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12/17/2012
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 12/17
Got out with my buddy Eric for some pike on the fly.   Fishing was decent today - not great, but not bad.  I managed 3 nice fish in the 29" to 31" range on double-bunny flies.  Eric broke off a decent fish on a Clouser minnow.   We tried some salmon casting for a little while without any luck.   Some gear fishing for pike later in the day resulted in quite a few follows and hits, but fish weren't committing well.   Water level is good and temps range from 42 to 46 degrees.
12/14/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 12/14
Got out for around 1/2 day worth of jigging.   The winds were gusting fairly strong out of the west when I started just after noon.   Good numbers of lakers range from 135' to 150' off of Aurora.   I was impressed with the fishing today, especially given the windy semi-harsh conditions.   I landed 5 lakers including a 28" and 29" fish.   Larger fish are post-spawn and hadn't been feeding much yet.   A 22" fish I kept was fairly full of bait.   One large fish had been hit by numerous lampreys, but the other fish landed were all clean, with one healed wound on the 28" fish.   I did mark some bait today around 130'.    Launching was a cinch at Long Point.  Water temp remains around 46, though I'd expect 45 this coming week.  I was the only boat that I could see out today in this part of the lake.   Fish were fighting good and came on 1 1/2 oz jigheads with white swimbaits.
12/13/2012
Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 12/13

Got out around 11:45 am for some lake trout.   The wind forecast was for south from 3 to 7 mph, but sure enough the winds were double that.   Anyways the first thing I noticed was that some 2"X 6"s had been bolted alongside the boat launch docks.  This improvement is wonderful and will prevent boats from drifting under the dock structures during low water.   Let's hope more State Launches receive this upgrade soon.   I will post photos shortly.  Lake level was OK.

The lake trout bite was slow to start.  The lake was whitecapping and fish weren't moving much for the jigs.   After about 2 hours I landed a 20" wild fish that I released.   The next fish was very solid at was over 27" with an adipose clip.   Good strong battle!   That fish had an empty stomach and will be smoked.   I lost 3 solid fish in a row.  Not sure why, but it does happen.  They felt like decent fish, maybe in the 24" range.   1 1/2 oz jig heads with white Swim Fishes did the trick.   Best depth was around 130', but there were fish 15' on either side of that depth.  46 degrees was the water temperature.

12/8/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 12/8

Got out just after noon for a little fishing on my own.  The weather looked pretty changeable outside my window today.  Forecasts called for light south winds and overcast/cloudy conditions.   I had gear for everything from lakers to pike and trout/salmon fly-fishing.   Wasn't sure whether I was going to hit Seneca or Cayuga and wasn't sure of the port on either, but with the sun starting to poke through, I figured the short drive to Myers might be a good call.   I was the only one there when I arrived.  

The lake level is dropping on Cayuga Lake despite what rain we've had.   Myers is launchable, but it may not be for long - at least for larger boats.  I had to back a ways in to float my boat off.   Water temps are around 46 degrees.  Good for trout/salmon.

I covered a lot of water with my 6 wt. fly-rod today.   I hit three areas that typically produce this time of year without having a hit.   The last (fourth) area I tried looked very good and just after I cast my bionic smelt in, I felt a light hit.  I kept stripping it and felt a better hit, then finally hooked up.   My one fish for the day was a 16" silvery brown that jumped 3X.  These browns think they're landlocked salmon!   The fish was bleeding pretty good so I kept it.   Despite not marking much bait at all today, this fish was very plump and had at least 3 alewives in it.   No sign of lamprey hits either.   I have no clue how the winter fishing is going to be on Cayuga for trout or salmon thus far.   I think we need another good cold snap or two before fish settle into their winter hangouts.   I like sunny, bluebird days for salmon.  The cloudier days tend to produce more browns,  though any species can come on any condition.   Trollers often like the cloudy days but for fly-fishing I think the sun gets these fish up near the surface.   This kind of fly-fishing isn't for everyone, but it's rewarding and a great feeling when you hook up - oftentimes in "no man's land."

12/4/2012
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 12/4

Had some good fishing with my friend Jeff.   He'd never caught a pike on the fly and it was on his "fishing to-do list."   We fly-fished for pike using a variety of set-ups, from floating lines with Clouser minnows to intermediate lines with double-bunny patterns.   The bunny flies in white, white/gray and all black worked well and we had a good morning fly-fishing, landing 4 decent fish on the flies and missing a few.   We had a lot of follows including a couple pickerel.   Some drum and carp were cruising around the weeds, which was interesting.

We took a couple hours and tried some salmon fly-fishing without luck.   No sign of fish.  With the warm summer a lot of salmon may still be deep or uplake a bit, or perhaps just not in some of the usual areas.   We'll see.

We finished the day with a combination of gear and fly-fishing.   Stickbaits worked best, but a fish came on a Chatterbait and I also nailed another fish or two on the fly.  We landed at least 9 pike today with 3 or 4 in the 29" to 32" range.   Water temps were around 46/47 degrees.   Had a lot of follows today as well.   I'd say that the pike fishing in Seneca Lake is very, very good, though not as spectacular as 2006/2007.   And as usual, the daily conditions make a big difference.  Pick the wrong day and you might not get bit much or at all.

12/2/2012
Keuka Lake 12/1 + Seneca Lake out of Watkins 12/2

After being away for the week, it was nice to return to some warming conditions.    I underestimated the mass of warm water that was created by the extraordinarily hot summer.   Many fishing patterns are still lagging and fish like pike are basically in a early to mid-fall pattern.  Ample weedgrowth still exists on area lakes.   Fishing remains very good, but it isn't necessarily easy, but hard "work" (i.e. fishing) pays off.

Keuka Lake 12/1:  Guided Jon, Dr. Bill and Jon's GF Crystal today for a 1/2 day.   It was around 34 degrees at 8 am when we launched.   I give Crystal (hope I spelled that right) kudos for being the hardiest woman angler I've guided thus far.  She dressed right and did well.    Fishing started out slow.  We marked a ton of fish near the park, but they appeared to be hitting short.   A lot of hits were had and a couple quick hookups and drops.   A ride to the Bluff showed much fewer fish on the FF (fish finder) than previous trips here.   The Bluff always seems to hold a ton of fish, so they were probably around somewhere, but we weren't seeing them.   Crystal hooked and lost a good fish at the Bluff.  

As usual, the sun played a major factor in the bite today.  Once the sun came out, action back near the park got fast and furious.  A couple doubles were hooked.  The gang managed to land around a dozen fish, including Krystal's (I'm hedging my bets on this spelling) 27" beauty.   She did great for her first time fishing EVER!

Surprisingly, none of the dozen fish I cleaned had spawned yet!!!  That's amazing.  Usually by mid-November these fish are dripping eggs and milt.   Some of the fish had large alewives in their stomachs.

Launching the boat wasn't bad, but returning to the dock with south winds hitting the mid-teens was brutal.  I was a bit jetlagged and tired from a visit to AZ and wasn't thinking clearly.   We had a bear of a time getting the boat straightened out and on the trailer and my trolling motor cover/head took the brunt of it.   With strong southerlies the best thing to do is launch out of Hammondsport or pull up to the mooring docks at the State Park, get the vehicle and drive it on the trailer.  The lake is so low now that the dock length is in effect shortened;  my boat wound up partially under the dock and the wave action did a number on the trolling motor.  I bought some Gorilla Tape and was able to piece together the "cranium" of my expensive trolling motor!

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 12/2:   The amount of green and still intact weedgrowth on this (and Cayuga Lake) is still staggering for this time of year.  Guided Mark I. for the full day.   He likes to fly-fish pike but isn't averse to standard gear-fishing for them.    Duck season is open and we kept away from the hunters.   Fly-fishing produced a couple smallish pike (22" and 25".)   Mark lost a couple solid 29" to 30" fish on the flies.   Chartreuse Clouser minnows on a floating RIO Clouser Line did the trick.  

Working some spoons produced better fishing later in the day as the wind subsided.  Mark landed another half dozen fish including a couple 30" to 32" thick bodied northerns.   We gave the salmon fly-fishing a try.  Water temps were good at 46/47 degrees, but sunny days are usually much better for fly-fishing than the rainy, cloudy conditions we had today, so I'm not putting a lot of stock in what I saw today, which was nothing.  A few other boats were pike fishing and a few were trolling.  Not a bad day to be out.  Water level is still nice here and launching is easy.   Good to very good pike fishing should hold out through the winter.  Now's the time to fish them!!!  My buddy Mike fly-fished Cayuga on Saturday and landed 4 decent pike to 37".  

 

 

11/23/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 11/23

Went out for some pike with my buddy Mike starting around 10:45.  Conditions looked great with wind and overcast skies.   Pike fishing has been OK on Cayuga this fall, not great but not bad.   Most pike around are larger, older fish.  We haven't had a good recent year class.    Either way, there's usually a bit of searching involved on this lake when it comes to pike fishing and success.

Water temps ranged from 46 to 50 degrees on the lake's south end.   After a couple hours Mike hooked and quickly dropped a decent fish then managed to land a solid 33" fish on a streamer.   I had a few pike follows on flies and a decent pickerel follow a spoon.   One perch grabbed a pike streamer of mine.   I landed a 31" northern on an X-Rap late in the day.  Overall the conditions were decent but fishing fair;  the wind would gust a bit and then die completely, which made things tough.   My pike had a lamprey scar on it and Mike thought a big lamprey might have attached to my boat's transom for a bit.    Water levels are good at Myers and launching was a breeze.

11/21/2012
Keuka Lake 11/21

Guided David, Mike and Rodney for the full day.   Conditions were cold in the morning, but warmed as the day progressed.  By noon it felt like May out there - balmy in the sun.   The bite started out fair, then slowed and then picked up considerably.   I would still consider the overall fishing to be very good to excellent on Keuka Lake for lake trout.   The guys landed 24 or 25 nice fish today and we kept a limit.   None of the fish I cleaned had spawned yet.    Overall size range was 17" to 22 1/2".    Water temp was 49/50 degrees.  Fish ranged from 65' to 115'.   There are loads of trout around the Branchport Arm and throughout the Bluff Area.

Had fun with the guys today and while I cleaned some fish, Dave - who's quite the chef, decided to try a couple lake trout eggs.   He was raving about them.   I refused to try them for awhile, but finally popped a few in my mouth.   They were surprisingly good.  Many of my customers from Europe value the trout roe considerably.    With a salt or sugar cure, I'm sure they would be quite the delicacy.   But I was definitely impressed with the texture and flavor of the eggs raw.   There are quite a few trout roe recipes online for those of you who are curious about this!

11/19/2012
Keuka Lake 11/19 out of Keuka Lake State Park
Guided Rick and his young son Brendan today for an afternoon 1/2 day.  Water temp on Keuka is at 49/50 degrees.   Water level is low but launchable.   Lakers remain abundant throughout the Branchport Arm of the lake and at the bluff.  We started at the bluff and after showing the guys the technique it didn't take too long before some hits were had.   Chartreuse wound up being the best color and the guys landed around 9 fish and missed/lost a bunch more.   We kept 7 and all were pre-spawn.  A couple had alewives in their stomachs.  Bottom line is that the hot fishing here continues!   We stayed at around 108' to 115' today. 
11/18/2012
Lake Ontario out of Oswego 11/16

One thing that's been on my to-do list for awhile has been getting out on Lake Ontario in the fall - basically the last week in October through the first two weeks of November, and checking on inshore trout action on the fly-rod.    When I lived in the Rochester area, creek and river mouths were my favorite places to fish when trib levels were low.  We'd generally fish "lazy-style" i.e. egg sacks tied up with marshmallows (kind of like they do at Skaneateles Lake with nightcrawlers) for steelhead and the occasional brown or laker.   We'd lay the rods on the pier or wade and hold them, keeping our bails open.  It was a matter of waiting for a bite and subsequent run.  This fishing was best when the lake levels were high, and we'd fish Webster Park, the mouth of Maxwell Creek, Irodequoit Bay outlet and the mouth of the Genesee River.    It was also good around Hamlin.   A few hardy souls do fly-fish the lake and troll for steelhead during the late fall.   Reading Ernie Lanteigne's great blog http://blog.fishdoctorcharters.com/  reminded me of this opportunity - he has an article on trolling in late fall for steelhead.  

I've seen schools of nice browns along structure, usually in 12' to 40' of water in October around the south shore of Lake Ontario and while bass fishing around 10 years ago my buddy Phil landed an 11lb brown while casting a rapala after we both had some hits from browns and had seen some porpoising.  I've also seen other salmonids chasing baitfish around these areas.   The tricky thing now is finding a good boat launch - the lake remains super-low, and with the short days we now have, there's no time to waste driving from launch to launch.   So I decided on Oswego, even though I'd probably have rather gone further west or north.

The launch there is great right now and another 3 boats went out on Friday.   I worked some shallow areas and some places along the breakwalls with my streamers and never saw a fish.   Conditions were very good - bluebird skies with a light onshore breeze, though it didn't get really steady till later in the afternoon.   The great thing about a day spent fly-fishing is that it's never a waste of time.  I looked at it as casting practice with the gorgeous backdrop of Lake Ontario in late November.  You'd be hard pressed to see more picturesque sunrises and sunsets than you will here during the late fall and winter.

I managed to spend a few hours out in deeper water checking the electronics and dropping some jigs down.   Lake trout are now out of season in Lake Ontario, but bass are around and so are other salmonids.   I had a few hits and had some suspended fish showing interest in my jigs.   Most likely steelhead this time of year.   Gobies were still abundant and hitting too.   Water temps were around 46 inside the harbor and 48 to 49 out in the lake.   Talked to two out of the three other boaters that had gone out.  One just trolled for an hour or two on a "shakedown" with a new boat and didn't see anything.  The other guys do this trip around this time of year annually and generally have good steelhead fishing.  They picked up two - one just over legal size (21" is legal) and one under.

11/14/2012
Skaneateles Lake 11/14

I've spent the better part of the last week or two slowing down from another busy season.  I often wonder if my slowdown is similar to a musician getting off the road, or an athlete's offseason;  it always takes me a few weeks to adjust.  Daylight savings time doesn't help either - I can't stand losing that afternoon hour.   Nothing's worse than having to get up an hour earlier during the cold season to catch first light!   It does feel good catching up on sleep, but after a while the urge to fish gets the best of me.   Today I shot out to Skinny at around 11:45.

Arrived at the launch around 12:40.   Docks were gone.  I wish the State would keep the docks in longer like they did last year.   Bring boots or waders and have a long bowline.  And a good sense of balance, or tightrope walking skills definitely helps.   About 4 to 5 rigs were out.   Water temp today was around 50/51, though I had 49 on occasion.

Things didn't go well from the get-go.  I still am having some trouble with a good knot with Berkley Nanofill.  A 12 turn Albright is a pain in the butt to tie - and nearly impossible in the field with cold hands.   I love the line, but need to find a better way to secure it to the leader.  The knot I thought I tied well the night before in my warm apartment failed.   So after a few casts, my leader and hair jig went sailing.   I had some other tackle malfunctions as well  - basically twisted line and other similar issues.   About 4 outfits wound up out of commission.   I'd also left my Skaneateles fly box in my truck.  So I had two fly outfits but no olive buggers, which are my go-to over here.

The wind was blowing out of the north, but below 5 Mile Point it was variable and swirling.  Not good.   I was getting hits from perch and lake trout.  I can tell the difference, but they weren't committing.  I actually foul-hooked a perch in one area.   Weird bite.    I saw a nice laker follow in my tube on one point.

My life as it's been on Skaneateles changed as I worked down the lake.  I was heading to a good area with my trolling motor and decided to munch on a carrot as I took a cast.   I had a good hit and set into a twisting fish.  "Nice laker!" was all I could think.  Then I saw the stripe!   The fish peeled out a bunch of line and for the first time in a while I did some serious backreeling.   After another good run and some chasing with the trolling motor- basically a  spirited battle, I slipped the net under the rainbow.   Just a drop-dead gorgeous male.  I was on a "catch 'em and eat 'em" mission, but there was no chance I was going to kill or even take a chance of injuring this fish for a picture.   I kept the fish in the net in the water and took a few shots.  The fish measured over 27"!!!   Just a beast and a beaut!  Not a super heavy fish - I'd guess it weighed 6lbs or so.  In Lake Ontario it'd have been 7 or 8.   I let the fish go and hopefully it'll make someone else's day.   Found my carrot on the bottom of the boat - I don't remember chucking it or spitting it out!    After that I spent the next couple hours fishing different water and working some perch gear;  it was time to play with some house money!  Missed a few more lakers, landed one and landed some perch.  

Weird day - I felt completely off-kilter, but all ended well!  The bow was in 15' to 25' of water.  In the next few weeks they'll be right up in the shallows.   Needless to say I felt completely rejuvenated and my "daylight savings blahs" were cast away for another day.

11/11/2012
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 11/11

Did a full day trip today with Perry, Fireman Bob and Bob's son Bobby.   Perry brings the bait and his outfits and we still fish for northerns.   Today was very challenging, mainly because the so-called "pike minnows" the guys bought looked to be the size of large perch minnows or small "bass minnows" at best.  

It's hard finding good bait these days.   I remember ice-fishing for pike in the late 1970s and 1980s and most bait shops had a good selection of minnows.  Perch minnows were typically fatheads and ranged from 1" to 2" long.with some around 2.5".   "Bass minnows" ranged from 2" to 3.5" or so, and pike minnows were typically 3.5" to 5+" long.  And then the better bait shops would sell suckers that were a step up from the pike bait.   These days a lot of places don't even stock assorted minnows and in today's case, one place tried to pass off small bass minnows as pike bait - with pike bait prices.  I'm aware of the VHS restrictions but it's a shame that it's so hard to find good bait.   The best baits shop in Rochester was Rochester Hollow Grinder - just fantastic. 

I felt good about the areas we worked this AM, but nothing was happening.  Had one good hit in the 1st. area and nothing for awhile until Bobby caught a nice smallmouth bass.   But when we work a half dozen pike areas with no action, it's not a problem with the pike - it's a "we problem."   And I know the guys agreed with me - that if we'd had good bait, we'd have caught some fish.   We decided to give casting a 1/2 hour.   Fortunately within about 10 minutes Fireman Bob hooked and landed a nice 29" northern on a spoon - he let Bobby reel it in.   Over the next 1/2 hour, three more pike were landed including Bobby's 31"er.   We gave the bait a try late in the day with no hits.   All fish released today (we release most pike everyday.)   Fun day and my advice to anyone using bait is to either call ahead, or purchase bait in advance.   Water temps are 51 degrees.  Perch fishing has been hot and cool lately (as usual.)  Bass are also still in the mix and a handful of boats were out trolling for salmon/trout.   Water level remains good.     

11/9/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 11/9

I wasn't sure where I was going to fish this morning.   Skaneateles was my first choice - it's a great time of year for some "catch 'em and eat 'em" fishing over there.   Might have been a good day to try to nail a musky or two at Otisco or Waneta Lake.   Maybe check on the pike around Sampson on Seneca or out of Geneva.    But my curiousity got the best of me and I grabbed my pike gear and headed over to Cayuga Lake out of Long Point State Park.   

For those not familiar with Cayuga Lake, it can be broken down kind of like some other Finger Lakes;  the top 5 to 6 miles of Cayuga basically fish like Honeoye Lake - lots of weeds and plenty of largemouths (though not the population density of Honeoye's) and pickerel as well (more these days than Honeoye.)  There are some nice pike up there too, though they are vastly outnumbered by pickerel.    The southern 5 to 7 miles of Cayuga fishes more like Conesus Lake, with good pike and smallmouths, though not the largies that Conesus has and the pike fishing probably isn't quite as good on Cayuga, though some years it's debatable.   Now these comparisons are a bit of a stretch, but not too far off base.    The middle 25 to 27 miles of Cayuga Lake is hard to quantify this time of year.   (Keep in mind I'm talking November through April - not the summertime!)  Great fishing for lake trout and some decent perch areas though and a few large smallmouth bass can usually be found, but there are loads of areas that appear to be void of fish until late in the spring. 

Now that I'm on the east shore of Cayuga Lake I'm much closer to Long Point.   Years ago the Long Point area was a hot pike area, not so much anymore.   Cayuga AES was great for winter pike too, but that plant looks like it's about done burning coal.   I worked about 3 miles of the west shore of the lake today primarily using jerkbaits and tubes, though I did take casts with swimbaits, spinnerbaits and large streamers as well.   I found some great looking areas that I'm 90% sure would hold pike - the right kind of weed growth was there.   I landed a chunky 18" smallmouth of a deep running X-rap.    In another area I got hammered twice - once my rod nearly got jerked out of my hand.   I'm guessing another large smallmouth or maybe a pike.  I had what appeared to be a pickerel follow in a lure.  I did land a 22" pickerel as well.   Saw some perch in one area and either a 12" to 15" trout or bass in another.   But it was tough.   I'm sure there are some isolated pike populations around (I've been told that - from reliable sources) and I will continue my mid-lake search.   Even though I didn't catch much, this type of fishing/exploring really trips my trigger and I thoroughly enjoy it!

11/4/2012
Skaneateles Lake 11/2
Did a short excursion with my friend's son today.  He loves fishing in the area and doesn't get up here much, so we went despite the highs around 39 and blowing north winds.   Conditions were trying - we had whitecaps and "mini-squalls" moving through on a regular basis.    Sam did manage to land his biggest smallmouth bass to date, a fatty just a hair under 19".   I caught some nice perch, but overall it was tough to get a good presentation and I didn't want to run all over the lake.   Sam caught another decent bass as well, and we both missed some hits.  Hairjigs and tubes are what we used.   The portable restrooms were taken out as we were preparing to launch.  Hopefully the docks will be kept in for awhile.   We shall see.   Water temps remain warm for this time of year - around 55 degrees.  Lake level is low.
10/28/2012
Keuka Lake 10/28

Guided Jack and Max for what wound up being a 1/2 day today.  How good was the laker bite???  It doesn't get better.  I think the guys landed 13 fish in the first HOUR!   We had a few doubles and filled the limit easily.  It was rare that drops during the first hour or two didn't produce hits.  The weather wasn't bad early on, but the wind did pick up along with some rain and we called it a day after 4 hours.   Tried about 1/2 hour of perch fishing with a light hit or two and a nice pickerel showing up. 

Lakers are still feeding well on Keuka.  There's bait around and most fish we've caught have yet to spawn.   The good fishing should continue here. Water temps were in the mid 50s here.    

My schedule has felt like July this week!   It's been a great month with some top-notch fishing as well as a few slow days.   When my schedule is sparse, it's easier to cherry-pick days, but when things book up it's harder.   Early starts or late fishing, along with fishing in inclement weather can help, especially with pike fishing.    I expect terrific fishing in November if the weather holds up.  Stay tuned!   

