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12/30/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 12/30

Launched out of Myers for what will probably be one of the last times of this fishing season.  Things were starting to freeze up over there.    We checked out a couple areas for salmon - actually mostly gear fishing instead of fly-fishing, though I did throw the flies for a bit.   Had one follow from a decent salmon in an area I don't normally fish much on the east shore, so we were happy with that.   My buddy Mike worked some deep jigs.

We switched up to pike fishing and found generally cold and muddy water, along with plenty of duck hunters around the southern parts of Cayuga Lake.   One tried 'n true area yielded a clean 26" fish for Mike on a double-bunny fly and a clean 34" fish for me on a clouser minnow and floating line.    We saw a big brown or salmon with an attached lamprey jump and try to (maybe) shake it off, we're not sure what the motive was for the jump - but that's our guess.  

We had to break some ice to get out of Myers - fortunately another boater took care of most of it.   It should be launchable over there throughout the weekend.  We saw one troller catch a smallish, maybe legal salmon.   Water temps ranged from 40 on the south end to around 43 elsewhere.  Water level is low.

12/15/2011
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 12/14

Got out with my buddy Mike today from dusk to dawn.  We started at first light trying to get back into the perch we'd found Monday.   The bite was slow-steady but we managed around a dozen good perch.   Fish were deep - up to around 78 fow.   We used assorted plastics for bait.     

We set up on some fly-fishing once the conditions looked good and the perch bite faltered.   Both of us had follows from nice sized salmonids - we're pretty sure they were browns.   We each landed a very small salmon or two (10" to 11" range.)   Mike wound up landing a 19" brown on a sinking line and his Kingfish tube fly pattern.   We didn't have time to work too many areas.

Once the skies started clouding up and it was clear the salmon bite wasn't great we set back up on our perch.  We wound up with another dozen - some very nice ones.     Special thanks goes out to one of my clients, who is a real perch fanatic on the lake and gave me some great tips and advice.   I've learned a lot from him and from being on the water in the few times I've tried working them this fall.   Other folks have helped too.   It's not something I'll ever guide for, but it does add another dimension to Seneca Lake fishing and it's nice to get some good eating on occasion.   

I'm still guiding and from here throughout the winter the targets will be as follows:

Lake Trout on Cayuga and Keuka Lakes.  Once launches freeze up I'll go out of Taughannock and work the flats/shelves around AES, but right now prime lake trout areas are available via Long Point's launch.  Keuka is the place for numbers, Cayuga for size!  Seneca is possible if launches are open.

Northern Pike on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes.  Expect some good pike fishing through February.

Landlocked Salmon and bonus Brown Trout on Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.    You can cast or use fly-fishing tackle for these spectacular fish. 

Rainbow Trout on Skaneateles Lake.   Fly-fishing or via casting small jigs.  Mandana will be the launch site once the State Ramp is closed. 

12/13/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 12/13

Guided Terry and his son Derrick for 1/2 day starting around 12:40 pm.   The target was salmon with pike as a back up.   The original plan was to start early, but we had to change it.   I had a lot of trepidation about this trip due to the weather forecast - it was perfect for laker jigging, but not salmon or pike.  We decided to give it a try anyways.

We gave the salmon about 2 hours with no sign of them.   Pike didn't go much better, though Derrick had a hit and stung one for a second.   Water temps are around 45/46.   My buddy Mike jigged lakers further north around Levanna and had some very good fishing down 120' to 140'.     Derrick has a place on the lake and the guys should be able to put some of the tactics we worked today to good use in the future.

12/12/2011
Seneca Lake out of Watkins 12/12

Got out with my buddy Mike starting at 11 am fly-fishing landlocked salmon.   Water temps are around 45 degrees.   We had some salmon encounters today, but I'm pretty sure most were small.   Mike hooked a good fish around 4lbs and dropped it after a short battle.   I landed a dink.   I think that they are gradually getting set up and I expect better fishing by the week.  Stay tuned.

We did spend a little time perch fishing at last light and caught a half dozen nice ones.    Water levels are low.  Boat traffic was light.  

12/5/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 12/5

Got out with my buddy Mike for a little pike fishing today.   With the shorter days, every time out fishing feels like "a little fishing."   I never see time move as fast as it does in November and December. 

Good day for pike "on paper" but not a great day of catching - but certainly not terrible either.   We started around 10 am and fished till dark (4:45 pm.)   The fly-fishing bite was tough.   Mike had a follow of a big pike - a likely 34"+ fish that didn't hit.  He also came up with a scale.    I never had any definite hits fly-fishing.   I worked a spoon for a bit and landed a couple fish around 30" to 32" and a pickerel.   I lost a couple decent pike too - likely in the low 30s range.   We missed the early AM window, but fished into the evening which is usually pretty sure-fire.   Water temps are cooling - we had 43 to 45 degrees through much of the lake's southern portions.    I have a few ideas re: what we need to do and will address them in the following weeks. 

12/4/2011
Skaneateles Lake 12/4 out of Mandana

The preliminary forecasts called for a nice day today, but by yesterday AM the forecast had turned to windy, very windy out of the south!    I probably should have stayed home today, but the thought of spending another 50 degree day in December on Skaneateles Lake was too enticing.   My buddy Chris and I drove up to Mandana in some strong winds and were met with whitecaps and gusts upwards of 25 mph.  

The launch at Mandana isn't great.   Thankfully Chris wore his waders.   We got the boat off the trailer but it was tough.   I had to back in a long ways and the dock is a bit away from the ramp.    The run south was nasty!   It took a long time and the further south we went, the nastier the wind got.   The lake was as rough as I've seen it with southerlies.   Water temps are around 46.   It felt good to set up and I had us as far south as possible.  We did a drift for some pickerel and perch.  I caught one fair sized pickerel and a small perch or two.

One thing that makes the Skaneateles Lake watershed so beautiful is the sheer amount of forest cover.   But crank up the wind like it was today and the edges of the lake become veritable leaf blowers - spewing debris along the shorelines.   The amount of leaves in the water made fly-fishing for rainbows a low percentage option.   If 4 out of 5 of my casts result in a leaf-fouled fly, what's the point?    So it was a tough day.  We worked jigs and Chris caught some jumbo perch and I caught a nice bass and a nice perch.   Despite the nasty winds,  the day still whizzed by.  Before we knew it, the time was 3 pm.  We'd been out 5 hours and it felt like 2!  We fished till dark.

Getting the boat back on the trailer was tough, but thankfully Chris was able to wade.   The State Launch is open and the dock is likely still in, but we felt it was better to launch at Mandana, rather than run an extra 3 miles on the white-cap laden lake.

11/28/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 11/28
Guided Mark for the full day fly-fishing northern pike.   The pike fishing starting out good with Mark landing two beauties - a 37" and 33" if I remember right.   Then he lost a big one and had another good fish chase his streamer to the boat.    A fish around 27" rounded things off.   I had Mark try a little fly-fishing for salmon with no luck, but the weather/wind conditions weren't the best.   Lake temp is around 48.   Floating and Type 6 full-sinking lines did the trick with clouser minnows and deceiver flies fished respectively.
11/27/2011
Fishing Reports 11/25 - 11/27

This nice weather has kept me guiding and on the water enjoying some angling of my own.  Here's how things went:

11/25  Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport:   Guided Staffan (who didn't fish) and his 9 and 11 year old boys, Felix and Fabian respectively.    The weather forecast was for strong south winds, so I launched out of the Motel at Hammondsport.   It's $10 a pop, but better than making a long run from the Branchport Arm.

Laker action was quite good today and the boys managed to land 5 nice fish.  They missed plenty.   The action has been very hot on this lake with some fishermen landing terrific numbers of fish.  But it was important for me to ensure that the boys had a good time and could detect bottom.   Fish are still feeding on this lake and still in spawn mode with plenty of pre and post spawn fish to be had.  Water temps are in the upper 40s here.  

11/26  Skaneateles Lake:   Fished with my buddy Mike in his Lund.   We fly-fished rainbows to start and we each hooked and lost one using the usual intermediate fly-lines and woolly buggers.   We landed 3 lakers on the fly as well as a perch.   Perch fishing was OK with us landing over 1/2 dozen big perch - 13" to 14"+ fish along with some dinks.   We also encountered a school of nice smallmouths on hair jigs.   They were in around 32' of water.    Lakers were also in the "gear fishing mix."    Good day with beautiful weather for this time of year.  Not the best fishing weather, but nice weather to be out in.  One dock remains in and plenty of anglers were using it!   Shore fishers were catching a few rainbows at Lourdes Camp.

11/27  Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen:   Guided regular clients Ron and his son Matt for the full day today.  Pike fishing started out good with Ron landing a 30" northern on his 2nd or 3rd cast.   Another fish followed with some hits/misses.   We tried a bunch of different areas but only found a concentration in one.    A few more fish came to the boat on spoons and swimbaits for a total of around 6 or 7 pike landed.  Not great but not bad fishing.   Tried a little salmon casting without luck.   Water level is somewhat low and temps range from 46 to 48 degrees.    My buddy Mike picked up a couple nice rainbows on Skaneateles Lake today fly-fishing.   There's plenty of great fishing to be had in the region!  Enjoy the weather while it lasts! 

11/24/2011
Skaneateles Lake 11/24

Got out for what has become an annual Thanksgiving Day pilgramage to Skaneateles Lake.   Some people like to hunt on Thanksgiving, others like to lay around, eat and watch football - I like to fish.     My intents were to work some areas I've picked up a few perch at in the past and get more familiar with them.   I'm also working some areas that have been inconsistent and I'm trying to get a better grip on them.  Why aren't they as good as my blue chip areas?    When would they be?

I fumbled (football speak for the day) some good fish today.   I couldn't help but bring a fly-rod today and try for some rainbows for a couple hours.   Even though I guide a lot, I'm not fishing all that much, so I do feel a bit rusty.   My casting was fine, but I wasn't quite ready for the first (rainbow) hit I got and I missed the fish.   The next hit I never felt - I saw a fish jump, tried to hook it and before I knew it, the fish had ran like a steelhead upwind from my boat.  I stripped in line as fast as I could but wound up losing the fish.   Then I had a big rainbow follow in my bugger but not hit it.

Perch fishing was what I generally see on this lake this time of year.   Scattered BIG perch, but no real concentrations of them.   I was really impressed with one of the half dozen nice fish I caught and went to measure it. It wiggled and flopped out of my hand back into the water.   Oh well.   I then hooked a nice lake trout on a tube jig and the fish surfaced shaking its head.  Next thing I know, my jig flew back and whacked me in the chest.   Just one of those days.  

Water temp was 48/49.   Now's rainbow trout time - whether fly-fishing or casting gear!    Expect some salmon around too.   The average perch I'm getting is around 12" now with some fish pushing 14 to 15".    Nice smallmouths are still hitting - it'll all be catch and release after 11/30.  

11/21/2011
Skaneateles Lake 11/20

Fished with my buddy Mike for the day.   Water temps are finally into the 40s - at 49 degrees.   One other boat, likely perch fishing launched out of the State Ramp today.   We tried a lot of different stuff today.  We caught some nice bass on hair jigs and tubes, as well as some sizeable perch.   No great numbers, but enough for a nice couple meals.   

Today was a weird day in terms of the weather.   We had good southerlies to start, then the winds diminished, came out of the WNW, then strong out of the north, then they diminished again as the front came through.   Currents remained from out of the south, which made for weird drifting - the boat was often stationary and current and wind played havoc with my boat control.  

We encountered some nice trout today - follows and momentary hookups.  No good hookups, but we'll come back targeting them.  But they are inshore now and within easy casting and fly-fishing range. 

11/21/2011
Keuka Lake out of Keuka Lake State Park/Branchport 11/21

Guided past client Dave and his friends Mike and Jake today for around 6 hours.   It was cold this AM!  Very cold.    The first thing we noticed at the launch was that the water is currently very low. A couple of the boat trailer "stops" that prevent trailers from backing over the concrete launch slab are out of place - having been moved by trailers.  Worse yet, there's an exposed bolt just waiting to be driven over.  So be careful around the State Park launch and look before you leap.  

Water temps are finally dropping below the 50 degree mark.  We had 49 degrees on Keuka today.   There are tons of fish around Branchport and at the Bluff, among other areas.  The bite was slow steady today (when compared to usual fall fishing here.)   But we ended up doing pretty well with over 13 nice fish landed up to 26".    Fish are still feeding and we had good fishing from around 85' out to 115'.    We were the only boat that launched out of the State Park while we were there today.  Fun day with a good bite on plastics and spoons.

11/18/2011
Skaneateles Lake 11/18

Guided my friend Eric and his dad David for a full day starting around 9 am.  It was COLD out this AM!   Cold!   We were the only boat on the lake all day long - not a single other rig was in at the State Launch and we didn't see anyone downlake.  

Fishing wasn't easy today.  We started with some strong winds out of the west and plenty of chop along with boat control that wasn't the easiest.   But the fishing was good.   David started things off on his 2nd cast with a picture perfect 17" rainbow trout that jumped and put up a nice battle.   Around 1/2 dozen big perch followed along with a dozen sizeable smallmouth bass to 17".    Trying some different areas produced two more nice rainbows to 21" - one a colorful male and the other a silver beauty.   A couple lakers were also in the mix.   Best lures were the usual green pumpkin tube jigs (1/4 oz head) and olive hair jigs in 1/8 oz.  I also like throwing 1/16 oz jigs, but they can be tougher to fish with.  The sun was out and the wind eventually diminished, but it never warmed up much today.  

Water temp was 50 degrees.   The water level was good.  One dock remains in - which is very convenient and my hat goes off to the State (again this year) for that.   I can "walk the tightrope" on the cement dock structure, but it's a major hassle and many guys love late fall fishing on this lake - so leaving a dock in makes sense.   With the warm falls we've had it makes more sense than ever!

11/15/2011
Owasco Lake 11/15 PM

I had a few hours to fish after my classes today so I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and trailer over to Owasco Lake - which is now only around a 30 minute drive for me.   Over the past 8 or 9 years I've typically launched out of the North end of the lake at Emerson Park, but now I'm much closer to the lake and the "Moravia end" in particular.   I'm taking advantage of my new location and working hard on learning the south end of the lake better.

I'm not a big fan of sunny, warm days in November for bass/pike fishing.  Laker action can be great, but today was calm like glass and I knew things could be tough.   On calm days on clear lakes I take advantage of my eyesight.  It's a great time to observe the bottom of the lake and weed edges and formations.   I learned a lot today - I found some good pike areas and some promising summertime smallmouth haunts.   The coontail has set up beautifully on the lake's south end and I expect plenty of pike on the right days.   I was hoping for a walleye today but had no luck.  I worked hair and tube jigs primarily.  I landed a small pike, lost one, was bitten off by one and that was pretty much it.   I had what was likely a nice largemouth bass grab a Superfluke in shallow water.  Plenty of perch were around and trying to eat my tubejig.  There's also a ton of bait on the lake's south end.   I will be back here soon once I get some wind and I know the fishing will be better.  I was the only boat I saw on the south end of the lake and the only one that launched out of the marina this afternoon.

Water level is low and temps are still hanging around 51 degrees.   I can't believe how warm the lakes are.  

11/14/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 11/14

Fished a full day with Tony (from 10/21) targeting pike.   We had stellar fishing 3 weeks ago and were hoping for a repeat.   We started at 6:30 am.   For once the weather forecasters were wrong in a positive way - the forecast 20 to 30 mph southerly gusts never materialized.    The weather looked perfect for pike - light winds, occasional rain and overcast.   Tony scored on a couple large Cayuga fish - a 36" and 37"er, as well as a 24"er - all on spoons.   He lost one solid pike and landed a smallmouth on a jerkbait.   The pike were not hitting aggressively - they were hooked lightly. 

Water temperatures have dropped rapidly around creek mouths and along the southern end of Cayuga Lake.   We had temps as low as 43 degrees today, and plenty of 46 to 48 degree water.  The main lake is around 50/51 degrees right now.   I had Tony take a few casts with a white jig around Taughannock Creek.  He hooked a smallish salmon - around 14", so they are around.   Not easy fishing today, but the size of the pike made up for it - just beautiful lunker fish.     

11/12/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point State Park 11/12

Did a laker jigging trip with Tom and his friend Tom.   Tom has a place on Cayuga Lake and has been working on some laker jigging over the past few seasons with mixed results.   The goal today was to learn the technique's fine points and try to catch some fish.   The catching could have been better today.   I liked the sun in the forecast, but the "winds gusting to 30 mph out of the south" didn't appeal to me much.   But we figured we could dodge the winds with an early start, and by motoring N. of Stony Point.   The winds were mild N. of the point for about 5 minutes this AM!   Within short order they were cranking and we had cold and rough conditions.  

I did the best with boat control I could but things were hard today.   Fish are really scattering with laker friendly temperatures throughout the water column.   There are lakers in 85' and lakers in 140'.   My depthfinder works best at slow motoring speeds, but with the chop we had, not getting on plane results in soaked anglers.  Despite all this,  Tom managed to hook a fish as we were drifting.  It got off, but was a start.   Another fish was missed.  Finding and staying on bottom was a challenge today with the depth and drift.

The winds actually diminished a bit and we were able to work out deeper.   Eventually Tom hooked and landed a fat laker around 23" that we kept.  It was loaded with alewives - maybe 6 of them in its stomach.   Perhaps the fish fed during the full moon phase over the past couple days - I don't know.  But we wound up marking quite a few fish and having very little luck with them.  One or two salmon were chasing and hitting jigs lightly too.   Water temp was 53.   My buddy Mike fished pike with his nephew further south and they had fairly tough fishing as well, landing 3 nice ones.   

11/9/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 11/9
Guided Alan today for around 6 hours.   He wanted to try some pike and bass fishing.   Pike fishing was OK first thing in the morning.  He had a couple follows and managed to land a solid 31.5" northern on a Silly Rabbit swimbait.   We switched up to bass fishing and the jerkbait fishing (White X-Rap) was very good for smallmouth bass with Al landing 3 nice fish, losing a solid one by the boat and having some other follows.  He also had a big pike follow him in (which is why I always run TyGer Wire leaders on my jerkbait setups in pike/pickerel/musky waters.)  Water temps are around 51.   Downright gorgeous day out on the water!  
11/7/2011
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 11/7
Launched out of Keuka State Park at 8 am for a full day trip with Tom and Dominic.   Fishing was a little slow to start with plenty of bait and some lakers around but a tentative bite.   As the sun came out the fishing picked up and the guys did very well landing 11 nice fish up to around 23".   Chartreuse swim baits on 1 oz. jig heads did the trick fishing from around 85' to 120' deep.   Most lakers are still pre-spawn on Keuka Lake.   Expect good to excellent fishing throughout November.    We kept our limit and called it a day around 2 pm.   Beautiful day and next to nobody out on the lake!  Water temps were around 52.
11/6/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs 11/6

Guided regular client Greg today for the full day targeting largemouth bass and chain pickerel.   We started just after 7:30 am with strong winds out of the south.   Water temps were at 50 degrees.   Winds were likely gusting into the upper teens and the waves were over 2' and kicking up plenty of mud.   I was able to find some relatively calm areas and set up a drift with my drift sock.   Fishing was tough, but Greg managed a keeper sized (released) largemouth and pickerel.   Greg insisted that I fish a bit and I also managed a decent bass.  

I'm not a fan of guides fishing while working.   I feel a guide's energy should be focused on the client.   You wouldn't expect an accountant to be doing his own personal accounting while charging you as he works on your taxes.   I don't feel right about being paid to fish.   I'd be ticked off if I were after trophy pike and my guide caught a lunker that I could've and should've caught - anyways you get the point.   But Greg often insists I fish.  He likes to see how I work lures and feels he can learn more by watching me, rather than having me try to explain things to him.   So I tried a few different tactics.   A Chatterbait yield a monster 21" largemouth that was likely 5 3/4lbs or more.  It was bleeding slightly after being hooked somewhat deep, so I didn't want to weigh it.   I handed Greg the Chatterbait setup and he promptly caught a nice 17" bass and a few pickerel.  

The rest of the day was just good to great fall fishing!   We had hits on spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, swimbaits, swim jigs, jerkbaits and probably our favorite - tube jigs.  Best fishing was from 7' to 14' of water.   Tons of pickerel and plenty of largemouths - from 10" dinks up to 17" chunks were hitting.  Perch were following too.   Towards the end of the day I was wrapping things up and Greg nailed a 17" largemouth on a tube jig then hooked a really big fish that ran a while then broke him off in the weeds.  Likely a BIG northern pike!    Great day and not atypical fall fishing in the FINGER LAKES!

BTW - A lot of guys love chasing smallmouth bass in the late fall - and rightfully so, the smallmouth fishing can be great.  Many tournaments are geared towards smallies (e.g. clubs might launch out of Taughannock on Cayuga Lake.)  But I often find that the largemouth bass fishing is also really super this time of the year - for numbers and lunkers!

11/5/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 11/5

Guided Keane and his 13 year old son Jesse for 1/2 day lake trout jigging.   Jesse had won the Bass Pro Shops sponsored trip at an outdoor show last spring and the original Charter Service couldn't do it, so I received an invite from BPS and accepted.   Keane told me he wanted to see Jesse catch a good fish.   Jesse hadn't fished from a boat before and had never caught lakers in openwater before.   Jigging Cayuga Lake looked like the best option for the guys, who weren't up for driving much from where they live.

I've done some November jigging for lakers on Cayuga Lake, but not a lot.   Usually I move my "operation" over to Keuka Lake or target different species.  As much fun as jigging is, pike, rainbow trout and salmon fishing pick up in November and I like the change of pace.   Bottom line is that I was looking forward to seeing how the bite was.   I like sunny days in the fall for laker fishing and today was going to be sunny and calm.

Things looked good on my fishfinder - there are currently plenty of scattered fish from Long Point on north.   Fish were moving for the jigs from the get-go and I knew it was a matter of time before we connected.   Jesse landed his first and second lake trout within an hour and a half or so.   Typical 18" non-spawning fish.    Then Keane landed a 23"er.   But none of us were expecting what came next  - Jesse's rod doubled over as a large fish dug under the boat.   After a strong battle - one in which Jesse had a tough time reeling, I slid the net under the 33" large laker.   That fish was "mission accomplished" and made the day.   The guys caught a few more afterwards too.

Best depths were from around 75' to 100'.  There were fish deeper, but we stuck with the shallower fish.   Bait is likely deeper now - we didn't mark much.   The bite was tentative - not great, mostly on and off with fish semi-aggressive.  Fun day.

11/4/2011
Skaneateles Lake 11/4

Guided the Hermans today for around 6 hours.   It was chilly out with 5 to 10 mph north winds to start.   By our quitting time around 2 pm the winds were in the 8 to 12 mph plus range.   Water temps are 4 to 5 degrees warmer than usual for early November - they range from 54 to 55 degrees.   

We worked the mid-depths - 15' to 25' of water.    Hairjigs produced a couple lake trout in the 17" to 18.5" range, some decent perch, a smallmouth and a rainbow around 17" long before we called it a day.   The fishing can be tricky, but the Hermans did a good job getting a feel for it.    They missed a fair number of hits.   One nice trout followed in a stickbait - it may have been a big male rainbow.  

Shore fishermen with worms and marshmallows report slower fishing this week with the warmer nearshore temps.   There are rainbows within casting range of shore.    Docks are still in.   

I was going to fish for awhile after my trip, but after I launched my boat I noticed my passenger side inner-bearing seal had blown out, so I spent 45 minutes swapping hubs.   Not my idea of fun, but carrying spare hubs with pre-greased bearing already installed makes trailering a boat much more relaxing and less aggravating when there's a bearing problem.    It's much easier to swap out a hub than it is to re-do bearings!

11/3/2011
Owasco Lake 11/2

Got out with my friend and swimming buddy Chris for a day of fishing starting around 7:30 am.   We launched out of the south end marina - a very nice launch btw!   I'd never launched there before and was impressed.   The goal was to try to ascertain the pike bite a bit, then spend some time working some areas I need to learn better and wind up with some laker jigging.   The pike fishing was fair - kind of what I expected given the sunny clear day.   We wound up landing around 1/2 dozen northerns.   Average fish ran around 26" with nothing over 27" and a couple under.   The pike look fair - I wouldn't say they are in great condition.   Some had growths on their skin and others were skinny.    We used spoons, swimbaits and stickbaits and all produced.   We found a couple good areas that were unlikely pike spots but produced fish.

We managed to land a couple bass - both a largemouth and a smallmouth, some perch and one bonus 26" lake trout that came on an alewife tube jig.    A couple other boats were on the lake - both very good tournament bass fisherman.  One angler we talked to landed several chunky walleyes and some very nice bass too.   There are still plenty of walleyes in this lake, though they aren't easy most of the time.  (The bass angler we spoke to fishes the lake every year in the fall for a few days and yesterday was the first time he'd encountered any walleyes.)

Water temps are in the low 50s.  Quite warm for this time of year.   I tried a favorite point for lakers and although we marked a few and had some light hits, the numbers of fish were greatly reduced from 10/23.   I think a lot of spawning has been completed.    

10/30/2011
Lake Ontario/Chaumont Region 10/29

After our great smallmouth bass fishing earlier in October, Mike and I were chomping at the bit to get back to Chaumont.   The plan was to spend two days there last week, but things didn't work out schedule-wise, so we decided one day in late October would be better than nothing.  

Water temps were still in the low 50s - from 51 to 53 degrees.   Air temps were very cold - we had temps near freezing as we drove up.   The whole region up there is lifeless around this time.  Very few cars driving around, next to nobody out on the water - it's clearly the offseason in North country.    It was sunny and fairly calm to start and I felt comfortable in just a fleece, down vest and the usual jeans and long underwear.  That didn't last for long.   We started around 9:45 am right where we left off last time.  We tried shallow then worked out.   Sure enough, our same depth range - 10' to 12' was best, likely due to the craggy boulders and dark bottom below us.  Mike missed a hit or two that he was pretty sure weren't gobies.   I then felt a hit on a tube jig and set the hook into a large smallmouth.  It jumped 4 to 5 times before Mike slipped the net under it - a 19" pig that dropped my Tech scale down to 4lbs 11oz!   First fish is close to a 5lb smallmouth!   Mike then hooked up with a "Chaumont Dink" - a 17" fish that was probably 3.5!    Our weather conditions changed a bit and the bite stopped for us.   Winds shifted and sun turned to clouds.   We tried some different tactics, but couldn't hook up.  

The next few hours were spent checking out some different areas.   We found some promising looking areas and I might have had a couple light hits on a jerkbait.  But the elements were bearing down on us - we had clouds and increasing winds and chop.   I don't think either of us have adjusted into the cold water fishing mode quite yet.   But we worked different tactics pretty hard till around 5:45 then called it a day.    We worked out to around 25' of water.  My guess is that the majority of smallmouths are on deep (30' on out) structure now.  We weren't able to fish any of it yesterday. 

