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12/31/2010
Seneca Lake/Watkins Glen 12/30 + Cayuga Lake/Taughannock 12/31

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 12/30:    After spending the better part of last week dealing with the massive snow storm in New Jersey I arrived back in T-Burg with a phone message from my buddy Mike, who'd noticed that we had some nice weather on the way.   The lows were around 17 degrees on Wed. night so we took our time getting ready on Thursday AM.  We expect to see a bunch of boats on Seneca Lake but were very surprised to see just one trailer at the launch.   This was around noon.   After clearing some ice from the ramp we were ready to roll.

We fly-fished for landlocked salmon and had what I consider to be ideal conditions, though the forecast 3 to 6 mph winds were around 10 to 15.  Watkins Glen is a funnel for wind and the best way to interpret wind forecasts when fishing that area is to double the forecast and then add a couple mph!   I'm not joking.   We worked some of the best areas I know and didn't even have a noticeable follow.   I had a couple minor tackle issues, but the bite was tough.   Mike even saw a salmonid in one area that was stationary.   My guess is that the fish just weren't very active - at least the ones in fly-fishing range.  We worked a lot of areas and wound up back in our prime area just as the day was ending.   The winds had died down and I'd solved my tackle issues.   I made some casts in around 90' of water and a 17 1/2" salmon grabbed my fly.  So at least we weren't skunked.   It was beautiful and peaceful out on the water and we only saw one other boat out on the lake all day long.   Water temps are around 41 to 42.

Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 12/31:   With the moderate air temps at night we knew that if we motivated fairly early, we could have a full day's fishing on Cayuga Lake, so at 9 am I met Mike at the launch.    Cayuga's lake level is as low as I've seen it.   We used the electric motor to get us out onto the lake.   There was at least a half dozen trailers in the parking lot.    Tons of shore fishermen too.    We took a pass around the park without even firing up the big motor and I had a follow from a very nice salmon - maybe a 22" to 23" fish.   We tried another pass w/o luck.   We worked a few more areas and eventually found a pod of (apparently) small salmon.  I landed one around 13" and we both missed others.   (Trollers around the park were also catching plenty of sub-legal "shakers.")    Mike and I worked type 4 full sinking lines.    I made a long cast and let my fly sink.   When I went to strip it in I had a very solid fish on!    I knew it and told Mike and he grabbed the net.   After a strong battle we netted the fish.   I thought it might have been a laker, since I saw light colored fins and the fish fought deep, but Mike saw it and was pretty sure it was a brown.   It was!   We quickly photographed and measured the fish before releasing it.  26 1/2" long.   It was clearly a drop-back (post-spawn) brown.   It was a bit beaten up around the fins and it had a lamprey scar, but it was a strong fighter and a nice looking fish.   I encourage my clients and other people to catch and release big browns as much as possible.   I'm sure someone had caught and released this one and I thank them.  I have photos and will post them shortly.

We tried some more areas for salmon and thought about pike fishing when we decided to hit the area where we'd contacted the dinks.   We each had more hits when Mike set into a good fish.   He knew it was no dink!   After a good fight we netted the salmon.   A fat clean 23" fish that Mike kept for the table.   A couple more areas fished resulted in Mike having another hit.    That was it.   Water temps were around 41 degrees.   Other anglers (trollers) we talked to had luck both over deep water (300' to 350') and in along the shallows.  

We're in for some great salmon fishing this year.   Both Cayuga and Seneca Lakes have great classes of fish!!!  That doesn't happen often!   Fasten your seat belts.....

11/29/2010
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 11/29

Got out around 8:30 am with my buddy Mike.  Air temps were in the upper 20s when we launched and the wind was blowing around 6 to 8 mph.   Conditions looked really good for fly-fishing salmon and we were both optimistic.   We saw one other boat out perch fishing, then later a boat bass or pike fishing and that was it.  

We worked the southern portions of the lake and it didn't take long before some small salmon showed themselves.   After maybe an hour I landed the first fish - a very fat 21" salmon that we kept.  It weighed in at 3lbs 12 oz!  That's a well-fed fish!    We had a lot of action from salmon today - lots of chases and some hits and we landed another sublegal fish apiece.  Great fishing but nothing special on the catching.   The wind picked up and we kept fishing despite the tough conditions.   Just as we were getting ready to move, Mike hooked a beauty not far from the boat.    The fish hit hard "on the fly" (swimming fast) then quickly jumped twice and we knew it was a good one.   Mike had a look of despair on his face as his line wrapped around my windshield and the fish got behind the boat.   

We're both fairly certain after today that a salmon can split itself into two fish as it fights - because at least 3 fish we hooked today appeared to jump out of the water in two places at a time!   It was insanity.    I detached the driftbag and after some more aerobics I was able to net the beauty.   25"+ and FAT - likely a 6lb fish!    We took a couple quick shots and released the fish.  

I was happy for Mike, since I'd had most of the follows and grabs early on.   We were going to fish some pike as the day wore on but Mike was up for more salmon.   I wasn't sure how long they'd be hitting, but they kept going.  We each cast into the same basic area and I felt Mike had snagged my line - but I was wrong, I had a fish - another beauty!    This fish did two arc shaped "tumbling" jumps - like the shape of a rainbow (not the trout.)  The jumps appeared to be around six feet across.   It was crazy.   After another wild fight, Mike netted the clean fat salmon.  Another 25"+ fish likely pushing over 6lbs!     Took a couple quick photos and released it.    A couple more sublegal fish made it to the boat.

Overall we encountered 4 different classes of salmon today.  This year's stocking - fish around 10" long, last year's fish - fish around 13" to 14", then some around 18" to 21" and lastly some big fish around 25".    There were lots of small fish around.  The lack of pike in this lake is surely helping the salmon survive.   No doubt about it in my mind.   My 21" fish and Mike's 25" fish had fresh lamprey hits on them.  It's a shame, but they weren't worse for the wear.

Tackle used were 6 wt fast action fly-rods, intermediate and Type 3 full-sinking fly-lines, bionic smelt flies in size 2 and 4 (white.)

These fish are in the best condition I've EVER seen landlocked salmon in.   They are in football type shape.   Better than anything I've seen on Cayuga before.    Fishing wasn't particularly easy today.    Winter salmon fishing rarely is.   This is steelheader type stuff - dealing with difficult and at times trying conditions hoping for a grab.   We landed fish in water from 20' to 150' deep.    Winter salmon fishing out on a large Finger Lake isn't the "let's get the 10 year old kid out and hope we catch a bunch of salmon" stuff - unless you're trolling.   It's about dressing for cold conditions and searching (hunting) for fish.    Yeah, you can troll for them and a lot of people do.   But to leave the hits to the rod holder???   To watch a fish behind the boat jump 3 times before you realize you have one on???    Not for me.   The jolting grab is 50% of the excitement with these fish.   We try to release the big fish too. 

I'm currently working out a few bugs on this website, but I'm hoping to get some photo galleries up soon!   We got some good shots of these fish!   

11/21/2010
Reports - Cayuga and Skaneateles Lakes 11/19 - 11/21

11/19 Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock Park:   Did a full day trip with Mark I, who has joined me on several trips over the past 5 years.   Mark's a devoted fly-fisherman, so that's what we did.    Conditions were cold  (air temps around 28 to 30) and cloudy at 9 am when we met.   Water temp on Cayuga was around 50 degrees.   We tried a lot of different areas for pike with slow fishing.  For whatever the reason - the nearly full moon, weather system, our strategy or whatever -  the pike fishing was slow.   Mark had maybe a hit or two after 5 or 6 hours of fishing.   We had one follow on a large deceiver of a fish around 27" or so.   I also spotted a large pike appearing fairly dormant.   Mark fished hard as always, and late in the day his efforts were rewarded with a very solid largemouth bass around 20"+ long - maybe 4.75lbs or so.   After that he had another hit and that was it.   We tried some salmon fishing w/o any action.   I know we had a lot of pike around us today - they just weren't on the feed.

11/20 Skaneateles Lake:   Guided Tom for the full-day today.  He rents a house on the lake for much of the winter and wanted to learn some approaches and areas to fish.    The weather was fairly brutal (again!) today.   We had westerlies gusting to well over 20 mph and very cold conditions to start (in the upper 20s.)   We met at around 8:30 am and launched the boat.  As always, I was happy to see the docks still in at the State Launch!  

I had him working the N. end of the lake to start with a stickbait and a green pumpkin tube.   Tom got a phone call and I took a look at his tube jig - I saw silvery scales on it - most likely a salmon or rainbow that took a swipe at the tube and missed.  It was a good sign.   It didn't take long before we had our first fish on board - a typical 16" to 17" Skaneateles Laker.   There are plenty of lakers in shallow now due to the amenable water temps for them and the presence of food.    We worked down the lake and it was very rough - plenty of whitecaps.   Tom wound up landed 3 big perch - all from 12" to 14".   He hooked a strong fish that drifted under the boat.  I was able to net the big 18"+ smallmouth bass.   A very solid fish!    It took a combination of 2 driftbags and my high-powered trolling motor to "control" the boat today.   Tom did a great job working relatively light jigs in fairly deep water with a lot of extraneous variables!     Not easy for someone that doesn't fish a lot.    A satisfactory day.   We were the only boat on the lake today out of the State Launch!

11/21 Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove:   I received an email from Ryan who'd joined me on Skaneateles Lake earlier in the season for some fantastic smallmouth bass fishing - would I be able to take him and his 9 yo son out for some pike?    I suggested pickerel on Cayuga's north end, since they are more abundant, hit hard, are fished with the same techniques and fight good amongst other qualities.  I also LOVE fishing Cayuga's north end in November.  It's uncrowded and big largemouth bass are hungry!  

The run from Dean's up north was chilly at 8 am.   It was below freezing.   I picked Dean's over the State Park because I wasn't sure how far N. we'd be fishing.  Once we set up it took a little while to find some fish.   The pickerel bite was good and the guys landed around 1/2 dozen nice pickerel.   Plenty of perch were around and Noah wanted to try for them.   But the alewife tube came through in a big way as Noah set the hook on a large fish.   He's a very talented fisherman - great feel for working lures and he doesn't complain or give up.    "It's pulling drag!"   He was excited.   I slipped the net under the bass and we were all impressed.  It was barely hooked!   We took some photos of the 20" fat largemouth bass then Noah let her go.   Not long after, Ryan hooked a big bass.  I was going to land it by hand and Noah went for the net, but it got off.  It was probably a 19" fish.   Noah was joyful that he managed the biggest bass of the day, so Ryan's loss wasn't seen as a bad thing (by Noah!)   Ryan picked up another bass further south.  We saw a lot of bass today and the water clarity was a delight to fish - we could see lush green weeds everywhere.   Cayuga Lake is really firing on all cylinders for largemouths these days.

My buddy Mike had great rainbow trout fishing on the fly today on Skaneateles Lake.  He encountered nearly a dozen fish, landing five to 22"- 23" long!   Just a great time!  Picking the right day is the key to late-fall fishing success.

After my AM trip I worked the Long Point to Aurora area with some flies and alewife tubes.    I didn't encounter much, but had one good hit.   After a long distance surface/partial jump I thought I had a brown trout on, but after getting the net out the fish turned out to be a very fat 18"+ smallmouth bass - probably in 10' to 12' of water.

11/16/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Ithaca 11/16

I've been trying to get out with my buddy Mike lately for some pike fly-fishing and today was the best day weather and schedule-wise.   Mike started on his own around 10:30 am and I joined him just after noon.   Pike fishing was good today with Mike landing a 36" and 31" fish before I met up with him.  Other fish were following the flies and conditions looked good.

The wind came up when we got back out, but we found some active fish ranging from around 8' to 15' of water or so.    Mike landed 3 more fish and I landed one and missed one.   Best set up was an 8 wt. rod with a type 6 full-sinking line and a large deceiver or double-bunny in natural colors.  Chartruese also worked.   I had my hits on a floating line and clouser/half and half.   Water temps on the south end of Cayuga Lake ranged from around 44 (in the inlet) to 48 (lake.)  Most fish averaged from 30" to 32" - nice healthy looking pike.    Lake levels are dropping and the lake is at least 1 to 2 feet below full-pool.

11/15/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 11/15

I got out on my own for around 5 hours today.   I checked on smallmouth bass and wasn't able to connect with any.   I was using some relatively new techniques (to me) and stayed away from the tried and true for the most part, but either way - bass fishing was tough for me.    Re: Pike - I tried a few areas that haven't produced pike for me in the past, but look good - and they still didn't produce.    So mainly a scouting day today.   I had what appeared to be a decent landlocked salmon come after a soft jerkbait.   And a little bit later my alewife tube (one of my favorites!) got slammed by a hard fighting 29 1/2" spawned out lake trout on the east shore.    My Canavan tube rod is a favorite rod of mine and did a great job hooking and fighting the fish.   The laker was in less than 20' of water.  What a fight!

Not much to report from shore anglers at Taughannock.   Laker fishing is slow, but a few salmon are starting to show up.    We'll be hitting our "tried and true" pike areas shortly here on Cayuga and gearing up for salmon!  Water temps ranged from 50 to 53 today.

11/14/2010
Keuka Lake 11/12 + 11/14, Skaneateles Lake 11/13

Just when I thought my guiding was slowing down a bit, this wound up being the busiest week I've had since mid-August!    Nice "Indian summer" weather might be the culprit!

Did 1/2 day on Friday 11/12 with the Hermans on Keuka Lake out of the State Park.    It was cold to start but conditions were right for laker jigging and that's what we did around Branchport.   Fishing was good for lakers along the ledges in around 100' of water give or take 10'.    Eleonore and John landed 5 or 6 nice lake trout.   Afterwards we did some pickerel fishing.   The clear skies and midday conditions made for a tougher bite, though Eleonore landed one nice one on a white X-Rap.   John caught a good perch and we wound things up.   I demonstrated some fly-casting to John and Eleonore while on the docks at the park and was pleasantly surprised to get consecutive follows from a nice brown trout likely around 22" or more.   I don't see too many people trolling Keuka for browns, rainbows and salmon these days, but there are some nice salmon around along with a few browns and bows.

I motored down the lake past the Bluff and stopped off to visit an "Angling Zone Friend" who was renting a place on the lake.   Mark and I have been trying to coordinate a trip for a few years now and have gotten to know each other a bit on the phone.   He'd been doing some trolling near the Bluff with his brothers and picking up a few nice salmon in the 22" to 24" range!    We wound up going out and having some great laker jigging with his brothers Duane and David.   It was a lot of fun and the guys really know how to have a good time!  Fun afternoon and the guys had no problem limiting out in around 3 hours. 

Saturday 11/13 found me on Skaneateles Lake for two 1/2 day trips.   Started just after 7 am with Kirk and Bryant.   Kirk joined me early last year for some good laker jigging with his wife.    I expected really good fishing on Skaneateles Lake but it was pretty tough.   Bryant hadn't done much fishing in a while and I had him learning a few techniques in a hurry.   He did very well.   A lack of polarized sunglasses also hurt our chances, but fishing was tough.    Bryant had ahold of a nice perch in short order that got off.   We tried different areas and wound up boating a couple smallmouth bass on a dropshot rig and jigging spoon.    We went back to our laker area and things still seemed slow.  A cast in deeper water revealed some fish, so I had the guys start working out a bit and a few hits were had and Bryant landed his first lake trout.   At the ramp we talked to a troller who'd picked up a nice salmon around 22" and a rainbow with streamers trolled just under the surface!  (Yes, it's fly-fishing time!) 

My PM trip started out great.   I met Craig and his son Griffin at the State Ramp and we headed north.   Casting a perch X-rap and a tube jig produced a couple quick lakers for the guys in around 10' of water.   But then the wind died and the fishing slowed.   We tried some different areas and techniques with a few hits.   But nothing much was landed - just one nice perch.   As much as I like to tout the great fishing here on this lake, it can be very difficult at times - mainly when it's sunny and there's little or no wind.   Craig mostly does saltwater fishing, so today was a change of pace for him.  He just bought a house on the lake and we fished the best areas I know, using some of the best techniques I know - so he should have some good starting points once he starts getting out on the water.  

Kudos go the the DEC folks for keeping the docks in at the State Ramp!    Some of the best fishing of the year on this lake is in November.    There's no need to pull them out yet.   Launching a boat without the docks is tricky.   Boat bumpers help.   So does having a buddy around.   But walking on the narrow concrete launch fixtures can be downright dangerous after being out in a rough chop!   It's like doing a tightrope act after spinning around on a merry-go-round, it's not easy.    Let's hope they keep the docks in until Thanksgiving weekend or the 1st week in December!

Keuka Lake 11/14:  I got a late email from David this week and he was happily surprised to see I had Sunday open after poor weather changed his striper fishing plans.   I try to tell people - I'm often not nearly as "booked up" as people think!   I also shift things around and dates sometimes open up unexpectedly.   A sunny day this time of year may not be good for pike but can be great for salmon, so if someone wants pike, I usually will try to move the date.    So things open up depending on what you want.    Dave does a lot of fishing and is a very accomplished angler, who wants to apply the jigging to brown trout out in Lake Ontario.   We had a good exchange of notes on the water today.    His cousin Tom joined us.  What a great day!   Laker jigging was great today.  The guys landed 15 nice fish to around 27".   Tom was quiet while me and Dave talked fishing like lunatics - but Tom spoke more with his fishing rod!   Just a lot of fun and Tom even caught fish on a plastic that I'd had no luck with before - but both guys did great.   It was clearly a morning bite today and fishing slowed down markedly when the wind came up (just the opposite of Skinny!)   

I had reports of a lot of bait on Keuka Lake this year.   I didn't see a ton of it earlier in the year, but I'm seeing it now - both at the Bluff and around Branchport.    Expect to see some bigger fish in the future and better survival of stocked (and wild) rainbows, browns and salmon!

11/8/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 11/8

What a day on Cayuga!   Not the fishing, but the ride back.  Wow.    I did a half day with Tony (who joined me yesterday as well) targeting pike and/or bass.   We went with pike given the weather conditions.   The forecast called for sunny conditions with N. winds from 10 - 15 mph gusting to 25, which are pretty strong winds, but not too harsh on Cayuga out of Taughannock most of the time.   I informed Tony that the lake is more of a quality rather than quantity fishery for pike and he went to work.   He had a hit and separate quick hook-up in the first two hours, but nothing solid.   Clouds rolled in and the weather looked ominous, but pike seemed active.   The first pike of the day landed was a 30.5" fish that came on a Sworming Hornet/Lunker City Shaker combo.   The winds were pretty brutal (white caps) and after a couple more drifts Tony hooked and landed a solid, hefty pike - a 36"er.    Very nice healthy looking robust fish.   Fishing was tough due to the wind, chopped up weeds and loads of leaves on the surface, but Tony managed a nice walleye midday on Conesus Lake earlier in the year after a very tough day, so I don't worry about him - he doesn't give up!

We tried another area and he had a hit.   By then we decided it was time to go.  The winds were really picking up!   The ride back was in the roughest conditions I've ever dealt with on the Finger Lakes (or maybe anywhere else for that matter.)   We had strong waves for much of the journey back, but the wind wasn't just a northerly, it was a northeasterly and the section of lake around Taughannock and just south was brutal.   Winds weren't just gusting into the 30s, it was a continuous strong wind - likely at least 20 to 30 mph with higher gusts (there were wind advisories issue around much of the Northeast, though that wasn't the case in the AM when I listened to the weather forecast. )  It felt like more.   The boat felt airbourne, though it wasn't.    I had to power over waves it order to keep from spearing the next ones - and I've done that before, but this was another "step up" from what I'd dealt with.    Unreal.   I felt like the Skipper and Gilligan combined!

I wear a survival suit oftentimes this time of year, so I had that on and Tony had his lifejacket on.  My advice to anyone out on the water this time of year is to either purchase a survival suit or at least get a hold of some of the US Coast Guard Approved Type I PFDs.    The usual Type 3s everyone wears are pretty worthless in heavy chop.  Type 1 life jackets are big and reflective and will turn the wearer face up in the water.    My other advice is -  when in iffy conditions is to PUT ON THE TYPE 1 LIFEJACKETS BEFORE YOU START MOTORING!!!  Don't just wear type 3s thinking that "if it gets bad, we'll put on the type 1s" - it doesn't work that way.  By the time things get bad, you won't be able to put them on - you won't have time or the "serenity of the lake" to do it! 

As we rolled back into Taughannock Tony's wife Barb pulled in and gave us the spinning finger near the head sign i.e. the you guys are crazy sign and she was right - but we wouldn't have gone out had we known what the conditions wound up being.   But a good day fishing and tricky ride back still beats a lot of other activities (I can't say work...)  Water temps are around 52.  I'd give it another week before salmon fishing.   We want 48 or 49 - no more than 50 at least.    Water level is good but down a little - we bottomed out slightly coming back into Taughannock (due to the wave dispersion.)

11/7/2010
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 11/7

Guided Tony for the full day starting around 8 am.    We were surprised to find a small bass tournament going on as we arrived with around a dozen boats in the parking lot.    Then we met a guy casting from the dock who complained about the "browns" messing up his bass fishing.   I guess I've heard it all, but apparently some nice browns were swarming around the State Park area (likely where they were stocked) looking for spawning areas.    I'm guessing other similar areas have the same thing going on now.   Anyways, we decided to take a semi-long shot and try for some pike in the AM around Branchport.  

No luck to start.   BTW - it was 25 degrees on the way over to the lake!    We saw a decent largemouth cruise over some weeds and I had Tony work a Superfluke over them.   He had an (apparently) nice fish come up on it but not grab it good.   A pickerel or two was it for our pike/bass try first thing.  

We then tried laker fishing in the Branchport Arm and found tremendous numbers of fish in around 80' (probably 95' - but we were on a dropoff and the depthfinder was 'deceived') out to 115'.   Tony's a good jigger and managed to land 8 or 9 nice fish in around 3 hours on Lunker City Shakers in white and purple.  I don't think color mattered much.   The lakers were still hitting when we decided to set up again for bass.  

We had tough bass fishing over the next three hours.   A follow or two and one near miss from what was likely a smallmouth but it wasn't easy around Branchport.   We didn't have the time to try elsewhere.    Working a white X-Rap did result in some terrific pickerel action though and even a pike - which was ironic given that we tried for them in the AM.   In my lifetime I've probably encountered less than a dozen pike on Keuka (since the mid 1980s.)  I've seen 3 in the last two trips, so I think their numbers are on the rise.  Tony just hammered the pickerel landing at least 15 fish on the day - and most were very nice sized!   The best one was 26" and pretty fat.   They were going crazy and fly-fishing for them would be very productive.   Water temps are mostly around 52, but we found some water as cool as 48.

11/3/2010
Skaneateles Lake 11/3

Got out on Skinny from around 8 am till 3 pm with my friend Chris.   Water temps are 53 degrees and the docks were still in at the State Ramp.   Shore fishers are catching some rainbows and salmon, so it's begun!    We worked tube jigs, stickbaits, jigging spoons, drop-shot rigs and a few other tactics.   We landed a decent number of bass, some nice perch (including a 16" bohemoth!) a couple lakers (nice job Chris) and a few rockbass.   

Fishing was good with fairly steady action throughout the day.    Now's the time to fly-fish for rainbow trout and landlocked salmon! 

11/1/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 11/1

I got out for a few hours this afternoon, mainly checking on some bass areas and trying some "new" combos.    I have a lot of tackle and it's oftentimes sickening and confusing trying to find the right set ups for certain techniques.    It was very cold out this AM and I had a layer of snow on my boat when I launched at around 12:30pm.    Water temp is at 54 and will likely be close to 50 within a week at the rate things are dropping.

No great shakes fishing today.   The cold front and overcast day put a damper on my jerkbait bite.  I hooked/landed bass on a tube jig and silver buddy.    By the time I got to my productive area it was time to go, but I was getting some good hits which was encouraging given the weather conditions.  

Lakers are still being taken from shore at Taughannock, so it's a safe bet to say that jigging is likely still good around the point and nearby areas.

10/30/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 10/30

Fished on my own for around 5 or 6 hours today starting just after noon.   Conditions were good for fishing despite the forecast 15 mph southerlies.    I wanted to check on pike and bass fishing, as well as try out some rod/reel combos I set up for smallmouth fishing.    Water temps are around 54 to 56 right now.   The lake level is still at full pool, though it's dropped a little bit.   

