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12/28/2009
ANNOUNCEMENT!

For those of you who bypass the homepage to read the reports: 

FINGERLAKESANGLINGZONE.COM bumper stickers are available!  They are black with block yellow lettering - very nice!    I also have some funny "no trolling" stickers (ovals with "trolling" crossed out in red,) FLAZ ovals and Jigging Addict/No Trolling stickers.    If you enjoy the site, please help me spread the word.   Over the past year and a half I've had well over 40,000 hits on this site!  During the season around 80 to 130 hits a day is average, which to me is way more popular than I ever expected the site to be.   

Stickers are FREE - just email me your name and mailing address and I'll get some out to you over the next few weeks.

Thanks,  John

12/27/2009
Cayuga out of Dean's Cove 12/27
With mostly sunny skies and light south winds turning westerly, my buddy Mike and I decided to target lakers today out of Dean's Cove.  The lake level was still decent enough to launch without problems.   Water temps are around 41.    The great fishing we had a few weeks ago near Long Point in 90' to 110' had dissapated.   We moved north and checked depths out to 180'.  The best looking areas (on the sonar) were the 120' to 140' depths.   Fishing was difficult - not a lot of aggressive fish, but we managed to land 3 nice lakers to 29".   A few hits were missed.  1 1/2 oz jigs with white flipping tubes worked best.   A couple other boats were out duck hunting, but that was it for boat traffic.  Gorgeous day, but cold out there!   Either way, it was very nice getting out and the chowder pots will be full this week.  
12/15/2009
Seneca Shorefishing 12/15
I checked on my favorite shore areas for lake trout, salmon and perch on Seneca Lake with my buddy Mike.   Strike Two on the shorefishing - no action whatsoever.   Conditions looked pretty good in some areas and I expect things to pick up once we get a stretch of cold weather.  
12/13/2009
Cayuga/Seneca Shorefishing 12/13
Got out with my buddy Mike to do some fly-fishing from shore for landlocked salmon.  We worked a few west shore areas on Cayuga then went to Lodi Point on Seneca Lake.  The weather wasn't pleasant this AM, with air temps around 31 degrees and plenty of wind with some rain.   The air temps heated up a little eventually but the fishing stayed cold!  No hits whatsoever.  Water temps on Cayuga were a chilly 43 degrees.   No luck on Seneca either.  We never saw another fisherman today.    Water levels are dropping.  
12/2/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 12/2

Fished from 8:30 am till around 4 on Cayuga today with my buddy Mike.   We were on a mission - we needed lakers in order to 1.)  Have fun and 2.) Get some fillets for the smoker.   There aren't too many things in life that are better eating than smoked lake trout.  And the lakers cooperated.  Fishing was slow to start - we worked from 90' out to 150' N. of Dean's on the mainlake flats.  Mike had a grab from a suspended fish over deep water.  The winds were nasty and only got worse.    We moved towards Long Point and started marking a lot of fish from 80' out to 110'.   Action was best when the sun was shining and we managed to limit out by 2 pm.   We landed 7 and missed/lost a few more.  Nothing huge, mostly 24" to 27" fish.   We used 1 and 1 1/2 oz. jig heads.  Fish came on white tubes and flukes and one was hooked on a shaker.    

After the laker fishing we chased some perch in a lazy way - using an anchor.  The brunt of the wind pounded our boat, but around 1/2 dozen or more perch cooperated before we called it a day.  We didn't work much - just anchored, relaxed and lit a cigar or two.  Water temps were 47 degrees.    

11/29/2009
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 11/29

Guided Florian and Ellyssa, two NYC residents who'd never fished before.   We met around 10:30 am for our 1/2 day.  They picked up the jigging technique without many problems and wound up landing 8 legal lakers.   I cleaned a limit and found that some fish had spawned, some were likely still spawning and some were pre-spawn.   I marked LOADS of lakers, so many I took a photo of my depthfinder - just crazy amounts of hooks!  

I did some jigging after the trip and picked up a nice 18" smallmouth on bottom in around 60' to 80' of water!   I also caught a few perch on minnows in the hour and a half  I had after the trip.    Water levels are low;  I think the temp was around 48/49.  Beautiful day out there! 

11/26/2009
Seneca 11/25 out of Watkins, Skaneateles 11/26

11/25 Seneca/Watkins:  I fished from around 10 am till dark using fathead minnows.   Perch fishing was very slow.  I worked around 4 to 5 good perch areas with one light hit.   They certainly didn't want my minnows!   Next time I'll try some other stuff.    I managed to land a couple chunky 16 1/2" smallmouths and even one landlocked salmon around 13" or so.    Reports are that smallmouth bass fishing has been pretty good in general, though slow since Monday.   Bass range from 10' to 40' from what I've heard.   Water temps were around 49.   Next time I'll be hitting midlake areas.   

11/26 Skaneateles Lake:  It's nice to see the State Launch still open.   Rumor has it the DEC may keep the launch open longer in the future.   Let's hope that's the case - after all, some of the best fishing here occurs from late fall through early spring.    We saw two other trailers in the launch on this Thanksgiving Day.  One boat was duck hunting.  My buddy Mike and I started by perch fishing.   We found fish right off the bat, but none of the 14" perch I'm used to encountering on my jigs.   We caught some Cayuga sized fish - mostly in 20' to 30' of water near the launch.  

Later on, Mike did some fly-fishing for rainbows while I casted jigs.   He landed a hard fighting 15" beautiful bow and a nice bass on the flies.   I landed two nice lakers - a 22" fish and a 19"er.   We did some more perch fishing way down the lake without great results.  Midlake areas produced more perch and bass (near 5 Mile Point.)     All in all, a fun day with good action from perch ranging in size from downright dinks to around 12" - with most fish around 8" to 11".  We had around 15 to 20 keepers and probably another 10 to 15 throwbacks.    I still can't fault Cayuga for some excellent perch action, though Skinny is also excellent.    By the end of the day I was working 40' of water and started hitting some good fish.  Next time....

11/23/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's 11/23

Fished Cayuga for perch again today starting around 8:30 am.   The winds were strong this AM out of the south, which made for tough conditions.  I found scattered perch from around 7' to 20' of water.  Nothing special today - I landed around 20 to 25 fish with only about 10 being 8"+ keepers.  No fish much over 11".   I did catch a couple largemouths and a few bonus pickerel as well.  Water temps up N. were around 47 to 49 degrees.    Double hook minnow rigs did the trick.   I'll be focusing my perch efforts more on Seneca from here on in.   It dawned on me that 3 or 4 Seneca Lake perch would equal or surpass the amount of fillets I got from the 10 Cayuga fish!    But Cayuga is consistent and fun.  We've caught a lot of our Cayuga perch in the hour or so before dark - today I had to be off the water earlier, so I'm sure I missed out on some good fishing.   I quit around 3 pm.

 

11/21/2009
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 11/21

Guided Kara and her husband Eric today for lakers.  Fishing was generally very good.  A lot of hits were missed to start, but once the ice was broken the lakers started coming!   7 nice fish were landed to 23"+.   We marked loads of fish, especially from 90' on out to over 130' - but we mainly just fished from 90' to 110' or so.   Cleaning the fish revealed that they still hadn't spawned.   Two of six fish kept had bait in their stomachs - one had a smelt.   It was a fun trip - they are both excellent swimmers and Eric's a College swim coach - so I learned a lot.   H20 is around 50. 

After the trip I spent an hour or so searching for some perch.  I caught a few from 10' to 23' or so.    Perch fishing is reportedly quite good (I'd expect that to be the case in all the Finger Lakes right now.)

 

 

 

11/20/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's 11/20

Got out for some perch fishing with my buddy Mike, who incidentally did well fly-fishing for pike yesterday on Cayuga.   We worked a bunch of areas on the west shore.   Perch fishing was very good once we found them - in 4' of water!   We landed at least 50 fish, around 30 to 35 keepers (9"+.)  A couple largemouths and large pickerel also were landed.   Double-hook minnows worked well.  We actually ran out of bait today - there were a lot of dink perch in the mix.  

We did a quick check on laker flats near Aurora/Willets.  We found a lot of bait from 130' to 160' or so, and some laker marks - though we didn't have time to fish them much.   There are also lakers shallower.  

A funny story I forgot to mention from our last Cayuga perch trip.  I was working around 20' to 25' of water with double-hook minnow rigs.  I was reeling in my rig and I felt a light hit or two.   As I lifted the rod - raising the minnow rig out of the water I saw a huge "fish" rapidly following it in.  It looked like a big white rainbow trout or salmon - maybe 3' long!   And deep - 17lbs or better if it was an ounce.   Then the "fish" crashed the surface and took off.  It wasn't a fish at all - I had a large white LOON chasing in my minnows!  Swimming for them!   I'm glad I didn't hook it, but we had seen the loon working the area.   There's a first for everything....

11/18/2009
Seneca out of Sampson 11/18
I got out for a few hours to check on some N. end perch.  No luck.  The wind was pretty nasty with 2' to nearly 4' waves and I was the only fishing boat out.   I worked up to Glass Factory Bay without a hit from anything.   I still think the best early season Seneca perch action is in the southern 1/3rd of the lake - but we used to get them well up north.  Overall, I think the other Fingers are currently fishing better for perch.  Water temps were 49 degrees.  
11/15/2009
Cayuga Lake 11/14 + 11/15

I fished with my buddy Mike over the last two days.  We launched out of Taughannock on Saturday armed with our fly-rods and some gear - the target being northern pike.   Calm winds aren't great for pike fishing, but that's what we had.  We started before 7 am and fishing was difficult at best.   Scattered floating weeds made fishing the east shore tough and the lack of wind hampered our fishing on the west shore.   Water temps were around 50/51.   We persevered and conditions changed during the course of the day.  I picked up a 30" healthy looking northern on a fly midday.   We had follows on tube jigs from small landlocked salmon (15"-) fish.   That's a good sign for future fishing.   Mike missed a couple good hits - likely pike.   We fished the entire day and 1/2 hour before dark a 37" beauty nailed my X-rap on the east shore.  We got some good photos before releasing the fish.  The pike were fighting SUPERBLY - just in peak form!  Great surges and drag ripping runs. 

Today we grabbed our perch stuff and launched out of Dean's Cove.   It was an interesting day.   We never found many perch in my area from last week.   Deep water produced a 12"+ jack and a nice pickerel.  Cayuga has big perch and there's no doubt in my mind they are located deep this time of year - at least a lot of them.   IMO the smaller (yet still eating size) perch are shallower and readily available - so that's where people spend their time.   We marked a fish off the bottom in 50' of water.  Mike lowered his minnows and found he had a fish on when he brought them up.  Laker is what we thought, but unbelievably, it turned out to be a nice pickerel!   45' over 50' of water!   Working around 15' of water near Frontenac Island produced a bunch of perch for us and another pickerel.  A west shore area produced more (and nicer fish) plus a bullhead.   10' to 45' of water is where all of our fish came from, with 15' to 20' generally holding most fish.   I have no problems filleting 8" to 9" perch, and Cayuga delivers.   We took home around 34 perch and let go another 15 or more.  Double hook rigs with fatheads worked best for us, though we didn't try much else.  

Trollers reported good laker fishing over the weekend in around 120'.   The weather was great and water levels still good for easy launching.   Boat traffic was low.  

11/13/2009
Skaneateles Lake 11/13
Got out with Ed and John for 1/2 day.  These guys have joined me a bunch of times this year and we were hoping for some rainbows on the fly.   Fishing for bows was tough - since we had calm conditions and next to no wind.   Within a couple hours the wind came up.   Ed came close to landing a nice bass.   John went to gear fishing and managed a few good smallies (incl. a 19"er) and a nice perch.   The weather was beautiful and we had fun, especially discussing some psychology and Dr. John Sarno's theories (which many of my clients are exposed to!)   It was amazing to see how warms things got after starting out so cold!   We went from 26 degrees in the AM to what felt like 60 in the PM - just amazing.  
11/11/2009
Keuka Lake 11/11
Had some fun on Keuka Lake today.  I got up early and got in a couple hours of fishing before my 11 am guide trip.   I checked on the Penn Yan arm for bass and pickerel, fishing one area I seldom ever work and one tried 'n true stretch.  I wound up landing a couple chunky 3lb+ smallmouths - one on an X-rap and one on a tube jig.   I had a couple nice pickerel follows and misses too.    H2O is around 51 degrees.   At 11 am I met up with Dave and Ron at Branchport.  Dave has fished with me a few times before and is always a lot of fun.   We worked the Branchport arm for lakers and marked a ton of fish from 80' out to past 135'.  We concentrated on around 90' to 100' and did well - the guys landed 9 nice lakers from 17" to 22" - most being 19" to 21".  Keuka lakers are still feeding and these fish were still a little while away from spawning.  Shakers and spoons did the trick.  The bite was pretty darn steady throughout the trip.  
11/9/2009
Skaneateles Lake 11/8 + 11/9

Skaneateles  11/8:   I've been putting a lot of miles on my truck and hours on my boat lately, making pilgrimages to Skaneateles Lake.   On Sunday I rode down with Jim from California/Alaska for a day of fly-fishing.   Conditions were as tough as they generally get for the lake - it was sunny and there was very little wind.   In the fall this isn't a "skunking sentence" but it still can make for very difficult rainbow trout fishing.   Jim's an accomplished fly-fisher and had his best luck using either a long sink tip (I think it was 24') or a full sinking RIO Deep 7 line.    Fishing wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either and Jim managed to land a few lakers, some nice bass and some perch on the fly.    Water temps are hovering around 51 degrees.  Jim was an absolute pleasure to spend a day with and he regaled me with some great tales of Alaskan fishing adventures.   

11/9:  Today I did a full day with Jeff K from NJ.   He's fished with me a bunch of times before - including earlier this year for pike on Seneca and lakers on Cayuga.   Our Seneca trip was our best pike fishing of the year on that lake.    For today, we brought fly-fishing gear, but wound up sticking with the jigging.    Fishing started out very slow and my two favorite areas really didn't produce much.   We worked a few other places and found a heavy concentration of active lakers and some nice 10" to 14" perch.    Bass were also in the mix.  Jeff wound up with a nice mixed bag of big perch and lakers for the frying pan.    No sign of rainbows today for us, but had we fly-fished I think we might have hooked some.   Lakers and perch ranged from 5' to maybe 30' of water.   Another fun day!    

Both days featured gorgeous weather!  Air temps pushed over 64 degrees today and the sun shone on both days.    Who says November fishing has to be uncomfortable?     Plenty of dates remain open in November.  Think pike, bass, trout and salmon!  On days I'm not booked, I'll be out on the water.

11/7/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 11/7
Guided Todd and his brother Chris for a 1/2 day today.  They have a place on Seneca Lake, but given the poor pike fishing over there we decided upon Cayuga Lake for pike action.   We got an early start, meeting at 7 am.   Conditions were cold with winds out of the south around 10 to 15 mph.   There was some unanticipated cloud cover which also helped.   The fishing got off to a great start with Chris missing a hit (coming up with a scale) and then landing a 25" northern shortly thereafter.   Then Chris landed a 33" fish.   Then Todd nailed a pickerel then a 34" fish!  Two more northerns around 31" to 32" were landed along with a 27" fish.    Fish came on white X-raps.   Half of the pike were in excellent condition - healthy, thick bodied and clean looking with clear fins.  We had a few fish that showed some signs of disease - but nothing that was too bad.   I'm planning on getting a few of these fish up to Cornell in order to see what the disease may be.   But overall the fishing was excellent for an hour or two with some top-notch pike action on large fish.    We kept the pickerel, a small pike and one larger fish for the table.   Water temps are at 51 degrees.  It'll still be a couple weeks before we likely see some good landlocked salmon action via casting and fly-casting.    Fun trip and I have a sneaking suspicion that the guys will be back on Cayuga in the future.    I know I will ;-)
11/6/2009
Cayuga out of Taughannock 11/5 + Skaneateles Lake 11/6

Cayuga Lake 11/5:  I was kind of surprised when I got an email from Beth inquiring about November fishing this past week.   Her 12 year old son Sam loves to fish and they were in town for a visit.  Most trips I've done in November are booked with hard-core fishermen - guys that ice-fish or steelhead fish.  The Carhart gang!   I rarely book trips with mom and her son - period, and never for a cold day in November!   But there's a first for everything. 

Beth got the trip off to a great start IMO by offering me a burger and some fries from 5 Guys (a place I've wanted to visit since it opened in Ithaca.)  The weather was cool and rainy to start.   Sam has fished on party boats before and was a very good caster.   I showed him a couple jerkbaits and he had no trouble learning to fish them.   He was a little bit impatient but he stuck with the program.  It didn't take long before he caught a northern pike around 29" long!   I was very disappointed to see the fish looking pretty beat-up.  The fish was thin and bleeding from its tail and body.  Very reminiscent of the viral infection (likely VHS) that we've watched decimate Seneca Lake's incredible pike fishery.  

In a different area, Sam landed another pike around 30" - a nicer looking fish, but it still had a couple red blotches on its side.  More VHS symptoms.  I'm not saying we definitely have VHS in Cayuga and Seneca Lakes - but it was apparently detected in a fish in the Seneca-Cayuga Canal a few years ago.  It's pretty obvious to me that we have it, and it's affecting the pike in both lakes.   What's the saying - if it smells like $%&@, looks like #$%@ and - you get the picture.     But the 2nd pike was a nice looking fish overall - not as thin as the first one.

As soon as we released the 2nd pike Sam hooked another one on the very next cast!   And what a fish!!!   I knew it was big, but it barely fit in my Super Magnum Cabelas rubber net!  Actually, it nearly jumped out!    It was a 37" HEALTHY looking thick bodied pike!    What a beauty!  We took some photos and released the fish.   And that was it on the afternoon.  The ride back was brutal - a front came in and air temps were frigid plus we got pelted with rain that felt like BBs.    Nasty!   I received an email from Beth - Sam is still in disbelief that he caught such a large fish and Beth still feels cold from the trip....

Skaneateles Lake 11/6:  To say it was cold this AM was an understatement.  Skaneateles had white-outs last night and there's still snow on the hills overlooking this gorgeous lake.   Ron and Matt (who've fished with me twice before on Seneca Lake) joined me for a full-day on the lake.  They are outdoorsmen and were dressed for the weather.    Fishing started out slow.  We had one follow from a rainbow and some missed opportunities.   At around 10:30 (we started at 8) the fish started hitting for us.   Ron caught some very nice 12" to 14"+ perch.   Bass too.   One rainbow followed Matt's stickbait.   Then the lakers started hitting.  By the time the day was over, Matt had landed 11 nice lakers - from at least 4 to 5 different areas of the lake.   The best fish was a drop-dead gorgeous 24" rainbow trout that Matt nailed on a tube jig.   We released the fish after taking one very quick cell-phone photo.   It was a picture perfect bow!   Great fight too.  One other rainbow was hooked.    The docks are out and launching isn't super easy, but it's not too bad.  I use boat bumpers and do some tightrope walking.  Water temps ranged from 48 to 51.   We saw one other boat on the lake all day long!  It's quiet out there and will only get quieter once shotgun season for deer opens up.  

11/4/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 11/4

Yesterday I bought a few dozen fatheads and got my perch gear ready.   My buddy Mike and I were going to fish Cayuga last Monday, but decided on Seneca at the last minute.  Today I fished solo and decided to fish Cayuga and I'm glad I did.   Lake levels are still decent, though the lake is dropping.  Water temps were at 52 degrees.   I worked the east shore of the lake from Aurora up towards Frontenac Island and found a concentration of perch.   The perch action was excellent, and I was surprised at the number of quality 11" to 12" fish I caught - these fish were very reminiscent of Canandaigua Lake perch or Seneca fish.   The lake is still loaded with 8" to 9" perch, but I've decided I can fillet them!   I probably caught around 45 perch - but only around 17 to 18 were good sized fish and only 4 to 5 of those were around 12".   I kept another 10 that were hooked deep - mostly 8" to 9" fish.    I had a lot of doubles.  The minnows worked well as did some Sliders and tiny tube jigs.   Best fishing was from 20' to 25' of water.   I also hooked a couple nice sized bonus pickerel - landing one around 24" and I landed a fat 17" smallmouth.   It was fun mixed bag angling and I'd gladly go back in a heartbeat.  The fun thing about Cayuga's N. end is you never know what you may catch - any cast can result in perch, small and largemouth bass, pickerel, pike or even a salmon, brown or lake trout.  

Cayuga really is a terrific perch lake - at least in terms of numbers.  Day-in and day-out, if you want fillets it's tough to beat Cayuga.    Seneca is boom or bust and most people that do well are on the lake constantly or fish with someone who is - but even then, it can be difficult, and you have the weather to contend with.  Getting a limit on Cayuga isn't hard, but they are small - but at the end of the season you'll go 10/10 on Cayuga, vs. God knows what on Seneca.    The biggest Cayuga perch rival the biggest Seneca fish - both lakes have yielded 17" to 18"+ perch.    

The Sliders really impressed me.   I fished them on double hook rigs using loops.   5 years ago when I worked at Bass Pro Shops they were the rage for Seneca and Canandaigua perch fishing.    I bought a bunch but hadn't really gained confidence in them.  Since I was into a lot of fish today, I started using them.  I was amazed - when the schools were hitting well I was able to cast them in, put my rod down and watch the tip bounce - just like using live bait!   You can cast and drag them or fish them drop-shot style.  I did both and caught plenty of perch and one big pickerel.   Who needs live-bait?   I do enjoy the baitfishing though, since it's relaxing and I can kick bait and enjoy myself, letting the bait do the work.  

I'm completely booked this weekend from Thursday through Monday, so there will be plenty of new reports!   It's like July all over again....

11/2/2009
Seneca Lake out of Lodi 11/2
Got out with my buddy Mike at around 10:30 am to check on some Seneca mid-lake areas.   Not much good to report.  We checked on pike and perch.   No luck on either.  We fished until 4:30 pm.   Lake temps ranged from 52 to 55, with 61 at Dresden.   The original idea was to try Cayuga's N. end, but we thought going out of Lodi might give us a shot at some trout and salmon, since they often stage around the point area.    
11/1/2009
Otisco Lake 11/1
Got out with my buddy Jarrod for most of the day today.   We started by fishing areas of the lake we don't fish hard often.  It was unproductive.   We worked an area I'd seen some bass in last time I was on the lake, and we didn't find any.   We did have some hits from panfish.   Our best musky area (on the lake's N. end) produced a 28.5" fish for my buddy Jarrod as well as one other follow for him.   A Jake did the trick.   Water temps remain in the mid-50s.   Boat traffic was light - we saw 3 to 4 other fishing boats on the lake all day long.   Overall I'd say musky fishing was tough - fair at best.   I'll probably fish Otisco once more before the year's end.   
10/30/2009
Canandaigua Lake out of Woodville 10/30

After getting some truck maintenance done at LeBrun Toyota in Canandaigua, I headed down to Woodville around 9:30 am.   Despite living 60 miles away from my dealership, I still get my truck work done there, so I have a good excuse to tow the boat over to Canandaigua.   My good clients the Hermans have a place nearby and they told me that they'd like to fish the lake, so I arranged to meet them at 12:30pm

The lake conditions were downright nasty, with very strong south winds - probably blowing a straight 20 mph and gusting into the 30s.  Tight 2' to 3' + waves and whitecaps right on the south end.   I checked a few areas for smallmouths and really liked what I found.  I had a lot of follows on jerkbaits incl. a school of nice fish.  I made sure I only stung one (a 17"+ fish) since I was pre-fishing for the guide trip.  H2O was around 54.

I called the Hermans to suggest cancelling the trip, since the winds were so strong, but they've "turned a new leaf" and decided to start fishing some more trying conditions (dramamine also helps!)    Unfortunately for whatever reason, the smallies weren't to be found.   The wind shifted slightly and the sun disappeared, which apparently made a difference.  They landed some nice perch and dropped a bass or two, but there was no sign of the large numbers of fish I'd seen earlier.   We tried a few other areas w/o luck.   The nice thing about this lake is that there are still plenty of lush green weeds around.   Despite the strong wind, John managed to land a beautiful 18"+ largemouth on a spinnerbait near the south end.    All in all a very tough day, but we made the best of it.  An earlier start would have really made a huge difference in the smallmouth fishing - there were a lot of bass around!  Calmer conditions would have allowed for some laker jigging - I marked some of those too.

After the trip we met for dinner over at Poor Richards - basically a stone's throw from the Woodville launch.   I was knocked out by the food, the service and the prices.  It's a perfect place to eat after a full (or half) day on the water.  The food is traditional American stuff, nothing fancy (casual dining a step up from a diner)   - I had roasted turkey with mashed potatoes and stuffing.  I subbed some NE Clam chowder for my salad and had my fill of coffee and a choc. shake - all for an incredibly reasonable price.  I highly recommend this place! 

10/26/2009
Keuka Lake 10/26
Did a half day with John and Ed.  We started around 11 am and fished till 3pm.  We had a steady pick of lakers ranging from around 20" to 25" with one fish around 27" that was lost under the boat.  Plastics did the trick from around 95' to 110'.   The sun was out and the colors were beautiful!  Just a perfect day to be on the water.    Many fish were suspended around 10' to 20' off the bottom.   All fish were taken around the bluff area.  Most had empty stomachs but one or two had some alewives in them.    
10/25/2009
Skaneateles 10/23 + Keuka Lake 10/24

Skaneateles 10/23:   I was on the lake most of the day from around 10 am till dark.   Fishing was good - not great, but steady for smallmouth bass and yellow perch.   I landed one rainbow trout around 17" casting hairjigs, and I missed another on a tube jig.   Fish still appear to be off dropoffs for the most part - I didn't encounter many trout moving up yet, though some certainly have.    At 2 pm I picked up the Hermans and we headed back out.   John got into some nice bass while casting tube jigs - we were positioned in 40' of water and he was casting towards shore, working the jigs back.  A fish just shy of 18" and a 17"er made it to the net (and were released.)    Some nice perch and a laker were also caught using tubes and hair jigs.    H2O was around 55 - so the cooldown momentarily has slowed.  