10/24/2011
Owasco Lake 10/23

My website designer master Jason is making things a little easier to navigate on the reports portion of this site.   Somehow my original report for Sunday's trip disappeared.  So here it is:

10/23:  Guided Greg for a full day on Owasco starting just after 8 am.   We started with northern pike on the southern part of the lake.   Fishing was pretty good - Greg landed a couple fish in the mid-upper 20s inch range.   He had a few other hits and follows.   White swimbaits did the trick.  The weed growth looks fantastic down there - lots of lush green coontail beds.   There should be quite a few pike and bass down there.

Lots of perch are active in shallow water surrounding the lake.    Lake trout fishing was fantastic - great jigging action on spawning points.   Greg nailed 14 nice ones in around 2 hours and there were loads of them around.   Fish ran from 22" to around 26"+.   Many have already spawned and some are pre-spawn and likely spawning.    Plenty of baitfish are around.

Bass fishing was tough for us.  We gave it a couple hours during what I thought would be the best time of the day.   We marked what were likely bass from around 20' to 35' of water.   No grabs on them.    Water temps are around 58 degrees.   Expect good to great fishing throughout November.  

10/22/2011
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 10/22
Guided Tom, Ryan and Michael for a 1/2 day AM trip.  In a nutshell, the lake trout jigging bite was excellent with the guys landing nearly 30 fish!   Tom was the only one of the bunch who'd jigged this style before.    Water temps are around 58/59.   We only saw a couple other boats out on the water.   Fish ran 17" to 23" long.   Fall colors are peaking!   Great day on the water.   80' to 90' was excellent.   Plastics - namely white Shakers and chartreuse Inshore Angler (Bass Pro Shops) and Lunker City swimbaits did the trick.   Fish are feeding fairly heavily and there's a good amount of bait around (especially for Keuka.)   The guys were a lot of fun and very impressed with the fishing and the fishery. 
10/21/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 10/21

Guided Tony for the full day starting at 7 am targeting pike.  The pike action was very, very good with Tony using some spoons he likes fishing with in the Thousand Islands.  He landed 15 solid northerns up to 38" long, with only two fish under 30"!    A pickerel was also landed. 

We saw a couple nice salmon cruising around likely staging before spawning.   Tony wanted to do some laker jigging and he managed 3 nice fish to around 27"+.    Lakers were post-spawn and hungry!    They ranged from 80' to 135' deep.   Plenty of bait is still around.   Great day!    Water temps are @ 58 degrees.

10/19/2011
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 10/19
Guided Gordon for the full day starting around 7:30 am.  Pike on the fly is what he did and fishing started out good and got better as the AM went on.   He managed 6 or 7 nice fish in the AM topped by a 36" beauty!   All fish came while fishing an 8 wt. rod with a full sinking density compensated Type 6 line and large Lefty's Deceiver patterns.  We tried a little fly-casting for salmon (I saw a few in spawning mode last time I was out here) and a little perch fishing without any luck.    We did some more pike fishing and he landed a couple more on gear.   Great day!   We saw one other boat on the water momentarily - that was it!    Water temps are at 58 degrees.  Expect more and more large fish in the mix as water temps continue to drop!   
10/18/2011
Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport 10/17
Guided Scott and his wife Melissa for the full day.   It was windy!   Fishing was good with around 12 to 13 nice lakers landed mainly on plastics.  Fish ranged from around 65' on out.   There was some bait around too.   Melissa spent a lot of the day just relaxing and enjoying the scenery while Scott fished.    Lakers are a few weeks away from spawning, though a few of them are nearly ready.    Tried an hour of casting for salmon with no luck.  H20 is around 58 degrees.
10/16/2011
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 10/16

Guided Dan and his cousin Jeff for the full day today targeting pike.   Fishing was fair to start with the guys landing 3 northerns, 1 tiny northern and one pickerel.   Stickbaits and swimbaits did the trick.   Water temps were between 58 and 59 today.   I did see a few pre-spawn salmon and brown trout swimming around - as well as a laker or two, so they may be reachable from shore off the pier or Clute Park with a little luck.

We worked some other areas without much luck and then returned to our "tried and true area."  The wind had cranked up, the clouds rolled in and the bite picked up.    Dan had the hot hand landing another 3 or 4 nicer (26" to 27") pike.   Jeff dropped a couple on the day, then landed a good one.  Total for the day was around 8 to 10 fish - not great but not bad.    Fun day overall with much better weather than we expected!

10/14/2011
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 10/14

Guided Perry for an abbreviated day today.   He's the man with the minnows and we set up around 8 am for pike.   Fishing wasn't great but wasn't bad either.   He had his first pike after around 45 minutes.   A fish around 24" or so.   Then his minnow got slammed right after it hit the water - it was a Seneca Lake pickerel!   We haven't seen many of those over the last couple years, but rest easy - they are around ;-)   A couple good hits were missed, then Perry landed a better pike around 26".  

A thunderstorm rolled in and we called it a day after 1 pm.   We didn't move a whole lot today - it was a relaxing AM spent watching floats.  As we left the launch, the skies cleared momentarily - but as I drove back home in the pouring rain I felt we'd made the right call getting off the lake.  Water temps are around 61 degrees.  Pretty warm for this time of year.  

10/12/2011
Lake Ontario/Chaumont Bay 10/11 + Keuka Lake 10/12

Lake Ontario/Chaumont:   My buddy Mike and I were disappointed that we weren't able to coordinate a Lake Champlain trip this season.   Due to my spread out teaching schedule at Cornell I have a tough time finding days off for lengthy trips.   I've been hearing about the great fishing at Chaumont over the past few years from my buddy Craig.  Mike and I have also been taking notes re: tournament weights and some real lunker smallmouths.  Lastly, my buddy Jarrod did fisheries work on the St. Lawrence a couple years ago and told me about the record class smallmouth bass that ply the St. Lawrence region.   I fished out of Black River Bay some years back (probably in the reports somewhere around 2006 or 07) and fished Chaumont with my buddy Craig a year or two ago, but never any great shakes out there.  I was psyched to hit it with Mike and I spent some time going over my old map of the region.

We met at Gander off Rt. 81 and trailered Mike's Lund, arriving at Chaumont around 7:15 am.   Water temps were in the upper 50s in the bay.   I have a system I use for figuring out "new" bodies of water for bass.   Basically - start shallow and work out.    We worked a creek mouth area that had nice green weeds and a combo of rock and sand for a while without any sign of fish.   We tried an area Craig showed me and caught the first goby of the day.   They are EVERYWHERE!    Including some bullhead sized ones!   Then it was off to find some new areas.   We found a nice drop near an island and worked out into deep water using our electronics.  Mike has a newer Humminbird unit and it's very nice.   A 3/4 oz Kastmaster spoon showed us that most of the fish we marked were perch.  Most perch were dinks, but I did get a couple 9"+ fish.   46' fow was the depth.

We tried another area that looked promising on the map with no luck.  Lots of gobies.   By this time 6 hours had passed without a single bass.   But one of the reasons I fish with Mike is that we don't give up.  We fish and fish and then fish some more.  He's as focused and intense an angler as you'll meet.   If you have a fishing buddy that gives up easily - and you are serious about becoming a better fisherman, get rid of him/her!  It's that simple - else you won't do too well.

We had run around quite a bit and I didn't want to have him going everywhere, but he reassured me that gas wasn't an issue.   So I showed him one more place that looked good on the map and he agreed.    We made the run and Mike impressed me by circling this massive expanse of water - yes, we were going to drift the whole $&@%$# thing!    We had 4 hours of light left, so I guess we could do it.

We started working around 10' to 12' of water and I had a hit on a tube.   Mike tried a spinnerbait, jerkbait and rubber jig among some other things.    I went to a deep running X-rap and it stopped again.   I then had a bass hit so hard it nearly pulled the rod from my hand.  Only big bass hit like that!   After one more miss, I put the rod to a solid fish - it was 18" long and around 4lb 3oz!  We were in business.   I had the hot hand early with the tube jigs.   They seemed to work best.  We marked every place we hooked a bass with a waypoint and eventually had a nice little milk run of a drift.   Mike got into a groove and we wound up landing 4 or 5 nice bass and then things appeared to slow.  We were both pretty tired and I thought about working our way back towards our launch.  Mike had a good feeling about what we were doing and wanted to keep fishing it - just milk it.    So that's what we did and it paid off!

When the fish jumped my jaw dropped.  We couldn't believe it!  Mike had hold of a massive smallmouth!  He felt a light "tick" on the descent of his jig and it was game on!   I grabbed the net and jumped up to the front deck of his boat.  As I did I tripped and ripped my pants at the knee, as well as scraped my knee.  I nearly broke 3 of Mike's rods as I fell, but I was ready with the net!    The fish ran a couple times under the boat and I netted it!  It was a class up from Willy's 6lb Cayuga smallmouth from a few years back!  We put it in the livewell as we collected ourselves a bit and got our cameras out.   I took a cast or two as Mike dug out his camera and I hooked up what looked like a dink compared to Mike's fish - it was over 4lbs and 18" long!  And it looked SMALL compared to Mike's!

We took our photos and carefully weighed it on Mike's super-accurate tech scale before releasing it in excellent condition.  We figured maybe 6lbs if he was lucky, but the scale quickly went to 7lbs 1oz and beeped - confirming the weight!  He'd done it - Mike was now a member of the 7lb club!!!   We continued to fish and caught a few more - Mike had the hot hand late.  Green pumpkin tubes with 1/4 oz heads were what the biggie and others came on.   He went to a heavier head and did better as the wave action picked up.    What a day!!!  One we'll never forget.

The numbers of gobies up on Lake Ontario are staggering.  Bass are growing at record rates.   This is only the beginning of what appears to be a tremendous fishery developing.   There are likely 5 and 6lb fish lake wide on Lake Ontario - since the gobies are everywhere.   Stay tuned!

Keuka Lake 10/12:  Managed to be in bed by midnight 10/11 and got up and met David and his wife Beth at the Keuka State Park at 8 am.   We had some good fishing with 1/2 dozen nice lakers landed, many more missed/dropped and one nice smallmouth dropped by Beth.  They wanted to learn the technique to apply it on Canandaigua.   Tons of bait was around Branchport and plenty of lakers.  I was too tired to stay and fish after the trip, but the bite was just getting hot 'n heavy.  No doubt!   Fish are moving up a bit - we scored from around 70' on out.  Fun AM. 

 

 

 

 

 

10/10/2011
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 10/10
Guided Chris and his son Brian for the full day today starting around 7:45 am.   Fishing was pretty tough overall.  Pike fishing started out good with 3 nice fish landed from 26" to 31" long within the first hour.   Swimbaits did the trick.   The pike fishing never really got going - clearly an AM bite and we tried for lakers.  I marked decent numbers of fish on both sides of the lake along with plenty of bait, but apart from a few bites, nothing was grabbing well.    Lakers spawn on Seneca starting around this time, which likely makes for tough fishing.  Maybe it was also the weather or our location - I'm not sure.   Water temp was 63.   Beautiful day, but the fishing could have been better!  I'm sure the evening pikin' would've been better!
10/9/2011
Reports 10/7, 10/8 and 10/9

The nice weather clearly prompted some calls for fishing outings.  I had a cancellation for Saturday early in the week and it filled up quickly!   The next 8 days are booked (I don't guide Tuesdays and Thursdays through October due to classes.)  But many dates are available the last two weeks in October. Fishing has been good and here's how things went:

10/7 AM Seneca out of Watkins:  Guided the Hermans for the AM targeting pike.   We got a later start than I was hoping for.   The pike bite was tentative for us.   Some fish were hitting but we weren't able to hook them.   Some jigging produced a few light hits from mostly small salmon.  Tough AM, but I wouldn't have done anything different had we done it over.  The fish were around but neutral to negative.

10/7 PM Watkins:   I picked up Perry at the dock around 12:30 and we fished till nearly dark.  Perry casts minnows on bobbers and I was happy that he was able to find some good bait at Seneca Marine.   I anchored us up and within 5 minutes he had a hit.  After moving a few times we found a good area and Perry wound up landing 4 nice pike - 2 @ 31", 1 @ 32" and a 25"er.   He learned pike fishing back in the late 1960s/early 1970s with Seneca Lake guide Bob Cass.   He used slip bobbers and we worked water from around 12' to 15' deep.   Perry had some great stories re: this legendary pike fishery back then!   We had fun and I enjoyed watching the bobbers swoop down.   It was the first time out of maybe 1/2 dozen trips that Perry finally did well with me.  But it was also the first time he was able to procure some great bait.    Fun day.

10/8 AM Keuka Lake:  Guided Ed for the AM.  We were going to try fly-fishing Tigers on Otisco, but Ed's shoulder wasn't feeling great.   The AM laker bite on Keuka was OK.  Ed landed 2 nice ones and had some other hits.   We stayed near the State Park.  Lots of bait and fish were around.  South winds had some bite to them - they were around 10 mph on the lake, 4 mph on the hills!

10/8 PM Keuka Lake:  Guided Todd and his sons Connery and Jacob.   Jake had the hot hand landing a few lakers in short order.   Other hits were missed.   A run to the Bluff produced a few more, then we got another back near the park for a total of around 8 fish landed.   Halfway decent, but certainly not great fishing.   The weather pattern was to blame.   Perch fishing on Seneca was also slow from what I heard.    Fish came from 85' to 105'.  Plenty of fish are around the State Park.

10/9 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  Guided Jim, Charles and Chuck today for laker jigging.   Charlie bought a place near the Silos a year or two ago and wanted to learn the pattern.  It was a fun day of joking around and some great stories.  Jim spends his summers guiding in Montana for trout with his wife.   Fishing started out tough near Sheldrake with one or two fish landed.  As the wind died down the fishing heated up with very good action throughout the mid- AM and PM.  The guys landed 13 or 14 nice lakers (nothing over 25") and one rainbow around 14".   Trollers caught salmon (some legals,)  lakers and rainbows.   Fishing is great on Cayuga Lake!    Water temps were around 62.  

 

 

10/3/2011
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 10/3

Got out with my buddy Jarrod today.   We targeted pike this AM and had some good fishing - we landed 7 nice fish ranging from around 25" to 31".    Assorted swimbaits and jerkbaits did the trick.  Many fish were relatively shallow - around 10'.    Jarrod hadn't fished this lake much and the last time we were here together for pike was a super tough day in 2009, so it was great seeing some good fishing here. 

We tried an area I like for perch and wound up dropshotting 9 or 10 of them - unfortunately quite a few were (rare) Seneca Lake dinks.   We also caught some rockbass - in 70' of water!   Unreal.   The perch were from around 50' to 60'.   I used a no-longer in production Berkely Power Drop-shot worm in Emerald Shiner color.    Jarrod had a nice salmon follow in a perch setup.  

We finished up landing a couple more nice pike then called it a day.   Highlight of the day was seeing a huge Bald Eagle cruising the skies on the lake's south end!  It was an awesome sight.    Water temps were at 64.   Perch are clearly hitting as we saw some perch guys clustered up in places.   I can't say enough about the fishing in this area - life is good when the pike population is up on Seneca Lake!  Some great grabs and battles!

10/2/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 10/2

We had some fairly nasty weather here over the past couple days and I cancelled Friday and Saturday trips.    I find October laker jigging on Cayuga to be very hit or miss.   Find a nice sunny, relatively calm Indian summer type day and the bite can be very good.   Cloudy, windy days can be tough.   But there are always a few lakers biting somewhere on Cayuga!  On Keuka Lake - lakers FEED in October!

10/2:  Met Matt and his wife Shelly at the launch just after 7:30 am.   Conditions were rainy with a light north wind.   I had them spend around 2.5 hours casting swimbaits and stickbaits for pike.   Action was slow with Shelly having one hit and Matt landing a smallmouth around 14" long.   The NY BASS Federation was holding a bass tourney on Cayuga Lake today and we saw a few boats land a few bass.  I doubt any of the fishermen running all the way towards Ithaca did well, but you never know.

As the sun starting showing signs of poking through we set up for some jigging.  Matt had a follow then hit from a small salmon in fairly short order.  But it was a tough bite.  Working around Taughannock didn't produce for us.   We did a lot of running today and the Sheldrake - Rocky Dock area produced a laker for Matt and Shelly.   Shelly caught a small one around 16.5" on a Shaker.   A Hopkins spoon produced a 25" wild laker for Matt.   That was about it.   We marked a lot of fish and bait but it was a slow go.   Matt and Shelly really stuck it out and were rewarded at the end of the day with fish.   Water temps are around 64 on top

 

9/28/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs 9/28

Got out with my buddy Mike for a day of bass/pickerel fishing.  We started around 7:20 and fished till 3:30 pm.   Pickerel were very active and we landed at least 14 to 15 nice ones up to around 23" or so.  Plenty of 20" fish and up.   They were hitting just about everything including crankbaits, jigs, spinnerbaits and more.   The bass bite was tentative to start with fish barely hitting crankbaits.   I dropped at least 3 solid (likely 2 to 3lb largemouths) that likely were barely hooked.   We landed around 7 or 8 legal bass (all over 14") including one good smallmouth.   Fish ranged from the shallows to around 15' or more water with the quality fish we found being deep.    Top 5 bass probably weighed around 12lbs - so no real pigs.    Mike hadn't targeted bass on Cayuga's north end before and he had an enjoyable time.  The action was consistent.

My new ABU Veritas 7' 3" medium heavy rod did a great job with the deep running crankbaits.  I was very happy.   Bass were scattered - nearly everywhere we fished we encountered some, but it was at least 4 pickerel for every bass - or so it seemed when we include hits and follows.  We didn't find any great concentrations of bass.   Some panfish were also around.    No pike today.   I'd love to get back here soon and expand on the areas we worked and work some new places.  

9/26/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 9/26

Guided a full day starting at 7:30 with Clem and Donna.   Fishing was very good throughout the day with peak fishing early and late.   It was a fun trip with gorgeous weather.   We found fish on both sides of the lake near AES and north of Taughannock.   Best laker was around 28" with plenty of nice 24" to 25" eating sized fish (we released everything today.)   Donna also managed two landlockeds - a 16 1/2"er and a gorgeous silvery 26" male (with a nice hooked jaw) that we also released unharmed.   They landed over a dozen nice fish today!

Shore fishers will be able to catch some nice salmon off Taughannock Creek's mouth through October depending on the winds and weather conditions.  These fish will hammer streamers, spoons, jigs and stickbaits!   Don't be surprised if you catch a big brown either.

Water temps remain around 67 on top.   Plenty of bait is everywhere.  Best laker action ranged between 85' and 110'.

I have a ton of great photos of this year's fishing, but I'm going to have to wait until we get an unfishable weather stretch before I post them.   There's too much good to great fishing going on now!   And I'm too busy...

9/25/2011
Keuka Lake 9/24 + Otisco Lake 9/25

Keuka Lake out of Keuka (Branchport) State Park 9/24:  I got out around 11:30 am for my 1 pm trip.   I wanted to give the smallmouth bass fishing a try.  It was very good.   Working Superflukes provided around a dozen "encounters" with bass ranging from around 12" to 17".   I only landed a couple before I had to run to the launch to pick up Bob and Ray.

We set up on the flat in Branchport.   There's no need to run anywhere right now on Keuka Lake for lakers.  Plenty of fish AND BAIT (the key) are milling around Branchport.   The vast majority of fish were in 95' or so and further out.   But there were some and some impressive bait schools shallower.   The guys did well on the day, starting with Bob's laker.  Then we got into the bait and bass, with two big 4 1/2lb to 4 3/4lb (21 1/2") smallmouths hitting the swimbaits.   The smallmouths I caught and saw shallower weren't 4 to 5lbers!   This is the time of year to target big pelagic smallmouths!    The guys kept fishing and the bite picked up as the afternoon went by.   A total of 7 legal lakers were landed up to 24"+.   All came on Shakers but one, which came on a Kastmaster. 

Otisco Lake 9/25:  I had a great time today (as always) out with Craig and Jimmy.   The goal was to get a Tiger muskie today.   I showed the guys how to do the "figure 8" and we were off and fishing.   We started near the Causeway and Jimmy rose one on a spoon he had set up.   Fishing further north brought a follow on Craig's swimbait setup.    A school of big smallies followed in a swimbait.   Then Jimmy hooked and landed a huge largemouth - nearly 22"!   The head and mouth were huge, but the fish was thinner.  Unfortunately, the bass had been mortally hooked around a gill.   Jim tried desparately to revive the fish but it was clear it wasn't going to make it.   Tomorrow night the bass will be swimming in an eggwash and then thrashing around in some Bisquick.   It should have weighed 6lbs, had it been proportionally fat, but it only went 4lb 10oz.   I checked the stomach but there wasn't much.    

But while we were busy with the bass, Craig had a nice musky follow!  He did a couple figure eights and the musky hammered his swimbait!  It was awesome!   After a short, spirited battle I netted the fish and we took a few quick shots and released it unharmed.   The lure came out in the net, so that was nice.  A 33" solid Tiger!    I believe Tigers are caught on Otisco at a rate around one per twenty hours fishing on average, and for legal ones it's probably half of that!  So it was a great first outing.   The guys raised a couple more muskies, though nothing substantial - Jimmy hooked one on an 8, but it was pretty small - maybe 24".

Water temps were around 73 today.  Light boat traffic.  Just a great day to be out!  

9/21/2011
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 9/21, Geneva 9/19

9/19 Geneva:   Did an abbreviated 1/2 day with Jim and Bill for lakers.   I'd brought pike gear for after the trip, but the lake was very choppy so I never checked on the pike.   I picked the guys up at Bill's place on Glass Factory Bay and we motored north to Belhurst.   I had contemplated fishing Cayuga today, but the guys really wanted to fish near Bill's place, and the weather forecast looked optimistic.   I almost never fish out of Geneva on south winds - it's usually a bad move, but it paid off for us today for an hour or two.   Bill landed three solid lakers including a 28" clean, beautifully marked fish.   The south winds kept building and after taking a few waves over the bow and watching as they got progressively taller, we called it a day.   It was downright nasty out!    Best action was 90' to 100' and the usual white shakers did the trick.

 

9/21 Watkins:   Got out around 10:30 am on my own to check on a few things.   Pike fishing has really improved on Seneca Lake this season.   I thought 2009 was abysmal out here and in 2010 we started seeing the small ones again.  This spring showed some very good action.  There are fairly strong classes of pike in the 22" and 25" range, with a few bigger fish thrown in.  I spent around 3 hours casting for pike today and was somewhat impressed by what I saw.  It wasn't quite the no-brainer fishing of 2006/2007, but it was good - there are fishable numbers out there.   I caught pike in three completely different areas today.  Most fish were in around 10' to 20' of water.   Fish were hitting very hard and fighting very well.  Best one was around 33" and well-proportioned.  Swimbaits did the trick.

The numbers of smallmouth bass I'm seeing on this lake are exceptional.   The southern portions of Seneca are loaded with mostly smallish (sublegal and barely legal) fish - and they range from 10' to 50' of water.   I had a school of 3 to 4lb bass follow in a swimbait intended for pike today.  The collapse of the pike fishery in 2008/2009 allowed the bass a chance to rebound.  

Perch fishing isn't bad right now according to a past client/friend of mine I ran into.  Some good fish are scattered in deep water but are cooperating.   I worked some deep jigs for salmon today and didn't land any, but I found some.   I barely scratched the surface regarding what I wanted to do today.  I had a lot of areas I didn't have time to check out.   Water temps are in the mid-60s.   Very few boats were out fishing.  

 

9/18/2011
Skinny 9/16, Keuka Lake 9/17 + Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 9/18

Skaneateles Lake 9/16:  Guided the Hermans for around 6 hours.  We started with some dropshotting in deeper water today, but it seemed slow.   A decent smallmouth and a few rockies were all we had to show in the northern portions of the lake.  A run south produced more smallmouths.   Shallow water was best with tubes and Lunker City ribsters (on a dropshot) producing some good fish.  Eleonore hooked a monster smallmouth on a ribster in less than 10' of water.  Maybe the biggest smallie I've seen on this lake.  It got off, but was likely in the upper 4 to nearly 5lb range.  Very fat and long! 

Keuka Lake 9/17:   Guided Mark and Charlie for the full day.   We started with some laker jigging and action was fair to good.  The guys landed around a half dozen nice fish.   We marked fish as far north as the College, but as usual the best action/fish numbers were around the bluff area.   Bass fishing was pretty tough - mainly due to the weather pattern.  Charlie got a decent smallie in short order on a fluke.   We had encounters with some nice bass, but mostly short hits and follows.   Mark fly-fished and I have a couple fluke imitation flies that work pretty good.  They are still being tweaked, but again - the bass mood was tentative for us.  We worked them pretty hard after the laker action.  Fun day with Mark and Charles as always. 

Cayuga Lake 9/18:   Got Dave (from last week's 29 fish trip) and his friends Blake and Todd out for the full day.   Laker action was much slower than last week.  Good numbers of fish were still north of Long Point and around Aurora, but the bite was tough.  The morning produced 3 fish.   We moved south towards Sheldrake later in the PM and found better numbers of fish.  A few more lakers and a small salmon were landed.   The cold front hurt the fishing, though it should be good tomorrow (we're on Seneca.)   Fun day!

Water temperatures on the lakes are dropping quickly.  Lots of 67 to 69 degree water. 

9/12/2011
Oneida Lake 9/12

Although fatigue was setting in and I had classes to teach in the evening, I was motivated to get up at dark-thirty and drive the 70 + minutes to Oneida Lake this morning.   My buddy Craig told me that he felt fish were starting to bite again out here - so that certainly was a motivator as well.   But I wasn't going to give up on this lake's massive smallmouth bass population by any stretch.   I was on the lake just after 7 am.   The forecast was calling for some clouds, then sun with light west winds.  When I arrived, conditions were dead calm with bright sunny skies.   Water temps were 71 degrees and only a few boats had launched at the South Shore Park launch.

Things got off to a slow start when I backlashed my spinnerbait setup and wasted around $10 worth of Flourocarbon line.   I like Flouro for pitching/flipping and use it for leaders on dropshot rigs, but other than that I strongly prefer mono, especially after today's mess.   I think a lot of flouro is marketing hype.   Is it really that invisible?  Is the wet knot strength good?   Does it handle well?   What about the thicker diameter?   Check out tackletour.com's flourocarbon showdown from a few years ago to see an eye-opening article/comparison on flouro lines - but I digress.   I wasted 20 minutes of valuable AM time trying to salvage the backlash.   I wound up having to respool my spinnerbait setup with 14lb XXX mono.  

I did a couple hours worth of exploring new water and found some promising largemouth bass areas.  I missed a good hit near the surface on a superfluke, had a sharp bite-off and missed a pickerel hit.    But the area looked good!   I knew that the AM bite might be slow due to the full moon, so I wasn't letting my lack of success on the bass affect my take on the area's potential. 