I started working some stickbaits and swimbaits for pike.   It didn't take long before I missed a hit;  my next cast produced a hard strike from a gorgeous, thick bodied 29" northern.    It was nice seeing no sign of diseases on this fish.   I worked a couple other pike areas w/o any luck, but I chalk a lot of that up to the time of day and loads of chopped up weeds on the surface making presentations tough in some areas.    I expect good to very good pike fishing on Cayuga Lake this fall - winter, and things will only get better as water temps cool and weed growth gradually dies off.     A nice 16" largemouth and 14" smallmouth gobbled my X-rap while pike fishing.

The smallmouth bass fishing was very good!   I had a hit from a bohemoth smallie - it hammered my jerkbait like a bluefish!   I felt its weight, then it got off - but it had to be a very large fish, maybe 20" or better.    I wound up landing some nice smallies - fish up to 18" on the jerkbaits.   

Some small salmon (12") have shown up around Taughannock and there are plenty of salmon further up the lake still over deep water.   I expect some good salmon action by the 2nd week in November given the cold forecasts for the upcoming week.   Great bass, pike and salmon on Cayuga - sometimes I wonder why I go anywhere else!

10/25/2010
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 10/25
Terrific fishing continues with Todd, James and Mark joining me for the full day.   I allow 3 ppl. trips for jigging only - Todd knows the deal, so James and Mark did most of the non-jigging fishing.   Laker action was very, very good at the Bluff.   Plenty of fish range from 95' on out to 115'.    Baitfish are around too.   The guys landed around 13 or 14 nice fish in about 2 hours!   Then we tried a bunch of different areas with jerkbaits (hard and soft,) dropshot rigs and jigging spoons.   Mark caught a beautiful 36" northern pike that we all watched swim in for his SuperFluke!    James nailed a 22" pike and nice bass.   Mark also had a nice salmon cruise in for his fluke.    Some perch were around as well and Todd dropshotted a 14 1/4" beauty!   Perch were around 15' to 20' of water.   Lake temps are around 56 degrees.  The guys really enjoyed the pickerel action today, which was very good.  Some nice 22" to 23" pickerel were landed.    Fun day and the lake was beautiful - the clarity is staggering!  We released nearly everything apart from one laker and the perch today.  
10/24/2010
Owasco Lake 10/23 + Keuka Lake 10/24

10/23 Owasco Lake:  Fished the full day with Zach and Matt, then Matt joined his dad in another boat and Amanda joined us.   Water temps are in the mid-50s.   The north end flats held some lakers and bait, with Matt landing one 20" fish if I remember right.   But the hot action was on the mid-lake points.    Kastmaster spoons produced 9 nice lakers for us up to around (Amanda's) 29"!   The laker fishing was reminiscent of the early 2000s, before the laker boom (and subsequent growth rate reductions.)   There was a nice size distribution of lakers with some 27" (Cayuga sized) beauties in the mix.    After we finished the trip I fished for another two hours and landed a 17" largemouth and saw plenty of nice perch in the shallows chasing my jerkbaits and superflukes.    

10/24 Keuka out of Branchport:   Fished with Boris and his dad from Austria.   In a nutshell, the laker action was superb - the best I've seen all year on Keuka!    The guys had super steady action at the Bluff with a few doubles.  Within two hours they'd landed 15 solid fish to 28"!    We marked tons of fish and they all seemed to be hitting and were hitting well when we left.  One spit up a smelt.    We kept our limit then went bass fishing.  Boris did well, landing a 20"+ solid smallmouth, an 18" largemouth and another decent smallie.   Many fish were missed and the usual pickerel were in the mix.   Boris's dad landed a 26"+ pickerel on a deep X-rap.   The bass came on Superflukes.    Great day and water temps are in the mid-50s.  There's still plenty of beautiful foliage to look at and the lake might as well be in Canada for the lack of boat traffic we encountered.

After Boris wraps up his Post-Doctoral research at Cornell, he's heading to Europe for his next phase in his career.   He lived in Germany before.   To fish in Germany you NEED TO JOIN A CLUB or association.  This costs in the neighborhood of $350 A YEAR!!!  Then there are licenses and fees to rent a "beat."    When people in the good ole USA complain about a $10 a year fishing license increase (of which the money goes into the Conservation Fund,) they are clueless regarding how the rest of the world operates.   I've heard people complain about a $5 trout stamp.  GET REAL!!!   Fishing in Japan is even costlier and other countries in Europe are just as bad.   People have no idea how good they have it here, yet they still complain.   And if you think fishing tackle here is expensive, go to Botswana!   My clients from there spent at least $3000 at Bass Pro Shops and were thrilled with the prices.....

10/20/2010
Waneta Lake 10/20

The forecast was calling for sun and light south winds - perfect smallmouth weather, but I couldn't get up early - so I decided on heading over to Waneta Lake for a try at some muskies.   I fished this lake once before, around 16 or 17 years ago.  We had tough conditions back then and didn't do well on bass.    I'm only around 35 miles away from Waneta and Lamoka Lakes, but don't get over there much, so I was looking forward to the trip.

I arrived around 11:30 am and found the new launch to be narrow, but not bad at all.   I was the only boat at the ramp/parking lot.   Once I got launched I used the trolling motor to get out.  The channel is very shallow, but navigable with the big motor if caution is used.    There were some perch, small bass and pickerel (or very small muskies) around.    I spent a good hour or more just cruising around the lake perimeter taking mental notes and putting in a few waypoints of areas to try later.   

There wasn't much to see on the lake.   Water clarity was around 1 1/2' to 2' max.    The lake association's weed eradication efforts via chemicals and mechanical harvesters are successful and there's about 5 to 10% of the weed growth that used to be there.    I worked some large spinnerbaits, inline spinners and plugs for muskies for around 3 hours.   Never saw a fish.   No bass or pickerel either.   I'm not a very experienced musky fisherman, but I'd bet many fish are out over deeper water.   I marked a lot of bait or panfish in around 25' of water - I didn't see much life in shallow.    Musky action was good over the summer from what I heard.   I'll be back here likely with some large tubes and other assorted plastics and deeper running plugs.   Water temp was around 55 degrees.  The wind blew 10 to 20 mph with gusts to around 30 - not a pleasant day out there, though the colors were nice.

10/18/2010
Keuka out of Branchport 10/18
Guided the full day with Francois and his dad Frans from Batswana Africa!   Everything lined up perfectly today for us and the guys experienced some of the best lake trout action of the season on Keuka, landing 21 solid lakers up to 25".    The bite was steady and very good throughout the AM with at least 3 doubles hooked.   90' to 115' was best and we did most fishing at the Bluff.  Lunker City Shakers in smelt and albino (white) worked great.   We saved a couple hours for some bass fishing and a deep X-Rap got Francois a fat 18" smallmouth.   A nice pickerel and small largemouth were also landed before we wrapped things up at 3 pm.  Water temps are in the high 50s!    Foliage is peaking - just a great day.  
10/17/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Cayuga State Park 10/16

I took this weekend off so I could relax a bit with my friend Beth and her son Sam.  We were hoping to get out for some fishing but the weather forecast wasn't good - high winds!   I decided that it might be fun to try Cayuga's N. end for some pickerel and perch.   Of course bass fishing can often be very good around October and into November on Cayuga's north end.  

The wind made fishing a real chore.   Boat control was tough and after working some areas that were basically in the middle of the lake, we headed to a sheltered cove to give the perch a try.   Not much was happening with our Gulp dropshot rigs, and some of my favorite perch areas were being slammed with waves, so we set back up for pickerel/bass.  

The fishing was difficult for Sam - mainly because of the wave action and his lack of experience fishing some of the lures we used.   I managed to land some nice bass including a 20.5" beauty that was probably 5lbs.   That fish hit a Lunker City Shaker fished on a Sworming Hornet.  Others were caught on Tubes and X-Raps.     Pickerel and perch were hitting too, though I didn't land many pickerel.   Water temps were in the mid-50s.

10/12/2010
Columbus Weekend Reports 10/8 - 10/12

10/8 Keuka Lake out of Branchport AM:   Guided Ed and John *who've joined me 4 or 5 times over the past couple years) for some lakers.   We started around 8 am and ran over to the Bluff.  Fishing was very good, with the guys landing their limits in fairly short order.  We marked plenty of fish and the guys had plenty of hits.   As always, it was a fun trip!   

10/8 PM Trip:   Guided the Hermans and their friend Ann.   The hot AM bite subsided and the wind came up, making for tough fishing at the Bluff.   We wound up back in the Branchport Arm and during the evening the fishing picked up a little, with 3 nice fish landed.   Lots of fish were around, they just weren't hitting what we were using!

10/9 Keuka Repeat:   Went back out with the Hermans and Ann.   Getting out earlier paid off - and if lakers aren't hitting well on one day, you can usually assume the bite will pick up on the next day!   And it did.   Redemption was had by all involved and around 14 nice lakers were landed.   An hour or two of dropshotting produced 2 smallies in around 40' of water! 

10/10 Keuka out of Branchport:  Due to an unfortunate mix-up I never met up with my clients for a scheduled full day today.   It doesn't happen often at all - maybe once or twice in my guiding career, but sometimes folks show up at the wrong launch and are out of cellphone range and aren't able to communicate with me.    Oh well.   So I arrived at the launch around 8:20 am and waited for 2 hours or so before going fishing.

I worked some areas for bass I hadn't fished in a while.  The largemouths were hitting and I landed 3 on Superflukes and alewife tubes.  They were in less than 12' of water.   My buddy Jarred called and unbelievably, since he got his "real job" we haven't fished together all year.  So I was psyched to see him and spend the PM fishing with him.   I picked him up at the dock at 2 pm and we went bass fishing.   He always tries different stuff and had some modified lures to work.   I cast Superflukes, a deep X-Rap and an alewife tube.   He got things started with a couple rock bass and just as we were getting ready to head to the Bluff to jig lakers he nailed a decent 15" smallmouth on a perch colored Rapala type jerkbait.  We kept fishing and a large smallie hammered my bait - after an superstrong wild battle Jarred netted the 20" beauty and we took a few photos and released it.    Then I nailed another around 20"!  Just incredible fish.  They were on shelves in around 15' to 20' of water.    We had a few small pickerel follow, then headed to the Bluff.   Fishing was slow to start then Jarred did a great job on lakers nailing a few as I started putting away my fishing gear.   We landed 4 and kept 3 and next thing we knew it was dark out.  Long, but productive day.  

10/11 Keuka Lake again!:  Met my old school mate Chris and his son Brian at the launch at 8 am.   Me and Chris go way back to 3rd grade.  Brian loves to fish and is a talented young angler (14 y.o.)  His stomping grounds are the same as mine used to be - Irondequoit Creek and Allen's Creek in Penfield.    We headed out for lakers at the Bluff.   There was a burst of some good fishing in the AM, but the guys were a little rusty and missed quite a few.   We fished hard and things got tougher with heavy cloud cover moving in.   Eventually around 5 or 6 fish were landed.    Drop shotting produced a 14" largemouth down around 45'!    Brian had never caught a pickerel so I took him to a couple areas with an X-rap.  He nailed his first pickerel, a big perch and another largemouth.    We tried some other areas and tactics and called it a day.   After a quick cloudburst we saw a double rainbow going across the lake with a backdrop of peak fall foliage!   AMAZING!!!   The stuff you see fishing can be unforgettable!  

10/12 Skaneateles Lake:  Met up with Gordon, who's joined me for some good trips over the years.   We knew it was early for "predictable rainbows" but we set up for them anyways with Gordon working his fly-rod.   A big perch and nice bass were all that we raised.   I set him up with my two favorite Skinny bass presentations - a green pumpkin tube and dropshot rig.  The tube produced another big (14 1/2") perch and a couple bass, but it was slow fishing.   We worked some deep water with a dropshot without much luck.  A couple changes in location paid off and we hit into a good concentration of 12" to 15" bass with a couple bigger ones (lost) mixed in.  He landed at least a dozen or more bass and plenty of nice rockbass too.   Perch came from 15' of water, rockies and smallies from around 30' to 40'.    Water temps on both laker (Keuka and Skinny) are around 62.

 

 

  

10/6/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 10/6

Got out on my own today for around a 1/2 day on Cayuga around noontime.   I'm pretty much whipped from the guiding season and Cornell going full-out, so it's been tough trying to get up early and head to Otisco or some other distant lake!    Anyways, Taughannock's launch was loaded with debris, so I decided to launch out of Dean's Cove.   I'm getting ready to smoke up some lakers, but first I need some lakers!   I motored towards Sheldrake and found good numbers of fairly active lakers ranging from 80' to 110' of water.    Fishing was very good and I lost two fish at the boat and landed two in around 2 hours.   A lot of fish were hitting on the descent of the jig while jigging the bottom.  The two I landed were both Keuka sized fish - around 22", but not spawners.  No sign of milt or eggs in these non-stunted fish - just bait in their stomachs.   In Skaneateles and Keuka Lakes, 17" fish often have eggs or milt in them - these are stunted fish.  

I tried a little perch fishing before I had to go and caught some small ones in around 20' of water.   Water temps midlake are around 64 on top.    Perchin' is reportedly very good to excellent in the northern portions of the lake.

Propagation netting is going well at Taughannock Park.   Around 30 to 40 females have been handled per day.  By-catch has been minimal with one 5 to 6lb channel catfish so far.   My buddy Mike works the eggtake and he saw a few very nice lakers - some 11 to 12lb fish.  Best one handled thus far was a 36" to 37" male, probably weighing 14 to 15lbs.   Shore fishers are catching lakers on jigs and eggs.

10/3/2010
Skaneateles 10/1, Keuka Lake 10/2, Owasco Lake 10/3

10/1 Skaneateles Lake:  I met the Hermans here at 10 am for a full day's fishing.   Smallmouth bass were the target and we started working the shallows with tube jigs with only a couple rockbass to show.   Smallmouths were deeper - from around 15' out to 35' or so.    Dropshotting was excellent with plenty of nice 12" to 16" smallmouths landed.   I took a demo drop and landed an 18" fish!   Berkely Gulp is what we used.    Yellow perch are becoming more abundant by the day and plenty of good sized rock bass are available.   Eleonore had a beautiful rainbow trout follow in her dropshot minnow in around 20' of water on the east shore across from the State Launch.  Water temps are in the low to mid 60s.   Expect 60 degrees by this upcoming weekend.

10/2 Keuka Lake:   Guided Tony and Glen for the full day starting at 7 am.   They fish the Adirondacks a lot and wanted to learn the technique.   Glen nailed a nice laker on his first or second drop of his jig near Branchport.   There are plenty of fish on the Branchport Arm near the State Park, but many are suspended over deep water - not the best jigging scenario - this will change over the next few weeks as fish move to the ledges to spawn.  So off to the Bluff we went.   Fishing started out somewhat slow, but by 9 am fish were hitting well.   The numbers of fish available in 95' to 115' of water (esp. from 105' to 115') are staggering!!!   I don't think there are better numbers of lakers concentrated anywhere else in the region - it'd be hard to believe.  We marked lakers like marking bait - big "laker blobs" or balls of lakers - piles of hooks, with scattered "hooks" joining the next blob!   Fishing overall was excellent with the guys landing 18 nice fish and losing/dropping another 20 or so.   We had a lot of fun on the trip - it was a laugh fest.   Fish hit all afternoon, esp. when the sun was shining.   A trip to Seneca Farms for dinner on the way back hit the spot!   Another reason to fish Keuka Lake - very good fried chicken and ribs (available occasionally.)

10/3 Owasco Lake:  Guided Greg - who's joined me on quite a few trips over the past few years.   Greg wanted a big smallmouth bass - something in the 20" range.   Last time we targeted smallies on this lake he caught two 20"ers!   I warned him on the slower numbers here and the need for patience/perseverence.  He's a good sport!   We started just after 7 am working mid-lake areas with Deep X-raps, Tubes, Superflukes, Jigging spoons and dropshot rigs.   Fishing was tough.   He caught some perch and rock bass and had a couple small (tiny) smallmouths chase him.   It was windier than forecast, cold and clear out - with clouds and sun mixing during the day.   We checked out a couple laker areas quickly and went back to bass.   On a flat in 30' of water on bottom Greg finally hooked a solid bass on a dropshot rig.   After a great fight  (the fish ran under the boat twice, jumped a couple times and jumped out of the net, I netted a fat 18" smallmouth bass.   That was it for the day.  More rockbass and perch followed as well as some hits, but no more big bass.   We marked a lot of bait and fish (bass and lakers in all likelihood) but they seemed inactive.   I expect some very good to excellent fishing here once the weather gets more favorable.   Fun but very tough day.   Water temps were around 64 on top.

Overall we saw very few boats out on the lakes this weekend.   We were amongst the only ones out on Skaneateles and Owasco Lakes - we probably saw two to three other boats fishing on the day!    Very peaceful and colorful conditions out there.  Apart from Owasco Lake today, fishing was great all weekend!

9/27/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 9/27
Guided George and Jim today for the full day.  They both live locally and George has joined me for a couple trips over the past couple years.   We targeted lakers and fishing was tough to begin.  We marked loads of fish around AES from 70' out to 110'.   Fishing was tough, especially to start.   George had done the technique before and managed to land a couple fish around AES.   Fishing the west shore near Taughannock yielded more fish.   Jim had one get off just under the boat - a big fish.   Fish started hitting well in deeper water (to 130') later in the PM and Jim landed 3 and George filled his limit.   Pick the right day on Cayuga and you may have some great fishing.  Overall I like Keuka better this time of year, but there are an awful lot of fish milling around Taughannock!   Tons of baitfish too - and likely plenty of salmon, browns and a few rainbows.   
9/26/2010
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 9/25 + Keuka Lake 9/26 PM

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen:   Guided Doug and his son Steve for the full-day on Saturday.   We did a bunch of different things - more or less mixing it up.   In a nutshell, there is no shortage of smallmouth bass on this lake.   We had 4 or 5 areas produce fish - all in all the guys might have landed 15 to 20 bass or more dropshotting Gulp in around 15' to 25' of water.    Only "problem" is that most ran around 10" to 11" with maybe a few hitting 12".   We didn't measure the fish, but they were small.   There are some large smallies around on Seneca Lake this year - Doug caught a 19" fish a week ago.   But the majority of bass we saw were small.    The guys fished pike for around 45 minutes with no luck.  

I think the bass are starting to stage a comeback now that the pike population is so low.  It makes sense.   We will likely see perch numbers go up as well.   Bass on this lake grow fairly slowly, but a lot of them are just around 11" and a 12" to 15" smallmouth is a fun fish, so I'd keep an eye on this lake in the future.   I had the guys do a little bit of pike casting without luck.   We did manage some rock bass too.   

We checked on lakers around the Severne Point area.   We marked a lot of fish but they weren't cooperative around noon when we fished them.   90' to 115' or so was the depth.  Surface temp was 62 today.

Keuka Lake out of Branchport:   Boats are being pulled off of Keuka in droves now and the lake is quiet!  It might be my favorite time of year to fish.   Barry and his daughter Julie met me at the launch at 12:30pm.   They fish with me once a year or every two years.   We ran to the Bluff and found plenty of lakers but they weren't very active.  I ran into a friend who told me the bite was very good in the AM but had just slowed.   When fishing, you have to fish on the "fishes terms" - not on ours!   But sometimes PM fishing is better.   Barry landed one nice laker and missed one.   We did some dropshotting along weededges and points and the sunfish, bluegills, rockbass and even a small pickerel cooperated.   The size of the pans were impressive.    15' to 25' was best.   We went back to laker jigging and Barry filled his limit with fish to over 25".   Julie usually does better on the lakers, but today was Barry's day!    Generally good laker fishing and it'll likely peak in October.    Water temps were 67. 

9/22/2010
Skaneateles Lake 9/22
Guided David and Ryan for the full-day starting at 6:30 am.  Shallow water is still producing some fish, but the vast majority of smallmouth bass continue to hold in 15' to 32' of water.   We had a lot of fun today.   David latched onto a big carp up shallow that inhaled his tube jig!   We had to chase the fish with the boat before it ran under a dock and broke off.   What a fight!    Tubes produced at least a half dozen nice smallmouths for us, drop shots a ton more.  The guys hammered smallies, landing around 25 or so up to around 17", with the majority from 12" to 14".    Rockbass and perch were in the mix too.   Very few boats were out on the lake and it was exceptionally tranquil out there.   No lawn mowers, weed whackers, crazy dogs, chain saws, construction equipment, jet skiis, pleasure boats, loud people or anything - just sheer peace!    That's what fall fishing is all about - great fishing, great scenery and peace and quiet!  Water temps were around 65 today.    Trollers reported getting rainbows in "the middle of the lake" down around 30'.   Gulp minnows did the trick drop-shotting.
9/20/2010
Owasco Lake 9/20
Guided Tony for a full day.  We started on the N. end flats searching for bait and possible bass/trout.   We found perch - lots of perch in around 50' of water!   Lakers were active from around 67' on out, but 80' to 90' was probably best.    Tony landed 4 nice lakers on the day and missed a few others.   Fish were pretty active - not the numbers from 2005 or '06, but there are respectable numbers of fish around.    Bass fishing further downlake yielded a couple fish from 13" to 15" or so on Superflukes.   Fishing wasn't real easy due to plenty of cut up weeds drifting around and a strong chop.  The lake had a good N. wind blowing with whitecaps lakewide.   H2O is around 65 on top.  
9/19/2010
Skaneateles Lake 9/18 + Cayuga out of Taughannock 9/19

Skaneateles Lake 9/18:   Guided Mike and Steve for the full day.  They have a house on the lake and wanted to get a few different approaches for smallmouth fishing.   I had them working tubes, superflukes and dropshots.   The techniques produced smallmouths up to just over 17".   No great numbers today, but the guys landed at least a half dozen solid fish.   Fish were fairly well distributed from around 8' out to 32' of water.    Drop shotting also produced some rock bass (as did the tubes.)    We tried some lake trout jigging.  We marked fish and had light hits, but no fish hooked or landed.   Fishing will improve here as the water cools.   We used Berkely Gulp and Powerbait on the dropshots, green pumpkin Bass Pro Shops tubes on 1/4 oz jigheads and white Superflukes with 5/0 BPS offset hooks.

Cayuga Lake 9/19:  Guided Greg, who has joined me for at least 1/2 dozen trips over the years.  We were hoping for some lakers and browns.   Laker fishing started slow at 7:00 am with overcast skies.   Excellent numbers of fish are around the park, but action is getting hot/cold.    Greg hooked a couple good fish and landed one aroudn 25".   We tried some areas for browns without any hookups.   By 1 pm we were fishing lakers again.  The bite picked up a bit and Greg landed a couple more nice fish and missed/lost a few.   Fish were in heavy numbers out to over 115'.  Most fish are deeper than 95' around the park.   Shakers in smelt, purple and white worked well.  Greg worked a spoon too, but had no hits on it - just a bunch of mussels!

 

9/17/2010
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 9/17

I've been putting in some LONG hours on the water lately between guiding and doing some exploratory fishing of my own.  Despite feeling like a coffee junkie, it feels great!   There's a lot of work to be done on the water deciphering patterns and I'm not about to start relenting on my quest to figure out our fisheries.   

Today I guided Dave starting at 8 am;  he'd joined me on Cayuga last month with his son.  Today he fished with his girlfriend Sheila.   Laker fishing ran from very good to downright excellent today at the Bluff.  The cloudy skies kept the bite going.   Many of you know that I really like sunny days for laker jigging in the fall and winter (especially,) but today was an exception.   I saw more bait today than I've seen in a long time on Keuka Lake (though there are still NO comparisons to Cayuga/Seneca!)    Around 11 am the bite really turned on with numerous fish chasing jigs.   Smelt, white and purple shakers all worked well today, with white w/chart. tail being the best.    We kept a limit of fish and caught and released a bunch more.  The fish we kept didn't have much of anything in their stomachs.   I'm not sure if the thermocline does a job here keeping the fish away from the bait (like Otsego Lake) before the spawn, but it certainly is a factor.   I don't mark a lot of bait on bottom in this lake.   Could that account for the 100% wild fish here?   I dunno.  

We did some dropshotting late in the trip for perch working 15' to 40' of water.   Rockbass really hit well, as did a whitish silvery colored fish - either a salmon or rainbow, which broke off in 30'.   Sheila got one perch and we called it a day.   Bottom line was the hot laker bite.

