish all looked healthy.   Gary used tube jigs, hair jigs, a spinnerbait, soft jerkbait and hard jerkbaits.  

After the trip was over I met my friend Jared at a convenience store  on Rt. 89 and we drove over to Sodus Bay.  Conditions were perfect for gar fishing.  High, hot sun, low winds and warm water!   We saw tons of gar - maybe 100 in one area.   We tried some gear fishing presentations and didn't have too much luck, but Jared coaxed one into hitting a soft plastic with a special rig.   The fish fought great - 3 nice drag ripping runs and some topwater thrashing.   I landed one small gar on a rope fly.  The gar were near schools of sunfish.   Conditions changed - we had a clueless water skier slaloming around in the shallows and the wind died down.   The sunfish went deep and our gar scattered and moving deep as well.   We've had some luck fishing deep gar but we decided to go after the abundant drum instead.   The drum were not in a positive mood.  We had a lot of follows, but few hits.  I landed one small drum and that was it.   We caught a load of nice largemouth bass - good fish.  Most had hook scars - there's clearly a lot of angling pressure on the Sodus Bay largemouths.  We worked a lot of drum areas with nothing but bass and a small pike to show for our efforts.   The heat and fatigue got to me by 6:30 pm so we got off the bay.  Water levels are nice and the bay temps are in the mid to high 70s.   The bass fishing is excellent!

6/11/2008
Cayuga out of Dean's 6/11
Started the day at 8:30am with Michele, John and Tim.   We did a full-day jigging and the fishing started out slow, but within 2 hours the bites came steadily.   Around 1/2 dozen nice fish were landed up to almost 10lbs.  The fish are FAT with 28" lakers weighing in at 8lbs and fish gaining about 1lb. an inch.  I used my Berkely TEC scale - which is accurate to 1/10th of an ounce today.   Fish are stuffed with bait.   We even found an old plastic worm in one of the fishes stomachs!   We jigged fish in 30' to 65' or so today and we marked active fish in at least 90' of water.   We had a follow from a big rainbow or brown too.  Michele had the hot land today landing 3 or 4 nice fish.  John lost a bunch and missed quite a few, but he did manage to land the 10lb lunker of the day.   Tim nailed a couple nice lakers as well.   Our fish came within a mile or so of the Dean's launch.   Gar are reportedly active on Cayuga Lake for those interested.  Bass are also hitting, as are pickerel and perch.   Water temps on the surface reached over 62 today off Dean's and are well into the 70s on the north end.  
6/10/2008
Seneca Lake 6/9 + 6/10

Seneca/Sampson 6/9

Fished a full-day with Jesse and Jason.   Jesse fly-fished and did very well on northerns, a couple pickerel and a bass if I remember correctly.   A Teeny Line with a chart/white clouser fished on wire did the trick.  Fish were in 4' to 12' of water.   Jason managed his first pike on the fly, and he caught plenty of fish casting swimbaits.   We managed to spot some big drum, carp and sunfish in the shallows.   Some big perch are around too.   Laker jigging wasn't too bad and the guys managed to land a nice one.   Other hits were missed and we had a couple chasers.  Lots of bait right off Sampson in 30' and out.   Pike ran up to 31" with most the usual 25" to 29" - all nice fish!

Seneca/Watkins 6/10

Today was Frank and his son Tim out of Watkins.  Fishing started out good with a couple nice pike landed, then things slowed as we worked uplake.   A storm moved us back down and we sat it out for 10 minutes before things cleared.  After we got back out we had some very good to excellent action on pike up to 32".    We saw a lot of fish!  The guys go up to Canada around Georgian Bay/Lake Huron and we impressed with the Finger Lakes fishing!   Tim felt the fish averaged a bit bigger here - he was happy with the lack of "hammerhandles" aka "dinks".   Jerkbaits worked best for the guys, but swimbaits, a dancin' eel and spinnerbaits worked too.   A couple pickerel rounded out the day.   This lake is tops for pike - I'd guess it might be the best pike lake in the state in terms of average fish size and numbers.   Who knows?   All I know is that it's a lot of fun and everyone seems to be raving about it  :-)

6/8/2008
Seneca 6/6 - 6/7, Otisco 6/8

Seneca out of Watkins 6/6

Did a full day trip primarily for fly-fishing northern pike with Lance and Jack.   I hadn't been out of Watkins pikin' in a while, so we did a bit of searching.   The weather was, and still is HOT.    We found pike just about everywhere we went, but the best pike fishing was concentrated in a couple areas.   A couple pickerel and a decent perch rounded out the species caught fly-fishing.   Fish were in 4' to 10' of water.   Both sink-tips (with Clouser Minnows) and full-sinking lines produced.  The usual swimbaits were also effective.   Jack's "cottonwood seed = poor fishing" theory was disproved on Friday both on the pike fishing and some hot lake trout jigging.  The guys caught 4 nice lakers in probably less than an hour!  We found plenty of bait and some nice fish shallow south of Lodi.   All in all a fun day and very enjoyable.    Water temps started at around 49/50 on top at the south end.   By late in the day we had 61 on top!   South winds had probably caused a momentary cool down at the south end.   We had low 50s further north.

Seneca out of Sampson 6/7

Did a full day with Chris and his son Brian.   We had some superb pike action on the swimbaits on Saturday working 4' to 15' of water.   Brian is 11 years old and had a great time catching his first pike and lake trout.  He managed a 31" northern and a 25" laker on his own.   He also landed a couple nice smallmouth bass.    I've known Chris since around 1973 and we fished together a lot when we were back in school.   The guys landed and released (unharmed) a lot of fish today!  Chris lost count after around 20 or 25 pike.  The pike fishing is simply excellent - the fish are nice sized running 25" to 29" on average.   Two pike and lakers were kept for dinner.   Alewives and sculpin is what we're finding in the kept fish.   Practicing a lot of catch and release ensures that this high quality fishing will remain for the forseeable future!

Otisco Lake 6/8

Met my friend Jared at the launch just after 5:15 am this morning.  I was tired as heck, but the thought of tangling with a Tiger Musky or big walleye was motivation enough to get up at "dark thirty".   We worked a couple points for 40 minutes or so without any action before moving up to the north end weedbeds.   Within 15 minutes or so Jared hooked a "good fish" on a lipless crankbait.   I got a glimpse of the nice musky before it ran under the boat.   Then it came out and jumped a couple feet into the air!   I won't forget that spectacular landlocked salmon like aerial!   Then the fish dug into the weeds and it was downhill from there ;-)   Jared's line wrapped around his rod tip and he was quickly able to unwrap it.  But the fish was wrapped in some heavy pondweed.   He decided to muscle it out, but the 12lb leaderless flouro broke and the fish was gone.   That was it on the muskies for the day.  He also had a nice walleye follow.   We wound up catching some nice (and some small) bass - large and smallmouths.  By 1 pm storms started threatening and we got off the lake.   We'll be back!   H2O hit over 70 today, boat traffic was light to moderate - esp. for a hot Sunday.  

6/5/2008
Otisco Lake 6/5

Well the "Fish Gods" finally paid us off on Otisco Lake today.  After getting my boat inspected by the NYS Parks Dept (I'm a certified "Public Vessel") at 1pm, Jessica and I took the boat over to Otisco Lake, which is something I've wanted to do for a month now.   I've been trying to get a Tiger Musky there for a few years now - usually going once or twice a year.   The Tiger numbers are up now, so the timing hasn't been better in years.   We started throwing Lunker City Shakers, stickbaits and spinnerbaits in around 3' to 14' of water.    Within 25 minutes Jessica hooked a fish on a shaker.  It was fighting really well and I saw it was a nice Tiger Musky!   After a few great runs (incl. 2 under the boat) I got the fish into the net!  Gorgeous fish - 29" long.  After a few photos we released the sublegal musky (we would have released ANY muskies unless mortally wounded.)   Needless to say, Jess was thrilled at her first musky.  