A few shoals proved non-productive.  I'd see this movie a few times this summer and I wasn't going to repeat it - I know how it ends!   So I tried working some deep water (28' to 30') with dropshot rigs and jigging spoons.   The amount of bait and fish in the depths was impressive, but no takers.   Who knows what species the marks were?   But I found a very promising area near a shoal.  There was a weedless shelf running around 10 to 15' deep with what appeared to be a rocky bottom.  As I prepared to work the area I knew without a doubt I would connect with some bass.   Just a strong feeling - this area had features that weren't very common on Oneida Lake.   Then it appeared that I had a follow on a tube and weeds got thicker, so I started casting a spinnerbait (re-spooling that outfit paid off.)   Over the next 7 or 8 casts I landed 3 nice smallmouths.   Smallies crush spinnerbaits and it's a great feeling.   My next pass yielded a better fish.  By this time the wind was coming out of the east.   Fishing was improving and a gull dove on some bait and a fish or two surfaced.   Bass were turning on and the wind finally started coming out of the west, but unfortunately it was time to leave.   I kept two bass to eat (payback for the last couple tough trips!) and I checked their stomach contents.  One fish was empty, the other had a crayfish or two in its stomach.

It felt great finally "cracking" this lake.   I'd caught a fair number of bass here over the past 25 years or so, but never felt like I really understood what I needed to do and what was going on.  I was usually on someone else's boat fishing their patterns and areas.   Now I know what to look for and how to find it on my own.   I always tell my clients that tough fishing with some good feedback (from the fish) is often the best "character builder" on the water.  It breeds confidence.  If someone calls me and asks where to go for lakers or whatever, and I tell them - they just become reliant on reports.   I don't feel I will get shut out on this lake again.  

9/11/2011
Owasco Lake 9/9, 9/10 + Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 9/11

Owasco Lake: 

9/9:   I was impressed by what I saw here on Friday.  I arrived at Emerson Park around 1 pm.   There was a lot of bait around!   I marked vertical "blobs" of bait and horizontal ones (smelt?)   Probably alewives for the most part.   I spent some time looking for bass but didn't get any, though I know I found some.    I was chomping at the bit to check on the lakers.   It didn't take long to land a 25" fish.   It was in around 85 fow.   Out deeper I hooked a large head-shaking fish - it wound up being a 32" fat beast of a laker!  Great fight and super fish - just clean as can be (no lampreys here.)    I let it go quickly.    The passing front made for a tough bite both Friday and Saturday but I was impressed with what I saw.   On one retrieve up I had a follow from a blimp of a rainbow - a silvery bomb around 25" to 27" and in great condition.   Reducing laker stocking and eliminating walleye stocking has resulted in a rebound of the bait here and I'm sure plenty of rainbows and browns are around.  Next to nobody is fishing this lake from what I saw - most boats were heading in when I arrived.

9/10:  I guided David from Indiana here for the full day on Saturday.   I was reluctant to guide lower Cayuga after all the rain and I was pretty happy with what I saw on Friday, so Owasco was the call.  We had a late start when Dave missed the turn for Emerson Park, but his attitude impressed me - he was here to fish and fish hard!

He'd never caught a lake trout before, so that was our goal.   Fishing was difficult with the cold front conditions.   The screen was fairly blank compared to 9/9.    He fished hard and after a lot of searching he hooked what appeared to be a very solid laker, only to likely torque it a bit much and have the hook pull out.   We kept at it without much success.   We tried bassin' on a point I know and in around 50' of water we had a group of what were likely bass come up for the jig - but after a short hit we came up empty.  

We went back to the lakers when the wind came up.  I knew the wind would help us cover water more effectively.   Sure enough some lakers started hitting.  Big fish didn't seem too active, but Dave landed 4 nice fish - mainly in the 20" to 22" range.  They were STUFFED with bait.   He did a great job and his bass fishing prowess with plastic worms really showed;  he had no trouble detecting the bottom.   Fun and rewarding trip.    The lakers came from 85' to 110'.  

Cayuga Lake

9/11:   After the tough fishing Saturday on Owasco, I decided it'd be worth a try on Cayuga out of Long Point.   Reports from a friend on Saturday were that debris wasn't bad as far as Sheldrake.   The lake seems to be in good shape level-wise.

Met Dave, Ryan and Ryan's son Noah at the launch around 7 am.   Ryan and Noah joined me last fall for some bass fishing on a cold day and Noah's love for fishing was apparent.  He really did a great job today.   We worked around Long Point and further north.  Fishing was excellent today.  After not eating yesterday, the lakers went back to putting on the feed bag today.  (I'm sure the other Finger Lakes were great today too.) Noah hooked the first one, then Ryan hooked up.  I thought their lines were wrapped with the same fish, but no - they had a double!   Great way to start the day.   The fishing was smoking for the first two hours - then we had a lull for awhile.   Action picked up again around 1 pm.    All in all the guys hammered the lakers landing 29 nice fish.  Mostly males averaging around 22".   Best fish was Dave's, at just under 28".   Noah landed 6 or 7 fish on his own - likely setting my boat record for kids under 14!   Great job fighting the fish too.   I'll be working these fish as long as I can - the drive is much shorter for me than Keuka.   

9/5/2011
Cayuga Lake 9/4 + 9/5

Busy wind-down to the summer guiding season.   Fall is here now for all intents and purposes and I'm ready to roll!   Here's how things shaped up:

9/4 AM:   Guided Eric and his son Andrew for 1/2 day out of Taughannock.   They don't do a whole lot of fishing, but at least one big trip a year.   Fishing was very, very good on the east shore not far from the park.  The guys landed a bunch of real solid lake trout - fish ranging from 27" to 29".   They landed 10 for the morning.   Only one good fish lost - a great percentage by any standard.   Fishing was best around 80' to 85' or so. 

9/4 PM:  Got a call on Saturday for some folks looking to get out today - so things worked out.   At 1 pm I met Ron, Todd and Butch at the launch at Taughannock.   They were a fun, funny bunch and I had a lot of laughs with them.   The fishing near the park was terrific from the get-go with Ron landing a 29.5" FAT laker that weighed 10lbs 10 oz!   That's a fatty!   Butch landed a small landlock and Todd also nailed a nice laker.   The guys had some great action for around 1/2 hour to 45 minutes then things slowed.   A few more fish were caught.   Overall a very productive 1/2 day with everyone landing at least 2 fish and Todd having the hot hand with 3 or 4 nice ones boated.   The T-Storms stayed away.   Remember - "when in doubt, go out" - check the weather map, but don't sit home and let bad weather forecasts dictate your fishing success.

9/5:   Guided Florian and Alysa for the full day.  It was a wet one out there!   We started around 7 am and were likely the only boat to launch out of the park today, given that no trailers were in the park when I arrived and none were there when we pulled out (of Taughannock.)    They'd originally wanted 2 one-half day trips - doing different techniques, but I could only schedule one trip.   They pretty much learned to fish via trips at the Angling Zone and are into it!    We've jigged Keuka Lake a couple times with good luck, but they wanted to do some casting.

We started with a little jigging w/o much action.   One dink laker near AES.   For bass I had them casting some tube jigs, dropshotting and working superflukes.   We worked on casting spinning gear and they got pretty good at it.   Alysa managed a couple solid 14"+ largemouths on the day and a couple dink perch dropshotting.   Florian nabbed his first (small) smallmouth on a tube jig.  We were able to iron out some casting and presentation bugs, which was nice.    Florian knows how to cook professionally and wanted some lakers.   He did a great job landing 4 nice ones in succession.   So despite getting soaked, we had a productive day with some new techniques learned and plenty of good eating to be had.   

Over the past 7 years I typically have moved a lot of my laker guiding to Keuka Lake from Sept - November.   I now live a bit further from this lake.   I will still be doing some trips here - the laker fishing is great, as is the bass/pickerel action (along with a rare bonus pike.)   But I plan on doing more fishing on Cayuga Lake for lakers later into the season.   Although many fish move south towards Taughannock and spawn in October, I expect some good action from non-spawners and late-spawning fish further north.   We'll see how things pan out.   Keuka trips will have a fuel surcharge added from here on in.   Fuel surcharges are no longer necessarily for Otisco Lake since I'm much closer now.   I expect good fishing on Owasco Lake too, so we shall see!  I'm very excited about my newfound proximity to different launches and lakes now - many slightly "alien areas" will now be filled in with detail.    

9/3/2011
Cayuga Lake 9/2 + 9/3

Guided a full day on 9/2 with David and his dad Bruce.   It's always great seeing Dave and the guys fished hard despite a somewhat slow AM.  Dave probably missed his first 6 hits, but the lakers started coming.   The guys wound up landing 8 nice fish.   Bruce had two or three follows from some huge browns, which made for some excitement.   Nothing new to report - fish are all over Cayuga Lake right now and around 75' to 95' has been really good.  We are marking good #s of fish out to over 110', which is common this time of year.   Bait is everywhere. 

9/3:  Guided a half-day with Bert, his wife Vicki and son Dylan.   Bert works over at Cornell and is a regular at Teagle Hall where I do a lot of my swimming.  He lives on the lake and was interested in learning the jigging.   The gang doesn't fish a whole lot except occasionally off their dock.    Things went great today - very hot bite from the get-go.   I think the guys had hits on their first few drops, whether they knew it or not!   Wound up landing a bunch of nice lakers to around 27".   We kept a couple nice ones.   Vicki had a hold of a nice salmon - likely 4lbs or more near AES.   It got off, but it was exciting.   Some days the jigging just seems too easy.  But it can be very humbling at times! 

Ran into my fishing friend Jeff who was having a great day with his buddies.  They landed a few bonus landlockeds and a rainbow along with a bunch of lakers.   You never know what you'll get this time of year on Cayuga Lake!   It arguably has to be one of the top inland (non-Great Lake) freshwater fisheries in the Continental U.S. for year round great lakers, LL Atlantic salmon, browns and rainbows.    Where else can you catch browns averaging 4 -12lbs or better (with fish possible upwards of 17lbs,)  rainbows to over 10, salmon to over 8 and lakers upwards of 15lbs from January through December, without ice fishing?   These fish reach trophy size in a matter of 5 to 10 years, not decades like up in Manitoba.   These lakes sustain HARVESTS of good sized fish.    Lake Champlain is coming on, but Cayuga still has better lamprey control.    We are very lucky here in the Finger Lakes Region!   Add in the amenities and wineries/great restaurants and there's no better place for a couple to relax and fish!  This isn't just an area for "the boys."

 

9/1/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 8/31 + Lake Ontario out of Oswego 9/1

Fun two days of fishing!

8/31 Long Point:   Guided Greg and his dad John for 1/2 day.  We found some great lake trout action here starting in around 90' of water.   Greg and John landed a dozen fish or so.  The bite was really great in the AM and kept going for the most part.  Most fish ran around 19" to 27".    Greg picked up a 22" landlocked salmon closer to the point.    Greg did a trip with a couple of his buddies/relatives a couple years ago and we really struggled - one fish was landed, so this made up for it.

After the trip I spent a couple hours working areas I seldom fish - south of Long Point.   Saw a few nice drum in shallow.   Didn't have much of my bass tackle with me, but I found good numbers of perch while dropshotting.  

9/1 Oswego!:   I made a mistake fishing Cayuga late yesterday, instead of catching up on some sleep.   Taught swimming classes last night then tried to get up at 4 am.   Heard some T-Storms and saw a bunch of nasty weather on the weather map, so I fell back asleep and wound up sleeping in until 10 am, when I received a call.   But after a lot of consideration, the coffee finally perked me up and off to Oswego I went.    The distance from Lansing to Oswego is nearly the same as Rochester was, so expect to see plenty of reports from here in the future.  

(It turns out Oswego never did get any nasty weather this AM.  The storms dissapated before they reached there.   "When in doubt, go out" - I need to listen to my own mantra more often.)

Set up around 1 pm.   A couple trollers I talked to didn't have any luck out around 140' this AM.   Also had a slow bass report.   I was impressed with the numbers of fish I was marking around 90' to 110' or so.   I had quite a few fish (likely Kings) moving a little bit for my jigs today - incl. 2 to 3 at a time at times.   Had a light hit or two.    I worked for browns a bit and missed one due to my reel coming off my reel seat, then I had a brown hit 3 times lightly on the retrieve.  I saw the fish and it was a nice one.   Browns in Lake Ontario can be jigged just as effectively as Finger Lakes browns.   No question about it.   They are the same fish too (from the same hatcheries as far as I know.)  Re: Chinooks -  The trollers really hammered fish this evening.  I saw bent rods all around including a few doubles.   Basically 90' to 140' was the hot depth with fish down 80' to 110'.   

Most Oswego regulars know this, but the nearshore areas here are just loaded with brown trout.    My last two outings here  - on both north and south winds have produced hits and chases from big browns on the jigs.    What I've seen with the Kings over the past two excursions is a reluctance for them to move vertically - hence the trollers' successes.   They don't want to leave their comfort zone.    Every other salmonid - whether browns, lakers, Atlantics or rainbows will move vertically in many instances.  

I've learned volumes of good info re: jigging Kings over the past couple trips (and other trips over the past 7 or 8 years.)   I'd like to get out here at least once more this fall.   Then next year I plan on a lot more fishing throughout the entire season working Chinooks.   Stay tuned.....

I can't say I really get all the hype around Lake Ontario Chinook fishing - whether in a boat or in the rivers.   I don't think they are all that great to eat - whether health-wise or taste wise.   But people come from all over the Northeast to fish the Kings.    I think the draw is just big fish - plain and simple.  When salmon are hooked via a 26' or 30' boat trolling, the boat is often kept in gear - so the fisherman is fighting the boat as well as the fish.  I watched kids fighting salmon for 1/2 mile worth of trolling.    And salmon in the rivers use the current to the same effect.    I used to catch silvery chinooks right off the piers in Rochester.  Great, strong battles - but after one or two fish my arm was worn out.  I'd much rather jig any time.   I know people who jigged Kings and didn't think they fought as well when caught via jigging than they did when trolling.  Interesting stuff.   But the challenge is what keeps me after them!

BTW - Two of my favorite places are in Oswego.  If you like chocolate, you need to stop by "Stone's Candies" on the N. side of Rt. 104 on the west end of Oswego.   Fantastic milk chocolate.   For breakfast, it's tough to beat "Wade's Diner" on the east side of Oswego.

   

 

8/30/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 8/30

Guided "Pepperidge Farm Tom" today.   The man works at one of my favorite food manufacturers.   I've never experience a Milano still warm from the oven, but he has!    Fishing started out slow when I picked Tom up at Taughannock around 7 am.   Cold front, bluebird conditions with a south wind.   He had a few hits but no hookups.   Thank goodness we were doing a full day trip, because the fish didn't really get on the feed until around 12:30 pm for us.   His first two fish were landlocked salmon - one around 16" and one around 14".   A cool catch, but not what we came for.   The next three were lakers - a couple 25"ers and one smaller fish.   Last fish of the day was a 22" salmon that grabbed near the surface not far from Taughannock.   Nice to see all the salmon around!   All fish released today.

An angling zone friend caught some nice perch in around 15' to 20' of water today on worms dropshotted.   Good numbers of sublegal bass were in the mix, so with some luck maybe we'll see some improved smallmouth bass fishing down the line.   Fun day and gorgeous weather!

8/28/2011
Cayuga Lake 8/26 + Lake Ontario out of Oswego 8/27

Cayuga 8/26 AM:  Guided Jack and his grandson Sam for 1/2 day laker jigging.   The bite was a little slow for much of the AM.   Jack had a few good hits and opportunities but only a 13" dink laker to show for it.   Sam fished hard for awhile but was very tired (he's 11) and got some shut-eye later on.   Shades of our last trip together on 10/4/09!   Some nice lakers cooperated on the west shore and Jack got the couple keepers he wanted for the grill.   We tried some dropshotting for perch (Sam's favorite fish to eat) but I wasn't able to locate much during our last 45 minutes or so.  We found some panfish (pumpkinseeds) in around 15' of water.  

PM:  Met the Hermans around noon and we headed out.   Fishing was pretty good with a few lakers landed and Eleonore landing her first and second brown trout.   We kept a 19"er for dinner and released a beautiful 25"er.   It's certainly been the "year of the browns" on Cayuga Lake.   Tributary fishermen have a lot to look forward to with browns running from 4 to over 12lbs available on the lake!   The usual white and smelt colored shakers did the trick.  

August is often my busiest month and after a long run of trips, some recreational fishing and a move I was ready to settle in for a 3 day weekend and get my stereo hooked up, some boxes unpacked and straighten my new apartment out.   Phones were turned off and I slept in - but around 11 am I got a call from my buddy Jarrod, who happened to be mating for our former Bass Pro Shops Marine/Camping manager Jerry (Catch 22 Charters) out of Oswego.    The Kings were on bottom in around 110' fow.  The lake was flat and the fish were hitting.   So I re-hooked up my boat and drove to Oswego...

Lake Ontario out of Oswego Harbor 8/27 PM:   I was thrilled to see that Oswego was only 70 miles away from my new apartment and the roads were a straight shot - just Rt. 34 N. to Rt. 104 east.   Not as short a drive as when I lived in Rochester, but much nicer than T-Burg.   I arrived just after 1 pm and got underway.   Trollers had mixed success that AM.    Overall, the boats that stayed around 105' to 120' did well from what I heard and some that went out deeper didn't.    I kept in touch with Jarrod all day via phone and he kept me informed re: what was going on fishing-wise.   

I could easily mark the thermocline with my Lowrance HDS-5.   (Actually you don't mark the temp change, but the micro-organisms that frequent it.)   It ran from 95' to 105' or so.   Jarrod informed me that the wind had picked up a bit.   I had North winds around 5 mph to start and waves less than 1'.   The Kings aren't like lake trout - they generally don't sit still and wait for you to drop jigs on them.  They are likely swimming around and chasing schools of bait around.   But Jarrod informed me that they were seeing a lot of activity around 128', so that's where I went.  

It was a zoo out there on some levels boat traffic wise.  Trollers all over the place with lots of lines and line out.   I rigged up and worked some different jigs.  The currents out there were heavy.  The north wind was likely stacking warmwater inshore and the thermocline may have been moving out.   Lake Ontario is a very dynamic environment!    The trolling bite was slow according to Jarrod.  I saw one fish hooked and Jerry's group landed two on their PM/Evening Charter - so it wasn't a great bite during the PM.    I did manage to have a fish or two move up and then down for my jigs.   That was all I needed to see.   I worked out to 150' and then all the way back into less than 100'.  By then the waves were 1' to 3' and if it got rougher, I'd have to leave.    I was reeling up a large smelt colored Fin-S Fish when I saw a beautiful brown around 8 to 9lbs behind it!  The brown circled for the jig a few times then disappeared.   Just can't keep the browns away this year!    I gave things around 5 hours or more then left at 7 pm.   I'll be back.   At my rate of one attempt per year, I likely won't nail a King on a jig for a few more years, so I need to step it up.    Regarding jigging browns on Lake Ontario, that,  I'm fully confident in, and don't be surprised if we do very well with it!   I saw all I needed to see yesterday.   We will get it done - that, and the Kings too.   Fun day and worth the drive.     

 

8/25/2011
Cayuga Lake 8/24 + Skaneateles Lake 8/25

8/24 AM - Guided Tom and Bekky for 1/2 day starting just after 6:30 am.   Fishing for lakers was very good and one nice bonus brown was landed.  All fish were released.  Bekky had big and small fish "honors" while Tom had the numbers and brown.   We tried some bass fishing towards the end of the trip but high winds pretty much put an end to that.

8/24 PM - Picked up Jim around 12:30 pm with very gusty winds!   He's been fishing with me periodically since 2005.    Using a drift sock and my high powered trolling motor, Jim was able to score on 4 lakers - 2 small ones and 2 nice ones!   In addition he dropped two, so fishing wasn't bad.   He did a nice job on a very tough day.  We took waves over the bow - it wasn't pleasant out there!

8/25:  Guided Leo and Ada for the full day on Skaneateles Lake.  It was nice to see zero trailers in the State Launch area when I pulled in at 7:35!  Leo and Ada were running late - we got underway around 8:45.    I like starting trips between 6 and 6:30 if possible, but a lot of folks like to sleep in.    It's called "vacation."  

Fishing was fair to good.   No really big smallmouths - top fish was just over 16".   But they managed to dropshot plenty of rockbass to 11" and 8 smallmouths - most over 12".    Fish ranged from 22' to about 45' deep.   We tried the new Lunker City Ribsters (sounds like a McDonalds item) in green pumpkin.  They worked well - as did the usual Gulp minnows and other plastics.    Water temps are around 72.   The lake is now 35 miles away from me!   I'm psyched about spending some more time here, but with Owasco and Otisco a short haul the choices will be tough!

8/23/2011
Cayuga Lake Myers/Taughannock 8/22 + 23

Fishing has been excellent thus far this week.    Guided Leo and Ada on Monday for the full day.   They like a late start (8 am) and thus far over the past couple years it's paid off for them.   They landed 11 nice lakers on the day fishing mid-lake areas.    The bite was good from the get-go, slowed around 11 am then picked up again around 1 pm.   The usual 65' to 85' was best.   Leo had a big brown follow his jig, but not hit.

Today I guided Ted and his 11 y.o. daughter Jordan.  Ted owns Pike County Outfitters in PA about an hour's drive N. of Stroudsburg.   He wanted to catch something other than lakers while jigging and amazingly his first fish was a 21" brown.  Then he landed a laker then a bigger (25") brown near AES.   A big salmon or rainbow jumped clear over my driftsock and the jig pulled out while on the west shore.   Jordan managed to land one laker with the help of dad, then one on her own -  a nice fish around 27".   Surface temps are around 73 degrees and the cooling water has given the lake trout more vigor.   Many lakers don't fight too well when temps above the thermocline are super warm, but they are responding to the cooling temps!  Some great laker battles over the past few days.    

8/21/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 8/21
Guided Greg for the full day.   We started around 6:15 and he managed a decent laker in short order.   A large laker followed (around 29") and then he landed 5 solid brown trout up to 28".    One brown took a jig very deep, so we split that one for dinner - but otherwise all were released.   Fish hit smelt colored Lunker City Shakers.    The weather forecasts were very ominous, but fortunately Greg kept his cellphone off and didn't get my message - I was will to postpone.   Falling barometer likely got the fish going.  Great weather and terrific fishing.    65' to 90' was the depth.
8/20/2011
Cayuga Lake 8/19 + 8/20

8/19:  Guided Todd and Adam for the full day.   Conditions were looking good when I received a text from Todd that he'd overslept and we'd be starting around 2 hours after our scheduled time.   It happens!    I went laker jigging near AES and found some lakers surprisingly shallow.   Landed one and lost a couple.    Marked lots of fish in around 40' of water - I'm guessing perch.  

I picked up the guys and off we went.   Todd made up for a big lost brown last year when he landed the first fish of the day - a nice 27.5" brown, likely weighing 11 to 12.5lbs.   We released the fat fish.    T-Storms threatened throughout the AM.   The guys managed to land 3 nice lakers and dropped a few as well.   Overall pretty steady action on hits and chasing fish.   It wasn't easy getting them to commit though.   The usual 65' to 85' seemed best.

8/20:  Guided Matt and Brian for what wound up being a long 1/2 day.   Today was one of those rare days when it looked like everyone but us was catching fish!   Matt had done the technique with me a few times in the past.  I showed Brian how to jig today.   Conditions weren't easy for detecting bottom in the AM with a good 10 mph southerly blowing.   But we had our opportunities.   Matt lost at least 4 solid hookups.   Brian missed a few good hits as well.    Matt also had a fish up to the net which I should've had - it was still somewhat deep and I tried to scoop it.  I brushed it and the hook pulled out!   What a bad break.   I kept them out a while longer to try to redeem myself - but to no avail.   Some days the bear eats you and some days you eat the bear....   Either way, we all had a good time - it was a gorgeous day out, and trips with Matt are always a lot of fun.   Hope their golf game goes this PM goes better!   There were LOADS of fish around in areas and next time we'll get them.  Lots of boat traffic out today - summer is slipping away and people know it.

8/17/2011
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 8/17
Guided Todd, Ken and Sal for the full day today.   The bite was pretty tough.  Ken and Todd have done the jigging before and each landed a couple nice lakers - some chunky fish to 25".   A few were missed.   Overall it was a lot of drops with little action, although a LOT of fish are around.   The mid-lake areas from Sampson across to Dresden seemed to show the most fish, but I've had great reports recently from Geneva too.    About 75' to 95' seemed best today with a few fish shallower and some deeper.   No shortage of baitfish on Seneca and there's a mild algae bloom going on.   White shakers produced the most hits for us today.  
8/16/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 8/16

Guided Scott for the full day today.   Last week we did Cayuga and Skaneateles and he really got into the laker jigging, so that's what I had him do.   Fishing was halfway decent to start with Scott landing 4 lakers in the first 2 hours or so.   Then things screeched to a halt with fish being very tentative over the next 3 hours (shades of yesterday.)   But eventually the fish started gobbling again and what a great day we had.  

We found a good pod of brown trout and Scott landed 8 beauties!   At least 3 of the fish were in the 11 to possibly 13lb range!   All the brownies were released unharmed to fight again (we don't hang fish to be released on scales - they get measured and let go.)  Just awesome fishing.   He landed more lakers as well.  After a while it was tough to tell which was which from the battles.  We had deep drag tearing runs from the browns -- but then a big laker would do the same thing.   Fast head shaking from browns - then we'd get a laker that did the same thing.   I should add that Scott did a fantastic job in enticing, hooking and playing the fish.  He never dropped a single one! 

The fishing was so good I kept Scott out a bit longer and I dropped a line too.  I managed a 22" brown than was likely 5lbs.   Also a 23" landlocked salmon that will join me for dinner later this week.    65' to 85' remains best.    We caught fish on both shores of the lake today.

I heard from yesterday's clients Bill and Linda (Leigh) and they also had some great fishing today - I knew they would!   Even if you don't catch any fish on a jigging trip (which is HIGHLY unlikely) - or have a slow day, the info you gain will yield tremendous rewards in your future fishing!   It's just a superb, yet simple and great way to catch fish.  

8/15/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Myers Point 8/15
Guided Bill and Leigh (aka Linda) for a 1/2 day starting just after 6:30 am today.   It didn't take long for Bill to hook into a solid laker (that we never saw) on the east shore this AM.   Fish were hitting decently when we first arrived for maybe 45 minutes or so, but the overcast weather and wind soon put a damper on things.   We persevered and after some missed hits, Leigh hooked and landed a solid 25"+ laker.   Pretty tough bite this AM.    I was willing to postpone the trip, but Bill was happy to fish regardless of the weather so he could learn the technique for his weeklong stay on Cayuga Lake.   I expect to hear of some great fishing this week from him as the weather pattern stabilizes!    There are loads of bait on both shores. 
8/14/2011
Oneida Lake 8/13

After another busy week with trips I found enough energy to get up and join my buddy Mike in his boat on Oneida.  The plan was to get on the water around 10:30 am and fish till dark.   Mike hadn't done any fishing around Big Bay so that's what we intended to do - work some areas for largemouths.   I brought along a cooler with ice so I'd be ready to take home some pickerel for fried patties.   