10/27/2012
Skaneateles Lake 10/27

Guided Jimmy today for the full day.  He absolutely LOVES to fish and brought along some fantastic tackle.   He was hoping for some action and we found some today.   The northern portions of the lake produced some good smallmouth action on fish around 10" to 12".   Larger fish were active downlake and he caught a couple solid bass along with the usual smaller fish.   Some nice jumbo perch found his jigs today and he also caught a large pickerel and rockbass.   He insisted I fish a bit, and I did give things a try here and there.   I did get very lucky (and I'm not understating this) and I caught a gorgeous 24" rainbow after making a few casts with a tube jig in some deeper water. It was likely close to 5lbs.   It won't be long before these rainbows are fly-fishable with intermediate lines!   Took a photo and released the beauty unharmed - just a remarkable fish.

Despite the "lateness" of the season, water temps remain warm after the past couple days and bass were aggressively chasing Superflukes.  I'm sure topwater would've worked fine.   Fish came on hard jerkbaits, soft jerkbaits, tubes and hairjigs today.   The docks are still in and quite a few people were enjoying the beautiful air temperatures out on the lake today.   Jim did a great job with the techniques today, which aren't always easy. 

10/26/2012
Seneca Lake/Watkins 10/25 + Cayuga Lake/Myers 10/26

10/25 Seneca Lake out of Watkins:  Guided Perry and "Fireman Bob,"  both from the Buffalo area for pike.  Perry brings the bobbers and minnows, and over the past couple years our trips have gone well, primarily because he's been able to obtain some good bait.

The guys arrived from Buffalo in the AM and it took a little while to get bait, so we might have missed some prime AM fishing, but before long we were underway.   Had some slow fishing to start, but making a move paid off.   We had a couple good runs around 11 am and Perry, being the nice guy he is, let Bob handle most of the fish.  The first pike landed was a 35" or 36" beauty (if I remember right.)   Then came one around 29".    A 32" was also landed, along with a nice pickerel around 23" to 24".    We did see a nice salmon around one of the minnows, so it won't be long.   Best fishing was midday and just before dark.   Water temps range in the mid-50s.   The pike fishing on Seneca is good now, not great but not bad. 

10/26 Cayuga Lake out of Myers:  Guided Mark today for a full day starting around 10 am.   He's busy in the AM so we decided to fish until dark.   Although pike on the fly were our primary target, Mark was up for some bass too if that was the best call.   Given the sunny conditions and steady 10 mph+ winds I thought the bass might offer the best action midday.   We started with pike and Mark had a couple small bass chase the streamer.  Then he hooked up with a fat 16" smallmouth.  

I set up some spinning rods with jerkbaits and Mark gave it a shot, after having worked the fly-rod for awhile without much to show.   Mark hooked a big fish in short order but it got off.  I'm guessing it was a decent pike, though we couldn't tell.   We didn't do much on the bass in the areas we fished.  

Fishing remained tough in the late PM, but finally about an hour before dark Mark connected with a 31" northern on the fly.  There are a lot of great weedbeds around on Cayuga Lake right now.  As the weeds die back, the fishing should improve, but no matter what, the right conditions help a lot.  Cooling temperatures will also help.   The pike fishing certainly hasn't been "gangbusters" yet this fall, but it rarely is on Cayuga.   Land 4 to 6 solid pike in a day's fishing here and you've had a good day, especially given that many of them range from 30" to 37".    

10/24/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 10/24

Guided Gordon for the full day targeting pike on the fly.   The weather system was much better for pike activity and despite the lack of wind the fishing wasn't bad.   Gordon landed 3 pike on the fly and one on gear.  The largest on the fly was over 36" - a very solid fish that gave a great battle.   Other fish were 31", 32" and 29".   Solid Cayuga northerns.   No bonus fish today.   Water temp was around 56.   Most came on a shad/alewife colored deceiver fished on a Type 6 eight wt. full-sinking line.   The gear caught fish hit an X-Rap.  Very few people are out fishing Cayuga.  

One of the highlights of the day was after the trip - I was getting my boat ready to leave when I heard a noise and saw a nice buck run through the park, jump some concrete barriers and then jump into the marina.  He swam around and finally exited the water.  Took a few seconds and then was on his way.   Very entertaining!

 

10/22/2012
Owasco Lake 10/22
Guided Dave and Ryan today for an AM 1/2 day starting around 7:45.   I always have a good time with these guys.   We tried pike fishing for about an hour on the N. end without luck.   Originally we were going to do a Cayuga Lake pike trip but the conditions weren't good for it.    The guys enjoy laker jigging so we switched to that.  The jigging was very good.  Eight fish were landed between 14" and around 24" long.   Chartreuse plastics were pretty hot today.  Only the one dink, most were 22" to 23" long.   Water level is low but launchable.   H2O was around 56 degrees.    Beautiful day with peak foliage.   I wish Fall lasted another 2 months!  BTW - the fish look great on this lake.  Nice colors and they are generally in good condition.  
10/21/2012
Fishing Reports 10/17 - 10/21

Lake Ontario/Chaumont 10/17:   Where do I begin?   I'd been looking forward to getting up to Eastern Lake Ontario with my buddy Mike (in his boat) for some BIG smallmouth bass.   We settled on Wednesday, due to the decent weather forecast.   Things went a little bit "south" from the get-go.  Normally I bring my GPS unit and set it and don't think.  I didn't even think about bringing it and sure enough we overshot our exit.   After riding around circuitously, we finally arrived at our launch and tried going out of the State Park on Point Pennisula.   The lake level was so ridiculously low, we decided to launch elsewhere.  Sometimes it isn't worth risking the boat, trailer and/or truck to fish.   We'd left the Syracuse area around 7:45 am.  After more circuitous driving, we finally found a good launch - the usual State Ramp at Chaumont.   By the time we launched the boat at Chaumont it was close to noon.  

The lake was a bit choppy but we arrived at our destination and in fairly short order Mike hooked and landed a 5lb 3oz smallmouth on a dropshot rig.   No more fish in the area, but we tried another spot and I nailed one around the same size.  2 smallmouths with a total weight of over 10lbs!   Goby fed fish provide those kind of slob bass.   We weren't able to fish too many areas before we called it a day.   Tough, long day, but well worth it.   Just monster bass.   

Highpoint of the day wasn't a 5lb+ smallmouth, it was this little chickadee that landed on my rod as I was fishing.  Cute little bird.  I reached over and it didn't fly away.  Instead it pecked at my hand a couple times before flying away.  It was just one of those moments that only happen when fishing.   Got a photo or two of the bird on my rod too!    Stopping at Smoky Bones in Syracuse always makes for a great end to the day.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 10/18 PM:    To fish or not to fish?   We had forecast southerlies around 15 to 20 mph gusting into the 30s.   The Hermans wanted to get out before a planned vacation and this was the only time slot that worked for both of us.    Guiding Seneca Lake can be tough.   The strong winds pushed the warm 55 to 59 degree water around 5 miles up the lake.  What remained was ice-cold 44 to 47 degree water temps.   Up the lake, we'd be looking at 3'+ waves.  Not going there!   We tried some salmon casting but sometimes the salmon move up with upwellings, sometimes they don't and of course, trying to find them by casting isn't easy, especially in the course of a half a day when we want to get some pike fishing in.

Some casting for pike proved to be slow.  But as is often the case, the pike activate just as the sun is heading over the horizon.   John set the hook onto a fish that ran under my boat and towards the shoreline.   This was a big, strong fish and I was wondering if he hadn't snagged a carp or hooked a big brown trout.    After moving the boat around and unsnagging John's line from the weeds, the fish proved to still be hooked.   I slid the net under a 37" beauty of a northern.   Unfortunately it was tongue hooked and bleeding pretty heavily.   We kept the fish - it weighed 11 1/2lbs.   The stomach had 2 alewives in it.   Two more pike followed - a dink and a fish around 26" to 29" that jumped and got off.   Tough day to start, but things paid off.   Tomorrow we wouldn't be as lucky...

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 10/19 AM:  Met Roy and Susan at the launch around 7 am.  Nice conditions - we had overcast skies with some rain and light winds - maybe too light on the wind, but it looked good.  Roy and Sue fished hard and we worked a few key areas.   We saw a pike or two, but no takers.   We even tried a little bass fishing without so much as a hit.   The lack of wind hurt, as did the continued upwelling, though warmer water was moving back in.    Tough AM and I fished a couple hours on my own afterwards without any luck - I checked on lakers as well. 

10/19 PM Watkins:   Nothing's better as a guide as having deep confidence in the fishing pattern of the day.   But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't apprehensive about my afternoon trip after the AM skunking.    Met Mike and Rod at the launch and told them the good and bad news - yes, we had landed a 37" beauty the night before, but hadn't had a hit this AM.   They were great guys with a great sense of humor and realistic expectations regarding fishing.   I talk about the "Fish Gods" but in this case the "Guide Client Gods" couldn't have been nicer to me.   I knew, as did the guys, that we'd have a good shot at some fish just before dark if not earlier.   Fishing remained tough but Mike had a solid hit within a 1/2 hour and other hits were had, though they were light.   We saw a nice salmon which was cool.  Just before dark Rod missed a couple pike and finally nailed one around 26".   At least we weren't skunked. 

10/20 Cayuga Lake out of Myers:   I  had a feeling that the fishing would be better Saturday.   We had more cloud cover and the severe front was settling in.   Rod nailed a 33" pike early on.   Had some big fish follow and swirl for the lures.   Mike nailed a 25" pike then a chunky 17" smallmouth that was his personal best.   We set up for bass and the guys landed a couple more around 14" to 15" and they had a few hits.   Rod then lost a big pike.   Not the greatest catching, but decent action throughout the day - at least compared to the previous day!   Saw a lot of vultures flying around - "buzzards."  

10/21 Seneca Lake out of Watkins:  We had a 3rd day planned but some unforseen events wound up in us cancelling the trip.   I really wanted to hit Keuka for lakers and bass, but had already launched the boat, so I did a little scouting without much luck.  Had a few hits on lakers or small salmon.  Conditions weren't great and I wasn't disappointed that we didn't do the trip - it would've been another tough pike day in all likelihood. 

Lake Fall pike can be mysterious and they aren't necessarily easy to catch.  Their mood (aka activity level) can vary from mildly aggressive to downright negative.  It can require a bass fishermen's sense of touch - kind of like working a plastic worm.   Work a lure too "horizontally" without stops and vertical motion and it ain't hard to get skunked.   Both fish landed on Saturday were barely hooked.  Fish would hit and weren't coming back.   This wasn't brainless "cast and wind" fishing.   This required focus and perseverence.   BTW:  Fly-casting large streamers IS DEADLY on neutral to negative pike.   Oftentimes it's the BEST METHOD!  Believe it or not....   

 

10/16/2012
Keuka Lake 10/16 AM

Guided regulars Ed and John for a "smoker-filling" lake trout mission.   Weather forecasts were a little bit funky, but the morning wound up beautiful with great fishing conditions. 

The bite was excellent throughout the AM.  The guys fished just over 3 hours and landed 13 nice lakers to 25".   105' to 110' was excellent, though there are fish in a lot of different depths.   A drop with my FishHawk probe showed laker friendly temps down around 55' or so to 65', with icy 44 degree water on the bottom.

Lake temp is now 59 degrees!   The fishing opportunities throughout the region are tremendous right now.

10/14/2012
Keuka Lake 10/13 out of Branchport

Did two one-half day trips today out of the State Park.  Started around 8:15 am with David and Bill.  It was COLD!!!   28 degrees for an air temperature!  There was a light breeze out of the south and plenty of steam/fog coming off of the lake.   I watched a troller land what might have been a couple sublegal landlocked salmon near the boat launch at the State Park.

Our chilly run to the Bluff paid off.   The guys had some very good action on some very good fish ranging from the usual 19" to 22" Keuka fish to a couple around 25" to 26".   The usual plastics worked well.

My afternoon trip was a late booking with Tim and his wife Stephanie.   We tried fishing around Branchport for awhile without much luck.   For what it's worth, there are loads of fish around the State Park, but oftentimes the bite is just better at the Bluff.   There are just more feeding fish there and it's much easier to stay in a productive zone. 

BTW - I believe lake trout spawn over a long period of time on Keuka Lake.  We find ripe fish here in mid-October and throughout November right up to Thanksgiving.  

Anyways, we ran over to the Bluff and in short order some fish were hooked.   Once one was landed, more fish kept coming.  We ended up keeping a half dozen and releasing one and fish were hitting well when we left around 5:30.   I've cleaned a lot of fish out of Keuka Lake over the past month.   Most have nothing in their stomachs.  A few have alewives varying from "peanuts" to large, older alewives.   I've seen a couple sculpin.  

I've never been a huge proponent of "matching the hatch" in terms of baitfish and trout/salmon.  I know it can appear to be important when panfishing or bass fishing, but fish like trout and salmon are opportunistic predators.  They aren't going to swim past an injured 3" alewive to get to a 5"er, or vice-versa.    When I check stomach contents there's usually an array of sizes of bait.   If you only find one size, I think it's less due to selectivity that it is to AVAILABILITY.  This doesn't mean that other factors don't figure into determining the size or color of the lures we use.

10/12/2012
Keuka Lake 10/12

Guided Chris and Herb today, both people who work with my buddy Jarrod, who took out another business friend of his.    The weather forecast was ominous with high winds, cold temperatures and some rain forecast.   As I left my apartment the wind was blowing hard out of the north and the rain was falling.   As I approached Penn Yan, a call to the weather line (for the airport) had winds down to 2 mph.   We had a good window!

Boats were launched around 8 am and we ran to the bluff.   Fishing was very good and both boats landed plenty of lakers up to Jarrod's 26"er.   I'm seeing more large lakers this year (and last) on Keuka.   Plenty of fish were kept for Chris's smoker.   The weather did get pretty crazy and we wrapped up just before noon as north winds kicked up.   Water temp was 61.  Lake level is low but launchable.   There are fish everywhere around the bluff area from at least 80' on out.   Bait numbers aren't bad either.

Fishery Thoughts - I'm very happy with the decision by DEC Region 8 to increase the laker number maximums (as part of a 5 salmonid limit) on Keuka to 5 fish per day per person.    I don't think it's necessary on Seneca Lake, but I don't think it will hurt over there.  I think it will also help Canandaigua Lake a lot too.   I love eating Keuka Lake lakers just about any way - grilled, fried or baked, but these fish smoked are by far the best.  To go to Keuka as a single angler used to require 2 trips for me to get enough fish for the smoker.  Now I can do it in just one trip.    I enjoy the number fishery on Keuka and I'm sure it'll continue, but the fish here are clearly somewhat stunted.  You don't find 17" fish on Cayuga or Seneca with developed eggs or milt.  You do on Keuka - as a matter of fact, it is the norm here.   

The overharvest of lakers in a lake like Seneca or Cayuga with lamprey populations can be detrimental to the rainbow, brown and salmon populations.  Lakers are better at surviving lampreys and drawing lampreys to them.  Remove too many lakers and the eels hammer the other salmonids.  But in lamprey-free lakes like Canandaigua and Keuka, the main impediment to rainbows, browns and/or salmon populations (and newly stocked salmonids) is laker predation.   Remove a good number of lakers and there's more food for the other salmonids.   It's worth trying.   We all love lakers, but we would like a more balanced fishery on Canandaigua and Keuka Lakes.  I encourage anglers to fish Keuka and Canandaigua Lakes and keep their share of lakers.   Keeping fish on Owasco wouldn't hurt either.  

10/10/2012
Skaneateles Lake 10/8

Not much to report here.   I was on a trip with swim pal Neil and his brother Mark. Was at the launch and ready to start my engine when I noticed that my throttle control felt unconnected.   It wound up being a no-go.   We wound up doing a little fishing around the launch and I gave a long fly-casting lesson to Mark.   Needless to say, I'll likely endure a lifetime of heckling at the pool when I see Neil!

Drove the rig over to Silver Lake Marine and found that I needed a part for the throttle control and a new throttle cable.   These things happen on occasion and at least it didn't happen way down the lake.   It's a shame because the conditions looked great for bass fishing.

I've had my current 18' Crestliner FishHawk since the fall of 2001 and it's time for a new rig.   I've probably put over 30 years of use on my current rig over the past 11 years.  It was stored outside and fished in rain, snow, sleet and hail!   If all goes as it should, I'll be running a brand new boat/motor next year from May through mid-October.  And it will be stored inside during the harsh winter months.   I plan on keeping the old (current) rig as a winter/off-season rig and also as a back-up for summer guiding.  

I have some trips on the books from Friday onwards and will be up on Chaumont Bay and Lake Ontario next week with fishing buddy Mike if all goes as planned.  With luck we'll encounter some big smallmouths and maybe even another MONSTER smallmouth!   Some dates remain in October and I have plenty in November.  Big pike time is around the corner!   Stay tuned....

 

 

10/7/2012
Fisheries Notes

Cayuga Lake lake trout propagation netting showed a few things about the Cayuga lake trout population and lamprey wounding.   Quite a few fish came up with lampreys, including many large eels from 18" to 21".    One 10lb laker had 4 live eels attached.   But with that being said, the best net hauls were on Friday and Saturday and those fish were in better shape with very few eels.  It was reminiscent of past years.    The diversion of one year's stocking of lake trout to the Federal Hatchery in PA around 6 to 7 years ago apparently did make a difference in the fish numbers showing up in the nets. 

We all know that lampreys on Cayuga are the worst they've been in the past 20 years or so, but next year will be better and the year after should be excellent in terms of fewer eels.

From what I've seen so far this year on Cayuga, up until the last couple weeks, is that the fishing has been steady - really good day-in and day-out.  We had very few cold fronts and blow-off days (in terms of wind) during this hot summer.  I don't think I cancelled a single trip in the summer due to cold fronts and brutal wind.   We caught fish every day, but it was rarely ever gangbusters.  The hottest laker fishing on Cayuga and Seneca occurred early in the season, in April and May when fish were deep and before the thermocline set up.   Laker friendly water temps were deeper than in previous years and I saw days where the bottom in 90' feet of water was lethal to lake trout.  On a few occasions 120' FOW was where the 48 degree water was.   That's deep!

Many derbies had poor results in terms of laker size, but while the nettings showed somewhat diminished numbers of the usual 8 to 10lb fish, they did show up and fish up to 14lbs were handled.   No word on the numbers of wild fish, but it's safe to say that around 5 to 8% of the Cayuga fish are wild.  What remains to be seen is the toll these eels took on the brown trout, rainbow trout and landlocked salmon populations.   Even pike get affected by lampreys.   The few incidental salmon and browns we caught while jigging this summer looked to be in good shape. 

Re: Seneca Lake - Some good news is that Region 8 DEC stream surveys report the best numbers of young (juvenile) wild rainbows in Catherines Creek since the 1970s.  And this is despite the hot summer.   Rainbows are now being stocked in some Region 8 Finger Lakes in an effort to boost their numbers both in the lakes and the streams.   (Region 7 has been stocking rainbows for years in Skaneateles, Owasco and Cayuga Lakes.) Let's hope we see some improved rainbow fishing down the line!    Keeping lake trout out of Canandaigua, Keuka and Seneca Lakes will help give the other salmonids a chance.  

10/6/2012
Keuka Lake 10/5

Guided Mihai, Bill and Katt for the full day.   Mihai and Bill have been booking trips with me since my first year guiding and various work/family obligations had kept them off the Fingerlakes for awhile, so it was great to see them.  

Winds were blowing fairly well throughout the Branchport arm so we headed right for the bluff area around 8 am where it was nice and calm.  Fishing was steady and very good throughout the day - right from the beginning through the end, which I would consider excellent fishing.  We saw one other boat jigging.    The guys landed close to 30 lake trout on the day, and with the new 5 laker limit (Region 8 waters only) and DEC encouraging anglers to keep fish, we kept our limit.   The guys had two fish in the 27" range.  Most were the usual 19" to 22" Keuka fish.  

There was a fair amount of bait around and Region 8 biologists have noticed sculpins playing a significant, if not major role in the lakers' diets here.   I cleaned a few fish and did find sculpins present.

The foliage colors around the Bluff areas were incredible and are probably a week to two away from peak.  It was an amazing day to be out!    Fish bit well throughout the sunny periods, cloudy conditions, wind and no-wind.   White swimbaits worked best, but chartreuse also produced.   Best fishing for us was from 105' to 115'.  

10/4/2012
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 10/4

It's always great seeing "Pepperidge Farms Tom" and today was no exception.   It's nice to see that my hard (for me!) butterfly drill swim sets at Cornell and careful eating of select fruits and vegetables has all been for nothing, as it is time to start demolishing Milanos and other tasty items by the bagful.

I had some trepidation regarding where to fish today for the best action.   I've seen damn tough pike fishing with sunny, calm conditions and even with overcast calm conditions at times.   The forecast made me leary, but we chose Watkins for pike.   Fishing started out great (we started at 10:30 am in hopes of the wind coming up.)   Tom landed 5 pike in short order, mostly on stickbaits.    Fish ranged from 24" to 29" and are hitting hard and fighting good.    He missed others.  In short, it was very good to excellent fishing to start.   Some bass around 10" to 12" were also in the mix.   Tom also managed one jumbo perch. 

As the sun came out and wind died, we tried some laker jigging near Valois without any action.  Fish were there.    Another pike or two were missed and finally as it was getting dark Tom hooked a very solid fish - a nice 36" northern!    Got a few photos and released it.  All fish were let go today.   Alewives are starting to invade the shallows - we saw a nice ball of them and there were other signs of them being around.   Bass and perch are on some of the points.  Water temp was back up around 64/65 today. 

As an added note, I've had my Cornell Classes out over the past couple weeks shorefishing.  Action has been slow at the Whitney Point Reservoir Spillway.   The water level is low.  Best action on smallmouths has been on the school side.   My class has caught some small smallmouths and even a largemouth on the old Agway side.   The rockbass are absent.   A lot of carp have been milling around.  No sign of walleyes yet - at least for us.   

10/2/2012
Owasco Lake 10/2 AM

Guided Jerry and JR for 1/2 day starting around 7:30 this AM.   Fishing was slow to start with a couple missed light hits.   Things were looking fairly bleak with the overcast/light rainy skies, but we persevered and some fish started activating.  The guys landed 5 nice fish including two solid 27" to 28.5" lakers - quality fish for this lake these days.  One fish appeared to be a wild one, which is also very rare on this lake.  Many of the fin-clips are regenerating on the fish in this lake so it's important to be able to look at the fins closely and make sure one isn't slightly smaller than the other (parallel) fin when checking clips for the Angler Diary Reports.

We were the only boat out of Emerson Park in the AM and the only one we saw all morning.   Around 85' to 110' was best today.   White was the best color.   Tougher bite, but even a tough October day on Owasco (or Keuka) for that matter is oftentimes good fishing!  Fish are still gorging on the peanut alewives, though the two bigger fish (females) didn't have much in their stomachs.   The low numbers of alewives may have helped these fish spawn successfully 5 to 10 years ago.   Who knows?