We kept working and expanding on the area we fished.   I lost a big largemouth bass.  On our 2nd pass my shaker got hammered (after she caught the musky, I switched over!)   and I landed a 25" walleye, just under 6lbs.   So I got my first Otisco eye.   10 minutes later I landed another nice walleye - a 23" 4lb. fish.   Both fish will be "released to the grease" ;-)   A big smallmouth, a few small largemouths and a couple small perch rounded out the day.   We'll obviously be back to Otisco soon!   This lakes been tough to crack for me - usually just bad timing with cold fronts and tough conditions, but we made some headway today.  My friend Tyler at Bass Pro Shops gave me a good tip re: the lake that helped too.   Every bit helps.... BTW - the walleyes all hit Shakers rigged with 40lb bite leaders!  So much for "line shy walleyes".  The fights on the eyes were less than spectacular, though they hit hard.   

6/4/2008
Cayuga out of Dean's 6/4

Did 1/2 day with Chris and Nicole.   Laker action started out good with a follow on one of the first couple drops.   Chris wound up nailing a couple nice fish and losing one under the boat.  Nicole also caught a nice fish.   There was bait and fish around in around 45' to 75' of water.   The fishing slowed as the morning progressed.  

I met Jessica at the launch around noon and we headed south looking for lakers.  We didn't find anything to write home about.   We took a break and did some perch fishing.  Perch action was tremendous, although most fish were short of "keeper size".  Great opportunities for kids though!   After perchin' we tried some other laker areas and the fish really turned on.  We landed 5 in around an hour - a couple were around 19",  a 25" and a couple 27"+.   Excellent fishing!   I did some fly-casting and had a BIG brown - probably at least 8lbs chase in a streamer in 35' of water.  When I get time, I'm going to keep working on the "offshore laker pattern".  It's something I've been trying off and on for years, but haven't gotten dialed in yet.  I just haven't had the time to do it.  But it's coming!   The next couple weeks should bring the right conditions for it.   H2O was up around 56.   BTW - plenty of bullheads are in the launch area or "harbor" at Dean's Cove.  It's full of them.  

6/3/2008
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 6/3
Got out for a full-day with Jeff K.  He's fished with me since I started guiding 4 years ago.   We chased pike and lake trout today.  The pike cooperated the best, the lakers were fairly inactive.  Pike fishing was good to downright excellent today with fish hammering Mahi-Mahi colored Lunker City Shakers.   No really big fish today, but plenty of respectable pike up to around 30".   We didn't target lakers much until the last part of the day.  Jeff had a few good hits and then off of the park he connected with his first Seneca Laker.   The fish came from around 65' to 75' of water.   Water temps are in the 56 degree range.  Bluegills/Sunfish are in and hitting very well.  Pike were in around 4' to 14' of water.   Baitfish are moving in, and a lot of alewives were in the marina at Sampson State Park.
5/30/2008
Cayuga out of Cayuga Lake State Park 5/29
Guided the Herman's for a full day on Cayuga.   Bass fishing the shallows was slow in the morning - due primarily to the shallows cooling down from the chilly night.   A couple decent bass were hooked and one landed.  Fishing did pick up as the day went on according to a friend of mine who owns a cottage on the lake.   We did some laker jigging just south of Silos and we were pleasantly surprised to find good to excellent numbers of baitfish and lakers in the 40' to 60' range.   Eleonore had the hot hand, missing/losing a few good fish before landing 3 nice ones up to 28".   John landed one decent laker.   We saw fish follow jigs right to the boat, so fly-fishing is a possibility - though it would be challenging!   The lakers are full of energy and fighting very well!   Water temps ranged from the low 50s to the low 60s on the north end.   Pickerel were active in the north end as well, and we spent the last hour of the trip fishing for these toothy critters.   The laker action is just getting started, stay tuned!
5/28/2008
Skaneateles Lake 5/28
Guided 6 hours with Jim aka "Rusty".   We targeted smallmouths and he had a riot with plenty of 15" to 17" and even 18" fish.   They were very active in water from shallow to around 12' deep.   Tube jigs did the trick.    A couple big perch were also taken, but the highlight of the trip was a rare nearly 23" Skaneateles brown trout!!!   This fish hit a tube jig and we took a few photos and quickly released this wild (in all likelihood) brownie.   Rusty might be one of the quickest learners I've ever seen.  He picked up the jigging technique very quickly, and I showed him a few fly-casting tips and he got those down in a hurry as well!   He's fished the lake many times, but today he tried some new areas.  Water temps were around 48 degrees.   We didn't see any rainbows or salmon.   We did see a few carp and a laker cruise by.  Air temps were cold and we were the only boat on the lake for awhile - or so it seemed!
5/27/2008
Skaneateles Lake 5/27

Did 1/2 day trip with Steve and his son Micah.   Fishing was good for smallmouth bass this morning on hair jigs and tube jigs.   Fish came from shallow to around 12' of water.   Lots of small yellow perch were around and we had one follow from a trout.   It was cold out there and felt more like November than (almost) June.   The guys were mostly live-bait fishermen and they enjoyed working some artificials for bass.   It was a fun morning.

In the afternoon I fished with my buddy Phil.   The wind cranked up a bit and we worked some different areas than the ones we fished in the morning.   We found some excellent smallmouth bass fishing downlake and managed to land plenty (around 30+) of nice bass (with at least 4 from 18" to 19".)  Crankbaits worked, but the best lure was a tube jig.  One 20" laker was taken shallow and we also got a few big perch.   Fun fishing!  Water temps ranged from 48 to 50 degrees.   Very few, if any other boats were out fishing on this cold day.  

5/26/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 5/26

Today was a 1/2 day guide trip with Jim and Joe.  Jim joined me last year on Owasco Lake for some good jigging action.  Today was one of the toughest fishing days I've seen all season.   We started by working around Taughannock Park for trout/salmon by casting.  Water temps were in the low 50s and we didn't have the best winds for the day, but I thought we'd have good chances.   The guys may have had a hit or two (they could have been perch) but nothing solid.   We made passes around the park and just south with no sign of trout/salmon (Jim may have had one solid hit near the ck. mouth).  So our back-up plan was laker jigging.   We checked the east shore across Taughannock and north to above AES.   We marked a few lakers, but next to no bait.  No hits.   We shot across the lake to Kidders/Sheldrake.   This area often loads up with bait this time of year.   Zippo.   We then decided to extend the day and I motored all the way up to Dean's Cove.   Bait was everywhere and there were also some good marks but no hits.   We had one suspended laker (?) hit a tube but no hookups.   We fished around Long Point and Levanna too.  There was deep bait around - from 110' to 130' but no grabs.   

I met up with my buddy Phil at around 1:30 or 2 pm and we fished the southern portions of the lake till around 5:30.  Perch were everywhere and schools of them attacked my tube jig and superfluke.    Fly-fishing for pike was slow and I missed a couple good grabs/follows.   We didn't have time to work many areas.   It was a slow day all the way around for us.  