We set up a driftbag and worked our way through the bay.  The winds were blowing pretty good out of the southeast.   My buddy Craig told me that anytime you see "south winds" on the forecast for Oneida, you better be prepared for east winds and that was the case!    Each lake has its wind quirks - likely due to the topography.  I had a fish just smash a jig but somehow didn't hookup.   That's been my history on this lake lately - set up and then get hammered hard by something early on and miss it.    We had a few hits but nothing special.  We did another quick drift then set up in deeper water.   Mike landed a big pickerel in the deep stuff.   He wasn't crazy about the pitching when we didn't have fixed targets (which we couldn't see due to the wind and sun angle) - which is understandable, so he wanted to go into the river and try some pinpoint areas.   I would have stayed in the bay, given that we started mid-AM and two drifts basically covers about .0001% of the bay.    I know there are hundreds, if not thousands of bass, pickerel and bowfins in there, but I was up for trying the river.   My old fishing buddy Terry and I had done OK there in the past dropshotting.  

So off to the river we went.   There were legions of panfish around - young perch, rockbass and so on.   The river is loaded with nutrients from Onondaga Lake, so that's to be expected.    There was a lot of boat traffic, cut up weeds, shorefishermen and other distractions on the river.   Boat control wasn't easy with the currents and negotiating the shoreline vs. staying out of the way of the boaters.   We pitched and dropshotted various areas.  I occasionally threw a fluke or crankbait.    I'd like to spend a full day here during midweek when the traffic is down, but the river wound up being a bust for us.   Panfish and some small bass was what we encountered.   The river has a good channel cat populations - so that would be fun sometimes to try.

After some discussion, we decided to finish up our day in Big Bay again.   The wind was still up and the sun starting to get low.   Mike wanted to work a particular area he'd seen on the map.   I had a pickerel grab a spinnerbait and we both knew we were in business.  Good weed clumps became visible as we drifted down.   We wound up landing a few bass up to around 17" and a half dozen pickerel or so.    Most fish came by pitching tubes and Chigger Craws.   

Overall on Oneida Lake this year we've had very consistent largemouth fishing on the lake's west end - pretty much regardless of the weather pattern, we've been able to weasel out a few decent bass.    I feel if we'd stayed in the bay and worked it all day - and esp. if we'd started early, we would have landed good numbers of largemouth bass.  

I admire shallow water BASS pros like Tommy Biffle and Bill Lowen.   I find that for most bass guys with reasonable, not professional skills - working slightly deeper is much easier.   I'm no shallow water expert!     It takes a lot of practice to be able to cast or pitch a lure so it lands on target without much of a splash.  Boat control and approaching very shallow fish is something that takes a lot of work/fun practice.   Add in current and it's very challenging.    These guys dissect areas piece by piece.   It takes a certain mentality to be able to do that.   A bass boat helps too.   We didn't work a lot of the shallow stuff.   But pinpoint pitching accuracy is needed on the river - you get one good shot at a target and that's it.  

Next time we're out here, it'll likely be for smallmouths.   I'm looking forward to it! 

 

 

8/12/2011
Skaneateles Lake 8/12

Guided a full day today with Scott and Joseph in the AM, then Scott and Dick in the PM.   We spent a few hours jigging lakers.  I don't do much summertime jigging here, but we tried a few areas.   Fish weren't too active, but Scott landed his first Skinny laker (they've had a place on the lake for almost 40 years) on a white Shaker.    He dropped one or two others.  The fish here are usually fairly small and therefor tough to hook.    There were good numbers of lakers around, so I'd expect good fishing when they turn on.

I showed the guys dropshotting and that was the most productive technique of the day - best action was arounc 28' to 32', but we had fish hitting in over 40' of water.   Bass, rockies and perch were what we found.   Berkley Power dropshot minnows and Gulp did the trick.   Tubes and Superflukes also provided some hookups.   We caught a couple pickerel on the south end which was another first for the group.   Water temps range from 72 - 75 degrees.  As expected, the lake got busy with boat traffic by the PM.  

8/10/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 8/9 + 8/10

After 10+ years of going out of Taughannock, I've finally became one of the "Myers Boys."   It's a good launch and provides access to some great fishing - so I'm happy.   I will still do trips out of Taughannock depending on the weather conditions and I can also motor over and pick people up from that park, but I'll be launching on the east shore of Cayuga Lake for the most part.  Long Point too - which I'm looking forward to, since it provides great access to Sheldrake and Aurora.  

8/9:  Guided Scott, Dick and John for the full day jigging lakers starting at 6:30 am.   Somedays the bite starts out well and just keeps going and going.  This was one of those days!   Scott started things out and kept them going near AES.   Laker action was good from around 65' to 85' if I remember right.   John also caught a couple nice ones and Dick managed the hardest fighting wild fish of the day.   The west shore also produced some good fishing for us.  White shakers on 1 oz jigheads did the trick.

We dropped John off around noon and continued to fish.  Scott managed to land a beautiful brown trout that measured 27" and weighed 10lbs 10oz!   Just a gorgeous inland trophy brown.   He then lost one that skyed upwards and threw the jig.   That fish was probably 7 to 8lbs.    A 31" laker rounded out the day.  All in all, terrific fishing with 15 nice fish landed and quite a few dropped.   I made a point of mentioning how the gang hadn't dropped any fish - and then of course everyone started dropping them!   Funny how that goes.   Great fishing day and one that won't soon be forgotten. 

8/10:   Guided Craig and Brad today for a full day of fishing.  We mixed things up with some bass fishing and some laker jigging.   Things went pretty well with some success on all fronts.

We started out on the south end of Cayuga Lake working the weedflats.   I had the guys throw white Superflukes to start.   Water temps are in the low 70s right now.    Those of you who follow my website know I don't do a whole lot of bass fishing in the southern portions of Cayuga Lake.   I have done some in the past, but so much of my guiding is now salmonids that it felt good to get back to bassin'.   Craig had the hot hand early with the bass, hooking and losing 2 decent largemouths in the 1.75 to 2lb range.   He also had a hold of what was likely a nice northern pike.  The fish hit, fought for a bit then broke him off in the weeds.   On smallmouths Craig hooked a couple decent fish, managing to land one on an alewife tube jig.   Brad had some hits as well.   We didn't have time to work all the areas I wanted to, but from what we saw there was some decent fishing to be had around Ithaca and north.    This fishing will only improve as water temps cool and smallmouths begin migrating into the area from further north.

The laker jigging started out pretty hot.  The fish we were into were on the small side - ranging from 13" up to around 18"+.   But they were very active.   The guys had quite a few hits and landed a couple fish for supper.   All in all we had pretty good action throughout the day with a few lulls.  But both largemouths and smallmouths cooperated to an extent and the lakers did too.   Fun day with the guys and by 1:45 pm we got blown off by storms.  

DEC just finished up a standard gang gill netting on Cayuga Lake.  These are conducted once every 3 to 4 years in set locations.   Good numbers of lakers were taken in the northern portions of the lake around Levanna and Aurora.  I move a lot of my guiding south this time of year, but the fishing up north remains very good.   A couple nets were set for sturgeon and 4 nice ones were caught, tagged and released in good condition.  The fish from the 1998 sturgeon stocking are now pushing 4.5' long!!! One 10lb channel cat, a 20lb drum and a few big carp also showed up in the nets.  

Unfortunately one gillnet was apparently pulled and/or stolen by someone.   This is the first time in DEC history that this has (apparently) happened.   If anyone sees (or snags) the net, has any information regarding this, or sees the buoys, please contact DEC Region 7 at (607)753-3095.   When people see the bouys and netting is being conducted, they need to keep their distance.   Wild laker numbers are still around 8% or so on Cayuga.    Fish ran to around 14 to 15lbs, so there are some beauties around.

      

8/7/2011
Oneida Lake 8/7

I don't know what it is about Oneida Lake, but I have never really done great there on smallmouths.   My buddies have all experienced the easy fishing - find the birds and cast Rat-L Traps or Topwater and catch lots of smallmouths.   Work the shoals, weedlines, points and catch them great.    I've never encountered that stuff there.   I remember doing well there when I first fished the lake with my buddy Terry about 1986 or 87.   I caught a 24" 4lb walleye there the first time I fished it - at the time, that was a good fish.   I've done OK with largemouths there this year.  Pickerel are everywhere - not a problem.   But the smallmouths really baffle me at times.   I've caught some, but not enough and not consistently.   

Today I got up at 3:50 am after a long week of guiding, then moving, then more guiding - all interspersed with dentist appointments and other errands - I was beat, but wanted to fish it when my buddy Mike called and told me he was going.    I booked a bunch of trips over the upcoming two weeks yesterday, so it was today or nothing for awhile.   Mike has considered the lake a fairly easy smallmouth lake and has had his best smallmouth fishing ever over there.   After today, we left scratching our heads!

We were on the water before 7 am and gave Shackleton Shoals a good going over.   I hadn't fished there in a decade and Mike wanted to spend some time there.   I had a fish just crush a spinnerbait within 1/2 hour - but came up empty.   We worked topwater, flukes, spinnerbaits, dropshot rigs, tubes and other jigs.   I threw crankbaits, spidergrubs, carolina rigs and jerkbaits at times.   We fished other areas too - both onshore and offshore.   Birds were around and occasionally diving, but smallmouths didn't seem to be active.   Mike took me to areas where he'd previously hammered bass - zippo.  It appeared to me that bass were possibly nudging our lures or nosing up to them and not committing.  We did feel some light taps throughout the day - but very rarely.    I don't think they were panfish hitting us, since I did try a dropshot worm that would have hooked the pans.

After 7 hours of hard fishing we'd landed nothing.  No great grabs or hookups.   Fishing can be humbling at times, that's for sure.    We tried a shoal that I'd had success with a month or so ago with my friend Eric.   I finally had a grab on a tube jig - it wound up being a solid drum.  Then Mike had a fish try to engulf his topwater lure 3 or 4 times.   It finally got hooked - it wound up being Mike's best pumpkinseed ever, a solid 9"er.   Whenever it appeared the birds would get working - nothing happened.   I'm not sure if it's a seasonal slowdown, or just the day's weather pattern.  Maybe a combination of both, but either way - we'll be back.   I struggled on Otisco Lake for years till I finally decoded it in 2008.   Since then, I've loved it.   Hopefully that time is coming soon for the mighty Oneida Lake. 

8/6/2011
Sodus Bay 8/5 + Seneca Lake out of Sampson 8/6

Sodus Bay 8/5:  Guided Mark for what's become an annual fly-fishing gar trip on the bay.   It was what I now call a "Faucett Day" - on and off!   (If you were a Charlie's Angels fan, you could have called it a "Fawcett Day".)    Fishing started out fantastic with abundant, albeit mostly smaller gar chasing and hitting on nearly every cast for our first drift.   Mark landed 4 gar - mostly fish under 36".   After that, the wind came up, the sun became obscured by clouds a bit and the bite just died.  We moved around, we tried deep sinking lines and slower sinking lines with not even a follow from the prehistoric fish.   There were schools of what appeared to by YOY (young of the year) alewives around, and that's what I think the gar were keying in on.

After a few hours of fruitless casting, I ran the boat back to the launch and we got some gear rigged up for bass.   Mark did some dropshotting and casting a Senko and managed to catch a couple 14" largemouths.   Boat traffic got pretty heavy with the weekend underway, and we called it a day.  

Hit Orbakers for dinner on the way home.  Terrific burger, onion rings and malted milk shake.   You'll forget about "Five Guys" and "In 'n Out Burger" in a hurry over there!  Well worth the trip...It's about 9 miles West of Sodus on Rt. 104.

Seneca Lake 8/6:   By the time I got back from Sodus it was 11 pm Friday night.   I met Kyle and Joe over at Sampson at 6:30 am and we got underway.   Seneca Lake was threatening storms - with some wind coming up from the south around 10 to 12 mph.   We shot over to the west side N. of Dresden and started fishing.   Joe had a couple hits.   The lake seemed calmer (probably the illusion of calmness via Long Point) so I tried running the guys N. to Belhurst.   As we got up there, the lake started whitecapping pretty good and by then the winds were up around 15 mph.   We gave it a short try and then after taking a wave over the bow and having some tricky boat control issues we ran back south again.    No question about it, we had some stormy weather in the general area, but Kyle's IPhone showed no signs of T-Storms - just a lot of impending rain.

There were plenty of fish and bait on the west shore.   Joe wound up hooking and landing a couple 17 1/2" cookie cutter wild lake trout.   He dropped a couple as well - one that felt heavier.   Kyle had a few hits.   Rain started coming down good and the wind cranked back up so we called it a day.   Tough day, but given the conditions I thought the guys did well.    

8/4/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/4

Guided John and John (Jr.) today for a great 1/2 day of action!   Finally, a couple names I have no trouble remembering.   We stayed on Cayuga's west side today and the guys landed a bunch of (around 8 - though tons more were chasing and hitting) nice lakers to 28".  One fish had a massive lamprey attached - an 18"er!   And no, I didn't eat it.

Two fine brown trout made it to the net today - fat pigs, one around 22" and one bigger around 25" (which we let go.)   The browns are footballs on this lake!   I checked my fishing diary and the one we caught last Friday was 25" long and weighed 8lbs 9oz - or something along those lines.   These are gorgeous fat fish!

My buddy Mike was out with a friend and they also did well - landing a couple big browns and hooking some solid salmon.   It's tough to beat Cayuga Lake when the fishing is this good!   And next to nobody was out.  

8/3/2011
Keuka Lake out of Penn Yan 8/3

Guided a full day for smallmouth bass with Doug and his son Zack.   First thing I noticed was the new "pay station" at the town launch in Penn Yan.   $5 is the launch fee.   It had been free there until recently.  

In a nutshell, the smallmouth bass fishing was excellent today.   The guys landed 7 or 8 very solid smallmouths to around 18" (over 4lbs) and one nice largie along with a handful of smaller smallmouths and the usual rock bass.   More importantly, the guys had a super number of hits and fish on the line today.   Doug had a monster smallmouth inhale a fluke - the fish had to be between 5 and 6lbs!   We had moments where 1/2 dozen 16" to 18" smallmouths were chasing the fluke.  

Zack caught a nice smallmouth and nearly 3lb largemouth with a Zara/Sammy type topwater lure today.  He also did well dropshotting a green pumpkin/red flake Ozmo.   Doug doesn't fish a whole lot and was worried about whacking me with the rod - but he had a whole lotta action today with fish inhaling the fluke.   Just a great day of fishing and pretty good "catching" too today!   I really had a great time chatting with the guys and watching the superb smallmouth acrobatics and battles today.  

My buddy Craig reported a great day on Skinny today too.  So the weather pattern was just right for hungry fish!  BTW - I tried the clams at Seneca Farms - very good!    It's always fun going to Keuka with plenty of good food nearby...

8/2/2011
Otisco Lake 8/2

Guided Bob and John on the lake for a full day today.   Bob has a place on the lake and has been looking to improve his success on the lake.  The guys have kids and do a lot of inshore panfishing to keep the action going.  

First thing I did was get the guys casting baitcasters.  I don't know if success is contagious or what, but in 7 years of guiding I've never seen two people get the baitcasters under control as fast as these guys!   Within 10 minutes or less Bob was booming casts out with my Revo reel and Fenwick HMX musky rod.   The guys realized how much work goes into covering water as an hour or two slipped by with no action.

John then took his turn with the large rapala musky lure and Bob worked a rattle bait.    It didn't take long before John hooked into a decent Tiger.   We landed the 28" Tiger after a spirited battle and a couple jumps.   Around 10 minutes later John got another Tiger!  This one was bigger - around 29".    Good fight too.    We saw the usual tiger or two swim by and/or jump.  

After noon we had a couple hours left and we did some dropshotting.   John dropped what was likely a good smallmouth.   Some sublegal largies and a few panfish were caught before we called it a day.   Not an easy fishing day with north winds gusting near 20 mph by noon, but a fun day with some cool musky action.   Boat traffic was light.

8/1/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/29 + 8/1

7/29:  Guided Bob and his stepson Ron for 1/2 day.  We started at 6 am and fishing wound up being pretty good for us throughout the AM.  The bite slowed just before we called it a day around 10: 15 or so.   Best fishing was on the east shore N. of the Power Plant.   Nothing outrageous to report - a solid day with some nice lakers caught.   Fish ranged from around 65' to 80' if I remember right.  

8/1:  Guided Dave and Joey today for a full day.   Things started out iffy with a few isolated T-storms moving through the area.  After a little delay at the dock, we got underway.   The bite was slow to start with David landing a decent fish, but not much else to show.   Quite a few hits/fish were missed, but that's usually how it goes when learning the technique.       Once the winds died down and the sun came out, the bite really picked up, especially on the west shore.   The guys had some banner fishing with 10 lakers landed to 28".   We finished things up with Joey hooking and landing a FAT 25" brown that we kept.  It tipped the scale at nearly 9lbs!!!   Who needs Lake Ontario???    These fish get upwards of 25" and add almost 2lbs per inch!

I'm now living near the east shore of Cayuga Lake in the Lansing area.   It's quite a change from where I was before, but my new apartment is great - super location, spacious and clean.   I had to give up my free-range spider farm and other great things (like the free mice) that came with living in a mildewy old house, but that's the way it goes.  

Look to see more trips (and reports) in the future out of Myers and Long Point, as well as Owasco, Skaneateles and Otisco Lakes - all lakes that I'm psyched to start putting more time into.   I will be pleasure fishing Oneida more often too.    Lakes like Keuka will be a bit more of a drive, but I intend to keep fishing and guiding there.   The fishing is just too darn good!   

 

 

7/28/2011
Owasco Lake 7/28

Guided Fred for around 6 hours today.   We usually do a trip out here every year in the summer.   We started with lakers at around 6:15 am.  Once we found some active fish the action was excellent for around 1/2 hour.   Fred landed and released 4 including one very rare Owasco wild fish.    He missed a few too.   The larger 24" to 25"+ lakers were in very good condition.  The smaller fish were thin - which has been the case here quite often over the past 6 or 7 years.  Plenty of baitfish abound.     Fred tried some shiners for a little while and possibly had a hit.

We set up for bass and gave it around 2 hours.   Had a few 12" to 14" fish follow in a shiner.    Fred wanted to use some bait and see how things worked - so that's what we did.   Tried a few more areas for lakers without luck and called it a day.  Best laker depths were from around 67' to 75' or so.    Good day and very pleasant out on the lake.  Winds were southerly around 8 to 10 mph - not the 3 mph predicted.  But that's to be expected!

7/27/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/27
Guided Alan, his wife Laura and 7 y.o. Justin for a 1/2 day today.  Winds started out fairly good out of the north.  Not much doing early.   As the winds subsided and sun came out fish gradually activated.    I hooked one for Justin and he tried cranking it in - they are strong fish!    The fish "freaked him out" a bit and he took a break with mom for a bit.   Alan wound up landing a nice wild laker before we decided to head in.   They don't fish much at all, but enjoyed it today.  Fun time!   65' to 85' remains good on both shores.
7/23/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/23

Guided Ed and Stan for 1/2 day today.   Fishing was excellent with great laker action to start and only some momentary lulls.   Many fish around the mid-lake areas are running 20" to 25".   Fish are feeding fairly heavily and some are quite fat.   Stan capped our day with a beautiful brown trout that was around 27" - 28" long and at least 12lbs!   We released the fish after a quick photo or two.   Expect more non-lakers to show up in the mix as fish gradually migrate to spawning/stocking sites!    Around 65' to 75' was best today.

My starter finally went on my Yamaha motor - so I was off to Silver Lake Marine today.   This will keep me off the water until Wednesday.   Unfortunately these things do happen on occasion.  

7/22/2011
Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 7/22
Did an AM 1/2 day starting at 6:30 with Jim, Larry and Brandon.   Fishing was good on both shores.  The guys landed 6 fish from one 13" dink up to a 28" beauty.   Jigging chartreuse plastics from 60' on out to around 85' was best.   Plenty of bait is around.  Fleas and weedmats are bad, so jigging is the best bet (vs. trolling.)   Of course at Fingerlakes Angling Zone jigging is always the best bet!   Fun and good morning of fishing and it was nice to be off the lake before air temps heated up much!
7/21/2011
Keuka Lake 7/21
Did an early 1/2 day with Dan, Mark and 10 y.o. Amaya.    We started just after 6 am and headed right for the Bluff area.    Amaya hooked the first fish but didn't feel strong enough to reel it in!   So Mark took over.   The guys did great on the morning with 9 fish landed, most in the 19" to 23" range and one around 17" to 18".   We kept 8 of them and there was no signs of bait inside them.   Fish are starting to develop eggs and milt.  Most were males FWIW.    Chartreuse was the hot color today.   All fish came on plastics.   We caught some suspended over 100' to 105' or so, but the best action was from 65' out to around 90'.   Fun day and it was good to get off the water before the heat got too oppressive.  I fished another 40 minutes or so casting for bass.   Hooked one and missed a few before I quit, but they were aggressive today.
7/20/2011
Sodus Bay 7/20

Guided Chrissy and Mark for an afternoon of gar fishing.   They are fans of some of the fishing shows where offbeat species are targeted in offbeat places.   There's a world of fun fishing out there and people around the world are catching on.   Watch fishing shows two decades ago and you'd think the only species around was largemouth bass!   I won't go into some of the anglers on those shows...

Things went great from the get-go.  We currently have a great weather pattern for fishing and I knew it could be a good day.  After a little searching we found the gar and at times two fish were chasing at a time.   Both Chrissy and Mark had a lot of fun landing around 7 to 8 fish in short order on some rope-lures.  Then, as is usually the case, the gar just stopped hitting.    Mark kept one to try on the table.  I'll await his report.  Gar are eaten a lot in the south and I know of people who've eaten them, so I'm sure they'll taste fine.   

We had about an hour or so left in the trip, so we gave the bass a try.   We had some very good bass action in a short period using Senkos.   Mark landed 2 really nice Sodus largemouths - 16" to 17"ers as well as a smaller one or two.   The pans were around, along with carp and everything was active.   Mid-week gives fish time to recoup from tournament pressure and the weather pattern likely put the bass in a positive fishing mode.   Sodus Bay has thousands of bass so it can be a tough place to beat.    Water temps were in the low 80s.  Very little boat traffic (!)   Great day on the water....

7/20/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/17 + 18

7/17:  Guided Ryan and his wife Heather for the full day.   We got a nice break on the weather - some T-Storms were around but stayed north of us, and by 9 am the weather had cleared up.   Ryan fishes both Lake Placid and Lake George a bit so he was looking forward to learning the jigging technique.  

Things went well with Ryan landing a nice fish within a few minutes of setting up near AES.   Overall a half dozen nice fish were landed on the day, with several missed/lost as well.   The bite was fairly steady though not spectacular with the exception of the early AM.    Fish ranged from around 65' on out.  

7/18:  Guided Ron and Matt, who've joined me several times in the past.  Lakers were the target today.   The bite was good throughout the AM till around 11 or 12 noon, then things shut down.   7 nice fish were landed from around 16" to 30".  Matt lost a nice landlocked salmon near the boat (the fish hit high in the water column.)    Fun day with steady action throughout most of the AM.    Same depths as Monday were productive.

7/15/2011
Keuka Lake 7/14 + Sodus Bay 7/15

Guided Tad and Barry for the past two days.  Tad joined me 3 years ago for some great fly-fishing.  Our fishing back then was probably better than it should've been (he had a 26lb carp beeline for his bugger - which hadn't happened before and hasn't happened since, amongst other things...) and it was slower than it should have been this time.  But that's how things go.   The guys wanted to fly-fish so I figured smallmouths and gar would be the way to go - here's how things went....

7/14:  Keuka Lake - I was hoping to meet the guys at 8 am but by the time the guys had breakfast and got rigged up it was closer to 9:30.   We caught the tail end of what was likely a decent bass bite.   The guys landed 4 or 5 decent(12" to 15"), but not huge smallmouths in fairly short order on flies.   Type 2 and intermediate lines did the trick.   We saw some big smallies show up after the flies, but they weren't grabbing.   We worked a few different areas and more smallmouths were caught - but nothing big.   A couple perch also showed up.  One pickerel followed. That was about it.  We raised quite a few fish, but they weren't hitting great.  The cold front certainly slowed things up a bit.  

Barry makes some nice bamboo fly-rods and I got the chance to cast a bamboo 8 weight!  It was interesting to say the least.  These guys have fished all over the world and it was fun chatting with them. 

7/15:  Sodus Bay - I knew that the air temps would be hotter today and I felt today would offer the best shot at some gar on the fly.  Tad has been wanting to catch a gar on the fly for years - it was on his "to do" list for species.   

We tried an hour of bass flyfishing without any action - I was hopeful, but not expecting too much with the flies on top and slightly subsurface.  Fish are often in the weeds this time of year and with hot sunny weather.   We did see a few caught later in the day (in areas we fished Monday) by some guys likely practicing for a bass tournament.   They were pitching and working plastics deep into the weeds.  

BTW - I think this bay is getting fished a bit too hard by area clubs.   I met a Flower City Bassmaster member at the launch and he said their club moved their tourney last Sunday to Port Bay after arriving at Sodus and seeing that there were 3 other tournaments happening there.  Add in the Avon Tourney with around 50 boats on Saturday and I think that's a bit much.   Strictly opinion here - but with all the educated fishing pressure on the bass in this small waterbody, the fishing really takes a dive.   It might take a day or two after the weekend for the fish to really get back on the feed.   I've fished the bay for over 30 years overall and for bass sporadically over the past 25 or so  - I'm still impressed by the bass fishing, but I think clubs need to diversify a bit.  

Fortunately I don't have to worry about the gar.  Nobody fishes for them and that's fine with me.  But the cold front had the gar in a negative to neutral mood at best.   The guys did each catch one - but that was it.   The fish followed well from around 11 till 12:30 pm or so, but then they shut down.    Tough day but it was cool seeing the guys get their first gar.  Overall it was tough fishing - or maybe I should say "catching" the past two days on the fly.  I expect better.   The catching was slow, but the fishing wasn't bad - at least we knew we were on the fish.  Making them hit was the challenge.

I made my semi-annual stop at Orbakers on the way home.  It's about 7 or 8 miles west of the bay on Rt. 104.   They've been around since 1932 and make a great burger, onion rings and shakes.  Kind of like Don and Bobs, Vic and Irvs, Bill Grays, Tom Wahls and Bill Wahls in the Rochester area.   Better than Five Guys or "In and Out Burger" in my opinion.  The place was packed as usual.   Awesome stuff!