I spent another 3.5 hours on the water dropshotting and doing some bass fishing - basically exploring.   Rockbass are all over the place in 20' of water.   Some perch were around and I also caught a couple largemouths (one dink and one around 13" to 14") and smallish smallies.   Then I saw some bait break the surface near the bluff!   It was reminiscent of bluefishing.   I know it's a fairly common occurence here,  and on Canandaigua and on Oneida Lakes, but I hadn't seen it much lately.  We used to see it on Seneca and Lake Ontario quite a bit too. I cast a few different lures and then got two or three hits on an alewife tube before I hooked and landed a solid 18" smallmouth.   More fish came up for a few seconds and then disappeared.   It was pretty wild.   Laker action held up and I jigged one before I called it a day around 6 pm.  Water temps are 67.  A bass angler I talked to early this AM reported decent LMB but slow SMB fishing.   Very little boat traffic today, but it was cloudy and damp all AM and cloudy and dry all PM!

9/15/2010
Cayuga Lake N. end Report 9/15

There's nothing quite like bass fishing.   It's a challenge and consistent success requires the ability to adjust to ever changing conditions.    Guided the full day with Ray.   We worked S. of the launch down to Long Point today.    Fishing started out promising with Ray landing a couple small largemouths and a couple pickerel on medium running crankbaits in around 12' to 15' of water.   It was cold with water temps hovering in the mid to upper 60s for most of the day.   Ray really wanted to locate some bass today, so he encouraged me to fish with him - so that's what I did.   I chucked large deep running crankbaits for quite a while.   The bite was tough and peculiar today.   I actually foul-hooked two pickerel on separate occasions in their backs!   Aggressive fish like pickerel usually don't wind up being hooked like that!    Bass seemed to be striking short and not coming back.   That was the story of the day. 

We did some dropshotting, casting stickbaits, working plastic worms and tubes and so on.   The tubes attracted a lot of pickerel - sometimes nearly every cast.  They weren't particularly active (for us) in the AM, but as the sun came out they really got aggressive.   Around 12' was best for them, but they were deeper too. Bass also followed Ray's jerkbait - but wouldn't hit.  The hitting bass that we landed were mostly dinks.  Ray's a very good fisherman and could differentiate the bass hits from perch and pickerel hits.  He had some good runs on the plastic worm, but the bass would usually drop it.   Things got more active later.  By the end of the day I'd hooked and lost a decent fish (around 2lbs) on a dropshotted Ozmo and had another follow me in around the same areas we'd worked in the AM, but it was getting time to leave.   Challenging day - windy and cold conditions for most of the day with few hookups. 

Bass fishing has been very good on Cayuga lately - for largemouths.   Actually from reports I've received it's been good all season.   The cold weather put a damper on the bite, but as the weather stabilizes I expect fishing to improve quickly. 

9/13/2010
Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 9/13

Guided Michael, Koen and Dominiek for 1/2 day on Seneca.   We started on the west shore with the usual "Seneca AM southerlies" blowing around 10 to 15 mph.   We were able to find decent numbers of fish N. of Perry Point in around 95' to 105' and out further.    Action was decent, though not spectacular.  The guys landed 4 solid fish and we lost one good one at the net.   All were wild and two had fairly fresh lamprey marks.    Lunker City Shakers in various colors produced.   We found more fish on the west shore than east.

After the trip I did about 90 minutes of casting for pike, with one hit that didn't feel like a northern.   I dropped a Kastmaster down in around 30' of water and picked up a small smallmouth and missed another.  Word is that perch are activating in around 50' of water.    Water temps are around 68.   

9/12/2010
Keuka Lake 9/11

Guided Mitchell and Vincent for a half day on Keuka Lake.   We started around 7:15 am at the bluff area - the guys were teetering between wanting bass and wanting action;  I thought the lakers would provide some good action.  Fishing was pretty good in the AM, with the guys each landing a couple nice lakers (up to 23.5".)   The usual excellent numbers of fish are at the bluff.   After an hour and a half of laker fishing we moved N. searching some smallmouth areas.   It was pretty clear after covering a mile or two of shoreline that bass weren't very active up shallow.   Likely the weather pattern - cold front.   Nothing was even following our super flukes and no hits on the tube jigs.   The winds changed, so we kept at it, also working some deeper stuff.   Drop shotting produced some nice sized sunfish, a small bass and a rock bass.  Vince felt that the preponderence of panfish wasn't good so we moved on.   We tried a few other areas with some pickerel following and more panfish and another small bass.    The last area we tried yielded one 12" to 13" smallmouth on a green pumpkin Superfluke.   Bottom line - good laker action, slow bass fishing - though it was clear that the bass were gradually activating as the day went on (that's why I encourage booking full day trips!)

Weather systems and day to day conditions (even hour by hour) play a huge role in fish activity levels.   This isn't an excuse for getting "skunked,"  not fishing hard and not giving things 100%, but it's just a fact.   Fish instinctively turn on and off when good and not so good feeding opportunities present themselves.  Fishing can be a grind when the bite isn't on but perseverence can and usually does pay off - even in the toughest conditions.   

My schedule has cleared up a little bit, so I've had more time and energy to fish after and before scheduled trips.   After I dropped the guys off, I worked the Branchport Arm of Keuka Lake for bass.   The shallow bite was null and void but drop shotting 30' of water produced a nice 15" smallmouth for me and a smaller largemouth.   The weather gradually changed with warmer air and some cloud cover moving in.   The superflukes started to pay off with numerous small (11" to 14") smallies chasing and half-heartedly hitting them (this was around 3:30 to 4pm fwiw.)   At around 5 pm I had a large smallmouth swim up and gobble the fluke.   After 3 to 4 great jumps and tailwalks I landed a 20" smallmouth.   15 minutes later a 19"er came to the net.   Had we fished these areas in the AM, my guess is we would not have contacted these fish.   The weather changed and the fish activated.   Cold fronts often slow fish down - the key is to keep persevering and not to get discouraged.    Some fish are always hitting.  Deep fish are less affected by day to day or hour to hour conditions.    I was in 30' to 50' of water casting up shallower.    Around 30' of water seems to be an "activity zone."   It also says a lot when the sunfish, bluegills and rock bass are in deepwater - something is happening down there!

9/10/2010
Owasco Lake 9/10

Got out on Owasco Lake around 9:30 am.   I checked a few things out.  I spent 2.5 hours targeting lakers in the AM.   The north end was full of baitfish - I haven't seen this much bait in a few years here.   Lakers were out from around 70' to at least 90' of water.   I landed one 23"er and missed a couple others.   I marked other fish shallower - probably bass, young perch, rainbows and walleyes (who knows?)   

I checked out some alien areas (to me) and had a couple bite-offs from pike.   I landed some panfish and one smallmouth, but overall fishing was slow.   The wind made things tough and I think the slow fishing was mainly due to the weather pattern.  Time will tell, but I expect good things here.  H2O on top was 69 degrees.    Only a couple other boats were out.  Fall fishing is upon us!

9/6/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 9/6

Slow start, but by mid-AM fishing was in peak form!   Guided Boris, Mitchell and Nathan for the full day.  Boris and Mitchell have fished with me twice - once for pike and once for lakers.  Today was laker-time.   We stayed N. of Taughannock all day long.  Conditions were somewhat windy to start and Nate had the hot land landing a couple nice lakers.  Thing were looking pretty darn slow around 6 to 9 am, but as the winds switched and cloud cover moved in, the bite really picked up.  The guys did great mostly using smelt colored Shakers.   Around 13 to 14 nice fish were landed including a 28" wild one which we released.   Many fish kept were loaded with alewives and one female was pretty ripe.  Bait numbers were pretty insane, with some tremendous schools marked.   

On their best days, Keuka and Canandaigua Lakes have about 5% of the bait we find on Cayuga!    And that's a stretch.   Year in and year out Cayuga is THE top Finger Lake and probably the top (non-Great Lake) salmonid producer in NY State - and maybe the entire northeast.   The fall Brown trout fishing and the winter/spring landlocked salmon fishery will bear this out - mark my words!  Lampreys are under control.  Rainbows are coming back.   I give a lot of credit to Jeff Robins and DEC Region 7 fisheries for doing such a terrific job managing this lake!   Seneca Lake is tremendous for lakers and landlocked salmon, but lampreys are always a threat and Cayuga is much more consistent on big browns.    Either way - we have a lot of terrific fishing here.   And unlike the Great Lakes, you don't have to be overly concerned about contaminent levels here!    There are no specific advisories on Cayuga or Seneca Lakes!

9/5/2010
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 9/5

Guided the Hermans today for close to a full day.  We started late - around 8:30 am, waiting out some rain and trying to avoid nighttime winds.    We picked up one fish near the State Park and then headed all the way to Hammondsport.   I don't typically do very well around the N. end of the Branchport Arm this time of year, though there are certainly fish around.   Numbers will change drastically in October as spawning nears and baitfish move in!    But this time of year, the Bluff and south end of the lake are usually better bets.   Fishing wasn't great, but wasn't terrible in Hport.   Eleonore nabbed 3 nice lakers - all around 22" to 23" down there.  John, after a great showing last week, had a tougher day - he nailed one good fish.   We marked some bait, but not a lot.  Typical Keuka Lake.    Friend Mike Canavan reported great AM fishing on Cayuga Lake, which fishes nicely on a westerly.   On Keuka winds funnel a lot more, which can be a curse on some days and a blessing on others.   Today was more of a curse!  ;-)   Fish ranged from around 75' on down, but some were suspended up higher.   

My guide schedule is starting to slow down a bit, so I'm excited to get out and check on some things I haven't been able to do in a while - the list includes Owasco Lake,  Otisco Lake, Waneta Lake and Seneca out of Watkins.   Canandaigua and Lake Ontario not to mention Keuka for smallmouths would be nice too.   Maybe even Cross Lake or Oneida...  Decisions decisions....It ain't easy being a fishing fanatic in the Finger Lakes region - or anywhere else in NY for that matter.   Stripers/Bluefishing in Massachusetts, perhaps the Thousand Islands or Lake Champlain for bass/pike would be fun too.    Better quit while I'm ahead!     

9/3/2010
Skaneateles Lake 9/3

Had a fun 1/2 day starting around 6:30 am with Andy and Julie.  Neither one had fished in likely decades (and they hadn't fished much back then either,)  so I was happy to see both of them get their casting down and get into some very good smallmouth bass action.  Tube jigs did the trick on fish averaging 13" to 15".   They probably landed 14 to 15 legal fish.   A pumpkinseed and a couple rockbass were in the mix.   

After dropping them off I fished another 4 hours or so on my own working different areas with different techniques.  It felt pretty fun to actually go fishing!  It'd been a while....   I caught a very nice fish (17 1/2" dark and chunky) on some Berkely Gulp fished on a jig head.   Fish also attacked white superflukes.   After my shallow to midrange bite slowed I went deeper - doing some dropshotting like my friend Craig Nels likes to do.   I worked some flats along dropoffs concentrating on 25' to 40' of water.   The rockbass were hitting great - I also caught some perch and a handful of nice smallmouths.   Fishing remains very good on this lake and will only get better.  Parking wasn't a problem today and shouldn't be one after the holiday weekend!  

9/2/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 9/2
Very good fishing today with Jason and David!   We were originally scheduled for Sunday back a week and a half ago when the heavy rains came in and we postponed - and we're all glad we did.    We worked around the Taughannock to Kingtown Beach area on both sides of the lake.   Fishing started out good with David getting a couple nice lakers.   Lots of clean (no lamprey scar) fish are around.    Both guys did very well with the top fish being David's 31 1/2" slob.   We let go all the bigger fish (over 28") today unharmed.   I always take out a few seconds and "burp" them out, gently squeezing the belly of the fish upwards in order to relieve the swim bladder.   The bite was steady with peaks around 9 am and again around 1:30 pm.  15 nice lakers were landed and others dropped.  Fish hit all day long and were hitting when we left.   Generally excellent fishing today, which should hold up tomorrow given the weather forecast - get 'em while it's hot!   85' to 105' was best today with good action at all those depths.  Next to nobody else was out fishing!   Smelt and white shakers were best.  
8/31/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/31
Guided DJ and Terry for 1/2 day this morning.  Things haven't changed much on Cayuga - the fish really started hitting good around 9:30 or 10 am.   We left while the bite was still hot, but the guys did good filling their limit and letting go fish.   A couple nice ones were dropped/missed as well.   85' was probably best, though there are plenty of fish out deeper too.   Smelt colored shakers were very good today.   Fun trip!    The AES area still holds a lot of fish, but Cayuga is simply loaded with fish and bait throughout the Taughannock to Sheldrake area on both shores.   
8/30/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/30
Guided George and Roger for the full day.  They last fished with me around 2 years ago - we spent time trying some bass, pike and laker tactics.   We started at 6:15 am and the going was a little slow, but George started things off with a couple nice lakers and Roger dropped a couple.   George had a hold of what appeared to me to be a large brown - it jumped around 3 feet out of the water and spit the jig!   Pretty exciting stuff.  Another good brown followed up Roger's jig, then he landed 3 lakers.   George also landed a 19" salmon.   Quite a few fish were missed/lost but a good time was had by all.  The bite ran throughout the day with peak fishing around 10 to 11 or so.    75' to 85' was best for us, though we found deeper fish too.   
8/25/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/25

AM:  Guided Dave and son David for 3/4s of a day.   Action was very tough during the first two hours of the day, but I encouraged young David to hang in there.   By around 9 am the bite got hot 'n heavy for an hour, with the guys landing 6 or 7 nice lakers (to over 28") and a chunky brown.    Action slowed, but picked up for a short while with two more nice lakers coming to the net.   David caught the two biggest fish of the day and was quite proud of himself.    Semi-tough fishing but we were fortunate to be at the right place at the right time.

PM:  I picked up the Hermans at 2:30 pm and we headed out for some laker/brown action.   We marked a boatload of lakers but the bite was tough with fish chasing half heartedly and hitting lightly.   Tough bite, but a ride N. of Taughannock proved fruitful with John landing a nice 22" landlocked salmon!   Two nice lakers followed and then we called it a day.  Tough bite, but lots of fish around.    Depths and lure selection remain the same as in recent reports.   Lakers are fighting very well with surface temps at 73 degrees!

8/24/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/24

Guided Ted and his 10 year old daughter Jordan for a 1/2 day starting around 6:15 am.   Fishing proved tough in the AM.  We've had unsettled weather lately and a cold front hovering over the region.   But you can't keep hungry fish down for long, and around 9 am the lakers started showing signs of life.   I kept coaching on the finer points of the technique.  Eventually I borrowed Jordan's rod and showed then a drop and wound up hooking a laker.  I gave the rod to her and she cranked it in.  So they saw it could be done!    Then it was up to Jordan to hook and land her own fish.  Within around 10 minutes she did just that - all on her own.  Needless to say, we were very proud of her!   Then Ted nailed a nice fish.  

I've done and watched folks do 1000s of hours of laker jigging - you name it and I've seen people do it.   I generally know what works and what doesn't, but I keep an open mind.   When you book a trip you get the most recent technical info I have.  People compare this to fluke or striper jigging and there's no comparison in my opinion.  Lakers are a different animal.   And the technique changes year to year as more things become apparent.   I had Ted do something slightly different than he'd been doing it and it made a big difference.  The difference is all in the details!  They'll be back out with me on Thursday and I'm looking forward to it!  We had a lot of fun today.

8/22/2010
Seneca out of Geneva 8/21 AM + Skaneateles 8/21 PM

Seneca Lake out of Geneva 8/21 AM:    Started off Saturday meeting Mark, Cathy and Tom at the Geneva ramp around 6 am.   I had a couple slow guiding days around Geneva over the past couple weeks, but both were on overcast borderline rainy days.  We marked decent numbers of fish on one of those trips.  We also had slow fishing elsewhere on the lake during those trips - which convinced me that it was more of a day to day weather phenomenon, than a general slowdown.   Lastly I also had a call from a client who mentioned marking and catching some good numbers of lakers around Geneva a couple days before my first tough trip there.   But NWS changed their forecast Friday night to 15 mph south winds - so I wasn't particularly optimistic when we set out.  I don't like being on the "wrong" end of the lake with 15 mph+ winds!

The early start saved our day.   Tom caught a laker on his first drop and we had great fishing over the next hour and a half to two hours.   A few doubles were hooked and the day was topped with Mark's 32" beauty which we released unharmed!   Great AM, which slowed considerably once the winds got stronger and the day went on.   85' to 105' was best, with excellent action in 85' to 90'.     Around 7 or 8 nice fish were landed.  

Skaneateles Lake 8/21 PM:   I was hopeful that the cloudy conditions and threatening rain would leave me with some parking options at the small State Launch on Skaneateles Lake.   It did.  I can't wait for the passage of Labor Day weekend when parking will no longer be an issue here.   There is a Town Launch at Mandana, but it's a trickier launch than the State ramp with a long walk added in.    I met Jack and Gary - both from Texas at around 12:30 PM and after a bit of a wait we launched the boat.   I like Jack a lot - he was one of my first clients and is the most successful businessman I've ever met.   He's given me some great business and life advice and I always hope and wish the best for him.   Gary works for Jack and had never fished, period!    So I set us up behind a large point and taught Gary how to cast and work a dropshot rig, a Superfluke and a tube jig.   He caught a rockbass on the dropshot so we got the first fish out of the way quickly.   Jack favors his spincast gear and brought that.  "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" is what he says, but the last time we were here he forgot his spincast gear and did just fine with my spinning tackle!    In a nutshell fishing was pretty good with the guys landing 9 nice legal smallies.  Most were 12 1/2" to 13 1/2" or so, with one around 16" or 17".  Some bigger ones got off and many hits were missed, but it was a good day.   Gary caught the largest which was awesome.   It's just a great smallmouth fishery and it'll only get better as the Fall approaches!  

8/20/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/20
Had a great day fishing with two dyed-in the wool fly-fishermen - Arti and Steve.  We started around 6:15 am with a good laker bite.   No slobs today, but some nice fish running 23" to 27".   My boat's vertical jigging brown trout record was broked again this year, this time with four fish.   A 19", 20", 24" and 27" fish.  All FAT!   The guys are catch and release fishermen so that's what we did today, apart from one deep hooked laker.  Arti also managed a 17" salmon that we were able to release unharmed.    We were surprised to see some lakers coming from shallower water - up to around 62'.   Maybe we had a dead spot on the graph - I'm not sure, but usually we find browns in shallower.     Fun day and a couple fly-fishers got to see the excitement and appeal of the jigging technique.    Darker colored plastics did the trick today - the usual Shakers and some Bass Pro Shops baits.  
8/19/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/19
Guided Sam and Becky for the full day starting around 6:45 am.  I don't know how Cayuga was yesterday - whether it was slow like Seneca or what, but today the fish really turned on (we have a cold front moving in tonight.)  Just a great bite all day long.   Sam and Becky wound up landing 15 nice fish including a rare 28" wild beauty that we released (along with nearly all of the others.)    We worked all over the lake from Taughannock on north towards Sheldrake, mostly fishing the west shore.    Around 72' to 90' was best though there are a lot of fish out deeper too.  Lots of colors and various plastics worked.   We had a couple doubles going.   Best fish was Sam's 29"er though Becky caught the lion's share overall.  They had a nice friendly competition going for awhile.   
8/18/2010
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 8/18

Guided Mark, Bill and Billy for the full day starting around 6 am.   The guys had fished with Sean Brown on Monday www.reelhookedup.com  ,  Jon Evans on Tuesday www.fishingthefingerlakes.com   and booked with me for today.   Needless to say, these two guides get my endorsement for being amongst the best in the region.    I had fairly high hopes for today though originally we'd thought about fishing Cayuga Lake.   The guys fished Cayuga Monday and Keuka Tuesday and were interested in trying a different lake; I felt we could have a good day on Seneca.    There are still plenty of fish up on the N. end flats near Geneva.   We started out with a bang - I went over the technique and Mark hooked up in no time and then Billy nailed two nice fish (all from around 25" to 26".)    The fish took the jigs deep!    A fair number of hits were missed as well.  But the fish quickly got less active as the day progressed.   We wound up motoring south to Dresden and then over to Sampson and back North.   Fish were everywhere we went and again - the guys had a decent number of hits, but the fish weren't committing well or chasing very far.   

Around 75' to 115' is what we fished with most fish being marked from around 95' to 105'.   Tough day with lots of fish around but slow catching.   Cayuga remains my number one lake trout jigging pick from here on until mid-September, when Keuka really catches fire!

8/16/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/16
Guided Leo and Ada today for the full day starting at 7 am.  They didn't want to get up at 6 since they were on vacation (I know that feeling!) and it cost them some great fishing.  Fish were very aggressive as the remnants of the storm/low pressure were moving out this AM and we caught the tail end of it.   Ada dropped a few good fish and landed and released a few smallish (18" to 22") ones.   After the skies cleared the furious bite slowed a bit, but remained steady.  All in all a nice day with 6 good lakers landed right up until our 3 pm quitting time.   75' and out remains best.    White, dark and chartreuse have all been producing for us lately.   
8/15/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/14 + 8/15

8/14 AM - Guided Jeff, Abby and Randy for a 1/2 day starting at 6 am.  I started my day with a quick encounter with Bambi while driving through Taughannock Park.   Damn!   Fortunately the truck wasn't damaged too badly, and luckily the same panel I dinged last year was hammered by the deer, so things should work out!

It was windy and fishing/boat control wasn't easy, but we managed to hook some good fish N. of AES.   Fishing slowed a little around 8:30 am but picked up around 10 am N. of Taughannock.   Abby nailed a 32" beauty (laker) that we landed, photographed and released.   Everyone caught fish and it wound up being a good morning of fairly steady action with one double.   Randy kept me entertained with some hilarious stories of working as a nurse in a busy urban hospital.   

8/14 PM - Guided Joan and Barry for a full day starting at 11 am.   I was optimistic regarding the fishing after the late rally during the AM trip.   Joan and Barry have done a lot of spectacular fishing throughout the world, but have a fondness for the Finger Lakes region and Cayuga Lake in particular.  They trolled here a lot over the past two decades.   We had some good laker action with each landing 3 solid fish.   Joan got things started with 2 beauties N. of Taughannock.  We covered a lot of water and despite the strong winds we managed to stay on fish.  We quit two hours early.  Really nice day!  Interestingly, Barry has run a collision shop for over 30 years and he helped me get my passenger door opening after the bambi run-in.   What a coincidence - 6 years of guiding, probably nearly 200 people, 600 trips and the one time I hit a deer I wind up with the only collision repair guy I've ever guided.   Take what you want from that one....

8/15 - Guided Todd (who didn't fish much) and his sons Jacob and  Connery for the full day .   Fishing was pretty good from the get-go with Jake landing a 29" solid laker to start.   Jake paid his dues on Thursday - he missed a couple fish as he was learning the technique, but then continued to fish hard without much action.  Today he made up for it.  He landed another, but trash-talking his older brother came back to bite him.    Connery landed 5 nice lakers - incl. three 27"ers in a row near Taughannock.    Another day of solid fishing.    The guys did a great job; they landed every solid hookup.  Todd managed a fish as well while one of the guys took a break.  

8/13/2010
Keuka Lake 8/12 AM + Seneca out of Geneva PM

Keuka Lake AM:   Guided Bob and Bart for a 1/2 day starting at 6 am.   Bob booked a laker trip with me last year and reported some good laker fishing around the Bluff area midday on Wednesday.    Bob has relatives with a place on the lake and wanted to learn some bass techniques.  He's primarily been a live-bait fisherman in the past.   I had the guys work the "must have" plastics for the Finger Lakes (and most clearwater bass lakes) - Senkos, Superflukes and Tube jigs.    Not a great morning, but the guys had enough positive feedback from the fish to show them that these are viable techniques.  Bart landed a couple 12" to 13" largemouths working the Senko (using his own technique.)    A big rockbass or two were also caught.   Bob missed a few on the Senko and fluke.  He landed a largemouth as well with the Superfluke and had a big smallmouth behind/under his in one area.   We wound up near the bluff area where their house was.   I took some casts with a green pumpkin tube and landed into a nice 18" smallmouth.  There were likely more around too - since I hooked one, lost it then landed the fish.   I was hoping to show Bob a pickerel!

After the trip ended I took 45 minutes and worked some Branchport areas for smallies.  I raised a group of nice smallies in one area with the superfluke.  Then I had to go.

Seneca Lake PM:   Met Todd and his son Jacob at Geneva and we headed out for lakers.  I let Todd know earlier that I wasn't terribly confident in the weather pattern but we went for it anyways.  We marked quite a few lakers from 95' to 105'.   Todd lost his first three solid hookups, which was unusual -he generally lands most of his fish.  I'm not sure whether the fish just weren't grabbing the jigs well, or whether it was a coincidence.   Jake had a couple momentarily hooked as well.  He saw what the technique was about - and we'll be back out Sunday so he'll have a jump on things.  Todd wound up landing a couple decent fish.   