5/25/2008
Cayuga/Dean's 5/25

I didn't fish a whole lot this afternoon, but managed to motor around a bit with the electronics.   We dropped some jigs as well.  Baitfish and trout/salmon (I had a nice landlocked follow in a jig on my first drop today) have moved into the lake's west shore.   Lakers are scattered around the northern portions of Cayuga. H2O is in the low 50s.   I'm out guiding later this week and will have a better report.   I did jig up an 18" laker on the east shore.  We marked fish from 35' or 40' on out to 80' or 90'.   There are certainly plenty of fish in deeper water too.   The north end of the lake has plenty of active bass and panfish.  Pickerel and some pike are also around.  

5/24/2008
Seneca Lake 5/24 out of Geneva
Well I guided pike during the trout/salmon derby and the fishing was good to excellent.    I just can't motivate to do a big 3 day derby after guiding throughout the week.    Maybe in the future, but not now.  Anyways Boris and his son Mitchell wanted pike and pickerel and zero lakers, so we spent the full-day fishing toothy critters.   We used Husky Jerks, Daredevles and Lunker City Shakers - all worked very well.  Mitchell caught a 24" pickerel, a nice 17"+ smallmouth and a huge perch around 14"+.   These were his top fish in all those species.  He also caught a bunch of nice pike up to 30" and some other pickerel.  Boris did very well too with plenty of pike/pickerel - these were his first fish ever on artificials.   A good time was had by all.   We kept a bunch of pickerel and a few pike (I have a 2 pike limit for clients and encourage catch and release.)   The amazing thing was that the pike/pickerel had been eating small sculpins and alewives.   No big fish were in their stomachs.    The weed growth is still down in the lake and fish are in certain areas - find the right spots and there are plenty of fish.  
5/23/2008
Skaneateles Lake 5/23

Did a full day with Chris and Mike, who've been fishing with me since my first year guiding.  It was an awesome day on the lake with pretty much everything hitting except our target species - big carp (just kidding.)   The guys worked my hometied jigs in 4' to 25' of water and landed at least a couple dozen nice smallmouth bass (incl. around 4 to 5 in the 18" to 19" 3.75 to 4lb. range), at least a dozen jumbo perch (from over 12" up to almost 15"!), a nice 20" laker, a 21" rainbow and 3 legal landlocked salmon from 17"up to 21".   Other trout/salmon were missed and one nice salmon lost.    It just doesn't get much better.  The beautiful thing about fishing this time of the year is the mystery involved - any cast with a jig can produce just about any species of fish that swims in the lake;  the water temps are amenable to most species.   I would expect and hope this fishing will hold up for another week or two.  Perch are in the serious spawn mode, with pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn fish hitting.   Bass are in their pre-spawn feeding mode.  Water temps ranged from 45 to 49 degrees - it's still darn cold water!

I've got a ton of photos of this season's catches ready to upload, but I need to find a good resizer program for Microsoft Vista.   There are also some prime dates still available this month - I have May 26th, 28, 30 and 31 available for half or full days, and I can sqeeze in 1/2 days on the afternoons of 25th and 27th (on Cayuga) if interested.  The weather forecast is looking good!    If I don't book my open days, I'm planning on checking on Otisco Lake for Tigers, Oneida Lake for walleye, drum and bowfin and possibly Sodus Bay/L. Ontario for drum/bass - so it's a "win-win situation" for me ;-)  Stay tuned for full reports!  I also need to get out to the northern flats of Cayuga to check on laker action, which I expect to be good to excellent.   

5/20/2008
Skaneateles Lake 5/20
Fished from 1:30 pm till close to dark with Jessica.   Despite our lazy starting time, the fishing was excellent.   Water temps are still quite cold - from 46 to 49 is what we found, so trout and salmon are still in the nearshore mix.   The bass fishing was superb, with plenty of nice smallmouths around rocky areas and points.  Most fish are chunky 14" fish, but I landed one slob that was around 19" and FAT.  It had the tail of what was probably a nice perch sticking out of its gullet.  I'm teaching my girlfriend how to flyfish and her false casts hit the water a few times and drew up a big salmon or rainbow around 22" to 24" or better.  So they are around.   We also landed 5 nice lake trout from 14" to 18".   These aren't your typical large alewife-fed fish, but they are wild, beautiful and taste great.   They also fight good, esp. when taken on light spinning tackle in relatively shallow water.   Our fish came from 4' to 25' today, with the lakers being the deepest.   Perch fishing was very good as well, with fish currently spawning.   Best perch was just under 15".    One rockbass rounded out the catch and it was the first one I've seen in awhile.   Trout should be easily available for the shoreline angler for at least another 2 weeks and fishing during the mayfly hatches will hopefully be really good this year - we'll see.  
5/18/2008
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 5/18

Started the AM with a half day with Gary and John.   Gary has a place on the lake so I swung by and picked the guys up.    We split the fishing time between lakers and northerns.   Lake trout fishing was very slow.   The guys had a couple hits but that was about it.    Bait was starting to move back into the 50' range - not a lot of bait, but more than what I'd seen out there recently.   Pike fishing was good with a handful of pike, a pickerel and a smallmouth bass in the mix.   Most pike were thin, but are starting to look like the "post-spawn effects" have cleared up.   Water temps were the same on both sides of the lake - roughly 49 degrees.

I did a PM trip with Jodi and James.   The weather was supposed to get nasty, but it actually cleared up after a bit of steady but light rain.   Pike fishing remained good with the usual pickerel and bass in the mix.   Smallies are definitely starting to move up a bit.   We hit the lakers again and in short order James hooked one and it got off just below the boat before we could get a look at it.   Jigging remained slow;  we could see how negative the fish were on the LCD unit.   No other laker hits.   The lake got nasty just as we left.  Most pike/pickerel were in less than 12' of water, with some fish still very shallow.   Active fish remain medium sized - 25" to 29" or so.  

5/17/2008
Owasco Lake 5/16 + 17

Did two "2/3rd. days" with Fred from D.C. on Owasco.  He has a place on the lake and we did some fairly successful laker jigging last August.   I expected fishing to be good over the past couple days, but it proved to be tough for us.   We spent a few hours searching and jigging for lake trout with meagher results - basically a few hits and a chaser or two.   We searched a lot of water from 35' to 110' deep and marked very little bait and scattered, mostly suspended fish.   I used to catch a lot of shallow early-season lakers in this lake, but it hasn't been the case over the past couple of years.    My guess is that many fish are still in very deep water or just very scattered.  We marked lakers virtually from end to end of the lake.

On Thurs. we went after pike on the fly.  Fred had a few hits in the southern end of the lake and a follow or two, but no solid hookups.  He wanted me to fish a bit as well, and I did manage a 27" northern on a swim bait.  So at least a few fish were around.   On a point a ways up from the south end Fred had a good sized pike follow in his lure, but no grab.   The laker jigging was slow on both days.   After the trip ended I did some jigging myself without any luck.  I did land another nice pike near the north end of the lake on a tube and missed another.   Some decent sized bass were in the shallows, but they were pretty skittish with the calm water we had.  

Today the only real action was a couple of healthy 18" smallmouth bass on a tube jig.   Lakers remained slow.   My friend Jared did well on largemouths and a couple smallies working swimbaits and stickbaits in very shallow water.   He fished hard and he managed to land a gorgeous 16lb. 41" northern pike on a swimbait!   We photographed the fish for him before he released it.    What a slob!   I didn't expect any walleyes given our late (8 am) starts on both days.  However I did see some suckers and a nice walleye mixed in with them in the outlet in the morning.   The night bite should be picking up by the week.  Water temps remain very cold on Owasco:  49 to 53 degrees.  I was very surprised to not see any lakers in the mix - whether jigging or casting.   In 2002 and 2003 I used to pick up a lot of bonus lakers while working tube jigs around points and shelves when water temps were this cold or colder.  