7/13/2011
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 7/13

Had a good time guiding Jeff and his buddies Andy and Sean.   We did a full day and fishing was slow-steady throughout the entire day.  Jeff landed 3, Andy 2 and Sean 1 fish - all nice lakers averaging 27" to 28"!   Jeff landed a 29 1/2" wild brute!   Beautifully colored.  All fish went back into the lake today.   45' to 55' was very good with tons of inactive fish deeper.  The numbers we marked in around 80' to 85' were impressive!  Like Keuka Lake fishing.  

Saw past clients Craig and Jimmy having a riot on the lake.  Fun couple guys and they scored well on nice lakers and a bonus landlocked salmon!  All in all a gorgeous day to be on the water with a refreshing cool breeze and light to non-existent boat traffic out there.

7/12/2011
Sodus Bay 7/11 + Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/12

Sodus Bay 7/11:   Guided Brian and his friend Mike on Sodus for a full day.  The plan was to spend the day bass fishing.   We had tough fishing.  Last year Brian and his stepfather landed 6 nice bass and a big drum.  This year the guys didn't hook any bass.   They mainly fish trout, but worked hard at using some different presentations today.  I taught them some different techniques and we did some pitching as well as working the usual Senkos, Flukes and crankbaits.  Even some dropshotting, but nothing was happening.   We worked a fair number of areas that had been productive over the past 8 or 9 years for me, with nothing to show. 

This is the first time I've fished Sodus this year.  Normally I fish it in late May or early June to check things out.   I regret being out of touch with it.    The bay does get a lot of fishing pressure via tournaments and there have been some weed harvesters around (sometimes fishing is good around them.)  But normally I can take beginners or kids there and score on plenty of 1 to 2lb largemouths.  Not this time.  There was an Avon Tournament there Saturday that I was unaware of.  Perhaps fishing by the release marina would've paid off!

We did manage to have a lot of fun with the gar.   We saw some early in the day, so we knew where they were.   There were tons of them, including some real beauties.   I set the guys up with some rope lures and before the end of the day they'd each landed 3.   We had follows on nearly every cast at times.   The gar did their usual jumping and some fought pretty well.  

We spent an hour or so on the big Lake with just a few gobies to show.   Lots of bait was around from 30' to 50' and even shallower.   I doubt the smallmouths have bounced back yet.

Cayuga 7/12:   Guided Valerie and Steve for a good 1/2 day on Cayuga.   We started at 6 am before the forecast winds came up.   Fishing started out good with Steve landing a feisty 26" laker in short order.  Other hits were had, but nothing else landed.   The wind came up pretty strong and Val and Steve fished hard to no avail.  It was difficult jigging with fairly inactive fish and it was tough to detect bottom.   Somewhat tough, but fun day.   65' to 75' was where we saw/encountered our fish.     

7/10/2011
Fishing Reports 7/7 - 7/10

Skaneateles Lake 7/7:   Guided a full day with Anthony and his brother John.   The guys are both from Australia with John still living there and Tony living in Ithaca.   Fun trip.  Bass fishing is fair on Skaneateles now.  It isn't the (somewhat) easy stuff we're used to seeing this time of year.   A lot of fish are still in the spawn and post spawn mode and aren't feeding real aggressively.   The guys worked jerkbaits, dropshots, tubes and flukes and encountered quite a few fish, though many were small.    A few halfway decent fish were landed early on, nothing huge.   A couple largemouths from the south end were also caught along with a pickerel.   Rock bass and yellow perch were also in the mix.   Smallmouth fishing improved as the day went on with some areas featuring nice concentrations of decent fish.   Anthony enjoyed the challenge of the flukes and we watched a lot of fish come after the lures - some good ones too!  John got confident with the tube - it was great to watch.  He fishes barrimundi and had some great stories and photos!  

Cayuga out of Taughannock 7/8:  Guided Mike and his son Jacob and daughter Maddy from Ithaca.   We started at 5:30 am and the laker bite wasn't exactly hot and heavy.   The gang worked for their fish today with young Jacob having the best luck early.   Jake and Mike each landed a couple nice fish.   Maddy dropped one.   The bite never really heated up and we tried a lot of different depths on both sides of the lake.   But even a somewhat slow laker jigging day is often productive when the day is done.   It was a fun day and I had a good time chatting with everyone.   Some solid lakers too!

Red Cross Derby!  

I had a long week, between a lot of guiding and wondering where I'll be living when I move out of my apartment at the end of the month.   Fortunately I found a nice apartment (in Lansing) and that headache is in the rearview mirror!   But my buddy Mike called late in the week (after not hearing from me much this week) wondering whether I was still up for the derby.   I entered it - so of course we're fishing it.   But the key this year was to have fun and take it easy - fish hard in the AM, get off the lake when things slowed and fish in the evening only if we felt like it.   Here's how things went:

Saturday 7/9 AM:   We launched at Seneca Lake State Park at around 5:45 or so.   I knew from past experience and recent guiding that Seneca's north end flats (as usual) were holding plenty of lakers and sizeable numbers in the 10lb + range.   Cayuga Lake had been tough over the past week.   Seneca wasn't exactly on fire, but a tough day there is often better fishing than a tough day on Cayuga - if that makes any sense.    Fish had been holding well in the 65' to 75' range.  But I also knew from prior reading (Earl Holdren's great book) and experience that there are likely many springs on the bottom of Seneca and lakers often are surprisingly shallow.   North winds also cause some minor upwellings of colder water and the winds basically blow warmer (lighter) water down the lake.   The west winds and light northerlies are also better on Seneca oftentimes. 

So we set up shallow - in around 47' of water.   In a nutshell, on Mike's 3rd drop of the jig he hooked a big fish.   We were too tired to get too wound up over it, so it was business as usual.  A long strong fight with some good runs and I slipped the net under the fish.  What a beauty!   We figured 10 to 11lbs, but Mike and I often underestimate fish weights.   We kept fishing and caught another 5 or 6 fish, but nothing likely bigger that 8.5lbs.   After further consideration we thought that we'd best get off the lake and weigh the fish before it lost any weight - so we got off around 11:15 am and headed to Watkins.   I was happy for Mike, since he'd fished this derby and the Memorial Day one quite a few times and his fishing partners usually caught the board fish.   We got to Watkins and the fish surprised us - 11.96lbs and in first place.  It was also the lunker for much of the day.

Saturday 7/9 PM:   We noticed that the brown trout and rainbow trout categories were wide open for the most part,  and we weren't going to drive back up to Geneva again, so Cayuga is where we went.   The launch at Taughannock was busy but we had no problems slipping in.   I had a couple ideas for jigging some non-lakers, so we went to an area I like.    Fishing proved productive.   We landed a couple lakers, but better yet - Mike landed a 5lb 24" salmon.   And still better yet, he got another one even bigger - a 6lb+ salmon!  Both jumped high and fought well.    When we got to the weigh station at Myers, we were surprised and shocked to see Mike's 11lb laker in 2nd place.   We didn't feel too bad, cause the first place laker (and lunker trout/salmon) was now a 16lber from Cayuga!!!  What a beast!!!   But this revelation made us reconsider our plans.   What were our chances of landing a 17lb laker?   Next to none!   I've never caught one or seen one that big on Cayuga or Seneca.   How about a 9lb brown or 7lb rainbow or salmon?  That I knew we could do.   So we had our strategy for Sunday.

Sunday 7/10 AM:   We went back to our area and were fishing by 6:15 am.   I had the hot hand early, landing and releasing a 22" salmon.   Then I got a laker and had a follow and three light hits from a huge brown.  I knew we had a chance.   Mike caught a couple lakers then I lost a big fish that was likely a brown.    My 12lb leader snapped.  I should have re-tied it after Saturday's fishing, but I didn't and I paid a heavy price.  It won't happen again!   We kept fishing and eventually in 70' of water Mike hooked a nice fish.  As it got closer to the surface it took off horizontally and we knew it was probably a brown!   After a great jump and run I got it in the net.   We knew it was over 10lbs and possibly 11 to 12.   We weighed it in and it was over 11lbs and leading the brown trout division.  It was 28" long. We fished till around 1 pm and I'm pretty sure I had a rainbow around 3 to 4lbs follow me in.  So we almost had the "Grand Slam."   The winds calmed and bite slowed.  We were tired and had done well, so it was time to call it a day. 

What a great derby!  I was thrilled for Mike.  He'd paid his dues and had a fantastic event.   It was a win-win, since we split our winnings down the middle when we do derbies and the publicity is always good for Fingerlakes Angling Zone.    We made the right calls and took some chances (with nothing to lose) and everything came through.   The 16lb+ laker was massive and caught by trolling.  As usual, Jon Evans was dominant on the bass - both largemouths and smallmouths.   As a bass fisherman, he's on another level - certainly on the Finger Lakes.    I won a Canavan Custom rod at the awards ceremonies so that was nice too!

It surprised us that Seneca Lake produced none of the top landlocked salmon.  The 2nd through 5th place salmon were all within 2/10ths of a pound of each other, so I was glad we were able to weigh in the fish quickly without losing weight.    I think trolling was tough due to waterfleas and masses of floating weed mats.     Are there still any non-believers regarding jigging?    This technique can be deadly on all salmonids!    It's fun too.   

Results of the derby are here:   www.reelingforrelief.org

Jon Evans website is here:   www.fishingthefingerlakes.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7/6/2011
Cayuga Lake 7/4, 7/5 + 7/6

7/4:  Guided John from Minnesota and his friend Simon from Kenya.   Laker jigging was good with the guys landing 7 or 8 fish if I remember right.   The guys really enjoyed the fishing and it was great fun watching Simon catch his first laker.   He's used to summertime air temps pushing 120 degrees!  That's HOT!!!   His favorite wild game to eat is giraffe.   I'll have to check Wegmans next time I'm there.... ;-)    He talked to us about killing a lion being a rite of passage for Kenyan men - though it isn't practiced anymore (at least that was my impression.)   

7/5:  Launched out of Taughannock with Tom and Mark for a full day trip starting at 6 am.   We had a decent breeze to start with south winds around 10 mph.   The west shore of the lake provided some laker action with Mark catching a couple nice fish.   We later moved east and Tom landed and released a 31" solid fish.    The fishing wasn't spectacular, but wasn't bad - we had some action throughout the day.   If I remember right, best depths were from around 65' to 80' or so.

Tom wasn't a big trout eater by his own admission but Mark and I were pretty sure he'd likely eaten some fish that perhaps weren't well taken care of.    Back at their camp, Mark prepared some fish and I received an email from Tom - "You were right....it was great."   Lakers are excellent eating - they may not be the best eating fish that swims, but there are very few fish out there better eating than freshly caught lake trout!

7/6:  Launched out of Dean's Cove at just after 6 am with George and his son in-law Perry.   Perry wanted to try some fly-fishing for bass and pickerel so we headed north.   He hadn't done any lake fly-fishing but was willing to give it a shot and learn as he went.   For whatever the reason,  fishing was tough for us.  Weeds were up high - especially N. of the State Launch at Cayuga State Park.    Fish didn't seem to willing to come up for our presentations.   Good time to do some pitching!   Anyways, George landed one small pickerel and likely missed a bass or two.   Water temps were around 73 to 76.    There was a slight algae bloom.   George had a new Canavan Custom rod and wanted to spend 1/2 the day laker jigging.   The PM jigging bite wasn't easy.   The guys missed a few.   We persevered and a couple decent fish came to the net.  

We are seeing slightly more wild fish than usual on Cayuga Lake this year.   Time will tell whether we've just been lucky or it's a lakewide trend.   Given what I saw today, we'd have been better off jigging lakers in the AM, then bass fishing in the PM.    Plenty of bass boats were out pre-fishing for the BFL tourney this weekend.  And in the Red Cross Derby, and there will be a bit of boat traffic come this weekend on Cayuga Lake.

7/3/2011
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 7/3
Launched out of the State Park today in hopes of avoiding the holiday crowds.  The lake wound up not being too bad boat-traffic wise.   Guided Andrew and his brother for the full day.    Fishing wasn't easy today.  We started just after 6 am and it took at least an hour or two before a fish was boated.   Andrew landed a beauty - a 29"+ fish that likely weighed 9lbs or better.  It was pretty fat.    Andy's brother came through with the next 3 fish - all nice ones.   A few more were missed and that was about it.   We marked plenty of fish from shallow to upwards of 80' or more.   Good day, but not nearly as hot fishing as during the previous week.   I think the overcast, unsettled conditions probably were a factor.
7/1/2011
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 6/30 + Skaneateles Lake 7/1

Seneca Lake 6/30 AM:  Guided Michael and Logan starting at 6 am.  Fishing was excellent to start with the guys catching 2 lakers on their first 3 drops of their jigs!   Action tapered off a bit after 2 hours or so.  The wind made it tough for the guys to detect the bottom.  Both guys are fly-fishers and it was their first jigging experience before heading back west where they are from (Utah.)   Mike was in my fly-fishing class and just secured a tenure track position in California, so it was his last day in the region.  What a great send-off!  The guys landed 7 nice fish to 31" and dropped a few more.

6/30 PM:  Guided regular Todd.  I wasn't sure how the fishing would be, but within minutes he was into them.  He landed 3 nice fish within 30 or 40 minutes and lost one or two more.   We tried some different stuff with steady action, but around 4 pm or so the fishing really cranked up with Todd hooking solid fish on consecutive drops using a chartreuse reaper.   He finished the day with 15 beautiful fish landed - most were 27" to 28" wild lakers!   Fantastic afternoon!

Skaneateles Lake 7/1 AM:  Guided the Hermans for 1/2 day.   Smallmouth fishing was OK - not terrible, but not great.   They started with a few nice 13" to 14" bass and rock bass.   We used the usual green pumpkin tubes, which represent the Skaneateles crawfish so effectively.   A jig worm and Superfluke also drew some fish.   Dropshotting didn't produce for us.  We kept a few smallmouths and a smaller one hadn't yet spawned but 2 others did.   The fish were packed with small crayfish.   Fish were scattered, though the shallows did produce some.   Milfoil harvesting is going on and I've been told that the lake association has distributed "milfoil mats" - basically plastic "mats" that people have put in front of their cottages to prevent milfoil (weed) growth.   I guess it's better than using chemicals, but it can't be helping the fishing.

7/1 PM:   Picked up Jack and his grandson Tommy around 12:30 pm.  Fishing was pretty good - better than the AM bite.  Tubes produced some nice bass, rockbass and a 12" perch.   Jack enjoys his spincasting tackle with heavy line and really does well with it!  I was impressed.   We had a good time out there.   Water temps are 69/70.  The boat launch was PACKED by mid-day.   Avoid this place like the plague after 11 am on weekends.   It's very hard parking and navigating with a boat trailer in this lot.  Very tough....

6/29/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 6/29

Started an AM 1/2 day with Jack at 6.   The bite was hot at the get-go with Jack landing a nice laker on his first drop with a jig.   Fish were aggressive over the next hour or two with Jack having quite a few opportunities and hits.   It can take some time to get comfortable and adjusted with the technique.   He fishes Canandaigua a lot and is a diary cooperator over there - typically targeting and catching nice rainbows.

I guess you can take the rainbow fisherman away from the rainbow lake but you can't take the rainbows out of the fisherman - or something like that!  But Jack had a hit on his jig's decent and set the hook into a drop-dead gorgeous rainbow.  After 3 to 4 jumps and runs and close-calls with line wrapping around parts of the boat - I managed to net the 28" beauty!  What a fish!   We took two quick photos and back into the water the bow went, little worse for the wear.   A good head shaking laker followed and we wrapped up just after 10:15 am.   Great morning!

I did a split PM trip with Ed, his son Stan and Stan's sons - 9 year old Andrew and 4 year old John.   Andrew managed to land a beautiful 31" wild lake trout - with a little help from his dad!   These fish PULL and PULL HARD!     Stan also landed a nice laker before we headed in and picked up John.   John is a bit too young for my type of fishing, but Ed wanted to give him a taste of it, so that's what we did.   John wound up giving things a good go, before taking a break and finding the assorted "dead" plastics on the floor of my boat infinitely more interesting and fun to play with!    Stan landed another nice laker and we headed in.   Fun day!

6/28/2011
Oneida Lake 6/27

Made it back onto Oneida Lake for another full day's worth of fishing.   Got a late start - around 9:30 am.   Nice breeze to start, but things died rather quickly and the lake became as flat as glass.   Fishing wasn't easy.  I worked totally different areas than last week for the most part.   Hooked a good smallmouth on the South shore on a fluke, but after 15 seconds or so it got off.   Fishing then became a grind.    I did a bit of drop-shotting as well as casting some jigs and grubs.   Eventually on the N. shore I landed a decent smallmouth on a black MTO hair jig.   I figured the fish would think it was Bill Alexander fishing, and not me ;-)    

Pitching and short-casting a rubber casting jig with a plastic trailer nabbed me a largemouth and another decent smallmouth.   Then I broke out the frog rod (around Big Bay) and connected with a shallow largemouth on some brush.  I basically took the latter half of the day as a practice day and realized I was better and more accurate casting with my left hand than my right - so that was a very nice revelation!   

I'm very happy with my Revo/Verdict pitching set-up, so when we do make it back to Champlain (or fish locally) for that matter, I'm in good shape.    I'd recommend the Revo STX to anyone - I have 3 and they are all great.  No problems right out of the box and after a year or two of good use.

That's two days on Oneida with sun and flat calm conditions along with a fair algae bloom (esp. on the N. shore/Central portions of the lake.)   So next time, I'm shooting for some overcast conditions with a bit of wind, or at least sun with some wind.   The dead calm stuff with sun and algae isn't a lot of fun to fish!   Water temps are in the low to mid 70s and warmer in Big Bay.   Pickerel were active, but not hitting as well as last week.    I did see another bowfin as well as a large channel cat and a gar, so that was pretty cool.  Loads of drum and carp shallow as usual.  Plenty of drum on the mainlake shoals too.

6/26/2011
Cross Lake/Seneca River 6/25

Got out with my buddy Jarrod for a nice long day on this system.   We brought gear for panfish, catfish and bass/pike and figured we'd just see how things played out.   According to the homeowners we talked to, the lake had been flooding for most of the spring, and just got into shape about a week ago.  The unfortunate local residents then dealt with 100 mph straight winds during a T-storm last week, which wound up uprooting some CLUMPS (!) of trees.  Not a tornado - just straight winds!   It was wild to see.   Water temps were 75 to 76 degrees and the lake level was normal.  

Jarrod had a fish "flash" for his jerkbait not long after we started fishing.   He figured it was a crappie, so out came the panfish gear.   We had a great time catching loads of mostly sublegal crappies using typical crappie jigs.    We winded up keeping 8 fish - which were the only legals out of maybe 40 to 50 caught total.   But fun nonetheless - I don't get the chance to catch a lot of crappies in my daily fishing.   A few big white perch and some scrappy bluegills also found our jigs.   I saw what appeared to be a nice bowfin cruise by... 

Casting the shallows yielded a chunky 2.25lb largemouth for Jarrod.   We didn't encounter many bass today, despite working some good lake areas, though we each dropped what were probably nice largies on our fluke-type baits.   Salt City Bassmasters has a tournament here today and 3 or 4 boats were out pre-fishing and working some areas we wanted to fish.   At around noon, one angler we talked to (from the bass club) had managed 3 bass and one "huge pike" around the docks in the AM, but overall the bass fishing wasn't great.    We saw a lot of white perch.   No sign of gar, which was very surprising.  Many are probably still in the river.   

We worked the river and found a few areas holding crappies.  It would be nice to devote an entire day to working all the potential crappie holding areas!  It would take over a month to actually cover everything that looked good.   A creek mouth produced a nice 26" to 27" pike for Jarrod on a spinnerbait.  We both missed a couple other fish.   I lost a big redhorse that apparently sucked in my crappie jig.    We saw a bald eagle cruising overhead.   It's always nice being on the Seneca River, despite the oftentimes challenging fishing.

Back in the lake, I hooked and lost a nice 22" to 24" channel cat that inhaled my jig in 15' of water!  What a fight!  I thought I had a 3 to 4lb smallmouth on, but the fish was head shaking more than a bass.  The cheap hook on the crappie jig didn't penetrate or for whatever reason wasn't enough to hook the fish long enough for Jarrod to get the net under it.   We went back to our crappie fishing and had more fun catching and releasing those.   

There's no really easy fishing on this lake.   There are some big bass in it and we both know some people who do very well here - usually having a favorite couple docks or trees or rockpikes they work.   But there aren't any shortcuts.   There's a ton of bait and crayfish.   Plenty of options for the fish when you include the river.    We have caught some 21" largemouths and know of smallies taken to over 6lbs (and nearly 7lbs!) here (during a bass tournament a couple years ago.)   Huge pike made this lake famous in the 1960s.   You never know what you'll hook here and that keeps us coming back on occasion, but the fishing is almost always a grind!

6/22/2011
Oneida Lake 6/21

Got out on Oneida with my buddy Eric.   We fished from around 7 am till 4:30 or so.   I first fished this lake around 1987 with my buddy Terry.   Over the years I've probably fished it a dozen to a dozen and a 1/2 times - from ice-fishing to spring, summer and fall fishing, but I really don't know it very well.    Today I started to get a feel for the lake and instead of it being an incomprehensibly huge body of water, it started to appear a little bit "smaller" to me - I could identify areas and had a feel for the shoals and islands and their proximity to each other.

We were met with east winds around 7 to 8 mph - rare on the Fingers, but more common on Oneida and not pleasant on the west shore.   There is a minor algae bloom going on here - not as bad as some of the ones we've encountered in the mid-summer (pea-soup.)We drifted a north shore area, missed some hits then landed a pickerel or two and a perch.   I caught a walleye that had more tumors than any fish I'd ever seen!   Some luck there....   We had a few other contacts with walleyes - following.     I managed another (clean but for one tumor) walleye around 17" on a jerkbait.    I missed a large fish off a shoal weedbed - either a huge pickerel, walleye or pike.  Probably a northern. 

We were really hoping for smallmouths.  Eric managed to land a couple.  I had some great opportunities on a superfluke - I missed/lost three good ones on the downwind side of a shoal.   Also missed a couple more once things calmed down wind-wise.    They are clearly done spawning - we could see the empty spawn beds.     We saw some drum but never hooked any or had any follow.   We wound up the day pitching jigs and casting tubes in Big Bay.   We caught a couple solid largemouths and a bunch of solid pickerel.   I was psyched to try my "froggin' setup" and had a bowfin follow my frog in from the shallows.   My frog casting could stand to use a lot of improvement!    Water temps were in the mid to upper 70s.   Boat traffic was light.   We kept 6 solid pickerel, a walleye and a perch today - some good eating!  

I really am starting to love this lake.   Instead of taking a road trip or two to Champlain or the Thousand Islands this summer, it's more tempting to just go to Oneida a bunch of times.   There's something for everyone here, between the large and smallmouth bass, numbers of big pickerel (which are very tasty and abundant, easily outfight the walleyes and hit harder than the largemouths,)  walleyes, big panfish and so called roughfish like bowfins, drum and cats.   My buddy Craig Nels guided this lake in the AM - he really knows the smallmouths here and his client did very well on some really chunky bass!

6/20/2011
Cayuga/Dean's 6/18 + Seneca Lake Sampson 6/19

Cayuga Lake out of Dean's 6/18:   Guided Dan and Chris for the 1/2 day (starting at 6:30 am) - both Canadian natives.   Had a lot of fun with these guys.   We worked the east shore.   Dan had the hot hand and landed 3 solid lakers up to a 31"er which we released unharmed.    Chris had the hits early on and later in the AM.    Beautiful day on the water!   Lakers are hitting well down the lake, so I'll likely launch out of Taughannock a bit more over the next couple months depending on the wind forecasts.  

Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 6/19:   Guided Greg today for lakers.  I decided not to "combat" the myriads of pleasure boaters and sail regattas launching out of Geneva's Chamber of Commerce launch - so we went out of Sampson and made the 7 mile run up to Geneva/Belhurst.   The lake trout numbers and baitfish numbers on the north end flats are amazing!  Plenty of fish to go around.    We started at 6 am.  Greg did a great job on the day landing 13 solid fish - mostly 24" to 26" wild fish, with a couple smaller and one or two around 27" to 28".    Jiggers were out in good numbers and it was nice seeing a lot of friends on the water today.   Fish ranged from 40' or so out to 75' or more.  We did well in the shallower stuff 45' to 50' or so.   Tried some mid-day pike casting and didn't see much, with the exception of some baitfish and small landlocked salmon!   Salmon ranged from around 12" to 18".  We didn't target them, but they were around along with alewives in the shallows.    We didn't expect much pike action midday on a hot sunny bluebird day,  but thought it'd be worth a try.   Great day on the water!  Just unbeatable weather...  

6/17/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 6/17

Guided Frank, John and Rick for 1/2 day.   This was a gift certificate trip from Frank's daughter.    Fishing started out slowly with a few hits, but it got better as the day went on.   Fish were hitting well by the time we left.   John had the hot hand with 5 nice lakers landed up to over 30".    Frank and Rick each landed a nice fish.   55' to 75' was best for us.  

Lots of bass boats at the launch - it's obviously tournament time on Cayuga Lake.   Most tournaments launch at "safe light" so to avoid the tourney guys, either show up at dark thirty, or come down a bit after it gets light out.    

6/16/2011
Canandaigua Lake + Honeoye Lake 6/16

Guided the Hermans for 2 one-half days today.   They have a place near Naples NY and have been wanting to fish Canandaigua and Honeoye Lakes during the course of a day, so that's what we did.   I don't generally guide these lakes, but I do make occasional exceptions.    Expect to pay a surcharge due to added travel/time expenses on these fisheries.

We started just after 6:30 am on Canandaigua's south end (Woodville Launch.)    The Hermans had a few hits right off the bat, but no hookups.   After an hour and a half, Eleonore and myself heard a loud jump.   Sure enough, John had hooked a beautiful rainbow and didn't say anything.   The fish cleared the water 4 times - tremendous battle!   After some surges under the boat and a missed netting attempt, I was able to net the 24.5" 5lb 4oz beauty.   After that, 2 lakers came to the net - both wild fish around 3 to 3 1/2lbs each.    A little warm water fishing produced a pickerel and perch and maybe a small bass if I remember right.   Then it was off to "Poor Richards" for a great lunch.

We arrived at Honeoye Lake's State Launch around 1:30 pm to 2.   Not sure exactly when.   There is some serious construction going on there and State employees told me a new (additional) ramp is going in along with plenty more parking.  Word is that the launch will be closed for construction after Labor Day!   So beware!  There is limited launching available at Trident Marine further north.  Constuction should be completed by November of this year.