9/30/2012
DeRuyter Reservoir 9/29, Owasco Lake 9/30

9/29 DeRuyter Reservoir:  Had the day off so I joined my buddy Mike at DeRuyter.   This is another one of many area lakes I either haven't fished, or don't get a chance to fish much.   There's a list of 'em including Waneta, Lamoka, Cazenovia, Jamesville, Cayuta, Tully, Whitney Point, Lake Como etc...My buddy Mike lived near the area for a while and used to fish it 4 or 5 times a year.   He lives further away now and hadn't fished there this year and asked me if I wanted to join him.   I'd been curious about this lake for awhile.  

The lake is about the size of Waneta Lake and very clear.   It's maybe 3 miles long and tops out around 50' (I believe) with plenty of milfoil, some coontail and plenty of pondweeds.   The launch is very good and there are no horsepower restrictions that I know of on the lake.   There's a $5 fee to launch at a General Store/Camp and it's a very well kept, nice place.   We started off around 8:30 am casting blade baits for walleyes.   Most walleyes are small here - around 15" to 17", with big ones rare.  Mike picked up one around 15".   I caught a pickerel.   There are loads of pickerel in this lake - most around 17" to 18" long.   In around 18' FOW I made 5 casts with tube jigs and hooked 2 pickerel.  There are a LOT of them here!

Bass fishing was what we came here to do.   The fishing for 12" to 14" largemouth bass was excellent, though we did have to finesse them with dropshot rigs.   I tried a bunch of other stuff, but Mike probably caught 2 to 3 on the dropshot for every one I caught on something else, so the dropshot it was.   We probably wound up landing 30 to 35 bass with Mike getting the lion's share, though we didn't keep track.  Nothing was over 15" and most were around 12" to 13"   We went back to walleye fishing before the end of the day and Mike picked up one keeper and I landed a bass.  

The fishing here is very good in terms of the general fish population.   It's a great place to catch bass and pickerel all day long, but the size is lacking.   We kept a handful of bass, a few pickerel and a walleye.  The bass I cleaned had 3/4" long sunfish in them and the deep bass had 1" to 1 1/2" perch fry in it.  That is small forage! My gut feeling with this lake presently is that it is a bit too gamefish heavy.   It could use some harvesting of bass and pickerel.    Fun day and gorgeous scenery here.  Water temp was around 60 degrees.  I would tend to choose the north end of Cayuga over DeRuyter for action from bigger fish, but DeRuyter is a great place to relax and work on some different techniques or just catch a bunch of fish.  

9/30 Owasco Lake out of Emerson Park:   Guided Oleg and Yuri here for 1/2 day AM trip.   Not much new to report.  The lake trout fishing remains very good to downright excellent here.   The fish are healthy, running 22" to 25" long.  The amount of bait on the north end of the lake is ridiculous - TONS of 1" young of the year alewive.  They are getting hammered by the lakers - many lakers were spitting up 2 or 3 of these peanuts.   Around 85' to 105' was best and we had action on white, white and chartreuse, smelt and chartreuse plastics.  The guys had never done the technique before and managed to land 9 solid lakers.   

The lake level is LOW - about a foot lower than it was 2 weeks ago, but launching out of Emerson Park is still doable and not hard. 

 

9/27/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 9/27

Guided Jim and Eileen for a 1/2 day this AM starting around 7:45.  I picked them up at their rental cottage near Kidders.    Lakers were around, but in a negative mood for the most part.   We had a few hits and Jim and Eileen each landed a fish - one around 24" and one around 27".  Plenty of bait is around.   Laker temps south of Sheldrake were at around 115 FOW, north of the point they were at 85!   Water temp was 65/66.    Fish hit Shakers/Swim Fish in white and white/chart.

Even with slow fishing on Cayuga, a jigging trip is never a bad idea if you haven't done it.  The technique is well-worth learning and will pay lifelong dividends.

9/26/2012
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 9/26

Guided the Hermans for 1/2 day.  Pike fishing featured a good AM bite then slower fishing.  John hooked 3 solid fish and managed to land 2.   The pike were heading right into the weeds after hitting his lure.   About 8' to 15' was decent.   Water temps ranged from 59 to 62 on the lake.  Average pike was 27".   Pike fishing will only get better as the season progresses!

After the trip I fished another 3 to 4 hours.   I tried a few different areas and tactics.  I landed a couple more to 29".   Also lost at least 3 or 4 fish.   Spoons, stickbaits and plastics did the trick.    A friend reported some perch starting to hit.

Shore fishing at the Watkins Pier has been good for undersized smallmouth bass and rockbass.   Good place to take the kids fishing.  There are strong classes of young smallmouth bass on this lake and hopefully we'll see some good bass fishing here in the future.  

9/23/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 9/23

Guided Jared and his buddy Chris today for a 1/2 day.   I picked them up at Jared's family's place just S. of Dean's Cove.   The cold front bass/pickerel fishing we tried for around an hour and a half didn't yield but one hit.  I marked some fish in 50' FOW and dropshotting yielded a dink smallmouth!

Laker jigging was better than I was expecting, with the guys landing 5 legal, albeit smaller (16" to 23") fish.   A few others were missed/dropped, but I was pretty happy with the fishing.  Around 85' to 100' was good.  Plenty of fish were around in the area along with bait.   Water temps were around 66.

9/22/2012
Owasco Lake 9/21

Once in a while I get a call or email from someone who'd like me to check out their boat setup and see what's good and what needs tweaking.   I don't guide on other people's boats - and I do get a handful of offers a year to do it.  My insurance wouldn't cover me and frankly it's not something I would want to do.  I tried it once and despite good intentions, the angler's trolling motor battery was dead, there were no lifejackets and the electronics weren't working well. I like my own setup and maintain and know it well.  Not much to report here, but I spent some time on Gordon's Tracker out of the South end of Owasco Lake.

No need to get into details, but info that's worth mentioning is that the lake temp is at 65 degrees.  The weeds look great on the lake's south end.  The water level is low, but it's very launchable with smaller craft on the south end of the lake.  I brought along a couple laker jigging set ups and he got a feel for working his trolling motor while fishing a few points.   He had no luck on the lakers but had some deep bass follow and hit his jigs.  

I love owning a boat.  Even before I started guiding, I realized how valuable the freedom was that came from being able to fish where and when I wanted to.   I have a few clients that book upwards of a half dozen trips a year.   That may sound expensive, but 3 one-half day trips and 3 full day trips for 2 ppl. works out to around $1800.    Buy a used 16' Tracker, let's say for $7500 and run it for 5 years and you're automatically looking at $1500 a year.   Do 15 fishing trips a year on it and that's $100 a trip.  But that doesn't figure in the following:  Tackle (just the line I use for jigging lakers runs about $30 a spool for 300 yards,)  fuel both for the truck and boat, boat accessories - like an anchor, drift bag, flares etc...,maintenance, boat launching fees, bait (if you use it,) storage etc.... Plus with a guide you have someone else with know-how running the boat.  All you have to do is fish.   And you'll have a more stable lake-worthy boat capable of fishing Lake Ontario, Oneida Lake or the bigger Fingerlakes with some wind added in.   I'm not saying don't buy a boat, but be aware that unless you're using it 30 or more times a year, you might be better off going the guide route. 

9/19/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 9/19

Toughest day I can recall this season for lakers on Cayuga.  Guided a half day with Eric and Barb (names changed upon request!  And not due to today's results I might add.)   They have a place on the lake and wanted to fish Cayuga.   I felt we could do alright on lakers away from Taughannock given the forecast for sun and light winds.   The severe cold front put a huge damper on the bite, and the forecast light winds and sun wound up being North winds around 12 to 16 mph and partly to mostly cloudy skies.  Barb had a hold of a decent fish for a few seconds and that was about it.   No other definite hits or hookups.   They fished hard but the mighty skunk finally reared its head.   We only had a couple fish at best move for the jigs.  The trout were definitely in "lockdown mode" while we were out. 

Those of you who follow my reports know that Cayuga has been slow for lakers and I much prefer Owasco and Keuka now - so there's plenty of good to excellent fishing to be had in the region.   Cayuga will still yield good laker action, but picking the right day and area is important.    I like easier fishing for my guiding, thus I much prefer driving a few extra miles for better fishing!  H2O is around 68 on Cayuga and cooling.

9/17/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 9/17

Guided John, James and Gabe for a 1/2 day AM trip.   I much prefer mid-AM to mid PM laker action in the fall, but today I had an afternoon fishing class to teach at Cornell, so it had to be an AM trip.    We started just after 7am north of Stoney Point, more or less by Wells College.   I marked a few fish in the area.   The bite was slow with James managing to land a couple lakers and Gabe landed a smallmouth bass (in around 60' FOW.)   John mentioned seeing an eel by the motor in the back of the boat.  I snagged it.  Sure enough, a 21" lamprey had attached to my transom!!!   I'd never seen this before, though I'd heard of eels attaching to downrigger weights.  Very weird!  And it might have been the largest Cayuga/Seneca lamprey I'd ever seen!  (Lake Ontario has the longest I've seen, though I haven't seen the Delaware River eels.)

The wind was steady out of the south and didn't let up until around noon.   We ran towards AES and John landed a decent laker.   A few other hits were missed.  Overall, I felt we could've done much better had we started later and fished later, but we had no choice.   

  

 

9/16/2012
Skaneateles Lake 9/16 AM

Guided Ori and Ido from Israel today.  They like to fish but don't get the chance to do a whole lot.   Today was a learning day.   AM fishing was fair and action kept improving as the day went on, with the wind dying down and clouds rolling in.

They wound up having plenty of action on rock bass dropshotting in deep water, of course that's a no-brainer on this lake.   The best smallmouth action was shallow and tube jigs did the trick.  They landed over a half dozen with a smattering of legal fish in the mix.   We've been keeping a fair number of bass and rock bass out of this lake this year and they have one thing in common - they are stuffed with crawfish.   Ori landed a nice 12" perch today.  First we've had in a long time despite dropshotting routinely in upwards of 40' to 50' FOW.    H2O was around 68. 

I feel people should harvest a lot more rockbass on this lake.  They are ridiculously abundant and good eating.   An electric knife makes short work of them.  They do compete directly with smallmouths and other species for crayfish.   Tasty fish when seasoned and sauteed in butter!  

9/15/2012
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 9/15

Did two 1/2 day trips starting with Mark and his wife Jane at 8 am.   We ran right to the bluff and had steady action throughout the AM.   Mark wanted Jane to have a good time and get into some fish and she managed to land the biggest and most, so it was a success.  Fish ran to 24" long and we had around 1/2 dozen or more landed and others dropped.  It was a good bite despite the front.    105' to 115' seemed best and there was some bait around.

My noon trip was with Bob and Ray, who both joined me last year here around this timeframe.  We stayed around the State Park after I'd checked it out between trips and found some fish.   Bob dropped the first few, but the fish cooperated better and he got a hook into the next 3.   Ray dropped a couple and managed to land one.   Tougher fishing than the AM, but still pretty good.   80' to 130' was best for us and Angling Zone friends Jeff and his buddies.

Plastics in white, white ice, smelt and chartreuse all produced, as did a Kastmaster Spoon in 3/4 oz.   It's tough to beat the Sept - November lake trout action on this lake, especially if you like lean, tasty wild fish!  They are everywhere!!!

9/14/2012
9/13 Lake Ontario out of Oswego, 9/14 Cayuga/Skaneateles Reports

9/13 Oswego!:  Got out with my buddy Chris for a day of brown trout jigging and smallmouth bass fishing.   My new FishHawk Temp probe made finding the fish easy.   Within 10 minutes of setting up I was fast into a solid 22" brown trout, likely 4lb to 5lbs.   My buddy Chris hadn't done the technique much, but he got the feel for it and managed to land a nice fish as well as have plenty of hits and follows.   The best fish of the day was a 26" FAAAATTTT beauty that I nailed on a Swim Fish.    We only landed around 4 fish, but the action was hot and heavy with plenty of hits and follows.  We took plenty of photos and once I get some bad weather blow-off days, I will post them.   

Bass fishing wasn't as hot as the last few times out, but we didn't fish during the good wave action and likely missed the hotter shallow bite.  Dropshotting Gulp Gobies in 15' to 37' yielded some fat bass including a 4lb beauty for Chris that was over 18" long.   We also hooked bass on tubes and crankbaits.   Some bass were feeding on shallow crayfish whereas others were likely on gobies in deep water.   We saw a couple big drum by the breakwalls on the way in.  

9/14:  AM on Cayuga - Guided Eric and his son Finn out of Taughannock today starting around 8 am.   Rt. 89 just S. of the park was closed, so you've been warned.   Fishing was tough today.   Finn landed a 27" laker near the Power Plant.  A few other hits were had.   Once the southerlies died and the winds shifted the bite got better with a couple immature 22" to 24" non-spawners gobbling the plastics.   But it was tough fishing - we were over fish all morning long with very little to show, and the guys worked assorted plastics and hardware.  

I much prefer targeting fish in feeding patterns over spawners, and with the spawning ready to start on Cayuga in about 2 weeks, most Cayuga guiding for lakers I do will be out of Long Point State Park targeting non-spawners for the most part.

PM: On Skaneateles Lake - Guided Ed and his friend Will on Skaneateles Lake for an abbreviated 1/2 day trip.   We knew we'd have a chance of storms and some stronger south winds, but Ed wanted to give things a try.   Bass fishing was very good on the N. end of the lake for small to medium sized smallmouths.   Ed fly-fished and that was difficult, but casting topwaters and tubes yielded some nice hits and fish to around 15".    The storm system got close to us around 6:45 pm and we called it an early day.  

H2O ranges from 69 to 72 on the Finger Lakes I've been fishing.   Water levels are slightly lower than average.   Angling pressure is light.   Fishing, with the exception of lower Cayuga Lake for lakers has generally been excellent!  

9/12/2012
Skaneateles Lake 9/12
Guided the Hermans for 6 hours started at 12:30 pm.   Fishing was good with good numbers of smallmouths topping out around 16", though there was also a fair number of dinks in the mix.    Fish came on tube jigs, dropshots rigs and topwater.    Tons of rock bass including plenty of 10"+ fish are around, mostly in water from 25' to 40' deep.  H2O is around 72 on top.   Boat traffic was light and there was plenty of space at the State Launch.
9/9/2012
Cayuga Lake Salvation Army Tourney 9/8 + 9/9

What a crazy two days on Cayuga!   My buddy Mike and I started Saturday AM around 7:30 am.   The conditions were overcast and WINDY out of the south with 15 mph+ south winds to start.   On top of that, we had forecasts for severe storms expected to hit the area between 1 and 2 pm, and weather spotters were likely to be activated incase of a tornado or wind sheer.

Given Sunday's forecast for milder, sunny weather, I expected a typical late summer/early fall derby, with winning lakers/browns around the high 10s to 11lbs.   Our strategy was to go for a large brown.   From the year's guiding, I knew 10 to 12lb lakers were very scarce on Cayuga.  We've had a few, but day in and day out our lakers were topping around 8 to 9lbs.   I have a ton of areas for browns and other non-lakers, but I don't guide these fish for the most part because they aren't as numerous as lakers.  Most people would rather catch 6 lakers than maybe catch one brown.   

We had a rough ride to our areas.  I went up to the bow to secure the trolling motor while Mike took the wheel.   A wave came over the bow and soaked me.  Great start.  Then my hat flew off.   Nice.   Anyways, we had some calmer areas to fish and worked them.   The bite was tough.  Overcast, windy days in September are usually tough bites for lakers, though other salmonids are usually more cooperative.   We had a few short hits from mostly sublegal salmon.    In one area Mike had a salmon hit up top.  On my next cast I hooked a 19" landlocked salmon.   I kept it for dinner and put it on ice after breaking its neck.   That was mistake #1.   

I hooked a brown around 3 to 4lbs max.   It hit next to the boat and I held it for a bit but it got off.  No need to rush with the net.  No biggie.  I mean, a 3 to 4lb brown isn't going to win anybody anything, right?   Wrong.  Mistake #2.

The storm came through around 2 pm as forecast.  It appeared brutal.  Surely this was it for day one.   Wrong.   The storm blew through.  The sun eventually came out and the wind shifted nicely out of the north.   We were already heading home.  Mistake #3.  At the launch we met some trollers who had a 10lb+ laker and the lead.   There weren't many non-lakers weighed in, but surely tomorrow and later on Saturday the board would fill up.  Wrong.   I joked about weighing my 19" salmon. 

On Sunday we had light south winds and overcast skies.   Lakers weren't aggressive in the AM.   They would jar the jig but not really grab it.   I had maybe 1/2 dozen hits like that.   We fished all over the lake from Myers to close to Sheldrake.   Even cast for bass for an hour - catching one largemouth.   The sun made an appearance and we had 4 hours left to trout fish.   I had a fish chase up a jig about 40' then chase it down and hit it.   Game on!   I had a deep bend in the rod and told Mike it was "...a good fish."  It started heading to the surface rapidly like a big brown.  I reeled up on it and torqued it some more.   Then my rod straightened out!  Oh no!  The line broke near the knot.   Guess I didn't check it enough.  Just missing lakers is enough to weaken the line.   We landed a couple lakers, including one around 26" to 27".   No need to weigh it in though.   By now the board must be full of 8 to 11lb fish.   Wrong.   

There were plenty of boats on Cayuga fishing the derby.  Jiggers, bait guys, trollers.   I took a quick look at the board and recognized a couple former clients - so the jiggers did well (but you already knew that.)  Went back to my trailer and started packing.  Mike checked the board again and informed me that the non-laker category never even filled in.   And a 7lb laker made the board.   Hindsight is 20-20.   We had a good time and never again will I chuckle at the person that weighs in a dink early on.   You never know!!!  And next time, we'll keep in touch with the weigh-station so we know what's happening.

 

9/7/2012
Owasco Lake 9/7

Did 2 half-day trips today, though they were spread apart.  Had a last minute call from Kenneth and we met just after 11:15 am.   Lakers cooperated and he had a lot of fun landing at least 7 nice fish and missing a bunch.   We even tried a little bass fishing and he missed one before we called it a day so he could grab a bite to eat and check out some wineries.

Spent a few hours on my own from 3 to 6 pm.   Dropshotted a few panfish, also connected with some nice lakers.   Picked up Ed and Stan around 6:00 pm and we headed out.   They had great action and managed a couple doubles.  8 fish were landed before it started getting dark and the bite slowed.   Fish today ran from 75' to 90' FOW.  We had a couple 27" fish on the day.   They are fighting well and it's great to see the numbers of fish and baitfish on the north end of the lake.  We had good luck with chartreuse shakers, white reapers and chart. reapers today.  Swim fishes also worked well.  These fish aren't too picky. 

9/6/2012
Owasco Lake 9/6

Launched out of Emerson Park (North end) around 11:15 am today.  I'd been meaning to check out the fishing here for awhile and finally got around to it.    Within 2 hours I landed 18 lake trout!!!   It was incredible - I landed fish on 5 of my first 6 drops of the jig.  I lost fish #1.    Also had a big pelagic smallmouth get off by the boat, then he hit again.

My new temp probe worked great and put me in the right area quickly.   The north end is swarming with baitfish.  Lake trout ran from 18" to 26.5" with most running 23" to 26".     The weather pattern certainly made a huge difference - low pressure with storms in the area.   But I expect good to excellent fishing here from now through the 1st or 2nd week of November.   I saw very few other boats out here today.  Maybe 2 trout fishermen and one basser.    All kinds of plastics produced well.   It was a good day to use up some old flukes and tails I don't fish much anymore.   I left around 2:45 pm.   Landed 3 more fish, though it took another hour and a half to get them.  I'd timed the bite perfectly.  It was the best laker fishing I'd seen since Champlain in terms of numbers.   75' to 100' was best.    I never checked deep, but I know some bigger fish are likely out in the depths.

9/4/2012
Skaneateles Lake 9/4

Guided Leo and Ada today for the full day starting around 8:15 am.   I was ready for a wet miserable day, since I'd read the weather forecasts.   I had asked Leo if they wanted to do the trip.  They were in.   We never had a drop of rain all day long.

The fishing was exceptional.   I swam in the lake on Sunday from around 12' FOW on in.  I saw one bass.  The last 4 trips I've done showed the best fishing in deeper water - from roughly 27' to 35' for the most part.   So we started deep.   And caught rock bass after rock bass after rock bass.    The overcast and windy conditions were conducive to fish moving up.  Normally I always check the shallows first.   We had two hookups out deep of decent bass then we moved up.  The shallows were great, with tube jigs providing great action, though surely a spinnerbait or maybe even topwater would've also produced.  But these fish were eating crawfish big time.

Leo and Ada had a ton of hits and managed to land around 25 bass on the day, most legal fish.  They easily lost that many and missed a bunch as well.    We had two fish over 18".   The bass were moving up to feast on crayfish.   I had them dropshot some deep water and we caught bass there too - incl. some big ones.   Best dropshot baits were Lunker City Ozmos and Ribsters.  Gulp minnows also worked great as did my favorite discontinued Power Bait Dropshot worms in Emerald Shiner.    Green Pumpkin Tubes fished with 1/4 oz jigheads did best for our shallower fish.

Only a few boats were on the lake.  H2O was 73 on top.   Just exceptional bassin' and the best bite I've seen on the lake since the season opened. 

9/2/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 8/31 + 9/1

8/31:  Guided Leo and Ada for a full day.  We got underway around 8:30 am.   For some reason, they always seem to catch fish despite their insistence on late starts.  Vacation is vacation I guess, and I enjoyed sleeping in for a change.   Fishing started out tough but improved as the day went on.  Strong south winds gave way to westerlies.  Both sides of the lake produced fish and we caught some near Taughannock.   They wound up landing 8 legal lakers.    One nice salmon followed Leo's jig.   85' to 100' FOW was best.   White and Smelt colored  Lunker City swim fishes were what we used.

9/1:  On a last minute call, I booked a trip with Rich and Mark, who happened to be staying on Seneca Lake.   I had them come up to Myers Park on Cayuga.   We started at 6:30 am and the fishing was tough.  The full moon can play a role in tough bites and I think it's moreso in the late summer/fall.   Fish feed heavily at night, then slow down and resume feeding midday.  

Fish were very inactive.  The guys had a few hits, but nothing very solid.  Even a bass chased a jig on the west shore.   It looked like we'd be in for the mighty skunk, but Rich wound up nailing a 20" laker.    I had the guys fish hard for nearly 6 hours.  

I got a chance to test out my brand new FishHawk TD temp probe.  My old FishHawk had 200' of cable and was tedious to use.   I had to add weights to the end of it to get it down to the bottom, then it seemed to take forever to get a reading.  The company was sold and the new company appears to be much more tech-savvy.  The new fish hawk is a modern piece of equipment and indispensable for the serious salmonid fisherman.  

Just tie it to the end of your line, hit the start button, wait for the ready signal,  and let it go to the bottom.  Then reel it up.   There's a digital reading plus a pressure sensor - which records temp at different depths.  You get the exact temp at every 5'!!!  The battery lasts over 5 years guaranteed.  It is not replaceable and there is an automatic shut-off.   The unit runs around $155 and is the size of a tiny cellphone.  So you're looking at $30 a year for temp readings.  Not bad.