Fred was interested in picking up some techniques and lure ideas for pike, walleyes and bass on Owasco Lake.   Here are a few lures that have worked well for me over the years:

1/4 oz. round head with a Bass Pro Shops shad colored tube:   This to me is THE lure for many applications in the Fingers - esp. Owasco.   My old fishing buddy Terry turned me on to these lures over a decade ago and I still love them.   They can be fished from 1' to 23' of water comfortably.   They require a good sense of feel to fish well, but virtually any fish in fresh water will hit them.   We've caught everything from bass, pike, walleyes, carp, cats, gar, panfish and trout/salmon on them.   Don't fish the Fingers without them!   I often use them as a search bait - it can be more tedious at times, but negative/neutral fish respond well to them.  I like to use them on 8lb test clear Trilene mono.

Rapala X-Rap - White, perch and the olive back are all good colors.  Smallmouths and northerns love them and salmon and trout will also whack them.   Fish them on braided line and a fairly stiff rod for best action.

Super Flukes:  These work great over the Milfoil beds that will be very common in a month or two.  Also good off ledges and in the shallows.  Great for bass and panfish.  Pike/pickerel will bite them off too.  Good when it gets too weedy for the X-rap.

Double Willow Spinnerbait:  Great over windy weedy flats for pike and bass.  Walleyes also hit them.   White and white/chartreuse and shad colors work well in clear water.

Swim Baits like a Lunker City Shaker on a heavy jighead are terrific for pike and even walleyes.   One of my clients, Dave Seegers really showed me what a great pike bait they can be.   They are versatile as heck and it's easy to de-hook pike that hit them, with minimal damage to the pike.  

Rapala Husky Jerks:  Awesome lure!  One of the best nighttime stickbaits to cast for walleyes.   Good pike lure and bass lure too, but if you're into a lot of pike it's often best to remove the middle treble hook, or switch to a swimbait in order to minimize the "maiming" that will take place.    

 

5/14/2008
Cayuga/Taughannock 5/14

Guided 1/2 day trip with Irene and Ron.   Two years ago the salmon fishing was pretty slow on Cayuga Lake and I wasn't booking casting trips for them, but the fishing this season has been reminiscent of some of the better years of the past decade.   Ron was hoping I could get Irene into some fish she'd have to play out, rather than just crank in.    We did some fly-fishing, but the best option given the wind was using some spinning tackle.  Irene managed to land a nice salmon around 19" and a brown around 18".   They had some nice follows as well.   All in all a really fun day on the water and Irene was pretty thrilled with her fish.  We also worked on some fly-casting and that was fun as well.

After the trip ended I went back out with a friend/client Jesse.   I met him back when I worked at Bass Pro Shops and I always enjoyed talking fishing with him.  We did a fly-fishing trip on Owasco Lake last June for pike.   He brought me some venison today and we did some fishing.   We had some decent salmon action - and between the shore fishing at the park he'd done earlier and being out on the boat he landed at least 5 nice fish.   His flies and sinking line set-up and retrieve worked very well.  I managed to land one good salmon around 19" that really fought great.   We checked on some pike fishing and managed to catch a couple good pickerel incl. Jesse's 26" fish!   What a nice pickerel!   We then hit a few pike - Jess got a 31" and 32" and I got a 29" fish.   He had a couple follows of some good (maybe bigger) fish as well.   Cayuga is fishing like Seneca did 5 years ago - lower numbers of pike, but they are all beauties.    H2O was 49 to 52 today.   Great day out!

5/13/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 5/12 + Seneca/Sampson 5/13

Got out on my own for a few hours yesterday on Cayuga Lake.  Fly-fishing for salmon was excellent around Taughannock Park.   I had a lot of follows and hits, broke off one nice fish and landed and released a 22"- beauty.   The fish jumped at least 4 times and it was clearly the most memorable battle of the year for me.   Other anglers also did well on salmon.   The water temps are perfect for explosive salmon action - 48 degrees.

Today I guided Bill and his son Nathan on Seneca Lake.   They wanted some good action and I felt Seneca offered up the best opportunities.  We started with lake trout jigging and it was pretty slow for us.  We didn't work out past 80', but bait was pretty scarce shallow.  Later in the day I marked some bait in 130' or so, but we wanted shallow fish - we didn't want to spend too much time probing the depths.   The guys each landed a laker around 19" to 20" in 45' to 55' of water on the west shore.    Pike and pickerel provided some exciting fishing today.   Find the right areas and these fish are swarming the shallows.   We had a few moments of two fish at a time moving in for our lures.   Lunker City shakers worked well, as did tube jigs and stickbaits.    The best action was shallow.    Perch were visible in a lot of areas - they are clearly around spawn-time.   We also spotted some carp and some bass.   Water temps varied from 47 to around 54 late in the day.  

5/11/2008
Seneca 5/9 + Cayuga/Taughannock 5/11

Guided a full day with the Hermans on Seneca Lake.   Lake trout action was good, with John landing around 1/2 dozen fish from 19" to 25".   Many of the bigger lakers seemed to have moved out of the Sampson area momentary.   Pike fishing was decent with some nice pike and pickerel caught on tube jigs, swim baits and Rapalas.    One nice 3lb. 10oz smallmouth rounded out the day's catch.   The wind made jigging tougher by noontime.   Water temps are in the high 40s and low 50s.  Most pike are showing signs of spawning stress.

Today I fished Cayuga with my girlfriend Jessica.   The winds were strong out of the south and we fished around Taughannock.   Water temps were 48 to 50 degrees.   Smelt are reportedly still around with some fish still running the creeks.   We had some great fun fishing today, with lots of salmon action (chasers and hits) but few hookups.   Jessica did manage a gorgeous 25" 5lb. 4oz Landlocked salmon on a Rapala.   I missed fish on my flies (fly-fishing was nearly impossible due to the wind) and jigs/rapalas.   Fish are being caught from shore on minnows.  What a great salmon/brown trout year it's been on Cayuga!   I've been busy fishing other areas, but nothing's quite as much fun as chasing big landlockeds on Cayuga Lake - esp. on the fly when possible!  We kept her fish and it had a digested smelt in its stomach.  I may have to get the smelting gear out next season, hopefully it'll be even better then.  The next few weeks should provide some good to excellent fishing depending on the winds/weather.

5/8/2008
Seneca out of Sampson 5/7

Got out with Tad for Day 3 of his Finger Lakes fishing trip.    Today the target was pike on the fly.   We worked shallows on both sides of the lake.   We found good numbers of fish in around 5' to 12' of water.   Tad brought some Dahlberg Divers along and we had a good time watching the pike and pickerel follow them in.   Clouser minnows also worked well and we had some nice pike up to 31" and a couple pickerel on the day.   At times two pike were chasing the flies at once!  Fish are still recovering from the spawn and although the pike fishing is very good to excellent now, it should continue to improve (perhaps not in fish numbers/size, but in their aggressiveness.)

Over the past 3 days Tad was pretty impressed with the diversity of the fishing in this area and given that he'd  fished around the world,  it meant a lot to me.   I had a great three days of guiding and learned a lot about fishing and other topics while talking to him and watching his approaches.   