Keuka 10/24:  I guided Mike and his friend Mark for lakers.  We jigged the bluff area and fishing was very, very good from the get-go.  We were the only boat out jigging that I could see at the bluff area.   The guys landed a bunch of lakers - probably around 14 or 15.   That was great.  The fishing slowed for an hour or so, then on a Shaker jig, Mike hooked a big laker under the boat - down maybe 30'.   I got a glimpse of it and figured it was 7 or 8lbs - since most Keuka fish are somewhat small.  But it was much bigger and barely fit into my Cabelas Super Magnum Rubber landing net!   It was over 32" and much fatter than the 32" 12lb fish I landed years ago on Seneca.  This female was clearly loaded with eggs and possibly bait.   Mike couldn't even roll the fish in his hands for a photo.   We took some good shots and released the slob unharmed (it jetted towards the bottom.)    Beautiful fish and it was a great way to end the day.    Bass fishers I talked to reported excellent smallmouth bass action.   Perch are also hitting well.  

10/19/2009
Lake Ontario out of Sodus Bay 10/19

It's been nice having some days off to go fishing.   I used to fish Lake Ontario a lot for smallmouth bass, mostly during the recent heyday from the mid 1990s to the early 2000s.  My buddy Terry and I would count our bass catches in "10s".   It wasn't anything special to land 30 or 40 keepers in a day.   Once I think we hit 100, but I can't remember for sure.   Things have changed a lot since then, mostly due to the presence of millions of gobies, but also likely due to some weak smallmouth bass year classes.   Reports on Lake Ontario smallmouth fishing on the south shore have not been good this summer, but stuff like that doesn't discourage me.   I like a challenge!    My friends that fish with me don't have it easy.   I went alone today, but my buddies usually aren't subject to easy fishing.  It's rare that I call a friend up to go "pound some fish" - they're generally coming along for "research" and exploratory missions i.e. the same stuff I do on my own.   So in October that generally means no Keuka laker jigging or Skaneateles bass fishing  - I don't "practice" what I already know for the most part.   

Things weren't easy by any means today.   I got to Sodus around 10 am, after leaving the house with air temps at 32 degrees.   My engine's water outflow hole was frozen shut;  that took a while to thaw out.   I was hoping there wasn't an impeller problem.   There wasn't.   I talked to some perch fishers - they told me that the bite's been slow.    One angler reported seeing some big Kings in the bay yesterday - right around the bay bridge.   I got onto the lake and was greeted by west winds around 10 mph.  2' to 3' waves.    I made a 10 mile run to Pultneyville - some of the best south shore structure on the lake and started fishing at around 11:30am.    I worked from the shallows out to around 30' of water - using tube jigs and dropshotting.  Zippo.   I had a couple light pecks from gobies - that was it.  

Unfortunately I didn't have all day - I teach classes at 6:30pm, so I needed to be heading back to the dock by 3 pm.   As I worked my way east I started marking some baitfish.  I did see a couple gulls crusing along too.   I set up an alewife tube and started working that.   In fairly short order I had a few big smallmouth bass chase in the tube as I wound it in.   I was hoping some trout would be around, so instead of hopping in the tube, what I do is hop it a few times then crank it in - that's when the bass chased.   Unfortunately I couldn't get them to hit.  I tried some jerkbaits too.   Things got interesting when I heard a fish jump a few cast lengths away.   Mid-October in Lake Ontario with 55 degree water temps?  That wasn't a carp!    I motored out with my trolling motor and made a few casts with my X-rap.   I stood in awe as I watched a school of around 1/2 dozen to 10 brown trout from around 3lbs to 10lbs follow in my lure!     It was exciting - very reminiscent of the casting I occasionally do from shore or my boat around FL trib mouths.    These fish would have been fly-fishable.   They never hit, but I got them to chase a few more times.    In a couple weeks these fish should be right around the creek mouths, and I'm hoping to be back with the fly-rods.    No fish hooked for me today.   But I was so excited watching those fish chase me, you could have heard me yell half-way to Toronto!   Great fun fishing, poor catching!  The bay water looked good and I'll bet the pike and bass were hitting.   

If all goes as I hope it will, I'll be getting out on Waneta for pure-strain muskies, possibly Chautauqua/Lake Erie, Otisco a few more times and maybe even Oneida.    I'd love to fish the St.Lawrence too - esp. for muskies.  We're blessed with a lot of great fishing around here - I feel like I haven't scratched the surface yet.   I'm also looking forward to some pike fishing on Cayuga and Conesus (and I still haven't given up on Seneca) and then winding November down with plenty of Skaneateles and Cayuga Lake trout/salmon action.  Stay tuned! 

 

 

10/18/2009
Otisco Lake 10/18
Fished today from 11:30am till around 5:30pm.   I spent most of the day casting large baits for Tiger Muskies and I never saw one.  I did have a light hit (probably a bass) on a huge tube jig.    Water temps were in the mid-50s.    Nearly all visible weeds were brown (dying or dead.)    I did find one area that held some good smallies (I had a follow), but apart from that nothing special.    According to John at Otisco Lake Marine, fishing pressure has been very low over the past couple weeks.   I'm going to try to get back here soon, hopefully earlier in the AM.   
10/14/2009
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 10/14
I got out for 4 hours, checking on pike fishing.   I don't have any encouraging news.  I worked some key areas.  I had a good hit on a swimbait and dropped what was likely a very nice pike (over 30"), but that was it.   No discernable follows, no hits.   Water temps ranged from 56 to 58.   I worked 5' to nearly 35' of water using swimbaits, spinnerbaits and jerkbaits.  My hookup came from around 10'.   Conditions looked great - the habitat is there, but there just aren't enough pike around to make things worthwhile.   I would recommend Cayuga, Owasco and Conesus Lakes for the best FL action.   Irondequoit Bay is always good for pike in October too.   
10/13/2009
Chaumont/Guffin Bay - Lake Ontario 10/12

My guiding schedule is finally slowing down a lot, so now I have some time to fish.  My buddy Craig Nels www.empirebassandbeyond.com   called me up and asked if I'd like to join him on Chaumont Bay (just past Watertown) for some smallmouth bass fishing.    I'd never fished Chaumont Bay (though I have fished the creek and Guffin Bay) so I was looking forward to checking it out.  

Water temps up there were pretty darn cold - we had 48 on the surface when we started, but the basic temp was 52 degrees.   We started shallow and things weren't looking too promising - dying weeds and no signs of fish/bait.   A deeper area (10' to 15') around a shoal produced a decent smallie and a nice perch on a tube.   Craig wanted to try another area of his and we shot to Guffin Bay.   In very shallow water we spotted some decent smallies and drum cruising around, but they were spooky and somewhat negative.   We tried a deeper break and started contacting some nice fish, including a FAT 4lb smallie that Craig landed.   The same tube set up we use elsewhere was fine on LO Bays.   Another nice perch was landed.   We tried another area and I set the hook into a heavy fish - I was hoping for a monster smallie, but after the long, strong fight a big drum made it to the net.    I thought smallie, since the drum appeared to head towards the surface when I first hooked it.   A few more smallies and a largemouth were hooked/landed.  

The last fish I landed really surprised me - I guess you can take the guide out of the Finger Lakes but not the Finger Lakes out of the guide - it was a chain pickerel!   In all my years living around Lake Ontario and fishing creek mouths, bays etc....I've never heard of, or seen a chain pickerel.   Surely they can get into the lake's bays via various connecting waterways like the Oswego River, but again - I've never heard of a chain pickerel collected in fisheries research in those areas.  

All in all it was a fun day.  We barely scratched the surface of the fishery over there.   I would have loved to have fished some deeper water, but we found enough fish shallow to keep us enthralled.   Next time!   

10/12/2009
Keuka 10/10 + Skaneateles 10/11

10/10 Keuka Lake :  Guided Keuka Lake with Chip and John in the AM, then Doug and Andy in the PM.  Lake trout fishing ranged from good to very good.   The early AM bite was slow, but at around 10 am the fish really started hitting for us.   We lost count of the numbers of lakers, but the guys likely landed around a dozen or so.   Plastics were best - both white and smelt colored Lunker City Shakers.   Fish ran from 19" to 24" or so.  

PM action with Doug and Andy wasn't quite as good as the "10am bite,"   but it was still good.   The guys landed 4 nice fish and they each lost good fish and missed some.   Overall, the consistency of the bite was great.  Fish are close to spawning, but they are still feeding.

10/11 Skaneateles Lake :  Did an AM 1/2 day with Doug and Andy (from yesterday.)    Conditions weren't the best - strong west winds funneling south and cold air temps.   Andy does a lot of smallmouth fishing on the Susquehanna River plus a bit of striper jigging, and he had no trouble with the jigging technique.    Bass fishing was decent in the AM - not great but not bad, and Andy landed a handful of nice fish up to 17".   No other species in the mix this AM.   Jigs were best - both tubes and hair.  I tried an X-rap later in some different areas and picked up a fish.  Perch fishers were out in droves.    Water temps are in the upper 50s.    Most bass were in moderately deep water - 15' to 23' or so.   I popped one on the N. end shallower after the trip. 

10/9/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 10/9

The plan today was to check on Seneca Lake out of Sampson for pike and bass.   But as I left my apartment at around 11 am the first thing I noticed was a bulge on the side of my boat tire.  The tire was close to failing.  In addition, I had a trailer light problem as well.   So I fixed what I could and decided Cayuga was a better call.   I used to fish Cayuga a lot in the fall.  We'd catch bass, perch and occasional pike, along with odd bonus fish like landlocked salmon and/or brown trout.  Throw in a little laker jigging and you can get a nice mixed bag.  Since we had the big pike boom on Seneca over the last few years and very good bass fishing (and mixed bag stuff) on Skaneateles, I've neglected Cayuga, so I was eager to give it a shot.  

Water temps are at 58 degrees.   I worked the southern portions of the lake for pike starting around 1:15 pm.   Nailed a 34.5" pike on an X-Rap in fairly short order.   About 20 minutes later I had a follow from a fish around 27" to 29".   It had a dark mark on its back.   The larger fish was in good condition, but had a reddish appearance to it.   I hope there isn't some pike virus going around.   Fishing remained slow for the next couple hours.   I had a hard hit and brought a 30" fish to the side of the boat.  It wasn't even hooked - just wrapped around the line with the Husky Jerk dangling from its side!   That was it for the day.  I did a quick check for trout/salmon off of Myers Point and Taughannock.  I didn't see anything, but I wasn't there for long at all.   A few nice perch are in the marina at Taughannock.  

All in all the pike fishing was typical Cayuga pike over the past few years.  Not great but not bad.  It's not the kind of thing I prefer guiding for, unless you're a die-hard serious pike fisherman who can put in 8 hours for 2 to maybe 6 fish.   The advantage is the size - Cayuga has some very nice pike.  A 20lber would never surprise me here.  There are lots of places these fish can dwell.   A TON of good looking water to cover.   So it's more hunting than fishing.

10/5/2009
Skaneateles Lake 10/5
Guided 6 hours with the Hermans today.  We started by searching for largemouths.  John hooked what was probably a very large fish (maybe even the same one we released last week!)  It got off when it dove into some weeds.  Eleonore landed a chunky 15" largie.  Smallmouths weren't super cooperative but a few were landed.   The most beautifully colored perch I've ever seen found John's tube jig - it was 14" long with vivid orange fins!  We took some photos.  Eleonore also caught a good perch.  High point of the day was when John hooked what was likely a very big rainbow trout.  The fish surfaced and then headed for the depths and then the line just broke.   I'm guessing it was at least 4lbs or better - though we never saw it.  Eleonore had one 17" +/- rainbow follow her in from shallow water.   H2O was 60 degrees.   We had to search a bit for fish, but we found decent fishing anywhere from 5' to 25' of water.    Very few boats out today and the locals are winterizing theirs and taking out their docks - it's FISHING time for the serious angler!
10/4/2009
Seneca Lake 10/3 + Keuka Lake 10/4

10/3 Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen:   I dumped out of WG at around 11 am armed with some pike rods and a pail of perch minnows.   Water temps (58 -59) and weather conditions looked encouraging for pike, but in 3 hours of fishing some of the best areas I know, I never raised a fish or had a hit.    There were tough days like this for pike even during the lake's most recent "pike heyday", but the weather today looked right.   The amount of pike habitat in this lake is staggering and it's like looking for a needle in a haystack.   No sign of dinks either.    It may be another 5 years before we have a pike renaissance in this lake.    I think a bacterial virus wiped out most of the fish.   A few healthy pike are reportedly being caught, but it's poor fishing at best.   But when one species goes down, another picks up the slack.  Expect bassin' and pickerel/perch fishing to keep improving on Seneca.   Don't moan about pike when there are so many other great opportunities around!

After the pikin' fiasco I set up my jig/fathead combo and my double hook perch rig and went looking for ringbacks.   I used a lot of electronics and worked a few areas w/o much luck.   On one shelf I had a couple quick hits and set the hook, watching my rod double over.  What could it be?   A pike or bass?   It wound up being a small rainbow trout, foul-hooked!    In 20' to 30' of water.   In another area I caught a small smallmouth.   Then I caught a double of a bass and a nice perch.   I found a school of perch along a ledge from 20' to 45' of water.  I nailed another 4 perch to 12" and maybe 5 more (small) smallmouths.   I know that pike numbers are low when I'm catching dinky smallies off the weededges!   The perch quit when the wind died and the sun started setting, but I know where they are!  And I'll be back.

10/4 Keuka Lake AM:  My AM trip was with Dave and his wife Deb.   We had good action on lakers, mostly around the bluff.   They landed 4 nice fish to 24" and lost a couple.  It was their first time fishing in a long time and their first time laker jigging, so that was cool.   85' to 110' was best.  There are plenty of baitfish swarming the bluff area!  Expect this lake to rebound on browns, salmon and rainbows if this keeps up.  Lakers may actually get bigger too - which they seem to be doing already.   

My PM trip was with Jack and his 9 and 13 year old grandkids, Sam and Emma.   Sam was worn out from some full-out hockey and he managed to sleep a bit while onboard, but he did reel in a laker (that Grandpa kindly hooked!) and hook another momentarily.   Emma persevered through slow fishing and landed one.   Jack hooked a few good ones and landed a 25" fish.  The PM bite was pretty slow until around 3 pm when the winds picked up.  We started marking 8 or more fish AT A TIME!   And they were hitting!   Expect some hot laker fishing here over the next few weeks.   Smelt colored Lunker City Shakers were the hot lure.  No spoon bite for us today.    Colors are starting to look good and boat traffic was pretty non-existent.  That's tough to beat!

10/2/2009
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 10/2
Got out with Perry and his daughter Stephanie for what was to be a full day.   Winds were fairly strong out of the south blowing around 10 to 15 mph.   Conditions were cold and rainy and Steph got a case of motion sickness on the ride out, we stuck it out for a bit, but after a couple hours of fishing w/o action we called it a day.  Water temps are around 62 degrees.   I expect pike fishing to be OK on Seneca now, but as I've said before, numbers of pike on this lake are down 80% or more.    Perry's primarily a live-bait angler these days, so that's what we did.   I'm not sure how we'd have done casting, but we weren't able to cover too much water, though we did hit one of my favorite areas.  Two other boats were out early, but both had left by the time we got back in.  Not great "fun fishing" conditions out there!   
9/30/2009
Owasco Lake 9/30
It wasn't exactly "Miami Beach" out there today on Owasco Lake, but dressing for November certainly helped.   It was windy!   Guided Dave for a 1/2 day.   Fishing was slow to start, despite marking plenty of baitfish and some nice "hooks."    We stuck around the N. end for awhile and Dave landed a solid 20" smallmouth - his best to date.  The fish hit a Kastmaster.   We had one other "chaser" - likely a bass.   We didn't mark many lake trout.   A boat ride south towards spawning areas proved productive and a 20" laker came to the net on the 2nd drop with a white fluke.   Lots of lakers were around the points, but not many were hitting for us.   All in all, I think fishing will be good on this lake this fall, but today things were unsettled with the weather and slow with the bite.   Lake temps are around 62 - the lake is cooling quickly!
9/25/2009
Skaneateles Lake 9/25

Did a full-day with Greg on Friday.   He wanted to catch an 18"+ smallmouth bass.   That's easier to do on this lake from November through early June, but we gave it our best shot.   It was nice to not have any set "parameters" on this trip.   The last two trips I've done on this lake were #1, fly-fishing - which although effective, can have its limitations, especially when fish are deep and it's very windy, and #2, I did a trip where we tried hard to catch fish on topwater - for the most part avoiding my favorite lure on this lake, a jig.

We worked throughout the entire lake, with Greg mainly throwing the tube.   His goal was also to gain confidence throwing the tube jig.    In the first couple hours he landed a few bass from 12" to 15".    In some deeper water he landed an 18" largemouth and a 19" smallmouth.   A few pickerel were also hooked and landed and we had some bite-offs.   Pickerel appear to be more widely distributed than I'd seen them over the past 6 or 7 years.   High point of the day was when Greg cast his jig to a drop-off and hooked "...a big fish."    After a great battle I slid the net under the bohemoth largemouth.    We took a quick couple photos and I put the slob up on my Tech-Scale.  6lbs 1 oz, of course we released the fish to fight again.   The fish had another hole in her mouth - it had been caught and released before, so we are thankful to the previous sportsman, and hopefully the fish will make someone else's day like it did ours.  

We found most of our fish in or near deep water - roughly 15' to 24' or so.   Water temps are descending quickly;  I've been on the lake three times over the past 8 or 9 days and it's dropped a degree everytime I've been out.  It's around 67 now.  

9/22/2009
Skaneateles Lake 9/21
Guided Jim and his buddy for a half day's bass fishing on Skinny.  Jim tried a bit of fly-fishing, but we couldn't bring any fish up to the surface or score on any down to around 7' or 8'.   Lead core fly-lines would have been the answer, but I think in general when fish are down 20' to 30', conventional gear is the way to go.   We set up some tube jigs and some decent smallmouths came to the boat.   Our fish topped out around 15".    Bass fishing is getting better and better on this lake as water temps drop.    Conditions made for difficult fishing - we had strong south winds - 15 mph to start.  Jim's a superb fly-tyer and his patterns are sold through Umpqua Feathermerchants.  
9/20/2009
Keuka Lake 9/19 + Seneca Lake/Sampson 9/20

Keuka Lake 9/19:   Did a full day on Keuka with Jeff, Mac and Roger - all from the Oneonta area.  We started around 7 am and fishing was slow but steady in the AM, until around 11.   Then things slowed to a crawl until around 1 pm, when a couple more fish were picked up.  All in all the guys landed 7 nice fish to 5lbs.  Two or three fish were lost and that was about it.  The fish had well developed eggs in them and empty stomachs, despite the presence of decent amounts of bait (for Keuka.)    All in all a fun trip with some good eating fish landed.  A Hopkins spoon took the largest fish, but assorted plastics like Lunker City Shakes and Zoom white ice Superfluke Jrs. produced most of the fish.   

Seneca Lake out of Sampson 9/20:  This was a half day starting at 1 pm on Seneca Lake with Dan and Kathleen.  Conditions looked good for laker jigging.  We marked some fish south of Sampson State Park and Kathleen lost one.   Dan had a few short hits, but overall action was very slow.  Fish were looking and chasing the jigs on occasion, but not aggressively.   Tough day with zero fish landed.   

There are still good laker jigging opportunities on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, but I'm looking forward to shifting gears towards some of the other species out there like bass and pike/pickerel.   It'll soon be time for some of the best multi-species angling around!  Skaneateles Lake in late October/November can be hot for big smallmouth bass, jumbo perch, lakers, rainbows and salmon - all on the same trip.  Owasco generally produces mixed bags of large smallies and pike, with occasional walleye and trout in the mix.  Cayuga also kicks up bass, pike and pickerel with occasional salmon.  By November, it's time for large pike, salmon and browns on Cayuga.   We'll soon see how things shape up....

9/18/2009
Skaneateles Lake 9/18

Did a full day trip with Rogerio from Brazil!    What a fun day - he brought a BPS 370 tackle box along that was packed full of expensive Japanese lures, like Lucky Craft,  Mega-bass, Yamamoto hardbaits and on and on.   These baits often retail for $15 to $25.  I even had a chance to watch a $60 swimbait "perform!"  

I don't have $20 to spend on a topwater lure or a stickbait, but I was very impressed with the action of many of these lures - especially the topwater baits.  They "walk the dog" like a supertuned Zara - unbelievable!   I tried like heck to find some active topwater fish for Rogerio and we found some, but they were mostly 10" fish, with one or two bigger ones thrown in.  It was fun watching the bass engulf the "quality lures."   

I was able to find some better fish here and there, and dropshotting and tube jigs produced a few decent smallies.  One exciting part of the day was watching a big pickerel chase a hooked smallie!   That's the first time I'd seen that happen on Skinny.   Very low boat traffic today.  Surface temps were around 68.   Rogerio didn't throw the tube jig much, but it seemed to be the ticket.   So was deep water.    Some rockbass also found our dropshot rig.    

9/16/2009
Keuka 9/16
I did a "corporate guide trip" with my buddy Craig today.   All in all we had three boats out working lakers.   Fishing was tough - not terrible, but not great by any means.   Fish were landed by most of the anglers, but the fish were quite negative.   Fish topped out around 4 or 5lbs.   We worked the bluff and the Hammondsport area - both areas were full of fish from around 75' on out to over 130'.  We often had a half dozen fish on the screen at a time, but only a few were showing interest in the jigs/spoons.    I see this as simply a tough day, and I expect most days from here on in to be better.    Surface temp was 70 degrees.   All in all, we had a good time on the day, with decent albeit cool weather and a very relaxed atmosphere.  
9/13/2009
Cayuga Lake 9/11 - 9/13

Did some bass fishing on 9/11 out of Dean's.  I tried areas I don't fish much and had OK fishing on scattered largemouths running around 2lbs. each.    Fish ranged from 8' to 17' of water.   Crankbaits and tube jigs did the trick.  Deep cranking is producing fish north of Dean's Cove.  

On 9/12 AM I guided Joe and Joe Jr. for 1/2 day.    We had good laker action near Taughannock on fish running up to over 11lbs.   Best action was mid-AM.   85' to 100' was best.    Fish are still feeding.

9/13 PM:  Guided Richard and Tiernan for 1/2 day starting at noon.   Fishing was OK, not easy but not terrible.  Richard had the hot hand and landed 4 nice fish, including two 28"ers.   Tiernan dropped what appeared to be a good fish.   We kept a couple and they were stuffed with fresh alewives.   

9/9/2009
Cayuga out of Taughannock 9/9
Did a full-day trip with Pete and Steve.   Fishing remains decent on Cayuga Lake for lake trout.   Jigging was good from around 85' on out for us.  Fish are still feeding heavily.  The guys landed 8 fish ranging from around 18" up to 30".    The bite was fairly steady throughout the day.   This fishing is holding up, though in the upcoming weeks I'll likely be spending more time on Keuka and Owasco Lakes.   
9/7/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock + Sodus Bay 9/3 - 9/6

Fishing remains very good on Cayuga Lake - with the best action typically being later in the AM until around 7 pm.    Here's the breakdown over the past few days:

9/3 AM:  Fished with Boris and Mitchell (who'd joined me 2 years ago fishing pike/pickerel on Seneca Lake.)   Lake trout action started slow but wound up being very good by mid-AM.   The action was excellent by 2 pm, with lakers getting very aggressive.   Some big fish were landed as well, incl. one wild fish.

9/3 PM:   Guided Lowrance (aka Corky, Grizzly Adams and Santa Claus) and his wife Barbara.   Again - more good fishing.   We had good laker action until we left around 7 pm - with Barb getting a fish on her final drop of the day.   Lots of fun was had!

9/4 AM:  Had my long time friend Chris and his son Brian out for the day.    We whacked lakers fairly well from around 9 am till 11 am or so.  Brian hooked and lost a gorgeous landlocked salmon probably 25" or better!   In another area Chris hooked a fish that we knew couldn't have been a laker.  He landed a 26" rainbow, which we released after a quick photo.   More lakers were caught.  All in all, very good to excellent fishing.

9/4 PM:  Guided Amber for the evening.   We had a lot of fun and she landed a few nice lakers.   It was a relaxing trip on the water.

9/5:  Did a full day out on Sodus Bay for gar with Terry and his in-law Dick.  We saw what looked like hundreds of gar surfacing early in the AM.   We started the day with some casting for bass.   Due to all my laker guiding I regret not being more in-tune with bass, but that's what happens.   We worked some tried 'n true bass areas and Dick caught a small largie and lost a nicer fish.   There was a tournament going on and areas I like were being fished hard by competitors.   We set up for gar and Dick had a follow in short order.   Then Terry "hooked" one.   My jaw dropped when I saw the size of the fish!   It looked like two fish put together in the water.   After a couple terrific jumps I grabbed the 45" gar!   Beautiful fish  - and the longest we've landed on Sodus Bay gar fishing.    After landing the fish we picked up Terry's son in-law Jason and kept fishing.  Boat traffic and wind hampered our efforts.  But before the day's end Jason caught one gar deep.   Fun trip!

9/6:  Guided Greg for the day on Cayuga.  He's joined me on many an occasion for different styles of fishing.   He's always fun to have on board and today was no exception.   He landed a bunch of nice lakers - mostly after 10:30 am.  

9/6 PM:  Back out with Amber and her daughter Talia and her daughter's friend.   Jigging lakers was good with Amber taking it easy mainly watching her daughter and friend fish.  The gals landed a couple nice fish, before Talia's housemate started feeling slightly dizzy (lake-sickness.)  So we called it an early day.   It was the first trip I'd done with 3 gals - hopefully not the last!

9/2/2009
Cayuga 9/1 + 9/2

Cayuga out of Dean's 9/1:  Got out with Patrick for the full day.   We headed north for bass.   Within 1/2 hour I had him casting a baitcasting rod fairly well.   Bass fishing was slow.  He picked up one largemouth around 11" on a crankbait.   The cold front appeared to have slowed the fishing a bit.   He jigged lakers around the Long Point area and did great - he nailed a limit in less than an hour then caught and released a couple beauties!  A new convert was made today!

Cayuga out of Taughannock 9/2 AM:  Had a lot of fun with Steve and Bill from Hershey PA this AM.   Some solid laker action around the Taughannock area.  The guys landed at least 8 nice fish.   The bite was fairly steady throughout the AM.   