Check out www.fishhawkelectronics.com  You can order by phone at 218-232-8793.  Tell them you heard about it here!  

8/29/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 8/29

Guided Bob and his young son Jaime today for a morning 1/2 day.   Action started out fair with Bob landing a fish early.   The bite picked up as the morning went on with the guys landing 7 solid fish including  29" and 31" lakers.   Jaime did a great job hooking and playing fish on his own.   He's around 13 years old.   Fish ranged from around 75' up to 95'.  

Can't wait to try my new Fish-Hawk TD temp probe.   Just tie it to the end of a fishing line, let the cellphone sized (actually smaller) device sink to the bottom then reel it up and get digital temp readings in 5' increments.    No need to let it acclimate.   I'll report on this probe soon.   H2O on top on Cayuga was 73 degrees.

8/27/2012
Oak Orchard Creek/Lake Ontario 8/27

Guided Mark I. for what wound up being an abbreviated full day trip.   He enjoys targeting gar on the fly and we've done a trip a year or so on Sodus Bay over the last 3 or 4 years.   I wanted him to experience the gar action "At the Oak" so that's where we went today.   It's a haul for me - about 135 miles and a good 2.5 to 3 hours.    I prefer July and early August for gar action, but this year's above normal hot temperatures appear to have kept the gar active so we took the chance with trout/salmon and perhaps bass as a backup plan.

The weather forecast called for clouds with a chance of showers before 5 pm and showers and T-storms after 5.   We wound up with rain starting around 11 am and it got very, very heavy by 3 pm with driving downpours (mostly after we left at 4 pm.)   The gar were around and a couple smaller ones cooperated.   The fish were kind of neutral today and never really kicked into high gear.   There are thousands of alewives running up and down the lower Oak now.  Just schools of bait and the gar are blasting it.

I did a little scouting on the lake before our trip and found what appeared to be salmonids on the break between around 35' to 65' FOW.   Also some lakers out on bottom around 140'.     I had Mark jig the shallows a bit but apart from a few fish moving both towards and away from the jigs, we had no luck.   We weren't out long though, before the weather forced us off and I was encouraged by what I saw.   Captains reported so-so fishing today.  The King action off the Oak appears to have slowed.   Funny how the Kings are so shallow off the Oak and by Oswego most Charters were still working 150' to 300' FOW last week.  

8/26/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 8/25 + 8/26

8/25:  Guided Claire and Nick for a 1/2 day AM.   Nick had a follow from a big brown.   Laker fishing was decent to start, then slowed, then picked up again.  Around 5 to 6 fish were landed including more small fish than usual, but Claire also came through with a nice 27" fish.   Same depths as recently - 85' to 95'.

8/26 AM:  Guided Tony and his 10 and 13 year old boys, Paul and Kyle respectively.   Not the easiest day fishing, but everyone caught fish.   Tony had the best luck landing 3 or 4 solid fish.  Nearly all fish ranged between 24" and 26".  

8/26 PM:  Guided Bill and Debbie from around 11:30 am till 3:30 pm.   Tough bite, but they hooked 4 fish and landed 3.   They don't fish much at all and left impressed, both (I believe) having caught their biggest fish!   

The fishing trip was a gift to Deb from Bill.   Gift Certificates are available for any denomination.  No need to book a date, just get one and hold onto it until you see what you want to do.

The bite has generally been good lately, but a bit spotty.  Getting out early and fishing late over the best areas guarantees the best fishing, but it's also worth experimenting with areas.  Plenty of fish are around the entire mid-lower lake. 

8/24/2012
Skaneateles Lake 8/24

Guided the Hermans today for around 6 hours.   Spent most of the day dropshotting smallmouth bass.  The fishing was very good, with a dozen solid (legal) bass landed to over 18" and a couple dinks thrown in.   Add in another couple dozen rockbass and things add up to a lot of action. 

Berkley Gulp minnows, Lunker City Ribsters and Ozmos all worked great.   We had a couple doubles as well.  Best action was from around 27' to 35' FOW, though early on we had a couple fish shallow.

The boatlaunch was a nuthouse by 1pm with the usual crazy, inconsiderate, haphazard parking.   The countless shards of broken trailer lights and light covers in the parking lot (as usual) show the damage that occurs daily in this overfilled lot.   Some people apparently feel entitled to launch here whether there's space or not.    I strongly suggest either getting here early (like we did) or just launching at Mandana, which is more or less free during the week.  After Labor day things will get much better by the week.   Water temp is 73 on top. 

8/23/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 8/22 + Lake Ontario Oswego 8/23

Cayuga 8/22:  Guided Ted (who's joined me on several occasions over the past few years) and his Uncle Derrick, who'd introduced Ted into fishing a long time ago.  It was a birthday present for Derrick.   Started out just after 6:45 am.  The bite wasn't easy to start, but Derrick landed the first fish.   The relatively strong winds made detecting bottom a chore.    The guys fished hard and managed to land 4 or 5 fish total, with the nicest one being the last one, which was around 27".   A couple wild ones were in the mix.   Overall, the size of the lakers was smaller today.   Fish are fairly scattered, though still concentrated in mid-lake areas.  

Lake Ontario out of Oswego 8/23:   Got out with my buddy Mike from 6:30 am till around 3 pm today.   We were going to target smallmouth bass for the most part, but start with brown trout in the AM.   The lake had some large waves today with 2' to 3' waves out of the WNW for most of the day.  Not my favorite conditions for jigging!   We gave the jigging an hour but then went bass fishing.  

BTW - the fleet was out from 150' to around 300' again today.  Reports were slow salmon fishing yesterday, but really good before that.

The tube jig (shallower) bite was slow for us.  We hooked a few but only landed one bass first thing in the AM.   Moving out deeper (35') paid off with some chunky smallmouths.   Berkley Gulp Gobies did the trick.   We worked a few different, subtle areas and found some nice fish.  No great numbers today - just 6 or 7 solid bass to 18".   

If you subscribe to, or purchase BASSMASTER Magazine, the new issue features a large photo of Mike in the "Lunker Club" section with his 7lb 1oz smallmouth bass.  Check it out!  (The photo is also on this website, but it's very cool seeing it in a magazine!)

8/21/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 8/21
Guided Dave and his son David today for around 6 hours.   They'd just driven in the night before and wanted a late start, so we met at 8 am.   There was heavy fog on the lake and the late start probably didn't hurt us much.    They've both done the technique before and David landed a solid laker on his first drop with the jig.   Fishing was decent, not bad but not great.    5 lakers were landed on the day - all males.  Around 4 or 5 decent ones were dropped.    Around 85' to 95' FOW remains best.   Very few boats were out today.
8/20/2012
Lake Ontario out of Oswego 8/20

Got out on my own starting around 6:30 am.   There were at least 30 boats out trolling today.  No word on the fishing, though I saw a few fish being netted.   Boats were working around 150' out to over 300' FOW.  

My plan was to jig brown trout and then do some bass fishing.   I also checked on Kings.    I worked a favorite brown trout area and had some hits and "chasers" on the screen.   Making a few presentation changes resulted in a hook up.   A 17"+ SMALLMOUTH BASS IN OVER 100' FOW (feet of water!)     This fish wasn't suspended.  It was on the bottom and there were plenty more there too!    Its eyes were blown out, gills bleeding and air bladder extended.    My Fish Hawk temp probe has been on the fritz lately, so I haven't been able to take deep water temperatures, but you can bet that on bottom in 100' fow it was probably very warm!  Maybe 65 to 70 degrees.  There were a lot of gobies on bottom in 100'.

I did manage to hook and land one brown around 20" out a bit deeper.   Had what was probably a brown hit me up high too.  But I couldn't find many browns with the water temps so crazy.    My screen was fairly blank out over deep water, so the Kings weren't much of an option (I'm not crazy about jigging Kings in late August anyways, but I haven't given up on it.)

Smallmouth bass fishing was downright excellent today.  In around 90 minutes I hooked a 1/2 dozen nice fish.   Wound up landing 6 on the day up to a shade under 18".  These fish are FAT and in superb condition.  They fight VERY HARD and I had a few give me the "smallmouth salute" - jumping high, shaking their heads and throwing my hooks!  I had a 15"er nearly straighten out a jighook.   Best depths for me were from 15' out to 40'.   Dropshotting Berkley Gulp did the trick in over 23' FOW and casting goby colored tube jigs worked great shallower.   Lots of other presentations would work, but it's tough to beat the tubes and dropshot.   It's tempting to stay around Oswego instead of hitting the Chaumont/1000 Island Area with this great fishing around.  I never saw another boat bass fishing today and the trollers were all gone by around 2 pm. 

8/19/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 8/19

Guided Gary for around 6 hours starting just after 6:45 pm.  The laker bite was predictably tough with conditions that clouded up quickly this AM.  Gary had some good opportunities, dropping 5 to 6 nice fish.  He did manage to land a couple solid lakers up to 29.5".   I felt that the bite was improving throughout the early PM and the afternoon could be hot fishing, but he was satisfied so we called it a day.  

Fronts, sun conditions, wind and various seasonal factors all affect lake trout (and other salmonids) differently.    Paying attention to these conditions are key factors in patterning these fish and predicting success.

I plan on fishing Lake Ontario this week for some browns and maybe a bonus salmon.   Also some Cayuga bass fishing - the pros have provided some inspiration. 

   

8/18/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 8/18 AM
Guided Paul and his brother Rob for a 1/2 day starting around 6:30 am.  Paul had done some jigging before and today I showed him a different approach.   The bite wasn't easy but the guys had a good time.  5 fish were landed including a laker around 29" and a nice 23"+ salmon.   The front made the bite a bit tentative, though I heard it was better than yesterday.    Lamprey wounding wasn't bad with one live eel coming up with a laker.  The other fish were fairly clean.   Boat traffic was light.  Around 75' to 90' fow was best for us.    
8/8/2012
Cayuga Reports 8/8

Guided Matt, Brian and Mike out of Long Point this AM for a 1/2 day starting just before 7 am.   It's been the 2nd day of steady weather after the cold front and this meant the bite would be on!   And it was.   Fishing was excellent for most of the morning with the guys landing 17 nice fish.   Brian had a great showing late with Matt having the hot hand early and Mike having steady action throughout the AM.   Great day to be on Cayuga and you'd be hard pressed to have a better time than with these guys on board!

My PM trip was out of Myers and we started just after 3 pm.   Fishing was excellent for Josh, Riley and Dalton landing another 16 or 17 fish.  My mind is tired and I can't remember the exact numbers, but it was in that ballpark.   

Fishing is currently in tip-top form on Cayuga Lake with lakers and bait widespread.   Most lakers are in excellent condition and feeding fairly heavily.  The guys have a place on Skaneateles Lake, but LOVE the Cayuga Lake fishing! Same depths and lures as previous recent trips.

8/7/2012
Cayuga Lake/Long Point + Skaneateles out of Mandana 8/7

I've tried to minimize "lake hopping" in my guiding, but today was an exception due to some client issues with licensing.   I do check my trailer carefully in order to minimize transporting invasive milfoil and the like.

Cayuga AM:  Started at 7:30 out of Long Point with Peter and his son Matt.  Both are novice anglers.  Peter got a nice 25" laker on his first drop of the jig, so that set a good tone.  Once the AM winds subsided the bite picked up.   Action was excellent around the Power Plant with around 1/2 dozen solid lakers to 32" landed!   Once the guys nailed the technique, things fell into place.    Around 85' was best.    Very light boat traffic.

The guys kept a few lakers for the table.   I just ate a nice laker from Cayuga and loved it.  These fish are superb on the table, but by far the best flavor comes from eating the fish fresh.  Lakers lose flavor by the day!   Fresh ones are very tough to beat.

Skaneateles:  Guided Vince and his daughter Phoebe starting at 2pm.   The State Launch was basically full, so we launched at Mandana.   The trip was about Phoebe catching some fish, but Vince was hoping for some fly-rod action.   We had a blow-up or two nearshore, but 95%+ of the fish activity was deep.   I'm not a huge fan of scraping 25' to 30' depths with fly-lines, but Vince gave a sinking tip a try hoping for some fish to come up for the flies.  No avail there.  

Dropshotting was hot and Phoebe lost a big smallmouth.  She managed to land some nice ones to just under 18".    Tons of rock bass were also landed.   Vince managed to join in for some dropshotting fun.   About 17' to 32' of water seemed to have the most fish, with the mid-20 foot range being most productive.  

8/6/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 8/6
Guided Will and Kathy today for a 1/2 day AM.   The cold front made for a tough bite in the AM but Will managed to land 4 fish up to 27".   A couple of those were smaller lake trout that Will did a nice job hooking.    Kathy landed a solid 27" fish as well.   The bite appeared to pick up a bit but then some cloud cover rolled in and slowed things down.   Tougher day, but good effort with some nice fish landed.  Only saw a couple other boats out there today.  85' to 90' of water fished well.
8/4/2012
Cayuga Lake 8/3 + Skaneateles Lake 8/4

8/3 Cayuga Lake:  Guided Douglas for a full day trip out of Long Point starting at 6 am.   Fishing was very good from the start with Doug landing 3 or 4 lakers in short order.  It didn't take Doug long to learn the technique.   We had good numbers of fish around us throughout the day, though the bite slowed a bit during the middle of the morning.  Fishing really picked up around noon and stayed hot until we left.  Douglas landed a dozen solid lakers to 29".  Lamprey wounding wasn't too bad.  4 large eels came up on 3 fish.   A few fish were completely clean while a few had some healed up scars.    Great day to be on the lake fishing and Doug was impressed with the fishery.

8/4 Skaneateles Lake:  Guided Tyree and Mike today for a 1/2 day in the AM starting at 7.    Tyree's wife won a free 1/2 day trip as an Preferred Rewards member at Bass Pro Shops.  The guys wanted to do some smallmouth fishing.  The action in general was very good today with dropshotting being the most productive method.    Around 23' to 27' of water seemed to be holding the most fish - it was the "activity zone" with smallmouths, rock bass and some large pumpkinseed sunfish concentrating there.   The hard thing with the dropshotting was getting past the hungry rock bass, but a fish is a fish and the guys had a good time catching them.

No great sizes on the bass.  A fish just over 17" was the best of the AM, followed by at least one 16"er.   Most were around 15" and nearly all of the 8 or 9 bass landed were legal.   Plenty of rockbass were in the mix along with a couple of the aforementioned pumpkinseeds.  The guys used Gulp Minnows, Berkley Power Dropshot worms, Sliders and Lunker City Ribsters.  They all worked.

Some fish were shallow and tubes and Superflukes yielded a few smallmouths, but the majority were clearly deep.   The is one lake where on a given day an angler can catch a bass in 2' of water, 15', 25' and 45'.   There are bass feeding on crayfish and bass working perch fry in this lake throughout the summer.   

The launch was a crowded mess by 11:30 am.  Too many boats were allowed to launch today.  (The launch is closed when it's full.)    It also needs to be re-striped and people are parking willy-nilly (haphazardly.)   I recommend fishing this lake early and leaving early on hot weekend days.   Or launching out of Mandana - which was also busy today.   

8/1/2012
Skaneateles Lake 8/1

Guided Joe and his 8 year old son William again today.   They are both pretty new to fishing so it was a day of learning techniques.   The launch/lake wasn't busy today and when I left around 2 pm there was only a rig or two parked in the State lot!  Not bad!

I had the guys start with tube jigs and a few decent (15 to 16") smallmouths and rockbass were caught in fairly short order.  Super Flukes drew fish as well.  A cast with a Skitter Pop yielded a solid bass.   But the guys had their best luck and easiest time with dropshotting, working depths from around 18' to 25' fow.   Old discontinued Berkley Power dropshot worms in emerald shiner worked great, but fish also came on Gulp minnows and Bass Pro Shops dropshot minnows.   Lots of stuff would've worked.  The weather conditions were great and fish were feeding aggressively.   Lots of fun was had.  I'd have stayed and fished longer myself, but it's been a busy week with more to come.  

7/31/2012
Cayuga Lake 7/30 PM and 7/31 AM

7/30 PM out of Myers:  Launched the boat around 3:30 pm out of Myers.  I was going to scout out some bass areas.   Somehow I keep thinking I can push myself on my days off and after trips and keep learning new things.  I can, but it's very tiring and difficult at times.

The weather forecasts over the past week have been awful in their lack of accuracy.   Noah called for south winds around 7 mph - perfect for drifting and covering shoreline, as well as moving out weedmats.   But instead it was sunny and windless.  Add in the brutal "pre-storm" humidity and shards of weeds all over the surface of the lake and it makes for a real grind.

One thing I can't stand about summer boating is repeatedly being flagged down by boaters who want a free tow.   I'm happy to help out with a jumpstart.  But with towing, it may seem callous, but I find it insane that people who 1.) do very little if any maintenance on their boat and 2.) run around with zero clue re: their fuel level, always expect those around them to stop whatever they are doing and tow them 1 to 3 miles (or more) to their cottage or dock.   If you're lucky they'll throw you $5 or $10.     Yes, if someone's life is in danger there's certainly an obligation to help out.   And I'm happy to make a phone call or even run a person to a location, but my boat isn't a towing vessel.  A professional tow by a marina can run people into the hundreds of dollars.   I carry towing insurance on my vessel.    There's always the Sheriff and Coast Guard too.    When I took my Captain's license course, our instructor told us that recreational volunteer towing beats the heck out of an outboard and in some instances can be downright dangerous.

But it's funny.  If my car breaks down on the road I wouldn't expect another motorist to hook up chains to my vehicle and drive me to a garage or my house.    We call professionals.  Boating just hasn't caught up yet.   But sure enough I get flagged down by a guy about 80' from the shore who wants me to run him back to his cottage.     Sorry but I'm happy to do anything but tow you.

By the time I got to the areas I wanted to bass fish it was 4:30 pm.   The bassin' was a grind over the 3 hours I fished.   I finally managed a decent largemouth on a Senko.  That was it apart from the panfish.  But the bite has been stubborn over the past few days and not starting early in the AM is always a drawback. 

7/31 AM out of Taughannock:   Guided Joe and his 8 year old son William for lakers.   I met Joe at a concert a couple years ago and gave him my card.  He'd told me his son loved to fish and Joe wanted to expose him to some different opportunities.   

Conditions weren't looking too easy.  I liked the fact that sun was in the forecast, but the south winds around 12 to 16 mph I didn't need.  (Yes, we finally did get our forecast southerlies from yesterday.)    I did the best I could and got the guys out to a productive depth near AES.   Joe landed the first fish, a 29" laker.   Then William hooked one that he needed a little help with!  It was a 30" laker!     A couple more were landed before we headed in.   William hooked and nearly landed one all by himself.  It got off as I was trying to net it (guide error.)   The bite was hot but it was tough feeling the bottom and trying to keep everything in order.   As is usually the case in the late summer, fish are showing up close to the park now.  Rough day out there in terms of whitecaps by 11 am.  

7/29/2012
Cayuga Lake Reports 7/27 - 29

I've been jonesing to fish some bass on Cayuga Lake and got the chance on Friday 7/27 with some fun bassin' and some guiding for bass.   Saturday and Sunday were guided trips for trout.

7/27:   I knew the steady weather would make for some good bass action.   Had a trip scheduled with Joe around 3 to 4 pm and decided to do some pre-fishing.   At around 11 am I headed out of Long Point and went to an area that tends to fish well during hot summers.   On my second cast with a crankbait I landed a chunky largemouth around 17 1/2".   A couple casts later I caught another that was being followed in by yet another solid fish!   I worked down the weedbed and landed one more by short casting plastics before moving on.    Another area yielded a small smallmouth, which is a good sign.  

Picked up Joe at the launch around 4pm.   He'd driven in from the city and it took a little while to get out.  He'll be fishing the tourney in August and I took him around and showed him a bit of "the lay of the lake."    My hot area had cooled off (that's bass fishing) and I had him work some other areas.   He insisted I fish (he's actually a guide) and we did locate a few bass (including an 18"er) and some big pickerel.    Swimbaits, crankbaits and plastics are all good baits on Cayuga this time of year.

7/28:  Did a full day with Rick and his brother Tim out of Myers.  The bite was very slow for the first 4 hours or so with one laker hooked.   We ran north and the fishing got a little bit better with Rick landing 3 decent lakers and Tim landing a beautiful 24" landlocked salmon.   Tough day, but the guys made the best of it.

7/29:  Guided Gary for an abbreviated full day out of Long Point.   Went down and worked some mid-lake areas with a very good laker bite.   Gary landed 7 solid fish to 30" and lost/dropped some good ones too.   Plenty of different colored plastics worked well.   75' to 95' worked well.   We had a great time.

Regarding Depths for lakers:  The thermocline often sets up at different depths.  On the east shore it can be different than on the west and areas further north vary from areas south.   There are also springs along the bottom of these lakes that will change water temps and attract lake trout and other species.

When I give a depth range for lakers, it's what my depthfinder is reading while we're catching fish.   But 75' of water on the depthfinder along a drop-off can actually be 90'.   The first strong signal reaching the depthfinder's receiver generally gives the "bottom reading."    If 60% of the transducer beam (think of a flashlight beam getting wider the further the distance is away) is hitting shallow water, and 40% is hitting deeper water - you'll still have the shallower depth reading show up as "the depth," even though the jigs may be hitting deeper water.   Trenches or holes along a flat also won't mark.   So if you're working an 85' hole surrounded by 70' fow, your fish finder will read 70 feet.    

7/24/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/24

Had a great half day with Ted, who owns Pike County Outfitters in Pennsylvania (near the Delaware River) and his daughter Jordan, who starts 7th grade this fall.   Action started out promising, but somewhat slow at 6:45 am.   We worked a lot of east shore areas with one laker to show.  A move to the west shore paid off in hefty dividends, especially once the wind came up and clouds rolled in.  We had "pre-frontal conditions" and the bite got hot!  

Jordan managed a lake trout and a beautiful 23.5" landlocked salmon.   I believe that if we get ample rainfall, there will be some excellent salmon runs this fall on the Cayuga tribs.  The fish are out there!   The male salmon was developing a kype and was pretty clean.  The lampreys seem to have spread out and dissapated after an ominous looking spring infestation.

High point of the day was Ted's back to back trophy (for the Finger Lakes) lakers - a 32" and then a 33" beast!   The 33"er fought superbly with 2 strong runs from 40' down to 80' in short order.   I was very happy that we were able to minimize handling of the fish and get a quick shot or two then release the beasts to hopefully get bigger.    10 nice fish were landed on the day.  Jordan was half-asleep through much of the trip, so the fishing was even better than that.

A side note:  A lot of anglers try reviving lakers by moving them back and forth in the water a la stream trout.   Getting oxygen and fresh water through the fish's gills seems helpful on paper, but when surface temps are a lethal 75 to 80 degrees, I don't see this as a good idea.   This likely stresses the fish even more and makes for a tough release.   We take the lakers and plunge them headfirst into the lake.   I watch them on my depthfinder and they head right for the cool water on the bottom.    