5/6/2008
Skaneateles Lake 5/6
Got out for day 2 with Tad.  The goal today was landlocked Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout.   Fishing was very tough to start.   We didn't see much of anything despite favorable water temperatures and some wind.   Once the wind steadied out of the north, fish started to activate.   He caught some nice rainbow trout and a couple salmon on the fly.   Smallmouth bass and perch rounded out the day.   Water temps vary lakewide from 45 to 51 degrees.   Very few boats were on the lake today.  
5/5/2008
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's 5/5
Had a great day on the water with Tad today.  He mostly fly-fished.  We started on pickerel and once we found them they cooperated nicely for us.  Tad hadn't caught a pickerel in probably 30 years and had never taken one on the fly.   They provided some good sport today.   Best action for us was in around 10' of water give or take a foot or two.   After getting our fill of pickerel we decided to knock off a specie on Tad's "lifelist" so we set up for some lake trout.   Once we marked some bait we were in business and Tad landed 3 nice fish incl. a 31" beauty that was probably 9 to 10lbs.   Fish were off the Silos/Levanna area in 110' of water.   After the lakers we went carp fishing.   The highpoint of the day was seeing a good sized carp and watching it beeline just like a pike for Tad's fly!   The fish grabbed the fly and the battle was on.   After a long strong run (taking the fly-line well into its backing) that resulted in us having to chase the beast with the trolling motor, Tad expertly wore down the fish.   I got it in the net and we were pleasantly surprised at the size of the beast - it pulled 26lbs on my Berkely TEC scale (a very accurate hand held scale).   Nice first flyrod caught carp!  
5/4/2008
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 5/4
Superb morning of lake trout fishing with Niro and his two friends.   Conditions were beautiful to start with sun and next to no wind.  The lake smelled like fish!   The guys started getting excellent laker action right from the get-go.   The wind came up strong from the west (we had quite a few waves lightly break over the bow) but the fish kept hitting.  When it was all over the guys had landed around 30 nice lakers from 18" to 28".   We had 3 fish with lampreys on them.   Depth ranged from around 30' out to 65' or 70'.  One other boat was out of Sampson and they reported a slow perch day due to boat control issues.   Now's the time!
5/3/2008
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 5/3

Got out for a scheduled full day with Steve and his brother Stewart (hope I spelled Stu right.)  I did a trip with Steve last year on June 2nd and it was a pretty tough day - so I figured that the fish Gods owed us one.   And they came through!   The lake was pretty choppy - or downright rough to start.  I watched a boat trailer pull into the parking lot and saw the driver walk out, look at the lake and turn around to leave!  It wasn't pretty out there, but the lakers were active from the get-go at 8am.   Water temps were 47 at Sampson so that's where we fished.   We marked a lot of bait so I was pretty psyched.  In a nutshell the fish cooperated and hit on the bottom and on the chase.  We used white flukes on 1oz. jig heads.   The guys landed 9 nice fish - most were 25" to 30".   A few fish were lost but not many.   The lake got really rough and we started getting some waves over the bow, so we called it a 1/2 day.   As I filleted the fish the lake calmed down, but we'd had our fill.   Stomach contents of kept fish incl. mostly alewives but one fish had a trout-perch and some sculpin in its stomach. 

After some contemplation I decided to re-launch and check on pike fishing.  I jigged up a couple lakers then cast for some northerns.  Hooked 2 nice pike on tube jigs.  Both were around 28" fish.   One had a fat belly - I'm not sure if it had spawned or not, but I let both go.  One bass also wound up on the end of my line - a decent 17" smallmouth.    There should be some great fishing over the next few months!  

5/2/2008
Seneca out of Geneva 5/1
Got out for a few hours to try to nail a few lakers.  I enjoy trying different things oftentimes, but sometimes it's nice to just catch some predictable fish.  Laker action was very good and I managed to land a 1/2 dozen lakers up to 31" and probably 9+ lbs.    I missed a lot of fish - they just weren't grabbing the jigs solidly.   They are stuffed with bait.  Water temps at the north end remain around 46 on the surface and 42 down 70'.   The fun stuff is just beginning!
4/30/2008
Cayuga/Dean's 4/29 + Seneca out of Sampson 4/30

Fished Cayuga with my old friend Mike on Tuesday.   We were going to postpone but said "what the heck".   Conditions were fairly brutal with 34 degree air temps in the AM and steady Northwest winds with speeds in the upper teens.   Wind chills were probably in the upper 20s or around 30.   We marked lakers from around 55' or 60' out into deeper water, but boat control troubles combined with scattered, suspended negative fish made fishing conditions and presentation very difficult.   I had classes to teach, so we cut the day short around 1 pm. 

Guided Andrew today on Seneca Lake.   We launched out of Sampson with light north winds.   Things started out very difficult.  We tried a bunch of areas for lakers and bass without seeing much of anything.   We worked from shallow to depths of over 160' without much more than a hit or two.   We marked a couple nice schools of fish in 140' and had some chasers and a momentary hookup.   Anyways, I'd marked some warm water (47 degrees) early in the day on the west shore but wrongly assumed (yes, I know what happens when you 'assume' ;-)  that it was due to the warm water discharge at Dresden.   We went back to the west shore close to the end of our day and hit paydirt on lakers.  Plenty of quite aggressive fish had moved up into the 45' to 65' range.   Fishing got hot towards the evening and Andy landed 4 nice fish and missed others.  We likely could have loaded the boat had we stayed out - we were constantly marking fish and chasers!   I had classes to teach, so we stayed out as long as I could.   There are plenty of fish from north of Dresden all the way up the west shore to the north end of the lake.  Great fishing at the day's end - it just goes to show....

We kept 3 fish and they were nice sized - up to 28".  The big fish was stuffed with HUGE alewives!   Fish were generally in pretty good condition.  

4/26/2008
Sodus Bay/Lake Ontario 4/25
Tried some casting around the bay looking for some early drum.   Didn't find any.   Water temps reached the mid-50s in the bay.  Lots of panfish and bass are active in the shallows.   Tried a few areas out in Lake Ontario - temps are in the mid-40s.   We didn't see any trout or bass.   We did mark some bait out around 50' to 70' of water.     Lake/bay water levels are high.    The best drum action is usually once water temps get into the low 70s, so it'll probably be around 3 weeks or so - usually by mid to late May the bays are loaded with drum.  
4/24/2008
Owasco Lake 4/24
Fished hard today on Owasco Lake with Jessica.   The lake's north end was pretty cold this AM with water temps around 43 degrees.   I had a follow from a couple smallies then nailed a nice 25" walleye on a tube jig.   We checked on lakers and Jessica caught a 25" laker in around 110'.   I marked most lakers in 110' to 160' with the majority of those fish in the deeper stuff.  Most bait we marked was deep too.  Her laker spit up a small alewife.   I lost a laker in 150' or more then caught one in around 110' as well.   I landed another 25" walleye and had a follow on a jerkbait from a smaller, but still nice walleye.   Didn't see many bass today.  Had one pike bite my hairjig off and we did find good numbers of small perch shallow.    The walleyes made today a fun day - they were unexpected.   They seem to be thriving and are very well fed.  
4/23/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 4/23
Got out for a few mid-morning hours with Jessica and tried to check on lakers.   There wasn't enough wind for my taste re: salmon/browns but we tried anyways for an hour or so with no action.   Water temps are coming up and from Taughannock on north we had temps varying from 40 on up to 46.   We marked fair numbers of lakers on both shorelines.   Fish ranged from around 100' and deeper.  Bait was from 150' to 250' where we looked.   I picked up a 14" rainbow trout at AES and that was it.   No great shakes out there.   The threatening skies didn't help our laker bite any and the lack of wind hurt our salmon fishing.   We're checking on Owasco tomorrow for some smallmouth bass.  Hope to get out on Canandaigua, Keuka and Sodus Bay soon.   Skaneateles will certainly be in the cards as well!
4/22/2008
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 4/22
Got out this AM with Jessica.   We went searching for salmon and trout.   We worked around Taughannock and I had a follow from a decent fish on a Rapala.   Conditions looked great with the sun and light winds.   We worked south and found decent numbers of fish on the lake's south end.   The "fishing" was fun, but the "catching" wasn't great.   I dropped a brown or salmon around 18" on a fly fished on a sinking line.   We had plenty of follows but few if any discernable "grabs".   Water temps are all over the map - from 39 lakewide to 58 in places on the south end and 46 or better off Taughannock.   We did see a smelt or two floating around and word is some salmon stomach's contain smelt.   Are the smelt coming back on Cayuga Lake?  Maybe a little bit.    I'll try checking on them, but for now I haven't heard of any smelt revival.  
4/20/2008
Skaneateles Lake 4/19