We spent a lot of time motoring around watching the electronics.  We also dropped a lot of jigs in place we marked and didn't mark fish.   A lot of bait moved in towards the evening.   But overall, I'd say that laker numbers are down now on the N. end.  I saw the same thing happen last year.   Of course, it's still a great area to fish and an angler can still have some great fishing up there, but I think a considerable portion of trout have likely started moving down the lake.  There's nowhere near the number of fish there now that there was in early July.  We worked an area downlake and marked some fish and had a hit or two.  But overall it was slow fishing - not terrible, but pretty slow! 

8/11/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/11

AM Trip:   Did a morning 1/2 day trip with Paul and Juan - guys that met in college quite a few years ago.   We started with lakers and the fishing was very good, the guys limited out in fairly short order.    Paul couldn't top his wife Liza's 31" laker from Sat. AM though.   Then we fished for browns with Paul nailing a 9lb 10 oz beauty.   The guys were a lot of fun. 

PM Trip:   Guided Dan who's been fishing with me once or twice a year probably since I started guiding.  We tried for browns early and he landed a few small lakers.   Then we went laker fishing and Dan nailed a 30" beauty over 9lbs that fought great.  Fish just weren't snapping up the jigs very well.  We marked a ton of fish - Dan had dozens of hits and a few short hookups, but nothing very solid.   Fun fishing, slow catching.  75' and out was good.  We worked both shores near Taughannock.  

 

 

 

8/9/2010
Cayuga out of Taughannock 8/8 + Owasco Lake 8/9

Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/8 AM:  Guided Craig and Jim for the full day.  Craig booked a trip back in April for some deep jigging.  Due to the weather, we rescheduled probably 4 times!    I don't do trips unless I think the weather will make for decent fishing conditions.    So we finally got a good day, though we started with fairly good south winds.   The bite wasn't easy, but we found an area with good numbers of fish and worked them hard.   The guys nailed some very nice lakers - up to around 26" to 27".  Jim's enthusiasm was great.   The technique isn't easy in the wind with a moving boat, but the guys did a good job and it paid off.   I think we wound up with around 6 or 7 fish total.   Both shores produced fish.

Taughannock PM:  Picked up Jim and his brother Joe at Myers Park.   Jim booked his first trip with me on my first year guiding.   We headed north and set up around 3:30.   Fish were moving for the jigs, but not very well.  The going was tough for the first three hours.   But during our last hour fish started cooperating and Joe nailed a couple and Jim got one.   The guys missed quite a few as well.  

Owasco Lake 8/9:   Started at 6 am picking up Fred from his rental house.  Fred's been booking trips for a few years with me and had a chance to fish some of the hot Owasco Laker action.   After getting some on and off again reports regarding Owasco Lakers, we decided not to spend too much time on them.   Given how much better Seneca and Cayuga are now for lakers, I don't see much of a point in grinding it out on Owasco.  

Baitfish numbers looked pretty good on the N. end of Owasco.   Especially on the west side near Buck's Point.   We marked fish shallow too - no doubt some browns/rainbows, bass and walleyes.    Lakers are around too, but they weren't particularly active when we started.  

I've been wanting to give the smallies a good shot here starting early in the AM so that's what we did.   I've been doing most of my bass guiding on Skaneateles Lake over the past couple years.  Huge baitfish numbers on the N. end of Owasco - plus lots of bass mixed in with them has me fairly convinced that a lot of the Owasco fish are suspended and on bait.  They are - but they're fishable.   Fellow guide and friend Jon Evans  (www.fishingthefingerlakes.com)  was raving so much about Owasco's bass to me that I was chomping at the bit to really give them a good try!

I had Fred working some Superflukes and we found a semi-motherlode of bass.   Fred started with a nice 18 1/2" fish.  Then a few 17"ers came to the boat with some smaller ones (15".)   At one point a school of around 20 fish followed in his fluke!   As we wound things down we tried lakers again, and they'd activated a bit.  Fred lost 2.   After I dropped Fred off I did something I haven't done in awhile - I fished after a trip.   I spent the next 5 hours working various areas, testing out rods and marking areas in my GPS.   Landed a couple more bass.   Found some good midlake lakers areas.  

I plan on doing more smallmouth guiding and fishing here.  Their are some real quality bass here.    I'll be combining it with some laker jigging, so we may have the best of both worlds soon!

8/7/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock Park 8/7

Guided Liza for 1/2 day today.  Her husband Paul bought her the trip - nice guy!   He'll be out with me later this week.  Young children can make getting out as a couple difficult!   

I was very optimistic regarding our prospects this AM after lakers really started turning on last night.   We started at 6 am, but the fishing really got going around 7:30 to 8.   First fish she got was a 17" laker that we released.  But her second was a 31" 9 1/2lb  beauty.  Great fight - these fish really pull in order to stay in the cold deep water.   Then she hooked and landed a fat brown - a 27" fish that pushed 10lbs!  The condition (length to weight ratio) of these fish is tremendous!    A few more lakers were landed for a total of 6 lakers and one brown.   75' to 85' of water did the trick.  We used an assortment of plastics.  It was nice seeing all the jiggers near AES.   The ones I knew and talked to were all doing well and catching fish.

8/6/2010
Cayuga out of Taughannock 8/6

After looking at the wind forecasts I postponed my AM trip with 3 ppl (it's much too hard to control the boat with 3 and a lot of wind.)   I called Will and told him we could start our 11 am trip early, but he decided to stick with our original plan.  Add that in with the cranking  winds at around 15 to 25 mph and I figured I had my work cut out for me.  

I met Will and his dad Bill at the dock and they had the right attitude for a good trip.   Bill had fished the boundary waters in Wisconsin and spent days trying to catch lakers without luck.  So he told me one laker would be great.  That, I was pretty sure we could do.  

We worked different areas around Taughannock and we eventually wound up in an area that has produced some browns, salmon and rainbows for us in the past, including some lakers.   Bill landed the first fish - a 17" laker.  Then Will got things going by landing a 24.5" brown that weighed 7lbs!  What a pig!   Then he hooked another fish - a 26" brown that weighed 9lbs!   Bill then landed a bigger brown - a 27" 11lber!    Will then dropped what was likely a big brown.  We had at least two other nice browns follow in the jigs.   Then Will landed a 30" laker that weighed 10lbs.   The Cayuga fish are fat.   A few more lakers were landed and we called it a day.    Browns were in around 65' of water give or take.  Lakers were a little bit deeper.  

I knew we'd be in for a challenging day.  But with challenges come opportunities and the guys made the best of them.   Expect some great brown trout fishing this fall around creek mouths and up the tributaries.  There are some very nice fish in the lake this year!  Fish came on Lunker City Shakers.  

8/5/2010
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 8/5
Had a good time with Ed and Bob on a full day trip.   We had unsettled weather in the AM (6 am start time) with a good steady rain for around an hour.  Fish cycled on and off, but the bite was never boring.   The guys lost a lot of nice fish today, but we wound up landing 8 good lakers up to 29".   The best fishing was from around noon onwards - the early bird doesn't always get the worm.    Very light boat traffic out there.   The guys have had some good luck with the jigging technique on Round Valley Reservoir in New Jersey.   73' to around 90' was best - though there are plenty of fish deeper.   No shortage of bait either on the N. end.   The usual chartreuse and white plastics fished on 1 oz. jigheads did the trick. 
8/4/2010
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 8/4

Guided Dave and Bud for the full day today out of Sampson starting at 6 am.  Dave picked up a nice 28" laker in front of the park.   A couple other hits were had.  We shot to the N. end and found some very good laker action with fish running up to 30".    68' or so out to 85' proved best.   On the west shore we also found fish further south.  On the last drop of the day Dave had a 21" landlocked salmon blast his jig boatside!  Lotsa fun there with a couple great jumps.   Fun day with various colors working.  Next to no boat traffic out there.  The guys were surprised at how few people were out given how good the fishing was.   That's the beauty of the Finger Lakes Region - great fishing, uncrowded conditions, great scenery and pleny of creature comforts!  

August is getting pretty much booked up.  Oddly - some Sundays still remain open and I have some 1/2 day openings.   The fall is still wide open with most dates available.   

8/3/2010
Cayuga out of Taughannock 8/3 AM + Seneca out of Sampson 8/3 PM

I've been doing some split day trips, which has worked out well for me and clients in general.  Basically run a morning trip from 6 am till 10 am + then pull the boat out and do an evening trip from around 4 pm till 8 pm+.   Here's how today went:

Cayuga 8/3 AM:  Met Lance, Nika (hope I spelled that right) and Peter at the launch at 6 am.  The winds were blowing pretty good (10 mph) out of the south.  For a 3 person trip, that can be tough.   Fishing was kind of slow to start without much of an AM bite.   All the guys had some early hits with Nika losing one laker N. of AES.   Then Lance caught one and Nika landed one as well.  Both decent fish around 25" or so.   Not much happening after that.   The guys had some trouble feeling/detecting the bottom, which can be very hard in 85' of water with the boat drifting.  We could have done much better had it not been so windy.    One change I'm in the process of making is that I'm switching to Fireline Crystal.   It's very visible above the surface and that aids in detecting the bottom as well as hits.  So far so good with it!    All in all we had a fun day, though it wasn't easy fishing by any means. 

Seneca/Sampson 8/3 PM:  Guided Doug - who joined me on my early season Landlocked salmon "skunk" trip on Seneca in March, and his son Peter.   Today was the jigging tutorial and things went pretty well.    We mainly fished around the park and just south.   The guys picked up the technique pretty well.  We started with calm conditions then it got windy.  4 nice fish were landed - 3 wild and one hatchery.   A few were dropped too.   Chartreuse plastics as well as white/chart. baits worked best.   Around 67' to 85' produced our fish.  We had a few aggressive chasers.   Doug has a place on the lake and he caught a nice healthy fat pike yesterday, so that's always good to hear.   The guys really enjoyed learning the technique.     

8/2/2010
Sodus Bay 8/2

Did a 1/2 day gar fly-fishing trip with John, who's in college and his younger brother Ben, who's in high school.   These guys are quite the anglers and have their fly casting looking pretty darn good.    They've been renting a house on Cayuga Lake with their parents and report seeing some nice drum swimming around in the shallows.  They've both hooked some while fly-fishing and John landed a nice one around 18".   More opportunities arise!  You can bet I'll be giving the drum a whirl!

Conditions were perfect today despite the mildly optimistic forecast.    Light south winds and sun.   Not a lot of boat traffic either.  We motored around and I saw one small riseform.   We kept looking and eventually just started fishing and the fish began showing up.   This type of fishing is as close to saltwater fishing as you can get around the area.  Sightfishing to schools of fish near the surface that are grabbing baitfish.   Fly-fishable fish that jump like tarpon.    Small gar aren't necessarily the hardest fighters - some of them come in pretty easily, but they are always exciting to fish for and they always jump!   The guys each landed 3 fish with "big fish Ben" getting the better fish.  Nothing huge - they topped out around 35" or so, but beautiful fish.   We saw a massive school of gar - just amazing!   

The guys live near the Potomac and have 4 foot gar (and likely bigger) swarming around them.   Can't wait to hear how they do on these fish!   I consider gar a gamefish.   They strike artificials well, they can put up an exciting battle and actually are considered good to eat.  In Texas, they are fairly common as a food fish from what I've read, though I like them as a fish too much to want to kill any for food.  

8/1/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/31 + Seneca/Sampson 8/1

Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/31:   Guided Paul and his son Doug from Wisconsin for the full day starting at 5:30 am.   Doug's going to Cornell and the guys joined me last spring for some casting and jigging.   Fishing was good to start on the east shore with nice numbers of lakers and one sublegal (16") landlocked salmon caught.   I think we fished from around 65' on out to 85' or more.   After landing around a half-dozen fish we spent some time exploring some areas that have produced other salmonids for me in the past.  Not much apart from small lakers were hitting for us in those areas.   A ride back up to the park produced more lakers.  There was definitely an afternoon bite starting around 1 pm.   Very good day fishing!

Seneca Lake out of Sampson 8/1:   I haven't fished out of Sampson much this year yet.  No reason in particular, other than that the north end of the lake has been so hot this season.   But I was psyched to check the Sampson flats out!   Brad's dad "Dutch" has a place just N. of the park and they were looking for a tutorial on the technique.   They got that, plus some very good lake trout fishing - incl. at least one or two doubles hooked.   Around 8 nice fish were landed - kind of Canandaigua or Keuka sized, no real slobs but solid 3 to 4lbers.    There are a lot of fish on the flats - we found around 3 "hot spots."   Lunker City Shakers did most of the damage.   At the marina we saw a tiny pike around 4 to 5" long - maybe a good omen for the future!  Time will tell.  Dutch grew up in Geneva and had a lot of good fishing stories and memories of Seneca in the 1960s.    Good bite!   Reports I received mentioned good fishing on Cayuga and a slow bite on Owasco this AM.

7/30/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/30
Did an early AM 1/2 day trip with George and his sons Dan and Dustin.   We were hoping for a 5:45 am start but due to some "alarm clock malfunctions" (not on my part!) we wound up starting closer to 6:30 am.   The Fish Gods were kind to my clients today;  the early bite wasn't great.  Fishing picked up around 8 or 9 am and the guys did great - landing 10 nice lakers to 29 1/2".   We fished both shores with success today from around 60' or so out to 90' or more.   Good bite!   Shakers did the trick for us today.   White, white w/chart. tails and smelt colors.    Beautiful day to be out and I expect Cayuga Lake to provide some of the best fishing in the area for lakers, bonus browns, occasional rainbows and occasional salmon.   This lake has so much bait in it, it's ridiculous.  Lampreys are under control too.  It's one of the best coldwater fisheries anywhere in the state - it's that clear and simple!
7/29/2010
Skaneateles Lake 7/28 + Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/29

Had a few fun full days guiding Todd and Sean over the past week.   Here's how things went:

Skaneateles Lake 7/28:   Weather conditions were perfect for some good smallmouth bass fishing so that's what we did starting at 7 am.   Casting green pumpkin Bass Pro Shops tender tubes fished on 1/4 oz jig heads did the trick - as did white and green pumpkin Super Flukes.   Fish were hitting aggressively with others sometimes following hooked fish.    The guys landed a lot of fish - probably at least 30 or more.   No real slobs, but a lot of 12" to 15" fish.    Fun trip and the fish hit well all day long.   Water temps were around 75 degrees on top.

Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/29:   Jigged lakers to start today and we had a lot of fish "looking" and a few chasing.  The guys landed around 4 to 5 lakers to start (at 5:45 am.)   Morning fishing was pretty good.  We worked quite a few areas mostly around Taughannock Park.   High point of the AM was Todd hooking a big brown trout that got off after a short but hard battle.  The fish was likely 10 to 12lbs.   Another brown or two followed - so things were looking good.    Fishing slowed around 10 am, but a couple more lakers were hooked and one landed just before we ended the trip.  Winds got pretty strong out of the N. by 11 am - probably gusting 20 mph or more.   

7/26/2010
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 7/26

Had some good full day action with Todd and Sean today.   We started just after 6 am and the early start was worthwhile with at least one double hooked.   The guys landed around 11 fish by around 9:45 am or so, then action slowed considerably.   No real lunkers today but nice fish overall.   Around 73' on out remains best.  There are quite a few fish suspended over deeper water and they are worth a try if the shallower fish don't cooperate.  No shortages of bait this year on Seneca - it looks like Cayuga on the FF.   

I kept one of the lakers Todd caught on Saturday and grilled it today.   I filleted it, skinned it and trimmed it.   Sea salt and coarsely ground pepper and a little oil - that and some lemon with 2 to 3 minutes per side on the grill and it was some superb eating.   These fish aren't quite on the same gourmet level as Atlantic salmon or rainbow trout, but taken care of (from the lake to the table) they are absolutely excellent eating!   I don't recommend freezing them for long.  Fresh is the key with lakers!  Just delicious!  We always bring a large cooler with ice onboard.  The fish are killed/bled and then put on ice immediately.  They get filleted as soon as possible.  

7/24/2010
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 7/24
Guided Todd and Mark for the full day today starting at 6 am.   The laker fishing was very good until around 9 or 10 am then it slowed but remained fair.   The guys landed around 13 nice fish including Todd's 32" beauty and Mark's 29" fish - both big ones were released.  Most fish ran around 25".    Most fish are wild and lamprey wounding is low.  I'm sure the Seneca lampreys are feeding more on browns and salmon these days!    Best action for us ran from 73' to around 105' or so.    Fun fishing with an assortment of plastics doing the trick.   Cayuga reports were very good today as well.   Fishing pressure is light!  
7/23/2010
Lake Champlain out of Ticonderoga 7/20 - 7/22

Had a good time as usual up on Champlain with my buddy Mike.   We arrived on Tuesday early PM to find quite a few "wrapped" bass boats at the launch.  Mike Iaconelli's rig was there amongst others.   As usual, there was going to be a tournament going on - the BASS Northern Open, which started yesterday (7/22.)   

We took the Ferry across the lake (since we were staying at Sportsman's Cottage near Crown Point and the bridge is out!) and launched at Larabees just across and S. of the Ferry landing.    We tried a couple "new" areas and wound up fishing a neckdown area where I'd caught a big pike a couple years ago.   We looked across from us and saw Tim Horton's bass boat pull up - so it felt good to be working some of the same areas the pros like to fish.   We wound up catching a 4 or 5 nice fish on our first evening.   I caught a couple on crankbaits and Mike got some on a green pumpkin Berkley Chigger Craw as well as a Woolly Hawgtail.   The drop from around 8' to 12' was where we had our luck.   Mike also caught a scrawny pike.   No sign of any gar.

On Day 2 we launched out of Benson Landing at around 9:30 am (this getting up late is probably a huge mistake, but it is vacation)  - probably a 30 minute drive from the Cottages and a 6 mile boat ride from Ti.    Mike and I are both big fans of Rich Zaleski and his great website/blog at www.richz.com and his blog at www.richz.com/fishing/blog    Rich wrote for "Fishing Facts" magazine in the 1970s and 80s and then In-Fisherman and North American Fishing Club later.   He's a terrific bass fisherman and his blog is full of good tips.    We were interested in fishing some of the water chestnut in LC - most of which is found south of Benson Landing.  It's considered a noxious weed, but bass do hang in and around it.   Rich does well in it and has a good article on it on his site.  

My hat's off to Mike on this trip - he really did a number on the bass!  I just don't bass fish nearly as much as I'd like, and my tackle is always in some disarray, but Mike really has it together.   It didnt take long before we started putting a nice pattern together around the chestnut.  Mike pulled a couple solid fish off of a chestnut area using plastic worms and some of his creature type baits.   We both had bite-offs incl. Mike - who had a "chewer bite-off" - likely a bowfin.   My buddy Jarrod noticed that when you get a panfish type of pulsating hit - and hook a big fish or have a bite-off, it's usually a fin.    We worked some areas around the weedharvesters (another Zaleski tip) and it paid off.     

We didn't stick with any one pattern for long.  We kept trying new areas - using my electronics helped as always.  We had a hard time finding areas we couldn't catch bass in!   Nearly everywhere we fished, we caught bass - with Mike usually doing the most damage on the fish.   We worked South Bay and the mouth of it - more bass for both of us and a pike for me.    Fish came on plastics and spinnerbaits for the most part.   No real slobs.   We probably wound up with 20 to 25  bass on Day 2, around 1/3rd being decent 1.5 to 3lb fish  - all caught in new areas to us and a lot caught around "the nut" - which was a new thing.   After a couple trips we finally started unlocking the patterns of Ti!

We quit after seeing a flash of lightning and just getting a feeling that it was time to quit.  The "feeling" proved right as we arrived at the launch (with a local tourney going on) and watched as a scary sort of T-storm started moving towards us.   Ti is like the Finger Lakes (southern portions) with high hills;  T-storms can be on top of a fisherman in no time.   My truck was surrounded by trailers in the overflowing parking lot and it was a royal pain getting out my rig.  By the time I had gotten in my truck, bass boats were swarming the launch area waiting to pull out.   We made it just in time!  The first boat out and the lightning and very heavy rain started going crazy all around us.  We probably received an inch of rain in 20 minutes.  Strong lightning was striking fairly close by.   Nasty, yet pretty cool!

On Day 3 (first tourney day) we took the Ferry back across to Ti and then dumped in around 10 am.   Now that we've got plenty of good areas, next year we'll think about launching at dark thirty and quitting earlier in the day, but it's hard to motivate on vacation.    We fished areas between Ti and Benson Landing.   We saw where some of the pros were fishing, which was cool.   Fishing was decent with more bass coming on worms (Mike again) and a dink or two on a spinnerbait.  I caught another healthier pike on a hollow bodied swim bait, but the plastics and jigs were the way to go.   We found fish as shallow as 4' of water.   No slobs again - but a couple 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 lb fish.    A fun trip and most importantly we learned a LOT!   Can't wait for the next one and I can't wait to see how we do early in the morning.  As my clients know, missing the AM bite can be painful.   

 

7/19/2010
Canandaigua Lake 7/19 out of Woodville

Guided Eric for the full day today.  He's joined me on several occasions, both laker jigging and bass fishing.  The priority today was lakers and we met at 6 am.   I knew we might be in for some good laker fishing when I "saw" several lakers chase my temp probe at the south end of the lake!   Why worry about plastic lure color and type? ;-)    Eric nailed a couple nice lakers in short order (one on the first drop.)   We tried a few different areas and found a hotspot or two.   After keeping what he wanted for food we went searching for smallmouth bass.  Lakers ranged from 75' to 115' of water.

Smallmouth bass fishing was disappointing for us in the southern 1/3 rd of the lake.  Most expert smallmouth fishermen I know like the N. end of the lake this time of year, but we wanted to see what we could do further south, closer to where Eric's cottage rental was.   The rock bass were ubiquitous.     We just couldn't "call up" smallies apart from a few smaller ones further N.  

We finished up with lakers again before quitting and the bite was very good in the afternoon as storms approached.  We let go another fish.   We marked some bait on the south end of the lake, but as usual not much in other areas.   The weather was great - esp. when looking at the original forecast of T-storms, rain and basic misery!   Next to nobody was out on the lake - and for Canandaigua in the mid-summer, that's amazing!    Lakers ran to around 25" (two of them.)  

7/18/2010
Cayuga 7/17 and Seneca 7/18

Had a busy weekend guiding - here are how things shaped up:

Cayuga out of Taughannock 7/17 AM:   Guided Joe and JC for a 1/2 day trip which was a gift certificate (hint!)    I wanted to start at 5:30 am but the guys showed up a little late - no big deal, the fishing was very good.  We worked areas mainly N. of AES on both sides of the lake.   Joe landed and released a 31" beautiful laker.  That fish made the trip.  Another 3 nice ones were landed.  Fishing wasn't easy, but it wasn't bad.   Around 75' proved best if I remember right.  

Cayuga 7/17 PM:  Guided Tony and his son Mike for a full day.   Fishing was tougher than the AM trip.   We worked past Sheldrake on the west shore.  It was HOT out, but the breeze helped things.    Mike hadn't jigged lakers before and it took some time to get the feel.  Tony fishes a lot and it showed.  He landed 4 fish on the day incl. a rare sublegal "dink."  We really fished hard and the bite wasn't easy at all.   Around 65' or 75' out to 110' or so was best - if there was a "best."

Seneca 7/18 AM:  Guided John and his son Josh for a 1/2 day.  They have a camper near Dresden and are starting to get into fishing Seneca Lake.  The AM fishing was excellent from 65' on out (mostly deeper) to 115'.   The guys had a couple doubles going and landed nice fish up to around 31" if I rememeber right.   (These trips blend together after a while!)    Great AM trip and we released the big fish.    The guys landed 11 fish in just over 4 hours.

Seneca 7/18 PM:  Guided Tony and Mike again, and I was optimistic on our prospects.   But it wasn't to be!  Another very tough PM bite with Tony managing one fish.   The guys fished very well, but the fish were just lock-jawed.  I was really hoping Mike would get into some fish, but it wasn't to be.   The fish-Gods owe him!    We fished hard working from 65' out to 115' and we tried some different areas.   A lot of fish moved for the jigs but just wouldn't commit - it was somewhat frustrating but the guys kept their spirits up.  