Bass fishing on Honeoye Lake is tough to beat in terms of sheer numbers.   The largemouths here are abundant and could use some culling.   I like to eat bass though I rarely keep them anymore, with the exception of a few 12" to 16" smallmouths once in a while out of Skaneateles Lake.   But this is a lake that needs to have some 12" to 14" fish removed.  There are too many small bass here.   Back in the 1970s and 80s we used to catch plenty of 3 to 4lb largemouths and there were plenty of pickerel - now the situation is reversed.  We were glad to see some pickerel today and they looked healthy.   Hermans caught plenty of fish up to around 2lbs - though most were from 10" to 12" long.   Sworming Hornets with swim baits, Senkos, Jig/worm and Rat-L Trap type baits all worked great.   The usual spinnerbaits and cranks would have been great too today, though we didn't fish them.   This is a great lake to try ANY technique for bass.  You'll gain confidence!   Tons of beautiful panfish here too.   Just a terrific, fun lake to fish.   I miss not living closer!  We fished unti 5 pm then called it a day. 

6/15/2011
Owasco Lake 6/15

After a couple very nice days of R+R, it was time to hit the water again.   Today was boat inspection day and the plan was to meet the NYS Parks Official somewhere along Rt. 5 +20 near Auburn - so why not fish Owasco Lake?     I got on Owasco around 7 am.   I spent nearly all of the day working areas for smallmouth bass.  Fishing was tough.  I landed a feisty 12"er and a pike around 24" in short order on the N. end of the lake on a tube jig and jerkbait respectively.  Small borderline nuisance sized rockbass were everywhere, as were plenty of perch ranging from sheer dinks to 12"+ beauties.   I tried some new areas and "new old areas" -  I keep returning to some previously unproductive streches thinking I missed something, but in most cases I didn't.  

I located loads of spawning beds filled with panfish and a few smallies.   The smallies appear to be just about done spawning.  Water temps were around 70 today.    I left the bedding fish alone and worked downlake.   Working some Zoom Superflukes yielded a nice chunky smallmouth around 18".  I lost a beauty that had to be 20" or better - I watched him hit and turn sideways.   I also missed at least  3 or 4 other fish - whether "chasers" or biters.   Fish just weren't very aggressive.   I found them in my previous two favorite areas, despite working loads of seemingly similar areas (pattern fishing.)   I did not do any dropshotting or deep fishing on the N. end.   Just conventional bass fishing.    On the way back in I spent around 45 min. checking on lakers.   I found a few aggressive fish as shallow as 52'.   I can see why the laker fishing has been so good - plenty of fish and bait on the N. end.   An angler I talked to in the parking lot says he landed a big smallmouth on a dead alewife meant for lakers.    No great shakes overall at Owasco today.   To me it is fun and worth it if in the area, but not necessarily worth a special trip when there's better fishing for all of the above species elsewhere in the region.   I think Keuka and Skaneateles are better smallmouth bets and I expect Cayuga and Seneca to provide better laker fishing - though one never does know!  Owasco can be very, very good...

6/12/2011
Skaneateles Lake 6/12
Guided Greg for the full day today.   Conditions started out with overcast conditions and some showers.  Things started out well with a solid smallmouth bass and lots of hits from large rockbass.   Then we had a couple slow hours.   The smallmouth bass fishing picked up as the day went on and fish started coming on Superflukes and tube jigs.    We worked our way down the lake and Greg got into some pickerel and a nice largemouth bass.   A large perch was landed and a nice rainbow trout followed in Greg's superfluke.    My friend Craig reports the bass spawn being in full swing with plenty of fish on beds.   Water temps were in the 60s.   Expect good to excellent bass fishing throughout the month as the spawn winds down and fish start feeding again.
6/11/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's 6/10

Guided Andre and his brother Rob for the full day.  The guys have done their share of jigging in the past, but wanted to get my take on it, as well as see some good areas on Cayuga.   I had them try a few different things - LH crank reels, as well as some grip changes in the rod.   Some stuff stuck, some didn't.    Fishing wound up being decent with 4 nice lakers landed and a fair number of fish missed and lost.     Rob lives in Texas and it was fun hearing about the fishing there, as well as trying some superb Texas Style venison sausage sticks - the best I've ever had!   

We tried about an hour of bass fishing, basically hitting one area on the east shore without encountering much.    Lakers ranged from around 40' on out to 75' or so.  Friends found some fish in as shallow as 27'.   I also had a great report of some hot jigging action on Owasco Lake before 7 am.    Fun day and things are really just getting underway.

6/8/2011
Conesus Lake 6/8 Allnighter!

Got out with my buddy Mike at around midnight for some walleye casting.   Conditions looked very good with light south winds, tons of alewives spawning, and a cloudy night.   We were psyched.  One other boat was out nightfishing and they were pulling in as we launched - they reported no action trolling and casting.   We worked a lot of areas throwing various stickbaits and swimbaits.   With the amount of weeds up, I actually think a spinnerbait would have been a good call.   We had very slow action.   Around 2 am Mike felt something on his Swimbait.  Was it a weed?  No, it wound up being what looked like a small (for Conesus) walleye around 18" long - it got off boatside.    Periodically we poked around with our spotlight and saw a nice northern and a good sized walleye patrolling the outside of a weededge.   But we didn't get any grabs from the eyes.   We landed a half dozen good bass incl. a smallmouth, but no eyes.    Fatigue hit both of us really hard around day break - as did a freak minor windstorm or threatening T-Storm which never materialized, so unfortunately we didn't fish into the day much (or very effectively) for that matter.    Next time I'll bring the coffee thermos.    

Overall a challenging day.  It was nice to get away from the stickbaits and get some, though not much action on the swimbait.  I know folks that use other things as well - like worm harnesses.   We had a tough time working our lures slow enough. Now I know what to use my old Shimano 3:8:1 Curado for next time.    Water temps were around 69/70 and there were some green slimy weeds around.  The lake definitely had a slight algae bloom going on and didn't look particularly appealing in areas.    Next year we'll get out earlier in the season.  I can't do many allnighters without paying a big price over the next few days....

6/6/2011
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 6/6
Guided Florian and Elyssa for a 1/2 day starting at 8 am.   I don't recommend this late of a start for a morning trip, but they had some daycare issues - so off we went.   I don't know if there was a great AM bite, but fishing was slow to start - so I kind of doubt it, since we likely would have hit the tail end of the hot bite.   Around 10 am the bite picked up for an hour or so.  That was long enough for them to land 5 nice lakers!   The first time they ever went fishing was with me around 18 months ago and they did a very nice job - no hooked fish were lost!    Fish still range in fairly shallow water.   A lot of small bass and carp were cruising the shoreline off of the State Park, so there's some fun shore fishing opportunities there, especially for kids. 
6/5/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 6/5
Guided Greg and Andrew for the full day today.   Fishing started out very slow with the overcast conditions.   A lot of fish remain around the Dean's and Long Point area.   By noon the skies cleared and fish activated.   The guys landed 6 nice fish and they were hitting very well when we wrapped things up.   Around 50' to 75' was best.   Plenty of young (sublegal) landlocked salmon are around.   Surface temps are in the upper 50s.    Lots of boaters were out today from Dean's and Long Point.   Great day to be on the water!
6/4/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 6/3

Long day on the water, but it was interesting!

AM Trip:   Started at 7 am doing a full day with Doug and Cliff.   Doug wanted to learn the jigging technique so that's what we did.  I spent the first 1/2 hour or so giving the guys the tutorial.   We found a lot of bait and some fish shallow - from around 35' on out.   Fishing was good for around the first hour or two, then it slowed.   But it never quite stopped and then it picked up again around noon or 1 pm.   The guys landed around 7 nice fish (if I remember right.)   Many were in the 17" to 20" range - which is what Doug wanted for the pan.   We let go a 27.5"er and another good one.   Another 6 or so were lost/dropped.  So all in all, the action was pretty good.  By the end of the day the guys really had things dialed in.

Doug does a lot of perch fishing on Seneca and he actually brought me a big bag of perch fillets!   Can't beat that!    I learned a lot re: Seneca perching.   That's the great thing about guiding - I meet a lot of great fishermen from all over the country, world (in some instances) and region (in most cases.) 

PM Trip:  Guided Todd (who's a regular) and Dave - who does a lot of Lake Ontario trout/salmon fishing and panfishing.   Things started out windy, but Todd got into a solid 27" laker in short order.   Then we had a very tough go of it for the next few hours.   Cold surface temps (52) on the lake's east shore.   Very little bait around.  Weird.   But it reminded me of a very similar day last year - when I first guided Todd.   We wound up on the west shore for the last hour of the trip.  Water there was 56 degrees and there was plenty of bait and fish in!   Another 3 SOLID fish came to the net.    As I was filleting fish Dave hooked another one.  Todd took the net.   I didn't get a chance to watch but my eyes just about popped out of my head when I saw the brute of a laker in the net!   The fish was just huge!!!   At least 33" with a huge head, but the body was proportional - well-proportioned!   This fish was full of bait.    At the very least it was over 13lbs, but very possibly 14 or bigger.   It was a bonafied monster., bigger than I'd ever caught and probably around the top 6 or at worse, 10 that have been landed on my boat.   We snapped a quick shot and plunged it back into the water - it took off like a rocket!   Great finish to a trip that was looking like it might be very tough!   

6/2/2011
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 6/2

Guided 2 one-half days today. 

AM Trip:   Started around 7:30 am with John and Roger, who'd joined me a few years back for some Seneca pike fishing.   We started working around 35' of water when a boater motored up to us and touted some great early AM action in shallower - so off we went.   Our original plan was to fish out of Dean's Cove on Cayuga today, but the wind forecast changed from a straight strong westerly to strong northwesterlies.   Past Angling Zone client Al tipped me off on some great Keuka laker action - plus my clients were staying in Penn Yan and Dresden, so Keuka was the call.

The morning action was very, very good.   The fish had apparently moved out from the early AM and were in around 40' to 60'.   The guys had a double, plus hooked quite a few fish - it was their first time laker jigging and they managed around 13 or 14 solid lakers to 23".    Fun and funny morning - we managed to keep each other laughing pretty well...

My 2nd trip started around 1 pm with Patrick, who lives in MA.   He has a place on Seneca and wanted a jigging refresher.   We'd jigged together 2 years ago or so.   Action was very good for the first hour.   He had a lot of opportunities and some lost fish.  He landed two on the day.  The fishing really slowed by 3 pm.   We ground it out, but despite Pat's good effort, the fish just weren't responding very well.    I couldn't complain overall on the day, given that it would have been a blow-off day on most waterways in the area!    Surface temps are around 67.  Bring a cooler with ice if you are keeping fish - they will spoil in no time in the livewell or God forbid, a stringer!

5/31/2011
Otisco Lake 5/31

Guided past client Connor and his buddy Mike today for Tiger Muskies.   The "ways of the Tiger" are gradually revealing themselves to this fisherman and today was a big step in the right direction.   It's never easy figuring out a hybrid - are they more like pike or muskies?  My pure-strain musky experience is limited at best, so I have a lot of learning to do.

The guys really persevered today.  We had 3 follows from small (19" and under) muskies and 1/2 dozen or so largemouth bass to show with 2 hours left in the trip.   And it was sweltering out there!   But the guys didn't give up!   Connor spent the entire day (we started at 7 am) incorporating a "figure 8" into his retrieve.   I learned this watching a musky master I had onboard a few years back.      Some changes in his retrieve and a little wind helped too.   But his "8" paid off with his first tiger - a chunky fish around 25" or so.   It was wild watching the fish show up seemingly out of nowhere.     The guys had 4 to 5 fish in a similar size range (24" to 27") follow in the lures.    So no slob sightings, but good fun! 

Water temps reached 80 degrees today.   Largemouth bass were spawning, as were a few smallies.  Plenty of panfish - actually TONS of panfish were swarming the shallows and suspended over deep water.   Our muskies were around perch today.    Otisco has plenty of sublegal muskies swimming around.  I'm hopeful that the ice-fishermen won't decimate these classes of fish, but I'm not optimistic.   I'm very much in favor of the newly proposed 40" size limit currently being commented upon (see the DEC website.)  

I was very happy with my new REVO Winch reel and 7' long Fenwick HMX musky rod!  I paired it up with 40lb Fireline braid and TyGer wire.   In-line marabou Mepps Musky spinners and a Rapala Shad Rap (super-sized) did the trick today.    These fish are fly-fishable but it won't be easy!   

5/30/2011
Seneca Lake Memorial Weekend Lake Trout Tournament 5/28 - 5/30

The more guiding I do, the less I enjoy fishing derbies and tournaments.   I frankly don't have the energy and drive to get onto the water at "dark-thirty," fish a long day, then do it again and again.   I used to enjoy fishing Avon Anglers Bass Tournaments, but again - with no time to "pre-fish," winging it on tournament day gets old, especially when other competitors are getting out and scouting for a couple days.   But my buddy Mike has been fishing the Memorial Day Lake Trout tournament over the past few years and he really enjoys it.   He's been encouraging me to get into it.    My prior experiences going out of Sampson State Park and being surrounded by crazy trollers and copper pullers weren't endearing to say the least!     

Regular client Ed booked two half days with me with the intent of fishing the laker derby.   The plan was for Ed and his friend John to hunt turkeys in the morning, then meet me at 2 pm and fish lakers till 6 on Saturday and Sunday.   It's hard to turn down two days of guiding, especially with the sketchy economy this year, so off we went.   Here's how things broke down:

5/28 PM:   I got on the water around 11:30 am or so out of Seneca Lake State Park.   Mike had been fishing since 5:30 am so I had an on-the-water report.   They hadn't caught a fish!   It looked like things were going to be a grind.  I scouted out some depths and marked lakers as shallow as 40'.   Had a hit or two and was mildly optimistic.   Mike filled me in that client (from 9/19/09) Jeff Toombs was in the lead for the Grand Prize with a 13lb+ whopper.   Fishing was tough for us.  John did manage to hook what appeared to be a solid laker but lost it.  Ed lost a smaller fish that was up high in the water column.   That was it for day 1.   After the trip ended around 6 pm I fished another hour and missed a couple hits.  No great shakes.

5/29 PM:  Mike and his buddy Jim reported a better AM today, with 5 fish landed by the time I arrived.   My plan of getting on the water around 6:30 am failed and I slept in.   Got out around noon again.   I managed to land 3 fish before picking up Ed and John at 2 pm.   In a nutshell, the fishing was tough again.   But Ed hooked a good fish around 4 pm.  It was on the thin side, but 32" long!   So we put the fish on ice and motored in to the weigh station.   Ed's 10.55lb laker wound up a few hundredths of a pound out of 1st place in the Sr. Division!   So we were pretty stoked.   That was the only fish we landed!  Mike's nephews Chris and Justin had 3 fish on the board in the 9 to 10lbs range.   Past client Paul Nagel also weighed in a board fish.    Mike's partner for the tournament, Jim weighed in an 11.6lb laker - good for 5th place overall.

5/30 AM:  I finally got out around 6:30 am to be met with foggy conditions and no wind.  I expected sun and a westerly, which likely would have made for a good bite, but it wasn't to be.   I landed 4 fish - incl a couple 28 1/2"ers but no board fish.   Marked a ton from 35' on out to around 60'.  Yes - they are shallow! 

From what I heard, at least 1,200 people entered the derby.   There were laker prize categories for 31 places, including overall biggest fish, grand prize, biggest caught by juvenilles, teens, seniors, men and women.    At least 7 of the 31 were taken by jiggers that I know personally.   Perhaps more were taken jigging - I don't know.   But it should be very clear to anyone reading this that day in and day out JIGGING CATCHES THE BIGGEST LAKE TROUT!  It's common sense - fish don't get large chasing down bait.  The biggest fish lazily swim along picking off dead and dying baitfish - the stuff that we imitate with our jigs.   If you'd like to catch bigger lake trout - and maybe win a derby, now's the time to learn this stuff!    It's a bargain!

5/27/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Cayuga State Park 5/27
Guided the 1/2 day with Matt and his wife Erin - both up from the DC area.   Matt enjoys the pickerel fishing a lot, so that's what we did.   Fishing was OK - not bad but not great.   Around 5 to 6 were landed - including a couple good fish.     The best fish of the day was an unexpected 18.5" smallmouth that crushed a spinnerbait.   Great fight!   Lots of perch were around along with sunfish and a rockbass or two.   Carp were spawning and thrashing around the boat launch.   Fish came on scroungers w/superflukes, swimbaits and rat-l traps.   Weedgrowth really varies on the N. end of Cayuga - some shallow bays are relatively weed-free,  whereas other areas feature heavier growth.   Action today never got hot 'n heavy, but was pretty steady.    Water temps were in the 60s.   
5/26/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 5/26

Did a full day trip with Terry and Jim - both avid anglers who spend a lot of time striper fishing Raystown Lake in PA.    Terry's son recently bought a house on Cayuga Lake with lakefront property, so we did "the tour" of area hotspots and fishing patterns.    The original forecast of overcast skies, showers and south winds boded well for pike fishing, but for whatever the reason, our pike fishing was tough.   The wind was gusting fairly strong out of the south, but I felt we had a good shot at some northerns.   Water temps on the lake's south end are around 52 - 56, which are good pike (and trout) temps.    The AM fishing produced one very large (26") pickerel for Terry, and he also lost one about the same size.  Very nice fish.   Jim landed a chunky smallmouth around 16" to 17" on a Superfluke.   Pickerel came on a spinnerbait and stickbait.   

Trout and salmon are still around and I managed to raise a beautiful landlock around 25" to 27" while the guys took a lunch break.   I had Terry try to raise (and hopefully hook) the fish, but it disappeared.   Jim had a follow and light hit from a big laker in front of one creek mouth.   He also managed to land a sublegal salmon, lose one on a nice jump and have another follow - all in completely different locations.   

The guys aim to try the laker jigging technique on Raystown for lakers and maybe a striper or two.   We set up N. of Taughannock and Terry hooked a fish in short order - maybe a small laker, but it got off.   We didn't have time to run to the prime laker areas N. of AES so we worked around the park.   BTW - some shore anglers have been scoring on lakers from the bank at Taughannock!  Now's the time....

5/25/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Cayuga State Park 5/25

Got up on the N. end of the lake with my buddy Mike at around noon and we set out to explore.   We found plenty of gar, bluegills/sunfish, rockbass, perch, largemouth bass and carp on the lake's north end.   Mike threw a spinnerbait for a bit and caught some very sizeable bass to nearly 4lbs.   Plenty of gar were around, though I didn't bring gar gear, the fish were chasing white lures.    Water temps on the N. end of the lake range from around 66 to over 70! 

Word is a few crappies have been around over the past few weeks, but we checked some very nice looking areas and never encountered a single one.   Maybe in ten years they'll be back in numbers worth fishing for - either way, we keep trying on occasion for them....

But we wanted to catch pickerel today and that's what we did.   A lot of stuff worked OK - hollowbodied swim baits, superflukes, tubes, spinnerbaits etc... but Mike found a great set-up that really hammered them.  And they were very, very nice pickerel - many between 23" and 26" - about the same size as many northern pike you might encounter on Seneca Lake or Irondequoit Bay.   Good fish!   They hit very hard and fought very well.   Mike used a 1/2 oz swim bait with a steady retrieve and occasional pauses.   We fished around 10 to 12' of water.  They weren't the skinny post-spawn fish we often encounter in May - these fish are rebounding and feeding well.

We kept a limit of solid fish today.   Many had good sized perch in their stomachs along with occasional sunfish and crayfish.    Mike's been perfecting fish patties using pickerel and they've been fantastic.   So our pickerel will mostly be processed into tasty patties.  Once I get a really great recipe itemized, I'll post it on this site.  Mike's recipe is fantastic - gleaned from the Outdoor (sort of like Time-Life) series - basically food processed pickerel, milk and egg combined with some cooked potato, bread crumbs, salt and cayenne.    Dredge the burger sized patties with flour, bread crumbs (panko)  or cracker crumbs and fry till done.   They are great alone or served on a roll with a pickle and whatever other toppings you like - e.g. lettuce, tomato, onion etc...

5/23/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 5/23

Guided David, Bret and Tom for what ended up being an abbreviated full day today.   We started just after 6 am hoping to beat the wind, which was forecast to come up around 15 mph out of the south later in the day.   What wound up happening is that the wind stayed at around 12 to 15 mph through the night, then amped up into the mid-20s mph range by 9:00 am or so.  

The fishing was fair to good before the wind came up.   David landed a very strong dark colored laker around 29" that fought great.    All the guys landed fish including Bret's nice chunky fish around 27" to 28". By 10 am we had 2 driftbags out and were really sailing along.    The 1 1/2 oz jig heads were really key in being able to sense bottom when moving like that.   We landed a fish or two in around 65' of water, as well as a few out towards 110'.    The wind forecasts called for ever increasing gusts and the lake was getting pretty wild, so we wrapped up around 11:30 and headed back in.   A great time was had by all with 5 solid fish landed.   Good job in those difficult conditions!   

5/22/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 5/22
Guided Rick and Gary for the full day today.   Laker fishing was steady throughout the day with plenty of fish around, though their activity levels varied as the day went on.   The guys did a great job landing 10 nice fish, including 3 over 28".    Not much else to say.    Water temps on the surface were around 53.   Best fishing for us was from 80' to 110' or so.   All the fish were feeding heavily and full of bait!   Great time for lakers!
5/20/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 5/20

Guided Margie and her husband Brian for a 1/2 day.   Fishing was all over the map today.  Brian hooked up on his first drop near the Silos.   We found fish just about everywhere we tried from Silos down to Long Point (yes, we were all over!)   Many fish were high in the water column along with the bait - so surface trolling (and maybe fly-fishing) would likely produce lakers now.   Plenty of bait is now moving inshore and there are a lot of loons around feeding on them.   The trip was a gift from Margie to Brian and he took advantage of it, landing 3 nice lakers to 28 1/2".   Margie lost a really solid drag-ripping fish.  The weather was weird and unsettled - as has been the case lately.  

Panfish and pickerel are shallow - we saw some right in the harbor at Dean's.   It's a great time for all kinds of fishing on the Finger Lakes!  I think action will be hot 'n heavy next week with the warm air temps.

5/19/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 5/19

It was nice over the past couple weeks - the high water on Cayuga Lake enabled me to focus on other fisheries, like Keuka, Otisco and Seneca Lake.   We still haven't made it up to Lake Ontario or some of the Western Finger Lakes - or Oneida, but we will.  

I guided Hank and Hank Jr. from Tuesday's trip today for 1/2 day.   As is usually the case, the first trip in a while on a lake for a particular type of fish is oftentimes more exploratory - then over the next few weeks we fine tune a bit.   But we checked a lot of areas from around Aurora northwards on both shores.   There were decent numbers of fish from 120' to 140' with a few in the deeps.   The guys each landed a fish and each lost one.   A few were missed too.    Hank Sr. got one fatty around 20" in around 100' on the east shore.    Hank Jr. nailed a 6lber up around the Silos area in 80' to 90'.   Sr. had lost a very solid fish in deep water.    The lakers are everywhere - I guarantee some are in 20' of water and others suspended over 220'.   So it's a matter of searching and hopefully finding some bait.    We'll be out here a lot over the rest of the season, so things will become clearer soon!  The weather was weird - tons of fog to start, then it got sunny and nice for about 20 minutes, then rain and storm clouds moved in, then it got sunny again.  We left when it was sunny, and then it started clouding up and raining yet again!  Weird.

5/18/2011
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 5/18

Guided Rob and Pete (from Monday's trip) for salmon today.   Conditions were tough to start with the lake calm like glass.   Water temps lakewide range from 49 to around 53.    Working the southern portions of the lake produced a pike for Rob.   We also likely lost/missed a few trout/salmon since a fly came up with a lamprey on it after a hit was had, and we had a hit and then a scale on another lure.   Salmon often roll over the lures when hitting them and wind up foul-hooking themselves.  

We tried some uplake areas and encountered some smaller salmon that were skittish.   An area we fished was full of smallmouths and the guys probably landed around a dozen fish ranging from 10" to 14".   A few bullheads were also caught - one on a jig, one on a fly!   And a couple fouled.     As the winds came up (as was forecast) the salmon got a little more aggressive.   We found a stretch of shoreline that held good numbers of salmon.  Rob wound up landing a 24 1/2" beauty that weighed 4lbs. 7oz on a bionic smelt.     Great fight!    Pete had a lot of hits, including a grab from a solid brown.   Rob landed a 17" fish and by that time it was time to go.   Storms were threatening the area.  Salmon are well-distributed throughout the southern portions of the lake.   Now's one of the best times to catch them - water temps are perfect and the fish are very hot!    A hot weather stretch will put the brakes on this fishing, but I can't complain - we've had a great salmon year on both Seneca and Cayuga Lakes.

5/17/2011
Cayuga Lake North end 5/17
As mentioned on my homepage, launches are open and the lake is in good shape.  I guided Hank Jr. and Sr. today targeting pickerel, pike and bass.   We were the only boat we saw out today!  We had one follow of a likely northern pike - which isn't unusual, given that the pickerel population is much higher than the pike population on the lake's north end.   Some decent pickerel came to the net today and we kept some for the table.   The largemouth bass were the star of the day and Hank Jr. managed to land three really nice fish around 17" to 18" and some smaller (14" and below) ones too.  Hank Sr. landed a beauty nearly 20" long.    Water was clear and cold - around 53 to 54 degrees.   Very few signs of mudding carp.   Some perch were around too.    Lots of tactics worked today with the best being Superflukes.   We also caught fish with jerkbaits, stickbaits, hollow-bodied swim baits and spinnerbaits.   Really, really good fishing!  The guys don't fish a whole lot and they had a lot of fun, so much fun they booked again for Thursday!
5/16/2011
Keuka Lake out of Penn Yan 5/16

Guided Rob and his brother Pete for the full day today.  It's the first time in probably 4 years I've launched out of Penn Yan.  The launch was in good shape and the channel level good.    The target today was smallmouth bass and things went very well.   Rob's an avid saltwater fly-fisherman now living in California.   Pete lives in Ohio and does a bit of gear fishing.  Both guys grew up in CNY.   

Rob really wound up putting on a fly-fishing clinic today.  The bass were on drop-offs in deep water and not active shallow.   We had fish from 15' to 30' or more and Rob's approach (a la Striper fishing) worked very well.   He wound up landing 8 to 10 very solid bass, with his largest being a 4lb 3oz fish just under 20".  He lost a bigger one!   His top 3 all measured over 19"!     The gear fishing bite was harder for us today.   A few fish came on Super Flukes - both rigged with nail weights, unweighted and fished with Scrounger Heads.   Pete missed a fair number of hits.   He landed a huge pickerel - a 28" fish - the largest I've seen, though it was thin after the spawn.    A few perch came to the boat as did a few largemouths.     We tried a lot of approaches with the gear, but couldn't approach Rob's success.   Clouser minnows and deceivers fished on an integrated shooting head (similar to a RIO Outbound line) did the trick.   

Water temps are around 52 to 54 degrees.    Lake level was full pool - not too high.   We saw one other boat on the lake all day long!