 

 

7/23/2012
Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport 7/23

What a joy to see the upgrades on the Hammondsport Motel boat launch!   Out with the old owners and in with the new.    There's still a $10 fee, but at least it's not "insult to injury" when dealing with the launch.   The ramp is smoother now with some more gravel added in.   The dock makes for easy launching in windy conditions.  The new owner (Ron If I remember correctly) is a nice guy and he's really upgrading the motel.  Customers are quite happy.

I met John, Adam, Adam Jr. and young (11 y.o.) Chad at their rental.  I took the boys in my boat and John and Adam fished in Adam's boat.  Isolated T-Storms were in the area and we waited one out before making the 2 mile run to Hammondsport.   It didn't take long for each boat to nab a fish.   After 2 hours, we didn't see much happening and had a total of 3 lakers on the small side (16" to 18") to show.  The weather was clearing so we made the run up to the Bluffs.   In a nutshell, fishing was good there with decent action in water from around 105' to 115' or so.   We managed to fill our limits by quitting time and then headed back to the rental.     Lunker City Swim Fishies did the job for us today.   Good day, though it wasn't super easy fishing - most fish were fairly inactive, but fortunately there were a LOT of fish around the Bluff area, as usual! 

7/22/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs 7/22 AM

Did a 6 hour trip today with John.   He camps at Cayuga State Park a fair amount and wanted to work on some bass techniques other than what he normally does. We started around 6 am.  With the NY Federation Tournament on the St. Lawrence River, Cayuga was fairly devoid of bass boats, which is a rare sight on weekends!

The lake was choppy to start with some moderate south winds.   Lots of floating weedmats and chopped up bits of weeds abounded.    The bite wasn't easy.  I don't think the weather system is helping.    I had him throw some deep crankbaits - which he does a fair amount of.   He also worked a Sworming Hornet with a Shaker, which nabbed him a pickerel.    Bass were not real cooperative in the areas and depths we fished.   The lake hasn't yet set up in a typical August pattern with large areas of coontail.  It is starting to come up, but the weed composition is still largely pondweeds and some milfoil.    He got a feel for pitching heavy jigs into thick clumps of weeds.  This I feel will help him land large bass in the future.

I had him work a few different areas and pitching some Havoc plastics resulted in a couple largemouths in the 14"- 15" range for him.   Panfish were also active.   We worked a bunch of different depths and areas with various techniques and limited success.   I tried a handful of casts and caught a couple small bass, but nothing special.   No large bass today.   I will be on this lake a fair amount over the upcoming weeks/months and plan on a lot of bass fishing.   A lot of the fishing will be exploratory.  Stay tuned.  

7/21/2012
Seneca Lake out of Lodi 7/21

I haven't launched out of Lodi in probably 8 years, but I was pretty psyched to meet Merle and his son Ryan there for a 1/2 day AM trip.   The point is a stocking site for salmonids.  I used to fly-fish there a fair amount in the winter/spring before I bought a boat.  The fishing was slow to fair;  I'd catch a brown there once every 6 or 7 trips.   Anyways, the launch is decent, but the slope is shallow.   A truck needs to be backed in a long ways and loading the boat onto the trailer can be tough without getting in the water a ways, but it offers good access to Valois, Long Point and Severne.

Merle typically fishes off his dock and was hoping to learn the jigging and get into some bigger fish.   I was disappointed to find my trolling motor was inoperative once we launched.   Turns out that the batteries were shot.  Normally they die a slow death, but this one kind of just convulsed out!  Fortunately the wind was a nice 5 mph and made for a good drift.

Fishing was pretty slow.  The cold front made for a tentative bite, and the laker numbers around Lodi don't compare to those up north, so even if only 10% of the lakers are hitting, at Lodi that isn't good.  But we worked hard and Merle hooked a solid fish.   It started coming to the surface and I knew it was a brown.   I slid the net under a chunky 5 to 6lb 23" clean brown.   We were all psyched!   Merle dropped a good laker after a strong battle.  Ryan had some hits as well.  A dink brown also came to the net.   Overall the fishing was tough, but the guys saw the effectiveness of the technique and came home with a solid brown for the grill.   

 

 

7/19/2012
Oneida Lake 7/19

Wind conditions weren't looking good for us on Lake Ontario, so I met my buddy Terry at South Shore Park around 6:45 am.   My gear was still in good order following the Champlain trip, so I was pretty psyched for more bass fishing.   As I prepared to launch the boat I recognized BASS Pro Jason Quinn's rig.  He launched just before we did.   Very nice guy and he told me that a lot of the (Elite Level) pros would be on Cayuga in mid-August for the open tournament.  Oneida goes off limits for practice soon.  Brent Chapman and Bradley Roy were also getting in some scouting.

We worked a combination of old and new areas.  I'm still learning what parts of Oneida attract fish and why, and why some seemingly good looking areas don't.   Terry managed a couple solid walleyes on a jerkbait - a 20"er and an 18".    I landed a dink on a SuperFluke.   We also hooked into and landed some solid smallmouths - no great numbers, but I landed one that was a fat fish and a shade under 19".   Terry also got one largemouth.   Fish came on the Superflukes, Tube jigs (shad/alewife color,) Rat-L Traps, Jerkbaits and Beaver/Chigger Craw type baits.    Didn't see any surface action on seagulls or breaking fish.   Plenty of drum were around and we had some follows.  We also landed some beautiful panfish including a 9.5" bluegill.   We didn't have time to check the deeper areas;  we caught our fish from 2' to 9' FOW - pretty darn shallow.   

Water temp reached 83.   Fish are feeding on bait for the most part.  We kept a couple smaller smallmouths (16"ers) and the legal walleyes so I was able to do a stomach check.

7/18/2012
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 7/18 AM

Guided Mark and Cathy, who'd joined me out of Geneva a couple years ago, and Mark's dad Jerry.    Laker fishing started out a tad slow at 6 am, but picked up significantly as the morning progressed.    We had one double and overall a dozen very solid, fat fish were landed in around 3 hours after which we called it a day.  No lampreys and most fish were very clean looking.  Nearly all were wild and all were loaded with bait.   The usual plastics worked well - Lunker City shakers and swim fishies.

Has the north end finally turned on consistently?   We'll see, but signs are very encouraging.    Around 75' to 115' was best.   Very few boats were out and the light north wind kept us comfortable.    Perfect day out there!

7/16/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 7/16

Guided Dave and Mike in the AM for 1/2 day.  Fishing varied a lot.  We worked both shores of the lake.  7 fish were landed on various plastics, mostly on the east shore.   Average fish ran 24" to 26".   Dave had a quick break-off from what was likely a large salmon.   Overall the fish appear to be feeding fairly heavily.

My PM trip was with the Hermans.  Again - decent fishing, nothing spectacular.  Another 7 fish were landed up to 28" long.   We worked areas on both shores with the west shore providing most of our action.   Eleonore had a colorful brown follow in one of her jigs.   65' to 100' was best. 

7/15/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 7/15

Guided a full day with Ron and Matt, who've joined me in the past on around 1/2 dozen trips.   Jigging lakers went pretty well with around 9 to 10 nice lakers landed.   Three very solid 24" to 25" landlocked salmon were also landed (and released quickly unharmed I might add) by Ron.     No lampreys came up - which is encouraging.  BTW - Yesterday on Seneca we saw zero eels as well.   So things aren't as bad as many people think.    All in all pretty steady, solid action though things did slow down around midday.    Fish were generally deep - from around 75' to 90' FOW.    The usual plastics in assorted colors did the trick.  

Again - very few boats were out today.   Many people just aren't boating this year and that makes the weekends on the Fingerlakes feel more like weekdays.   No complaints here, though it does make me wonder about the boating industry and their consistent price increases over the years. 

7/14/2012
Lake Champlain 7/9 - 12, Keuka Lake 7/13, Seneca Lake 7/14

I've been on the water a LOT during the past couple weeks.   It hasn't been easy with the heat and humidity, but covering up and drinking a lot of fluids has made the conditions tolerable.  Nice breezes also help!  Here's how things broke down over the past week:

Lake Champlain:   I always look forward to what's become an annual trip up to Champ with my buddy Mike, who now lives around 2+ hours away from me.   I hope to get up there twice a year in the future, but once is better than nothing!

We had a few goals on this trip.  First was to relax and have a good time.   Alarms were not set and fortunately we were able to get on the water fairly early every day - basically between 8 and 9:30 am.    The second goal was to fish some areas we hadn't fished before.  That we did and as usual, on Champlain it paid off.    Lastly was to try to catch some lakers, bass and pike as well as some bowfins, though we didn't often target the "grindles" specifically.

7/9:  We launched out of Pt. Au Roche State Park and worked Carry Bay and Pelots Bay.  We spent maybe 2 hours trying lakers off Pt. Au Roche with a few hits, some good screens but no hookups.  I wasn't surprised given our late start, the cold front and relatively few fish we marked.   Bass fishing started out slow but picked up as the day went on.   Mike caught a nice 3lb+ largemouth and we each nailed quite a few smaller ones along with plenty of pike and pickerel in the bays.   Dropshotting provided superb bass action towards the end of the day with 2 to 2 3/4 lb largemouths one after another.   We also hooked some nice smallmouths with Mike landing a real solid one.   Mike used plastic worms like Roboworms while I fished Lunker City Ozmos and Ribsters (my Rich Z. influence here.)   The fish weren't particularly selective.   We pitched green pumpkin Chigger Craws and worms. 

7/10:  Headed up to Mississquoi Bay and worked both sides of it - basically made the run to the eastern leg of the bay after having worked the western end.  Pike fishing was excellent, with Mike (again) landing the best fish - a very solid 36"er!  We both caught a lot of nice pike - though the lake is full of dinks and hammerhandles, there are still enough quality fish to make the fishing fun.  Chartreuse spinnerbaits worked best, though we caught one or two on swimbaits.  Found some great bass action in shallow water both on flats and weedy rocky areas.   Largemouths came on plastic worms and Chigger Craws.  Pitching was the key.   I also hooked good bass on tube jigs and spinnerbaits.  We looked for bowfins but didn't see any.  I wasn't able to get my boat into any creek mouths or swampy areas.  No sign of gar either.

7/11:  Went out of the Peru launch with lakers in mind.  Great shelfs and flats out there that jumped out at us on the map.  The laker action was superb!!!  Terrific jigging for large fish, mostly running 27" to 30".   The first one I got was in poor condition, but most were really in good shape.   We fished 85' to 115' FOW, with 105' being particularly good.   Any color plastic worked good!  It was impossible to find something that didn't work!  We landed around a dozen or more fish in 2 hours and it wasn't even the hot bite.   One 19" lamprey came up with a laker.  

We then motored over to Mallett's Bay where I had the hot hand with some chunky smallmouth bass using white Superflukes and tube jigs.   We got a few pike over there too.   On the way back we checked the lakers and the bite was smoking!  I hooked 4 fish on 4 drops.   We aren't big numbers guys, but a good jigger could land 25 or more fish here in a few hours when the bite's on.  There are plenty of lakers to be had in Lake Champlain!

7/12:  Got out for a couple hours out of Pt. Au Roche and fished "the Gut."   Mike had the hot hand with the drop-shot rig and even had a bowfin chase in his worm! We caught some largemouths and smallies with Mike catching the quality and me being "waist deep in dinks."   Also got pike and pickerel with Mike hooking a quality northern.  

As always, the amenities were great at Marine Village (just N. of Plattsburgh.)    We got lucky with the wind and weather.   Just some great fishing.  You can basically fish your own terms on this lake.  However you want to bass fish, you can find fish willing to cooperate with your pattern.

7/13:  Did 2 one-half days on Keuka Lake out of Branchport (Keuka State Park.)   Had a great AM fishing with Tom and his son Terry.  The laker bite was slow to start but then cranked up around 8:30 am.   Kept a limit of typical 18" to 22" Keuka fish.   An hour of bass fishing produced a few small smallmouths.

My PM trip was with Matt and his dad Ron.   I was impressed that the fishing held up and actually really was good for most of the afternoon.  That isn't often the case on this lake in the summer.  The guys used to have a house on the lake, so it was the likely choice.   Matt lost 4 or 5 nice lakers to start, but then got into a nice rhythm.  The guys landed at least 1/2 dozen nice fish.  105' give or take was best.

7/14  Seneca Lake out of Sampson:  Guided Hugh Sr., Hugh Jr. and Keith for the full day starting at 6:30 am out of Sampson.   The original objective was to fish the N. end of the lake, but I wasn't sure if the "Musselman" triathlon was happening, so we dumped in at Sampson and tried around there before running north.   Seneca has been spotty this year, but the weather pattern was good and I had high hopes.  Didn't do much around Sampson save for Hugh Jr. missing a hit or two.  But Geneva was awesome!  The guys tripled up on their first drop!!!   Something we'll never forget!   Overall 11 solid lakers to 31" were landed with a couple big ones (maybe bigger) dropped.   Released all of them today no worse for the wear.  Fun trip with a lot of good jokes flying around!   90' to 115' was best with the deeper water better. 

In case anyone's been wondering, the boat traffic on the lakes we've been fishing has been exceptionally light!  I've never seen so few boats on the water.   Especially before noon!   No complaints here!!! 

 

 

 

7/7/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/7
Guided Andy and Sharon today for an AM 1/2 day starting at 6 am.  The laker jigging was very good today with a fairly steady bite starting with Andy's first drop of the jig.   Fish ranged from 20" to nearly 30".  Trollers did well, as did other jiggers;  it was a typical day of very good fishing just before a cold front worked its way into the region.    Thunderstorms rolled in around 10:15 am and we wrapped up with the fish still hitting.  It was Andy and Sharon's first time with the technique and they had a good day landing 10 solid fish.    75' to 90' was the zone we worked with a great bite around 85'.   No eels on any fish today.   They have dispersed throughout the lake.  Most of our fish were very clean.
7/6/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 7/6

Guided Scott (from the past week) and his dad Dick, who joined us last year for some jigging.   We started a little late - around 6:45 am.  The AM bite was quick (likely due to the full moon) and we didn't experience much of it.   A run over towards Dean's Cove produced Scott's biggest Finger Lakes laker to date - a 32" beauty that fought hard.  We released it unharmed.   Another laker came on the east shore then we headed south.  One area produced another laker or two and a couple solid browns - 21" and 22" and 4 and 5 1/2lbs respectively.  Those fish were kept for dinner.  Lampreys are fairly common, but many fish remain unscathed.   85' was great today.   Even though Scott didn't appreciate my politically incorrect sense of humor gleaned from hours of listening to "Raw Dog Comedy" on Sirius XM, he did show great jigging ability today, so there is hope for him.   He does the pattern on Skaneateles Lake for lakers and has had some luck with it, though lakers are much less common there than on Cayuga Lake.   Fun day, though the humidity and heat got to be brutal by noon.

I felt sorry for the trollers today.  The fleas were so thick they were even a bit of a pain for us on Cayuga Lake.    Add in the floating weedmats and you might as well take up golf.  But the jigging was good.    Learn to jig and you have the best of both worlds!

7/5/2012
Skaneateles Lake 7/5

Guided Scott and his son Joe for around 6 hours.   They wanted a crack at some largemouths and pickerel on their home lake.   I picked them up at their cottage just after 6 am and we headed south.  The south end of the lake has some nice weeds and provided some decent action for pickerel to 21" and largemouth bass up to around 16".  Lipless cranks and spinnerbaits worked well.   Plenty of rockbass and perch kept everyone alert.   I don't necessarily recommend Skaneateles Lake as a destination for pickerel and largemouths, even though the lake does hold a few monster largemouths (and pickerel,) but the south end is certainly worth trying if already in the area. 

We finished up the day with about an hour of smallmouth fishing.  Joe managed his biggest Skaneateles Lake smallie - a 19" beast that hit a tube in around 17' to 22' feet of water.   Another bass just as big, if not bigger followed it up!   Water temps were around 72 degrees.  Boat traffic wasn't bad, though was reportedly brutal over the holiday.      

7/4/2012
Cayuga Lake 7/2 - 7/4

7/2:  Guided Sue and John for the full day.  I picked them up from the Silver Strand Bed and Breakfast off Sheldrake Point and we headed towards AES.   Fishing was sort of slow to start with 2 lakers landed and a lot of chasers and missed hits.   Action stayed a bit slow, then picked up with a vengeance around 11 or 12 noon.   Around 10 fish total were landed.   It was a fun trip with a lot of good and not-so good jokes flying from bow to stern!

7/3:  Guided Scott out of Myers Point for the full day starting just after 6 am.  He had good to excellent laker jigging in the AM with a bonus 23" landlocked salmon landed.    Fishing slowed for a little while mid-AM but then picked back up again before we called it quits around 3 pm.    65' to 95' was best.

7/4:   Guided Ken and Nick for the full day out of Long Point starting at 6 am.   We fished till 2:30 pm.  Action was slow for the first 1/2 hour as we checked different areas for fish.  The west shore near Dean's Cove proved productive and we also had some action on the east shore.   14 solid lakers to 31" were landed.  4 to 5 lampreys came up on fish, but overall the laker condition was good.  Good numbers of small salmon also chased the jigs around.   Muggy and hot day out there, but good fishing.    Ken's been going out with me since my 1st or 2nd year and it was nice to see him again.  

7/1/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/30 + 7/1

6/30 AM:  Fished with Jon, his son John and John's friend Mark.   John and Jon had some great fishing last August on Cayuga and were hoping for a repeat.   Conditions were good with some stable, hot weather settling in.   We worked both sides of the lake and fishing was slow to start.  Jon caught the first laker - a solid fish around 27".    A trip to the west shore resulted in some better action after a while.   The guys wound up with 5 solid fish and a few others missed/lost.  

6/30 PM:  Third time was the charm for Chris!  He showed up around noon and we headed out.  We were met with strengthening west winds.  But the fishing really shined!   He had a follow from a big brown and landed a fat 20"er that jumped twice.   A few nice lakers made it to the net on the east shore.   A trip across the lake to the area around Dean's Cove provided supreme action for the next couple hours with periods of time with hits on EVERY drop!  It was great and although a lot of fish were missed and dropped, Chris had a banner day landing 10 or 11 solid fish on the day.   I had a lot of fun listening to some of Chris's great guide stories which weren't funny for him at the time, but were funny in retrospect!   He was impressed by the fishing today.

7/1 AM:  Guided the Herman's clan today including 8 year old Leo and his brother Karl who's 11.   I generally don't do a lot of trips with young kids unless they're serious about fishing and I know the parents and they know me well enough to know what the fishing entails.   We started on the west shore and within 10 minutes or so Leo hooks a good fish.  After a strong battle we land the 28" brown with attached eel.   After releasing the brown we hoped for some great action, but things were slow.  The large groups of lakers that plied the area the afternoon before were gone.

This reminds me - a lot of people email me and call asking about hotspots.   Any fishing report is basically old news.  Do some areas produce fish for weeks or months on end?   Sure - we all know that.   The area around AES and north holds lots of lakers pretty much year round.  Same with N. of Long Point and there are plenty of other good areas like Sampson State Park and Belhurst on Seneca, the Bluff, Hammondsport and the State Park on Keuka and so on.   But a lot of fish move and it's really up to the angler to stay mobile and search for migrating fish and "new" areas.    

We wound up back on the east shore and had some very good fishing with John landing a nice 22" salmon and a bunch of other lakers being caught all the way around.   Karl had a follow from a huge brown which we all saw!  That made the day.   Karl caught a nice 29" laker and their dad Steve caught some decent fish too. 

PM:  I went back out with Steve, the boys' father.   We had slower fishing and some strong winds but he managed three smaller lakers and had a follow from what appeared to be a big 25" to 27" rainbow.     

6/29/2012
Reports 6/27 - 6/29

Strong winds Monday and Tuesday forced me to reschedule/cancel trips.    Water temperatures on the surface of the north end of Seneca Lake dipped to 51 degrees Wednesday.  These crazy "inside temps" resulted in better fishing out deep, though we spent most of our time working shallow.   Some fish and bait did find the amenable shallow temps, but most fish didn't move up. 

6/27 AM, Seneca Lake out of Geneva:   Guided Chris and Dave starting around 9 am.   With North winds forecast to blow into the 20s and higher, and calm winds early, an early start would have been terrific, but Chris arrived into town late and needed to get some rest, so we started just after 9 am.    Fishing wasn't easy with the wind coming up quickly and the guys having trouble detecting the bottom on a faster drift.    Fish and bait were around and somewhat active at the get-go, but things slowed down once the winds started gusting.   I had my 82lb thrust trolling motor on high and we lost ground!  It got pretty brutal.   The guys managed 3 decent lakers up to a solid 28"er, which was great given the winds.   Around 75' to 85' fow was best.

6/28 AM, Seneca Lake Geneva:   Got another late start with Chris (7:40 am) and fishing was slow for us throughout the AM.   We worked a lot of different depths without much happening.   A run to Sampson State Park and some areas in-between proved productive with Chris managing a couple nice lakers.   The change in the wind/weather also helped.   Angling Zone friend/past client Al reported good fishing in deeper water.   Oftentimes when shallow water temperatures are volatile, fishing will be better in the deeper "Zone of Stability." I've read about this re: Great Lakes fishing and it proved to be the case on the 28th and Al managed to capitalize on it.     

6/28 PM:   Met Todd,  Colin and Tom at 2 pm and we headed back out.   The bite was better in the PM with Colin and Tom each landing decent lakers in short order.   Todd didn't fish.   Other fish were missed/dropped.   It wound up being a tough bite overall.    The guys don't do a lot of fishing and did a good job given the conditions we were faced with.  

6/29 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:   Met Todd, his son John and John's girlfriend Val and the launch at 6 am.  After a couple tough days on Seneca with late starts, it felt good being on the water before the sun got too high.   June fishing is often an early AM, late PM affair so an early start often makes the difference.    The calm conditions made it easy for John and Val to pick up the technique.  They had no trouble detecting the bottom.   Fishing was very good to start and actually stayed steady throughout the AM.    Todd did a few drops and managed a nice 27" brown trout.   9 lakers were landed, with all but 2 being fish over 27"!!!   So some very solid lakers!  

We had fun messing around with Val after a long lamprey came up with one of the lakers.   She was exceptionally grossed out by the eel.   Had things gone as crazy as they might have, we might have wound up with the next viral YouTube video.  But alas, we didn't toss the eel at Val and she didn't jump overboard, so the classic clip will have to wait.  But it was a scene!  

6/24/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 6/23 + Seneca/Geneva 6/24

My mind is a little hazy due to a very busy weekend, but below is what I remember!   Fishing pressure remains light on the lakes, though the Geneva Chamber of Commerce boat launch did get busy on the 24th.