7/15/2010
Lake Ontario out of Hamlin 7/15

After a lot of internal debate - between muskies, smallmouths and more smallmouths, I decided to head up to Lake Ontario to try some jigging for Kings and other salmonids.  If I still lived in Rochester, I'd do this a lot more but since I'm down here it's become a once a year thing.   Maybe this year I'll be back again.    After setting my alarm clock for 2:30 am I finally got up and on the road around 3:15.  Made it to Hamlin at 5:45 or so.   Other anglers launching report some great salmon action thus far this season.   The hot zone was supposedly 150' to 180' or so, down around 50' to 80' or something like that.    I was incredibly psyched to launch my boat as I looked out on the lake - things looked right.   

My "psychedness" turned to horror as I switched on my trusty Lowrance HDS-5 and nothing came on!   I checked the fuse and the wires, then saw a faint image on the sonar.   I love my Lowrance, but Lowrance and Eagle units are junk when exposed to any significant amount of water - and I'm not talking immersion - which would ruin any unit, I'm talking simple rainstorms.   When I docked my boat on Monday to wait out the storm, the heavy rain soaked my unit and the light became toast.   So I awoke at 2:30 am, drove 2 1/2 hours and launched to find I basically had no electronics.   What a bummer!  If it was bass fishing or anything else - it wouldn't have been a big deal, but I was expecting to hunt salmon in deep water.  

Eventually I found that if I had the sun face into the unit I could read the screen.   So I used my vexilar and temp probe and did the best I could.   Cold water was inshore this AM which was great to see.   I had 46 degrees down around 70'.   Some nice hooks and bait too.   I came incredibly close to hooked a nice salmonid of some sort - maybe an immature King.    I dropped my jig and got hit then got hit again and I saw the fish.    He just never gobbled it.    Also had a hit casting a spoon.   Great Lakes jigging for salmon and trout can be done and I think consistently with some effort and smart fishing.  Mark my words!   It may be two decades before it becomes popular, but it can be done.  

I was too tired to try gar fishing Oak Orchard, though I kicked myself on the drive home for not doing it anyways.   Went to Bass Pro Shops and dropped $750 on a new HDS-5 so I'd have something for guiding the next three weeks while the older one gets fixed.  Then I'll mount one on the bow!    

7/13/2010
Cayuga/North End + Seneca out of Sampson 7/13

Cayuga out of Cayuga Lake State Park 7/13 AM:   Met Matt and his wife Erin at their dock at 5:30 am and set out for some largemouth bass.    The winds were blowing pretty good out of the south when we started.   We worked some shallow areas from around 4' to 12' with search baits like spinnerbaits and Rat-L Traps.   Erin doesn't fish much but was casting very well within an hour or so.   Fishing was pretty good.  Matt started things off with a couple decent largemouths on a spinnerbait.    We worked areas out to around 18' of water or so.    Erin was happy just to catch a bass, which she did - a dink that is!    But you can't keep a good woman down long and on a large chart. Rat-L-Trap she caught the nicest bass of the morning  - probably around 2 3/4 to 3lbs.   Great fight!    We didn't find many pickerel which is what Matt was hoping for - Erin got one small one.  Plenty of panfish were around too.   Fish appear to be in a typical July Cayuga pattern - many fish still fairly shallow and quite a few out to around 12' or more.   The bite was good and I would have liked to have checked out some areas with crankbaits and jig/pig.    Matt did some cranking w/o luck.    Saw a bunch of carp and a few gar surfacing near Farley's Point.   

Seneca Lake out of Sampson 7/13 PM:   I met the Hermans at Sampson at 4 pm and we set out for some laker jigging.   What's great about Sampson is you don't need to go far to find good lakers.    This was a prime consideration given that there were some T-storms predicted and I didn't want to be far from our port when/if they came.  I didn't mark many fish N. of the park.  Eleonore landed a 26" fish within 20 minutes or so.  After an hour and a half the weather got ominous and the T-storms and lightning came.   We tried waiting out the rain/storms in our vehicles, but after a warning from a park official about a harsh storm on the way, we called it quits.  

7/12/2010
July 10th and 11th - Red Cross Report, July 12th Keuka Lake

Red Cross Derby Report July 10th and 11th :    My buddy Mike and I fished Seneca Lake for the Red Cross Tourney.   Most of my jigging trips on the N. end of Seneca Lake have produced lakers in the 10lb range, and my Cayuga trips haven't, so I knew Seneca was the place to be.   We had steady, yet unspectacular fishing during both days of the tourney.   Last year I landed 40 fish in a day, this year it took us 2 days to land that many.    The jigging is gaining popularity - I saw at least 6 boats jigging lakers during the derby this year.   Last year I saw one boat apart from myself and they weren't entered in the contest.     We fished hard from around 5:30 am till 3 or 4 pm daily.   No more 16 hour days for this guide!     We only dropped one good fish.    Depths varied - we had our best fishing in around 75' to 85' of water, but on occasion deeper water (out to 110') produced very well for us.    Chartreuse and white both worked well.  

The one thing I really get psyched about during derby time is fishing my custom rods made for me by Mike Canavan.   His jigging rods are the best I've tried - an absolute joy to use.   I let my buddy Mike S. do a few drops with one of my custom rods and he hooked and landed a 30 1/2" laker!   Great fight and Mike was very impressed with the feel, hook setting and fighting abilities of the rod.  Plus they are light as heck.     My heavier Canavan stick also worked great and is a delight to work 1 1/2 oz. jigs with.   The rods have great ergonomics, an ample butt section on both the handle and the rod;  they are forgiving to fish hooked on "the chase" yet have enough fast action in the tip to work jigs without the jigs overwhelming the rod.  Whether you like mono or braid, the rods perform great.    Mike can be reached at flytier@hotmail.com  

We had a great derby - I feel as a jigger we need to land around 40 fish to be able to get one over 31" and that proved true.   We landed nearly all the fish we hooked and fished hard.  The big one I landed took time and fought great.  All in all - no regrets here - we just didn't get the big bites.   My client Paul N. from 3 weeks ago managed a 12lb+ beauty and had the day one lead.   His words to me were "I couldn't have done it without you,"  which was a nice endorsement.   He's a great fisherman and really has the technique dialed in.   The derby is a good cause and the boat traffic is generally low for it - since it's spread around on all the lakes.   Results are available at www.reelingforrelief.org    Congrats also go out to guide/friend Jon Evans who did a great job as usual on the smallmouths on Keuka Lake.    www.fishingthefingerlakes.com  is his website.     

 

Keuka Lake 7/12:  Guided Kyle and Rob for the full day starting at 5:30 am.  That meant I had to wake up at 3 am after fishing Red Cross for 2 days and guiding a full slate last week.  So I was asleep at 6:45 pm on Sunday.    In some ways I was happy not to have to show up at the awards ceremony!  In some ways that is.... ;-)   

The laker bite was terrific 1st thing in the AM at the Bluff.   The guys landed 6 nice fish in around an hour.  We released one and spent another 45 min or so trying to get one more.    A couple were dropped and we went bass fishing.   I showed the guys how to work soft jerkbaits, senkos (aka stickworms) tubes and dropshot rigs.  The superflukes, senkos and dropshots produced fish.     Superflukes did best with some really decent smallies landed to 20" and 4.1 lbs.  We released the big one, but the guys wanted to keep a few bass along with the lakers in order to feed their clan of 8 ppl.   So we kept a few bass.  Largemouths had crawfish in them, smallies alewives.    Best smallie action for us was in around 30' of water give or take.  Largies ran a bit shallower.  It felt great doing some bass guiding for a change.   I started out as a bass fisherman, but my guiding has trended heavily towards lakers for obvious reasons - they fight strongly, run big, aren't not too hard to catch when you know how, they don't change locations too rapidly, look cool and  taste great.  Other than that, they are terrible ;-)    Fun trip!

7/9/2010
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 7/9
Guided Mike and John for a 1/2 day today.  Mike has joined me on quite a few occasions and holds our Keuka lake trout boat record.   Fishing started out really good at 6 am with fish being fairly aggressive.   As usual, we didn't mark much bait.  Fish were on bottom as well as suspended - primarily around 55' to 65' down.    White shakers and Kastmasters did the trick - 3 decent fish were landed and a fair number missed/lost.   We did see salmon too - so they are around!    We stayed around Branchport today.  The wind really cranked up out of the south around 20 - 24 mph or so, and the fishing slowed.   But they are there! Plenty of nice fish are around the Branchport arm.  I'm out on this lake next week and we'll likely check out the bluff area.
7/8/2010
Sodus Bay 7/8

Guided John and Brian for the full day starting at 6 am.   They don't do much fishing and what they've done in the past was mostly stream fishing, so today was a new horizon for them.   We started off attempting topwater bass action with no luck.  Working deeper using Rat-L Traps, Superflukes and Senkos paid off with a half-dozen nice bass landed running from 11" to 16" - with most being around 14".    The water was hot (around 83) and a fast retrieve on the trap worked well.    John hooked " a big fish" and I watched his rod double over and the fish thrash on the surface.  After a strong fight we slid the net under the 5lb+ drum.   These fish are fun - no two ways about it.  The drum hammered a Rat-L Trap!   We saw a good school of nice drum.    

We saw plenty of small gar surfacing in the AM.   We did give L. Ontario a try with some dropshotting.   Brian had a smallmouth around 11" come after his goby imitation.   Gobies were around.  After an hour and a half on the lake we hit the bay again.   The sun/heat got to Brian a bit and we wrapped up a little early.  The guys did a great job and Brian was even casting a baitcaster pretty well in short-order.   Good fishing.   

I grabbed a terrific double cheeseburger, onion rings and a milk shake at Orbakers on Rt. 104 just W. of the bay on the way home.  It's out of the way by around 8 or 9 miles but well worth it!    I stopped at Bass Pro Shops and bought a new winch and starting battery.   It was fun trying to switch out batteries in the parking lot with temps reading 104 degrees in my truck.   Sweat was pouring and I realized my wingnut was cross threaded and I had to use a saw to carefully cut off the post when I got home.   I installed the new winch, a bilge fuse and the battery and am ready to go.   Not the kind of thing I like doing with a heat index around 97 after waking up at 3:30 am.    Some people think guiding is just "going fishing" - they are completely clueless.    

7/7/2010
Cayuga out of Taughannock 7/7 AM + Skaneateles Lake 7/7 PM

Cayuga AM:    Guided Dennis and Marge for the 1/2 day starting at 6 am.  Dennis did all the fishing while Marge kicked back and relaxed.  He had a good AM landing 4 nice lakers - all 27" to 28".   Fish were full of vigor, ripping out plenty of drag.   Shakers and flukes did the trick.  Both lake shores were good.  Best depths ran from 65' out to 105' or so.  

Skaneateles PM:   Guided Jack from Texas for a 1/2 day on Skaneateles.   I'm not doing much "lake hopping" this year, but occasionally I make exceptions.   Jack did well on smallmouths despite the high hot sun and lack of wind.  Fish were active and we saw plenty!   Tubes, dropshot rigs, superflukes and topwater lures worked well.   Bass are loads of fun and today was no exception!    Surface temps ran from 78 to 80!   Nice day for a long swim. 

7/5/2010
Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 7/5

Launched out of Sampson for the first time this season.  Met Jeff and his dad Dan for the full day today.  We started at 6 am and worked the west shore hoping for bass and/or pike.   Loads of chopped up milfoil made working lures tedious for the most part.  Dan had a good hit on topwater (likely a bass,) but apart from that we didn't see anything in the two plus hours we fished.  

Lake trout fishing was very good with moments of excellence on the north end.  Dan wasn't feeling well, so he took a break for an hour or two and Jeff managed to pick up 5 nice fish including a 32" laker likely weighing 10lbs that we released.  Dan rejoined us and landed a couple nice fish of his own incl. a 30" fish.    Plenty of bait was around.   Action ranged from around 55' out to over 120'.   Quite a few fish are suspended over the depths and are responding to the jigs.  

The water fleas were HORRID!!!   When the fleas are bad for jiggers they must be impossible for trollers!   Just terrible, but it didn't bother us too much.   Another very good Seneca Lake trip.

7/3/2010
Cayuga out of Taughannock 7/3

Had some very good laker jigging on a 1/2 day trip with Nic and his daughter Juliet.   Plenty of fish and some bait were on the lake's east shore and lakers began the AM (at 6) quite aggressively.   Both anglers were new to the technique but managed to land around 7 fish total up to 29".    Best depths were 55' to 85' or so.   White shakers did the trick for us.  My friend and rod-builder Mike Canavan was on the lake and did very well, releasing a 10lb laker.  So some bigger fish are around.  Fish were very clean and plump - full of bait.  They averaged around 25".   

7/2/2010
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 7/2

Started at 6 am with a 1/2 day trip with David, Linda and Bob - who joined me last year on Keuka Lake.   Last year we fished 1/2 day with Dave and Bob and then "traded" Bob for Linda - and the wind picked up on Keuka and the bite slowed.  Well today Linda more than made up for that tough day last year.   She pounded fish!   I'd look over towards her and her rod would be doubled over.  She'd never say "I got one" or anything - she was all business.   She landed a bunch of fish incl. a beautiful 32" laker that we released unharmed.    Overall a great AM with 12 nice fish landed!    Average fish was 25".  Surface temps were 59 to start.  Gorgeous day!  It doesn't get any better.

My PM 1/2 day was with Lonnie whom I'd met on occasion on Seneca Lake and around town.   I did a real jigging tutorial with him and he'll be hammering lakers from here on in.   He loves Seneca perch fishing and gave me some solid tips.   Despite the semi-tough midday bite, he landed 5 fish on a variety of plastics.   We worked 50' to 150'.  There are plenty of suspended fish out deep.  Best action was from 55' to around 80' or so.   Fun trip and surface temps reached 69 as winds blew warm water back in.  

7/1/2010
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 7/1

Did a 1/2 day corporate guide trip with fellow guide Craig Nels today on Seneca.   Last year we met on Keuka Lake with this group.   Fishing was tough then.  Today the fishing was better, but the winds made for some tougher conditions.  

I guided Ken and John and last year Ken didn't have the hot hand, but today he did - landing 5 nice lakers before 10 am.    Baitfish weren't as abundant as they had been, but lakers were still around.   John lost a good fish near the boat - maybe a 29"er.   Craig's crew did well, as did our third boat's crew.   Fun day but a little less wind would have been nice!  At least it was nice and cool.   We found fish from around 55' out to 90' today.   We didn't work too much deeper than that.   

6/30/2010
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 6/29

Another full day of guiding - here's how things went:

6/29 AM:   Did a 1/2 day starting at 6 am with Frank and his dad Gary.   Fishing was very good to excellent to start with plenty of fish out from around 47' on out.   Some large fish were in the mix with Gary landing and releasing a 33" beauty that likely weighed 11lbs or more.  We kept a 29" fish that was very fat - it weighed 9lbs 10oz - basically almost like a brown trout!   Fish were full of bait and fighting well.

6/29 PM:  Started at 11:30 am with Jacek, who's a surgeon in his homeland of Poland.  Fishing started out good, then slowed, then picked up again.  All in all very good fishing and he landed 11 nice lakers!    Wrapped up the full day at 7:30 pm.  Long, but productive day out there.  Surface temps are around 70 degrees.  We took fish out to 120' of water.  

6/28/2010
Cayuga out of Dean's 6/26 + 6/27

Spent a lot of time on Cayuga over the past weekend.  Here's how our fishing panned out:

6/26 AM:   Guided Andy and his girlfriend for a 1/2 day.   We took it easy with an 8 am start.    The bite wasn't easy for us in the AM but we managed to land 3 nice lakers and miss a couple incl. a salmon.    Friends on the lake and on other lakes reported some pretty hot early AM fishing.   75' to 90' seemed to have the most activity.

6/26 PM:  Guided Toby and his friends Honey and Christina.   They don't fish much but brought a lot of enthusiasm with them.   The lake trout bite remained fairly tough, but in the evening the fish got a bit more active.   The ladies each managed to land a nice fish and lose a few.   Toby had a hold of quite a few fish/bites but luck just wasn't with him!   A good time was had by all and with luck the gals cooked up a nice fish dinner for him. 

6/27 AM:  Guided Sam, Adam and Kevin for the full day.   We started at 6:30 am with a good bite.  Adam started things off with a nice laker around 28"+ that fought great.   As the day went on the bite slowed and then picked up again by midday.  All in all a good day with 7 nice fish landed.   Everyone enjoyed the jigging and the depths remained the same - around 75' to 90' +.    We saw trollers pick up nice salmon or rainbow.   Most of our fishing was done on the east shore.

6/27 PM:  Guided Paul and Tarah for a half day (yes it was a long day for me on Sunday.)   Fishing wasn't easy to start and storms were threatening and then would disperse.   Paul wanted to learn the technique - he's caught plenty of lakers trolling.   A couple fish were landed in the first two hours.   As the sun got lower and things clouded up the fishing picked up.   Another 6 or 7 nice lakers were landed.    A really great end to the day!   Again - 75' to 90' seemed best.   

Friends reported continued good to very good fishing further downlake, on Owasco and on Seneca Lakes.    

6/24/2010
Skaneateles Lake 6/22 + Seneca/Geneva 6/23

Skinny 6/22:   Got out for some fishing with my girlfriend Beth and her son Sam.   I showed them the Skaneateles "tour" and we chucked some tube jigs and flukes for bass.    The most active smallies we could find were smaller fish and we did well on them as well as rock bass.  FWIW, the rock bass are really back heavily on Skaneateles Lake.   They are ubiquitous.   Sam had a lot of fun and did great once he dialed in the technique.   Beth caught the nicest bass, so it was a neat day.    Smallmouths are always a blast to catch and I enjoyed it immensely.   Very few boats were out.

Seneca 6/23:  We didn't motivate early, which probably hurt us on Seneca, but it was fine.  Gorgeous, hot day on the lake.   Laker action was tough for us when we started around 9 am.    Fish weren't grabbing good, but as usual there were plenty of them around.  Sam lost two big lakers near the boat by over-torquing them.   He's 13 years old and used to pulling stripers in on party boats.    He landed one around 20" and was impressed by the overall fight of the lakers.   I had a nice salmon follow me in, but fishing was pretty slow and we needed to grab a bite to eat, so we decided to bag on the evening fishing, vying to go to a bass pond instead.   

I'm noticed lakers getting into a summer pattern - hot early AM fishing (very early) and a decent evening bite with oftentimes slow fishing in between.    Moon phase and weather alter this pattern, but it's pretty typical.  The hot all-day laker fishing with AM/PM peaks has subdued a bit!

6/23/2010
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 6/21
Got out for the full-day with Gary, starting around 6:45 am.    Fishing was pretty go at the get-go with Gary landing a couple nice lakers right away.    Some of the best fishing lately has been at first light, so we probably caught the tail end of the AM bite.   After that, fishing seemed pretty slow for awhile, with a fish here or there.  Fish hit again in the early PM a bit and Gary wound up with 7 nice lakers landed on the day.   The early fish came from around 45', then later we got them out deeper - around 80' to 100'.    
6/20/2010
Cayuga out of Dean's 6/18 + Skaneateles 6/19

Cayuga Lake 6/18 AM:   Did a 1/2 day AM trip starting at 6 am with Pete, his brother Doug and dad Dan.   The brothers joined me last year on Skaneateles Lake for some bass fishing.   Laker jigging started out pretty good with a nice one landed and 3 lost.  Fishing slowed for a bit, but then they started hitting again around mid-AM.   Wound up landing 5 nice fish and losing one by the boat.  Decent fishing and a beautiful AM.  Good action around 70' to 80' give or take.

Cayuga Lake 6/18 PM:   At noon I picked up Todd and his 5 year old son Gage at the launch.   5 years old is younger than I take out, but Todd assured me that his son is a trooper when it comes to fishing.  Todd brought a lifejacket and gear for the youngster.   (I'm not letting 5 year olds use my $200+ fishing outfits!)    We started out with laker jigging on the west shore and it was slow.   A trip across the lake proved fruitful and Todd nabbed 3 nice lakers.  I don't explore "new" areas as much as I used to - and I should, but today it paid off for us.  We then grabbed a bite to eat/drink at the Aurora Market while Gage fished jigs under a bobber for panfish at the dock.  He really got into the fish!  We took out some time and set up for more panfish near Long Point and had a lot of fun nabbing rock bass, pumpkinseeds and plenty of 7" to 8" bluegills.    I showed Gage how to cast a spinning rod and with some coaching from his dad he really started to get good at it.   Very nice to watch!   

Back to lakers in the evening and we went to our "new spot" as well as another area.     Fish were still there and Todd landed another 6 fish.   Very good fishing!    Again, 70' to 90' was probably best.  We encountered some small lakers in 100' to 110'.  Big fish seem to be shallower.  

Skaneateles Lake 6/19:   Guided Gary M. today for the full day.  Gary joined me a couple years ago for two dates on Owasco and we really hammered the lakers.    I was a bit concerned about our 7:30 am meeting time at the state launch due to the opening day of bass season and limited capacity in the parking lot.  Sure enough, the lot was pretty much full when I arrived at 7:10.   So we met at the Town launch at Mandana.   This ramp isn't great.

Gary did well with the usual green pumpkin tube jigs, super flukes in white, bubble-gum and green pumpkin/watermelon and jerkbaits.  Lots of techniques would have worked - it was a "pick-em" day.    He landed around 15 to 20 smallmouths and rockbass.  Nothing huge but fun fish up to around 16".   Lake temps are around 64 on top.    Fish ranged from on the bank out to 10 to 15'.    I always have fun with Gary and we'll be back out somewhere on Monday.

6/17/2010
Owasco Lake 6/17

Guided the full-day with Rick - whom it was nice to see, after guiding him way back when... and his college friend Gary.   These guys stayed in touch for nearly 40 years.   Rick wanted to book a trip on Owasco a month ago, and I probably would have been reluctant to do it, if it wasn't for the encouraging reports I got on the laker jigging from friend/client Dave J.   I wasn't sure what we'd be fishing for, so I packed up plenty of bass and pike gear.  The weather forecast called for clouds and wind.  Instead we got clouds and drizzle/rain nearly all day.  Not the worse thing in the world, but the guys didn't plan on it - they had heard of 80 degree weather and some sun.   So not much raingear - and I didn't have any Hefty Bags.   So they got pretty darn wet, but fortunately if they were discouraged they didn't show it!

Rick wanted to fish lakers, so that's what we did.   It didn't take long to mark baitfish and lakers.  And within the first 5 minutes of fishing (maybe on his first or second drop of the jig) Rick hooked a good fish.   This was at around 6:15 am or so.   He lost the first one but landed another shortly thereafter - a nicely proportioned 25" laker.   Gary was fairly new to the technique and missed a couple hits.   Overall the fishing was slow, but encouraging and by day's end the guys landed 5 solid lakers.   All the fish were in the best overall condition I've seen Owasco lakers in, in a long time.   50' and out produced the fish.  70' to 80' was particularly good.   We saw one boat trolling in the AM do pretty well.   I'm very optimistic regarding this fishery over the forseeable future.   

6/16/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 6/16

Guided Tom, his son Dave and daughter Caroline for what ended up being a short 1/2 day today.   The wind forecast was a little ominous yesterday with predicted 8 to 15 mph winds, then this AM they called for rain and winds gusting out of the S. to over 25 mph.   I launched my boat at 5 am and motored up to the house that my clients were renting.  We started around 5:30 am with moderate winds and overcast skies.   Caroline had never fished before - she's in her early 20s, but that didn't stop her from landing a nice laker and losing a nice one under the boat.  It wasn't really her fault - it was tough for me to keep good boat control with the wind.  She brought some great enthusiasm to the trip.  

We didn't mark many fish or much bait - probably a weather-related factor, but they were around.   The 70' and out depths held good #s of fish.   Tom lost a couple very nice fish away from the boat.  He had a very niced sized silvery trout/salmon apparently on for a bit, or he lost a laker then it came up after the jig by the boat - but it was a good fish.  

By 7:00 am the wind was pushing around 12 to 14 mph.  By 9 am we started hearing thunder and seeing lightning, so we called it a day shortly thereafter.   No doubt we would have done a lot better had the conditions not been so tough, but all in all I thought that given the conditions and lack of fishing experience we did pretty well.  We all had fun.  

6/15/2010
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 6/15

Guided Todd on Seneca Lake for the full day starting at 6 am.  The early start paid off with superb jigging action from the get-go in relatively shallow water (around 45' to 50'.)   Nearly every drop of his jig was met by 1 to 5 hungry lake trout!   Of course hooking and landing the fish is another challenge - but the "fishing" and the "catching" ended up being very satisfactory.   Fishing slowed a bit by 8:30 am or so, but we had steady action on the fishfinder and a steady pick of lakers until Todd's last drop at around 1:50pm, which landed him a 31" laker that weighed just under 9lbs (it was thin.)   Todd ended the day with 14 fish landed, only one around 22", the rest from 24" to 31" - most being 25" to 26" and very healthy looking.  Lampreys have been bad in Seneca Lake but you wouldn't know it by looking at the lakers we've managed over the past couple trips; they've been very clean.   The fish are all full of bait too.  