5/13/2011
Keuka AM + Seneca Lake out of Watkins PM 5/13

Keuka AM:   Guided Mike and his brother Tim this AM out of Branchport.   We started at 8 am pretty shallow - around 70' to 80' and Mike landed a 24 1/2" laker on his first drop of the jig.   Within 5 to 10 minutes, Tim got one around 23 1/2".  Things were looking great.   Then fishing slowed a lot.  I ran the guys all the way to Hammondsport hoping we'd have some good to great action.   The bait was gone and Tim landed one more fish.   Fish were scattered and some were moving for the jigs, some chasing high, but most were inactive.   We finished up at the Bluff with slow fishing.   The Branchport fish were feeding and had fresh alewives - both large and small in them.   Weird weather day.  We did try deep too without any action.

Seneca out of Watkins PM:  Met Jerry and Barbara at the launch at 3 pm for our evening salmon trip.  Conditions looked good - mildly threatening a T-storm, but warm and windy (from the south.)   The stream fly-fishing Jerry occasionally does didn't translate well to the lake, so we wound up casting with spinning gear.   I showed Barb how to cast and it didn't take long before she was fishing effectively.   Action was slow until Barb hooked a nice salmon around 4lbs or so.  It jumped incredibly high - twice, before it got off.   Jerry had a couple hits and follows too.   We tried a little pike fishing but my hot pike area had dissipated - the water was cooler and clearer and the fish were gone.   Some more casting resulted in Jerry hooking and losing a quality salmon around 4 to 5lbs.    He did land a nice smallmouth near a creek mouth.  Storms came just as we called it quits.    There's still some good salmon casting to be had this season!

5/12/2011
Otisco Lake 5/11 + Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 5/12

Otisco Lake 5/11:   I didn't fish this lake at all last year and the time seemed right to give it a go, especially with the high water levels on Cayuga.   I was finally able to coordinate a fishing day with my friend Eric (who's seen holding the pike on my homepage,) whom I hadn't fished with in around 2 1/2 years!   Time sure flies....  He's a devout fly-fisherman and that's mainly what he did today.  I had a couple things in mind for our trip 1.)  Pinpoint some crappies - since I do need a good Finger Lakes crappie photo for this site and species profile and 2.)  See how the Tiger Musky fishing is.   We were able to accomplish both of those things yesterday.  

It wound up being Eric's day.   I did a lot of casting for pans and caught plenty of sunfish and bluegills along with a few perch.   Eric stuck with the assorted flies.  I did about 50% fly-casting for Tigers and 50% gear.  Early on I was casting a tube jig and had a follow from a nice musky - maybe 32" or so.   The fish followed up my tube and then likely saw Eric's fly, because he hooked up a split second after I raised the fish.   So he hooked the first Tiger either of us (or anyone on my boat) has hooked fly-fishing.   The fish surged out a lot of line and Eric's fly-rod dipped under the boat.   He was gaining on the fish when I had him move to the front of the boat in order to get some leverage on it to net it.   But the musky wound up wrapping Eric's line up in some weeds and the fish got off.  The right tackle is important and I think Eric regretted not hooking the fish on his 9 weight, rather than his 7!   We had a couple other tigers either loosely follow stuff up, or we'd see them laying on the lake bottom.  Eric had a follow on a tube later in the day, but it didn't grab my fly!   Overall I felt good about the musky encounters and I'll be back on this lake in the next few weeks.   Maybe even chasing some walleyes.   

We found some crappies in some heavy brush.  Eric managed a couple 11"ers and we each caught a dink too on jigs.   Bass were pretty active and again, Eric did well with the fly-rod on some solid 16 to 17" smallies and couple similarly sized largemouths.   John at Otisco Lake Marine showed me a couple shots of a largemouth recently caught and released from Otisco that reportedly weighed 7lbs 10 oz! 

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 5/12:   Guided Jacek, a surgeon from Poland whom I also guided last summer on Seneca's north end.   He was in the U.S. for a conference.   We went after salmon today.   He started things off right by hooking one around 4lbs on a stickbait.  It jumped and got off.   He had quite a few follows.   A 26" northern made it to the net - landed on a Cleo.   Jacek wound up hooking more salmon, having a ton of follows and then finally landing one around 17".   He had some big ones follow, but we just didn't get them to commit.    Fish were scattered and we found salmon in areas on both shores up and down the lake.   I don't like glassy calm conditions for salmon at all, but I felt we did well today given that that's what we had.   Those conditions may have contributed to their skittishness.

After the trip I was going to try some salmon fishing, but decided to go after pike - again, given the conditions.   I found some great pike action in a small area;  the only negative was that the fish were on the smallish side - running from 21" to 26".   But I landed around a dozen (in an hour and a half) and pulled my lure away from a few others.    I wouldn't recommend a special trip here for pike, but it was encouraging to see some healthy fish.   We also saw a few large dead ones too!  But that's the way it goes.   I used stickbaits and jerkbaits for the pike and they were in less than 10' of water.        

5/9/2011
Skaneateles Lake 5/9

Got out on my own today at noon.   Worked some N. end areas for bass and trout.   Landed one smallmouth on a jig up there.   Water temps were in the low 40s.    Water levels are very high.   Warmest water was on the west shore N. of the launch, but I didn't fish it.   Worked further downlake, hoping for some perch.  I landed a couple decent ones and marked a good sized school, but had trouble working my jigs in the wave action and deep water.   I was too lazy to rig any bottom/heavy rigs today, so I did the best I could.   I was pleasantly surprised to catch a fair number of chunky smallmouth bass today, mostly running 15" to 16" on jigs.  I used MTO 1/4 oz. olive/green bucktails.    (Bill Alexander doesn't just pour my laker jig heads - he makes some great bass/walleye jigs!)

Pretty tough fishing overall.  Just before I left at around 7 pm I hooked a very nice fish in fairly deep water.  I thought it was a big laker at first, but caught some glimpses of silver.  After some drag-peeling runs and back-reeling, I netted a thick bodied picture perfect rainbow around 23".  It nailed a tube jig.   Great fish and it's still swimming out there.   Rainbows appear to be moving away a bit from shoreline areas.  I had one other follow of a rainbow.  I fly-fished around 2 hours for them with no hookups.  

Things seem to be around 2 weeks behind on Skaneateles Lake.   I expect excellent mixed bag fishing there over the next 2 to 3 weeks.  Lakers, rainbows, salmon, bass, rock bass, pickerel and perch - they'll all be in the mix!

5/7/2011
Cayuga shorefishing 5/6 + Keuka Lake out of Branchport 5/7

5/6 Cayuga/Taughannock:   Stopped down at Taughannock with my buddy Mike who happened to be in town.   It's amazing how high the lake still is!  We did see one boat head out....Some smelt are obviously around and I'll likely give it a try in a day or two.    Mike and I did some casting from shore and I landed a laker around 24" and a FAT brown around 21" that jumped high and fought great.   A Rapala Husky Jerk did the trick.   

5/7 Keuka Lake out of Branchport AM:     I guided Travis and Jeff for a 1/2 day AM trip starting around 6:45.   We worked the Branchport Arm for at least an hour and a half without much action.  We had one hit.   This is the first year in at least 8 or 9 that I've seen such poor early season fishing at Branchport.   One angler I talked to felt that the high winds pushed the warm water away from the north end over there - it's certainly possible, but we did mark a lot of fish there, they just don't seem to be actively feeding. We started in 50' to 60' and worked out to 150' or more.    One of my former clients worked the Bluff area and had some very good fishing today.   But better yet, Angling Zone Friend Jeff B. emailed me and was raving about the fishing in Hammondsport.   I hadn't fished there yet this year, so we made the long run down there.   It was well worth it!   The area had some large bait schools and Keuka's massive wild lake trout population was gorging on sawbellies!   My guys landed around 20 nice fish and missed/dropped as many - easily!   Great fishing.  The guys had a fantastic introduction to jigging and it'll be a tough day to top.

PM Trip:  Did close to a full day with my old friend Chris and his son Brian.   After the great AM fishing in H-port I had to take them back there.   So we made the long run again!   The wind had kicked up by then and I didn't find quite the bait I'd found earlier, but the fishing was still very good and Chris and Brian caught a limit of nice lakers to 26".   We did some casting on the way back up the lake and ran into a few nice smallmouths - Brian had a good one follow, Chris lost one then landed a solid 18"er.    A nice perch followed, then we tried a pike/pickerel area and Brian managed to land some pickerel.   H20 is upwards of 44 to 46 in places and 51 near some creek mouths.  Water levels are high, but not flooding.  Overall - a gorgeous day with some superb fishing!

5/4/2011
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 5/4

Guided Don for close to a full day today.   He has a place on Keuka Lake and we were originally planning on some Seneca Lake salmon fishing, but the winds and water conditions weren't conducive to it today.   On Keuka Lake the water level was high, but not flooding yet.   Last year he jigged lakers and we had cold conditions and tough fishing with a couple landed along with a salmon follow and 18" smallie.   Don wanted to cast today for bass and maybe a bonus salmon.   Water was muddy on the N. end due to the inlet.  I had Don work some of the muddy water with jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and spoons.   He's pretty sure he had a few hits, but no takers.   Some pickerel chased in his jerkbaits in some clearer water.    Fishing was not easy with water temps around the low 40s.   Eventually he picked up a decent smallmouth bass on a jerkbait.   I also showed him dropshotting.    

I did some casting after the trip and during a warm-up break or two and managed a few smallmouths around 16" to 17"+.   The bass were lethargic and it took a lot of concentration to feel the hits in the deep water - not an easy task by any measure.   Smallmouths in cold water are enjoyable on some levels, but the lakers generally fight better this time of year.   The bass we encountered were on breaks from around 15' to 30' of water.    White X-10 X-Raps and alewive tubes did the trick today.   Jigging spoons might still be a good option as well. 

5/1/2011
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 4/30
Guided Craig, Jim and Mike for the full day on Keuka.   Lakers on the jig were the target.   We started near the State Park and marked good numbers of fish from around 140' to 180' of water.   We did check shallower too.   Fishing was slow to start with a couple fish landed.   Most fish seemed pretty inactive.   Eventually we motored down to the Bluff and things started slow there too, but by around 1 pm fish activated and the guys were getting consistent hits and hookups.   Wound up with 7 solid lakers to just under 25".   We kept all the fish and most had empty stomachs.   The one fish that found bait was stuffed with small alewives.   Had a great time with the guys - who are as fun a group if not moreso, than I've ever guided.    Lake level was high but nowhere near the flood levels of Cayuga and Seneca.   Bluff fish hit white tubes - both flipping size and smaller.  Lunker City Shakers in white also produced fish.   
4/29/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 4/29

Got out with my buddy Jarrod for our annual "No-Crappie trip" on Cayuga.   This time we added in channel catfish as another fish not to be caught.   We fished from around 2 pm till 6:30, spending 2 hours or so crappie fishing and the remainder of time catfishing.   We had an assortment of catfish baits incl. nightcrawlers, cutbait and some prepared baits.   We worked near Mudlock and also an area along the causeway.    No cats.   Water temps were in the 50s.   We saw plenty of carp surfacing.  Saw a nice bald eagle nest with the pair of mature eagles - which pretty much made my day.   Crappie fishing produced a perch and sunfish.  Jarrod had a momentary hold on a good (big) fish too.    We'll likely try it again when we get a warmer day and higher water temps.   BTW - Good numbers of bullheads were being taken along shallow muddy areas and creekmouths.

Lake levels were high and launches were being closed.   Barricades were put up at the Cayuga State Park Launch and at Dean's.   Not sure what the deal will be for the weekend.  The lake is VERY HIGH and cottage owners are having a rough time.  I saw a submerged boat and plenty of other damage.   Watch for debris too!

4/28/2011
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/28
When I heard of the weather forecasts with 20 - 25 mph south winds gusting to over 40, I did think of cancelling our scheduled trip today, but I'm glad we didn't.   Guided close to a full day trip with Pete and his son Garrett from Ohio.   Putting in the extra hours last Saturday reaped some good rewards for us today.   Despite the massive amounts of very muddy water pouring in via Catherines Creek we were able to find some warm water without too much sediment.    Casting spoons like Little Cleos worked great for the guys this AM (starting at around 10 am)   and we wound up landing 13+ nice fish - mostly browns and salmon, all in the 17" to 21" range.    Working the massive mudline of the creek mouth resulted in our second Seneca rainbow of this spring - a nice 22" post-spawn female fish that we released to fight again.  Lamprey wounding remains high on the browns.   Kept two browns and one salmon for the table.    Water temps ranged from around 41 on the west shore to over 50 further east.    Fun day!  And the weather wound up being great.   Listening to weathermen doesn't always pay off.....
4/24/2011
Fishing Reports 4/22 - 4/24

The cold nights and heavy rain has made for some challenging and unpredictable salmon fishing.   Here's how things went down over the weekend:

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/22:   Guided the Hermans for a full day, looking for landlocked salmon and trout.   Fishing wasn't easy for us by any stretch.   It was our first casting trip of the season (for the Hermans) and it took a little time to get the casting rhythm going again.   We had the usual swirls and hits but little to show for awhile.   But we persevered and a nice brown and two salmon made it to the net.   The browns have really made a comeback on Seneca Lake this year and the Herman's brown was a fat fish around 18" or 19", and their salmon was in the low 20s inch range.   Hard to remember since this weekend's a blur due to some fatigue.   Two pike also made it to the net.   The pike are the usual post-spawn fish showing some signs of lamprey attacks.    I wanted to fish after our trip but the rain started and I was too tired....

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/23:  The weather forecast for Saturday looked absolutely heinous in the AM.    As I drove down to Watkins Glen the air temps were 39 degrees and the rain and wind were pounding.   Rain was pouring down and the winds were gusting hard.   I met Ken at the launch and we headed over the Glen Mountain Bakery and waited out the hard stuff.   I would have cancelled the trip, but the weather map showed a lull in the rain and the forecast was for sun and calming winds after the front poured through.   After around 1/2 hour, the rain slowed and we were ready to roll.

Our first few drifts resulted in some nice hits and swirls.   But swirls don't bend a rod!    Ken is a superb caster -  probably the second best fly-caster I've ever guided, next to a former competitive caster.   He did everything well but we just couldn't connect on the fish, save for a salmon just under 15".   A better fish or two were hooked but got off.   Our fishing area blew out with the mud from the rain and we worked some areas uplake.   The winds were brutal.   We never had any sign of fish uplake and went back south.   Another fish was landed and a few more hits/follows had before we called it a day.   I urged Ken to stay, because conditions were getting better by the minute, with the warm sun and lighter winds, but he had to go.

I wound up fishing on my own until dark.   I worked an area I hadn't fished with much success in a few years and within 15 minutes hooked a nice salmon around 23" that got off.   Then I had a follow from a monster around 26" or better.   Never got it to hit.   Did some more passes with light hits and follows but no grabs.  These salmon can be frustrating at times and that's all part of what makes them great and challenging to fish for.    Eventually I landed a couple 16" to 17" fish and found some active browns (!).   I landed a fat 17" to 18" brown and a bigger one.  Kept the small one for dinner.   Fish were really active and the water was close to the magical 48 degrees.   I kept swearing I'd leave after "one more drift" but wound up fishing till dark.  

I spend a lot of time on the water, but I still know that there's a lot to learn and keep doing my "homework" in order to maximize the number of successful trips we have.    I figured out some good stuff on Saturday that I think will go far to ensure more successful outings in the future.

Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 4/24:   Guided James, Bob and Carl from Hobart today in conjunction with my friend Craig Nels - who guided a couple other Hobart guys.   James started a fishing club at Hobart and we'd been in touch for at least a year.   We targeted lakers in the depths of Cayuga and wound up with a productive day.    Carl got things underway with the first fish, and then Bob got one.   James had the last laugh after some kidding around when he hooked and landed a monster 31.5" FAT laker after a long hard battle.   This fish was at least 11lbs!    Great fish and his next one was over 30".   Then Carl landed a 30.5 incher too.   Bob wound up with one more and then lost one.    Fishing was a little slow to start but then picked up.  Craig's boat did well too.   All in all a fun outing with the usual rain to contend with.   I haven't seen such a cool, rainy spring in years.  Wow.    Three fish in total were kept for the table and they were all loaded with alewives.   We did well from 140' to 165' today.   Bigger fish were deeper for what it's worth.

4/21/2011
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 4/21

Guided Bob and his boys again today for an afternoon 1/2 day trip.   The weather wasn't good this AM with hail and cold, windy conditions.   So we decided on the afternoon when things were forecast to clear up a bit and calm down.   We wound up being the only boat we saw on Keuka Lake today.    Lake trout seemed pretty inactive on this cold front day.  We marked scattered fish on the bottom and very few suspended ones.    A couple hours working deep water didn't yield much, so I ran us down to the Bluffs.

The Bluffs held more promise.  We were able to get out of the wind.   We marked fish from around 100' to 115' or so.   Bob landed a nice 22"+ laker and lost another.   Hits were had and we had a decent number of chasing fish.    But it was a tough bite.   Fishing should improve substantially once the weather conditions settle.  I think a lot of them were inactive on the lake bottom.  Water temps were around 40/41. 

4/20/2011
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/20
Did a 1/2 day trip this AM with Bob and his kids Andrew and Chris.   I was fearing the worse with the predicted weather forecasts of T-Storms, high winds and possible heavy rain and/or hail.   But a look at weather.gov and radar showed most of the storms further north.   We met around 8:15 at the Glen and the boys spotted what appeared to be a couple rainbow trout swimming near the launch.   We set out working whatever warm water we could find.   Fishing was good but catching was slow at first.  Chris had a nice fish on for a few seconds and we had others swirling at spoons, stickbaits and jigs.   Tough going for no apparent reason for awhile.   The guys don't fish much, but they seemed to be doing things alright.  Eventually a few salmon and a brown came to the net (I actually caught a salmon and brown on two casts doing lure demos!)    Some nice fish were missed again.   Then Andrew hooked a silvery beauty - it wound up being a rainbow around 23" long and thick bodied.    Gorgeous, clean fish!    Bob also caught a largemouth bass, which was odd.    Water temps were cooler than last week, with highs in the low 40s.    Baitfish are in the shallows in places too.  
4/19/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 4/19
Guided Lou and Jaime for 1/2 day on lakers.   The weather cooperated for the most part, with light winds and very little precipitation.  It was pretty cool out, but Lou and Jaime were prepared for the weather.   The bite was typical early to mid spring deep laker fishing - sporadic, yet fairly steady with some moments of good fishing.   They did great, landing 10 nice fish up to just under 30".  One wild fish was in the mix.  One live lamprey came up on a laker.   We did well in around 130', though we caught fish out to over 150'.  We haven't spent any time looking shallow yet, though I'm sure there are fair numbers of lakers near the Silos area in less than 100' of water.   The big difference between today and our last trip out was in the stomachs of the lakers.   We kept 5 and all of them were stuffed with bait!  They are feeding heavily!    Great time to target these top-line predators.   The usual 1 + 1/2 oz jigs with flipping tubes did the trick.
4/16/2011
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/15

After Thursday's tough fishing and strong North winds I wasn't sure if Watkins Glen was the best call for Friday's fishing, but the winds were forecast to be a little lighter.   I was thinking lake trout jigging Keuka Lake would be the call for Tony and his two boys, Jon (10 y.o.) and Dan (13 y.o.)     But Tony and his boys really wanted some browns and/or salmon.    The air temps were in the upper 20s (28) as I drove over to Watkins around 7:15 am.  The wind was blowing too.     I don't do 3 ppl casting trips but we decided that only 2 people would fish at a time, so that was manageable.  

The launch at the Bar + Grill (Schamael's) was full of dock planks (with nails) and other assorted wood and debris.   The marina guys were nice enough to clear things out for us and we were underway.   I'd be lying if I didn't say the boys got cold and had difficulties with the casting and fishing.   We started on the west shore and it was pretty rough.   A move put us into calmer conditions.    South end temps were warm and fish were around.   Tony and I took some casts and tried to get the boys into some fish.   It didn't take long to hook into some browns and salmon.   As conditions improved and I worked on casting a bit with Jon, the boys were able to fish effectively.   Tony took turns with Dan and things went well.   Tony managed a beautiful 25.5" landlocked salmon.  The guys caught two browns and another 4 salmon.    We kept a good portion of the fish and were aided by another angler who'd landed a nice brown and small salmon that took the hooks deep.  So Tony wound up with some good eating.  As has been the case this year, lampreys were abundant - we even had one on a 17" salmon and a fresh scar on an 18" brown.  The big salmon had a live lamprey attached too.  

BTW - The kitchen has opened at the bar and grill.  The food there is very good with a nice array of sandwiches and finger foods as well as homemade potato chips and some good beers available too.

Tony also managed a first for my boat.   He hooked into a seagull!    I snapped some photos and fortunately for us and the bird, the bird got off before we had to deal with it.    Weather conditions improved as the day went on and it wound up being very pleasant.   After I dropped the guys off I checked on a couple different salmon jigs and lures with my gear fishing and managed to land a couple.   I've adapted some fly patterns to jig fishing and I'm pretty happy with them.    Water temps ranged from 39 to 51.  

Angling Zone friends finally picked up a good salmon on Cayuga Friday after Thursday's tough day.    Another friend got into the perch at Seneca Lake well in around 70' of water!    For whatever the reason, Thursday was really tough.  I agree with Rich Zaleski (www.richz.com)  when he says that in general for fishing, when the weather does what it's supposed to do - i.e. in spring - days warm; in fall - days cool,  the fishing is best.  Cold nasty weather in April or May after a bunch of warm nicer days doesn't seem to make for good fishing - of course, there are always exceptions.  In the fall - apart from laker jigging, cooling weather seems best.   Food for thought at least.

4/14/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 4/14
Guided a full day with Tony, who's joined me on quite a few trips over the past few years.   We targeted salmon/browns exclusively today and conditions were tough for casting.   We were met in the AM with calm sunny conditions.   Then the winds came up out of the north for a couple hours perfectly.  By 1 pm they were gusting strong.   Tony covered a lot of water today.   We found warm water temps on the lake's south end, but also the usual post-rainfall large expanses of muddy water.  My guess is that in the warm murk was where many of the active fish were.   Tony had a couple hits and one salmon on for a couple seconds (or a chaser.)    One suicidal pumpkinseed grabbed Tony's stickbait.   But that was it.  Tony fished hard!     Friends did well jigging lakers near AES.   All in all a tough day with a lack of wind, then too much and plenty of muddy warm water that was difficult at best to attempt to cover effectively by casting.  H2O was up to 50 in the south end, 39 to 43 elsewhere, with 40 being the mainlake temp.  Some warm days and moderate winds will make a world of difference!
4/13/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 4/13

Guided the Hermans for a 1/2 day today.   Conditions weren't the greatest for a comfortable spring trip but they weren't too bad.   We had light north winds, overcast skies and some cold misty rain.   Lake trout action was good, with 8 nice fish landed, including 3 over 28".    We had some good fish dropped as well.    Plenty of fish were available throughout the deep flats out of Dean's.    140' to 180' was best.   We marked fish deeper too.   

We did have one laker come up with two lampreys attached and one other laker come up with a lamprey.   Overall, wounding wasn't bad though, with most fish healthy and clean looking.   Good day on the water!   For anyone interested, bullheads are starting to show up around murky creek mouths.  

4/12/2011
Smelting Report 4/12 early AM

I checked out Taughannock Creek with my smelt net, lantern and waders.   Nothing is happening yet.    I was hoping to get a couple dozen smelt for a fish fry and some catfish bait.   I did see some suckers and remembered that they make good cutbait.   So a couple suckers made it home with me and will hopefully be used soon for some catfishing.

Around a dozen guys were smelting when I arrived at the park at 11:30 pm.   Most hadn't seen any smelt, but a couple guys had done 3 or 4 drives and netted 3 fish.   I think most smelters on Cayuga tribs these days are primarily looking for trout/salmon bait.   If I get time, I'll check on the smelt again after the next warm rain.

4/10/2011
Seneca out of Watkins 4/9, Cayuga out of Dean's/Taughannock 4/10

Spring fishing is really firing on all cylinders now!

4/9 Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen:   After a last minute cancellation on 4/8 I managed to get a call from Mark who was looking to fish on 4/9, so things worked out well.   Fly-fishing for Landlocked salmon was the objective and fishing was very good to excellent.    I checked out an area about an hour before Mark arrived.  I contacted a fish or two, but wasn't overly impressed, so I had Mark work some of our late winter areas.    It didn't take long before Mark contacted fish on his 6 wt. rod with a sinktip.  

Fishing was very good and Mark started with a 15 1/2" salmon.    Then he dropped a couple, including one very solid fish.   A 24" salmon came to the net along with 2 attached "bonus" lamprey eels.    The fish had rolled on the fly and foul-hooked itself, making for an extended awkward battle.   Afterwards Mark landed a solid 22" fish that he kept for dinner.    Water temps ranged from 38 to 43.   After we wrapped up, I fished for a couple hours and found active fish.   I landed some nice fish up to 25".   The condition of the salmon is starting to improve as they begin to feed for the season.    I had a fish come up with a lamprey too.

4/10 AM  Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove:  Met Jerrit from Ohio at Dean's Launch at 7:30 am. for a half day trip.   Forecasts called for 10 to 15 mph southerlies and I wanted to start early in order to beat the wind.   The lake was in beautiful shape first thing in the AM with light winds and some sun.  Very few boats were out on the lake.

Lake trout jigging was excellent (again!)    Just steady fishing throughout the AM for fish ranging from around 18" up to over 29".    We had good action from 130' out to 180'!    One and one-half ounce fish-head jigs with white flipping tubes did the trick.   Jerrit likes to walleye and bass fish both Lake Erie and rivers near his residence.    He was a natural at the jigging technique - one of the quickest to pick up the technique that I've seen in 7 years of guiding!   Quite impressive.   He kept a limit of mid-sized lakers and released another 7 fish.   One wild fish at over 28" was photographed and released.   The wild fish certainly look a lot different than the stocked fish.  We did have two stocked fish with regenerated fin-clips.   Oftentimes one fin will regenerate, but it will be slightly smaller than the opposing fin.  Great morning trip.

4/10 PM Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock:   After taking a break and going for a swim, I met my buddy Jarrod at the launch at 3:30 pm.   He's one of my favorite fishing buddies but he's been really busy over the past two years and I can count the number of times we've managed to get out on one hand.   We aim to fish together a lot more this year.   

We started south of the park and I went with fly-gear.    The wind was up pretty good.   I had one good hit and one possible hit (earlier.)    I then connected with a solid 19" salmon.    The great thing about the Cayuga Landlocked salmon is the lack of lampreys.  The fish are in better condition for the most part than the Seneca fish.    We gave our area another shot then made a move south.

The fishing further south proved to be excellent and we had a great time hooking and missing some beautiful salmon, as well as a big brown or two.   Jarrod nailed a nice 20"+ salmon.   I missed and lost some good fish on flies and gear.   The wind was howling for awhile.   We fished till dark and then headed in.   Water temps range from 38 to over 50 degrees depending on where you go.   