Cayuga/Taughannock 6/23:   Guided Bob, Stu and Paul for a morning 1/2 day on Cayuga.   They have lakefront houses and wanted to get into jigging.   Fishing was decent with generally good action throughout the morning.  The early AM (6 O'clock) bite was excellent, then tapered down, but it picked back up later in the morning.    The guys landed around 8 to 10 fish (my brain is shot now, so I can't remember exactly.)   Most were in the 21" to 24" range with Stu picking up a solid 28"+ laker late in the trip.   Fishing was really good in the 80' range +/- 10'.    Jigging friends of mine picked up a nice salmon around 24" today.  

Seneca Lake/Geneva 6/24:   Today was a full day out of Geneva with Brian and his Dad Mike.  Brian joined me a month ago with his fiancee' for a laker/pike outing.   The goal today was for Mike to get his first laker and he did, but it was a slow go.   The guys landed 3 fish total and we did have some more hits.    Good numbers of fish remain on the N. end of Seneca Lake and down both shores.    The guys caught one in 68' and others deeper.   We started at 6 am and really worked hard trying to find active fish, but they were very negative and neutral at best.     

6/22/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/22

Guided Todd, Amy and their son Gage for the full day starting just after 6 am.   Some of the best lake trout fishing of the year is currently taking place on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, but then again we've got tremendous lake trout opportunities here nearly year round.    The bite today started strong and went well until the clouds broke for the day around 1 pm.   

We worked areas on both shores north and south of Long Point.    Around 14 or more solid fish were landed.   Fish are feeding heavily on alewives of various sizes.   Never saw an eel today, though a couple lakers showed some healed scars.   Depths ranged from around 65' to 90'.  We had one brown show for a jig as well near Aurora. 

Gage is around 7 years old which is younger than I typically guide, but he has a mature sense of patience and he really loves his panfishing.  So we spent about 1/2 the day working the shallows with some plastics tipped with maggots fished under a small float.  The system is deadly on solid pans!   We all had a good time watching the bobbers go down and seeing the downright drop-dead gorgeous large pumpkinseed sunfish come to the boat.   If these fish weren't so common and were tropical, I'd imagine people would spent a lot of money for a couple for the fish tank.  Big bluegills were biting well and there were a lot of small perch in shallow.    We saw some nice largemouths still in spawn mode around the shoreline too.  

The perimeter of Cayuga is currently LOADED with pans and I'd expect good shorefishing from Cayuga Lake State Park,  Dean's Cove, Long Point State Park, the Aurora Town Dock and Mudlocks to name a few areas, so if you're looking to get into some, whether with kids or without, there's no excuse!  No need for a boat and plenty of public access.  

6/21/2012
Lake Ontario out of Oswego 6/20 + Seneca Lake/Sampson 6/21

Lake Ontario/Oswego 6/20:  Met my buddy Terry at the ramp around 5:40 am and we were underway shortly thereafter.   Reports are that fishing has picked up.  We found ample cold water on bottom in around 60' of water, along with plenty of bait (not the heavy schools like we see on Cayuga Lake these days, but some nice scattered bait pods.)   

We worked incrementally out to over 150' fow.   I still didn't see a definite thermocline.   The "fleet" was out working from around 120' to 170' or so.   Trollers are doing well and catching some nice Kings.  We spent 6 hours working jigs in and around various bait pods and dropping on likely fish in a lot of different depths.    The fishing was interesting, although not great for us.   Fish were moving for the jigs vertically to a point, but many were reluctant to move into the warmer water.  At times we drew fish to within 20' of the bottom of the boat but they wouldn't hit.   I'm guessing we had browns out in around 50' to 60', lakers on bottom from 100' to 140' and perhaps some Kings off bottom (maybe 1/3rd of the way off the bottom) also in the deeper water.    There were fish up high over deep water too.

I'm one man with a boat and depth finder, so there's only so much area we can cover, but my natural inclination is to launch out of a different port next time - like Hamlin or Oak Orchard.   So that's likely what I'll do as the "King Hunt 2012" resumes!  There has to be a mother-lode somewhere, and what I'm seeing now doesn't compare to what I saw in May, and maybe it won't, but I need to try.

I've been watching a bunch of YouTube videos posted by Michigan Seagrant detailing Lake Huron and Lake Michigan's "State of the Lake" assessments by fisheries biologists.   It's interesting stuff.   Adult alewives are basically non-existent in Lake Huron.   Young of the year get eaten very quickly.  Huron's wild lakers have rebounded and the walleye fishery has taken off, so it isn't all bad news.  Steelhead thrive, but they are more adaptive than Kings.  Despite the presence of gobies, sticklebacks, some smelt and emerald shiners, Kings are addicted to alewives.  Take them away, and the Kings don't adapt - they starve,though they do eat a few gobies.  Chinook and Cohos were first stocked in the Great Lakes to eliminate or reduce alewife populations (as well as create a sportfishery) and they've succeeded.  

By the way, I smoked the Spring King I'd caught in May and it was excellent.  Superb flavor!

Lake Michigan is doing better, but the overall productivity of the lake is a fraction of what it used to be.   When I go out on Lake Ontario, I don't see a whole lot out there.  It doesn't compare to a Seneca or Cayuga Lake on any level in terms of concentrated bait and fish.   There are scattered bait balls, but my screen has yet to bottom out on bait.  I have yet to see it from top to bottom.   It's more of a barren seascape like Keuka or Canandaigua Lake.   With wild Chinook salmon at high levels and no escape from the relentless filtering of the invasive Quagga mussels and other invaders, Lake Ontario may be living on borrowed time in terms of its King Salmon fishery, though the high levels of nutrients from the Niagara River (Lake Erie,)  Genesee River and Oswego River are probably its saving grace.  Stakeholders need to be very careful in terms of pushing for more stocking.   It's Russian Roulette, and once things "head south" there isn't going to be much of anything anyone can do.  I think the stocking shortfalls in 2012 are a blessing in disguise!  

After 6 hours of interesting, but slow fishing I took Terry over to a favorite bass area.   The bass fishing was very good, with shades of the great late 1990s/early 2000s bass fishery.   It took the Lake Erie fish a few years to acclimate and get on the gobies and it appears that Lake Ontario fish also needed the adjustment period (or at least us fishermen needed it!)   But we had some doubles and a lot of fun catching around a dozen smallies - all between 13" and 16" long.   We fished about 3 hours and missed a fair number too!   So at least there's been some successful spawning in the face of the goby invasion.  That was a concern of mine.  The sky's the limit on the growth rates of these fish!   We tried another area and also found bass.  Next time, we'll hit the Sodus/Pultneyville area and see what we find.   Goby colored tubes worked well.   We didn't try jerkbaits and topwater, which I also think would've worked.   

We tried more laker/King jigging to wind down the day.  We marked bait and fish and the fish chased jigs but wouldn't close the deal.  Interesting, to say the least!   The fleet was basically gone by noon, with only around two boat visibly trolling in the afternoon.  It ain't like the 1980s out there!  

Seneca Lake out of Sampson:  Met Steve and Jackie and the ramp at 5:25 am and we headed out.  It's past my favorite time for pike fishing but I felt we'd have a shot at it and Steve had never caught one before.   We spent around 3 hours working various lure and had one follow from a pickerel.   Pike are obviously around somewhere - and I know we were fishing good areas, but I'd have to believe many are deeper.  Conditions looked decent early for them.   

Laker jigging started out superbly with Steve landing 3 beauties in a row from 28" to around 31".  All wild, older fish with nice colors.  Jackie was taking a break then she started fishing and also landed a nice one.    Eel wounding wasn't bad and overall they landed 8 nice fish, though the bite slowed considerable by 10 am.   Tons of bait and fish were around on the N. end flats.  We never even worked Sampson for lakers    85' to 95' was best, though as always, there were fish shallower and deeper.   Fun day!

 

6/17/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/16 + 17

6/16:  Guided Dave and Brian for a 1/2 day of laker jigging starting at 6 am.  Fishing was good to excellent with good action from the get-go and pretty steady fishing throughout the morning.   A couple wild lakers were in the mix.   About 75' to 85' was best.  Fun trip.

6/17:  Guided Fred Jr. and Sr. and Matt for another 1/2 day.   The bite was tough from the start at 6 am, with fairly empty screens on the depthfinder.   Eventually a few fish cooperated - a few SOLID fish that is, with lakers to 30".  The guys landed 5 nice ones and had a few other hits.  Best action was deeper today, from arout 85' to 95'.    It was a windy one out there!

6/15/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs 6/14

Got out with my old fishing buddy Terry for a full day.   Terry was my first really good fishing partner and is a great multi-species angler, well-developed in walleye and bass fishing to name a few.   We fished together a lot from the mid-1980s till the early 2000s when life got hectic for both of us, but I've always intended to get back on the water with him a bit once things settled a bit.

There are some major bass tournaments on Cayuga Lake this weekend, including the Chamber of Commerce Bass Tournament on Saturday and the NY Bass Federation on Sunday.    I LOVE to bass fish, but don't get a lot of chances to do it.   My tackle is always in disarray and after all these years I still haven't settled on certain things.  But I intend to bass fish a bit over the next couple weeks before heading to Lake Champlain with my buddy Mike in July for 4 to 5 days.   So this was a bit of a shakedown for me.

Terry hadn't fished seriously in a couple years and wasn't even aware of the year-round catch 'n release season!   He didn't miss a beat when we started fishing.  He landed a couple legal largemouths on topwater.   I fished a Minus-1 crankbait and picked up a fish.   In a nutshell, we had good fishing.  1/2 of the bass we landed did show signs of being caught before, like hook scars and mouth abrasions.    Terry dropped a very nice largemouth on a Senko.  We cranked up some fish and caught some on Havoc Baits (pitched and short casts) as well as SuperFlukes.   We covered a lot of water checking things out (I have a buddy or two fishing the Fed, so I keep them posted on things.)   Terry also landed an 11" rockbass on a crankbait that I'll use for my species page shortly.   

From what I saw (and I'm not "Mr. Bass," so take this with a grain of salt) I'd say that bass are fairly scattered.   Many largemouths have already spawned and some are still likely spawning.  I'd imagine that some are still pre-spawn down the lake, where the spawning is usually retarded due to cold water.     The largemouth population looks good and healthy on Cayuga this year.   A lot of limits will likely be brought in with the steady weather and good bite right now.    A lot of techniques will produce fish.  There are good bass from shallow (4') out to over 12'.   There's an abundance of good weedgrowth, yet the north end isn't locked up in vegetation like it was last year around this time.    Water temps are in the 60s and low 70s.  Pickerel were around, but not super-active.  Lots of nice perch and big bluegills, sunfish and rockbass are around, so it's a great time for family fishing with young kids.

6/10/2012
Cayuga Lake 6/9 + 6/10

6/9 Myers:   Met my buddy Jarrod at the launch at 5 am and we headed out for bass and pike.   I rarely get a chance to bass fish this time of year on Cayuga and almost never go out of the south end, but I have a pike trip coming up and wanted to check on that, as well as ascertain the bass fishing.  

Things started alright with me landing a 14" smallmouth and a decent 23" pickerel on a spoon.  We weren't even close to some of my favorite pike areas, but alas it didn't matter.  The pike bite was non-existent for us today.   Calm, overcast conditions can be tough on Cayuga for pike.  There were loads of alewives up shallow too and oftentimes pike will gorge a bit at night and the fishing will be tough in the day (just a theory of mine, but some nighttime walleye trips and daytime pike trips on Conesus Lake and reports from Owasco Lake over the years confirm the "alewife driven pike night bite" and daytime slow-down in June.)   Smallmouths were spawning, but there weren't a ton around.  I picked up one good one that eagle-eyed Jarrod had spotted for me.

We worked some areas on both sides of the lake.  On the east shore Jarrod picked up a decent smallie and he spotted a big largemouth cruising, but fish were ridiculously negative.   We even saw a rare, isolated gar cruising the shoreline.  Loads of carp are spawning too.   Some dead rockbass and smallmouths give me the impression that this lake was also impacted with VHS, though it's never officially been confirmed here.  Rockbass are uncommon now on this lake, though they used to be ubiquitous.     Smallmouth fishing is a fraction of what it once was and numerous anglers reported widespread smallmouth bass die-offs 5 to 6 years ago from the inlet to Sheldrake and up to the north end of the lake.  It may be years before we see solid smallmouth bass fishing here again.   Very tough day and we fished hard. 

6/10 Long Point:  Guided Dave, who joined me just over a week ago for some lakers.   The lake trout bite ranged from very good to excellent today with aggressive fish throughout the area N. of Long Point.    Loads of baitfish were around and we had some great action from 65' to 85', with 80' to 85' being particularly good as the day wore on.   Fish I cleaned were eating well.   We started at 6 am and Dave managed 14 solid lakers to just under 28".   Eels weren't bad - we had one laker with 2 eels attached, but that was it.    This lake has so much bait it's ridiculous!!!  Water temps on the surface are in the low 60s.   We even saw a nice 6lb brown swimming around in the marina!  And it appeared healthy.  Must be the bait... 

6/8/2012
Lake Ontario out of Oswego 6/7 + Cayuga out of Taughannock 6/8

Lake Ontario/Oswego 6/7:  Had a fun time, albeit with tough fishing out of Oswego.   I woke up around 3 am and was on the road before 4.   Make it to the launch around 5:30.   This is usually a very tough time of year on Lake Ontario.   The hot spring nearshore brown fishery and spring King action tapers way down and there's no thermocline set up yet to concentrate the fish, but I wanted to see how things went with the jigging.

One other boat had launched out of Wrights Marine.   Around 1/2 dozen charters appeared to be out, mostly working the area east of Oswego.   I checked shallow first to see if I might be able to fly-fish shallow browns, but after seeing 60 degrees on top, and finding water around 52 on bottom in 30' fow, I knew it wouldn't be worth it, so after 20 minutes or so I moved deeper with my jigging gear.

Marking fish and finding bait was easy.  There was a lot of bait from around 40' to 70' and smaller bait pods out deeper.   I didn't mark many fish at all around the bait, and working jigs through the bait only yielded one or two half-hearted chases that were unlikely to be lake trout.    I found plenty of lakers out from 80' to about 120'.  All on bottom, and the bite (or lack thereof) was very similar to what I saw on Cayuga last Wednesday and Seneca Lake during the Memorial Day weekend.   Fish were very much neutral to negative.   I swore I had a massive silver flash below one of my jigs but I wouldn't bet money on it.    I had plenty of lakers chase me up and down, but they wouldn't hit.   At least I was able to ascertain the potential for late spring/summer lake trout fishing at Oswego!  So that was well worth it.   By noon nearly all the boats were gone.   

There's plenty of green slimy algae floating around and on bottom in the shallows.  I tried a couple inshore areas quickly for bass but didn't see much.  Went back out for lakers and had more of the same - chases and "lookers" but nothing gobbling.   I fished lakers hard for around 7 hours.  In case anyone was curious, that's what this professional guide does on his day off - go looking for new opportunities!

Fatigue finally started hitting me, so I grabbed a couple bass rods and checked out a favorite area.   I've had some reports of good bassin' out of Oswego over the past year and I was happy with what I found.  I worked 10' to 17' fow and landed 4 solid smallmouths.  I missed others and had 2 fish (including a 4lb+ smallie) follow in a hooked one.   It wasn't Oswego c. 1998 or 2000, but it was good fishing.  I used a Goby colored tube.    I felt that had I fished bass for the whole day, it would have been a very productive trip, but I was happy with what I found with the lakers.  I'll be back out here within a couple weeks (at the latest) as the thermocline starts to set up - stay tuned!

Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 6/8:  Guided John and his father Doug for 1/2 day.   We worked both sides of the lake up by AES and the guys did a real nice job landing 8 nice lakers and having one salmon around 15" get off around boatside.   Eels weren't bad, though one laker had 2 attached and one other had one.    55' to 80' or so did the trick.  The bite got better as the day went on.  Best fish was around 29".   My kind of day!  Good from the get-go and they kept on a bitin'.  

6/6/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/5 + 6/6

6/5:   Had some hot action in the AM on Tuesday with Jim and Jim S. really hammering lakers from around 6 am till 10 am.   Fishing slowed after that with only a couple more fish to show when we quit around 2 pm.   Most lakers were decent fish from around 23" to 27.5".  Lampreys weren't bad.   Tons of bait was shallow and best laker action for us was from around 40' to 75' or so.  

6/6:   Guided Gary for a 1/2 day in the AM starting at 6.   Fish appeared scarce on the depthfinder and we didn't mark much bait.   Gary managed to land 3 fish including one around 31" that likely weighed close to 10lbs.   We had one lamprey come up on a fish.   Bait began showing up around 9 am but the action didn't pick up before we wrapped up around 10:30.   Perhaps the afternoon bite was better - I don't know, but it was a definite slowdown from the past two trips.  Still a fun morning.    

6/3/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/3

It's amazing how the fishing for a given species can vary from one lake to another on a given day or week.   In terms of lakers, Seneca Lake has been darn tough over the past couple weeks - at least on the days I've been out.   Keuka's been pretty good from reports I've received.   Day to day (and sometimes hour to hour) weather conditions play a huge role in the bite as many of you know.   But each lake does have a different rhythm and time-table.   Guides and charters that fish only one lake - i.e. keep their boats docked at a marina are at a definite disadvantage when the bite on "their lake" is tough.   Flexibility is the key to angling success, whether on Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes or  anywhere for that matter.  

This weekend was a great example of lake to lake variability.   I thought Seneca would fish well yesterday AM - it didn't.   So I moved my Sunday (today's) trip to Cayuga out of Long Point.   I generally like sunny days for lakers from September through mid-May.   During the summertime bite, low-light conditions are often better, though there are exceptions to every rule.  I thought today would be fair, but just incase, I brought some casting gear as a backup.  Thankfully we didn't need it.

Guided Dave, Blake and Todd today for a full day starting at 6 am.   The fishing was very good ALL DAY LONG!   That doesn't happen much!   We started getting fish around 6:20 or so and landed the last one around 2:30 pm when we called it quits.  It wasn't a fish a minute, but rarely did 15 minutes go by without some kind of action.  Dave managed to land a nice 22" to 23" brown today.   The guys landed 23 lakers - mostly 22" to 27" fish with a few from 17" to 20" in the mix.  

Eels were pretty bad today with at least 5 fish sporting them.   Todd kept the eels and I cleaned them up for him.   I'll await his report.  In case anyone missed the article, check out last weeks Wall Street Journals - I don't remember the exact date, but there's an article on the Royal Family and photos of some sauteed lampreys!   The fish-eating parasitic eels were shipped to England - 2lbs worth, from the Great Lakes for the Royal Dinner.   "Lamprey Pie" has been a traditional dish enjoyed by royalty for hundreds of years. 

Check these pages out:

http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/PieHistory/LampreyPie.htm

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/queen-elizabeth-II/9221440/Traditional-lamprey-pie-for-the-Queen-has-to-come-from-Canada-for-first-time-in-centuries.html

6/2/2012
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 6/2 AM

Guided Brian, Joe and Joe (Jr.) for a long 1/2 day.    I probably should have moved the trip to Keuka or Cayuga, but I knew that there were a lot of fish up around Geneva and I felt the fishing had bottomed out last weekend during the derby and would only get better.   The unsettled weather didn't help anything.  Our best fishing occurred when the westerlies blew strongly, but it was tough fishing.

The guys each had a hit to show for the first couple hours.  A small salmon or two followed.   Younger Joe had what appeared to be a decent brown follow in his jig and then not long afterwards he hooked a good lakers that we almost got within netting range before it got off.    In short order he hooked another around 23" that he was determined to land, so after about 3 hours of fishing - maybe longer, we finally got a fish in the boat.  Brian then landed one around 19".   Both were hatchery fish, which was a little odd - given that 65% to 75% of the Seneca fish are wild.    A few more hits were had and that was it.   We gave it a solid effort, but tough fishing overall.  There are hundreds of lakers on the flats up there - the fishing will be spectacular in the near future!  It's just a matter of timing.  Some steady, warming weather should do the trick.    Still a fun day and very few boats out.  

6/1/2012
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 6/1

Guided Anthony and his son Jimmy for pike for the full day.  Conditions looked to be pretty good all day long, with light winds, overcast (and sometimes rainy skies) and nice water temperatures in the low 60s.   Baitfish (alewives) are EVERYWHERE!  Wow, is this lake full of bait.    Judging from my nights walleye fishing on Conesus Lake over the past 15 years or so, I know that pike will feed at night when alewives move in.  Is this why pike fishing can sometimes get tough in early June?   Either way, the fishing was pretty good today.

We fished around Watkins Glen and North.  We encountered pike in 5 to 6 areas.   Jimmy had the hot hand with a spoon - landing 8 fish.   Tony landed one, but had some nice follows from some good ones.   He also landed a mega-perch on a 1 ounce Daredevle!  Fish also followed swimbaits and jerkbaits.   Spinnerbaits would be another good option now.  No great sizes on the pike, but no hammerhandles either - all ranged from around 24" to 27", maybe 28".   I believe we'll see some good pike fishing over the next few years on this lake.  Expect some bigger fish too.  We saw 2 other boats on the water all day long!   Can't beat it!   I'll likely chase pike here another couple weeks or so.  By July it'll be trout and maybe some bass.

5/29/2012
Skaneateles Lake 5/29

Guided a full day with Vince starting around 6 am.  He's renting a place on the lake with his wife.    He's passionate about fly-fishing and just took up the sport a few years back.   I got him set up and we went searching for bass.   A few casting tips got his casting into very good shape in short order - I was impressed.  He had some very good action with plenty of bass looking and some grabbing his deer hair popper/slider on top.    We had very good topwater action throughout the day with some sizeable bass chasing, bumping and hitting flies.   It was a good day to be fishing with the impending heavy T-Storms and dropping barometer.   Hooking the fish hitting the topwater flies turned out to be the main challenge and it was fun watching the excitement.

I had him take breaks by casting some gear - namely tubes and flukes (though topwater would've been great.)  He picked up a few bass, rockbass and perch.   Water temps were in the low 60s.  Only a few boats were out.  All in all a very fun day with great fishing, fair catching and a lot of learning.    

5/28/2012
Seneca Lake 5/25 - 5/28

I had a really hectic, busy week with an unexpected trip to Phoenix AZ Monday through Thursday, just after doing 8 trips in 6 days.   I had to cancel 2 trips and my flights back were delayed way too much.  My arrival time in Ithaca was originally 8:30 pm.   But I touched down in Ithaca Thursday night just before midnight and had just enough time to hook up the boat and sleep a little bit before guiding out of Sampson at 6 am on Friday!   Next day was Derby time - fishing from 6 am till 2 pm with my buddy Jarrod, then guiding from 2 till just after 6 on Saturday and Sunday.    Can you say "Fried?"   Sure, I knew you could....   Here's how things went:

5/25 out of Sampson:   Guided Mark and Mike - longtime Seneca Lake fishermen for lakers.   Normally I'm out on Seneca a lot just before Derby time and have an idea what's going on, but not this year.  Anyways we started just after 6 am and I gave the guys the jigging tutorial - the hows, wheres and whys of this modern style of fishing.    We had good water temps and some fish and bait ranging from shallow to deep.    The guys did a good job with the technique and landed 5 nice fish up to 31"!    The big one wasn't particularly fat - it likely weighed just over 9lbs.    Fishing slowed considerably as the southerlies picked up.    Fun trip and the guys were very impressed with the technique and fishing.