My PM trip was with the Hermans, and again - the fishing was very good.  Eleonore landed a 32" laker - her best yet.  John lost a 5lb brown boatside.  Other browns were likely hooked, and another 7 lakers also made it into the net!   

During our PM trip we found a laker alive and on the surface of the lake struggling - someone had clearly caught it earlier.  It had air in its bladder and was likely dying due to the warm surface water.    Keep in mind that it is easy to "burp" lakers and get them back down.   Lay the fish belly down on the bottom of your boat, grab around the fish with your hands - thumbs up top and fingers on the belly and gently squeeze their belly area.  You'll hear the air expel.  Then I like to point them headfirst down towards the water and jet them down.   

8/31/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/31

I got off to a "fun start" when my bearings malfunctioned just as I pulled into the park.   But I pack spare hubs and was able to get things in working order and get the boat in the water within 1/2 hour.   I think I have a problem with a spindle or something but I digress...

So how was the fishing?   We started within a couple miles of the park and Eleonore Herman had a follow from a 3lb rainbow.   Then she started nailing nice lakers - 3 or 4 in a row.  Then she hooked and landed one of the nicest landlocked salmon I've ever seen - 26", chrome with a kype (hooked jaw) and in gorgeous condition.  We snapped a quick shot and released the fish.   More lakers were landed then John Herman hooked and lost another salmon - this one a FAT female - probably all of 7lbs.   More lakers followed.   We wound up with 10 lakers landed and one salmon.   All in 4 hours - from 3:30 pm till 7:30.  Fish ranged from 65' to over 100'.  Lots of bait was around as well.   Nice day fishing after a rather tedious start (with the bearings!)   But better here than on Route 8 or 9!

8/30/2009
Lake Champlain 8/26 - 8/28, Cayuga Lake 8/29 - 8/30

8/26:   After a long day on 8/25, doing a full day on Seneca then a half day on Cayuga, I was ready for a mini-vacation with my buddy Mike.   I checked the wind and we decided on fishing Ticonderoga on Wed. and then above Plattsburg on Thursday and Friday.   

We arrived at Ti at around 3 pm and were on the water by 3:30.  We checked around one of my favorite gar areas and didn't find any.   We bass fished while we looked for gar, but to no avail.  We then set up for bass and Mike noticed an interesting looking backwater.   Within 10 minutes he was latched onto a nice chunky 2lb largemouth.  We did some further investigation and found another 1/2 dozen similarly sized bass.  Time flew by and after trying a couple more areas we had to go.  

We pulled into Marine Village Cottages in Plattsburgh at around 11 pm.   It's a great place to stay - I stayed there with my friend Terry around 6 or 7 years ago.   Here's more info (and feel free to tell them you heard about them via this website!:  www.marinevillagecottages.com  

They have terrific cottages with a kitchen - incl. utensils, coffee pot (with coffee and filters) cable TV, hot showers, linen etc...  The places are clean and comfortable and probably less than 1/2 mile from Point Au Roche State Park and the park boat launch.    

8/27:  This was strictly a "relaxation vacation" so we set the alarms for around 7:30.    We picked up our Vermont licenses at 9 am right online at the MV Cottages office and drove over to Mississquoi Bay.   We fished an area I'd worked previously with Terry.   Within around 15 minutes Mike hooked a strong fish.   It made a couple strong sweeping runs and then pulled off some acrobatics alongside the boat!   Mike didn't know what he had until he got a good look at the fish - it was a bowfin around 24"!   It fought every bit as good as a 34" tiger musky!  We got some good photos and kept chucking our spinnerbaits. 

I then nailed a nice pike around 29" that we kept for dinner.   We worked other areas and hooked some more pike over 30" that we lost boatside.  Mississquoi's pike fishing was superb!   Lots of hits from nice fish, though we didn't boat very many.   I also lost a very nice bass.  

We moved south to check on some other opportunities.   A point produced a bunch of follows from 14" to 15" smallies on a jerkbait.  Then I nailed a nice 17"+ smallie on a green pumpkin tube jig.  We checked on some deeper flats and I managed to dropshot a gorgeous 4lbs + smallie.   Working some other areas produced some more small pike and bass.   A great second day!

8/28:  Day 3 was tough fishing for us.  We tried totally different areas without any great shakes.   Interestingly, we scanned some deeper water and marked some good hooks and baitfish.   Mike dropped a jig (ala lake trout fishing) and had a hit!   Next year I'll be spending some time up there jigging lakers and hopefully casting for some salmon with the fly-rod.    The FLW Stren Series was going on and the lake was getting pounded by bass fishermen.  It's amazing how much pressure this lake deals with.

Cayuga Lake 8/29 + 8/30:

Guided Tony on Cayuga Lake starting around 11 am out of Taughannock.  Laker fishing was very good and Tony nailed at least a half dozen solid lakers.   Best fishing remains around 75' to 95' with plenty of fish out deeper.    Fun trip.  

Today (8/30) I did 1/2 day with Tim, Kyle and 7 year old Hunter.   It was fun - especially watching Hunter hook and land (with a little help) the two nicest lakers of the day.   The guys landed around 8 or 9 nice fish.  The bite cycled on and off and the AM went on.  We stayed around the park for the most part.       

8/25/2009
Seneca/Cayuga 8/25

Seneca AM Trip:   In a nutshell, we had good action this AM on Seneca with "Pepperidge Farm Tom."   Lakers were fairly abundant in midlake areas in anywhere from 60' (further south) to 85' or more water.   Nothing big, but plenty of gorgeous wild fish with bright orange fillets!   Milano man Tom did a good job landing lakers and we had a lot of fun.

My PM trip was with Tony (and his wife Barb, who read on the Kindle.)   He whacked lakers from start to stop, nailing 9 chunky fish to 29".  Most were cookie cutter 26" fish.   Both shores were excellent near Taughannock and the fish hit from the get-go.  77' and out seemed best.   Lots of aggressive "multiple chasers."   This fishing is reminiscent of Cayuga Lake circa 2005 when I started guiding!  Really fun stuff.   Living between Seneca and Cayuga Lake is as good as it gets (at least until it starts geting darn cold around here.)  

I'm on Champlain over the next few days (till Friday.)   So the phone is the best way to reach me.  No Blackberry here, so be patient with emails!   

8/24/2009
Keuka/Seneca 8/24

Started the AM with a 1/2 day trip with Bob and Kip on Keuka.  They wanted to learn the jigging technique, so I gave them the tutorial starting around 7 am.   We fished the Bluff area and found very good numbers of lakers and even a bit of bait!   The guys landed 4 nice fish and lost a couple.   Most fish were either down on bottom or suspended at around 75' over 105' to 115'.   Fish ran to 25" and hit shakers and Kastmasters.   Keuka's been solid for us all year, if not spectacular.

My PM trip was on Seneca and I met Steve over at Dresden via boat.   We started around 2:45 pm and were met with slow fishing.  There were lots of lakers on the west side and some on the east, but they weren't hitting well for Steve - at least to start.   As the lake calmed and the sun got lower we kicked the skunk out of the boat.  Steve wound up nailing 5 nice 23" to 25" lakers in short order, in around 90' to 105' of water.   There's plenty of bait everywhere on Seneca!  Things look really good over there!   

8/23/2009
Cayuga Lake 8/22 + 8/23

8/22:   Got out with Mike and John for a full day.  They've had a great season trolling and wanted to get the jigging pattern down.   They had no problem landing a bunch of (14) nice fish on the day.  Best fishing was mid-AM.  Lots of large fish - 27" to 28" with a 29" and some smaller ones (mostly 25" to 26") thrown in.   We found most of our fish on the west shore.

8/22 PM:   My PM trip was with Dan and his dad Mike, both from Massachusetts.   The bite was going hot and heavy when we started at 3:15 pm.  The guys managed to hook a few doubles.  Some good fish were missed and lost as well.  But overall they did a great job landing 9 nice fish, including a 31" beauty.  

8/23:   Sunday (today) was a full-day with Jim, John and Keith.   Jim's fished with me a couple times before and on our last trip his buddy landed a couple nice bonus browns.  Jim was hoping for a bonus fish, and he didn't wind up disappointed.   The laker fishing was great, with 3 nice fish landed within an hour - two 28" fish and a 27".    Plenty of large lakers found the net.   Keith hooked up a nice fish and then I saw Jim's rod bouncing up and down quickly.  I knew it wasn't a laker, so instead of waiting on Keith's fish, I grabbed the net and saw a beautiful rainbow on Jim's line.  We landed the 26" chrome beauty, photographed it and released it unharmed.  What a fish!   Photos should be coming soon.  

Overall, plenty of lakers are close to Taughannock.   Fish are very active and feeding.  About 75' to 115' has been best, with deeper water producing once the shallows slow.  

8/20/2009
Owasco Lake/Seneca Lake out of Sampson 8/19

I got out with my buddy Jarrod on Owasco Lake yesterday.  We met at 6:15 am.  The goal was to check on some (pelagic) smallmouths and lakers.  We spent the first two hours working some areas for smallmouths with no takers.   I might have had one hit.   Then we started looking for lakers.   We marked lakers, but no aggressive fish.  Eventually we had a few chasers and a hit or two.    Mid-Lake areas were best - basically N. of Long Point and Wykoff.   We tried another area for bass and I lost one and dropped what was probably a perch on a jigging spoon.   We fished until around noon.   Anglers trolling reported some lakers and a smallmouth.   A jigger told me he landed a couple lakers as well - so some fish are reportedly being caught.  We marked most lakers in deeper water - 85' and out. 

Jarrod hadn't fished Seneca much before, so we spent a few hours over there in the afternoon.   Laker action was very good (especially for midday) and we landed around a half dozen fish.   There were loads of fish around, but only a few (but enough) showed interest in our jigs.   Much better fishing than Owasco - that's for sure!

What's up with Owasco Lake fishing?   I don't know exactly what's happening.   We know that DEC netted it for lakers and found good numbers of very healthy fish.   Rainbows have been caught this season - including some beauties, as well as a few browns, plenty of bass and some walleyes.   So there's no shortage of fish.    DEC found good numbers of smelt but less alewives than in previous years.   We marked good numbers of alewives yesterday, though many were up high in the water column.   

Here's what I think is up:   We had one of the coolest summers I can ever remember.   Baitfish migrations and numbers are what determine gamefish location.   If water temperature, or other seasonal factors are what move alewives into the northern portions of the lake, it's likely that the fishing may be a few weeks or even a month behind.  Lakers spent more time than they often do near the northern portions of Seneca Lake.   Bass are still in the northern portions of Cayuga moreso than "normal."  Cayuga gar aren't even in their usual summer haunts yet.    I'd expect Owasco to turn on at any time, though the best bet will probably be in September and throughout October.   We may see the north end fishing last throughout October.  

8/18/2009
Keuka Lake 8/18
Guided Ron for 1/2 day.   We ran down to Hammondsport and started fishing around 6:30 am.  It was slow going for 1/2 hour and then Ron picked up a 24" fish.   He lost at least 3 to 4 and eventually landed another decent fish around 22".   There were plenty of lakers around as well as some bait, but the bite was fair to good at best.   Deeper water was best - around 85' and out.   We had 50 degrees down 75' or so.    Given how good the laker action is on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, I'd wait before fishing Keuka again. 
8/18/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/17
Guided Paul and Andre for the 1/2 day.  We had good to very good lake trout fishing around 1/2 hour after daybreak.   Paul started things out with a 31" fat 11lb 4oz beauty.  Both guys caught some nice fish, including a couple wild ones which we released.   Around 7 or 8 fish were landed.   Hot weather out there!    Some fish are starting to feed heavily.   65' out to around 90' was best.    Cayuga has plenty of bait - no worries there.
8/17/2009
Cayuga out of Taughannock 8/15 - 8/16

8/15:  Guided John and his son George for a 1/2 day.  Fishing was very good with some nice lakers landed, mainly around AES.   The early AM bite was best.  Nine nice lakers were landed, with most fish between 26" and 30".  

8/16:  Guided Lawrence and his sons Ray and Nick.   Ray started things off with a good laker landed, then Nick dropped a nice landlocked salmon!   A few more good lakers were landed before things slowed up a bit around 9 am.   Nick really had the "hot hand" landing the lion's share of the fish.  

PM:  I watched the weigh-in at Oneida Lake.   Had a good time listening to the stories of how many of the bass were caught.  Good crowd too!  

 

8/13/2009
Seneca Lake/Geneva 8/13

Guided Mike and Eddie for the 1/2 day AM.   Conditions were foggy/hazy this AM and it definitely slowed the bite.   We had one solid hookup in the AM.   Lots of fish were showing up on the fish-finder and chasing the jigs.   A move down the lake worked (as did the fog burning off) and we started getting into some fish.  Once we returned to the N. end the fish had activated there too.   We landed some nice fish, basically an OK morning.   

In between trips I motored up the Canal just checking things out.  I haven't fished it in at least 10 years and I saw some bass and tons of baitfish.   I managed one nice largemouth dropshotting.   The weedgrowth screamed "plastic worms texas rigged" to me, but I didn't have the stuff on hand.  

PM Trip:  I met Jaimie and her husband Tim at the launch and we headed out for lakers.   Tim had a hold of a solid fish in short order.   Things slowed a bit then Jaimie landed two, including a nice 28" fish.   A move downlake managed to help Tim land two as well.  He'd lost a couple others earlier.   We kept the fish and one of them had bright orange fillets - some of the nicest fish I've seen for eating!    It was a fun trip and nice way to end a busy guiding week.   About 80' to 105' was best.

8/12/2009
Cayuga/Taughannock + Seneca/Geneva 8/12

8/12 AM:   Great fishing this AM with Russ and his 9 year old son Kyle.  We started at 6 am and it was well worth getting up early.  Lots of chasers and hooked fish.  The guys got a grasp of the technique and landed some quality lakers up to around 28".   We had trouble catching smaller "eaters!"    Not the worst problem to have!   Lots of fun action on the fish finder and the lakers have been strong fighters lately.  

PM Geneva:   I took a break and then started my PM trip at Geneva at 4 pm with Jim and Les.  I met the guys a few weeks ago at the launch when I was guiding a different party.   We had a slow start, but the laker action rallied later in the evening.   Around 7 or 8 nice fish were landed to 28".   85' to 110' held plenty of fish.   A lot of fish are probably on the move south, though the Northend still holds quite a few.

8/11/2009
Seneca out of Geneva 8/11
Guided Ellen and her husband Jeff for the full day.   Fishing was excellent throughout the day.  They don't get a chance to fish much, but they did very well, landing around 13 or 14 lakers up to 32" and over 10lbs (nice job Ellen!)    The bite was good all day with the exception of an hour or two.   A lot of fish were cookie-cutter 24" to 25" wild lakers.   We also had a couple hatchery fish.  Lakers are in very good condition and there's plenty of bait around.   It was Jeff's birthday and we couldn't have asked for a better day or better fishing!   Around 75' to 105' was best, though many fish were also deeper.   We worked south for better quality fish.   Next to nobody was on the lake - what a shame!  ;-)
8/10/2009
Cayuga Lake 8/9 + 10, Sodus Bay 8/10

Did some warmwater guiding on both days.   8/9 was basically an aborted panfishing trip with Jack and his grandkids.   T-storms came through and that was that.    We did manage to find some pans around the N. end of the lake.

8/10 was the kind of trip I love doing.  Justin from the Buffalo area was interested in catching some pickerel and gar.  He's into taxidermy and hadn't caught or mounted any of those species yet.  I was certain we could get pickerel on Cayuga, but the Cayuga gar still aren't in their summertime haunts yet for the most part, so I figured we may have to motor up to Sodus.   Justin managed to land 3 nice 22" + pickerel in the AM.   We looked around for gar and only saw one - no schools.  So we packed up and drove to Sodus Bay.   After a 1/2 hour or so on the bay we found gar and lots of them!   I set Justin up with a castable rope fly and it didn't take too long before he landed his first gar - a small one around 30" at best.   We had a lot of follows and one or two other "hookups" before he nabbed a beautiful 38" fish!  Nice drag ripping fight too!  Water temps were "gar perfect" and I've definitely got gar fever.   Fun trip!   Champlain is in the works over the next week or two!  Monstah gar! 

8/9/2009
Cayuga/Seneca 8/7 + Cayuga/Taughannock 8/8

8/7 AM Cayuga/Taughannock:   I picked up Jim and Steve at 6 am S. of Portland Point and we started searching for lakers.   I wound up heading N. to some favorite areas and we had a very good AM bite, at least until the wind really cranked up out of the N. at around 9 am.   The guys lost a few, but landed 4 nice fish to 30" and probably 9lbs+.   The wind pretty much shut things down for us.   Good numbers of Cayuga fish are within a few miles of Taughannock.

8/7 PM - Seneca/Geneva:  The plan was to stay on Cayuga Lake and fish the evening bite with the Hermans, but the winds were just not conducive to it.   So after a break, I met the Hermans at Geneva at 4 pm and we headed out.   It didn't take long before Eleonore was into a 26" fish.   There were a lot of fish around but many were negative/neutral.   Loads of fish were suspended in around 115' of water.   We picked up another fish or two up North, then I headed south.   I found an area I'd never fished before that had a nice shelf in around 80' to 95' of water - perfect!   The new area produced another 3 or 4 fish up to around 25".   A lot of Seneca fish migrate south gradually and I think that's what's happening.  I don't know, but I'll probably go out of Sampson State Park more than Geneve unless the winds are out of the N. strongly.

8/8:  Cayuga/Taughannock:   Joe called me a couple days ago.   I'd just had a postponement for Sat. AM, so I was able to get him and his son Alex in.   The guys drove straight in from PA starting at 2 am!  We got off to a slightly later start than anticipated, but it didn't seem to matter.  Fishing on the east shore of Cayuga was very good to excellent.  It was a fun trip.   Alex really whacked the fish - landing at least 9.   Joe got a couple small ones and one decent fish.    Fish slowed up around 11 am, then resumed hitting around 1:45 or so - we nailed 2 more. 

PM - I took out Jeff, Abby and Randy.   The goal was to catch enough trout to feed around 10 people and we managed to succeed.   The wind had died and it wasn't easy covering water.   Bets were on for the 1st. fish and heaviest.   Randy nailed the first, Jeff caught the most and Abby caught the heaviest.   Abby landed a 30" beauty that we released.   5 fish were landed on the trip.   One or two were lost.   My friend Mike was out there and really hammered the fish.   Most of our PM action was on the west shore from around 65' out to 80' or so.   Fishing is also still good N. of AES.  

8/5/2009
Cayuga Lake 8/4 + 8/5, Seneca Lake 8/5

Cayuga 8/4:  Did a full day out of Taughannock with Pat, DJ and John (who also joined my late last August.)   Conditions were pretty darn windy when we started.   DJ forgot to get his mighty license, so I ran Pat and John N. of Frontenac Point, while he ran over to Walmart.  The guys landed a couple nice lakers in the good chop, then we went to pick up DJ.   Fishing was "slow steady" through the day and a couple good fish were dropped.   The guys came within one fish shy of limiting out.  We had a bunch of good sized lakers along with 2 smaller ones.   This appears to be turning into an annual trip for the guys and we had a lot of fun.   We did pretty well despite our 7:15 am (relatively late) start.   Fish were in around 75' to 100' of water give or take.

Cayuga 8/5 AM out of Taughannock:  Took out Dan and Martha for a full day.   This trip was from a gift certificate given to them over 2 years ago!   We started at 7 am with somewhat choppy conditions and Martha having a hit on her first drop.  But the fishing picked up and Martha wound up landing a couple nice fish incl. a 30" wild beauty.   Dan nailed 5 nice fish incl. a 28", 29" and 30".   We did well on both shorelines generally S. of Sheldrake.   All fish were released. 

Seneca Lake 8/5 PM:  Guided Ed and Bob today.   We had a slow start, but within an hour or so the fishing picked up.   The guys landed at least a half dozen nice lakers to 30" (if my shot memory serves me right!)    The guys fish Round Valley Reservoir in New Jersey and I think the laker techniques will work for them there.  Reapers worked best today from 85' on out.    We stayed near Geneva.   Fishing was reportedly superb in this AM! 

8/3/2009
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 8/3

AM Trip:   Guided David for the full day starting at 6:30 am.  He joined me 2 years ago for some Seneca pike action.   Laker jigging was decent at Sampson with 4 fish landed in the AM - mostly fish from 18" to 22".  A run to the N. end proved fruitful with another 10 fish or so landed up to 28".    Reapers and assorted paddletails did the trick.   The bite was pretty steady until around noon, but he still hooked fish until we wound down around 2 pm.  

PM:  At 3:30pm I picked up the Hermans and we headed back N.   We did around 4 drifts and each produced at least one laker.  A run back to Sampson resulted in another  4 good hookups and 3 nice fish landed.   All in all good action.   I had 2 good to excellent reports from Cayuga Lake over the past few days, so it looks like action is picking up.   Sampson featured cold water from 55' on out and the N. end featured cold water from 75' on out.   Seneca is a volatile lake re: temperature and one side or end can be markedly different from the other!   A temp probe is a huge asset out there.   Fun day all the way around!   

7/31/2009
Cayuga/Dean's PM 7/31

I got out on my own around 3 pm to check on a couple bass areas and the laker scene up north.   I'm sure the bass bit well in the AM, but they didn't appear to be active where and when I fished.  I tried two areas that I haven't fished this year and didn't find much.  I did see a few gar surface.  

Re: Lakers -  I checked out the west shore from Dean's north to Silos and didn't mark many lakers.  Plenty of bait, but no great shakes on lakers.   The laker water was down around 90'.   I'm likely going to continue doing most of my Cayuga trips out of Taughannock and from Dean's south.  

I chatted with a few guys in a boat that just pulled in when I was launching.  They claimed to catch a "10lb bullhead".   I knew it must have been a channel cat, and sure enough it was!   I've always wanted to catch a Cayuga Lake Catfish, but never have.  They are around lake wide and I'm sure they must be tasty.   Over the years I've heard of cats in the south end, around AES, around Taughannock and Frontenac Points and around many areas up north.   A lot of drum are around Cayuga these days.   It'd be fun to drift some outside weededges with minnows and crawfish or crawlers and see what hits.   You never know!  

7/30/2009
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 7/30
I couldn't have asked for a nicer day - both for the fishing and just enjoyable weather!  Did a half day with Gordon, who's fished quite a bit with me over my 5 years of guiding.   The fishing was superb.   Loads of lakers and some baitfish were strewn over the north end flats of the lake.   The screen on my Lowrance was insane, with blobs of lakers chasing his jig.   I think we had fish chasing on nearly every drop FOR FOUR HOURS!  He landed a dozen nice 23" to 26" lakers, and probably had another 35 hits and dozen or two dropped fish.   72' on out was best.  We used reapers, shakers and fin-s fish/flukes.     We (he) fished from 6:30 am till around 10:30 am.  Fun day!
7/28/2009
Seneca River 7/27 + Oak Orchard/Lake Ontario 7/28

Seneca River 7/27 PM:

Got out with my buddy Jarrod for a few hours on the river.   He had some good bass fishing and we'd heard some good reports on walleye action over the past few months, so we gave it a shot.   I haven't fished the Montezuma area in probably 5 to 6 years.  We tried one of my favorite areas and I got a hard hit on a jig/crawler.   After a very, very strong battle we landed the BIG drum!  It was probably all of 12 to 13lbs.   I knew it was a drum after the first minute or two of the battle.    No walleyes or cats for us.   But it was a fun evening with an Osprey and two bald eagles sighted on the day.   We saw some gar breaking and Jarrod likely broke off a bowfin earlier in the day. 

Lake Ontario/Oak Orchard 7/28:

I met Jarrod at 4:30 am and we drove out to "The Oak" for my annual shot at jigging Kings in Lake Ontario.   I put the idea to (the late) Toby Wood years ago and he went out and jigged up a couple 15lbers off Hamlin Beach.   I still haven't had a stroke of luck with it, but I keep trying.  Toby had some salmon trolling experience (which I don't have much of) and knew what conditions he needed to get Kings on bottom.    Another friend of mine, George D. has also jigged his share of Kings over the years, so it is very possible to do.  

Things looked as good as I've seen them for jigging.  We had cold water in close to shore and decent bait.   For the first time ever, we experienced some solid chasing fish AND a couple hits (Jarrod.)    The lake did get rough, but I'm very sure we could have scored had it been a little calmer.  I felt confident with my new electronics.  We worked out to over 250' of water (4 miles out) and marked some nice hooks in and below the thermocline.   I think this will be the year we hit paydirt, cause I know I'm coming back!   We worked some plastics and Jarrod worked a spoon.    Boater action was reportedly "so so" today, so I'm looking forward on hitting the Oak/LO on a good to great day.     We found fish in around 85' to 105' of water on bottom and down around 60' over 210'.   It took a lot of tinkering with the electronics and precision boat control to present our jigs today, though we did drift a bit.  The big lake is quite the challenge for the jigger.

The great thing about the Oak is the terrific gar fishing in the lower creek (river.)  It is simply LOADED with gar - including some big ones and it felt good getting some fly-rod action.    The water was very murky, but we found plenty of fish.  I landed around 5 or 6, nothing very big.   Jarrod used his spinning gear and picked up a nice one on one of my modified rope flies.    Water temps were cool for this time of year in the river - around 74.  Usually it's closer to 84!

 

7/26/2009
Seneca/Cayuga 7/24 + Cayuga 7/25

Seneca out of Geneva 7/24 AM:   

Did a 1/2 day on Seneca Lake out of Geneva with Ed and his grandkids, Eddie, Matt and Mike.   We started at 9 am, despite my best efforts to get the gang out earlier!    There were plenty of fish around, but they became less active as the AM went on.   But as the trip wound down the fish started hitting again (just before a possible storm.)    Early on, 8 year old Matt nailed his first laker on his own - a nice 4 1/2 lb. fish.   Mike had a good hit.   Ed wound up nabbing a nice fish around 7lbs 3 oz. before we called it a day.  IMO Seneca still offers the best laker jigging in the region, at least compared to what I've seen on Owasco, Keuka, Skinny and Cayuga.     