Nearly every plastic in my box worked today - everything from tubes, flukes, reapers to shakers hooked fish.  Lots of colors also paid off.   Very few boats were out there - it was like our own private lake today.    Gorgeous day with great fishing - what more can a fisherman want?    BTW - this was Todd's third trip with me in the past three weeks!  Regular clients like Todd make my "job" a pleasure and it's great feedback in its own right.

6/13/2010
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 6/13
Did a full day with Steve, John and Rick - all cousins now located in different parts of the country.   We got off to a late start due to the foggy driving conditions, but it didn't hurt us regarding the fishing in any way!   Fishing was much better than on my last visit here on 6/7.   The area is absolutely loaded with lakers and bait!   The guys landed around 13 fish total, from 24" up to a 32" (likely over 10lb) whopper!   We released the slob unharmed.   The fish we kept were loaded with alewives, incl. some big baitfish.   The usual assortment of plastics did the trick, with chartreuse being particularly hot for us today.   I was impressed by the beauty of a couple of the specimens (which we released.)   Plenty of wild fish were in the mix, which is great to see.   Nothing tops Seneca Lake for a great assortment of lake trout in varying colors and sizes, both wild and hatchery fish.  It's an amazing lake.   We had a great time on the trip - the guys were a lot of fun.  
6/12/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 6/12

Got out with my buddy Mike for some laker fly-fishing attempts.   We started at 6 am and went looking for relatively shallow fish.  I have a new RIO T-14 Integrated Head system - aka their Outbound Line.   We tried fly-fishing lakers from 30' to 50+ feet of water.   I felt we were getting on bottom in upwards of 40' of water - but fish weren't super aggressive.   I had one follow from a sublegal salmon and that was it.   There have been some good conditions for deep water fly-fishing lately, but today wasn't one of the better days for it.   We did mark a lot of lakers from 35' on out to over 100'.  We dropped a few jigs on them with mixed results - overall the jigging wasn't bad.  We landed a few fish midday.    Stay tuned - we will keep at this laker stuff with the flies.   It can be done (and we have had some success with it as far as fish hitting and following.)   

Stopped by my friend (and favorite rod maker) Mike Canavan's place.  Plenty of perch were in shallow!    We're looking forward to the Red Cross Derby on July 10th and 11th.   It's for a good cause and it's spread out around the region, so things don't get too crowded.  

6/11/2010
Skaneateles Lake 6/11
Guided Jeff K for the full-day today.   In a nutshell, the fishing for smallmouth bass and plenty of big rockbass is very good.   Tube jigs, superflukes, topwater etc... - you name it and it'll probably work.  Fish are all over the perimeter of the lake on both sides, likely from end to end.   We saw some very nice landlocked salmon and/or rainbow trout cruising around today.   I expect good fishing during the drake hatch, though I'm not sure if I'll make it down to fish it given my guiding schedule.   Plenty of small sublegal freshly stocked trout were cruising around lake-wide.   It's clear to see that trout thrive in Skaneateles Lake.   Jeff caught plenty of bass and rockbass.  He also landed 3 or 4 big (13" to 14"+) perch.    Surface temps ranged from around 60 to 64 today.  Downright gorgeous day!
6/10/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 6/10
The original plan was to try and do some laker jigging and pike fishing today, but the laker jigging was compelling enough to keep us doing it for most of the day.   Guided Todd (who joined me on 6/10) and his co-worker/friend Dave - who hadn't fished in nearly 10 years - for the full day.    Fishing was very good N. of AES with 9 nice lakers landed incl. 4 over 28" long!  The fish were putting on the feedbag a bit and there was plenty of bait around from very shallow out to the depths.   White reapers accounted for the biggest two fish, and Lunker City Shakers accounted for the rest.   Surface temps were around 57 or 58 today, warming further south.   We did 1 1/2 hours of pike casting with one small smallmouth bass and a good follow from a large bass to show for it.    Excellent day overall!   
6/7/2010
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 6/7
Guided Matt and Mike today for 1/2 day.  Both guys have fished with me before - Matt on probably at least 4 or 5 occasions, and we've always managed to get some fish.  We started at around 6:45 am.  There continues to be fish all over Seneca's N. end, but they aren't super aggressive - at least they weren't for us during the AM.   Water temps have dropped to 53 to 59 on the N. end with the continuing northerlies.   Both guys missed some fish and hits, but overall we managed to land 3 nice lakers, losing one smaller fish by the boat.   2/3 lakers came up with live lampreys attached to them.   Fish were available from 45' on out to over 100'.   Gorgeous day with only 2 other boat trailers at the Chamber parking lot!
6/5/2010
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 6/3 + Conesus Lake 6/4

Seneca/Geneva 6/3:

Guided Dave, his wife Nadia and friend Bill out of Geneva starting at 4pm.   Dave has lived on Seneca Lake since 1969, so it was interesting learning about the fishery history from his perspective over the years.   Back in the 1970s after a milfoil explosion, Seneca became one of the top pike fisheries in the Country.   They disappeared very quickly by the early 1980s - same thing we experienced a couple years ago.  It was a fungus.   So the pike boom or bust is nothing new.  I'd always heard about the 1970s pike fishery on Seneca, but had never heard of the fungused up fish, so it was good to have some clarification from someone who noticed.  

The guys (and gal) wanted to learn the jigging technique so that's what we did.   We started shallow (25') and worked out.  I had bait and plenty of marks in 25' but we didn't convert any of them.  Lakers?  Trout/Salmon?  Perch?  I don't know.   Water temps were around 70 down that deep according to my probe.   We found weird water temps out there.  In some areas 48 degree water was down 70' or more, in others around 50'.    Maybe springs?  I'm not sure.  Maybe my probe was acting up.  

Dave caught the first fish in fairly short order.   Other hits/fish were missed by Bill and Nadia.  Overall fishing was tough - it was fun, because fish were chasing jigs on the FF, but they weren't committing.  Dave caught two more - jigging the bottom.    Everyone enjoyed seeing the technique work and learning the idiosyncracies.   I'm pretty sure we have 3 new converts on Seneca Lake!  Bill had one follow from a LL Salmon around 24".  They are on the N. end now.   Dave's been picking up some salmon and browns trolling further down the lake by his cottage.  The fish are pretty shallow - down maybe 15' to 25' over 50' or so if I remember right.  

Conesus Lake 6/4:

My regular clients the Hermans have a place not too far from Conesus/Honeoye Lake, so we've talked about doing a trip or two out there.   From what we found yesterday, we'll probably be there more often in the future!  

Conesus Lake can be a tough lake to fish.  Between it's clear water, generally well-fed fish and boat traffic, as well as endless weedbeds and nice points it isn't always an easy lake to find active fish.   My buddy Mike worked for DEC and did a walleye creel census here in the late 1990s.   He and another employee continually monitored the lake - checking all accesses and even doing fly-overs counting fishing boats throughout the year.  They checked the ice fishermen - day and night too.   They had a total of zero walleyes caught through the ice there that year.  

My best advice for fishing this lake is to start at night or at least go as early as possible.  The gamefish are tuned into the alewives and the alewives make fish do weird stuff, especially from mid-May through July, when the alewives spawn.  Pike will feed at night - which they usually aren't known for.   So we started our trip at 6 am, which meant I had to be up at 3:30 am and leave at 4.   I had to convince Eleonore that it was worth it.   I didn't get home from my Seneca trip until 10 pm or so - so I took the biggest hit on sleep!

We started at an area I've had good walleye fishing on.  We were hoping for an early walleye but I rigged most of our stickbaits (and other lures) with TyGer wire, just incase.  I didn't want them losing a pike of a lifetime.   Eleonore was working an alewife colored X-rap and after around 10 minutes she hooked a good fish.  After a good fight I slid the net under the massive largemouth.   It was probably around 5 lbs, though we didn't weigh it.  Very solid fish on an Xrap w/o wire.   A few more largemouths were caught.  Then John hooked a good fish on an alewife tube.   Luckily the 30" to 31" pike didn't break the 8lb mono!   The second place we fished yielded a 30" pike for Eleonore on the same X-rap.  This fish engulfed the stickbait.  No wire there, so we got lucky.  We kept this pike since it was bleeding pretty badly and the Hermans wanted a pike for dinner.  

The conditions stayed pretty fishy till around 9 am when the clouds/fog rolled out and the sun really started to hammer down.  The fishing slowed quite a bit for us.   We tried a few different areas and wound up on the N. end around noon.   John was really tired and started to dose off.   I took a few casts with a Rat-L Trap and wound up hooking a fish that woke John up with its jumps.  It was a nice chunky 26" Tiger Musky!   We got a couple photos, released the sublegal fish and by then John was ready to fish.   Eleonore landed another nice largie on a Senko and we wrapped up the day.   Good fishing.  Weeds were up, boat traffic down - now's the time to fish here.   Nighttime walleye fishing is still very good and some fish are being taken in the day - that was the report I got from a good source.  Once weeds get really high, the nightbite gets trickier.    Occasional walleyes to 10lbs are being taken here.   

6/1/2010
Sodus Bay 6/1

Did a full day again with Jim from California/Alaska.   After seeing the diverse habitats available on Cayuga Lake Jim was interested in checking on some freshwater drum (and gar) fishing at Sodus Bay.   I let Jim know that the drum population in Sodus Bay/Lake Ontario has been depressed over the past few years due to die-offs associated with the VHS virus.  

We checked out some gar areas to start.  Water temps ranged from 73 to 76 degrees in the bay.  The water clarity was excellent and weeds looked enticing.  I'd imagine bass fishing is excellent.  No weed harvesting going on yet!    We did wind up finding some drum and a couple gar in a few different areas.  Fishing conditions were difficult for fly-fishing for much of the day, with strong westerlies and whitecaps.   The drum fishing was very humbling.  We did fish to some decent pods of drum without a follow.   Other fish showed interest in Jim's flies including lots of bluegills, pumpkinseeds, a white perch (rare these days but coming back) and a couple small largemouths.    Boat traffic was very light.   We had a good time - we were on fish and fished hard for them.  Drum are certainly a challenging and worthy adversary on the fly-rod.   Fishing should improve a lot as the drum population rebounds - hopefully over the next few years. 

5/31/2010
Fishing Reports 5/28 - 5/31

Guiding has been busy as ever - actually moreso.  Here's what transpired over the holiday weekend:

Cayuga Lake 5/28 Dean's Cove AM:  Guided Matt C. and his dad Dave for a 1/2 day on bass/pickerel on the lake's N. end.   I picked them up at Matt's cottage and off we went.   Last year we had some great action on nice pickerel (which we are all fans of) and some chunky largemouth bass.  On the boat ride up I was surprised by the numbers of dead bullheads on the N. end of Cayuga Lake.    It seems like every year there's a die-off of something up here.   According to Dave, it was channel catfish (!) a couple years ago, sunfish/bluegills last year and carp on another year.   The northern portion of Cayuga is shallow and subject to extreme temperature variations.  These may contribute to viruses - I don't know.  

The first area we tried near Frontenac Island featured some clear water and nice weeds.  A few good pickerel were dropped.   We fished a bunch of areas near the Cayuga State Park incl. Canoga Marsh.   Carp really had a lot of water roiled up and not looking good.   Weed growth varied a lot.   Fishing was generally tough with a few perch hitting and a pickerel here or there.   Eventually we tried a favorite area of mine and we were all impressed by the great topwater bass fishing.  Matt landed a beauty over 4lbs and hooked and/or landed a few other 2lb fish.   Topwater action was great until we quit around 11:30 am.  

Cayuga Lake 5/28 PM:   After dropping the guys off I picked up Todd and Ken at noon, both of whom work together in Rochester.  We had a fun full day trip with some halfway decent lake trout jigging.  I figured the evening bite would pick up and after some slow PM fishing it finally did.   Todd had the hot jigging hand and landed his limit and had another up to the boat.   Ken hooked and landed a good fish on a reaper and missed a few as well.  Fishing never really got as hot as I hoped, but the guys worked hard and really enjoyed the jigging technique.  

I need to put in a plug for the Aurora Market - which is open daily from 8 am to 8 pm.  You can tie your boat right up to their dock.  They have great sandwiches and coffee too.  The chocolate cookies are the best I've ever had.   Highly recommended!   It's directly across the lake from Dean's Cove.  

Keuka Lake 5/29 AM out of Branchport:  Did a morning 1/2 day with Stan and Mike who joined me last year for some good jigging.   Long story short - it was a tough AM bite.  We started at 7 am marking fish deep and shallow.   We had some activity on the fish finder but no great shakes.  We had loads of fish in 165' of water, but just one short hit.   Shallow fish came through for us around 10:30 am.   The guys limited out using white shakers.   I am really impressed with the color of some of the Keuka laker's flesh.  They are bright orange - I think they eat a fair number of aquatic insects.   BTW - Our fish were LOADED with bait.  

Cayuga Lake 5/30 AM out of Dean's Cove:  Did a long 1/2 day trip with Matt, Zack and Frank.    Matt and Zack first fished with me during my first season guiding and came back on my second in 2006.   They now have a boat and are looking forward to doing a lot of fishing on their own.   We had a tough AM fishing.   We had to move a lot and work hard for our bites.   The guys each landed a fish with Matt coming through on the best one of the day.   Tough fishing but the guys fished hard and came through.  

Cayuga Lake 5/30 PM Dean's:  Finished the day with 1/2 day (another long, tough one) with Tim aka "The lamprey eater" and Michele.  Michele first booked with me in 2005 and has been coming back nearly twice a year ever since.   Tim joined us two years ago and the two of them got married on 5/29.   We had tough fishing but the evening bite came through with them each landing a couple good fish.    Tim's a special Ed teacher and has a great, twisted, infantile sense of humor - which is just like mine  ;-)  So after a busy week guiding we tend to get pretty sick and crazy with the jokes.  Michele is a good sport.   Needless to say, it was a fun trip and I wish them the best with their future together.    Fishing was best from 70' to 105'.  

Cayuga Lake 5/31 Dean's:  Did a full day with Jim - who joined me in April for some fun landlocked salmon fishing.  He also joined me on Skaneateles Lake for some lakers, bass and perch last fall.   He spends half his year working in Alaska and he's a fly-fishing expert and aficionado - so that's what we did.   We spent half the day trying to catch salmon and lakers on baitfish patterns.    Sinking lines and electronics were used.  Jim had a few follows from small salmon on the flies but nothing solid.  I had him do a few drops with a jig and he nailed a nice laker and two small salmon.  We were both amazed at the properties of the jig and how it attracts fish.   We did some brainstorming and have some ideas re: fly-fishing lakers and deeper salmon.   Stay tuned!

He wanted to try some warmwater stuff - so we set up at the N. end of the lake for gar.   We spotted a few, but fishing was hard - they weren't interested.  It was fun having a giant 4 to 5lb largemouth go after the hookless ropefly.   Pesky bass.  We did a little carp fly-fishing without luck.   We went back to the gar and found that the gar had activated.   After seeing a few follow Jim's ropefly I knew he'd be in business.   And sure enough he landed his first gar.   He had quite a few follows afterwards, some from nicer fish but no monsters.   We called it a day when T-storms started rumbling a few miles away.   Water temps were up to over 80 on the N. end!  

 

5/27/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 5/26

Guided Perry for around 6 hours today on Cayuga Lake.   The goal was to try to catch some pike.   Perry usually picks up some live-bait and sets up slip bobber rigs.   No luck today on the bait - which is getting harder and harder to find, so he did some casting.   Due to the calm sunny conditions I encouraged Perry to try checking out some laker jigging areas N. of AES.  Perry's mainly a pike/musky guy, so we didn't do a whole lot of jigging, but we tried some.  I did mark a lot of bait and some nice marks (of lake trout) and fish seemed to be moving for the jigs.   Perry had one momentarily.   So I'm happy with what we found and the jigging prospects out of Taughannock.   35' out to 75' or so seemed to be a good area to fish. 

We motored down the lake and set up for pike.   I had him casting deep diving Husky Jerks among other stickbaits.   We were encouraged to see a few pike along drop offs.   It didn't take long before Perry set the hook into a nice northern around 27" long.    We continued working a stretch of shoreline, but air temps were close to 90 degrees and fatigue got the best of Perry (and I was pretty darn tired myself after a mediocre night's sleep.)   So we called things a day a couple hours early.

After dropping Perry off, I motored back down the lake.  The Cottonwood Tree seeds are a minor nuisance this time of year.   I continued fishing where we left off.   Eventually I hooked and landed a nice smallmouth bass.   But fishing was clearly slower by 2 to 3 pm and the heat and fatigue got to me a bit as well, so I wrapped up.    Water temps are coming up quickly - they were around 58.   We did see a small school ("shoal") of landlocked salmon in one cove.   Fish ranged from around 15" to 17" from what I could see.  Plenty of bass and panfish are in the lower ranges of Taughannock Creek (and likely Fall Creek and Salmon Creek) for the shore anglers out there.   Most bass I spotted in Taughannock Creek were around 10" to 14" long.  

5/26/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 5/25

Got out with Andrew, Charlie and Eric for some laker jigging.    Bait and plenty of fish still surround the perimeter of Cayuga Lake - esp. on the west shore.   AM fishing was much slower for us than previous trips this week, but we wound up having a good afternoon bite.  Fish ranged from around 25" to 28" for us.    Bait moved in during the course of the day and by early afternoon baitfish were popping along the surface.    Fish became more aggressive as the day went on.

A friend of mine reported trout chasing in his bass lures - so there are likely lakers in 20' of water or less.   We will try to fly-fish these fish here and on Seneca over the next week or two!   I have purchased some new lines and deep sinking heads for this reason.  

5/23/2010
Skaneateles Lake 5/23

Guided the Hermans for a full day.  Fishing was slow for us to start on the lake's north end.  There are good numbers of smallmouths around as well as rockbass.  A minor fish kill of primarily rock bass did occur recently on the lake's north end, likely due to some virus.    Working down the lake produced plenty of good sized - 11" to 14" (mostly 13" to 14"!) yellow perch.   John and Eleonore also caught around a dozen nice smallmouths (from 13" to 16" primarily) and 4 nice lakers to 20".    Fishing improved as the day went on.

Green pumpkin tube jigs fished on 1/4 oz jig heads did the trick.   Drop-shotting produced a rock bass and a jerkbait produced a smallie.   No rainbows or salmon in the mix today despite the favorable water temps (48 to 56) and winds.    We did best fishing deeper water - 17' to 24' with the jigs.  

5/22/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 5/20 + 5/21

Lake trout fishing is improving by the day.  Baitfish are moving in and lakers are aggressively feeding and moving shallower.   Best fishing has been early AM and late PM.

5/20:  Guided Tony for 1/2 day.   We had good fishing on lakers along the shoreline N. of Dean's Cove.  Most fish ran 23" to 27".   Best action was from 55' to around 90'.   Surface temps are in the mid to upper 50s.  Around 8 to 10  fish were landed if I remember right.

5/21:  Guided Aaron and Dave for the full day with Roy and his dad Ace tagging along in a second boat.   Fishing continues to be good - esp. in the AM, with my guys landing 10 nice fish and missing/losing a fair number as well.  No real slobs, but nice lakers all the way around.  I've never seen such clean looking lakers out of Cayuga - just gorgeous fish with nearly zero signs of lamprey attacks.   Water temps on the surface reached 64 in some places!  But in general they are in the mid-50s.  Plenty of bait was in close in the AM and late PM (when I did a little fishing on my own.)   Again - 50' to 90' or so was best.   There are likely lakers in shallower water too.

5/19/2010
Conesus Lake 5/19

Fished Conesus Lake today with Tony.   We were out a few weeks ago on Cayuga jigging lakers.   He called and was interested in something different, like some pike fishing.    I've been spending a lot of time on Cayuga, Seneca and Skaneateles Lakes thus far this season, so a road trip sounded good - I suggested Conesus Lake, which I don't get a chance to fish a whole lot.    It's a good hour and 45 minute drive from me these days.   Anyways Tony agreed and we headed out at 5:15 am.   

We arrived around 7 am with calm conditions and sunny clear skies - not the North winds 5 to 10 mph and cloudy conditions with a chance of rain that I was expecting.   We worked a bunch of areas without much to show for it.   Tony had a small pike follow him in.  He had a Tiger Musky around 24" follow him in.    But fish were clearly negative.   We saw pike on the bottom of the lake buried in cover.   They weren't aggressive at all.  Even the panfish were lethargic.   I think the weather system had a lot to do with it.  

Bass are spawning and we saw plenty on beds.   Fishing was so tough that Tony wanted me to take some casts with a different presentation to see if anything was hitting.  I managed one 14" largemouth on a dropoff in around 10' to 14' of water.   Tony nailed a nice smallie on a shelf.    We saw another Tiger and a lethargic pike, as well as a ton of bass, panfish and bullheads with a few carp thrown in.   

We tried a lot of areas with very little to show.   But we never gave up.   After trying the south end weedbeds for pike without a hit we tried a windblown area (skies clouded up a bit and the wind came up out of the N. by around 1:30 pm!)    We were talking about leaving in about 10 minutes when I handed Tony a rod with 8lb test and an alewife tube jig.   After 5 min. of casting he hooked a fish and I saw a flash.   I thought it was a smallmouth bass, but he said it was a "good fish."   I knew right away it was probably a walleye, so I ran up to the bow and got the boat positioned so it wouldn't drift over the fish.  I grabbed the net too.   After a few good surges I got the net under the fish just as the hook popped out!   What a nice walleye!   It was around 26" long and weighed almost 7lbs!   I asked Tony if he was going to keep it and he asked me if I wanted it and of course I said yes!   A few casts later and Tony landed a nice 17"+ smallmouth.    Perseverence really paid off!  We never gave up till the last cast.   A 7lb walleye is a nice fish anywhere, but on Conesus Lake in the daytime while casting, it's a heck of a nice catch.  Especially when the pike/Tigers didn't come through for us.  

Water temps were 56 to 58.  Expect some good nighttime casting for walleyes here over the next 3 weeks at the very least.   Pike/Musky action should pick up too.   I'll be back here a couple more times over the next month and I'm looking forward to it.  

5/17/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cover 5/16 - 5/17

5/16 AM:  Got out with Stu and his GF Shannon for around 6 hours.   We had some halfway decent action around Long Point.   Fishing was steady and quite a few fish were missed/dropped.   3 nice lakers were landed up to around 28" if my memory serves me right.   We tried the Silos area and found bait there as well as some decent fishing.  

5/16 PM:  Got out with Ed and his nephews Tom and Chris (from Fla.)   We tried different areas without much happening.  We also searched the depths - finding a few chasing fish, but nothing aggressive.    Again, the Silos area came through with some very good to excellent fishing on nice lakers averaging around 25".   We had two doubles going which made for some excitement.   A fun laugh-fest was had by all!   Very good fishing...

5/17:  Guided Cy and Scott for a 1/2 day today.  NHL Fans might know Scott (Stevens) - he has quite a few "Greatest Hits" videos on YouTube.   He's currently an assistant coach of the NJ Devils and played for a few different teams, managing to win a few Stanley Cups as a player with the Devils.   Just a tremendous hockey career.  Check this out for more:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U7jUbKQYdw   I'm glad I was able to get him into some fish!  ;-)

Scott has a place on a lake up in Canada, and Cy - being a friend of his, wanted him to see the technique.   We started at Long Point without much happening.  We made a quick move up to the Silos area and started finding some fish.  Fishing wound up being quite good and the guys landed 10 nice lakers to around 28".     I'm looking forward to hearing how Scott makes out on the lakers up in Canada and in NJ on Round Valley Reservoir.   Nice guy and a fun trip.   

5/14/2010
Skaneateles Lake 5/13 + Cayuga Lake out of Dean's 5/14

Skaneateles Lake 5/13:  I guided Peter here for the full day.   It was a weird weather day with fog and cool conditions in the AM, then the sun came out and burned off the fog, clouds rolled in.  The wind came up a little, then died - and so it went.   Pete had never caught a smallmouth bass before and within maybe 20 minutes he managed a gorgeous 18"+ fish.   A great first smallie!   A green pumpkin tube jig did the trick.    We worked areas along the entire lake on both shores.   He managed a few more chunky bass and a bunch of nice perch incl. a couple over 14".   No trout today in the mix.   They were definitely around, but we just didn't get into them.   One bass came on a stickbait.   The jigging technique I use takes practice and at times it can be tough feeling the jigs in deep water.   That may have played a part in the lack of trout.   Water temps are around 46.   Pete's a kindred spirit and I really enjoy conversing with him.   Last time he fished lakers and pike on Seneca, so it was time for something different.   All in all just a nice day spent on the water!

Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 5/14:  Guided Jim and his 11 y.o. son Griffin today for 1/2 day.   We timed things perfectly - avoiding the rain in the AM and missing out on the strong westerlies that came up in the PM!    Jim's a fly-fisher but I recommended a laker trip since Griff would be with him.  Lakers are so strong and so much fun - it feels great to have fish that can really put a bend into the rod and rip out some drag.   Lakers (esp. this time of year) excel in that department!   Water temps are 47 - perfect for lakers!    We tried deep to start using the electronics.  Didn't mark too much.  Moving in shallow was the key - we found good #s of aggressive fish from arounc 65' out to 75' or 80'.   Fishing was very, very good.   Around 8 nice fish were landed incl. a monster 32" beast!  Just one of the biggest, girthiest lakers I've seen for its length.  It hit a 1 oz roundhead jig with a white reaper tail.    Great fight and we released everything but one mortally wounded fish today.    Expect to find a lot of shallower fish now, with water temps reaching the upper 40s and lower 50s on the surface!

5/12/2010
Skaneateles Lake 5/12

Got out on the lake with my friend Capt. Craig Nels today.   We always have a lot of fun on the water when we go fishing together and today was no exception.   We met each other before I started guiding back in my Bass Pro Shops days.    The weather started out misty and cold - we could see our breath.   Can't say I'm surprised after living most of my life in Central/Western NY.  

The plan today was to fish Craig's style and patterns for a bit then do some of my stuff.  Water temps ranged from a chilly 40 to a chilly 46!    We started working a large point with sandy areas and scattered rock near deep water that Craig likes to fish.   After about 20 minutes or so I had a hit.  I made another cast into the 25'+ water with my tube and hooked a good fish.   After a twisting, strong fight Craig slid the net under the 28" laker!   My best Skinny laker to date!   It probably weighed around 6.5lbs.  Not a fat fish.  I released it unharmed.   We worked some more areas and Craig caught a very nice smallmouth around 18" long.   A rock bass and another smallie were also landed.

We tried another area I like with nothing to show but a big perch around 14".   We then hit one of my favorite areas and Craig scored on another solid bass using one of his favorite Oneida Lake tactics.   I like fishing hairjigs and tube jigs on this lake and over the next few hours with them we each landed 15"+ rainbow trout, another 1/2 dozen monster perch as well as some smaller fish, bass and a bunch of lakers ranging from around 16" to 20".   Fish got very aggressive later in the day.  The wind probably helped.

Craig wanted to check out another couple areas.  He has a Humminbird Depth Finder with GPS and side-imaging which is an awesome!   I rigged up one of Craig's favorite tactics - a dropshot set up and got into another nice laker - maybe 22" or better.    Craig's pretty psyched about the upcoming weeks on both Skaneateles Lake and his home lake Oneida.  I can't blame him - we're in for some great fishing!   Check out Craig's Guide Service and website at www.empirebassandbeyond.com/    As a side note, it was a lot of fun cruising up the lake at around 40 to 50 mph in his Ranger Bassboat.    It tops out around 70 mph!   There's no problem getting to where the fish are.... 

5/11/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 5/11

I managed to get out this afternoon/evening for 4 to 5 hours on Cayuga Lake.  I brought spinning and casting gear for pike and salmon.   I gave the pike fishing near the south end 3 hours and never raised a fish.   I think the bite was just "off" due to the water/weather conditions - I don't know.  I just didn't find/encounter any fish.  I worked a lot of shallow spawning areas and adjacent areas with swimbaits, jerkbaits, tubes and other tactics.  Tubes produced a couple perch for me.  By all accounts, perch have moved into the south end and mid-portions of Cayuga Lake in good numbers recently.    Water temps ranged from 46 to 48 - perfect for salmon action.  I spent the last 2 hours casting for salmon on the east shore.  I landed 2 small (sublegal) landlockeds on stickbaits.   

I expect pike fishing to pick up once we get some seasonable and steadily warming weather.   A homeowner told me he'd landed a beautiful pike last week on a live alewife he'd accidentally snagged while casting for trout/salmon.   I know there are some nice pike around to be had on Cayuga Lake!   The rain started coming down and it got darker out - so I called it a day around 8 pm.   I'd started around 3:30.   

5/9/2010
Upper East Branch Delaware River 5/7

I wound up cancelling all weekend trips due to high winds and I had Friday off anyways, so it was time to try something different.  My fishing buddy Mike has been trying to get me out to the Catskills over the past two years.   It's been hard to coordinate a trip with our schedules, but everything lined up just right this week, so we met on Friday AM at his place near Otselic.  

Mike's really the catalyst re: my fly-fishing.   He taught me the basics as well as a lot of non-basics in the mid-1990s and onwards.    He spent a few years (around 2005) living in Catskill and fishing the high quality trout streams there, his favorite being the East Branch of the Delaware.    So I had a guide - and on this river, it's a big advantage. 

Once we drove into the Catskills, it wasn't hard to see how people could fall in love with the area.   The vibe, the waterways, pine and hilly terrain reminded me of Alaska.   The pace of life is slower.   The reservoirs alone (NYC Water Supply) are incredible fisheries for big brown trout.   I was impressed by the photos at the tackle shop we stopped at.   

There are plenty of pull-offs along the East Branch and plenty of PFRs (Public Fishing Rights) along the river.  It's a fishermen-friendly area.   We stopped by one of Mike's favorite areas and got on our gear and headed down.  We didn't see any other anglers at the time.   We saw plenty of caddisflies as well as a few Hendricksons both flying (emerging) and drifting (spent - i.e. dead) down the river.   Mike explained what we'd be doing and handed me some flies.

I was glad to see that with all the lake fly-fishing and fly-casting I'd been teaching that my stream fly-casting was in very good shape.   The goal was to present dry-flies below us (a downstream presentation) with a drag-free drift.    It's very challenging.  You need to get into position above the trout - close enough to cast but not so close as to put the fish down (momentarily spook it.)   You need to be able to read the currents well enough (like golf) to decide where the cast needs to go, and how the fly is going to drift.   Then there's line management involved.  Letting the leader straighten out.   Feeding line into the drift.   Then there's the luck quotient - you can make a perfect cast, have a perfect drag-free drift and still not get a grab!    My sympathies go out to the Delaware guides!   If you can't cast well, you're in for a tedious day.   The water level was low, the flows are slow and the fish can really get a good look at the fly.  

We spotted a few fish rising and I gave it a few tries.   Mike thought I did a very good job, but no grabs.   We tried another pool and I told Mike to give it a go, while I grabbed my camera.   Mike made a few casts then got a grab!  Fish on!   After a spirited battle Mike beached the gorgeous wild brown trout - 15" to 16" of Delaware beauty!   

Downstream we found some more rising fish and we switched off - Mike grabbed his camera and I made some casts.   The fish were grabbing flies off the water violently.    Were they taking caddis?   I don't know.  I went with a Hendrickson imitation which is what Mike used.  After a few casts and some repositioning I made a perfect cast and got a grab!   This fish didn't fight like any brown I've caught.  It jumped high, at least 3 times!   Great fight!   I told Mike I think I had a rainbow, and it was.   They are supposedly fairly rare in the upper East Branch, but numbers are going up according to what I've read.   It was around 14" .   We released it after a quick couple photos.   Those fish were highlights of the trip.  Mike landed a couple small wild browns later.   I watched an angler land another rarity further downstream - a drop-dead gorgeous wild brookie that had to be 14" to 15" long!  What a fish!   The angler wasn't very adept at holding it for a photo, so he blew a rare opportunity, but I did get a shot of the fish as it started coming in. 

We had high expectations for the evening fishing, but the hatches dwindled and the amount of rising fish greatly diminished.   Mike hadn't fished the river in a couple years, so we weren't as in touch with the river fishing as we would've liked to be.   A couple days spent here in a row is the way to go. 

The amount of fishing we have in New York State is staggering.  Between Lake Ontario and it's tribs and bays, the St. Lawrence River, the Finger Lakes, Lake Erie, Champlain, the Adirondacks, the Hudson, Long Island Sound, Catskills, Chautauqua Lake, Oneida Lake etc...   You'd need to spend ten lifetimes here, and you still would be skimming the surface!  

We had a great time and will be back in a few weeks to fish the next big wave of hatches.    For great reports and info on the Catskill fisheries, check out our favorite Catskill Website:  www.baxterhouse.net      

 

5/6/2010
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 5/6

Did a full day with Don and his wife Sharon, who joined us for 1/2 of the day.  We marked plenty of lakers but the bite ranged from neutral to downright negative with tough fishing for most of the day.   There were loads of fish in around 175' to 180' and we also spent time from 130' to 150'.    Don and Sharon each landed a laker and early in the day a few fish were lost/missed.   But a tough bite overall, likely due to the cold front.   The west winds were quite strong and we saw one other boat out fishing and that was it.

Some casting with stickbaits (incl. jerkbaits,) spoons and tube jigs yielded some pickerel action.   Don momentarily had hold of what was likely a landlocked salmon around 18" long.   He also had a follow from one.   Sharon ended the day hooking a big brown fish - a beautiful 18"+ smallmouth that was FAT and had to weigh at least 4lbs.   It was a fun trip and water temps ranged upwards of 53 degrees on the surface.    We never did mark much bait - though there was some deep.   

5/2/2010
Reports 4/29 - 5/1

Guiding has gotten off to a fast start for me thus far this season and the fishing has really been very good.   Here's how things went:

Thurs. April 29th, Skaneateles Lake:  I had to postpone a laker jigging trip due to the high wind forecasts, so I was able to fit Tony in for some casting.    My schedule is actually fairly wide open, so I have plenty of availability, though certain weeks and weekends are fairly booked.   I'm not cutting back much on my guiding this year, though I will be doing less "lake hopping" (two lakes in one day) and less spreading out of 1/2 days.   Over the past two years I have been extremely busy and just getting too worn out at times.   No more 10  or more trips in a row for this guide!   

Anyways, winds were forecast to gust up towards the upper 30s to 40 mph out of the west northwest, which could be downright brutal.   We put on the raingear and decided to give Skaneateles Lake a good try. 

Out of the big Finger Lakes - Keuka is probably the most wind friendly.  Due to its high surrounding hills and its layout, this lake is fishable on very strong westerlies.   Winds do a bit of funneling on the FLs too, so that's always a consideration.  Some lakes like Canandaigua and Skaneateles are narrow in areas, so you can get a "wind gauntlet" which can make for some very rough boating.  

We chose Skinny because of the chance for rainbows/salmon and the winds blowing out of the WNW.    Conditions were good when we arrived.   My electronics weren't working too well though.  My flasher signal was weak and my Lowrance HDS wasn't working at all.   After checking the wiring I finally realized the HDS had blown a fuse - and I didn't have a spare (I had a few, but they weren't the right size.)   The flasher's transducer wire got pinched on my trolling motor mount.   By the trip's end the flasher wasn't working.   

I had a handheld thermometer and water temps were around 40 to 44 (N. end.)   Fishing went pretty well.   Given that one other boat was on the water and we ran down the lake, dealing with a lot of chop, I thought we did well.  Tony nailed 9 or 10 nice smallmouths on the day.  Most were in around 5' to 12' of water.  We didn't do much deeper than that - maybe a couple bass.    He caught 2 landlocked salmon in deeper water - one was just over 16" and one around 14" to 15".    A few perch showed themselves.  No rainbows or lakers.   We were constrained by wind and couldn't work some prime areas.   North end temps were better than I'd have expected and if I had the trip to do again, I might have spent more time up there.   Tube and hair jigs did the trick on the bass and salmon.  He cast some spoons and stickbaits in places, but the jigs were the ticket.   

Friday April 30th AM, Keuka Lake:   Guided Lou and his son Luke for the AM on Keuka out of Branchport.   Luke's mom Della arranged the trip a few weeks ago as a send off to Luke, who'll be deployed this week to Afganistan.   She wanted me to make sure they caught fish, so I moved the trip from Watkins Glen to Keuka.   After two to three days of very heavy winds, I wasn't 100% sure WG would be very fishable.  Deep lakers aren't affected much by day to day weather conditions, so Keuka it was.   Fishing was good to very good.  Luke had the hot hand and got his first laker within about 20 minutes.   Fishing was steady and by day's end the guys landed around 8 or 9 fish if my memory serves me correctly.   Lou missed/lost quite a few;  it wound up being Luke's day.    Water temps were in the low 40s.    Fish were mostly deep - around 140' to 165' or so. 

Friday April 30th PM, Seneca Lake/Watkins Glen:   Guided Ed and John, who've joined me on probably a 1/2 dozen trips over the past two years.   We were hoping for some salmon action.     Conditions weren't looking too encouraging at 4 pm when we got underway.   The light/variable winds turning to south were N. at around 10 mph.   The south end of the lake was pretty choppy, with most boats heading out of the canal turning around and heading back in.   I was optimistic.   I found an area to tuck the boat into and within around 10 minutes Ed had a salmon follow on a fly.   John might have had a hit or two but after an hour and a half of casting the guys wanted to head in for a break.  I tried a few casts with a flyrod and had a swirl on my streamer.  The fish were clearly in.   I motored them back in and went fishing on my own.  The lake was flattening out and conditions were looking great.  After 25 minutes or so and a few casts, they called, I picked them up and we resumed the trip.

Ed hooked a good fish that clearly wasn't a salmonid.  Turned out to be a clean looking 26" northern!   What a relief it was seeing a pike without ANY SIGNS of fungus or disease or lamprey marks! There is hope....   We tried another area - no luck, then went back to our primary area when John hooked a nice fish on a stickbait.   After a great battle with plenty of runs and acrobatics I slid the net under the salmon, which was the heaviest looking one Ed had ever seen.   It was around 24 3/4" long and boga-ed at 5.5lbs!   John kept his hard-won fish for dinner and we headed in.   Water temps reached the mid-50s on the south end and were around 45 to 47 uplake.   

Saturday May 1st, Cayuga out of Dean's Cove:   Guided Joe and his wife Ann-Marie for some lakers.    Joe likes to flyfish a lot, but we wanted to go with a relatively sure-bet that would get Ann-Marie into some fish and hopefully some big ones.   Fishing was very good for most of the day.  We found lakers from 130' on out to 160' or so - I should say that we didn't check much shallower or deeper.   This time of year there are likely some fish moving up into 40' to 60' or less, but the majority are still deep.   The guys did great - Ann Marie caught some beauties and Joe was impressed by how much the fish pulled.  The quality of these lakers in really unsurpassed in the region.   I know Hemlock Lake has some beauties, but for a lake accessible to larger boats, Cayuga is fantastic.  Next to no signs of lampreys on these fish!   They landed 8 or 9 nice lakers and dropped some too.  Fish ranged from 23" to 29", with most being over 26"!   

We tried some casting and fly-casting up north with a couple pickerel and a perch to show for our efforts before we headed south again to jig some more.  Fishing slowed in the PM and we headed in.   After dropping them off the sun came out and wind picked up.  Jigging was still good and I caught a beauty that will be smoked later today as I write this.   I got a phone call from Joe later and they wound up driving up to Skaneateles where they found a restaurant that cooked some of their catch!   He told me the fish were delicious!    I find fresh caught lake trout hard to beat.   They don't freeze well - so if you freeze them for a while and they taste bad (usually rancid,) you froze them too long.   Try them fresh if you don't like them - and I think you'll be impressed.  If you aren't, you probably didn't process or prepare them right, or maybe you just like bland fish.   I have tips in "The Chef" section of this website.  Click onto "About John" then click onto the chef.

 

 

 

4/25/2010
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/24 + 4/25

4/24:  Guided the Hermans for the full day.   We'd been looking to set up a salmon trip and things finally aligned for us.   Fishing was good in Watkins Glen for salmon and a few bonus browns.  The Hermans cast spoons and stickbaits (mainly the former) and caught a couple browns (16" and 18") and a few nice salmon.   We kept one salmon and the smaller brown for dinner.  The larger brown came up with 2 lampreys attached.   The eels are still very common in this lake, but fortunately the fish appear to be doing alright.   We had a lot of follows and a couple lost/missed fish as well.   My buddy Mike was on the lake and they caught some good salmon and even a rainbow trout around 18" to 19".  

Fish are available pretty much lakewide - Mike contacted fish on both shores.    After the guide trip I spent a couple hours fly-casting and managed to land a couple fish, one being a gorgeous well-proportioned 26" salmon that provided me with an unforgetable battle.  I was lucky to land it by myself and quickly released the fish without a hitch (no photos either - I've given up on "solo photos.")  Other large fish were landed by nearby fisherman.  This lake just keeps producing quality salmon - if there's a better salmon fishery around, I haven't seen it...

4/25:  I guided Jim from California for the day on salmon.  He's quite the flyfisherman and caster and he joined me last fall for a decent day on Skaneateles Lake.   Fishing was slower today than on 4/24.  We had overcast skies and cooler conditions with rain.   We found a lot of fish jumping around - but many seemed inactive.   We tried different areas and tactics and Jim managed to score on 4 nice salmon - mostly 17" to 18" fish.   One had some gashes in its side - likely from a loon or cormorant.   One came up with a live lamprey attached.   The fish as usual fought and hit "BIG" - it was a lot of fun and the rain wasn't bad.   We had a lot of action - follows, swirls and boiling fish around the boat.  Fun fishing and not bad on the catching.   Fishing/boating traffic was nearly non-existent until around 2 pm.  Water temps at the lake's south end reached over 50 in places.   

4/23/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 4/23

Did a full day fly-fishing trip with Gordon, who has joined me on quite a few guide trips over the past 5 years.   He usually does pretty well with the fishing and timing of his trips and today was no exception.   Calm conditions this AM made for some decent fly-fishing opportunities.  Again - I'm not seeing many sizeable salmon on this lake this year, but there's good action to be had with some smaller fish.  Gordon had a lot of hits and follows on mostly sublegal fish.   He landed 4 or 5, plus one brown around 16" that we kept.  The brown was well-fed and stuffed with alewives.    Type 4 full sinking lines and intermediate lines did the trick today.  We used my bionic smelt pattern for the most part.  

Seneca is the place to be for salmon, but with forecast north winds around 15 mph +, I'm happy to stay on Cayuga!   Water temps in the main lake ran to 48 degrees.  We had 53 in Cayuga Inlet.   Very few boats were out today.   I expect decent salmon fishing on this lake in 2011.  Fall runs of brown trout in the tribs should be very impressive if we get ample rainfall. 

4/22/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 4/22

I grabbed the fly-rods and headed out at 11:15 am in search of salmon and brown trout.   I'm not finding a lot of legal salmon on Cayuga Lake thus far this year - I know they are out there, but they haven't been finding my flies!    The good news is that there are plenty of young 11" to 12" fish around.   We should see some good to excellent salmon fishing on Cayuga Lake over the next year or two.   Between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes, we're in for a great ride re: the Landlocked Atlantic Salmon fishing over the forseeable future!

I had a lot of hits and follows today from salmon - the "problem" is that they were all undersized fish.   These fish maim themselves when they hit.  After catching a few, I moved in search of bigger fish, but couldn't find any.  Warm water is what to look for and the cold nights and cool daytime temps aren't making the search any easier.   Fishing should pick-up throughout the weekend as daytime temps warm up.   Lake level was finally at full-pool today and water temps were around 43/44.   There will be plenty of opportunities on the Finger Lakes for good salmonid fishing over the next month given the still cool water temps.    I was the only boater that launched out of Taughannock while I was there.    

4/20/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 4/20

Fishing remains very good out of Dean's.   Guided Martin, his wife Nancy and their son John today.   Martin and John fished with me last year and Martin still holds my boat record lake trout with a monster he landed that was at least 36" and fat.    We found good numbers of fish between 140' and 175' today.  Plenty of bait was around too, mostly in the deeper water.   Around 7 or 8 fish were landed and a couple nice ones dropped too.   Fish were pretty active and aggressive and the weather was gorgeous.  Water temps hit 50 today and on the way back in we spotted a nice school of perch in around 15' of water give or take.  

On a related note, my buddy Mike and his nephew had some good laker jigging action near AES in around 110' to 130'.   He also landed a gorgeous, clean 5 1/2lb brown trout fly-fishing - casting streamers on a sinking line.   They had other follows on the trout/salmon too.    The prospects for massive Cayuga Lake browns haven't been better in recent (and not so recent) memory.   Between Cayuga's browns and Seneca's salmon you'd be hard pressed to find better salmonid fishing on any inland lakes in the State.    Just my opinion of course!  They had water temps ranging from the low to mid 40s.

4/15/2010
Canandaigua Lake out of Woodville 4/15

I had a day off, so it was time to check on Canandaigua Lake for lakers.   I've been chomping at the bit to get out here since I got my deep jigging gear set up and my Lowrance HDS-5.   Last year I tried for deep fish but my electronics were sub-par and I didn't look deep enough.   This lake is a good drive for me (like Honeoye and Conesus) but I enjoy the change of scene from the usual Seneca/Cayuga on occasion.

The tough thing about guiding a lot is that a lot of the prime weather days get booked up!  So today I was originally looking at nasty conditions, but fortunately the forecasts moderated to partly sunny then cloudy with a chance of rain.   Cloudy, dark conditions aren't great conditions to fish deep lakers in.   Anyways, it took me almost 2 hours to get from Trumansburg to the Woodville launch and out onto the lake.   By 12:15 pm I was cruising up the lake watching my electronics as I rigged a couple rods.    As usual, I didn't mark much bait on this lake.  There was some around 140' and 170', as well as some scattered fish both high and low.   The sun was shining brightly when I took a random drop and had a fish come up for the jig.   I marked a few fish then dropped in a jig and had a half dozen hits as I brought the jig up.   Then the skies started clouding up and the fishing slowed considerably.   I marked a lot of fish.   I hooked and lost one very nice fish (for this lake) and lost one or two others.  But they had shut off - likely due to the weather. 

Despite not landing any fish, I was very impressed and enthusiastic about what I saw today and where I saw it.   There are a lot of lakers from 195' out to 215'.   I'll take the shallower ones!    I don't see myself doing much a lot of laker guiding on this lake since it's so far away and Cayuga, Seneca and Keuka have so much to offer, but I will be doing some - and I'm absolutely confident we will do very well here if we choose our days wisely.   H2O was 45 degrees on top.   The only other fishing boats I saw were chasing crappies and perch. 

4/13/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 4/13
Guided Tony for 1/2 day laker jigging.   Due to classes, I can't squeeze in full days Mondays through Wednesdays until after the 1st week in May.    Tony did some laker jigging with me last fall and we did very well.  Today the fishing was good, but not as hot as last weekend.   We found good numbers of lakers from 140' on out to 180'.   Tony had a ton of follows and managed to land 4 nice fish - most between 27" and 30" long.   A couple were dropped as well.   Fish were not super active today, they weren't chasing great or hitting very aggressively - probably due to the cold front.    A couple friends were out jigging and they found fish in shallower water - up to 110'.    Action was generally spotty with occasional bursts of good fishing.    H2O was 43 on the surface.   Plenty of bait is around - mainly around 140' and out is where we found it.   We had steady action/fish moving for the jigs on the depthfinder throughout the AM - they just weren't grabbing great.   I expect laker jigging to remain good to excellent for quite some time.  The fish we landed today hadn't fed in days.  They are hungry and will resume feeding soon!
4/11/2010
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 4/11

Guided Jeff and Andy for the full day today.  Jeff's fished with me before and we've had some good action on lakers and pike/bass.    Today the lakers didn't disappoint.   Trollers had some great AM action.  Jigging was OK to start with a couple fish landed for us in short order.   The deepest water (175'+) is the place to be - though there are fish shallower.    Fish got more active as the day went on.   By 11 am the guys had landed around a half dozen nice fish to 24".   

We tried a couple areas for landlockeds and Jeff hooked one and had a follow.  It was nice to see a few salmon around on Keuka Lake.  Diary keepers started catching fair numbers of sublegal fish last year.   The fish Jeff lost was around 18".   Bass and pickerel were also around. 