5/26 AM out of Geneva:  Met my longtime friend and fishing pal Jarrod at the Seneca Lake State Park at around 5:30 am.   Derby time officially starts at 6 am and we took our time getting ready.   My buddy Mike was fishing the derby with a friend and I also had a handful of past clients, as well as other friends out fishing.   

As is nearly always the case this time of year, plenty i.e. a ton of fish were on the flats and shelves from Belhurst area southward.   I forgot my temp probe, so we used our electronics to pinpoint fish and/or bait.  The probe is a great tool this time of year and I regretted not having it.    Fish were very neutral.   They were pretty much everywhere though we seemed to find a lot from 65' or so on out.   Jarrod and I landed just 3 fish and nothing over 27".   We had some excitement with Jarrod having a follow from a very large rainbow trout that didn't commit.    My buddy Mike and his friend Jim had a much better AM.  They hit some concentrations of fish and landed over a dozen in the first hour and a half.   Most jiggers I talked to had a slow day with only a few, and in some cases no fish landed.  

PM:  Guided John and Ed for a 1/2 day.   Again - tough bite but John managed to land a couple fish.   Nothing for the board.   I didn't fish after we wound up around 6 pm.

5/27 AM:   Jarrod and I started up north again and things started with us each having hits on our first drops in shallow water.  Not long after, Jarrod landed a 16" laker.    We ran south and worked areas on both shores.  We found a ton of bait and had follows from small salmon.   In the depths, suspended - Jarrod nailed a 28" laker, but it was on the thin side.   I landed one too, also out over deep water (thanks to a tip from Craig and Jimmy.)   Another 3 fish day.

PM:   Guided John and Ed again.  We hit different areas and John, again landed a decent fish or two.  A few were missed.    I landed a couple after we wrapped up.  The evening bite was better than on 5/26, but still nothing great.  85' fow was good.

5/28 AM:   Wasn't sure if I was going to fish, but after seeing that an 11lb laker would top the laker division, I HAD to go!   That's a good fish, but not uncommon on Seneca Lake this time of year.   Started at 7 am with some hits shallow.  I landed a fish then ran south.   Thunderstorms and heavy rain cut my day short after a total of maybe 3 hours and only 1/2 hour in my good area south.   I felt good about my areas, but no telling what would've happened.  It was weird and tough fishing.

Angling Zone friends Jeff and his buddies from northern PA had the top fish for most of the derby - a nice 12lb+ brown they caught jigging.  It was topped this AM by a 14lb+ laker taken on the lake's north end.   Past client Andre had two fish on the board, incl. one of the Top 5.   Past client Jimmy C. had one of the top lakers caught by a male 20 to 59 year old.  I'm not sure what, if any other fish were taken jigging.  Top salmon was over 9lbs.  Top rainbow was over 8.   

We had a good time and it was fun calling and texting friends for updates.   Some of the fish were taken on bottom in deep water, others were very shallow.  This is one of the toughest times of the year to pinpoint good numbers of fish, since they are so scattered.  There are laker friendly temperatures from about 30' down in areas to the bottom of the lake.    The thermocline is showing signs of setting up though it may take a week or two before it's solid. 

 

 

 

5/20/2012
Reports 5/17 - 5/20

I've had a hectic couple weeks with some personal issues and I just noticed I mixed up some names on my recent reports - my apologies there.  I've since corrected them.   Here's how we did over the past 4 days:

5/17 Cayuga Lake out of Dean's:  Did a 2 boat tag-along trip with Roy's crew.   I had Aaron, Eric and TJ on my boat for some laker jigging.   A good time was had by all and around a dozen nice lakers were landed.   We had a nice silvery fish (rainbow, brown or salmon) lost near the boat and some chases from some brown trout.    Good AM bite, then a lull, then a good PM bite.

5/18 AM Seneca Lake out of Sampson:  Guided Brian and Cassie for 1/2 day for pike and lakers.  Conditions were sunny and windy out of the south to start.  Tried a couple areas around Sampson (both shores) for pike and didn't raise any.   4 mega-perch attacked our X-Raps.   More were around.  A bass or two also came for our lures.   But a 1/2 day doesn't give us a lot of time for two different patterns.  Motored towards Belhurst and Brian landed a couple solid wild lakers.   Good day that would've been even better had the pike made a showing.

PM:  Guided the Hermans for their first outing of the year.   Laker action was slow with Eleonore landing a 16"er off of Sampson.   We marked fish but they weren't hitting well.   Conditions were calm and drifting very tough.   Wind picked up out of the north and I suggested pike.   We tried two areas I didn't have time to hit in the AM.   Five casts or so into our first area and Eleonore landed a 35" beauty on a Deep Husky Jerk.  We released her.   John nailed a solid 24" pickerel and we had a few other pike encounters.  Not bad.    Saw gulls around and some tremendous alewife schools.   Fun trip, but somewhat slow fishing.

5/19 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  Guided Rick and Gary who have joined me several times over the past few years.   We went after lakers.  The fishing was pretty good with Gary having the hot hand for some reason.  The guys landed at least 8 solid fish.   Lots of trollers were out (I think Barney's derby was going on.)  We overheard talk of a nice 8 to 9lb rainbow being caught.   Our fishing was OK in the AM (we started at 6:30) then picked up around mid morning.   By noon it was slow.

5/20:  Skaneateles Lake -  Guided Kevin and Carl in the AM.  Kevin had never really fished before so it was a teaching day.   I showed him a few favorite techniques for Finger Lakes smallmouth bass - namely working tube jigs and superflukes.    He caught his first fish - a rockbass before long.   He then managed a couple smallmouths.   Carl caught some rockbass and smallmouths as well.   We caught a handful of fish - action wasn't great, primarily due to the lack of wind. 

PM:  Guided Sharon and her boyfriend Cardon, who both gave a supreme effort on a very tough afternoon.    A glass calm, super clear Skaneateles Lake is not easy to fish.   We motored all over the lake and tried a lot of areas.   We finally wound up with a couple pickerel (one dink and one good one,)   some bass (mostly 10"ers,)  some good perch and a lake trout (in 62 degree water that was about 8' deep - I think I've seen it all now.)   The bass fishing in the AM wasn't a cakewalk, but the PM fishing made AM look easy! 

5/16/2012
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 5/15, Watkins Glen 5/16

Geneva 5/15 PM:   Guided Dean, his wife Robin and his son Sam for a 1/2 day.   Robin didn't fish.   The weather forecasts were crazy with good chances of upwards of 1/4" or more rain.  It never rained a drop.  It was supposed to be cloudy - it was sunny.   We were supposed to have light south winds - we had zero wind.  

As is the case with windless days, I had to move the boat a lot.   We started just after 3 pm and the fishing was decent.   Sam landed his first laker in short order.   Lots of fish are around on the Geneva flats but they weren't super aggressive.    Once Dean got the hang of things he started picking up fish.  The guys wound up landing 5 nice lakers.   One fish we caught twice in about 10 minutes - which is a new one for me.  It hit a smelt colored Shakers then came back later for a BPS Swim bait in chartreuse.  It was a distinctive fish with a double fin-clip and one of the fins wasn't completely clipped.  We also removed a lamprey from it off the top of the fish.   Same darn fish hit again!  Fun trip.

Watkins Glen 5/16:  Guided Kevin and his girlfriend Laurie for the full day of fly-fishing.  Kevin first fished with me during my first year guiding and it was good to see him again.  Last time we were out together was for two days of fly-fishing during Seneca Lake's c. 2007 pike heyday.   The pike fishing isn't what it was back then, but it can still be very good.    We set up in some shallow water and within a few casts Kevin had a follow from a hefty 7 to 8lb fish.   Another hit and follow ensued.   Within a half an hour Kevin landed a fish around 25".   We had one more follow, then things slowed.   We tried some different fly setups, but conditions were starting to favor Landlocked salmon action.

We set up uplake for salmon and again, within short order Kevin had a follow from a decent salmon around 18" or so.   He landed a few small salmon - maybe 13" to 14" fish on the flies.   Bigger salmon - including some 3 to 4lb fish were following but conditions kept changing and the bite progressively got tougher.  

The weather really dealt us a tough hand.   We had intermittent sun, clouds, wind and then no wind, then westerlies and finally northerlies.   We wound up with some casting with gear for pike but the lake starting getting rougher and the rain started pouring down, so we called it an early day and had a couple beers and bite to eat at the Watkins Bar and Grill.    It was a good AM for fishing, but the catching could have been better.  Lots of fish around in places, but tentative.  Water temps on the surface ranged from 51 to 56.    It looks to be a pretty good pike fishing year from what I could gather here.   I'll be out more this week out of other ports so I should have some reports.    

5/13/2012
Reports 5/12 to 5/13

Had a busy weekend guiding after a high wind cancellation Friday.   Here's how things went:

5/12 AM - Owasco Lake:   Met Drew, Zach and Alex at the launch around 6 am.   Drew bought a place on the lake last year and was looking to add some patterns and areas to his repertoire.   We started with one of my favorite lures for just about anything that swims in Owasco Lake, the alewife tube.   Working them on the north end flats resulted in a hit or two and a nice perch.  Downlake areas proved slow with an occasional hit.   An X-Rap resulted in Alex getting a chunky largemouth bass around 13" or 14".    But overall AM fishing was slow.

The laker jigging went better with Zach nailing 3 or 4 solid lakers in around 50' to 80' fow.   Drew also got one.  The laker condition is clearly improving on this lake now that stocking numbers have been reduced.  The fish are fatter and also look better with more color.   In what might be a case of missed fin-clips, one of our lakers did appear to be wild.   My buddy Jarrod also nailed a non-clipped laker this weekend.   Prior to this weekend I'd seen one laker unclipped out of hundreds upon hundreds landed!

We gave the tubes another try after an hour or two of laker jigging.   Weather conditions had changed.   Zach landed a solid pike around 29" and Alex landed a smaller one.

5/12 PM - Skaneateles Lake:  I'm not too into "lake hopping" this year, but today I made an exception.   Met Al and Matt at the State Launch at 2 pm.    I was very pleasantly surprised to see very few vehicles parked there.   We launched and headed N. for bass.   Al's had a place on the lake for years, but usually fishes Black Lake.  He wanted to start fishing Skinny and cracking it's code a bit.    I'm a big green pumpkin tube jig fan here.   The guys saw why in short order.  The pre-spawn smallmouth bass bite was very, very good.   I had the guys get used to feeling or sensing the tube hit bottom on some shallower flats and rocky areas.   The bass were around and hitting well.  

We ran south to an area across from Al's camp and continued the good bass catching.   A lot of yellow perch were also landed - fish to 14"+.   The guys were kind enough to give them to me for dinner, which was nice.   No lakers today - just one rock bass, but the guys fished well.  I expect plenty of lakers in the mix over the next two weeks.    Water temps were in the low 50s.  

5/13 - Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock:   Guided Chris and his dad Robert today.   Chris took my "Intro to Fly-Fishing" Class at Cornell 4 years ago as a freshman, primarily to get some fishing in away from campus.  He was already an accomplished fly-fisherman.   I did manage to get him casting with his opposite arm, which he now likes better, which is great to find out!  Graduation time is looming ahead and what better way to celebrate than a guided trip courtesy of Dad!

The plan was salmon fly-fishing and laker jigging.  The weather forecast was all over the place prior to this trip and I didn't think we'd have the winds we needed for good salmon fishing.   The lack of wind in the AM didn't deter the guys from landing a solid 18" brown (Robert on a stickbait) and a stockie.  Other hits were had.   After the AM fishing slowed, we worked the area N. of AES for lakers and found better numbers on the west shore.   The guys landed some solid fish there in water ranging from around 50' to 85' deep.  

The north wind came up perfectly and we wound up with some great fishing with Chris nailing a couple salmon and a solid 20" FAT brown on the fly!  He used my Type 3 full-sinking line and really was casting great with it.  Robert caught a few salmon as well as a big perch and a good smallmouth.    We saw plenty of nice fish under the flies and lures.   A couple good ones were lost as well, which is typical salmon fishing (that's why they're gamefish!)   Water temps ranged from 51 to 56.   I expect another week or two of decent salmon/trout fly-fishing, though I don't usually bank on it this time of year.   Fish are all over the lake and the right area with the right temperature can provide some compelling action.

 

 

    

5/7/2012
Lake Ontario out of Oswego 5/7

Living just over 60 miles away from Oswego - basically a straight shot up Rt. 34 has me psyched!   There are lots of great, diverse fishing opportunities up there.  From jigging lakers, browns and Kings to fly-fishing browns, drum and gar to casting for bass and more.

My buddy Eric met me at my apartment at 5 am and we drove up.   Today featured sun and south winds, though the clouds peaked through a bit and the wind shifted quite a bit.    The fishfinder wasn't nearly as full of lakers and Kings as it was last time I was out, though we still found some fish.   Eric had a couple good hits, and we had some fish moving for the jigs, but no hookups.  

My goal with the Kings/Lakers was to see how they are moving and how active they are relating to weather and wind conditions.    I want to see how things changed from last week.   Each day out adds another piece to the puzzle - so at this stage of the game, whether I catch fish or not is irrelevant, it's all about gathering data so I can form some theories to later be confirmed or disproven.    It's my favorite stage of the fish-patterning process.   I'm taking notes on the depths I marked fish at, where I marked them, what colors and lures we tried, what the wind was doing, what the sun was doing and what time of day it was.    It's not hard to pattern fish, but anglers need to apply themselves and fish with purpose.

After trying the deep jigging we moved shallower and tried some mid-depth vertical jigging.  Eric had a solid hit and a nice follow from a good brown!  We knew a lot of fish were around.

Eric is a serious fly-fisherman and after at least 2 hours or so of checking on the jigging, I moved us into a stretch of water I wanted to check out for spring browns.    I'd seen many areas like this on the Finger Lakes and intuitively could sense that this area had potential.   (After fishing a lot, you tend to develop a '6th' sense!)  On my third or fourth cast with a deceiver I had a follow from a massive brown!   Before long I hooked up and landed a small brown, maybe 17" long.   The follows kept coming and coming - our area was swarming with fish and at times I'd see two or more fish.   I hooked up again and landed a 23" brown.   We saw bass and drum too.   The number of follows we had was sick!    I had another follow from a massive 27" to 30" fish!    Conditions were changing though, and the fish were getting spookier and less aggressive.  Eric hooked what may have been a good drum momentarily.   

We moved back out and tried the jigging again.   We marked more Kings and had some move for the jigs, but the fish clearly weren't real active - it wasn't like last week.    Eric had another hit.   We then wound up with some more nearshore brown fishing - I missed one on a tube jig and before we finished up we tried the river (60 degrees) and Eric landed a nice bass.   We also saw a few gar porpoise in the river.   This river holds some MASSIVE gar and I'm looking forward to catching some later in the season. 

All in all a very productive day in terms of knowledge.  I am confident with my spring brown areas and know I'll be able to get browns here for years and years!    We'll be back, likely in another 2 weeks or less.       

5/6/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 5/5 + Long Point 5/6

Had an interesting weekend guiding with some exceptional fishing on Saturday and steady action on nice lake trout Sunday.

5/5 Taughannock:   Guided long time clients Dean and his brother Scott for the full day.   Dean is a master brew-maker and formulated recipes for Yard's Brewery in Philadelphia.  He's now doing brew for Philadelphia Brewing Company.  It's great stuff.    The weather forecast had been changing a lot, so I brought salmon gear, laker jigging stuff and pike tackle.   Casting for salmon and browns started out well and that's all we did.

Fishing was very good from the get-go with Scott having the first hits and hookup.   Dean then lost what appeared to be a spirited brown trout after it jumped at least 5 or 6 times!   Even with the lamprey numbers up, the fish are feeding well and fighting well.   We fished from the Frontenac Area all the way to the south end of the lake.   One area provided a nice 20" salmon plus a couple good lakers up shallow.   We wound up with 4 nice salmon and 4 nice lakers - all caught casting.   The biggest laker - around 26 to 27", wound up hooked deep.   As I filleted it I noticed a nice fish in it's stomach.   Sure enough, the big laker had cannabalized a freshly stocked yearling laker.   Some people don't know this but lakers are the top-line predator in these lakes.   They eat anything they can and lots of them.   No doubt Keuka Lake lakers are gorging themselves on fresh salmon, browns and rainbows now.   People need to harvest more lake trout!

This is PEAK salmon/trout fishing on Cayuga!   These lakers are fly-fishable.   Picking the right days and fishing hard is still paramount, but now's a great time.    The fish are full of vigor.  If I had one month to fish this region it's without a doubt May.   

Peak moment of the day was helping to "rescue" a couple canoeists (is that a word?) by the Girl Scout camp.   In this era of everything being "about the kids" (which to me is silly) and "child worship" - which is so prevalent (look up the George Carlin bit on YouTube,) sure enough - apparently a few young girl scouts wanted to go out in canoes.  Only problem is that Cayuga Lake had 12 to 15 mph North winds, whitecaps and 48 degree salmon friendly (remember, these fish thrive in places like Norway!) temperatures.   So of course, who are any responsible adults to say "no" to 11 and 12 year old girl scouts?   I mean the kids know best, right?  Of course.  In today's world we have 8 year olds decide what's for dinner.  And we seriously review 15 year old's record releases.  I mean, there's so much wisdom to glean from their knowledge and experience....  (it's been a long day - excuse me for ranting!)  I'd much rather glean wisdom and insight from my elders.  

So we saw these women with a couple young girls paddling around.  I looked at Dean and said - "Is it just me, or are these people nuts?"  I used harsher language than that.   He agreed with me.   As we started to head up the lake we got flagged down.  Sure enough, the canoe had capsized (near shore fortunately, but still in water over people's heads) and a leader and girl were in the water (with lifejackets.)  Two other women paddled out without lifejackets to help them.    The woman in the water wasn't exactly petite.  We pulled up and Dean (mostly) and I lifted the woman onto our boat.   It took some effort!   The girlscout was almost ashore.   I'm sure her parents will be thrilled about hearing how the trusted scout leaders took them out in nasty waves and flipped their canoe.  Had they flipped the boat out where we'd previously seen them, we might be reading some sad headlines today.   We joked with them, I snapped a few photos (to be posted soon) and we went on our way.   Interesting day to say the least.

5/6 Long Point:  Guided long time clients (there's a pattern here!) Stu, Steve and Steve's stepson Colin for the full day.  We had some slow-steady laker action all day long, with a bit of a slowdown during the latter half of the day.    12 year old Colin had the hot hand and landed at least 5 fish.   Stu landed some good lakers and a nice bonus salmon.   Steve also caught a fish and missed a few.    I keep learning what works and what doesn't and Steve was doing a subtle thing that cost him, but we figured it out.   We had a lot of fun as always and the guys landed upwards of a dozen fish on a day that wasn't real easy.   Fish are scattered (as they usually are when water temps are ideal for lakers from 3' to 300'!!!   So bait is usually the key along with warm water.  The area along Dean's Cove was particularly good.     Trollers are reporting some good fishing for rainbows (we saw a 27"er taken today) browns, lakers and salmon.   It's fishing time!  

5/4/2012
Lake Ontario out of Oswego 5/3 + Seneca Lake out of Geneva 5/4

5/3 -  Lake Ontario/Oswego:   I was very excited to get out on the lake for some Kings and lakers Thursday.    I brought fly-rods and was hoping for some spring brown trout action as well.   It was very foggy out in the AM and winds were light out of the north and within an hour or two the winds had died down a bit.   I had good temperatures for browns, but with little wind and crystal clear water, it was a very low, if not close to zero percent option.   Trollers were picking up browns in the harbor. 

My main focus of the trip was to work the lake out of Oswego for Kings and get a more in-depth look at the structure.  I pinpointed some great areas for summertime browns out there last summer.    In a nutshell, I found some very good lake trout action with loads of fish along bottom within a few miles or so of the harbor.   They responded well to the usual Fingerlakes plastics and jigs.   I landed 3 fish, two around 19" to 20" (like Keuka or Canandaigua sized fish) and one around 26" and maybe 6lbs (like a typical Cayuga fish.)   I had other hits and lost one or two as well.  I didn't think the conditions were great for lakers, but they were hungry. 

Certain areas of the lake were clearly "activity zones" and for some reason, the Kings were there amongst the lakers.   Bait is scarce on Lake Ontario.   If it was around (outside of the harbor)  I wasn't marking much, if any of it.   But before long I had a chrome fish gobble a Shaker on the retrieve and it was game on!   Not a huge fish (around 27" to 28" and only 7lbs 2oz,) but I had a great time fighting it on my 7' medium Fenwick HMX rod!   Had some good runs, dogging and a couple near jumps.    I thought I'd lose the fish, but after the 3rd try I managed to get it in the net.   After getting a good look at it, I'm certain that a King is what I had hit me a couple years ago out by Hamlin. 

If there's one talent I have for fishing, it's decoding patterns and catching things that other anglers miss or overlook.   They are often somewhat obvious, once mentioned, yet seem to bypass many anglers' thought processes.    But many people I've talked to that were optimistic about jigging Kings, really were chasing up the wrong tree, so to speak.   I realize that this all sounds cryptic, but in the next few weeks, once I get a bigger, better picture of what's going on, I'll write a bunch of this stuff up.    I'm a diehard Fingerlakes Guide and happy on the FLs, but I do enjoy a challenge.    Right now, I want to get out and get more data.   But I'm 100% certain that catching these fish can be done CONSISTENTLY on the big lake on some level.  

Are jiggers going to get them everyday?  No.  And there are a lot of days when I frankly don't want to be out on Lake Ontario dealing with heavy chop.  Not in my boat, or in ANY boat!

Is jigging going to outfish trolling?   Maybe on some days, but probably not everyday.  And maybe not on most days.  But we'll see.  It's only one fish I caught, but it was a significant one for me.

Is it going to be more fun than trolling?   (Is the Pope Catholic...)  YES, YES, YES - OF COURSE!!!   And how many Kings do you really need to catch?   I remember fishing off the piers of Rochester during the late 1980s and early 1990s.   One 25lber and my arms were shot!  And that's back when I was working out.  One good fish and I'll be happy.

But once the right conditions are pinpointed (which I intend to do this season and over the next few years) I believe they will be patterned as well as any other major specie of fish.  I like easy fishing and that's what I'm hoping to find!   More coming this next week - stay tuned!