Cayuga/Taughannock 7/24 PM: 

Did a 1/2 day PM trip.  I picked up Mike and his son Jaime at Myers Park and we motored up the lake towards AES.   But as we approached our destination, it was clear that a T-Storm was setting up.   Winds and cloud cover picked up considerably, so we detoured to Taughannock Park, where I set up the guys and showed them the technique.   Storms materialized so we took cover in the marina and grabbed a bite to eat.   After the storms appeared to clear (maybe 45 minutes later) we headed back N.    I told the guys about "Maverick" Earl Holdren's theory about storms - "if you don't get struck by lightning, you might get struck by the biggest trout you ever saw."   Or something like that.

We don't take foolish chances, but Earl's point was that storm systems activate some of the biggest fish.    We had very active fish chasing jigs N. of AES.    Mike was reeling in and got hammered by a big laker.   After a long tough battle I was able to slip the net under a 32" to 33" fish!   I'd love to have had that fish for the derby 2 weeks ago.   We kept it and it weighed 10lbs 11oz!   A true pig!    As we were dealing with the big laker, Jaimie hooked a good fish, only to have likely "over-torqued it" and had the 12lb test break at the jig.   After that, skies cleared a bit and the bite slowed.

Cayuga/Taughannock 7/25 AM:  

I felt we'd have some good fishing this AM as I headed out with Jon, Larry and Matt.   We started early, at 5:30 am.  Winds were around 7 to 10 mph out of the south - so there was some chop.   We set up towards Sheldrake.   Baitfish were around, but I didn't mark many fish.  What fish I did mark, didn't appear to be active.   We worked areas without marks as well, with no luck.   We tried around AES and found more bait and marks.    A few light hits were had, but nothing solid.   The guys did the technique well enough to catch fish, but it wasn't to be.  I kept the guys out as long as I could, but eventually the chop got to Larry and we called it a day.   Zippo.   It always hurts to draw a blank, and it's something I never want to get used to.   The guys were persistent and never gave up.  The fishing was just super tough.  From reports I got, Seneca was good this AM, but very rough.  

7/23/2009
Cayuga out of Dean's Cove 7/23

Guided Eric (from 4/17) and his nephew Shane today for the full day on Cayuga.  The goal was to introduce Shane to some "offshore bass fishing" and get him into some pickerel and lake trout as well.   We started around 5:30 am and motored north.   Our first area provided one good topwater strike that was missed.   We tried another area with no luck.  We hit paydirt in our third area with Shane catching a nice 14" largemouth on a Skitter Pop.   I threw out a marker buoy and sure enought there were more fish in the area.   Eric soon nailed a similar sized bass on a chatterbait.  Then Shane nabbed a chunky 18" largemouth on a white Superfluke.   Fish were in around 10' to 12' of water around and over milfoil beds.   We had a few nice fish dropped and some nice sized pickerel up to around 23" landed.   Our early miss was in shallower water, so it's safe to say there are bass scattered in various depths around Cayuga.  We didn't encounter any deep weedline fish today, though they should set up fairly soon (if they aren't already.)  

The lake got pretty choppy around 11 am as we headed south for lakers.   Jigging can be difficult in waves, so we opted to try a few smallmouth bass areas.   One spot produced a couple quick hits/hookups for Eric on a tube jig.  The fish were small - around 11".  The lake calmed and we fished lakers near Sheldrake.   We marked a lot of fish, but had zero hits in the hour or so that we fished.   All in all a fun and fairly productive day.   Bass are looking good on Cayuga Lake and it'll be interesting to see the BFL tournament results after this weekend.  Yes, there were a lot of bass boats cruising around today and the lake will be mobbed this weekend.   Most of the guys were courteous but it was disappointing to have one boat cut us off in an idiotic way as we worked down a shoreline.   Water temps are in the low to mid 70s.   Lakers were down from 75' on out.  

7/22/2009
Otisco Lake 7/22

Got back out with Perry and his friend Jeremy for another shot at Tigers.  Some decent fish have been caught (and released) over the past week.   I was able to procure some nice sized suckers from a relatively new baitshop on Rt. 5 + 20 about 2 miles east of Rt. 89.   We weren't able to start early due to Perry's work committments, so we started around 9:30 am and fished till around 6.   We had one decent largemouth on the suckers.   No tigers.   Jeremy did a bit of casting and also caught a bass.  He missed a couple other good hits/fish, but no definite Tigers.  

BTW -I was disappointed and had my suspicions confirmed when I saw a weed harvesting machine working some of my favorite weedbeds.  Over the past two years I've had some great fishing on certain weedlines and returned unable to find them!     I understand that milfoil can make many recreational activities (incl. boating, water skiing and swimming) nearly impossible, but why offshore, mostly submerged weedbeds need to be eradicated is a mystery to me.   Maybe the harvester gets paid by the hour - I don't know.  

One musky is the difference between a memorable musky trip and another "musky attempt."    I feel the fishing should be good and I'll probably give the lake some serious attention (as well as Waneta/Lamoka) in August.    Water temps reached 80 today!  It was "gar hot!"

7/21/2009
Keuka Lake, Seneca Lake 7/20 + 7/21

7/20 AM - Guided a 1/2 day on Keuka Lake on 7/20 with Pat and Joe.   We had slow fishing at the Bluff with one landed.  A ride down to Hammondsport paid off with another three fish landed.  Fish were still hitting as we wound the trip down.   Bait numbers are excellent around Hammondsport.  

7/21 AM - Did a full day with Mike and Stan starting at 6 am on Keuka.  Fishing was steady and decent in the Hammondsport area.   8 legal fish were landed.   Fish were also hitting at the bluff area.   We went over a bass technique (soft jerkbaits) in one area and managed to raise some nice bass.    A large smallmouth hit one of our jigs in 80' of water.  The fish was amongst a very large school of bait.   

7/21 PM - Headed over to Seneca out of Geneva where I met the Hermans.   We had to pull to shore during a strong T-storm, but after things cleared the fishing was very good to excellent.   John hooked and lost what he claims to be the heaviest laker he's ever hooked.  He just couldn't move the fish much at first.   It was lost just as it was coming into view!   Bummer!   A bunch of nice lakers were landed (around 10 fish or more.)   85' to 110' was best.  

7/19/2009
Seneca Lake 7/19 out of Sampson
Guided Jeff and Dan today for the full day on lakers.   They joined me two years ago for some pike and bass action on Seneca and at that time Dan had dropped a big largemouth, so he was looking for some redemption!   Dan found it with a 31" beauty he hooked on his first drop!   We released the slob laker unharmed.  The guys really hammered the fish - landing over 20 lakers - most being 26" to 28" long and fat.    We kept a limit of mid-sized fish and they were loaded with alewives.    Lots of plastics worked, including Reapers, Fin-S Fish, Shakers and Flukes.    Fun day!  Seneca is fishing ridiculously well right now and the fish are beautiful and the fishing pressure is LIGHT!
7/18/2009
Seneca out of Geneva 7/18
Excellent lake trout fishing continues on Seneca Lake.  Did a 1/2 day with Rodney and Robert (who joined me on Keuka a few years back.)   The guys landed around 10 fish and quite a few were dropped too.   Fish were very aggressive and were full of baitfish.   There's a ton of bait on Seneca this year!   Fish ran to around 29" and probably 8lbs+.   Best depths were from 65' to 105'   
7/17/2009
Otisco Lake 7/16 + Owasco Lake 7/17

The last two days have featured tough fishing for us.  Here's how things went:

Otisco Lake 7/16:   Guided Perry and his daughter Stephanie for the day.   Any of you who follow these reports (and this site) will know that I generally do casting, fly-casting and vertical jigging.  Perry loves to still-fish with live minnows and he's been so busy with work he hasn't been able to get his boat out.   He's a super-nice guy who has reached his "life's esocid goals" - with a 20lb+ Tiger from Otisco, a 22lb pike from Conesus and a big Chautauqua Musky.   The goal was to get a Tiger on the minnows and maybe do a little casting.  Some health related issues prevent Perry from casting much, so we're mostly confined to the live bait.  Unfortunately it's been hard procuring large enough minnows for tigers, so we wound up with bass minnows.   We weren't able to get any tiger action - just a large perch, a small bass (if I remember right) and a few good hits (from what may have been small bass.)  We did some anchoring and casting, but to no avail.   We'll try again next week, hopefully with bigger bait and better results.  It was a beautiful day out there though - none of the forecast T-storms materialized.

Owasco Lake 7/17:  I had a great time with Tom, Jim and Artie today.   Fishing was slow - no two ways about it, but we had fun nonetheless.   Things looked good from the get-go.  There were loads of bait up on Owasco's north end flats.   We also marked quite a few fish nearly everywhere we tried - on both shores from Long Point north and on the north end.  Jim missed a hit, then scored on a solid 4lb+ laker.   He also had a hit on a spoon.  But apart from that, nothing much happened until Tom hooked what appeared to be a solid fish late in the day.  

The kept laker had zero bait in it, despite being caught in an area surrounded by bait.   The Owasco mystery!   The last few years have been difficult fishing in July on Owasco Lake for lakers.   I had a report from a friend at Seneca who hammered fish, and I volunteered to relocate our trip midway through the day.  The guys appreciated the offer, but decided to stick it out on Owasco.   

What's going on with Owasco in July?    One theory may be that the thermocline might be fairly thick - with alewives up high and lakers down below.   In effect a "thermal barrier" keeping predator and prey apart - at least until things cool in August/September.  It's plausible (my buddy Jarrod came up with the idea!)   Either way, there's bait around and many fish don't seem to be able to get to it.   Last year was a similar situation - lakers in an emaciated condition surrounded by baitfish!    I'd stick with other Finger Lakes for lakers until early to mid-August, when this lake should really turn on!

7/15/2009
Cayuga out of Taughannock 7/15
I got out on my own today, just to check on laker activity.   Fish are well distributed from around Sheldrake (at the very least) to the Kingtown Beach area.   65' on out held quite a few.   There's plenty of bait around.  I landed 4 fish, all in areas we hadn't worked in weeks (I didn't hit the 'tried and true' places).   The lakers were fighting OK, not particularly strongly.  I've noticed that this happens in the mid-summer.   Usually the laker battles pick up again as waters gradually cool, for what it's worth.   The waterfleas were awful - they don't bother me too much jigging, but it's clear that they are very thick!    Expect good to excellent fishing over the next 6 to 8 weeks on Cayuga.  
7/14/2009
Skaneateles Lake 7/14
Got out for 2/3rds of a day with Fred from DC.    Smallmouth bass fishing was quite good - not as great as last month, but still for numbers and overall "ease of catching" some of the better bassin' in the FL region.   Fred nailed at least a 1/2 dozen nice fish in the 14" to 17" range along with quite a few smaller bass.   High point of the morning was watching Fred play a fish while a "black vortex of bass" (a nice school of 17" to 20"+ fish) hung tight with the hooked fish!   Around 10' to 17' of water produced most of the fish and the only requisite lure was a tube jig.    H2O was 66 degrees.  While Fred fished I occasionally tossed out a drop shot rig and a jerkbait with no great shakes result-wise.  
7/12/2009
Reports 7/9 to 7/12

What a wild week it's been!  Here's how things went:

7/9 AM - Seneca Lake out of Geneva:  I got a call from Craig the night before, and we set up a 1/2 day trip.  He was accompanied by his 9 year old son Cain.    I had to contain myself a bit, but as I motored out of the Chamber of Commerce Boat Launch I was pretty psyched to see the hot, steady sort of normal weather.   I marked bait and lakers everywhere, and knew we'd be in for some good to great fishing.   Craig landed around 14 nice lakers and Cain managed to catch a beauty on his own.   Craig had a great touch with the fishing and had no trouble with the technique.   He's a neat guy and was an original member of "Blue Man Group."    So it was a lot of fun chatting!

7/9 PM - Seneca/Geneva:   Guided John and his buddy Ray.   They wanted to learn the jigging technique.   John was nice enough to pick me up a hot cup of coffee (at my request!) so I was ready to roll.  Fishing was slower than the AM, but it was still quite good and the guys landed 5 nice lakers.  Fish were in around 65' to 85' if I remember right.  

7/10:  Cayuga out of Cayuga Lake State Park:   I was looking forward to guiding Andy and his son Tristen.   Andy's done very well trolling and jigging for trout and salmon and was looking to get more into bass fishing.  He was out with me last year (the infamous "license incident" ;-)  We met at 6 am at the launch and headed out.   I got the guys working a combination of stuff - incl. Super Flukes, topwater, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jerkbaits.   We found some decent pickerel fishing along with a few keeper sized largemouths.  

As we worked down the lake the fun began.   At around 11 am my motor alarm went off!   I'd been in some shallow water and was hoping it was just a weed in the intake.  But it wasn't.   A call to Skyler at Silver Lake Marine was made.  He gave me a few suggestions, but nothing worked.  My waterpump/impeller wasn't working!   So I had to use the trolling motor to get us back.  We were going to work smallmouths, but it wasn't to be.   Only problem was that I was near Farley's Point when this stuff happened!   To make a long story short, I was able to use my Motorguide Trolling motor to get us all the way back (around 5 miles!)  to the State Park.    Needless to say, we covered a lot of water and found some great bass areas.   Andy landed a chunky bass with a Superfluke as we worked back in.

So now I had a dillema.   I had to cancel my PM trip with my friend Chris and his son Brian.  I wasn't happy about that.   I had the Red Cross Derby this weekend, which I was really looking forward to fishing.   I'd already paid the $35 entry fee.   Skyler at Silver Lake told me it'd be Thursday before they could take a look at my motor.   That would mean another round of trip cancellations.  And if the power head of the motor had blown, I'd have been in trouble!

I was able to work something out with the folks at Silver Lake Marine and they got me up and running by Saturday night!  A new impeller was all I needed, and they happened to have one in stock.   The amazing thing was that I had dropped the boat off at around 8:30 am and decided to head to Rochester to shop a bit and grab some food at a favorite restaurant.  My buddy Chris (from Rochester) from the cancelled trip knew I was free and happened to call me - there was a party going on with a bunch of my High School buddies.   How great was that?   My boat was ready to roll at 5 pm.  I'd get to fish Red Cross after all, at least Day 2 of it!

7/11:  Red Cross Derby Day 2 - I was going to fish Red Cross with my buddy Jarrod, but he didn't realize that one of the NYS Bass Federation Tournaments he'd signed up for was held on the same weekend as Red Cross, so I was on my own.    Thus far I've fished Red Cross 4 times.  Once with my buddy Terry, then I guided it two years in a row with a client - Mark.  Then last year with Jarrod.   We've cashed checks 3 out of 4 years.   But no great shakes.   

I felt I could win this year's laker division and perhaps put 3 fish on the board.   Seneca has been HOT and my clients and friends have caught some big fish there recently.   We caught some pigs on Cayuga last April/May, but not much lately.  Seneca churned out a bunch of beauties during the Memorial Day derby too.  I arrived at the launch at 5:15 am and was shocked to see only one other trailer there.   In a nutshell, the fishing was tremendous in the AM, then it slowed, then it picked up, and then by noon it slowed but remained "slow-steady".    It was nice fishing alone for a change - no need to think about any boat positioning, waking up on time etc...    I hammered fish.  I landed over 35 lakers including at least two 29" fish and one at 31".   I fished to win.   Normally we fished for a check, so if we caught a big fish, we weighed it right away.   I put the 31" on my Tek scale and it went 10lbs 4 oz.    I failed to do a good job packing it on ice (due to the hot bite) so I know I lost a little weight, but it really didn't matter.   My 2nd best fish was a 9lb 2 oz fish, that just missed the board.   I fished till I absolutely had to go (in order to make the weigh-in.)    I apologize to the motorists I tail-gated on Rt. 14!  My fish wound up in 8th place.   I was pretty stoked about that for fishing 1/2 of the derby.   

So how'd my buddy Jarrod make out with the Fed???    He made the right choice!   He was paired with a good fisherman who had some good fish located, then Jarrod did what he does best - catch fish like a machine (he could probably give Ike a run for his money!)   Jarrod weighed over 17lbs of bass on the St. Lawrence AND caught lunker!  He came in 1st. Place in the non-boater division, winning $1,500!    He's a monster!

 

7/8/2009
Keuka Lake 7/8
Guided John from Ohio for 1/2 day trip.    We ran right over to the Bluff area and fishing was good - fairly steady.  He managed to land 5 nice lakers up to 24".   Fish were suspended and on bottom and chasing jigs well.   A Silver Kastmaster did the trick today, though we had a few chasers/hits on plastics.    H2O is 70 degrees on top.    We actually marked a bit of bait too, which is a good sign for Keuka Lake.  
7/7/2009
Owasco Lake 7/7
A very tough day today for us - being me, Jared and Andrew.   We started just after 6 am and we were hoping to score on some smallmouths and northern pike.   I usually don't fish pike much in July on Owasco Lake, but I thought that the cooler temps might keep them active.    As we got onto the water we were met with some lightning and thunder to the south of us.   Once the storms blew over we worked down the lake for some pike/bass.   We gave a few of my favorite areas a good workout without seeing much of anything.   Around 10 am the conditions changed and we set up for lake trout.  Things were encouraging from the get-go with some chasing fish.   Jared had a fish (possibly a laker - I didn't see it) chase his jig to the surface.   I'm not sure whether we caught the tail end of a good bite, but fish gradually stopped chasing.   Some hits were had, but nothing very solid.   We fished hard for most of the PM without drawing any fish.   We marked a LOT of fish!   The guys were good sports and fished very hard, but to no avail!   The mighty skunk raised its head today.    I'm hoping to clean it out and keep it out of the boat for the rest of the season!   Surface temps were around 70 degrees.    We marked a lot of bait on the lake's north end.  Things are in place for some great fishing over the next couple months, weather permitting that is. 
7/6/2009
Skaneateles Lake 7/6
Did 1/2 day trip with Pete and his brother Doug today.   The weathermen were wrong and on the way to the State Launch I was met with rain and occasional lightning flashes.  Things cleared up shortly and we were on our way.   The guys had no problems picking up the tube jigging and jerkbait techniques.   Plenty of smallmouth bass were landed - most fish running around 12" to 15".   We saw a few bigger ones (pushing 18") and Doug landed a nice one over 16".   Milfoil eradication efforts are going full-bore with three pontoon boats clearing the invasive weeds.  Scuba divers use underwater vacuums!   The tube bite was great and the jerkbait bite was also hot.    Water temps are in the low 60s.   Best fishing for us was from 8' to around 18' of water.   Lots of nice rock bass are around and we even had a rare (mid-lake) bite-off from an apparent pickerel.  
7/5/2009
Reports 7/3 to 7/5

7/3 AM:   Did 1/2 day on Cayuga Lake out of the State Park on the North end.   I met Ed and Bob at the launch at 7:30, but we didn't start for another hour or an hour and a half due to some license issues with Bob.   Bob has some disabilities so the game plan was for me and Ed to fish, then when I hooked a fish I'd hand the rod to Bob so he could reel it in!  Fishing started off pretty good for mainly pickerel and it was a lot of fun to watch Bob get excited reeling in the fish.   Bob dropped what was probably a good bass on a Senko.  We had bass (Ed got a nice one over 2lbs on a bass bug and fly-rod.) and even a couple pike hit/follow.  One pike was decent (probably 30"), and the one we landed was around 22".    Perch and sunfish/gills were also hitting.   Best lures for us were spinnerbaits and lipless cranks.    

7/3 PM:   I headed over to Seneca Lake to meet Rob and Dennis.  They were up from Ohio and we shot out of Geneva for a crack at some lakers.  Lake trout action was very good and the guys landed some nice fish including a 31" fish that was fat and probably over 11lbs (which we released.)    The fish were feeding heavily and they were full of bait.   We had a great time and called it a day as T-storms/rain moved in.    Fish ranged from 45' on out.

7/4:   I did a long day with the Herman clan.   We started at 5 am with Karl and his dad Jim.   Karl is 7 years old and John Herman assured me that he was a mature young man very interested in fishing.  Well, John was right.   Karl did a great job and we started out with the guys handing Karl the rod when they hooked fish (after they landed a few themselves!)    Karl had fun landing fish, and he even missed one himself.   After landing 5 nice lakers on jigs, Karl hooked one himself!  He had a riot reeling in the fish that was a Keuka beauty - just under 27"!  

At 9 am I ran the guys back to the dock and picked up Alexi and Steve.    (Hopefully I'm keeping the names straight.)    We shot back to the bluff and the lakers were still hitting for a bit.   Steve told me he'd be happy with one, but he wound up with 2 nice fish.   Alex dropped 2 - through no apparent fault of his own.    Best fishing was in around 105' to 110' of water.   

At noon I dropped the guys off and picked up the last group, Dave and his daughters Emma and Elise.   The gals are young - in 4th and 5th grade and they love to fish.   I was very inspired and impressed with the job the gals did - they were great young fishers!   Elise managed a laker around 16" which wasn't an easy feat with the cranking winds (over 20 mph out of the west) and the rocking boat wakes/jet skiiers all over.   We fished hard and wound up back at the dock around 4 pm.  It was a great time, working with all the kids and watching them fish and in most cases, land some nice fish.   

7/5:  We did a full day starting at 5:30 am with Kirk and his wife Rebecca.   Fishing started slow on Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock, and I didn't mark much.   Kirk started things off with a laker around 14" - a rare Cayuga dink.   Fishing remained slow until 10 am (which is why I recommend a full day!).   After 10 am the fishing picked up considerably and a couple nice lakers came to the boat - a 28" and 30" fish.   Then we got another dink, and then a couple more nice 25" fish.   So the fishing basically got better as the day went on.   Fun trip!  Best action was deep - around 85', though we got fish from 65' (the dinks) out to over 90'.   Bait moved in (as did the fish) as the day went on.   48/50 degree water was deep - in around 80' and out.

7/1/2009
Cayuga/Taughannock 7/1
Got out with Mike (from 6/28) and Paul for 1/2 day jigging on Cayuga Lake.  We started bright and early at 5:30 am.   Fish were chasing and looking, as has been the case over the past few days of unsettled weather.   Eventually a few fish cooperated and Mike managed to land 3 nice lakers, including two fish in the 27" to 28" range.   There's no shortage of bait on Cayuga Lake.   There's no predictability of the bite either during the past few days - hot bites tend to occur just before T-storms!   It hasn't been necessary to get up too early, though it always helps.  Despite the gloomy weather forecast, it was beautiful this AM with sun and clear skies!    BTW - I don't follow the old Earl Holdren adage too closely, where he suggests getting your boat out (onto the water) when storms approach - "if you don't get struck by lightning you might get struck by the biggest trout you ever caught!"   So we haven't pushed the "storm issue."  ;-)   But we're doing alright.  Fish range from 65' or so out to at least 110'.   H2O temps on top are in the low to mid 60s.  
6/30/2009
Cayuga/Taughannock 6/29 + Otisco Lake 6/30

Cayuga 6/29:  Guided Yvonne and Bryan on Monday for the full-day.    We had OK fishing - not spectacular, but certainly not bad.   Mid-lake areas produced 3 nice lakers for Yvonne and one good fish for Bryan.   One fish was dropped.  The morning bite was slow, though we got a slightly late start due to some circumstances beyond our control!    Fish bit slow, but fairly steadily throughout the AM.  Lots of lookers and chasers.   They each caught fish measuring 27".  The lakers are fighting GREAT right now, just in peak shape - making some drag ripping runs.   They don't like being cranked up into warm water!    It was a fun day - we've had some fun trips lately!

Otisco Lake 6/30:  Had a fun day on Otisco Lake with my buddy Jarrod.   We started at 6 am with some rain and threatening weather.   We were fairly engrossed in conversation when I felt a couple tugs on my rattlebait.   I uncharacteristically wasn't paying attention, which is a HUGE no-no when musky fishing.  I caught a glimpse of the 24" tiger after I failed to set the hook!   Jarrod, not being a slouch, cast his tube jig behind the boat in the direction of my Tiger and got hammered.  He landed the 24" fish.    Around 1/2 hour later Jarrod's tube got hammered again and in short order I was sliding the net under a 34" beauty!    We fished until 1 pm or so and didn't have any more action with the exception of a couple exhuberent bass.   So far so good on Otisco Lake - we're getting these muskies figured out!

 

6/28/2009
Cayuga Lake 6/27 + 6/28

Cayuga/Dean's Cove 6/27:   Guided 1/2 day trip with Andrew and his 11 year old son Matthew.   We started (and pretty much finished) the day with overcast skies.   Fishing was as tough as I've seen it all year.  There were baitfish on both shores -lots of bait.   Lake trout marks were few and far between.   The guys did a good job with the technique, the fish just weren't hitting for us.   We worked both shores and did a lot of searching for fish and jig dropping.   Matt hung in there and we fished as long as we could, but despite our best efforts the rare "skunk" finally reared its head for us.  

6/27 PM:   I can't say I was brimming with confidence when I picked up Jay and Jimmy at the Long Point Boat Launch (I do occasional "pick-ups" as a courtesy) at noon.  I knew what areas WEREN'T working, that's for sure.   But we had a full 8 hour day booked and there was a lot of lake to cover.   Skies had brightened (cleared up) a bit and as far as I was concerned it was a new day, but doubts lingered.   The guys were good sports, but Jay just had both his hips replaced and Jimmy told me he couldn't stand for long.   So my jiggers would be sitting during the entire trip.   

We started around Long Point and didn't have any luck, apart from one hit on a spoon - which already trumped any action we had all AM!   I decided to motor south and work mid-lake areas, and that's what we did.  And it was the right call.  On the east shore towards AES, Jimmy had a hit reeling up.  He fought the fish expertly and I was relieved and thrilled to see a 30" laker in the net.  I nearly dove in order to get the fish in the net!   We marked a lot of fish and bait - it was night and day compared to the AM trip, which is the drawback from booking 1/2 days.  We don't get a chance to cover all our bases.

Jimmy noticed a clicking noise on his reel.  He handed me the rod and I tested it out by dropping down a jig.   Just as the jig hit bottom and I jigged it once I felt a hit.  I set the hook and had a good fish on.  No clicking problem on the reel!   As I played the fish, Jay hooked up so I handed Jimmy the rod and went to net the fish.  We landed another 30" laker and a 25" fish.   Other fish landed on the day incl. another 30"er, a 25" and a 19"!  The fish are fighting great - really ripping out some drag.  We even had one jump near our motor!   Crazy lakers.  