Guided 1/2 day with Wallace and Red.   Conditions looked great to start but my favorite most consistent areas on the lake didn't yield any fish for us.   So we went searching.  We finally found some trout and salmon and 3 fish were landed on jigs and a Rapala.   Two rainbows and one salmon - all nice fish.   We saw some beauties and had some nice follows.   The weather was gorgeous.  Temps on the north end of the lake were into the low 50s (on top at least) and further south it is still very cold - around 38/39.  

After the trip I went back out on my own and went back through one of my favorite areas thoroughly;  I thought maybe a little more sun on the water might activate some fish.   I had one hit - zero fish.  I worked some hair jigs deep and still couldn't connect.   I worked some stretches of water I rarely fish and still didn't see anything.   The fish seemed fairly lockjawed to me - or just in different areas.  I did not fish the area that produced our morning fish again.  Fish seemed very neutral to negative this week (in general).    That's what I love about fishing - no matter how often I go, it's still very unpredictable - especially when you start thinking you have things semi-figured out!   Fun week out there and very challenging. 

4/19/2008
Cayuga Lake/Cayuga State Park 4/18

I've been contemplating catfishing for a while and today seemed like a nice day to go.   I've always enjoyed catching channel catfish - they fight great, look pretty cool and taste great.   Cayuga Lake seems to have a decent catfish population - especially on the north end, so off we went.

Jessica and I had a good time catching some sunfish/bluegills to use for cutbait.   The northern portions of Cayuga are loaded with panfish and some very nice largemouth bass (in very shallow water I might add.)   This was a shakedown trip - a day to figure out what we'll need when we make a serious attempt at catfishing.   We worked a couple areas for 2 hours or so with the cutbait with zero hits.   So we didn't give it long.   I met a couple other catfishers and they reported catching a few bullheads but no cats.   The water levels are low on Cayuga and there isn't much current being generated by the dam at the north end.   The mosquitos and various flies were out in full force and my truck and boat were covered as we pulled the boat out.   I purchased a heavier 2nd. anchor and an assortment of catfish tackle, so we will be trying again - probably after the next good rain.   Stay tuned!

4/17/2008
Seneca Lake out of Severne Point 4/17

Got out with Dave and his wife Sue for some deep lake trout fishing on Seneca.  Dave's joined me on a number of trips for lakers and some landlocked Salmon fishing.   He has a place on the lake and has done well jigging lakers, but the angling for late winter/early spring fish has been tough.   It was no picnic today either, but we managed to locate some good numbers of fish and have some good opportunities.  

We worked a lot of different depths but found most fish were between 125' and 160'.   Seneca Lake nearly always has some shallower fish and we marked some of those too.   Early season fish don't necessarily show up on the depth finder - a lot of times they are on the bottom, and they can be nearly anywhere - they aren't confined by temperature restrictions.    Dave lost what appeared to be a big fish off Sampson State Park and we had a lot of dropped fish;  they may have been small or perhaps just grabbing the tails of the jigs.   We managed to land a couple fish - one in 125' and one in 153'.   Some bait is around, but not much.  More bait should move up by the day.   Sue managed some opportunities at some good fish and she landed her first lake trout.   The high point of the trip was the abundant loons.  We could hear their calls echoing down the lake.   They were everywhere.   The weather was also fantastic.  

4/16/2008
Cayuga out of Dean's Cove 4/16
Guided 1/2 day with Martin and his two sons John (6th grade) and Jasper (4th grade).   The lake trout bite was tough this AM at 9am when we started.   We marked fish but they weren't moving for the jigs.  Marked bait too.   John had a couple momentary grabs.   The guys fished hard for awhile and we decided to head north to at least get some action.   We went looking for bass and it didn't take long for John to catch a nice chunky largemouth.   Pickerel were also abundant and we had hits and follows from perch.   We did more laker fishing and found fish and bait had moved up to around 120' and shallower.  By the end of the trip the guys knew what they'd have to do to catch lakers on jigs.   It felt great to be out on such a beautiful day. 
4/13/2008
Skaneateles Lake 4/13

When I pulled into the State Launch today the air temp was 34 degrees, the wind was blowing out of the north at around 10 mph and it was snowing!   Only a few trailers were in the parking lot.   Gordon wanted to fish 1/2 day today so we gave it a shot.  He's an active member of the Long Island Flyrodders and we've done 4 or 5 trips together so far.   Rainbow trout fishing was very good today.  He started with a nice 17" fish around the northern portions of the lake.  Further downlake he landed 4 more fish - a 23", 22", 20" and another 17".   The fish fought great for the most part with a 17" fish taking some spectacular jumps.   The 20" fish was a picture perfect female with a beautiful red stripe.   The winds really cranked up around 3pm and we had a fun ride back to the launch.  The action was so good we wound up spending close to a full day out on the lake.  

The 22" rainbow was missing a huge chunk of it's nose/head.   Looked like some sort of animal must have gotten hold of it.  We could see all kinds of "stuff" where his head used to be.  I was amazed that the spawned out fish was alive.  The 23" fish was a spawned out female.   All fish were quickly released today.   Water temps were around 43 at the northend and 37 downlake.   I wore about everything I owned out there - heavyweight long underwear, jeans and a sweatshirt, a fleece jacket, down vest, winter jacket and a Browning Survival Suit.   The suits used to retail for $400 at Bass Pro Shops but they went on sale this past winter for $100.   Not bad at all!

4/12/2008
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 4/12

Got out today for a full-day with Gary (from Thurs) and Todd.   Fishing started rather slow around 9 am.   The weather was much better than anticipated.   We marked plenty of fish from 135' to 150', but they weren't hitting well.   We tried a lot of different areas and the wind made fishing difficult.   As the wind died down around 1 pm the fish started hitting and the guys landed 3 nice lakers - all big fish from 27" to 30".    Hits were missed and a fish or two were dropped.   All in all a pretty good day.   The guys are now jigging converts.  

Early season lake trout jigging has a special appeal.  We don't typically get the numbers of fish that we get later in the season when fish move up and baitfish move in.   What's exciting is that the fish are so deep!   To catch fish in 130', 140' and even upwards of 170' of water by jigging is a unique experience in the region.   The fish run large and are stuffed with bait.   The key is to be on the fish when the "bite window" occurs.   Subtle weather changes can trigger feeding binges.   Some of the biggest lakers we catch are during this early season fishing, and if you can detect bites in 150' of water - you'll never think of 50' as being "deep" again!  