After a couple hours of trying for salmon we went back to the lakers and they were hitting very well.  A few more were landed.  We wound up with 13 or 14 nice lakers landed and at least double that lost!   Great day!   H2O was around 44 max.     

4/9/2010
Cayuga Lake Shorefishing - Ithaca Pier 4/9
I was too tired to get up early and get the boat out this AM, though I did hear Seneca Lake calling me ;-)    After running some errands I took a hike out to the Ithaca Pier (accessible via the Ithaca Public Golf Course.)   The wind was howling out of the south and I fished around an hour to 1 1/2 hours with no hits.   I don't feel I covered things very thoroughly - the sun was beating down on me, I was tired and the winds made fly-casting tougher.  Water levels of the lake are low.   Some decent browns have been caught around Ithaca's south end (and from the pier) recently.    Cayuga Lake appears to be set to have a stellar year for big browns.  Not really much to report.  I tried out a couple new flies I'd tied up and saw how they "swam" and appeared in the water.    I also tried a new stripping basket my buddy Mike made for me - it was excellent!   No line blew out despite the 20 mph + winds with higher gusts.  I was able to cast further than before with the basket.   If interested, find a copy of the March 2010 Mid-Atlantic Fly-fishing Guide for Ed Jaworowski's great article on how to build your own.   He's spent decades trying different commercially available and homemade baskets and has come up with a great one.     
4/4/2010
Seneca Lake/Watkins Glen 4/3 + Cayuga Lake/Dean's Cove 4/4

The guiding has really gotten into full swing in a hurry this season and here's how things went:

Seneca/Watkins Glen 4/3:   Guided Ron and his son Matt for salmon.  This is their 4th time fishing with me over the past couple years and they have a knack for hitting thing just right!  Saturday was no exception.   To make a long story short, we found some warm water and the guys had some great fishing casting spoons and stickbaits.   A total of 13 nice salmon and 2 browns were landed.   All fish but one were legal, and all were released with the exception of 2 salmon that took the rear treble hook of the stickbait too deep.   The guys had a couple 23" salmon and a 24"er.   

These salmon fight BIG.  Steelhead fight great but proportionally - I've caught plenty of steelhead and what you see is what you get - a 4lber fights like a 4lber and likewise for a 14lber.  Salmon fight so "hugely" - it's a weird way to put it, but you put a net under a hot 23" landlocked salmon and you'd swear that it was a 26" fish - they just fight like it!   Just amazing fish - and they spend more time in the air sometimes (seemingly) than in the water!    

It was nice seeing a few (not many) people releasing some keeper salmon on Saturday.  Many people keep most of them, but I'm always impressed to see these gorgeous fish released unharmed.    Water temps hit 52 where we were fishing.   Trollers reportedly did well throughout the lake from what I heard.  

I saw a couple pike landed by shorefishers, as well as some salmon.    After the trip ended I grabbed my fly-rods and fished myself for 90 minutes.  The wind came up and fly-casting was doable, but tedious.   I had a nice follow or two from a salmon, but decided to grab a spinning rod.   I got a hit, and set the hook - snagging a lamprey!  It was likely on a fish that took a swirl at my spoon.  Next cast I landed a 26" landlocked salmon!   It got wrapped a bit in the line, so I was able to land and release it quickly.   Wished it hadn't got wrapped - I would have gotten a much better battle.  I was disappointed to land what appeared to be a beautiful pike around 30" and find it to be in great shape except for the tail - which was fungusy and rotten looking.   I sure hope the pike situation turns around on this lake, but it doesn't look promising.    Our salmon had 2 lampreys attached on the day and some fresh wounds.   The brown trout were not huge - 16" to 17" but fat and clean - in excellent condition basically.  Great day.  Photos to come soon! 

BTW I had a nice meal afterwards over at "Mr. Chicken" in Watkins Glen on Rt. 14.   Very reasonable and healthy stuff.  I recommend it if you're in the area.   And no, I don't get free chicken for the plug....

4/4 Cayuga out of Dean's Cove:   Met the Hermans at 8 am at the launch and off we went.  Fishing for lakers was fantastic - we were in around 170' of water - and even deeper at times.   The Hermans - John and Eleonore managed to land 19 beauties on the day.  Not a fish smaller than 25"!!!  That's Cayuga at its best - BIG fish and plenty of them.  This early season jigging has turned out to be one of the hottest patterns I know in the region.   The fish are really turning on and just monsterous.  They are pulling hard!     We took some nice photos which I'll put up soon.   We fished close to a full day - but the best fishing was from 8 am till around noon.  We released all but one.  Lakers in Cayuga are in good balance and we'll be releasing more fish than usual this year, though I'm looking forward to firing up the smoker soon.   

My PM trip was with Ed and his wife Kate.  Ed's joined me on quite a few trips over the past year and although the fishing slowed a bit, it was still good.   Kate landed her first, second and if I remember right, third lakers today.  All BIG fish.  Ed landed a few beauties incl. one around 31" to 32".  Great fighters and really nice fish.  We kept two and they were full of alewives.    Nice way to end a long weekend! 

4/2/2010
Cayuga/Dean's 4/1 + Keuka/Branchport 4/2

This hot weather has really given people the "fishing fever" - and I consider myself "typhoid John" - here to spread the flu!    Here's the rundown:

4/1 Cayuga/Dean's:  No April Fools here - I did a 1/2 day trip with Bob and his kids - Andrew and Chris.   There was a good chop on Cayuga and things looked a little tricky to start.  I marked good numbers of lakers from around 135' on out.   This deep jigging was a little tricky to get a feel for, but I was optimistic given the weather conditions and the fish we were marking.   We fished hard and the guys each managed to land a good fish - lakers around 25" to 27".   We were all impressed by how damn hard these fish can pull.   These deep fish emerging from "hibernation" have a lot of energy!    Lots of bait was in around 120' to 140'.  

After the trip the winds died down and the bite really got hot!  I got out into upwards of 200' of water to test my new Mike Canavan "deep jigging special" rod.  I loaded my reel with 10lb Spiderwire XXX mono and went to work.   In 5 drops I think I landed 4 fish.  The bite was excellent.   No huge fish, but the lakers were fighting great.   It's funny, but I love fly-fishing for landlocked salmon, but landing large lakers in deep water early season is nearly as much fun - you can lean into these fish more than you can a salmon!   I was loving it.    My braid set ups also worked well for the deep fish, but the mono (despite not having the longitivity) certainly handles better.    The stretch required that I point my rod at the jig while setting the hook.  

I checked some northern flats for carp.  Found a ton of them murking up the water.   These fish are fishable, but I was hoping to find some fish to sight cast to.  The wind and lack thereof in some areas prevented me from doing this.   Perch guys were out in numbers.   Cayuga ALWAYS provides excellent perch fishing this time of year!   Just be prepared to do a lot of filleting!  For every 11" to 12" fish you'll catch 15 to 20 eight to nine inchers!  After carping I tried the late evening laker bite and managed to hook a few more!  They were really grabbing.

4/2  Keuka out of Branchport:  I saw a lot of perch guys out this AM on the Penn Yan arm as I drove to Branchport.   The parking lot was nearly full of trailers at 8:30 am when we got things loaded up.   I met Coleen and Kevin at the ramp and off we went.  Fishing was excellent!   They managed to hook a double or two.   We had great action and they filled their limit in around an hour and 45 minutes.  This for two people who'd never jigged before!    Coleen is a sharp woman and she figured out what worked best.  Before I knew it, she was nearly hooking a fish on every drop or two for a little while.  Just "in the zone."  We had fun and did some catch and release for a bit.

My PM trip was another 1/2 day with Bob and the boys.   Fishing was very good in deep water again - 145' to 175' or so.   Bob had a limit before too long.   I think he got his first fish on his second or third drop of the jig.   The boys had a lot of action and dropped a lot of fish.   It was fun - just "fish on" or "I got one" - throughout the afternoon.  After some coaching and going over techniques - plus a little bit of luck from the "Fish Gods" the guys starting boating fish.   We managed a couple more.  Bob wrapped things up with a nice one around 26".   

Keuka fish can be hard to hook at times since they run smaller than many of the other FL lake trout.  However, they are beautiful, tasty, wild and abundant - which is why we LOVE this lake! 

 

3/27/2010
Owasco Lake 3/27

After talking a bit to Jeff Robins (biologist from the NY DEC) earlier this week I decided to give Owasco Lake a try today to see what I could find.   Owasco has been a bit of an enigma over the past year or two.   Air temps were very cold this AM, so I took my time and was on the water by 11:30 am.  A lot of boats were out - I think they were all perch fishing.  No word on the bite.  

There have been some excellent smelt runs on the Owasco tribs thus far this spring (during the warm spell we had.)  I started my laker search around creek mouths.  The problem was that the cold nights have the creeks spewing out very cold water - much colder than what would attract smelt and lakers.    So not surprisingly, I struck out there.   I marked a lot of bait (?) and possible lakers in the southern 1/3rd of the lake out from around 120' to 160' of water.  I'm almost certain that the baitfish were smelt.    If the marks were lakers, there were loads of them, but I'm skeptical of that.   I couldn't buy a hit on anything.  Fish didn't move for the jigs much at all - except maybe to avoid them!

I checked some of the usual winter/early spring areas where I generally mark alewives and lakers and didn't find much of anything!   It was very weird.    Surface temps are around 37.  I jigged using light tubes cast around shoreline structure - working out to 22' to 23' or more water.  I also worked 1 and 1 1/2 oz jigs in the depths out to around 170' - the deepest water I found.   Never had a touch!   I marked lakers but they were very negative today for me.  

Some interesting ecological things appear to be happening on Owasco Lake.   DEC netting this past summer showed more smelt than alewives.  I was skeptical of these findings - not that I doubt the DEC, because I don't, but simply because we've always marked plenty of alewives and never found smelt in laker stomachs here.  Keep in mind, that I've only fished Owasco Lake since 2002.    But I don't think I was marking many alewives today.  There were some, but they were scarce.   Alewives tend to show up as bait balls.  Occasionally I mark them stacked horizontally, but what I was marking today was all horizontal bait.   Charter Captains I've talked to have told me that smelt tend to "mark" horizontally.   They usually don't ball up significantly in a vertical manner from what I've heard.   Now I may be wrong on this.     From the DEC nettings and my observations today I have to believe that alewife numbers are very low on this lake.   I spent HOURS motoring through the depths from the south end all the way up to the north end and marked very little bait wise that appeared to be alewives - certainly no major schools.   I definitely marked some lakers from 100' on out.   But no major alewife schools.   It appears to me that a lot of lakers are feeding on smelt and these fish are concentrated in the southern 1/3rd or even 1/5th of the lake.    Of course, one person can only do so much.  It's possible that alewives were laying along the bottom of the lake or just in areas I didn't check out.  But over the past few years I've usually made an early trip out here and marked a lot of alewives deep around the Wykoff/Long Point area.  That area was pretty barebones, apart from a few laker marks.    

Smelt fed lakers - this could be interesting here.   Shades of Maine and the Adirondacks!   I think these lakers might get larger than alewive fed fish.   I'd also think the high smelt population here would keep natural laker recruitment down - which has been the case on Owasco for years.   I think Owasco is the only Finger Lake that has virtually zero wild lake trout.    Smelt movements will likely be different than alewife movements - since they have different temperature preferences.  Jigging may get harder too (we've worked hard for every jigged fish here over the past 2 to 3 years) though I'm sure we'll always have lakers on alewives here.   Alewives will likely bounce back soon as well, especially with the current lack of predators on this lake (there are walleyes and lakers, and very few rainbows/browns.)  I will be back here once water temps get into the mid to upper 40s.  Probably around mid to late April.   I don't plan on doing any laker jigging trips here until I figure out what's going on, and even then I may not!  We've had too many inordinately difficult trips here over the past 2 years.    Keuka, Cayuga and Seneca are all better bets for guided trips.  I'd rather do Canandaigua than Owasco at this point in time.  

Stay tuned - things will get interesting!  By the way - smelt fed pike get VERY BIG too.  So do walleyes....   

3/21/2010
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 3/21

The weather forecasts turned out to be dead wrong for this weekend.   Today was supposed to be cloudy with some rain, it turned out beautiful - mostly sunny with light N. winds.   I wasn't planning on fishing so I did some other things, but after driving up the lake from Ithaca and seeing the great weather/fishing conditions I figured better late than nothing at all, so I got the boat ready and trailered over to Taughannock  and was on the water at 4 pm.  I was the only boat trailer in the parking lot!   

I found some warm water off the mouth of Taughannock Creek and some other outflows.   I didn't have much success fly-fishing.   But eventually I hooked a big fish on a sinking line.   The fish got off after a short battle, but it was easy to tell it was a good one - probably in the 20" to 24" range, but one can never be sure.    Cayuga Lake has come up a bit, so launching is easy.   Water temps are mostly around 38/39, but I had 45 off the mouth of Taughannock.   Fish are around, but they seem scattered from what I've heard.   Some stable warm weather should concentrate what's out there.   Some BIG browns have been caught this winter and I'd imagine some very large salmon are around too. 

3/20/2010
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/20

Did a full-day trip with Mark I, who's fished with me on numerous occasions in the past.   We've had our share of tough fishing together and today was no exception.  It's very tough for Mark to pick his days since he's very busy with his work, so we often have to just go for it.   He's an avid fly-fisherman and excellent fly-caster - he's very perseverent too, which are the right ingredients for lake fly-fishing success.    I didn't think today had a lot of promise as a  landlocked salmon day due to the forecast cloudy conditions and lack of wind.  Ironically, the day turned out to be the opposite - we had sun, but the forecasted light westerlies morphed into a reality of 10 to 15 mph northerlies with gusts to 22 mph - not a great wind for the south end of the largest Finger Lake!  

Things started with promise as calm conditions turned into a light wind.  Within about 20 minutes of fishing Mark had a hit or two on the south end.   We worked the west shore - alongside probably 15 to 20 boats that were trolling.   Winds kicked up and we moved around a bit, trying a bunch of different things.  Eventually we wound up back on the west shore and Mark had a couple light grabs in a row.  Maybe a smallish salmon, who knows?   I watched Mark strip in a fly on a sinking line and saw a exceptionally clean, bright and large salmon beeline for his fly.   But the fish was too late, Mark was at the end of his retrieve and the fish turned around.   We fished both shores hard until the wind got even nastier, so we wound things up.  Water temps ranged from 39 to 46.   

An added note on fishing Landlocked Atlantic Salmon:    I've had a fair number of calls for these fish.   Keep in mind that fly-fishing and spincasting for landlocked salmon on Seneca, Cayuga and Skaneateles Lakes is not a "piece of cake" or sure bet.   I have yet to see another boat fly-fishing salmon on Seneca Lake!   Ever!    On some days, it feels like it is easy, but these fish are like steelhead - west coast steelies.  It takes a lot of persistence and a bit of luck to score.  My friend Mike and I put in a lot of hours over past winters (incl. this one.)  If we could catch one legal fish per person in every 4 hours, we'd be happy.  Our success rates are usually a lot lower when shore fishing in the winter.   And boat fishing can be tough too.   A great day on Seneca can really make up for things, but keep in mind - this isn't laker fishing.  These fish have fins and they use them!  They move a lot both horizontally and vertically and their activity levels change frequently.   We've got a lot of great salmon action ahead of us this spring - but if you must have action, and lots of it - there are going to be a lot of days when laker jigging or something else would be your best bet.  Impatient?   Forget salmon fishing with the exception of days with the best conditions.   

3/19/2010
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/19
We had fun fly-fishing Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen for Landlocked Salmon today.   We didn't do as well as last Thursday, but the fishing was good.  The sporadic and at times non-existent wind hurt the fishing today.   Water temps are rising and up around 40 degrees.  The south end had upwards of 46.   Fish are scattered around the perimeter of the lake.   Smelt patterns cast on intermediate, Type 3 sinking lines and a Rio Deep 7 produced action for us.   I landed one fish around 20" and missed a half dozen hits.  My buddy Mike did better, landing 3 nice fish including a fish just under 5lbs at 24 1/4".    They are predominantly feeding on young of the year alewives.   The high point of the day was watching a school of what appeared to be at least 50 to 70 salmon in the 16" to 18" range swim under the boat!   It was like seeing perch!  Just unbelievable.  As mentioned before, this strain of salmon schools heavily - they probably are with the same group of fish they were stocked with!    Perch fishing was reportedly slow today.
3/12/2010
Seneca out of Watkins 3/12

I'd just detached my boat and secured the cover on it last night when I got a call from Doug, who has a place on Seneca Lake and has been interested in getting out to learn some of the fishing opportunities and patterns.    So I uncovered the boat, re-hitched it and prepared for the kick-off trip of my 2010 guide season.  

More south winds, reasonable temps and no rain till late in the day sounded like a pretty sure bet for some good salmon action on Seneca.  But never underestimate the mysteries of fishing!  Especially on Seneca Lake.    I picked up Doug at his dock around 8:30 am with light rain and dark skies.   A few boats were out trolling and perch fishing.   I had Doug work a lot of good areas with spoons, stickbaits and a jig, starting where we left off yesterday.   We couldn't buy a hit or a follow!  Very difficult fishing.   Trollers did pick up some fish - though quite a few 13"ers from what I was told.   Water temps didn't change, but the lack of sun and large flume of mud from Catherine's Creek certainly impacted the fishing.  We tried a lot of areas - pretty much everything I could think of, without any sign of fish.   Most boats (incl. perch guys) were off the lake by 1 pm, if not earlier.  So I think fishing was pretty slow all the way around.   There are loads of baitfish in upwards of 300' of water on this lake now!    I also marked some lakers, but I felt the best bet for our 1/2 day was to stick with the salmon fishing.   

3/11/2010
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/11

The Seneca Lake fish Gods were very good to me and my buddy Mike today.  Fly-fishing for landlocked salmon is my favorite type of fishing to do.  Same with Mike - and he spent at least 6 summers in Alaska!   We've spent quite a few days this past winter trying various shore spots (that I don't mention due to privacy issues) and out in the boat - with fairly poor results.   January's trip on Seneca with the boat frozen to the trailer and both floating off the ramp was pretty typical.   We've paid our dues.  BTW - Trollers have been catching a lot of salmon all winter on Seneca and some guys have reported 40 to 50 fish days.   These fish school heavily and feed recklessly, so it's possible, but to me the fun of salmon fishing is feeling the rock hard hit, then fighting the fish as they go crazy with jumps and wild runs.  

Things will get interesting over the next decade as the State switches salmon strains.  These Little Clear Lake strain fish have a tendency to school heavily - they don't disperse very well.  So oftentimes when you find one, you might find a dozen or a few dozen or even more.   The new strain - I think Sebagos, originally from Maine do not school quite as heavily from what I've read.   So we'll see what happens.  I like the Little Clears - they've done quite well.    

We picked up a few salmon in the morning in around 50' to 60' of water.   A month ago a lot of them were out over 100' to 150'.    My bionic smelt fly did the trick.  We used intermediate and sinking fly-lines with the Intermediates producing the best results.   We worked some different areas then I hooked a nice fish around 20".   After landing the fish we saw a few more swim by!   Schools in!   After that we were treated to hours of top notch fly-fishing for salmon up to 23".    I think we landed 15 or 16 nice fish and missed/lost another 20 or more.  It was fantastic - a lot of fun.   The fish were feeding heavily on young of the year alewives along with some older ones.   We each kept one fish for dinner.   3 fish came in with small lampreys attached to them.  The lampreys are Seneca Lake's Number 1 problem.  Salmon seem to thrive here and do better year in and year out than in Cayuga, which appears to be boom or bust over the past decade.  But Cayuga's lampreys are under control.  Treatments have been carried out on Seneca recently - hopefully they'll show results over the next few years.  

Water temps were generally around 39, but we actually found some water over 53 degrees!  No luck fishing it though.   Some anglers were picking up perch.    

2/4/2010
Cayuga/Taughannock Shorefishing 2/4
I got out for an hour today in my waders and worked around the park.   Two boats were out trolling as well.  I never had a hit.  Water levels are low.   I talked to one troller and he had talked to the other one.  Neither boat caught fish, but the one hardy fisherman I talked to mentioned having done well on Cayuga this season, catching some good salmon.    It was nice to "clear the cobwebs" and do some casting.   As the days get longer (and perhaps warmer) I expect to be out more often.  Thus far it's been a relaxing off-season - I've been enjoying myself doing some non-fishing related activities.   But I can hear the water calling me...  ;-)  
1/17/2010
Cayuga out of Taughannock 1/17
My buddy Mike wanted to get his Lund in the water to make sure everything was running well.  I joined him for some laker jigging.   We had pike and salmon gear with us, but the conditions looked much better for lakers, so we headed north.   Around AES we marked scattered fish from around 117' out to 152'.  I'm sure as always fish were shallower and deeper, but most showed up from 130' to 140'.    Mike had the first hit.  Then I hooked a solid fish - 27" and in good condition.  I used a 1 1/2 oz fishhead jig with a BPS white flipping tube just threaded on.   After that we got hits but had trouble hooking the fish.   I generally avoid trailer hooks - due to the numbers of lakers we often catch and the mussels on the lake bottom, but for lethargic winter fish they may be in order.    Anyways, Mike had a good hit and set into a nice laker but it got off.   The wind started coming up around 1 pm and we got a good drift and were getting faint hits (I really needed to pay close attention, else I wouldn't have noticed any hits.)    At 2 pm we decided to try some salmon fly-fishing.  We didn't have any action - but I wasn't surprised with the wind conditions.    Once we get the right weather, the fishing should be good for salmon - we'll see.   H20 was around 40.   A few boats were out trolling.    Lake levels are low.  
1/14/2010
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 1/14

There are good reasons to fish in the winter and there are good reasons not to fish.  My first really accomplished fishing buddy Terry didn't care to keep his boat out all winter - he winterized his.   Not a bad call sometimes.  

My buddy Mike and I arrived at Watkins at around 9:15 am with 21 degree air temps.  The skies were sunny and the wind was light out of the south.  We took our time getting the boat ready.  As we prepared to launch Dave Wood (who runs open bass tournaments during the summer) pulled in and said hi.  He launched ahead of us without too many problems - a little skidding on the ramp was about it.  

We tried launching around 9:30 but my boat was frozen on my trailer bunks!   I backed in far enough to literally float my trailer (that's just how frozen it was) with no luck.  After 10 to 12 minutes of trying, Mike finally shook the boat off the trailer.  The ramp had a little ice on it, which made for some scary moments, though it really wasn't that bad.

Lesson #1:  Make sure to bring a shovel (that can break ice) and some sand or salt to the boat launch.    A buddy also helps, so the boat can be rocked off the bunks.

Once launching I warmed up the motor a bit and eventually the water started spewing out of the frozen water jet.   Good.

We headed up the lake with beautiful conditions.  It was worth it after all!   We set up in deep water (around 200') with our fly-rods and drifted up the lake.   Fly-fishing landlocked salmon in 200' of water, far away from any structure is a leap of faith.  You just "gotta believe."   And I do.  I believe I can look at the water with confidence that we'll run into some salmon.   And within 10 minutes I had a good hit.   Although our hands were freezing (it was still around 21 or maybe 24 degrees out, with wind and we wore no gloves) the fish gave us some energy.  

The fish didn't come back, but 10 or 20 minutes later Mike felt a grab and kept stripping - "fish on!"   Then his line broke and I watched a gorgeous chrome landlocked salmon around 23" to 24" long and maybe 4lbs or better careen into the air.   We weren't sure why the 10lb test leader broke - maybe knot fatigue, wear or just bad timing on the hook set.   Our predicted 5 to 7 mph south winds cranked up to around 10 to 15 mph with higher gusts.   We tried another drift but it was getting hard to strip the flies in fast enough - esp. given that my fly-line was tangling a bit.   We tried another area, somewhat out of the wind and I had one follow.  But we had no grabs.  Time flew by and before long we only had a couple hours left and headed back to spot #1.   I got hit again, but didn't hook up.  Hit twice actually.   We drifted a couple more times and I got hit again and again - out over 210' of water - but I just couldn't connect.  The fish weren't coming back and I wasn't hooking them for some reason.   Mike used a smaller fly with a hook in the back (a tube fly.)  I used large streamers and a RIO Deep 7 sinking flyline.   A switch to a smaller streamer didn't help.  Color didn't seem to matter - fish hit white and chartreuse.  

So it wound up being a fun day - we had some action (enough to keep us fishing hard) but no fish landed.   Such is the life of a lake fishing salmon addict.   Water temps were 40 degrees.  We saw 2 other boats out there (total) on the day.   We'll be back!

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