6/28 out of Taughannock:   Guided Matt and his brother in-law Mike on Cayuga.  After finding the fish yesterday evening I figured we could put a "whuppin" on them today.   We had incredible numbers of chasers this AM, and some good hits but the guys just couldn't hook them!   Later in the AM the fish got more active after a slowdown.   Mike had a nice laker up near the net, but it broke off before I had the net ready, due to a net tangle/problem with the handle.  Matt nailed 3 nice fish.   The guys did well with the technique last year on Seneca out of Geneva, but for some reason just weren't in sync today.   I ran into my friend and rod builder Mike Canavan and he reported excellent fishing this AM.  Best action was from 65' on out.  We had chasers in upwards of 110' of water.   Baitfish are abundant!  Cayuga is just LOADED with bait from end to end.  

6/26/2009
Cayuga Lake State Park 6/26

Guided Matt and his dad Dave for a 1/2 day today.   They do some bass fishing around VA and Wash. DC and were looking to get more familiar with Cayuga Lake bass fishing.  Dave has a summer place just N. of Union Springs and he's trying to get into fishing.   Matt fishes a bit but has found Cayuga to be challenging.   Anyways I did a lot of pre-fishing for them this week, trying to get re-acquainted with Cayuga largemouths.   Fishing had been fairly tough for me, until today that is.  

The weather system probably played a huge role in the bite today, but the storms and accompanying low barametric pressure apparently got fish on the feed.   While waiting out a thunderstorm with some wild lightning I went over some theory and techniques with the guys incl. bass patterns on Cayuga and working rattlebaits, jerkbaits, swimbaits, spinnerbaits and topwater.   An area I had somewhat limited success in earlier this week (on 6/24) came through and a good time was had by all.   The guys landed around 1/2 dozen decent bass - mostly 1 to 2lb fish.   Dave missed a beauty - probably a 3lber.   Other follows and hits were had.   A bunch of pickerel were landed.   We had great fun with the pickerel, which hit and fought as good as the bass.   Sunfish and perch also chased and hit the lures.   Hot lures incl. a Rat-L Trap,  a modified spinnerbait and a hard jerkbait.   By the morning's end both guys were casting baitcasting rods and enjoying it!    After the trip I did a little testing of one of my new Po' Boy Swimbaits and I checked out a few areas.    The time to test "new" lures and areas is when the fish are hitting, so I left our hot area and went on the prowl.  

Overall I managed to land 3 bass.   Fish were much more aggressive than earlier in the week.   Fishing pressure was pretty high for a Friday - though it is summertime. 

From time to time I get asked about boat rentals on Cayuga Lake.   I stopped by the Cayuga General Store on 2679 Lower Lake Road and met Mike the new owner.  The place has been rebuilt and is very nice.   He's renting pontoon and fishing boats and hopes to increase his "fleet" next year.   Give him a call at (315) 568-9439 and tell him you heard about rentals from John the guide!    His store is on the water just N. of Canoga marsh - a usually good bass, panfish and pickerel area.   He's open seasonally. 

6/25/2009
Cayuga/Dean's 6/25 AM + Otisco Lake 6/25 PM

I guided 1/2 day this AM with a friend who chose to remain anonymous!    He landed one 25" fish.    Lakers did hit well, with quite a few missed hits this AM.   We started at 5 am and there's plenty of bait around.    A temp probe was a huge asset today - we actually had 48 degree water down over 100' on the west shore and down 65' on the east shore.  100' is deep for this time of year.   Weather forecasters were wrong on the wind - we had stiff southerlies for most of the AM.  

PM Otisco Trip:   Went to Otisco for a crack at some Tiger Muskies at around 1 pm.   I did a bit of casting with large Fin-S fish and assorted other lures.   I hit paydirt just before T-Storms rolled in - probably around 3 pm.    I cast a rattle bait and felt and saw something pretty much at the same time.   I thought to myself - "Man, that's a nice pike!"   Then I remembered that Otisco doesn't have pike!    "Wait a second - that's a MUSKY!!!"  I had a riot landing the 32" thick bodied fish on my Fenwick Elite Tech Musky Rod.   I snapped a couple quick shots then released the fish unharmed.     I saw a big Tiger cruising just under the surface.  Bass were around.  My buddy Jarrod nailed a limit of walleyes last night, along with a couple sub-legal tigers in the early AM.    The lake looks beautiful - no algae blooms, just clear water and lush weedgrowth.   I'll try to get photos up in a week or two.   By 4 pm T-Storms were rolling in.    

6/24/2009
Cayuga Lake 6/24

Got out on my own for some bass fishing today.  I love to bass fish, but with all the lake trout guiding over the past couple years it's taken a back seat.  It's taken some time to get back into bass fishing mode.    Cayuga wasn't easy today.   I started around 6:15 am working N. of Dean's Cove.  Water temps south of Red Jacket Yacht Club dropped considerably - they were around 56 this AM, due to the strong N. winds of the past couple days.

Water temps were in the low 70s near the N. end of the lake.   Many bass are still guarding nests.  I saw some big fish today - largemouths in the 5lb range, but they were spooky.   I dropped a 3lb+ fish on a Superfluke that was cruising a non-descript flat.   I landed a 1.5lber on a spinnerbait along a weed ridge.    Many areas seemed devoid of fish.   Even the pickerel weren't very cooperative today, though I did manage a couple.   I had a couple nice smallmouths on a tube jig and swimbait today in 3' to around 12' of water.   There are loads of alewives roaming the northern portions of the lake, so there's plenty of food for the bass.  Quite a few boats were out today - I was surprised, but then again school is out.  

6/23/2009
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 6/23
Guided Dave and his brother Bob for around 4 hours on Keuka Lake this AM.   We started around the bluff area at around 6:15 am.  Fishing was quite good and it didn't take long before we had a few fish in the boat.   The wind came up out of the north around 9 am and picked up some velocity.  Lakers kept hitting.   We managed to boat 5 nice fish up to 26 1/2".   3 or 4 fairly solid hookups were lost.  Lakers can be tough to keep on the line when using heavy jigs and spoons.  The fish often come up to the surface and shake their heads like a walleye.  Add that with a drifting boat and fish will get off.   Around 10:30 I dropped Bob off and we picked up his wife Linda.   Unfortunately by 11 am the fish pretty much shut down.  We never had another solid hit despite giving it our all.   We worked a few different areas including some deep water.   Fish just weren't budging!    We found 48 degree water at 75' and that's where many of our fish were, though we did mark some fish up high and had hits close to the boat. 
6/22/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 6/22
We had a tough 1/2 day on Cayuga today, mainly due to the wind.   I met Pat and Karen at the launch around 6:30 am.   Conditions were overcast with light wind and plenty of baitfish around.   I spent a bit of time teaching them the technique.   It didn't take long - maybe two or three drops of the jig before Karen was latched onto a 20" lake trout.   A few other hits were missed.   Then the wind came up strong out of the north.   Pat and Karen were having some trouble detecting the bottom and the wind didn't help anything!   We fished hard, but had no more action.   Today's tough day was more of a day to day weather variation, than a seasonal one.   Expect fishing to remain good to very good for awhile.  
6/21/2009
Cayuga out of Dean's 6/21
We had fairly unsettled weather when I set out for a 1/2 day trip this AM with Doug and Jared.   Laker fishing on the west shore started out slowly, with baitfish but very few lakers marked.   A move over to the east shore of the lake produced a couple fish from 19" to 20" in short order.   Jared then nailed a 25" laker and that was about it.    Fish ranged from 65' to 85' of water.   Plenty of baitfish are around and there's a definite thermocline.    Fishing should only improve as the week goes on and weather re-stabilizes!   I'm looking forward to some good fishing! 
6/20/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's 6/19

AM Trip:   I started with a 1/2 day trip at 6:30 am with Ross and his wife Kris (sp?)   Lake trout action was pretty decent, with 3 fish landed and 3 or 4 lost.   Landed fish included a 28" and 28.5" fish.  Conditions were somewhat foggy/misty in the AM with plenty of baitfish around.   Best fishing was from 65' on out to around 85' or 90'.   It was a fun trip.

After the trip I took a run over to Aurora for a bite to eat, then up to the northern portions of the lake, checking conditions out (I'm guiding bass/pickerel/pike up there next week.)    For those interested, it's easy to pull up to the Aurora Dock, walk up the small hill in the park and go to the Aurora Market - which has some terrific sandwiches, snacks and coffee.  

Afterwards I motored around and fished for a couple hours and found a few areas that looked promising for next week.   I saw a couple nice bass and had some solid hits on a new swimbait.   The usual pickerel were active.  Lots of bass fishermen were out pre-fishing for the Chamber of Commerce tournament on 6/20.    Weed growth is up high in many north end areas.

PM Trip:   I picked up the Hermans at 4:15 and we headed out for some lake trout action.   John landed the first laker within one hour, and then another shortly after.   Bait moved back in and we wound up having a nice evening, with a total of 5 fish landed, including two 29" to 29.5" fish.   Fishing was great - they were chasing aggressively, so we had good action throughout the evening despite just landing the 5 fish.   We had a lot of hits.   Are things finally set up for lakers?  It looks like it.  The thermocline is well established and I expect things to pick up throughout the region.  

6/17/2009
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 6/17
I was looking forward to fishing for pike with my buddy Jarrod today.  We got on the lake just after 7 am.  The conditions were overcast and very windy out of the south.  I felt we had a good chance at some decent fishing.   We covered a ton of water and I never had a hit or a follow (that I noticed.)  Jarrod had one follow.  We saw one slightly fungused up pike, and that was it!   We fished a solid 8 hours or more and never relented, working from the extreme shallows out to over 20' of water.   Water temps ranged from around 52 up to 59 degrees.    Watkins hasn't produced as well as areas further north for us over the past few years for pike, but it's never been this bad.   We worked about 6 or 7 miles up the lake, fishing areas on the south end and both shores.   We were the only boat we saw that was fishing today (out of WG.)    Very disappointing.   The high point of the day was our chicken wings and reuben sandwiches (with homemade potato chips) at the WG Bar and Grill.  The low point was making a nice lunch with plenty of snacks and beverages and forgetting to bring it.    There were thousands of baitfish all over the place - I even snagged one with my swimbait.  
6/16/2009
Keuka Lake 6/16
Guided Michele, her dad John and Tim "the lamprey eater" on Keuka today.  We started just after 7 am and rode over to the bluff area.   Fishing was slow to start, but after an hour or two it picked up.   Smelt colored Fin-S Fish and a 3/4 oz Silver Kastmaster were our hot tickets.   Using the electronics also helped greatly.   Good numbers of lake trout were suspended around the Bluff area.   Drifting was not much of an option due to the light winds that were pervasive for most of the AM.    We had pretty decent action on the day, with the AM being slow, then a fair bite from around 9 to 11 am, a slowdown around 11 to 1, then good fishing again with some wind up until we left around 3.   Michele and Tim limited out, and John landed two.  The gang did great (getting lucky) with no fish dropped!    Lakers ran from around 17" to 23".   Nothing was in their stomachs.  As usual, bait is tough to come by on Keuka Lake.   We worked up the Penn Yan arm a bit, but didn't mark many fish.  They seemed to "prefer" hovering over deep water.    We didn't fish Hammondsport.  The deeps around Branchport held some fish, but we chose the bluff since it's a bit easier to fish this time of year.  
6/15/2009
Sodus Bay 6/15

I arranged to meet my buddy Jarrod and his wife's grandfather, Max at Sodus Bay today.  They started fishing early at 7 am and I started around 10:30.    Storms rolled in this AM, but once they cleared Jarrod nailed a nice drum within a couple casts on a crankbait.   Drum were following - two to four at a time, then the wind came up a bit and they stopped according to J.    Bay temps were right around 69 to 70 degrees.    Jarrod encountered some crappies, bluegills and bass while drum fishing.   He saw a few gar surface too, though surface activity was very limited.  He landed another couple drum on tube jigs and crankbaits, and lost what was probably a very large drum on a bladebait.

I had a tough time on the drum.  There are tons of small baitfish in the bay - possibly emerald shiners.   Drum, bass and panfish (and likely gar) are around these fish.  I worked some open water suspended baitfish with a blade bait and landed one nice drum.   Apart from a small bass, bluegills and rockbass, that was the only fish of note I encountered.    The drum numbers still seem relatively low on Lake Ontario Bays compared to what we've seen over the past 15 to 20 years.   But there are fishable numbers.    I marked what was probably a school of gar in one area.   Gar fishing should pick up in the next few weeks.    Bass are active in the bay and anglers reported doing well on plastic worms like Senkos.

6/14/2009
Owasco Lake 6/14
Got out for a full day of lake trout jigging with Fred and his sons Jeff and Andrew.   The goal was to learn the pattern and possibly find some good fishing areas close to their cottage on the lake.   We started at 6 am and within about an hour and a half Jeff hooked and dropped a fish.   Fred hooked up as well.   We tried a few different areas and Fred ended up landing the first fish around 10 am or so.    Then Andrew landed a fat 27" laker.    Overall we had around 4 to 5 fish lost and the two landed.   The best bite window was from around 7 to 8 am and then again from 10 till around noon.    There was a pretty decent amount of bait around - though most was up high.   Best depths ranged from around 75' to 90' or so.    Fish were hooked on white and chartreuse tubes and Fin-S Fish.    Both shores produced for us.  
6/13/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 6/13

Well I had some grandiose plans for Dean and Scott today.  They've fished with me a couple times - one time just hammering lakers on Owasco and another time having a solid day on Cayuga.   I was hoping we could hit a salmon or brown around Taughannock Point early in the AM, head south for pike and then finish off with some lakers.   As we launched slightly after 5 am I ran into a couple guys who'd fished live alewives since midnight without any fish.   We gave the park around 1/2 hour w/o luck (no wind) then decided to head south for pike.   Conditions were perfect for laker jigging, but I thought we had a good shot at some pike and bass.   We worked pike for about an hour without any grabs when I got a text from my friend (and rod builder) Mike Canavan, who'd had some very good laker action further north.    So up we went.

The bite had disappated a bit by the time we arrived.   We did mark some fish and plenty of bait - which was a good sign.   Dean hooked a big laker and played it for awhile - then lost it.   A scale on the hook confirmed that it was foul hooked.    A couple other hits were had, then eventually Scott landed a 20" laker.   We worked some other areas and Scott hooked a solid fish - but unbelievably it was also foul-hooked!   We did get a good look at it, and it was a well-fed fish.   Scott then hooked another and it got off.    Fish had moments of aggressiveness, which was nice.   We did a little casting with tube jigs and superflukes.  Large perch, bluegills and some nice bass were in shallow.   But we mainly stuck with the lakers.    H2O on the surface is around 62 to 64 if I remember right.   The bottom line is that there was a very good to excellent bite in the AM - from around 6:30 to 7:30.   Fish had their moments later on, but that was by far the best fishing.  

6/12/2009
Seneca Lake/Sampson 6/10 + Cayuga out of Dean's 6/11

6/10 Sampson AM Trip:   Did a full-day with Jeff and Jon.   I gave these guys a freebie;  last fall they booked a weekend with me and my Ford Ranger's clutch decided not to work, so I had to cancel both trips.   We started at 6:30 am.   This year I'm starting a lot of my trips earlier than ever before - incl. 5 am for some.   It never hurts to go early, with the possible exception of the winter!   

We started out looking for lakers and didn't find much.   The flats off Sampson had really warmed up.   So we headed out for some pike.   In a nutshell, the pike fishing was alright - not great, but certainly not terrible.   The guys started out working a jerkbait and swimbait and Jeff dropped a fish.   4 nice pike were landed up to 27", one 23" pickerel and two perch around 13" to 14".    We saw a few dead pike.    Jon fly-fished for awhile and managed his goal for the day - a nice pike on the fly!   So that was cool.  It hit a natural colored deceiver fished on a Type 6 sinking line.   Fish ranged from shallow to mid-depths.    We finished out with some laker jigging and Jon lost one just below the boat.  Both guys had browns around 15" to 17" chase in their jigs near some heavy bait schools.   The jigging got us primed for the next day's trip on Cayuga.

Re: Pike - I still haven't searched the entire lake for pike on my own, or via guiding.   But anyone who's fished Seneca Lake over the past three years would pretty much have to be blind to not see that this fishery has declined significantly this year.   Numbers have gone down every year, but that's to be expected given that there were two large classes of fish (see my old reports!)   I checked out a couple of my best areas several times and have seen very few fish.   These areas have produced year-in and year-out for me - even back before the recent pike boom.   

Is there still good pike fishing in Seneca Lake?  YES.  

Is there the potential for a great day on Seneca Lake for pike?  YES.  

Are there some lunker pike around?  YES.   

But here's the deal as I see it.   The population got so high over the past three years that it was bound to crash.   Every year we've seen some fungused up fish, fish with a weird slime on them, dead fish and what appears to be "half-dead fish."   I saw a bunch of dead pike on Wed.   Fresh dead pike and old dead pike (aka fuzzy pike ;-)    DEC has had reports of fish die-offs.  Cornell fisheries has examined some dying pike.  They've basically said "something's wrong, but we don't know what it is."     It's some sort of bacterial infection or virus.  Not VHS thus far though.  

One of the pike caught Wednesday was a light green, thick bodied beauty.  As nice a looking pike as I've ever seen color-wise.   We also had a thin fish showing signs of some sort of fin-rot or abrasion.  Not good.   The other two were average looking fish.   The pickerel was healthy.   I spooked a 32" to 34" beauty that was thick bodied and healthy.  That was nice to see!    It's a huge lake and it supports a lot of pike.  

Since the habitat and baitfish are still around on Seneca, I expect there to be improvements in the pike fishery in the future if they have some successful spawning.  We may see smallmouth bass and pickerel bounce back too.    For numbers, I still think Seneca provides the best pike fishing in the Finger Lakes.  Conesus is good too for size.  I'm checking out Cayuga shortly.   There's been decent numbers of 22" to 27" fish there - so pike are on the upswing again.   We'll just wait 'n see what happens.   Things will turn around (or else we'll just fish elsewhere or for a different species - you just can't lose here in the Finger Lakes!)

6/10 PM:  After a time mix-up that was my fault, I picked up Dennis and Becky at the dock at Sampson.  They both love to fish and were just married!   We decided to start with some pike fishing.   Our wind died, making drifting impossible, so I worked us with the trolling motor.   Fishing was tough and I went over working jerkbaits with my couple.   Weird stuff happens when fishing and Becky made a cast and I grabbed the rod to show her how to work the bait.  To make a long story short, with a little help, Becky landed a beautiful 19 1/2" smallmouth bass!    We fished a bit longer with zero luck.   We tried lakers for a couple hours without a hit.   So we went back to pike.   No pike, but Dennis managed to hook a couple huge perch.   Both around 14" and fat.   There are still some beautiful perch in shallow.   All in all, a tough evening trip - but it happens.

6/11 on Cayuga/Dean's:   I met Jeff and Jon early at Dean's Cove and we headed out for lakers.   Fishing was steady if not slightly slow all day, but we had enough action to keep us transfixed.  Let's just say the fishing was good, but the catching was a little slow.   Jon managed his first, second, third, fourth and fifth laker on the jig!  Jeff nailed one on his homemade bamboo jigging stick.   All in all a good day - we hooked fish right at the get-go, and we also got fish not long before we left.   Baitfish are around and some smaller trout and salmon were hitting bait on top.   Fun day.    

6/9/2009
Oneida Lake 6/8

I didn't think in a million years I'd fish on Monday after the long week I had, but my buddy Mike called with promises of "lazy fishing", drifting with nightcrawlers for walleyes (and I hoped some bonus fish.)   After a 2 hour plus drive I met him around 2 pm at Marion Manor,  on Oneida's south east shore.   We launched Mike's Lund and soon were out in deep water around buoy 109 (a community hole out on the deep flats of the lake.)   I haven't done much deep drifting for eyes, apart from a time or two on Chautauqua Lake 16 or 17 years ago.   And it showed!   Usually when I fish Oneida I fish the west end, which has plenty of beautiful classic walleye structure - points, shoals and islands.

We set up with very light winds.   We did manage a few hits casting 1/2 to 5/8 oz jigs tipped with crawlers into our drift, but couldn't hook up.  The walleyes (?) were stealing our bait.  Before long the wind died and the bites stopped for us.  We tried in shallower and caught some nice panfish (rock bass and perch.)   We also caught a couple nice bass, incl. a smallie that fought great.  Mike had a nice walleye follow in his Cotton Cordell Grappler Shad.    It got dark and we did some nighttime casting.  Mike nailed the only walleye of the night.  I then drove home utterly exhausted and tried to stay awake. 

Interestingly enough, when I got home and checked my email, one of my client/friends from April (Eric from 4/17) had sent me a report of his walleye fishing in the same area last weekend!   He'd done well and gave me some terrific tips to try for next time.   I'm looking forward to doing more of this fishing - just to do something different and have a chance at a big channel cat or a lucky sturgeon!   

 

PS - My friend Bill Alexander (noted jig tier from Sylvan Beach) is selling high quality laker jigs at reasonable prices.  Bill's a great guy and he pours all my jigs.  He has all my molds including my 1 1/2 oz. deep jigs.   1 oz. heads are .60 and the larger ones are $1 each.   Give him a call at (315) 762-5752.   He pours them on super sharp high quality Mustad Ultra Point hooks.    Bill encourages customers to order together in order to save on shipping costs.    BTW - Bill is a superb bass fisherman and has won a few boats over the years!  And he does it all with spinning rods!   

6/7/2009
Owasco/Cayuga 6/6 + Seneca out of Sampson 6/7

I just wrapped up one of the busiest weeks I've had guiding.   Needless to say, I feel "pasted" ;-)    Fishing varied - we had some moments of very good action and some slow stuff - that's fishing.    Re: Lakers - it's a tricky time for lakers.  Lots of fish are just on bottom and not showing up on the fishfinder.  There are schools of baitfish w/o lakers around.   Lakers on Cayuga that we kept had very fresh alewives in them - and the fish were still not plump.  I think things are just starting due to our much cooler than normal May.

Owasco Lake 6/6:  Did a full day with Tom and Bruce.  I love being hired to show angling approaches and that's what we did.  Tom told me up front that he wasn't worried about catching fish - it was about learning how to approach the lake and some techniques to work on.   We started at just after 6 am with laker jigging - which for my money is the best/most fun technique day-in and day-out.   You can do it 12 months out of the year, catch big fish with relatively inexpensive equipment and do well amongst jet skiiers in the middle of the day.    We didn't mark many fish or bait, but Tom ended up hooking one laker on the lake's northeast shore in around 85' of water.   We had laker-friendly water temps from around 65' or 70' on out.  Later in the day we found good numbers of inactive lakers on the lake's west shore - we didn't mark them, just dropped down the jigs and they showed up!    There will be some good jigging out here - timing is everything.  

We did some bass fishing with tubes, jerkbaits and superflukes.  Large perch were chasing the lures in.   Bass weren't on the usual points for the most part, though we saw a few big fish.  I also spotted a walleye amongst some suckers.   Bass are likely spawning and we didn't look for them much.    I showed the guys some good areas then we went pike fishing.  I wasn't expecting much with the lack of wind but the guys worked jerkbaits and swimbaits with focus.   Near the south end of the lake Tom's rogue got hammered and he landed a nice 27" pike.   The exciting moment was a little later when Tom hooked a huge fish on a swimbait.   Judging from the run the fish made, it was likely a pike that was at least 10lbs or better!  

We wound up back on the lakers and Tom had a brown colored fish in around 90' of water hitting his lure below the boat - it was most likely a suspended smallmouth.  

Cayuga Lake/Dean's 6/6 PM:  After the Owasco trip I trailered over to Cayuga where I picked up Matt, Andrew and Nate via boat at Long Point State Park.   How vital is a good thermometer this time of year?   Well, we had lethal laker temps down to around 70' on the east shore and down to 45' or so on the west!  So that's a world of difference.  There's no point in wasting your time jigging areas void of lakers.  Life's too short!    We had a tough time.  The wind kicked up from the N. and I took the guys to the Sheldrake area.  There were fish around - Nate hooked one and lost it.  But bait was scarce.    The further north we went, the more bait we found.   Eventually we found a huge concentration of bait.  Time was running short and the sun was getting lower.  But Nate hooked and landed a nice laker and just as we were admiring the fish,  Andrew hooked up!  So we nearly had a double.   We had found the fish/bait and the guys had a decent number of hits over the next hour.  Nate landed another nice laker, then Matt got one.  All in all a successful trip, though things looked bleak for awhile.  Like "Ike" says - "never give up!"

Seneca/Sampson 6/7 AM:  Guided Joe and Tom from 6/5 for a 1/2 day.  The guys were heading back home today and wanted to do something fairly close to where they were staying.  I thought Sampson would turn on more for lakers, so that's where we went, starting at 7 am.  The cold water inshore we had on 6/5 was gone.  So was much of the bait.   We worked lakers for an hour w/o action.   We headed over to the W. shore to check on pike.   Again, Seneca pike is a fraction of what it was over the past 3 years from what I'm seeing.  I haven't put in a full day pike fishing yet  - really searching and checking out areas, but I'm not thrilled with what I'm seeing.   It's back to reality on Seneca for pike.   The lake is fishing more like it did in the early 1990s - you do a lot of searching and casting for a few fish.   We saw one boat pick up one.  We saw one fish as well - again - it was showing signs of fungus or some sort of infection.  Not good.    We went North looking for lakers and didn't mark much bait or fish.  Where were they?   Right on bottom.  We had good laker temps in 40' and out up north.   Tom picked up a nice 26" fish.  We had other chasers, but they were neutral/negative again.   That was it for the day.  Somewhat tough fishing.   

The guys reported some great bass fishing yesterday on Keuka Lake with guide Jon Evans.  Jon's a great fisherman and really a bass master - he fishes competitively and wins/places in a lot of events.   Check out www.fishingthefingerlakes.com to learn more about Jon and the fishing he does.   We run into each other once in a while and I can attest that he's a really good guy as well as an accomplished guide/angler. 