 

4/8/2011
Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 4/8

I got out this afternoon  by myself for around 4 or 5 hours with my laker gear and some leftover minnows we had from last week's fishing on Keuka Lake.   First thing I did was check out the massive flats off of Sampson State Park for lake trout with plastics.   There were plenty of fish out there in the deeps - ranging from 140' to 180'+.   They didn't seem too active at the moment, so after 1/2 hour or so I moved on.  But I did have upwards of 3 fish chasing the jig at once and a hit or two, so time things right or persevere and there will be some great fishing here.

Working depths along the west shore from 15' to 40'+ didn't produce anything for me with jigs, jigs+minnows or minnows.   I was surprised not to pick up a bass, perch or have a bite-off or two from pike/pickerel.     The lake was dead calm, so maybe that played into my poor fishing success.   Water temps are around 38 to 39 degrees.    I could see the bottom in close to 25' of water.  I did see a couple bullheads.  That was about it. 

We'll be on Seneca, Skaneateles, Cayuga and possibly even Lake Ontario over the next couple weeks.   I have a long run of guide trips "on the docket" so there will be plenty of reports here! 

4/7/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 4/7

It was nice to see the sun out today for a change.   Met Woody and Aaron at the boat launch at 8:30 and we were met by sunny calm conditions.   Perfect for lake trout jigging this time of year.   We motored north past AES and set up working 100' to 160' of water.   Fishing was as good as I've ever seen it for lakers this time of year, with fish definitely on the feed.   The guys had never done the technique before and wound up landing 14 nice fish from 16" to 27" with most around 22" to 24".   Fish were in very good condition with few lamprey scars.  We had two fish come up with live small lampreys on them, but most were immaculate. 

White tubes fished on 1+1/2oz jig heads did the trick.   We spent a few hours casting for browns and salmon later in the day near Taughannock.   Aaron landed a beautiful 22 1/2" brown that fought like a salmon, jumping 3 or 4 times.   A couple other hits were had but no confirmed salmon.   Reports I've received suggest that fish are scattering a bit.  It makes sense with all the run-off and weird weather we've had lately.   Water temps were around 37/38 with warmer temps around creek mouths.   We had 43 off the mouth of Taughannock Creek.  

4/3/2011
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 4/3

Got out just after 10:15 am with my buddy Mike.   We jigged for lakers and had steady, if not spectacular fishing over the next 2 to 3 hours.    We caught most of our fish from 150' to 165' of water, with some out to around 175'.    White tubes and shakers did the trick on 1+1/2 oz jig heads.    We landed 6 fish in around 3 hours running from 16" to 27", with fish averaging around 20" to 22".    We kept 5, releasing the 27"er.   The kept fish were eating small alewives or had empty stomachs.

An hour and 20 minutes of fly-fishing a couple areas for salmon drew a blank.   We tried a little bit of perch fishing and caught a few dinks as well as one nice pickerel.    On the way back we stopped at Seneca Farms and loaded up on the calories with some very good fried chicken and milk shakes.    So much for another week's worth of swimming....

Water temps ran from 37 to 38.  Lake was high.   Ice still covers much of the Penn Yan (eastern) branch of the lake.    Boat traffic was light with around 7 to 8 rigs out - mostly perch fishing and some trout fishing.   BTW - A few nice largemouths were starting to show themselves in shallow water.

3/20/2011
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/20

What a difference a day and lake makes!     Guided Mark for the full day on Seneca Lake starting at around 10:45 am.   Conditions were nearly perfect for fly-fishing lakers on Seneca.  We had a light south wind and a high sun.   Lake level is high.   Water temps were 39 to 40 degrees.   Mark always fishes hard and we've had some difficult trips together (as well as some successful ones) and I was really hoping he could get into the salmon.   Lots of boats were out - both trollers and perch fishermen.   On our first drift Mark had 3 hits and we knew we were going to be in business.

Fishing was very good to downright excellent.  Mark managed to land 14 landlockeds - 10 were legal sized.   His largest two fish were each 25.5"!   One of the big ones fought incredibly well with some great acrobatics, nice runs and deep digging, though they all gave good accounts of themselves.    We released all but one fish.   The high lamprey population in the lake was very evident.  Every fish except one or two of the sub-legals showed signs of at least one, if not two lamprey attacks.   Both intermediate and Type 3 sinking lines produced fish, with the full sinking line accounting for the lion's share.   We used my bionic smelt pattern in white.   

Trollers we spoke with had varying degrees of success.   Some folks only caught a few sublegal/small fish.   Others did well and a few rainbows were taken.   Great day!

3/19/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 3/19

Guided a full day with James, targeting Landlocked Salmon on the fly.   His wife Meg joined us for 2 hours or so as well.   The weather was very cold, with air temps around 32 to 35, north winds around 10 to 17 mph and full cloud cover, despite the forecasts for sun.   We started around 10:30 am and earlier in the morning I had a fresh coating of snow on my boat.   I congratulated Meg for being the first woman I've ever guided between the months of December and March. 

The lake level is very high and getting higher.  Taughannock Park is just starting to flood  - at least with the wave action.  The lake is about 6" below "flood stage" at the park; you'd need knee high boots just to cast off of the N. marina breakwall!    I was very optimistic after talking to an angler that had just come in with a beautiful limit of salmon and one nice brown.  He'd also released some fish - all caught by casting, which was nice to see.   I'm always surprised I don't see more people out in boats casting for these fish.   Trolling may be more productive day-in and day-out, but casting is more fun and often very effective too.   

There was a lot of debris around the park and throughout the perimeter of the lake, kind of like Lake Ontario "scum lines."    Fishing was tough but Meg did have a good hit S. of the park.   It was cold out and Meg's hands were feeling it so we dropped her off at the park and headed south.   Fly-fishing remained tough, though James had one hit.    His casting was decent. 

We kept drifting various areas and eventually James hooked a fish near the boat that wound up getting off.  It was in the 16" range.    No other hookups were had.   All in all a tough day with cold air temps, moderate to high winds, and plenty of debris floating around.    The lack of sun hurt us as well.    Water temps are hovering around 37 degrees - both off creek mouths and in the main lake.  The quality of fish in Cayuga Lake this year is impressive.  

3/17/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 3/17

Launched out of Dean's around 11:30 and did some fishing around Long Point and North with the fly-rod, hoping for a salmon or brown - no luck.    I marked some lakers in around 110'.   Conditions were great when I picked up Ed and John at the boat launch at 2 pm.   We started in deep water and drifted shallow i.e. started in around 165' and drifted to about 150' if you call that shallow.

Fishing was good.   I didn't mark any bait, but lakers were around.  Quite a few were down around 125' over 150'.    The guys did a good job with the fishing and landed 5 nice fish from 19" to 30"+.    We kept 4 - a few around 25"/26" and the big one.  Most fish had empty stomachs but one had found the bait.   The deep jigging is just getting underway and these fish will really be putting on the feedbag over the next month!  Get ready!    We used white tubes and Ed used a beaver-type bait (bass fishing plastic) also in white.  A couple good fish were lost and a lot of light hits were had.   H2O was 37 degrees.  We saw one other boat out on the day!   Having the lake nearly to ourselves was nice for a change!  The fish were in good condition - very few, if any lamprey marks.

3/15/2011
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/15

Got out on my friend Mike's Lund while I got some work done on my boat trailer (plus I had classes to teach.)  The morning fly-fishing (from 9 am) was slow to start with little action.   Fishing picked up as the day went on - I landed a lamprey scarred 17" salmon and Mike got a fat brown around 18" with lamprey attached.    Fish were following our flies but not grabbing them for the most part.  I missed two good salmon that turned on my fly - I watched them grab, just set and never had a hold of them.   Others followed from the depths.

Mike dropped me off so I could teach my classes around 2:15 pm.   He went back out and got into some great salmon action.  He landed 3 nice fish in the 24 1/2" range, a 26 1/2" fish, another brown and lost a good salmon.   

The "crowds" weren't too bad on the lake today.  I saw more boats trolling than in years past, but it wasn't nearly as bad as our last trip out here.   There were a few guys out perch fishing and we saw perch being caught in around 60' to 80' of water!    Water temps were cold and salmon were lethargic - they weren't jumping for the most part.   H2O was around 35 to 36.    Water levels are high.  At the launch we had to step up to get onto the boat.   We marked bait and lakers in the 140' to 180' range.  

3/12/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 3/12

The weather forecasts were really wrong for today.  I postponed a guide trip after hearing about southerlies gusting to 20 mph+.   My buddy Mike and I arrived to an "updated forecast" of west winds, some sun and generally calm conditions.  Not great for salmon or pike and I left my laker jigging tackle at home!  

We checked the AES area and found at least a half dozen people fishing from shore.  It looked like someone caught a pike in the flow, but we didn't see much else.   We attempted to fish pike and trout/salmon.  Water in the area was generally cold.    We worked south end areas for pike and found the fishing tough.   Water levels are high - at least a foot or more above full summer pool.   Our fat pre-spawn staging pike likely moved out of our areas from the last outing.   We worked a lot of water and found some lethargic, mostly smaller pike (males) around.   We landed a few fish from around 22" to 29" mostly on flies, though one 26"er came on a swimbait.    Water temps were around 37 to 38.   

3/9/2011
Cayuga Lake Shorefishing 3/9
My buddy Mike got out for most of the day and I joined him for an hour or so.   He managed to pick up a solid 21" to 22" brown trout that engulfed his fly.   The fish was very colored up and dark - most likely a dropback male.    Conditions were very windy and there was a fair amount of light debris in the lake.   Lake levels are up about 2' from the usual winter drawdown.   Mike had one other hit in a different area.   Stay tuned - the weather forecasts are pretty wild with plenty of rain in the mix for the remainder of the week.
2/25/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 2/24

Met my buddy Mike at the launch at around 10 am with pike and salmon as the target.  By 10:30 or so we were launched. Air temps were in the upper 20s and we were the 4th rig in the lot.   Two more boats launched after us.   People are really enjoying the great winter salmon fishing on Cayuga and Seneca Lakes this year!     The launch area was slick and previous fishermen had to break a little ice to get out.   FWIW - The outlet area was dug out and the shallowest area is just in from the bridge (on the marina side.)  But overall I appreciate the efforts of the park personnel in dredging the launch area a little bit!

We worked some salmon areas south of the park with our fly-rods.   Our first area didn't produce anything, but further down the lake we found some fish.   I had the first grab with a nice 19" landlocked salmon that I kept.   It hit a bionic smelt fly on an intermediate line.   Then Mike scored on the same pattern with a 21 1/2" beauty that he released.   A 12"er followed for him.  His fish came on Type 3 sinking lines.  

At around 1:45 pm we started pike fishing.  Water in the southern portions of the lake was a frigid 32.4 degrees on top!    Keep in mind that as water gets cooler it sinks until it cools to 39 degrees.   39 is the densest water gets.  So as it cools down below 39 degrees it floats.   Thus the surface temps were the coldest water in the area, but water underneath it was likely 35 to 37 degrees or something like that.  

The runoff from last Friday's thaw made the south end of the lake a bit murky.    Although fly-fishing is my favorite way to catch pike, I guide a lot of spin-fishers for them, so I brought along a spinning set-up with a swimbait.  I wanted to see what it felt like working the swimbait with my 7' Fenwick MH HMG rod and smoke colored Fireline.   The Fireline was a little difficult to see.  In the future I may go to the Crystal Fireline.  It's hard to say.   With good polarized glasses I could watch the line.   Mike was working a new integrated shooting head setup. 

I caught the first pike on a chart. swimbait.  It was around 24".    The spinning set-up performed very well and I had no problems detecting bites and setting the hook.   I then landed another pike around 32", lost a good one and then landed another around 33" to 34".   By then I had a good idea of where the fish were and how they were hitting.   So I started fly-casting with my 8 wt. fly rod with a type 6 full sinking line.  I landed another 24" to 25" pike on the fly and then another around 32" or so.    The fish were hitting lethargically, but fighting pretty well.   We think Mike's set up was sinking too quickly and required too fast of a strip to be effective.    So he switched to a Type 6 setup.   If I remember right I got one more in the low 30s.   

The fish were really grabbing good, but for the most part fishing the flies painfully slow was the key.    This is where fly-fishing excels!   I used a heavily dressed streamer that sank slowly.    My next fish hit without my moving the fly at all.   I made a cast, let the fly sink, felt a jerk and set the hook into a very solid fish.  Big pike tend to move at a right angle when hooked.    I've landed a couple 40" fish on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes fly-fishing and that's what they did.    I was able to land the fish without any problems even with a lit cigar in my mouth.   Well there was one problem - the numerous cuts I got when the gill rakes scraped my hand as they flared open!   This was probably my best Finger Lakes northern.   Mike's measuring tape on his boat only read to 36"  and that's what we had from the fish's tail to her eye!   Add in another 4" to 5"  of mouth and you have a 41" northern.   The head on this fish was HUGE!!!   Not superfat, but a beast.   (I don't recommend weighing any big fish to be released.   They thrash on a scale and rip themselves apart, plus their organs get compressed vertically.  It's never a good idea.)    We took one quick photo and let her go unharmed.    Once Mike switched his setup, he landed a couple decent pike.  

Overall some terrific pike action on Cayuga.   The fish, for the most part were very healthy looking and clean.  No lamprey signs and no outward signs of disease.   No ice fishing is the main reason Cayuga produces some good pike on its south end.    Add in good lamprey control, light winter fishing pressure and some "catch and release," and banner days are possible.   

2/19/2011
Cayuga/Seneca Lakes 2/16 - 2/18

2/16 Cayuga out of Taughannock:   I had to teach classes at Cornell at 3:15 pm which meant I had to be off the water at Seneca by 2 pm and Cayuga by around 2:15 in order to make it on time.   The plan was for my buddy Mike to bring his new Lund up past Ithaca around 8:30 am and check on the wind conditions and then make the call on what lake to fish.   Unfortunately he called early in the AM and had no working trailer lights.   After deciding to postpone our boat fishing by a day, he found a place that fixed the problem and we met at Cayuga around 12:30.    Then he couldn't get his engine started.  After 1/2 hour of trying to figure out the problem, we finally did and got out.

A couple boats were pulling out as we launched.  One small boat trolling with 2 rods did great with a limit of nice salmon (he reportedly released a 5 to 6lber after limiting out.)    A larger boat didn't do well (we're not sure what that means - as fly-fishers we're happy with a couple legal fish or sometimes just one, but a few trollers seem to feel anything less than 20 to 35 fish is a "slow day.")

We set up near the park and fished until I had to go.   We had a few hits but no solid fish.  After Mike dropped me off he worked a few of our favorite streches and found some fish.   He wound up landing a 19", 20" and around 5 sublegals.   He let them all go.    He did see a fair number of hook scars on the fish.   All in all a good experience on Cayuga.

2/17 Seneca out of Watkins Glen:    After Mike's good afternoon fishing on Cayuga it was tempting to go back there, but I had a guide trip scheduled there on Friday and Seneca generally produces chances at better salmon and fishes better on lighter winds, so that was the plan.   

Why does Seneca Lake produce big salmon and appear to be producing more than Cayuga Lake, despite both lakes great baitfish populations, Cayuga's better lamprey control and Seneca's bad lamprey problems?   

I was just asked that question and have been thinking about it.    It wasn't always like this.  Seneca's bait levels were low in the late 1990s and early 2000s.   Salmon fishing was very good, but typical derby winning salmon weren't anything special - around 5 to 6lbs.   In 2010 they were pushing 8lbs.  

Seneca's salmon often get a better headstart since there are loads of freshwater shrimp there for them to feed on in addition to the alewives, but that doesn't explain the big fish.     Fishing pressure, until the last 2 years was lighter on Seneca for salmon than Cayuga, but still, that doesn't quite explain things either.

The best theory I can come up with is that the brown trout stockings on Seneca Lake are failures.  About 40,000 fingerlings and 18,000 yearlings are stocked a year on Seneca.   My guess is that nearly all the fingerlings wind up as lake trout food.  The browns have not thrived there at all in the 2000s.   Most that are caught are around 15" to 16" long.  Once in a while a nicer one.   

Why do they fail?   Lampreys, lake trout/pike predation, water temps - who knows?  Maybe all of the above.   But for all intents and purposes, Seneca Lake basically has two salmonids that really thrive there - salmon and lake trout.   Rainbows are nebulous there - we rarely catch them and the runs are a lot less than they ever were, though some of the best trollers like Sean Brown are able to target them with some success.   The few browns that survive can get big and appear healthy, and that's also the case on Canandaigua and Keuka Lakes.  The FEW that survive do OK.  If I were DEC I'd start fin-clipping yearling browns (maybe they are already) and see if the fingerlings survive at all.   Maybe just stop the brown trout stocking all together and just stock salmon. They seem to do better.  

Cayuga's browns do much better.  AND we have great landlocked salmon fishing.   One pie may feed 4 people just fine, but add a few more mouths and portions get scant.  That somes things up.  You can't have it all, so if you want big browns Cayuga Lake is probably your best bet.

Back to the report:

So we got an early start - or so we thought and were at the launch at around 8 am or so.   I could see boats trolling around the Salt Plant as we drove down Rt. 414.    My jaw pretty much dropped when we arrived at the launch and saw the parking lot.  I'd never seen that many rigs parked in there EVER during the winter - even on weekends.  And this was a weekday in February!   Now it's not as if there were 20 rigs there - more like 10 to 12, but again - for a weekday in February, that's a lot.

I'm a big picture fisherman.  To me I want to grow the sport and get kids away from X-box.   The more license revenue the better for the sport - we get more fisheries work done, hatcheries, conservation etc....  But there's also a selfish part of me that, like many anglers likes having the lake to himself!  But what a surprise.   It was the best day of the week (on paper) and it's been a harsh winter, so time will tell if this is going to be the norm or not for winter fishing on Seneca.  I think it was a bunch of events conspiring together.   Around a third of the boats were perch fishermen.  

All in all we had good fishing but not so great on the catching.    Within 20 minutes of fishing I had a nice hit or two.   We had some follows as well with nice fish on our flies.  Pretty steady "action" throughout the morning, but fish weren't committing very well.  They seemed skittish, and we just plain missed some.  We weren't able to fish quite where we wanted and there's no doubt in my mind that the boat traffic hurt the fishing.   There were at least 5 to 7 guys casting from shore along Salt Road, so we stayed out of their way.   The trollers were courteous for the most part.   

The Salt Plant area was swarming with trollers - you'd have thought it was a commercial fishing fleet working a school of tuna or salmon in Alaska.   Not once was there a moment w/o any boats there.   The "crowd" forced us to work some other areas and we found a small pod of fish up the lake a few miles.   I dropped a decent fish and had follows.   

The fleet thinned out later in the day.   We'd tried a few other shorelines without action and by late afternoon the winds died down and the fishing did too.   We had one last flurry of action - small fish and I landed one.  No great shakes.   We checked pike for around an hour, but even if they were around where we fished, the conditions weren't great. 

The spring warming trends will disperse these fish and the crowds a bit and that will make for more comfortable fishing conditions.    New York State is currently changing the strain of salmon being stocked, in hopes that the new strain won't group up as much.   That will hopefully help too.  Eye-opening day on Seneca, that's for sure.  

Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 2/18:

After Thursday's fiasco on Seneca I called my clients and said I'd be at Taughannock around 6:45 am.    The weather forecast was all over the map, with nice southerlies forecast and then a wind advisory.   At least the advisory was for west winds, which wouldn't typically be dangerous on Cayuga Lake.    The wind advisories were for 2 or 4 pm depending on when you listened to the forecast.  

I've been hoping to do some winter guiding for years but have yet to do a January or February trip, so I was pretty psyched about it.

Many fishermen don't realize:    

 1.) How good (to great) the fishing can be for pike and salmon.

 2.) How comfortable it can be out there.

 3.) And lastly, how beautiful and tranquil it can be.

I had plenty of pike gear and salmon gear and was ready for whatever the best opportunities were.   Todd and Steve showed up on time and we got out to find fairly calm, overcast conditions.  

We ran down the lake and I had the guys work some pike set ups.  Todd had a nice pickerel follow his jerkbait within a couple casts.   Steve also had a follow from a pike.   Winter piking on Cayuga is rarely a numbers game, it's about size and you usually only get a few opportunities.   Focusing on your presentation and being ready to set the hook are paramount.    Steve got railed on a swimbait.  His rod doubled over and I saw a nice pike flashing near the bottom.  After some good surges I netted the fish.  I thought it was around 30" when he hooked it, but it wound up being a heavily proportioned 35" fish.  Maybe 12lbs.   We snapped a couple quick shots and let her go.   

A couple more hits were had and Steve wound up landing a fat pickerel, which we kept.    We tried other areas but the wind died and the fish were skittish.  We had a couple half-hearted follows then headed north.   

It was tempting to run to AES to jig lakers, but with the impending wind storm we stayed near Taughannock.  It was a good call, because the salmon action was a lot of fun.   The weather was really weird.  It changed by the minute - winds from the south, east, north and west (basically swirling.)   We had sun and clouds, wind and no wind.    A stickbait and hometied white jig worked best.   Todd landed a lot of salmon - mostly 13" to 14" fish.   We saw bigger ones below the small ones.    Steve hooked and landed a 20" beauty.  Later he got a 19"er and a 17 1/2"er (obviously released.)   We fished a lot of shoreline over water from 20' upwards to 70' deep and more.    The numbers of 10" to 14" salmon out on Cayuga are very impressive and bode well for great future salmon fishing!  It's really going to be a heck of a ride over the next year or two on both Seneca and Cayuga Lakes.   The wind after noon set up perfectly with a steady northerly around 10 mph.  That with some sun are terrific salmon fishing conditions.   "When in doubt, go out."   I'm glad we did.

I saw a couple little dead lampreys at the launch, and we had one salmon come up with a small lamprey as well.  But overall, despite the presence of some 4" lampreys, the fish in Cayuga are incredibly clean and in very good condition.  

Kudos to the park personnel - they had a backhoe and did the best they could to dredge out the area around the little bridge at Taughannock.  It's still very shallow there, but at least they tried.   Hopefully they can get it all taken care of.   Water levels are low but were on the rise.   Water temps ranged from 36 to 39 degrees.  Coldest water was on the south end, east shore.  

  

2/13/2011
Cayuga/Taughannock Shorefishing 2/13
Not much to report today.  A tried fly-fishing the park for around an hour this PM.  The winds weren't what I liked, so I didn't give it long.    Water levels remain low.   Quite a few people were fishing today and I'm not sure how they did.    I expect to be out here in the boat later this week - weather depending.   It's nice to have a little break from the deep freeze!
2/5/2011
Cayuga Lake Taughannock Shorefishing 2/5
Chased away a little cabin fever with some fly-fishing today at Taughannock with my buddy Mike.   As usual, we waded around the park.   Mike started fishing around 9 am and missed a salmon.   He had a hit then saw a swirl, so he wasn't sure of the fish's size.   I joined him around 10:45.   It took awhile before my casting got halfway decent - it isn't easy wade fishing from shore with the shoreline obstructions (like bushes and trees. )  We fished for a good hour and a half without any action.   A second try around the park and I had a few opportunities at a nice fish - likely in the 20" to 22" range.   The fish hit on a couple different casts and then swirled for my fly.   I couldn't hook it.    I did manage to land one around 17" or so near the creek mouth.    I used an intermediate line and a flashy fly.   We tried another area without luck.   The boat launch was open (ice-free) and five boats were on the lake out of Taughannock.   Lake level remains very low, so it's good for easy wading.
1/25/2011
Cayuga Lake/Taughannock Shorefishing 1/25
Got out for a couple hours with my buddy Mike for a little shorefishing.   I brought 3 gear rods and Mike brought his fly-rod.    I never had a hit.  Mike landed 2 fish - one solid 20"er and one fish around 16" or 17".    Next time I'll bring the fly-gear ;-)   We saw a couple guys land a nice 21" fish and trollers were also picking up fish.    Fishing remains good on Cayuga Lake.   Lake levels are very low making for easy wading around the perimeter of the park.
1/4/2011
Seneca Lake Shorefishing 1/4
Not much to report here.   I took a ride up the west shore of Seneca Lake and tried fishing a couple shore areas for trout/salmon that have produced for me in the past.   A couple boats were out perch fishing and reported slow action.    Very few boats were out.   I fished around 2.5 hours without any sign of fish.  
1/1/2011
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 1/1/2011

Got out on the water around 1 pm today.   I was sure we'd have strong winds and rain, but today was probably the best day I've seen in over a month to fish.   Light south winds, air temps hovering just under 50 degrees and a falling barometer.    I should have gotten on the water around 8 am!

Around 1/2 dozen rigs were in the parking lot at Taughannock along with the usual shorefishers.    A couple anglers were pulling up as I was launching and they concurred with my fishing report for yesterday.   They had some nice fish.    This year we're looking at very good salmon action - lots of small fish, but enough sizeable ones to keep things interesting and make fishing well worth it.    My plan was to fish pike today, but I'd have been crazy to not try a salmon area or two.   

I fly-fished our productive area from yesterday and within around 20 minutes I managed to land a chunky brown trout around 18" long that I kept for the table.   The fish hit on an intermediate line in around 20' of water.     I kept casting and eventually had a follow from a solid salmon - likely around 20" to 22".   But that was it.   By then it was around 2:15 pm and I decided to make the run south to some pike areas.

Pike fishing really was exceptional.   The wind was starting to kick up and the fish were pretty active.   I made a long cast with a large deceiver streamer on my sinking line, walked to the console as the fly sank and felt a hard hit.    I set the hook into a very, very solid fish.   Just a beast!    I got a glimpse of it and could tell it wasn't a 40"er, but after a strong battle I landed the 37" fat northern.   The fish was in incredible condition - not a mark on her and fat.   After releasing her, I kept fishing and during my initial drift I picked up two more on the fly - both very solid fish.  A 32" and a 34" fish - both incredible fighters and both in excellent condition.   They were hitting ridiculously hard - it was like stripping a fly into a boulder!    I had one more follow, then around an hour later landed a 24" pike.   That was it on the day.   

If I had to pick one Finger Lake to fish the rest of my life, it'd be Cayuga.   Solid lake trout action from year to year, albeit mostly hatchery fish.   It produces massive brown trout, plenty of great landlocked salmon and some rainbows as well.   The lake has consistent, if rather unspectacular pike action, but it doesn't fluctuate nearly as much as Seneca.   Terrific pickerel year after year.   Great largemouth bass fishing on the N. end despite heavy tournament fishing.   Nice smallmouths too.   Then there are loads of perch.  Add in oddballs like channel catfish, bowfin,  freshwater drum, longnose gar, monster carp, big bluegills and smelt - and if the lake's once great crappie fishing ever comes back, you'd never need to fish another lake.    Plus it's a pretty "wind friendly lake" for being such a big body of water.    Fortunately we don't have to fish only one lake!  Each one has something great to offer between the fish community, scenery and intangibles! 

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