4/11/2008
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 4/11
Got out for 1/2 day with Paul, Keith and Keith's young son Noah.  We had slow fishing to start, but we were grateful that the forecast heavy rains didn't materialize.   Noah had the first hit then Keith dropped a fish.   Action was deep - in around 135' to 150'.   We checked shallower areas without any sign of fish.   Water temps near Silos are still very cold.   The calm lake gave way to a good southerly and fish started activating.  Paul nailed the first couple fish and then Paul and Keith hooked up with a double, and Paul's fish was an impressive 32" hefty lake trout.  It fought great and it took awhile before we were able to see the fish.   All in all we had to work hard for our fish today, but our work paid off.   A few other hits were missed.   White flipping tubes did the trick.  
4/10/2008
Seneca Lake/Watkins Glen 4/9 + Skaneateles Lake 4/10

Got out yesterday with my friend Shahab for some salmon fishing with the fly-rods.  Conditions were harsh to say the least.   Winds on Seneca Lake started at around 10 to 15 mph out of the south then cranked up to a sustained 20 to 25 mph, with higher gusts.  I've never seen the south end of the lake so rough - and that's with south winds.   Water temps ranged from around 39 to 46 or so up Catherine's Ck/Canal.   We fished hard for hours and Shahab had one hit and I fouled one carp (on a jig - which I threw for 1/2 hour.)   Things weren't looking good, but we tried one last area and managed to get some follows from salmon ranging from 15" to 20".  We each landed a salmon and Shahab also landed a 30" pike.   The catching wasn't great, but given the brutal conditions it was one of the most satisfying days I'd had on the water in recent memory.   "Never give up!"

Today was the first guide trip of the season and it couldn't have been a nicer day.  Gary met me at the launch at 9 am and I had him start working the northern portions of the lake.  Most of Gary's fly-fishing had been stream fishing so we spent the day working on casting.   By the end of the day Gary was getting some good casts in;  he was throwing some nice loops.   The fish Gods were good to us from the get-go and Gary landed a couple nice rainbows within the first 90 minutes of fishing.  We found some salmon further down the lake and Gary managed to catch his first landlock.   A few other fish were missed.   I talked to a couple fishermen (Hey Ralph!) at the launch -both trollers and casters, and both reported very good to excellent fishing for rainbows and salmon.   Perch are also hitting well.  Water temps ranged from 37 to the low/mid 40s.  

4/6/2008
Cayuga out of Dean's Cove 4/5 + Seneca Lake 4/6

Went to Cayuga/Dean's Cove to check on lake trout with Jessica.   We worked various depths and found decent numbers of fish around 135' to 140'.  As has been the case recently, she had the hot hand and caught her limit in short order.   A large white tube did the trick.   I missed/lost 3 or 4 fish.   The one fish we kept had freshly killed alewives in its stomach.

We had some time so we motored up to the northern flats of Cayuga Lake.  Plenty of perch fishermen are around.  We fished for carp and the marsh areas were loaded, despite the cold 46 degree water temps (carp seek out the warmest available water they can find.  Check out my carp article in the most recent "Mid-Atlantic Fly-Fishing" magazine available for free at area fly-shops.)    Fish were so thick we couldn't help but foul-hook a bunch, but we perservered.  I had a 5 to 6lb. fish hammer a clouser fly, which was a trip.  I hadn't caught carp on the retrieve while fly-fishing, so this was a first.   We kept it to eat!  Check out my account of this "experience"  ;-) in the "Tips/Articles" page of this website (go to "The Fishing".)

Perch fishermen are out in good numbers on Cayuga.   Sunday I wanted to fish Skaneateles Lake but I had a bug or two to be worked out on my boat, so off to Barrett Marine we went.   We tried Seneca Lake for a few hours since it was so close.  Perch fishermen are out in droves.  Can't say how they did, but there were boats all over the place.  We tried the northern portions of the lake - from Bellhurst to Roy's working deep water for lakers.   Finally shot down to Sampson, which is always good.  I missed 3 or 4 fish and Jessica landed one and we called it a day.  Fish were deep - around 135' to 150'.   The lake looks gorgeous - nice and clear with a green tinge to the water.   Water temps on both lakes vary from 38 to 42 or so on Seneca and up to 46 on the north end of Cayuga Lake.

4/3/2008
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 4/3
Got out today at 11 am with my friend Willy.   We were hoping for some good trout/salmon action.   Things started out encouragingly with a few nice follows from some decent salmon.   Willy missed a hit, then I hooked up with a fish around 18" or 19" on a streamer.   I lost the fish as it managed to get under the boat near my trolling motor.   We spent a lot of time working a lot of areas but couldn't manage anything else.   Fish seem to have scattered or moved out a bit after yesterday's strong winds (gusts to over 35 mph).    The lake level is at full-pool and temps are at 38.  The warmest water we found was around 41 degrees off the mouth of Taughannock Creek.   Creek mouths should start to produce some good fishing.   I expect fishing to improve day by day.
3/30/2008
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 3/30

What a terrific day to fish!   I fished with my girlfriend from around 12:30pm till 6:40pm.   It only took a few casts with my fly-rod (intermediate line/bionic smelt fly) to draw up a follow from a nice 20" to 22" landlocked salmon.   Unfortunately I couldn't get the fish to grab!   We continued our drift and I had another follow - this time on a Clouser minnow with a sinking line.   At the same time Jessica hooked up and landed a nice 20" salmon on a jig.  We worked one area for awhile and she also landed a 21" brown.   I kept fly-fishing and took a few casts with a jig.   We tried another area (on the east shore) and had 3 follows/hits.  

We wound up back on the west shore and I did some casting with a jig.  I hooked what felt like a very good fish - maybe something foul-hooked.  But it wound up being a beautiful hook-jawed male brown that was 24" and probably 5.5lbs or better.   We worked back up to the park and we hit another pod of fish.  Jess got another 20" and a 17" and I got a 18.5" salmon.   All fish but one salmon were released.   Lots of hook scars (marks) and lamprey hits on the salmon.  The salmon are in reasonable shape but not in the fat condition of the late 1990s/early 2000s.   I'm thankful for all the catch and release fishing going on out there.  It makes a big difference in the quality of everyone's fishing.   Water temps ranged from 37 to 38.  Cayuga is just fishing great for salmon/browns.  I'm lovin' it!  We got plenty of photos and I should have them up by Tuesday - gotta get them developed and put on disc.  Fish were generally lethargic today and action seemed to improve as the day went on.   

3/27/2008
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 3/27

Got out from 2 to 6 pm today.  Tried some lake trout jigging for around 3 hours with no luck.   The overcast/dark skies probably were partly to blame for the lack of fish action.  I marked decent numbers of fish from around 80' to 150' of water along the lake's east shore.   Cayuga AES was packed with shore fishermen, so I didn't fish there.  My guess is that the action must be good over there.   At least 7 people were there all afternoon.

Tried a little salmon fishing with no luck.  The west winds are not good for my style of salmon fishing, so I wasn't surprised.   Expect good to excellent salmon action once the northerlies/southerlies resume.   Expect good lake trout jigging action on sunny days and further north towards the Dean's area.   Lake temps are at 37 degrees.  