6/5/2009
Seneca out of Sampson 6/5

Guided Joe and Tom this AM for the full day.  Laker action was decent with 4 nice fish landed - most around 27" to 28"+.  A few fish were lost and a fair number of hits missed.  We had lakers from around 27' on out - though there were fish shallower!    Large numbers of baitfish are moving in.  Surface temps were 52 to 54 off Sampson.  

PM:  I did a trip with a different Tom (Tom A.)  The weather got a little weird and we ran around checking out some different areas.  We wound up back at Sampson and Tom nailed one nice laker.  He then lost a BIG FISH and missed one or two more.  The big fish straightened out my hook!  It was a combination of a fatigued hook (having been bent before) plus too much torque on Tom's part.  But the fish was big!   We had a great time and the evening turned out to be picture perfect after it appeared as though it might get nasty out. 

6/4/2009
Skaneateles Lake 6/4

Guided Dan K. today for the full-day.   He was out with me on Skinny about a month ago and we were hoping for a repeat of the surprisingly good fishing we had then.   Fishing today wasn't great, but it wasn't bad - it was basically an "OK day."    We started by targeting smallmouth bass.  Many of them were hitting short or at least not very aggressively - Dan would get one hit and not hook the fish.  Bass are widely distributed around the lake.   Dan's fish ran from around 10" to 16".   He probably landed around a dozen along with a couple rock bass and a 13" perch.   Larger (17" to 19")bass were definitely around - a lot of times the smaller of two fish would hit and the larger one would show itself as Dan fought the smaller one!    Tube jigs did the trick.   A pleasant surprise came with a couple lakers Dan landed in 15' to 25' of water casting 1/4 oz. tube jigs in green pumpkin.   Dan filled his laker limit with a 20" fish he jigged up in around 70' of water.  He also dropped 2 other solid lakers.   These fish hit blue tube jigs with a red flake jigged vertically.  

My buddy Craig was on the lake fishing bass exclusively.  He eventually found a good pattern that yielded some big smallmouths.   Jerkbaits and tube jigs worked well for him.   Water temps were in the upper 50s - around 56 to 57.  The north end of the lake was coldest.

6/3/2009
Seneca out of Geneva 6/3
Guided Brandon and Katie for 1/2 day today.   He jigged lakers with me a few years ago and whacked a lot of fish on Cayuga.  I knew we probably wouldn't beat that April day, but things were looking good as we got onto the water.   The first pleasant surprise was marking a lot of baitfish!   Lots.   Katie hooked a laker that got off just below the boat in short order.   Around 10 minutes later Brandon landed a beauty that measured 30" and weighed 8lbs 3 oz.   It was thin and hadn't been eating much.  Fish came from around 75' of water.   We didn't mark much deep at all.   Most fish were along drop-offs and right in with the bait.  Bait was in shallow early AM, then much of it moved out.   Katie landed a fish just before we left - a 24" laker.   The sun came out and the fish started chasing.  I think that had we done a PM trip instead, we might have really whacked the fish.  It's hard to tell.   Expect things to really pick up over the next week.  I know I've been saying it for awhile, but it's June and water temps are gradually coming up despite the cold nights.   Alewives will move in and the lakers will EAT!!! 
6/2/2009
Owasco Lake 6/2

Guided the full day with Bob and his brother Bill.   Bill joined me on Owasco Lake on 8/19/06 and he did very well on lakers.   Today was tough.   We started at 6 am and fished hard all day.   We found laker friendly water temps from around 65' on out (though we even tried shallower.)   Good numbers of fish remain in the deep water basin - more or less roaming around suspended.   We worked a lot of "hooks" and had virtually no reaction from the lakers.  One or two chasers on the day.    We had zero fish coming off the bottom in the depths.   We worked downlake and Bill eventually nailed a 21" laker on a tube jig in around 75' of water off a point.   The guys weren't up for pike or bass fishing, which would have been a better option (what could have been worse?) so we lived and died by the laker jigging.   I had no problems with that and thought we could do better.  But the guys fished well, doing stuff competently.   

For Lake Trout jigging, this past May has been the toughest one since I started guiding in 2005.   Luckily we still haven't gotten skunked yet, but we've had to work extremely hard for everything.  Fish aren't coming easy, though there have been some hot moments.   The lack of a good warming trend has kept baitfish scattered.  Lakers just aren't putting on the feedbag very heavily.   Bass and pike fishing is a better option, though Seneca pike have also been "off."  Early bass fishing has been excellent.   But we enjoy the challenge of the lakers - so we keep doing it.   And tough fishing hopefully makes us better fishermen.    Water temps are much cooler than usual for this time of year.   Let's hope June heats up a bit!

6/1/2009
Otisco Lake 6/1
Guided Jesse and Jason for the full day on Otisco Lake.   I'm doing some occasional trips out there for people interested in trying the lake for Tigers.   I still have a lot to learn about musky fishing, but we've had some fairly steady action on them over the past 2 seasons.   We started around 5:20 am and fished hard till the late afternoon.   Water temps are in the low 60s and weed growth is up - right to the surface in some places.   Jesse spent the entire day fly-fishing for Tigers - which isn't easy to do.  (I still haven't caught one on the fly!)   He fished hard.   Some nice bass inhaled the streamers, but no Tigers.   We did have what had to be a Tiger inhale and bite the tail off a swimbait early on.   It just chomped it off.    But no follows from Tigers.   Steady weather is considered best for musky action by many aficionados, and that we didn't have.   Jason cast an array of lures incl. bucktails, swimbaits and stickbaits.   Again - just bass.   We had enough action from the bass to keep everyone focused.    Fishing pressure was light on the lake - we only saw 2 other boats fishing.   A lot of people love the summer fishing for Tigers - last year we did well in June (though it was much warmer.)  I'll be back here soon, likely within 10 days.  
5/30/2009
Owasco Lake 5/30
After getting a phone call from my friend/client Dave re: some fantastic AM fishing on Owasco Lake (plus hearing other reports) I decided to take a drive over there in the afternoon and was on the water by 2 pm.    I didn't find any outrageous action.   A drop with my temp probe found a thermocline forming.   I had laker-friendly temps from around 60' on out.   I marked a lot of fish, but they were very negative.   Cruising out to deeper water was the key for me, and I landed a couple 27" to 28" beauties - in 70' over 135' of water.   I used my electronics and it paid off.    There are loads of baitfish around too.  The lake's fishery really seems to be on the upswing.   Lakers appear to be in better condition than over the past 3 years.   I'm guiding out there a couple times this week, so I'll have some reports.  We'll be getting an early start!
5/29/2009
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 5/29
After taking it easy the last couple days, I got out for some PM fishing on Seneca Lake.   The lake is starting to stratify, and I marked the beginnings of a thermocline.   I found quite a few lakers from around 60' on out.   90' to 100' is full of fish, but they weren't grabbing my jigs too well.  I missed a hit or two, but mainly just watched as fish came up a few feet for the jigs and went back down (watching the electronics, that is.)   We call these fish "lookers."   I didn't do too much experimenting on trying to get the fish to hit.   Instead I moved around a bit.   I found a bunch of very active lakers with bait on the east shore and landed one feisty 17" wild fish.  I had another one hit my jig twice and hooked it, before it got off.  These fish were shallow - from around 35' on out to 50' along a drop-off.    At times I had 3 fish chasing my jig, but they just wouldn't hit.    Baitfish are scattered - I marked huge schools in deep water - like around 140' to 160'.   There are also alewives in shallower near the surface.    A few hot stable days will really help to jumpstart the bite.  For now, things will probably be spotty.   Getting out early always helps!   
5/27/2009
Irondequoit Bay and Lake Ontario 5/27

After much debate (as always) my fishing buddy Jarrod and I decided on Irondequoit Bay for today.  Honeoye, Conesus, Otisco, Owasco and Sodus were considered.   What a tough decision, but off we went.   Drum were the target today.   We started at the mouth of the bay - there were black areas full of baitfish around, but no fish for us.  The mouth of Russel Station had very little flow, but there was enough for me to nail a 20"+ brown trout (probably 3lbs) on a Krocodile spoon in about 3' of water.   That fish could have easily been taken from shore.   We tried the mouth of the Genny without luck.  

We headed back into the bay and I landed a nice Northern Pike around 31".  It was very clean!   Some big rock bass were also hitting, and we saw plenty of gar.  I had another follow from a smaller pike.    We saw gar everywhere and had plenty of slashes and follows from them.  I didn't bring any rope lures and the gar weren't super active at the time.  Fishing was pretty slow in general.  A trip across the bay to another area (around some points) produced a solid smallmouth for Jarrod.  Then he set the hook into a chunky 21" walleye (both fish on deep diving crankbaits.)    We ran across a congregation of nice largemouths running around 1 to 2lbs.  We caught around 5 of those, then we finally hit paydirt (or at least Jarrod did) with a couple beautiful drum!  This fish were very clean and looked just like their saltwater cousins - redfish.    

Water temps ranged from around 62 to 67 in the bay on the day.  70 is usually the key wake-up for gar fishing.    The lake ranged from 51 to over 60 around the Genny mouth.   Fishing today was a nice change of pace from the usual Finger Lakes stuff.    We may hit Sodus or Oswego soon, but there are so many other opportunities around - those areas may be low on the priority list!

5/25/2009
Seneca Lake 5/22, 5/24, 5/25, Cayuga 5/23 + 5/25

I just wrapped up an 18 hour day on the water;  I've been ridiculously busy over the holiday.  Fishing was tough to say the least!  Here's how things shaped up:

5/22:  Guided Bob and Joanie on Seneca Lake out of Sampson.  They've fished with me a few times in the past, on both Cayuga and Owasco Lakes.   We tried some casting for pike without any action from northerns.  One pickerel and one nice lake trout found their way onto the end of Bob's alewife tube jig.   We fished up north for lakers and Joanie caught a nice one jigging.   After the trip, I met up with my old fishing buddy Phil and we did some laker jigging.  The jigging picked up a bit and we managed to land around a half dozen lakers - mostly 22" to 25" incl. one 29" fish.   We checked a pike area and I picked up one nice northern plus a 14" perch.   The perch and pike were shallow.   The most interesting part of the day was watching a laker whack an apple core I'd tossed overboard.   It looked like a baitfish!

5/23:  Guided the Herman's for a full day on Cayuga out of Dean's Cove.   Fishing was slow.  We jigged lakers with John Herman catching a solid 29" fish in shallow, but overall it was tough going.  We covered a lot of water and marked few fish and very little bait.  The few fish we marked weren't very active.  AES Cayuga was discharging cold water, which doesn't help anything.  John also caught a nice smallmouth and a few perch to 12" in a shallow bay.   I couldn't believe that people were wakeboarding in the 49 degree water near AES!   Wow.  

5/24 AM:  Guided Ron and his son Matt on Seneca Lake out of Sampson.  We started with some pike fishing.   Matt had a follow or two from a couple good fish in short order, but no grabs.  After an hour of pike fishing, we headed north for some lake trout.  Ron did well, landing two 29" fish and one around 25".  Matt landed a 24".   We had fun and found fish between around 50' and 120'.  

5/24 PM:  Did a trip with Erica and Elliot out of Sampson as well.  Erica is another "Wine Enthusiast" employee.  They were in town for a little R an + R and some wine tasting.  They're based in NYC and had never fished before!  We got a late start and things weren't looking good.    Lakers were chasing but not hitting.   As things got dark, it was time to pick up and lo and behold Erica landed a nice 3lb + laker!   So we avoided the skunk.     

5/25 AM:  Guided Ed and John for the Seneca Lake Memorial Day Derby Day 3.   Fishing was very tough.   We marked lakers but couldn't get them to grab.   John lost a good fish in deep water.  One fish was landed on the day.   And we fished hard! 

5/25 PM:  Guided Greg, Tom and Dennis for some lakers on Cayuga.   The wind was blowing good out of the north when we started and things didn't look great.  Greg has a place on the lake and I went over the jigging technique with him.   We worked a lot of areas from Silos down to past Long Point.   We tried from 40' out to 150'.   100' to 105' produced one 29"+ fish for Greg.   No other hookups were had. 

 

5/21/2009
Cayuga out of Dean's Cove 5/21
I guided a 1/2 day + with Doug and Jason from Auburn.   Doug wanted to learn some good areas on Cayuga for jigging/trolling lakers and salmon/browns.    We started out on the east shore and Doug nailed a laker on the first drop!   It didn't take long before Jason got one too.   Fish were scattered from around 30' (possibly lakers) out to at least 90' of water.   We marked a good bait pod or two, but things still weren't going hot 'n heavy.   We decided to leave our fish so I could show Doug a few more good areas.   The next place we fished produced another nice fish for Doug.   We tried a bunch of areas and depths but didn't find anything outstanding.   Doug nailed another nice 29" fish on the east shore, we tried an area on the west shore, then we called it a day.   All in all, decent fishing not great but certainly not bad at all - a beautiful day.  Water temps on top reached 51 on the west shore.  
5/20/2009
Conesus Lake 5/18 + 5/19

Wind forecasts weren't looking too good for our planned Lake Erie trip, so we decided on fishing some Western Finger Lakes.   I grew up fishing the Western Finger Lakes, mainly Honeoye and Conesus.   Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s  as a 6th and 7th grader I would join my friend Jeff in his 12' rowboat, dump out of Honeoye's south end and spend the day out there casting for bass and pickerel.   Fishing for both species was very good then on Honeoye, with fewer but larger bass and plenty of pickerel.   Now it's better number wise for bass (mostly smaller) and the pickerel fishing isn't as good.  From around 1986 onwards I'd mostly fish with my buddy Terry in his multi-species set up and we'd fish for walleyes, pike and bass on Conesus or walleyes and bass on Honeoye. 

The main difference between the Eastern Finger Lakes (like Owasco, Otisco, Cayuga and Skaneateles) and the Western Finger Lakes (like Honeoye and Conesus - and to a lesser extent Keuka and Canandaigua) is with usage.   The Western lakes generally have a flatter topography, so for better or worse they were heavily developed.   Conesus Lake is wall to wall cottages/homes.  Same with Honeoye.   They are very close to Rochester (and Monroe County,)  where you have a five county population of over a million people.   Of course you have the opposite situation with Hemlock and Canadice Lakes - the smallest (western) Finger Lakes - where homes were taken over (bought out) by the City of Rochester and the lakes are kept in pristine condition as sources of water for the city of Rochester.  (I know Hemlock is a water source, I'm not certain on Canadice - though I think it also is.) I don't fish Hemlock or Canadice much at all, and it's not because I don't want to!  The experience out on these lakes is wonderful.  I just don't have the time or the set up right now.   But they are treasures.

Honeoye and Conesus offer some fantastic fishing.   Conesus is an alewife driven fishery without the salmonids!  So the warm water fish get to eat all the alewives without sharing them with trout and salmon - fish get BIG here!   The boat traffic here after kids get out of school in late June is intense.   There's no comparison to the eastern lakes.  Last time I checked, there was a water-skiing slalom course set up in the south end of Honeoye Lake!  Right where the great fishing is.   In the 1970s it was understood by cottage owners that the south end was for fishing and the rest of the lake was for other activities.  This obviously has changed.   Conesus is also crazy.  On summer weekends there are plenty of imbibed boaters racing around the lake at 1 am.   I love fishing these lakes in May and early June, and again in October and November.   There's some great summer fishing, but be prepared to share the water with plenty of other enthusiasts.   Best call is to start at 4 am and get off the water around 11 am during the weekends, or fish rainy days and weekdays.

5/18:   Jarrod and I got on the lake just before 9 am with 58 to 59 degree water.   On the way down I became a complete believer in his Garmin GPS/Navigator!   It was amazing - I learned a new route that was both scenic and saved us a lot of headache as well as mileage.   We had bluebird skies and a light Northwind.   We tried a point on the way to the N. end and marked some good fish and bait.   Up to the north end we went and I found an area with some very subtle weed growth.   Within short order - maybe 10 to 15 minutes on my alewife tube I had a hit was was hooked up to a tiger musky around 22" to 24".   I lost the fish.   Jarrod was next, hooking and landing a very hefty pike at 32" on a jerkbait.  The fish fought great.   I then landed my first Conesus Tiger musky - a dink around 20".   They've been stocked here since the late 1980s or early 1990s.   Jarrod had a good pike follow him and I landed a 14" largemouth.  And that was about it.  We worked down the lake and found plenty of smallmouths on beds, as well as a few largemouths.   Males seemed to have moved up and many females were hovering just off the shelves.   I landed a big smallmouth, again on a tube, then Jarrod did the same.

Fishing slowed up for us from around 1 pm till 5 pm.  Jarrod had a hit, missed it, made another cast and had a walleye follow him in.   We saw some big pike.   But the fish seemed to have shut off.   Around 5 pm I hooked a big fish and lost it.  Then Jarrod put on a swimbait clinic for me, landing a 4lb+ largemouth and another chunky fish.  Then he set into the biggest largemouth I've seen in person caught on the Finger Lakes.  It was huge - 22 1/2" and weighed in at 6 3/4lbs!   At around 6 pm we talked to some guys trolling eyes and they reported slow fishing - 2 fish between 5 and 6lbs on the entire day.   That still isn't too bad IMO, for cooling waters and an alewife driven walleye fishery during the day.     By this time we'd decided we'd stay and fish Conesus on both days, rather than switch over to Honeoye Lake.  

We used the Garmin Navigator and located a hotel and pizza place.   The unit gave us phone numbers and addresses - how great is that?    We grabbed a bite to eat, went to the hotel and set the alarm for 1:30 am.  

5/19:  We checked out and were on the lake by 2:45 am and met with a good southwind and very cold conditions.   There was one trailer in the parking lot and the boat was coming in as we launched.  The guys reported landing one 5lb walleye.   Water temps dropped to 57.   We worked a few good streches and never had a hit.  We didn't see many baitfish around.    At daybreak the bass turned on and we landed 4 or 5 largemouths, incl. one around 4lbs.   No walleyes.   Jarrod did have one eye follow him in around 7:30 am.  

We tried an area my buddy Terry had found years ago, where I used to catch some daytime (early AM) walleyes.  At least I THINK it was the same area!   I had a wicked bite-off and then Jarrod hooked a very heavy fish before being bitten off.   I then landed a pike around 25" on the tube.  We rigged some pike stuff up and I landed a solid 32" fish.  Jarrod does a bit of musky fisheries work and was very impressed with the heft of these pike.  They were very well fed and very strong fighters.   A few more smallies and another pike rounded off the day.    We quit at 2 pm.  

Overall the fishing was tough - we fished our butts off on very long days.   I fully intend to chase walleyes here in a week or two at night.   I think the fishing is going to be very good after the next few hot days bring in the spawning alewives! 

5/17/2009
Cayuga Lake 5/15, Seneca/Watkins 5/16, Owasco 5/17

Lots of guiding over the past few days makes for a tired man.   I have a few days off and what's a Finger Lakes Guide do?   He takes a trip to the Finger Lakes.    I'll be fishing Honeoye and Conesus Lakes over the next couple days.   We were planning on Lake Erie, but the wind forecast isn't looking too good.   Here's what we found over the past three days:

5/15:   Fished out of Taughannock with Paul and his son Doug.   The wind forecast was downgraded and we were met with dense fog in the AM, which made for slow going.   The strong southerlies of 5/14 cooled things off a lot, and water temps dropped to around 42 degrees.  The warm water was at the lake's south end - which was murky/muddy as well.   Good numbers of browns were around, but casting for them in Cayuga's south end can be like looking for a needle in a haystack - it was a troller's game out there.   My guys worked spoons and stickbaits and never had a hit.   We saw a pike landed and had friends report some good brown trout action.  

We wound up N. of AES jigging lake trout.   Doug did well, hooking a few nice fish and landing 2 solid lakers.   Fish were from 85' on out.  110' to 120' was best for us, and there was some bait around.   Paul nailed a small LLS on a spoon at AES and that was it for us.  Doug also missed a LLS hit at Taughannock before we called it a day.   We fished hard!

5/16:  Guided Bill and his son Nathan for the full day on Seneca out of Watkins.   They had some great pike fishing with me last May.   We found very cold water on the lake's south end - no doubt from the winds on 5/14.  On our first drift Nate missed a salmon and Bill lost what was probably a nice pike.   We tried some other areas then returned to our original area of warmer water.   We found plenty of salmon and the guys wound up having a nice day with around a dozen landlockeds landed - mostly 14" to 17" fish.   We kept the few we couldn't release.  These things just maim themselves!    A big brown followed in a spoon, as did a nice pickerel.  Bill lost a nice 30" + northern under the boat when it grabbed a spoon intended for salmon.   It was pretty exciting.  

5/16 PM:  Back out of Watkins with Jeff and Abby, who I guided 2 years ago for lakers on Cayuga one August.  Back then we got blown off by torrential rains and a good T-Storm.   That was nothing compared to what we experienced Saturday!   The weather was getting iffy, but we decided to try fishing anyways since we weren't working too far from the marina.   We headed out and Jeff lost a salmon in no time.   We kept an eye on the weather and lo and behold a wicked storm came out from the South West!   We were able to take shelter while our visibility dropped to around 100' and 57 mph winds and waves crashed around us.  It was crazy.   After 1/2 hour the storm blew through and we were fishing again.   Salmon action was very good and around 4 or 5 more were landed including a 15" brown.   It was nice to see a brown on Seneca - we don't catch many there these days.  

5/17:  Guided Steve and Albert on Owasco.  Steve has a place on the lake and hasn't really explored all the lake has to offer "angling wise" yet, so off we went.  The guys wanted to learn some techniques and areas to fish.   So we started north with tube jigs and jerkbaits - two of my favorites.  It didn't take long before Albert had a couple hits and was hooked up with what was most likely a laker over 22".   It got off, but it was fun.  We then headed south.   The guys wound up each landing 18" chunky smallmouths, some big perch to 13" and a couple 25" northern pike.   It was fun and I think they are now believers in the stickbaits and tubes.   In the PM I "traded" Al for Steve's son Sil.   He's only 10 years old, but was casting consistently within a couple hours.  Conditions were very tough fishing with 20 mph winds out of the NW.  We tried some laker jigging and casting for bass, but the bite had shut down.   Water temps were in the low 50s.  

5/13/2009
Onondaga Lake 5/13

I got out onto Onondaga Lake near Syracuse with my buddy Jarrod.  I hadn't fished Onondaga since 7/22/2000, so I was looking forward to hitting it.   The lake is one of the most researched fisheries around, due to its history of heavy pollution.  It's much cleaner than it once was and the fishing has been excellent for the past decade at the very least.   A 48" tiger musky (A State Record Class Fish!) was electrofished here last week, along with 4 others (incl. a couple around 20lbs.)   These fish drop down into Nine Mile Creek (Otisco Lake's outlet) and wind up in Onondaga Lake.   There's a ton of stuff for gamefish to eat in Onondaga Lake - so there's some serious big-fish potential here!   We were hoping to encounter a musky today, though we didn't throw musky lures.  I used TyGer wire leaders on most of my presentations today just in case.

A cold night made the shallow bass pretty lethargic when we started around 9 am.   I landed the first largemouth on a Senko - and it didn't hit hard.   We fished hard and Jarrod lost a nice pike (or possible musky) near the lake's north end.   It took a few hours before we got our second fish, a nice smallmouth around 2.5lbs.   We spotted a nice pike and a hefty bowfin in one cove, along with some good bass.   Jarrod then had a slashing hit from what appeared to be a good musky.  The fish was big and it missed his swimbait.   That was it on the esocids.   We headed down the lake to a couple of bass areas my buddy Terry and I had found on our previous trip on this lake back in July of 2000.   Jarrod found a neat pattern and hammered 3 nice fish in a row on a lipless crankbait.  He then lost a slob largemouth, probably around 5lbs.   I landed a couple bass as well - all were shallow, in less than 7' of water.  We worked N. to the launch and caught some more bass.  Our total on bass was around 12 to 14 mostly keeper sized fish today, primarily largemouths, but 2 chunky smallies.  Lipless cranks, a spinnerbait, a stickbait and a senko produced our bass.   Water temps rose from 57 to over 61 degrees today.  We also landed a couple perch.   Carp and bluegills were everywhere and we did see plenty of bass too, incl. some big ones.   It was a fun day and we'll be back.  

5/12/2009
Seneca Lake/Sampson 5/12

I got out for a half day with Larry and his girlfriend.   Lake trout jigging wasn't real easy, despite the favorable conditions.   Fish were around - from shallow to very deep, but just not very aggressive.   The goal was to learn the technique, and that we did.   Two lakers were landed a couple more missed.   Fish came from around 160' of water.    We had fish marked and chasing jigs from 80' on out.    We found lakers just about everywhere we fished - from Sampson on to the North end of the lake.  

After the trip I spent a little time searching for pike.  I hooked a smallmouth bass and had a decent pike follow in a swimbait.   I didn't encounter any decent pike numbers.   I'll be back out checking on pike again - I only fished one area, but was disappointed in what I saw.   Water temps on Seneca were in the mid 40s on top.  

5/11/2009
Skaneateles Lake 5/11

Did a full-day guided trip with Chris and Mike, who've been enjoying the mixed bag stuff on Skaneateles for the last couple years with me.   Water temps ranged from the low to mid 40s for the most part.   We had little wind to start, then it built out of the North.  Only 2 other boats launched out of the State Ramp today - one being my friend Mike S. who did some fly-fishing for trout.

We were impressed as heck by the terrific smallmouth bass fishing.   We found bass on dark bottomed rocky/weedy areas in roughly 7' to 20' of water.   The largest (longest) fish we caught today was 20 1/2" and weighed just under 4lbs.   We had a shorter fish push the scale down to 4lbs 6oz today!   There are a lot of nice bass in this lake despite what many folks may think.   This is a great time of year for big smallies, though the low water temps have limited their willingness or ability to jump much!  

Chris nailed one Landlocked Salmon that was 19" long on a hair jig.   We saw freshly stocked rainbows feeding on the abundant midges that were hatching lakewide.   No other trout action for us, which was surprising.  I was definitely expecting lakers.  They will undoubtedly be in the mix next week when water temps reach close to 48.   My buddy Mike landed 2 decent rainbows (up to 20") today fly-fishing.  And he worked some of the same areas we did.  It just goes to show how downright DEADLY fly-fishing can be for certain species, like trout, salmon and pike.  At times fly-fishing is the #1 method to catch those fish.

The perch really cooperated today.  They are spawning or darn close to it.  The guys - esp. Chris, landed 14 beauties today - mostly 12" to nearly 15" jacks!   This lake is a challenge to fish.  My advice to those who struggle with this lake is to move around and try new areas.  Location is the key.  Don't waste your time fishing the same areas day after day if they aren't producing consistently.  

After Chris and Mike left, I met up with Mike S. and we fished smallmouths.  We had a blast.   There are so many great fishing opportunities in the region!

5/8/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's 5/8

5/8 AM:  I did an AM trip starting just after 8 am with Matt from the Fingerlakes Tourism Alliance and Susan, a Senior Editor with "Wine Enthusiast" magazine.   The weather was beautiful with a strong sun and very calm conditions.    The goal was to get Susan a lake trout that she could take over to the Aurora Inn and have their chef prepare.  Lakers were around from shallow to deep, but not grabbing super well.   Both Matt and Sue had a few hits, but nothing they could convert.   Eventually Susan did manage to catch a nice 29" laker on a jig in around 160'.    Perseverence paid off.   The jigging can be easy when fish are aggressive, but it can be difficult when fish aren't.  

PM Trip:   Matt and Sue had some committments that they were running late to, and I had an hour before my PM trip with Ed, Tom and Dave, so I checked on some shallower fish.  The wind came up a bit and the skies clouded up a bit more.   I found some active fish and dropped two.   Things looked good for the PM trip.

I met the guys at the launch, just as the skies were starting to get a bit ominous.   We motored to a shallow shelf and set up in around 50' of water.   It didn't take long before the guys started getting some hits.   A couple fish were lost, then a couple were landed.  But the storms started approaching.   We headed for cover at Dean's just as a good T-storm came in.   The trip was aborted after around 2 hours.  

5/7/2009
Cayuga N. end 5/6 + Owasco Lake 5/7

Cayuga Lake 5/6:

After a busy week on the water I was going to take it easy Wednesday, but then my buddy Craig called me to see if I wanted to join him on Cayuga's N. end, fishing out of his Ranger bass boat.   How could I refuse?   So off we went at around 4:30pm.   We worked some areas for largemouth bass and got into some nice fish in short order.   Fish were hitting jerkbaits and a tube jig.   Craig caught some stellar fish with a spinnerbait - a 4lb 2oz smallmouth, a 3lb 8oz largemouth and a whopping 5lbs+ largemouth!  Just some beasts!    Fish were in shallow water - probably less than 7'.   There were a ton of dead bluegills and sunfish floating around.  This appears to be an annual event on Cayuga's N. end as the panfish spawn.   I'm not sure what the deal is.  

Craig has just launched his guide service and  I expect him to do very well.  He'll be focusing on Oneida and Onondaga Lakes, but is also available to do trips elsewhere in the region, including Lake Champlain and Lake George, as well as select Finger Lakes and the Thousand Island area.    He's a stand-up guy with a worldly view on bass fishing, having competed in tournaments across the eastern U.S.   His website is www.empirebassandbeyond.com/  

Owasco Lake 5/7:

Fished Owasco Lake today with my buddy Jarrod.   We were hoping to find some northerns and smallies, but went in with an open mind.   We started around 11:15 am on count of some committments Jarrod had early.   Things started out promising on the north end of the lake when Jarrod missed a couple hits.  Then he landed a nice pike around 27".   Then I hooked a nice fish casting into around 10' of water.  It was a 23" lake trout!   I used to catch a lot of lakers in the spring shallow in Owasco, and it was nice to see that they were still moving up.    There were a lot of perch in shallow.  

We worked south and Jarrod picked up a smallmouth around 15".   I had a follow from what was probably a walleye, and Jarrod landed another decent pike.   Pike seemed a bit lethargic.   A cast into deep water produced a nice laker around 27" for me.   The lakers were outfighting everything!   I thought my first laker was a huge smallmouth at first.  Give lakers 48 degree water on the surface and they fight with intensity and vigor!    We spent a little time jigging lakers deep without luck, but we didn't try for long.   We patrolled the shallows once the wind died down and managed to spot at least 3 or 4 nice walleyes, but they were lock-jawed.   A ton of perch were chasing our jerkbaits.  The hot lure of the day was an alewife colored tube jig fished on a 1/4 oz. jig head. 

Overall the fishing was somewhat slow.  I blame a lot of it on the lack of wind.  Fish were hitting very well when we started, with rainy conditions and 10 mph west winds.  As soon as the wind died, the bite died for the most part.   Perch fishers report catching bonus walleyes while perch fishing.   Water temps were in the upper 40s to 51.   Many bass still seem deep, though I'm sure a sunny day will move some up in short order.   We didn't work on jigging lakers much, but I'd love to spend a day on the lake going after them. 

5/5/2009
Otisco Lake 5/5
I had a lot of fun on Otisco Lake today, fishing from 7 am till around 3 pm.  Within my first couple casts I landed a small 19" (pickerel sized) Tiger Musky.  A good sign for the future.  Bass were the story of the day, especially the smallmouths which were hitting with reckless abandon.  My Rattlin' Rogue was getting crushed by nice smallies measuring up to 18".   I spent most of the day fishing solely for muskies, using a TyGer wire leader on a smallish jerkbait.   I landed a 27" Tiger around 10 am.   They are exhilarating fighters - kind of like a pike crossbred with a salmon!  My tiger cleared the water with a nice boatside jump.   Other species caught incl. yellow perch, white perch and plenty of largemouth bass.   I missed a couple of hellacious (sp?) hits - likely big smallmouths or possibly Tigers too.  Water temps were around 57 degrees.   Around 5 or 6 other boats were on the lake.   FYI - The launch fee is $9 at the south shore Marina.   I bought a season launch pass - I expect to be out here a lot this year.  
5/4/2009
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 5/4

I have some freetime this week and I'm very psyched about checking out some places I haven't visited in a while.  This afternoon I fished Seneca Lake with the intention of finding some good DEEP flats on the lake's north end.   I generally fish Sampson or around Severne Point when I want to hit 150' of water or more this time of year.   With my new jigging gear, I'm able to fish water from 140' out to over 180' very effectively, so it's opened up a lot of new water to me.  

I started shallow near Belhurst and didn't find much of anything, despite favorable water temps down 30'.   Surface temps were in the mid-40s.    I then headed down the lake and worked out to 180' of water.   I never landed a fish, but I lost and missed quite a few and marked good numbers.   Eventually I found an area that had solid numbers of baitfish, primarily down around 40' to 60'.   I found some aggressive chasing fish in 85' of water too.   So I felt very good about things on the lake's north end.   

I did spend an hour or so checking a few shorelines.  I didn't encounter any pike, other than one fungused up one (beat from spawning.)   I wasn't expecting to see many in the areas I fished.   I'll be checking on the pike fishing shortly, as I'm guiding for them in around 10 days.    I expect decent pike fishing, though I'm sure many will be recouping from the spawn.   

5/3/2009
Cayuga out of Dean's 5/3

5/3:  I was out on the water from 6 am till 8:15 pm today.  Yes, it was a long one!  Started at 6 am with Steve, Stu and Shannon.  Lake trout jigging started with a bang, with Stewart nailing one on his first or second drop.  After that things slowed for a while, though the guys did lose/miss a few.   Steve nailed 3 nice fish and Shannon landed her first and second lakers late in the trip.   Fish ran from around 22" to 29".   They are still full of alewives.   H2O surface temps are coming up - they're in the mid 40s.   We had hits from 100' out to 175' today, with the deep stuff producing all the solid hookups. 

My PM 1/2 day was with Thomas and Jessie - both from England (and staying at Cornell for the week.)   Thomas had never gone fishing before - so he'd (obviously) never caught a fish.   So action was the #1 priority.   So we ran up North and set up for some pickerel.  Tom had no trouble learning how to cast spinning gear.   BTW - Water temps were around the mid to upper 50s.  Water was muddy (carp anyone?) around Canoga and further north.   Action wound up being good with around 1/2 dozen nice pickerel landed.   The guys also got some perch, with Tom catching a nice 12"er.   He learned how to use a Rat-L Trap, X-rap and tube jig.   And all produced follows/hits.   We tried some laker jigging with a few non-committal hits.   It was a fun evening. 

Pickerel are so underrated it's ridiculous.   People tend to hate them for three reasons:  they bite off baits/lures intended for other fish;  they are bony and require filleting expertise and lastly they are often small and tough to handle and tend to go crazy, cutting people with their teeth and/or hooking people with errant treble hooks while thrashing.

Those are valid reasons to dislike pickerel, but there are some great reasons to like them:  They hit hard and often provide good to great action when other fish aren't active;  they fight good;  they taste GREAT (once you learn how to fillet them) ;  they keep panfish populations in check and they respond well to numerous techniques/lures - including fly-fishing.   I love fishing for pickerel, and nearly all the Finger Lakes are capable of producing "pike sized pickerel" upwards of 27" long and better!

5/2/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 5/2
Did a 1/2 day PM trip with Ed and Stan so they could get in some turkey hunting in the AM.  Lake trout jigging was fair, with the guys landing three fish.  Not many hits were had apart from the fish landed.   But the day was quite noteworthy  - Ed landed one of the biggest lakers we've taken on my boat - a fish just an ounce and a half shy of 13lbs!   The beauty fought hard, taking Ed around the boat.  Fish are starting to move shallower and we caught our fish in 100' to 115', though we had "lookers" in water out to 155'.   H2O surface temps are in the mid-40s.  Expect to see more and more shallow fish by the day!  
4/30/2009
Skaneateles Lake 4/30

Had Dan K. up for the full-day today.  Dan's been booking a trip or two a year with me since I started and I always look forward to taking out this S. Carolina resident.   The first time he booked a trip we dealt with severe T-Storms.  Ditto our second trip.  The last two were good, but today we had "stormbringer Dan" delivering high winds!  ;-)

As was the case last time I was out on Skaneateles, by the afternoon we were the only boat on the lake (or the only trailer at the State Launch.)   It was nasty with sustained 15 to 20 mph S. winds and higher gusts.   H2O is cold - around 41 lakewide.   We started up N. with a bass and rock bass.  We shot all the way to the south end and Dan landed a good pickerel and more smallmouths.   A large rainbow or LL Salmon followed in his X-rap but didn't hit it.   More smallmouths followed, then Dan nailed a gorgeous 26" Skaneateles Lake trout.   For this lake, that's a very good fish - not as big as the occasional 30"+ trophies the lake coughs up every year, but much bigger than the usual 15" to 19" fish that ply this lake.   Dan also caught a 19" laker.   As we worked up the lake, he caught more quality smallmouths and 4 very nice perch - a 15" 1lbs 8oz fish and a couple 14" 1lb 6 oz fish and one 12" fish.   This lake contains some beautiful perch.   Fish were caught on tube jigs.  The method I use is tricky, but Dan had it dialed in around halfway through the trip.   The wind made things much more complicated.   Boat control required 2 driftbags and my 82lb thrust trolling motor.   We stayed deeper for the perch and bass.    We didn't see any rainbows, but we're pretty sure Dan missed on in shallow.  They are around!  

4/29/2009
Cayuga out of Dean's 4/29
Did a 1/2 day trip with Cy, his brother Rob and Bob (two Bobs basically ;-)    Action started out very slow, with no solid hits for the first 3 hours.   Then Cy caught a good fish reeling up.   Another 3 fish were landed, most importantly Rob's massive 35" 12lb. 12 oz laker!   He's an accomplished angler and knew he had a big fish from the get-go.  He was using what's now becoming a deep-jigging favorite rod - my custom Mike Canavan "STICK"!  This rod has a very fast action and plenty of power, yet is high quality and light.   No fish were lost today, but I'd be lying if I said action was fast.  We worked very hard for our fish.  Best action was deep - 150' to 160' or so.   We did some fishing shallow but didn't hook up.  The depth finder is still having issues (I'm currently shopping around for a new unit.)  
4/28/2009
Cayuga out of Dean's Cove 4/27

The "Fish Gods" work in interesting ways.   A little over a week ago I took John V. and Ed out for 1/2 day of lake trout jigging.   Both anglers did well with Ed catching the lion's share of the fish.   John came out again with me last Friday and missed a couple while the other guys did well.  On this trip John did very well, landing 4 nice fish averaging 27" while Ed just didn't get the bites.    That's fishing!   It happens to me and I'm sure it happens to those of you reading this.   The fish were loaded with freshly killed alewives and a few smelt.

Lake trout action slowed for us a bit on Monday.   We found excellent numbers of fish on bottom from around 135' to 175' give or take.   But the fish just weren't nearly as aggressive as they were on Sunday.   We didn't find any real patterns.  Just keep working areas and move around alot is what we did.   Surface temps were up around 43 degrees!   As they continue to rise expect a lot of brown trout and salmon to work their way up the lake.  

4/26/2009
Cayuga out of Dean's Cove 4/26

Guided Mike, Zoe and Trent from "Edible Finger Lakes" magazine.   The publication is available throughout the region at wineries and other locations.  They spotlight regional cuisine - as well as local restauranteurs, wineries, farmers and other interesting things of note.   We'd been talking for awhile about local fish and their absence from local restaurants and markets.  Anyways the crew met me at 7:45 am and we headed out.

Fishing was excellent!   As good as I've seen it for deep jigging.   Zoe mainly took photos, but she fished and managed to land a couple nice lakers.   All in all 14 fish were landed in around 2.5 hours.   The fish were all solid - averaging around 27".   They are STUFFED with baitfish - primarily alewives, though we had one laker spit up a smelt and one laker had a big sunfish (around 7") in its stomach.   Water temperatures are around 41 on top.  North end temps are in the high 50s (though they fluctuate widely up there.)

4/25/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 4/25

The weather forecast online (and via NOAH) looked great for LLS and brown trout action.  Strong S. Winds and highs in the low 80 sounded good.   I was guiding longtime client Mark D. - who fished with me in a couple Red Cross Derbies.   Fishing was tough.   We worked Taughannock w/o any action then headed to Ithaca.   Fishing pressure near the inlet was fairly heavy - certainly heavy for recent times and we gave the shore casters space.   Some salmon were taken by trollers and casters off the Ithaca Pier, but action was spotty.   Plenty of alewives are around and dying - likely due to abrupt temp changes.   Mark had a follow from a small pike or pickerel, but that was it.  Getting out at daybreak would be a good call.  We started around 7:45 am.  

Our wind started changing and dying on us, so we headed N. above AES in search of lakers.   Deep jigging wasn't bad.  Mark landed 3 nice fish from 23" to 25.5".   Fish came from around 100' out to 160'.   Bait is around as well.   Fishing at AES was slow.  No one was there and we didn't raise any fish.  

Conditions are going to warm rapidly at Cayuga's south end with these record or near-record highs.   There are vast quantities of warm water around Ithaca and I think it'll be a troller's game shortly (it was today.)  Expect good to excellent fishing from the usual areas like Taughannock, Myers and Ithaca, but wind conditions and water temperatures will be huge factors.   Some of the best action is yet to come - both for casting and fly-casting, but things will be a bit more unpredictable.  

4/24/2009
Cayuga Lake/Dean's Cove 4/24

Guided three Johns today!  So we had four Johns on the boat - John O, John H, John V and yours truly.   We started at 7:30 am in around 75' (I can't remember exactly!) in some moderate chop and we worked our way out.   There are fish scattered from around 125' on out to 175' or more.   John O. had the hot hand and got the first hook up.   We wound up landing 8 nice fish up to 32.5".   The smallest was 26.5" - so Cayuga Lake is churning out some real quality!    Nearly all the landed fish (all kept) were loaded with freshly eaten and some digested alewives.   They are feeding heavily!  

After the trip ended, I was going to check on some carp further north, but on the way I tried jigging lakers.  After missing one and landing a decent fish, the winds came up a bit out of the south, and I decided to call it a day. 

4/23/2009
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 4/23

Fished hard today with my buddy Jarrod.   We started around 8 am targeting lakers.   There are loads of fish out from 75' to 180'.  Most were from 130' or so out to 180'.   We had some grabs and decent hookups to start, but given the number of fish we were marking the "catching" was only fair.  We landed 5 keepers and missed and lost lots more.  We divided the day between laker jigging and casting for bass. 

We saw some interesting stuff.   DEC diaries report very few salmonids apart from lakers.   But we saw a large silvery fish gobbling freshly stocked landlocked salmon at the boat launch!   A 20" brown followed in Jarrod's stickbait too.  So trout and salmon are around.  

Bass fishing was good.  I landed a nice 4lb+ largie and Jarrod landed five or six 14 to 16" largemouths.   We saw some big perch cruising around and plenty of huge carp.   Large pickerel and 3 to 4 pike chased our lures as we bass fished.   I was impressed with the sizes of the pickerel.  Last year I caught a lot of small ones - it's nice to see 23" to 25" pickerel around.  

Keuka's always a good bet when forecasts call for windy conditions out of the west - which is what we had today.   We made the call last night.   Keuka's high surrounding hills keep conditions fairly calm there - even with stiff west winds.  Strong southerlies can be a different story!  H20 hit 41 to 42 today.   We did a little crappie fishing w/o luck.  Jarrod may have had one follow.  

4/21/2009
Cayuga/Taughannock Smelting 4/21
My friend Jeff decided to check on the smelt tonight, so I drove down and watched at least 40 anglers working the creek.   That's a good crowd for a weeknight!   Fishing was fairly slow - with most anglers dipping a few - from a handful to a couple dozen.   I watched from 10:30 pm till 12:30 am.   Driving the fish produced the best action.  It was very reminiscent of the early 2000s -before the smelt fishing really slowed down.  A trickle of fish, but better action late - mainly during drives.  It's nice to see the smelt gradually coming back in Cayuga Lake.  Most fish were large.   I think a warm rain would have the potential of producing some decent runs - but time will tell.  I didn't feel compelled to don my waders and grab my net tonight, though I had my gear in my truck.   I'll be back and I'll have a full report - most likely after the next good rain.   A few salmon were also in the creek - obviously gobbling smelt!   Suckers are around too.
4/19/2009
Cayuga 4/18 + 4/19

I was out on Cayuga quite a bit over the past 48 hours.  Here's what happened:

4/18:  I did a 1/2 day trip with Ed and John (both from the area) targeting lakers out of Dean's Cove.  We got out around 7:30 am and started finding some fish within around an hour.  By 10 am the fishing was pretty hot 'n heavy.   Lakers were deep - mainly around 165' to 175'.   The light winds helped us cover water.   The guys had some terrific action, boating around 14 solid lakers!   We experienced three doubles.   Ed has a lot of Cayuga Lake fishing experience  - especially with landlocked salmon, and it was nice to see that he was very impressed with the great lake trout fishing.    I was also impressed.  Cayuga is just a fantastic lake!    It was nice meeting a couple local anglers and we had some mutual friends/acquaintances.  

After the trip I went out for an hour or two and managed to miss a couple fish and land one nice laker.  The guys clearly had hit the hot bite earlier in the day.   So I trailered my boat home, grabbed my fly fishing gear and met my buddy Mike - who picked me up in his boat at Taughannock; he 'd been fly-fishing all AM, starting at the Treman launch.  

Mike was stoked to have landed a beautiful 25.5" brown earlier in the day on the lake's south end.  He reported plenty of alewives in around lower Cayuga Inlet.    Where there's bait, there's fish!    We tried a few areas near Taughannock and wound up on the east shore.   I had a follow from a very nice salmon - maybe 24" to 26", but didn't connect.   Mike hooked up with a beauty shortly thereafter (down the lake a bit) and after a strong, long battle landed a 25" Landlocked Salmon!  To land two nice fish like that in a day's fly-fishing says a lot about Cayuga.  Mike was expecting more action this AM, but he couldn't help but be pleased with the quality of the fish he'd caught.  We were both pretty tired, so we quit around 6:00 pm.  

4/19:  Guided another 1/2 day starting at 9 am with Len and his wife Colleen.  The late start was fine with me (I was really tired) - and they preferred it since they were on vacation and did the wine trail the day or two before.  We went over the technique and then set up deep.  Len had done some trolling before for lakers on the Finger Lakes and wasn't real thrilled with the fights of the lakers, but he was willing to give the jigging a chance.   After landing three nice lakers, he was impressed with their battles.   Jigging with medium to med. heavy baitcasting set ups really helps highlight the sporting qualities of lakers.   Colleen managed to land a laker around 20" that we kept for their dinner.   This laker spit up 2 nice smelt!   These were the first smelt I'd seen in any lakers since we started jigging Cayuga Lake (at least that's my memory)!   It was refreshing to see.   I forgot to mention on my last report (4/17) that we had a laker with a mudpuppy in its stomach!   These fish clearly eat just about anything they can find.

BTW - Smelt are showing up at Taughannock and dip netters have been out in force.  The action has reportedly been fairly decent, with drives producing most of the fish.  

After having a fun 1/2 day with Len and Colleen, I trailered the boat down to Taughannock Park in hopes of connecting with some salmon/browns.   I ran into my friend and client Jesse (and Jason), who'd been fly-fishing from shore.  He showed me a photo of one of the most impressive brown trout I'd ever seen taken in the lake on a fly - it was a fish he'd caught earlier in the season - just a silver, fat blimp of a brown!     By 4 pm I was launching my boat.

No great shakes to report in the two plus hours I spent fishing.  The water along the E. shore was pretty cold.  I had a follow from another tremendous salmon, but couldn't get the grab.  It was at least 25" long!   I headed south looking for warmer water but as I got within range of Ithaca, the fatigue from the last few days started to hit me, and I turned around and headed home.   Water levels are high and temps are cold.   Expect good fishing for the rest of the week from S. end shore areas.    

4/17/2009
Cayuga Lake Dean's Cove 4/17

Had some very good to excellent action today guiding Eric.   We did a full day trip and within an hour or so he was into some lakers.   The fish were quite aggressive in the AM - I'd see 2 or more fish shooting off the bottom to chase his jig.   He landed 8 beauties - all but one were 27" to 28" lakers!    Baitfish were suspended in around 40' of water.   We caught our lakers from around 135' to 165' today.   Action was good all day long, with the last fish landed about 20 minutes before calling it a day.   A lot of fish were lost and hits missed as well, but given how deep we were fishing - it's not unexpected.  H2O remains around 39 degrees.  A few fish appear to be moving shallower.  

 

4/16/2009
St. Lawrence River/Thousand Islands Fisheries Work

My buddy Jarrod's been telling me about handling some big bowfins and other cool fish up near Alexandria Bay and some of the river/bay tribs.   I was glad to give him a helping hand and see firsthand some of the work fisheries people do.    ESF is doing a bit of pike habitat enhancement - basically flooding marshes (that no longer get flooded naturally due to hydroelectric controls) in hopes of providing more northern pike spawning habititat.   Jarrod's been working some trap nets in hopes of getting some northerns to tag.  

I don't have time to get into all the details of the work, but it's interesting stuff.   We got to take a 10' pram up and down some tributaries of the river/bays and work some nets.  I saw plenty of young perch, some great crappies, carp, bass, small pike, grass pickerel, bullheads, golden shiners, white perch and one bowfin.   In one trib we saw a few steelhead.   It was fun, yet easy to see that it's hard work setting fishing nets/traps and checking others.   I took plenty of photos and will put up a photo essay sooner or later.

The fun part of the day was doing some fishing after we were done setting nets.   We managed to catch around 8 beautiful keeper sized black crappies - all 10" to 12" fish on various jigs.  Jarrod released a couple sublegal ones as well.    We did alright given that we had zero boat control - no trolling motor and not much of an anchor - so we wound up bashing into many of the fallen trees we were fishing!    I also landed a nice bonus largemouth bass.   Water temps are all over the place in some of these small rivers/streams - you may have 35 degrees one day and 55 degrees two days later!   

4/14/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 4/14

Guided Martin and his son Jonathon for 1/2 day today.   We did a trip last year around the same time for lakers and had slow action.  We resorted to some warmwater fishing at Canoga marsh.   The Fish Gods owed us, and they paid us off in big dividends today.    A lot of fishing knowledge comes by accident - or "accidentally on-purpose."    Read any "In-Fishermen" article and you'll know what I mean.   Using large Swim Baits for walleyes or "float and fly" for pike - clearly other species were being targeted and patterns were formed.  Same with Lake Ontario walleyes - Charter guys started catching them while trolling spring browns and things took off from there.   Today was no exception.   I'd love to tell everyone that I motored out to 170' of water and we started hammering lakers, but it's not true.   Here's what happened today:

Last Thursday we did well near Dean's Cove on a break from around 145' to 155' of water.   There is a large flat and then things drop off.   Because my handheld GPS is a piece of garbage, I left it in my truck (not that I marked our areas from last Thurs. anyways!)   I went looking for my break and thought I'd found it.  So I set the boat up in around 155' of water.   Martin and Jon started dropping their jigs and fishing.   Unbeknownest to me, we drifted off of our break!   I had the guys reel up and they both got hit!   Jon landed a solid laker.   We were in business - first drop of the day.   The guys kept fishing - Jon landed a 31" laker and so did Martin.  The thing is, I noticed Jon's braid was into its backing while we were fishing (or catching.)   I checked the depthfinder and we were in 170'!   A new boat record for getting fish on bottom on jigs for me.   Long story short - we found excellent laker action in water as deep as 180'.   

The guys managed to land 14 nice fish.   Including 2 at 31".   Smallest was 24" and most were 27" and up.   Cayuga's coldwater fish community is in good balance now, so we are harvesting less fish than in years past.   We kept 2 of the smaller fish today.   Martin wasn't doing nearly as well as his young (I think 13 Y.O.) son, but as he reeled up his luck changed.   He had a solid grab not far below the boat.   I kept telling him to get the fish out from under the boat!  Usually lakers will come up to the surface and bang around under the boat, and the jig will pop out.   Martin just had a hard time moving the fish.   It was wrapped under the motor too!    I took a look behind the motor and my jaw dropped when I saw the size of the fish!   It was the biggest laker I'd ever seen from a Finger Lake (though I know that plenty bigger have been caught.)  It was the biggest ever hooked on my boat.