3/26/2008
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 3/26

Got out in the boat for 2 1/2 hours today with my girlfriend.   The water temps are around 37/38 degrees.  The water level is low but higher than the typical winter lows - launching was easy.   I gave her a white jig and I started with the fly-rod.  Fly-fishing produced a small (sublegal) rainbow trout around 10" long.   Maybe it's just coincidence, but over the past year we've seen more rainbows than in a long time.  I NEVER used to catch rainbows fly-fishing out in Cayuga Lake in the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

We had a salmon follow near shore.   We worked some deeper water and I tried a jig and caught a nice 22" salmon that fought very well.   Jessica landed a nice 20" fish.   We released all the fish today.  Both salmon had lamprey marks.  One salmon had a hook scar.  That to me is kind of nice - knowing that someone else caught and released that fish so we were able to catch it today.   Salmon are very vulnerable to angling pressure - so it's always a good idea to release them.   Beautiful day and we had the lake to ourselves apart from the shore anglers.

3/23/2008
Cayuga/Taughannock Shorefishing 3/23
Fished from 4:30 to 6 pm on this Easter Sunday.   Air temps were around 34 degrees and the wind was blowing pretty good out of the north.  I managed to pick up 2 salmon - a 19" fish and a dink around 12".   Released both today.   They hit white 1/8 oz. jigs.  A few others were fishing.  Lake level is up a little bit, but still low.   Launching shouldn't be much of a problem.   No boats out this afternoon.
3/18/2008
Cayuga Lake/Taughannock Shorefishing 3/18
Got back out for another hour and a half today.   Fishing was good and I landed an 18" landlocked salmon on a jig.   I dropped what felt like a good fish and I missed another hit.   I'm hoping a different hook on my jigs will increase my hookup ratio but these things happen.   Very few people were fishing today.  
3/17/2008
Cayuga Lake/Taughannock Shorefishing 3/17
I did some casting around Taughannock Point today for an hour and a half and was very pleased with what I found.   Shades of the late 1990s and early 2000s out on Cayuga!   I landed one nice 20" salmon just under 3lbs and lost one.   I missed two other hits.  I had the lake to myself for the most part.   It was a bit cold for fly-fishing so I cast some home made jigs on my new Browning Midas medium action spinning rod.   What a great casting set-up.   I was so impressed with my MH action rod last week, I bought a Med. plus another MH yesterday.    They are casting machines!   Lake level was low.   Salmon love the sun and warm water - I even saw one poking up into the marina today.   
3/14/2008
Cayuga/Seneca Shorefishing 3/14
Tried Taughannock Park again today for an hour and a half.   Some fish were reportedly caught this AM.   Not much to report in the afternoon.   Went over to Seneca Lake and I was pleased to see that the launches at Lodi and Sampson were both debris and ice free.   A few perch boats were out.   I did a little casting without any action.   
3/13/2008
Cayuga Lake Shorefishing out of Taughannock 3/13
I bought a couple nice new rods from Bass Pro Shops last week and was looking forward to seeing how they perform on the water.   I rigged up my boron/graphite composite Browning Midas rod with a Shimano Stradic reel and a hometied jig and started casting.   The rod cast the 1/8 oz jigs fairly well in the wind.   I fished the marina walls then worked towards the creek mouth.   I got lucky and hooked up a nice fish near the creek mouth.   I thought it was a lake trout, since it didn't jump or make any great runs.   As I worked it in I was surprised at how strong it was - I needed to do quite a bit of backreeling.   As I led it ashore I noticed it wasn't a laker, but a nice brown trout.    I kept the fish and once I got it home I measured and weighed it - 28" and 7lbs 12oz!    It was a nice hook-jawed male brown.   Word is that quite a few nice browns have been caught throughout the winter at Taughannock and at AES.   I expect many of these browns to pull the scales at 12 to 17lbs or better this summer/fall.   Can't wait!   I should have some photos up once I get the film (yeah film) developed.
3/6/2008
Seneca Lake Shorefishing 3/6
Got out for a few hours of shorefishing at 3 select areas on the lake with my buddy Shahab.   Conditions looked pretty good out there and after a lengthy battle I lost a very nice lake trout on a chartreuse deceiver pattern.   A few suckers were foul-hooked by Shahab and in one area he landed a northern pike.    Perch fishermen are out working various points and are catching some fish.    It felt great to get out - it had been a long time!
2/25/2008
Seneca Lake 2/25 Watkins Pier
Checked out the pier for 1/2 hour today, just seeing what was happening.  Anglers are fishing perch a bit in the marina area but action was slow.   A couple boats were out perch fishing - no clue as to how they did.  Basically slow out there today.
1/11/2008
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 1/10
Got back out for some lake trout jigging with Jess.   My goal was to work some areas that I usually don't get a chance to fish during the dead of winter (the launch at Dean's is usually iced-up).   We worked south of the launch primarily on the west side of the lake.   Surprisingly good numbers of lake trout were bunched up towards Sheldrake in around 100' to 110' of water.   We found fish shallower and deeper.   The usual white flukes fished on 1oz. jigheads worked pretty well and Jessica managed to land a couple nice fish - a 28" and a 20".   Fish were chasing.    Best fishing was during midday when the sun was shining.   We found lakers around Long Point and north also.   H2O levels were OK for winter launching and temps were around 40.   
1/8/2008
Skaneateles Lake 1/8
Spent most of the day on Skinny today with Jessica.   Casting jigs and working spoons vertically produced good action on nice sized landlocked salmon, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and perch.   Jigs produced everything;  spoons bass and perch.   Bass were between 25' and 45' of water.   There were perch between 20' and 40'.   Trout and salmon were scattered along drop-offs.    Beautiful day out there!   Water temps are the same that they've been - 39 to 40.    Left my fly-boxes in the vehicle, but fly-fishing certainly could have produced trout and salmon.  I'd recommend a sink-tip or full-sink line as most fish were somewhat deep.   
1/7/2008
Cayuga out of Taughannock 1/7
Had fun today with Jessica targeting northern pike in the southern portions of Cayuga Lake.  Both shorelines were decent and in a few hours fishing we each landed nice 30" fish.   A couple pickerel were also caught and we each missed some tooth critters as well.   Fish ranged from around 6' to 15' of water.   Swimbaits were productive.   Boats were trolling around Taughannock, but no word on how they did.   Water levels are rising and temps are around 40 degrees.   
1/6/2008
Skaneateles Lake 1/6
Spent the day fishing with Jessica.   I caught a few nice (12") perch and a decent smallmouth bass around 17" or more.   I lost a beautiful smallmouth boatside that was in the 4 to 5lb range - gorgeous colors.   I thought I was snagged for a second, then the beast came up.   Jess was going to net it but I told her to go for the camera and then the fish got under the boat and the light line snapped!  :-(    She did well, landing her first Atlantic salmon - a nice 20"+ fish plus she caught her biggest pickerel - a 24"er.    All in all a fun day with steady fishing.  Water temps are around 39 to 40.   Fish came from 10' to 25'.   We dropped a couple good fish and I released a small LL Salmon.   Expect good to very good fishing on this lake throughout the winter, weather permitting.   
1/5/2008
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 1/5
Fished northerns today with Jessica.   We started just after noon and worked up the shoreline.   Pike were pretty much where they've been over the past couple months.   Again - 20' to around 25' of water was best.   The pike are abundant and running from 24" to 30" - with most fish being around 29".   The lampreys are really pounding these northerns - it's amazing how many pike show lamprey marks.   Some perch and crappies are reportedly hitting around the south end of the lake.  H2O was 40.    Water level is still decent (a little bit low) but launching wasn't a problem.  
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