I slipped the net under the beast and we got it in the boat and the hook came out easily.   It was bleeding from the mouth a bit, so we didn't want to stress it much at all.   I took a quick photo of the fish over the net, then I had Martin snap a quick shot of me holding it.  He said "I got it" and I let the fish go.  It took off for the depths.   Once I checked the digital I found that the shot hadn't been taken!  Oh no!   I had a feeling, but we were all so revved up having landed the huge fish we weren't thinking straight.  I could have put the fish in the livewell and then double checked the photos - but I didn't even think of it.   But I did get one good photo.  It was a solid 36" - without pinching the tail.   And it was thick bodied.  Just a clean beauty.   I just got done raving about the great browns and salmon we've seen on Cayuga this year - add in the lakers! 

4/13/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 4/13

I kicked myself out of bed and managed to get on the lake before 10 am.   The lake and streams flowing into it are still very cold - around 37 degrees.   I fished quickly but had no luck in that stuff.   I worked down to the south end of the lake and found some 41 to 42 degree + water.   I managed a nice 23" brown trout on a chart. deceiver (streamer) and then an 18" brown.   I lost/missed at least 2 salmon.   Then I had a follow from a MONSTER brown - I managed to get a good look at the fish and it was all of 27" to 29" or better!   A big dark shark!    Around an hour or two later I took my Cornell class to a popular shore area and landed a nice 20" salmon, after missing 2 hits 5 minutes earlier.   I got my fix, then went back to helping the students with their casting!

I've been ridiculously impressed by the quality of the Cayuga fish this year!   There are good numbers of 15" and 23" browns out there (2 and 3 year olds I believe) plus there are some PIGS that are pushing 10lbs and up.   With salmon, we have good numbers of 17", 20 - 22" fish and some 24" and up!   How great is that???    Lakers are doing well and rainbows are bouncing back - you can't ask for a better fishery!   Lampreys are under control.  I think we'll have great fishing for the next 2 years at the very least on Cayuga.  I'm lovin' it! And things are just getting started - the best fishing should be over the next month!

4/12/2009
Skaneateles Lake 4/11

Things got off to a great start for us on 4/11.   I met Adam and his dad Kurt (my apologies if it's written with a "C"!) at the launch at 10 am.   With the heavy winds forecast I was hoping for an early start, but it looked like we lucked out - the winds were a nice 10 mph.   Water temps were great around the northern portions of the lake - upwards of 40 to 41 degrees.    I demonstrated the jigging technique and off we went.   Within about 10 minutes Adam felt a couple hits on the retrieve and we all watched as a 14" to 16" rainbow turned away below the boat.   Then Kurt had hold of a beauty - a thick bodied rainbow that appeared to be at least 20" long!   We thought we'd be in for a stellar "catching" day but it wasn't to be.   After a fishless drift we elected to run down the lake and worked a few different areas.   By this time the wind came up fairly heavily and made keeping contact with the jigs difficult.   Further south Kurt landed a big female perch around 12" or better.   Some hits were missed as well.   But it was very difficult fishing.   Then the winds increased to around 20 mph + with stronger gusts.  We ran back up the lake and found we were pretty much the only boat left out.   Another fish was dropped and we called it a day.   As we pulled into the launch it was clear - we WERE the only boat still out!  The north end of the lake was whitecapping from north winds!

I went back out on my own to check on things, but found similar results.  I did manage a couple hits (I think from bass) and I landed a smallmouth bass around 14".  In 39 degree water I was surprised, but it jumped.   Early season (cold water) rainbow trout fishing can be difficult on this lake.  I use a jigging method that requires a lot of focus - with both feel and line-watching and it can be tough even when conditions are perfect (light winds).   Add in some heavy winds and waves, along with deep water and tricky drifting/boat control and things become much more difficult.   The guys were great sports and we fished hard. 

I don't see this as an indictment on the current fishing on the lake.   With light winds and some sun I think a very good day is quite possible, if not probable on this lake.   But the warmer things get the better.   My favorite time to fish this lake is in early to mid-May - any cast can result in a big smallmouth, jumbo perch, wild laker, rainbow or landlocked salmon.   It's mixed bag fishing at it's best!   

4/9/2009
Cayuga out of Dean's Cove 4/9
What a fun day!   I met Michael, Brian and Dan at the launch around 9:30 am today.  The guys are all from Scotland, and Mike is studying Law at Cornell.   These guys know how to laugh and have fun, that's for sure.   We worked a bunch of different depths until we settled on 145' to 150'+.   There are a LOT of lakers out there!    Some of the fish are still rather thin for their length, but rest assured they are putting on weight.    Heavy tube jigs in white provided much better than expected action.   The guys landed 11 nice fish, keeping a limit of beauties up to 31".    It is a lot of fun jigging these fish up from the depths, then watching as the beautiful greenish silver fish shimmer in the crystal clear water as they come to the net.   Michael had a cool small video camera and we shot some great clips.  H2O was 36 degrees, the water levels are slightly above summer pool (high) and the wind was hauling pretty good out of the west.   We never saw another boat on the lake today!   It's amazing, but for the boat traffic we could've been in Alaska today!  The fun laker jigging is just getting started!
4/5/2009
Cayuga out of Taughannock 4/5
Did a full day trip with the Hermans today.  I figured a late start would help some of the inshore areas to warm up.  We started at 11 am and fished till just before 6 pm.   Conditions were tough - we had cold water inshore (36 to 37 degrees).   We worked both shores diligently.   Eleonore had a couple short hits from a salmon on the east shore.   Around 10 minutes later John had a whopping hit on a Rapala Shad Rap and a very nice fish broke the surface.   After a great fight, incl. a couple strong runs I put the net under the fat brown trout.  It was over 23" , thick bodied and probably 4.5 to 4.75lbs.   We snapped a quick shot and released the fish.   That was about it for today.   Water temps were warmer near the Ithaca Pier and up the inlet, but the visibility was less than 1'.    Pier fishers reported tough fishing today.   We need the rain to stop and air temps to become more seasonal.  
4/2/2009
Cayuga Lake N. end (Cayuga State Park) 4/2

Decisions, decisions, decisions!   After 3 days of teaching and some inclement weather what's a fisherman to do?  I talked to my buddy Jarrod 3 times on Wednesday trying to come up with something.  Do we go to Skaneateles Lake for some rainbows, perch and salmon?  How about Owasco for the first time this year for some big smallies and maybe some laker jigging and a whack at a few rainbows/browns?  Better yet, Cayuga Lake has been fantastic for trout and salmon - so we could go there.  Or Seneca.  Or Fairhaven on Lake Ontario and cast for spring browns.   It was an angler's dilemma.  A Central NY angler's dilemma that is.  

After careful consideration of the conditions and weather/wind forecast we settled on some good old panfishing on the N. end of Cayuga.  Jarrod whacked around 90 perch there with his father in-law on Tuesday.   They found some nice schools of 10" to 13" fish on Cayuga, which has been the 'hot perch lake' according to anglers Jarrod talked to while working at BPS last weekend.    We decided on 1/2 day of perch, then we'd do my 'once every 2 years' attempt at seeing whether Cayuga Lake still holds much of a crappie population.  

Perch fishing was very good to downright superb.  We found our own areas, away from the pack of 23 boats huddled together S. of Frontenac Island.   There was probably upwards of 40 to 45 boats out on Cayuga perch fishing.  We were able to mark fish in 16' to 19' of water and just have at them with various rigs incl. a buckshot spoon with a dropper, double hook rigs with plastics and so on.  We used bits of night crawlers and they worked great.   We started around 9 am and by noon we had landed 80 to 100 fish, keeping 47 perch.   We had a ton of doubles.   I'd be lying if I said they were all 9" or better - we had a fair number of 8" fish, but they are filletable and that's what I'll be doing for the next hour and a half.   Great fun and great eating - that's what pans are about.   If you want guaranteed perch Cayuga is the place to be.   We saw a few bass, some good carp (not an oxymoron!) and a few pickerel around here and there.  The high point of the day was what looked to be a 2' sturgeon (he's 80% sure) that Jarrod saw on the Cayuga/Seneca Canal.   It may have been a pike, but Jarrod handles plenty of pike on the St. Lawrence River for ESF Fisheries and it didn't look or move like a pike/pickerel.   Crappie fishing didn't pan out.   We tried a bunch of areas from Mud Locks on south and never saw or hooked any.  The one area we tried that looked most promising is still more or less permanently off limits to fishing (we found out.)  Water temps ranged from the low 40s to nearly 50 degrees on the N. end below the RR. tracks.  Water levels are LOW.    There's also a lot of muddy water around.  

3/28/2009
Cayuga Lake 3/27 + Canandaigua 3/28

Cayuga 3/27:  The original plan was for me to hit Canandaigua today and my buddy Mike to fish Cayuga, then we'd compare notes.  Winds were forecast as light and variable originally, but on 3/27 AM the weather people predicted 10 to 15 mph out of the South.  Which should have made for some great trout/salmon action.   I decided to fish with Mike instead of hitting the lakers on Canandaigua.   But sure enough, we had very calm, if not glassy conditions (certainly by 2 pm.)    I started things off by hooking what seemed to be a very nice fish on one of my bionic smelt patterns.   I had a tough time moving it, then it dawned on us that it was foul-hooked.  We got a very good look at it before the hook pulled out - it was a nice brown around 22" to 23"!     Mike was next with a follow in, then later he landed a 15.5" salmon.   It's hard to believe a salmon that small is a legal fish in Skaneateles and Seneca - they are cylindrical at that size!   At Cayuga a salmon needs to be 18" long to be a keeper.    We tried the south end - nice warm temps but no fish for us.  

Eventually we decided to jig lakers since the conditions were perfect for it.  We tried an area south, then shot up to AES.   Mike had the hot hand nailing 3 nice fish before I landed one!   He got a 15.5", 28" and a 30"!   I eventually landed a couple around 23" and he got one more.   Fish were in around 90' to 115'.   We didn't mark most fish at first, we'd just drop jigs and they'd show up.   Best action has been in the late PM.   About half the fish had alewives (fresh ones) in them.   We released the small fish, which happened to be wild.

Canandaigua Lake 3/28:   I fished Canandaigua Lake for lakers from around 12:45 pm to 6:45 pm (I keep track of times for the diary program.)    I wish I had some encouraging news, but I didn't.   My electronics seemed to work OK for awhile, then my signal weakened.  But I did a lot of fishing and searching - pretty much hitting every area I've ever seen a laker on, as well as some that I haven't.   Never had a hit.   I never marked any bait either.   I don't believe I've ever fished this lake for lakers in March (winter pattern), but I've fished it in early April with similar results.   The water was ice-cold - around 36, but it isn't worse than other F. Lakes.   I worked the south end flats for awhile, and usually it's a no-brainer - at least as far as marking some bait and fish.   I may have marked a fish or two on bottom with the Vex, but nothing that moved for my jigs. 

Plenty of perch and some nice bass were cruising very shallow water on the N. end of the lake.  The water was warmer there and I'm sure there was some good fishing to be had, but zippo on the lakers for me today. 

Best bets for early season lakers (IMO) are Cayuga, Seneca and Keuka Lakes.  Canandaigua just doesn't have the laker population these other lakes have.  Things will get easier there as water temps warm up.   I think fish are probably really deep here right now.   Maybe that's where the bait is, I don't know.

3/26/2009
Cayuga 3/25 + 26

3/25:  Very difficult conditions on Cayuga Lake!  Whitecaps and steady 14 to 22 mph + winds made fishing a challenge to say the least.  When I got to the launch a bass boat was coming in reporting no action and another boater decided not to launch given the whitecaps.   I fished a few areas and had a very tough time with boat control.  I managed to miss a good salmon around 20" in fairly shallow water on the W. shore.  But that was it.   The strong WSW winds kept inshore temps very cold!   I only fished 2.5 hours before having to leave in order to teach classes.  

3/26:  Today was a different story.  I launched at around 11:45 am without seeing another boat at the ramp.   I missed one hit off the park and then motored south.  I worked an area I hadn't fished seriously for salmon in probably 3 or 4 years and struck paydirt!   I had encounters with between 12 to 20 fish today - action was great.   Only problem was I couldn't keep fish on the hook!  The water was calm and clear enough so I could see fish chasing my fly.  That doesn't happen often on Cayuga Lake with the winds we get.  But I had a lot of fish making some crazy moves for my flies.  Trout and salmon often aren't very adept at hitting streamers and minnows.  My flies needed some tweaking as well.  I had some good sized fish show for my flies, incl. a HUGE fish - either a big brown or maybe a laker - it had to be 27" to 30" long!   Maybe even a pike, but I don't think so.  I was in around 20' of water and it showed up under the fly and took off.   I had a pretty good look at its tail - and I'd say brown.   After making a few changes to my presentation I started hooking up and landed an 18.5" salmon and a 17.5" fish.   I missed another 20"+ fish and lost another good one as well.   H20 was 36.5 degrees.  My season on Cayuga for salmon could end today and I'd be happy.  It's been a terrific year!   There are good numbers of 17" to 19" fish out there, as well as 20" to 22" fish and some 25" fish.   We should have great fishing on Cayuga in 2010 too!!!

3/19/2009
Cayuga out of Taughannock 3/19

As I headed back from some swimming at Cornell this afternoon I checked out the lake and it looked beautiful.   Imagine my surprise as I launched my boat at 3 pm without another trailer in the parking lot!   After fishing our tails off yesterday, I knew I'd be in for some better fishing today with the change in the weather.   Fishing didn't start off promising, but after an hour of covering water I stumbled upon a pattern and the fun began.  My first fish landed was a 24" solid brown - not very fat, due to a lamprey wound, but nonetheless a nice fish which I kept.  It weighed 5lbs even and had nothing in its stomach.   Then I lost another fish that appeared to be another brown around 23" to 24".  My leader broke not long after I'd rerigged it AND checked my knot.   It was a clean break - maybe the fish's teeth, I don't know.   Then came a 22" chrome Landlocked Salmon that wore out my arm!  This fish didn't want to give up!   It dug and dug in a fight that would rival any smallmouth bass.  For my money, Landlocked Atlantic Salmon are the best fighting gamefish in freshwater - at least in the Northeast, BAR NONE!    They can do anything a smallmouth bass can do, yet better.   A LS in 48 degree water is capable of jumping 10 times or more.   I love smallies, but I've never seen one jump that many times!  I released the salmon

More chases, hits and misses came.  Then I landed an 18" salmon that jumped a bunch of times and gave a great accounting of itself.   More hits/chases and misses followed, and then I set into a very solid fish.  I thought maybe I foul-hooked it since it ran so much, but I got a glimpse of a chrome beauty and no, it was fair hooked.   It was a thick bodied fish from head to tail and didn't fight much like a salmon.   It looked like it may have been a 4 to 5lb rainbow!    Either way, if you were within a few hundred yards of me, you'd have heard me yell when the hook popped out and I lost it!   Another hit was had, then it was time to go. 

All in all, fantastic fishing with a ton of action - lots of follows, hits and some nice hookups.  There are some real quality fish in Cayuga Lake this year.   I released the two salmon and just kept the big brown.  I didn't work the fish I found too hard, I kept trying new areas just to see the extent of the good fishing.    Water temps ranged from 36 to 37 today.   With the exception of occasions where I've run into schools of fish, I don't think I can remember a day when I had better action from large fish in a Finger Lake.   I had 2 browns that were in the 23" to 25" range, at least one salmon or rainbow hooked that was also in the 24" to 25" range and follows from some fish that were also that size.  

Again I recommend people limit their kill on this lake.  These fish are delicious, but statewide limits of 5 fish incl. no more than 3 salmon per person per day are ridiculous and this fishery could not sustain that kind of harvest.  Why Lake Ontario steelheaders are confined to one fish per day in the tribs and we have such liberal bag limits - on a fishery jeopardized as much by exotics as the Great Lakes is totally beyond me.   There aren't THAT many fish around!   I limit myself to one fish a day generally - once in a while 2.  I do the same with my clients.  

 

3/18/2009
Cayuga out of Taughannock 3/18

Got out all day long with my buddy Mike.  We started around 8 am and fished till almost 6:30 pm.   There are fish around the usual areas like Taughannock and further south.   Creeks were spewing murky and in some cases slightly warmer water into Cayuga Lake.  We had hits on our first 5 passes around the park, but only connected on a 16 to 17" salmon.   Clearly, there were some lethargic and smaller fish taking passes at our flies.   We fished hard for a few hours, then the wind died and it started raining.   We tried laker jigging near the lake's south end for an hour and a half w/o seeing anything.   A 14" brown and a couple more salmon, incl. a 20.5" fish rounded out the day.  When the wind blew, we had action - not great, but solid.   I expect some very good salmon/brown trout fishing - weather depending, right through mid-May!   Fasten your seatbelts!  H2O is 36 (up to 39 in places) and water levels are still LOW.   Fishing pressure from shore was fairly high at the park today.  

3/17/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's 3/16 + 3/17

3/16: 

I got out for a couple hours in order to check my electronics out and try to find some fish.  I had a couple "lookers" and chasers, but no contact.   The folks at Barrett Marine re-checked my electronic hook ups and they re-did them.  All's copacetic, though I still wasn't getting much of a signal.  

3/17:

Well I figured out the problem with the Eagle Unit.  My transducer wasn't totally horizontal.  Not a big deal in 30' of water - virtually unnoticeable, but in 150' of water - VERY NOTICEABLE!!!    I fished for a couple hours before my guide trip today and marked some fish/had chasers but no hookups.  I spent most of my time N. of Sheldrake.

I picked up Cy and Kip at the launch at 11 am.  When we set up the trip yesterday, I figured we'd be looking at the fishing action as a "3" on a scale between 0 and 10 with 10 being the best.   But Cy wanted to learn the technique for future use.   The lake trout jigging now is as challenging as it gets!  Fish are still in a winter pattern and fairly dormant.   Water temps range from 35 to 37.  Lake trout are scattered everywhere - from probably 70' on out to 200' or more.  Maybe a few are shallow too.   There's very little bait in less than 180'.  No thermocline.  Negative/neutral fish.   Not much to "grab onto" out there! 

Cy has a lot of fishing experience, some with jigging fluke in Massachusetts.  That was helpful.  Cy landed the first fish within around an hour.  A 28.5" laker just under 6lbs (yes they are thin right now - plus the fish had a lamprey scar.)   Kip got the second, a nice 21" clean fish.  As Cy was bringing in his line in order to get out of Kip's way, he hooked up!  So we had a double going.  But his (apparently big) fish got off.   A few more hits were missed and that was it. 

I enjoy deep jigging.  If you learn how to detect bites and hook/land fish in 150' of water, you'll find the rest of the year's jigging to be a piece of cake.   Once bait moves up these fish will feed hard and the lakers will be some of the heaviest fish of the season - just loaded with bait.   Expect things to improve by the week.   Best action today was N. of the Dean's launch, pretty much in the middle of the lake.   

3/15/2009
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 3/15

I got over to the launch around 1 pm, but spent the next two hours checking my power connections on my console depthfinder.  I recently had my boat wood replaced and while working on the console wood it's possible that a couple of the crimps may have been pulled loose a bit.   I wasn't able to fix the connections well enough to get enough power to get a strong signal, so I had depths but wasn't able to mark fish!

I fished from around 3 pm till 6:45 pm mainly just checking out areas that often produce fish, dropping down my jigs and watching things on my Vexilar on the bow.   I had 2 good chasers over by Aurora in around 125' of water.   I hooked one fish on my new jigging (Canavan) rod, but lost it.   Out a little deeper (around 145' to 150') I missed another fish.  Now that I have some fish located, I'll be able to pinpoint things a bit better, but I need to get the electronics issue fixed.  

Lake level is low (better than a couple weeks ago.)  It's launchable.   I did see the first largemouth bass of the year, right in the "marina" at Dean's!  So that was pretty neat.   Water temps were around 36.   I have a new mold and tried out some new 1 1/2 oz. jig heads.  So far so good.  I'm going to try to get back out either on Seneca, Cayuga or Keuka once I get the electronics taken care of, and I'll field test the new jigheads.  

3/8/2009
Cayuga/Taughannock 3/7 + Seneca/Severne 3/8

Cayuga 3/7:

After picking up my boat on Friday I was psyched to make sure everything was in order.  I also was hoping to check on conditions for a possible guide trip.   I arrived at Taughannock at 1:15pm on Saturday to find 17 trailers in the parking lot.  People obviously had some cabin fever and were jonesing to get out.   3 boats came in as I prepared to launch.  They reported slow salmon fishing.  The wind was light and offshore, so I decided to check on lake trout.   I did a bit of searching between Taughannock and Sheldrake and didn't see much.   It might be time for a new depthfinder - I don't know, my inexpensive Eagle doesn't have the power/sensitivity to mark much in deep (over 120') water in the winter.   I worked out to 170' or so.   Wind and rain came up and it got nasty.  I motored south to try some fly-fishing for salmon.  I had one follow and that was it.   Water temps are around 35/36.  I expect good to excellent salmon fishing once we get the right weather conditions - mark my words!

Seneca 3/8:

A lot of perch are reportedly being taken in some of the community holes in the northern parts of Seneca Lake.  I'm told nearly 40 boats were congregated on a huge school of perch up there Saturday!   I don't enjoy that kind of "combat fishing."   My buddy Mike and I launched out of Severne at around 9 am today.   We tried an area for perch pretty thoroughly w/o anything except a very beat-up looking scrawny pike.   Our shiners were basically worthless - they would die after a couple minutes in the water, but we persevered.  Many perch fishermen bring an assortment of baits (oak leaf bugs, fat heads, worms etc..) and plastics with them.  We will start doing that in the future.   After 2 hours without perch we checked on lakers at Severne.  I missed one.  We saw one caught on copper line.   Perch anglers were congregated in singles and groups of 3 and 4 boats.   I'm not sure how they were doing - my guess (judging from how much moving around they were doing) is that a few of the boats probably did well, but most struggled.   Conditions were pretty awful for fishing, lots of fog (esp. N. of Long Point) and no wind.   I was happy that my cellphone had an electronic compass on it, the fog was unreal at times.   

We worked for perch and pike in an area I like N. of Long Point and we hit a few nice pike.   We tried Sampson for lakers and didn't mark anything.   A lot of the poor laker bite of the last 2 days for me was probably due to the low-light conditions.  Sun makes for the best winter jigging.  

Last I heard, perch were in less than 20' of water in many parts of Seneca Lake.   We didn't see much today - and we could see the bottom in quite a few areas.  Water temps were around 35 to 37 today on Seneca.   Water levels were decent and the launch at Sampson is open.  I'm not sure about other launches, but I'd guess most are open by now.   (They certainly will be after the rain tonight!)  

2/27/2009
Seneca Shorefishing 2/27
I gave my perch area an hour and a half without a hit.   The lake level isn't too bad.   I worked fathead minnows on double hook rigs in the afternoon.  Conditions looked pretty good - I had overcast/rainy conditions and some wind.  
2/26/2009
Cayuga out of Taughannock 2/26
My boat is being worked on at Silver Lake Marine.  Nearly all the wood on the boat is to be replaced!   I'm looking forward to getting it back hopefully next week.  My buddy Mike drove up today and we went out in his Lund for a day of fly-fishing.   Water levels were very low - as low as I've ever seen them.  H2O temps were around 36.   We didn't have the winds we needed today for good LLS (Landlocked salmon) flyfishing, but we tried anyways - w/o luck.   The conditions today would have been perfect for lake trout jigging but we left the jigging gear at home.   We wound up searching for northern pike.   I'm sure our flies crossed the paths of many pike, but they just weren't too active.   I landed one nice, clean fish around 30" by noon.   We kept working pike areas w/o any notable action (a follow here or there was it.)   Around 5 pm we each landed nice pike - Mike's was probably around 31" and I got another one around 27".  We found some fish shallow and some quite deep.   That was it on the day.  It appears that trollers around Taughannock caught a fish or two.   There's some great LLS fishing to be had on Cayuga this season, but the right weather conditions are still important.   I'm planning on more fishing soon - both from shore and in the boat - weather depending.   Pike season closes on March 15th.  
2/4/2009
Seneca Shorefishing 2/1
I checked out my shore spot for perch with my buddy Mike.   Action was very slow.  We picked up 2 fish, that was it.   They were deep.   The launch at Severne Point is ice-free and a few hardy perch fishermen are getting out.   Fishermen are also working around the Watkins pier and marina area for perch.   Ice fishing is in full swing throughout the region.  Lots of nice lakers are being taken on Owasco Lake, to name one of the numerous opportunities available regionally.   
1/23/2009
Cayuga out of Taughannock 1/23

Got out on the water today around 11 am with my buddy Mike.  Water levels are at winter draw-down and temps were around 37/38 on Cayuga.  We fly-fished all day and found a couple pods of fish.   Overall the fishing was good but the catching was slow.   Mike nailed a 22" salmon that gave a great account of itself - jumping 3 times.   He lost one when his tippet section broke at the knot.  I never had any solid hookups today but had a handful of hits.   Fly-fishing these fish can be tricky in the winter - as it gets colder the fish often get more lethargic, hitting once and that's it.  We had a few repeat "hitters" today, and also a few isolated grabs.  Fun day and I'm looking forward to the days getting longer and getting to put more time in.  

Re: Dropbacks.  Mike's fish today was thin and had some signs of abrasion, as well as what looked like an attack from a Loon or Cormorant.   There was no apparent fin-wear.   Mike kept the fish, and sure enough it was a drop-back female with a few eggs left in it, as well as some tiny undeveloped skeins.   The fish had some very large alewives in it, so it had resumed feeding.

1/2/2009
Seneca Lake Shorefishing 1/2/09
Got out for a little less than 2 hours of shore fishing for perch.  No luck today.  I'm guessing there may have been a morning bite - I arrived around 2 pm as the skies cleared.    Since I've been targeting perch from this area, the fishing hasn't been good with sunny skies and a lack of strong wind, which is what I had.   Time will tell....
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Lake Ontario Sodus Bay Cross Lake Skaneateles Lake Owasco Lake Cayuga Lake Seneca Lake Keuka Lake