Spring Kings on the table.  I kept my salmon and filleted it.   The meat looked pretty good.  It's been nearly 35 years since the 1977 NYS DEC ban on Chinook salmon possession, due to mirex, dioxin, PCBs, ddt and all the other flavorful contaminants that our wonderful industries dumped in the Niagara River, though the ban is still fresh in my mind.  Does anyone else remember when it was more or less a crime to keep a Chinook?  I'm sure a few of you do!    Now it is presumably safe to eat 1/2 lb of Lake Ontario Chinook salmon a month.   I tried some - sauteed in butter with a little lemon and nothing else.  I was pleasantly surprised - it was very good.  Not as good as Fingerlakes Atlantics or lakers (especially lean ones out of Keuka or Canandaigua) but it was good.   I will smoke the rest.  I wouldn't hesistate to keep smaller spring Kings in the future.   

5/4:  Seneca Lake out of Geneva - Guided David for the full day today.   Fishing was generally good with a steady, but slow pick of lakers.   They are everywhere on Seneca's north end - from around 40' out to over 150'.    We found our best action around 90' to 100' today.   There's a ton of bait on the north end of this lake.    Dave did a nice job with the catching today and landed 7 or 8 solid fish to 30".    All fish were wild!   The lakers here are drop-dead gorgeous.    Seneca's north end this time of the year, through July is the best laker place on the Finger Lakes.   Big fish, lots of them and they are mostly wild!   No where else is quite like it!   H20 is around 48 on top.  

4/29/2012
Cayuga Lake Reports 4/28 pm + 4/29 am

4/28 PM -  Guided Florian and Alysa for a 1/2 day on Saturday starting at 2:30 pm.   They'd been out with me last Labor Day weekend and seen the large carp around AES and wanted to catch some.   I actually was their first "fishing instructor" on a Keuka trip a few years back.   Anyways,  I was psyched for the trip and purchased some corn, night crawlers and bread.   Florian made a corn flour dough mixture known to be deadly on carp.   Unfortunately the recent cold nights made for cold water on the north end of the lake.   The low lake level also apparently kept carp away from some of their usual springtime haunts.   

We found large areas of muddied water and set up - working a little bit deeper, but were unable to draw any definite strikes.   Had we had the whole day, things might have turned out differently.   High point of the day was seeing a couple bald eagles near Mudlocks.    Low point was coming back into Union Springs and realizing I'd taken my waders out of my truck and wasn't going to be able to load the boat back on without getting in over my knee-high boots!   BRING WADERS if you launch at Cayuga Lake State Park or Union Springs!

4/29 AM - Met Florian and Alysa at 9 am at Taughannock.   We were hoping for some salmon action.    Forecast westerlies didn't look good for salmon and winds were expected to crank up a bit later in the day.   The NWS forecast changed to strong Northerlies, which to me is a much better "salmon wind" on Cayuga Lake.   Originally I thought we might have to go with lake trout jigging.   Florian and Alysa had done a bit of that with me in the past, but were eager for some new angling experiences.

Casting didn't go well for salmon.   We tried 3 or 4 high percentage areas without so much as a follow.   We were close to 4 hours into the half day trip without any action.   A double-skunking was not something I was looking forward to!   But the northerlies cranked up hard and we worked a favorite area close to the park.   Florian mentioned something about our "dinner plans being compromised" when I heard a loud splash and Alysa was fast onto a nice salmon.   After a great fight I netted the fish.   A solid 20 1/2" fish with attached eel.    Next pass through Alysa got another one around 19".   Then Florian landed a 17"+ fish.   Then Alysa got a 23".   Then Florian topped it with a 25" beauty.    We released the big one (and obviously the sublegal one.)    The second fish had the "octopus" thing going - 3 attached eels!   I'm generally a big catch and release proponent of landlocked Salmon, but if they are getting beat up by eels I'd rather humans eat the fish than lampreys.

The biggest catch of them all happened when I was pulling our drift bag and Florian snagged my thumb with the stickbait!  Fortunately the trebles didn't go past the barb!   We ended the trip, then I came back out on my own and landed one salmon and lost one.    I didn't bring my fly-rods, so I worked spinning gear.    Water temps are still around 45/46.    Very few boats were out today.  Water levels are still low but most launches are doable.

 

4/26/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 4/26

I was going to head up to Lake Ontario today, but my fatigue and the weather forecast got the best of me, and I decided to fish Cayuga and do some "homework."   It was a good call - strong southerlies switching to westerlies didn't sound too good for the big Lake.  The plan was stay around the southern part of Cayuga and pinpoint some lakers and work some "new" salmon areas.   AES is a long run from Myers, though it isn't bad from Taughannock.   

The boat was in the water by 8:45 am.    I had nice sunny skies and a light southerly wind.   The laker hunt went well and was a lot of fun.  I really enjoy jigging lakers and managed to catch a few.   This time of year I typically catch smaller lakers in the southern portions of Seneca and Cayuga Lakes than I do up North.   I'm convinced that the larger ones follow the bait and the small ones are more homebodies or localized fish.   The good news was that the three lakers I landed were all clean fish - no signs of lamprey attacks.

Casting flies was a tough go on the salmon.   I had three or four salmon encounters - follows and hits from some good fish, but no hook-ups.   Most places I fished were not the usual salmon areas.   One area I fished, I hadn't tried in 7 or 8 years, so it was cool to see how things went.   I found salmon over anything from 15' to 40' of water.   There are salmon friendly temperatures on both shores of the lake from north to south.   I don't expect major concentrations of fish on the south ends of Seneca or Cayuga Lake.   Those ships have sailed.    Salmon move quickly and there are likely good salmon numbers up by Dean's, Sheldrake and Long Point by now on Cayuga.   

 

4/22/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers Point 4/22

Guided long time client Mark for a full day of salmon fly-fishing.   We started just after 8 am.   If anyone is wondering whether yesterday's rain raised the lake level, rest assured - it didn't.   The lake is still very low.   At least 2' below full pool, maybe 3.   Rain forecast today and tomorrow should help.  I only saw a few small boats on the lake all day today.   

Mark had been practicing his fly-casting and it showed!  And he was already a great caster.   I can't say enough about the great distance casting video by George Roberts - it's fantastic and a must-have for ANY and EVERY fly-caster.    We worked areas on both sides of the lake staying south.   It didn't take long for Mark to land a 19 1/2" salmon on my bionic smelt pattern.    Second fish came around 2 hours later - a fat 18 1/2" brown with three attached lampreys.  Yes, unfortunately "the Octopus" is back after a long absence!   Of course it's good news if you enjoy lamprey on the table ;-)    I encouraged Mark to try one, but it didn't work - at least for awhile.  

Mark had a few other hits but not many.   We tried some areas I almost never fish for salmon with some encouraging results.  My buddy Mike hit some of our tried and true areas Saturday with varying results, so I had a good starting point.   After working a lot of areas, we tried one of my favorites and Mark hooked and landed a solid 21"+ fish.  Tremendous battle with plenty of jumps, runs, cartwheeling antics and tail walking.  Just a classically awesome salmon battle!   We released that fish after keeping the first two that had been hammered by eels.    The brown was stuffed with alewives.  No smelt.    Water temps are around 43/44.   50 in Cayuga Inlet.    Mark kept the last lamprey and I cleaned it for him.  It'll be interesting to see what he and his wife think about sauteed eel. 

4/20/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 4/20

Did a full day trip with Warren and his dad, Chris.   I had inadvertently double booked a Friday a couple weeks ago and Warren was kind enough to postpone his original date.   Things worked out for the better weather-wise.    The fishing for lakers was a steady pick.  Not spectacular by any means, but no great lulls either.   12 or more nice lakers were landed to 28" and quite a few other hits were had.   The bite wasn't great, but Warren did a great job noticing hits and hooking fish, especially on the drop.

Warren was a successful Charter Captain on Lake Ontario for some years before he moved out of the region, and I was grateful to get his take on the LO salmonid fishery and some of the patterns he discovered and worked out.   A lot of LO guys are very secretive for reasons I can't understand.   He's also quite an expert on the Salmon River.   We had a good time reminiscing about our early days fishing the LO sportfishery.  My how things have changed since the late 1970s and early 1980s! Warren has been using his jigging know-how on Lake George and will continue adding to his repertoire of jigging tricks.

Water temps are around 44 on top, though the surface did hit 47 late in the day.   Some bait was showing up in the upper part of the water column.  Water level is still low on Cayuga.   We had a couple lampreys come up on one fish, but overall wounding wasn't bad on the lakers.   We found fish as shallow as 60' and as deep as we looked - which was around 150' or so.   Plenty of fish ranged from 115' to 125'.   

4/19/2012
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/19

Guided Tony and Glen starting around 7:45 am.  I was hoping for an earlier start but sometimes later is better and the guys wanted some time to settle in after a long commute the night before.    We went after salmon.   Fish seemed fairly neutral today.  We checked out a lot of areas and found a couple holding fish.  One shoreline had a lot of nice salmon! The guys had plenty of follows from some very clean looking fish.  Earlier, in another area, Glen hooked a big fish, but it might have been a pike.   But anyways, our salmon scattered and turned off not long after we found them.  The wind started dying down and that was it.

We worked up the lake and back down but never had much salmon action.   We tried some laker jigging and they cooperated with both guys hooking some solid fish and Tony landing 4 nice ones.  All were fin-clipped, which isn't common for 4 Seneca fish.  Usually 3 out of 4 are wild.   Fish I cleaned had some BIG bait in them.   125' to 135' was best.  Good numbers of lakers were concentrated in a small area.  Friends did well out of Geneva today with a couple bonus salmon in the mix!

Overall some very fun "fishing," but the "catching" could have been better.   Water temps are around 44/45 with over 50 in the canal area. 

4/14/2012
Skaneateles Lake 4/14

Guided Jeff and Clifford for a full day starting around 7:45 am.   Conditions were great from the get-go for casting hairjigs to trout and within an hour Jeff had landed 2 nice rainbows, 16" and 19" (and chunky) and Cliff had landed a solid 23" laker and dropped one.  Then as is often the case, the conditions changed.   A few bass managed to hit our tube jigs but the lack of wind made covering water (and not spooking trout) difficult.

We tried a lot of areas with little to show.   We eventually wound up north and found some decent numbers of nice smallmouth bass in shallow.   Hair jigs and tube jigs did the trick.  

I had Jeff try out my new setup featuring Berkley's new super thin Nanofil in 6lb test.    I used the recommended double Albright knot to the attached 6lb test InvisX flouro leader.   The setup casted with ease and worked well.   The line is very, very thin and incredibly sensitive.    Jeff was throwing a 1/16 oz perch pattern hairjig without difficulty.   We didn't even try the normal 1/8 to 1/4 oz jigs.   They likely would have flown!   

The line to leader knot did fail on a nice fish at the end of the day, so I'll be tweaking a few things in the future.   When I tied it and checked it, it was very strong and secure.    Also after landing a decent fish, the line would tend to dig into the spool for the next cast or two, but then would remedy itself.    Overall we were very pleased with the product despite the two minor shortcomings.   I am going to move up to 8lb Flouro (I like the hardness more than the supposed invisibility of flouro) and see how the knot holds.   I will be checking it often.  I will also try the Berkley Flouro in various line weights and see what "catches" the best and what ties the strongest knots.

One dock is in (basically one whole side of the launch.)    Water temps ranged from 41 to 49 degrees.   Warmest water was on the N. end of the lake.     

4/13/2012
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/13

Guided Tony and his sons Dan and John (11 y.o.) today for the full day.   I thought laker jigging would be the best option for action, but we opted to try salmon fishing (which we did last year with success.)   We did some laker jigging as a back up plan.  

Salmon fishing wasn't easy for the boys (who did 80% of the fishing, with Tony switching off once in a while.)    We hit nearly every good stretch with warm water (and some without) that I know near the lake's south end.    Dan was the lucky one today, nailing a 6.78lb 27" salmon on a Cleo.    John caught a freshly stocked brown - that was it.   Dan also landed a pike around 24".    One laker was lost.   I don't recommend the south end of the lake for laker jigging.   We did mark a fair number of fish and had some chasers, but the fishing is much better further north.    I did see a few salmon crusing around here and there, but they weren't grabbing out lures.   Water temps ranged from around 43 to 49.    A good rain and some warm days will get some fish concentrating in the nearshore areas, till then it'll be one here, one there in all likelihood. 

I have some great photos of the fish and should be able to get them online sometimes this weekend!  It was a beauty, though it did come with an attached lamprey.  

4/12/2012
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 4/12

Did a 1/2 day trip with Bob and his boys Andrew and Chris today.   The guys have joined me a few times before and we'd never really hit the lakers well.   Today looked good on paper and wound up being a great day.   We started just after 9:15 am with a slow go, despite marking a lot of fish from 90' on out.   But action picked up shortly!   The fishing in a nutshell was excellent with the guys having a few doubles and even a triple.   Most fish ran 20" to 22", but we had one at 25 1/2".   They were stuffed with alewives - including some very large ones.   The weather was nice and a great time was had by all.

Chartreuse and white plastics did the trick.  Best action was from around 85' to 120'.   Reportedly a few landlocked salmon are around.   I see next to nobody targeting these fish, or browns and rainbows on Keuka Lake.    It wouldn't surprise me if the fishing for these species is better than people think.  It is a LARGE lake!   But with Seneca so close, it's hard to blame folks for not fishing these species on Keuka. 

4/7/2012
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 4/6

Guided Keith, his son Matt and Matt's buddy Alex for an abbreviated full day.   I knew the wind was going to come up so we met at 7:30 am.  It was cold out.   Fishing was really, really good from the get-go with Alex having a hit in no time.   The guys all did well with around 14 or 15 lakers landed mostly in the 20" to 22" range.   One dink and a couple around 23" or better.    Depths were all over the map.   The lake had loads of fish in the 170' to 180' range, but we also had a great pick of fish from around 65' on out.   I never checked shallower, but I'm sure they were there.  

White Lunker City Shakers w/ chart. tails as well as all white and all chartreuse baits did the trick for us.  Everything was fished on 1 1/2 oz jig heads.    The wind kept picking up.   I went from no drift bag to one and then two.    After a while the cold got to Matt - mainly his feet and hands.   The wind just has a way of beating people down.  I like wearing raingear or something that seals out the air.   But we were ALL pretty cold and  called it a day after around 5 1/2 hours.    Cleaning the fish showed that they were finding some of the lake's sparse alewive population.  

Warm footware is easy to overlook this time of year and I need to make a point of reminding people.   Walking around in sneakers feels great but when standing still, chilly winds have a way of slicing through tennis shoes.   I wear winter boots when air temps range from the upper 20s (or lower) into the low 40s.  

Keuka is a great lake to fish when high winds are a concern.   I avoid the Branchport arm when high southerlies are forecast, but for strong northerlies it's a tough place to beat!   The lakers are super eating out of Keuka too - very low fat content and they just taste super pure.   There aren't many better eating fish around than fresh caught (and not frozen) Keuka lakers!   

 

4/5/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 4/5

Guided Shelley and Russell for a 1/2 day starting around 11:30 am.   Winds were blowing pretty good out of the north - probably 7 to 14 mph.   The forecast sun didn't appear until about 3:30 pm.    A shore fisherman who stopped by the launch to see what was going on had managed 3 decent salmon earlier.   They are starting to show the effects of the lamprey population out there.   Some of the fish were beaten up pretty good with multiple scars.

The winds were a bit harsh to work along the park.   We spent our day south of the park mixing some salmon casting with laker jigging.   Russ pretty much all the fishing with Shelley along for the ride.  Staying warm was half the battle with the chilly north winds!   Russ might have had one hit from salmon.  He was casting and fishing the lures well, the salmon just weren't around or responding to what we were doing (usually with wind they are pretty aggressive, so I'd tend to believe the former.)

I set Russel up for some laker jigging and he did a nice job, picking up his limit in fairly short order.    Fish ran from 18" to 25 1/2".   One had a fresh lamprey wound, but the other two were clean.   We tried the south end of the lake for salmon for 1/2 hour.  It looked good and water temp/color was also good.  I'm sure we could've found them, but there's a lot of water to cover via casting and we didn't want to spend too much time down there.   All in all a cold, but productive and fun day.    A little sun and heat would've been nice though!

4/3/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 4/3

Nothing new to report in terms of the Cayuga Lake level.  It's still low.  Water temps are generally around 42/43.    Did a 1/2 day trip with Damon and his dad Joe who was in from England.    Damon has lived on the lake since last year and was looking to learn some fishing patterns.   Joe doesn't fish much but it didn't take him long to get a knack for casting and working the jigs.   Overall it's hard trying to do more than one technique in a 1/2 day trip but we tried combining some salmon fishing and laker jigging.   

We tried a stretch of lake that's usually quite productive for salmon and didn't have any action.   After an hour or so we went to some laker jigging.  The fish started off pretty active from 120' to 145' or so, but it took some time for the guys to get the feel for the technique.   Conditions weren't easy with steady north winds around 8 mph, a drifting boat and deep water below us.   Joe wound up hooking a nice fish and losing it boatside, which is pretty rare.    The jig just popped out.    Damon managed to land an 18" laker.   A few other hits were had, but by the time we got the technique dialed in, the bite had slowed.    We worked areas not far from Damon's house, which was fun as opposed to running north to AES.   Finished off the day with more salmon fishing.  No luck there for us.   Conditions looked very good and I'm certain we would've found them had we fished a whole day.

3/30/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 3/30

Met Dave and Ken at the launch around 8 am and we got underway.   Water levels are still very low on Cayuga Lake.   I used trolling motor power to leave the dock, though the outboard likely would have sufficed.    There's also a good 4' drop from the dock to the waterline, so boaters need to be agile to board their boat, or just board while the boat's on the trailer and dump off that way. 

The bite started somewhat slow, though not badly.   Dave seemed to get the knack early, then Ken took over mid-way through the day.   We found decent numbers of fish around 130', but later did better from 150' to 180'(!)    As the day progressed, the winds mellowed and skies clouded up a little.  The fishing got better.   Before long we had a steady pick around 120'.    The guys kept a limit of solid lakers.   A couple lampreys came up on the fish, but things weren't bad.    The usual white Shakers and 1 1/2 oz jigheads did the trick.

As we wrapped up Dave hooked a fish that he felt might keep us on the water for another 3 hours!   This beast pulled hard!   Dave torqued the fish well and our tackle held up beautifully.   I slid the net under the fish and we did a measure - 34 1/2" long!   Beautiful fish with a left pectoral clip - I remember those beasts from 5 years ago.  I'm guessing it was a 13 or 14 year old fish.   We let it go after a few quick photos.  Great way to end a great trip and I'm certain that two new converts to the technique were created today.  Surface temp is 43.  Not quite seasonal but not outrageously warm.

3/27/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 3/27

One nice thing about the low Cayuga Lake levels is the lack of boat traffic thus far this winter/spring!   Myers and the Inlet are very shallow and make for tough launching.   Taughannock has the bridge which only allows for smaller craft to pass under it.    My buddy Eric and I launched my boat and motored out using trolling motor power only at around 9 am today.  It was a chilly 28 degrees out with a nice northerly.   The conditions were my favorite for salmon action today. 

We worked a few areas with our fly-rods and I finally managed to contact a few fish S. of Taughannock.    Eric tweaked a few things and we eventually figured out what was needed.    We worked a few more areas and hit a good group of fish!   We wound up with superb salmon action, landing 9 nice fish from 17" to 24" - mostly 21" to 22"ers.    We released all but one gill-rake hooked fish to fight again.   In general, the fish were hitting hard and fighting great with numerous jumps, digging and diving and just some good general salmon shenanigans!    Lampreys were bad with nearly all salmon having small eels attached.    Only one fish looked pretty beaten up, most were in good condition - nice and fat.     I used a Type 3 sinking line and Eric used an intermediate.   Alewife colored (smelt) flies worked great.   Never saw another boat out today!   Water temps were around 41 on top.   

3/24/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 3/24 PM
Got out for 3 hours on my own this afternoon.  I fly-fished and managed a solid 21" salmon on one of my bionic smelt flies.   A lot of shore fishermen were around and about along with a few casters and trollers in boats.   There were a few areas I wanted to fish but didn't get around to.   Water level is still very low, but Myers was launchable.   I kept my big motor up and used the trolling motor to get out and back in.   The fish I landed was the only one I encountered.   Water temps vary throughout the lake with temps ranging from 41 up into around 43/44.   I really expect salmon and browns to scatter and range from the south end of the lake up towards Sheldrake over the next few weeks.   Feeder creeks have very little water coming in apart from the major tribs like Salmon Creek and Taughannock, as well as the south end tribs.  
3/23/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 3/23 AM

Guided Tom and Dave today for 1/2 day.  I'd been trying to schedule a jigging trip with Tom for awhile and things finally fell into place.   We started just after 8 am with foggy and cloudy conditions.   The guys' jigs were getting gobbled pretty heavily, likely before they realized what was all happening!    The bite was best early for some reason, but the fishing remained good throughout the day with a little slow down as we wound things up.

Things weren't as hot 'n heavy as earlier in the week, but the guys learned the technique and managed to land 7 nice fish up to 29".   We kept 6 fish total and each and everyone of them was stuffed with bait.  The usual spring feeding push after months of dormancy.  

I've never understood the old timer's "match the hatch" philosophy of using lures to imitate bigger bait in the spring and downsizing as the season goes on.   These fish - no matter what their size, had alewives in their stomachs ranging from under 2" to over 5".    These lakers are clearly opportunistic predators and not selecting alewives for size.   No smelt, sculpins or perch in any of the stomachs, just good old "sawbellies," of which Cayuga has LOADS!   Lamprey wounding was light too, with no attached lampreys or recent wounds.   Water temp on top was 48!   Had a good time today listening to Dave's stories.    The launch at Long Point is in great shape, but the first step is a MEGA-step.  It'd be nice if some ladders were in place at the docks.      

3/22/2012
Canandaigua Lake out of Woodville 3/22

I enjoy fishing Canandaigua Lake on occasion.  It's a good drive for me, but it's very quiet during the "off-season" and the lake trout there are lean and exceptional eating.   I brought gear for Seneca Lake salmon, but after seeing the dead calm conditions on Seneca, and then on Keuka I decided to keep driving west!

Giving the Canandaigua Lake rainbows a try on the fly-rod has been on my to-do list for awhile.   I know it's kind of a long shot in some ways, since unlike Skaneateles Lake, the fish here are primarily feeding on the lake's scarce alewife population and not scattered around looking for whatever they can muster up.  Many of the adult rainbows are likely spawning now too, but I arrived at 1:15 pm and decided to split my time between fly-fishing and laker jigging.

The winds were out of the north and very light for most of the day.   Not the best fly-fishing conditions, but it wasn't bad.   Never had a hit or follow that I could see on the flies today.  I worked an intermediate line and a RIO Deep 7, zig-zagging between the shallows and drop offs in around 50' fow.  

Laker jigging was excellent once I found them.   I landed 5 or 6 fish in short order and basically kept a limit of fish to 29" before going back to the fly-casting.   There are a lot of big, old lakers in this lake and they likely cannabalize a lot of small lakers as well as stocked browns and wild rainbows.   Shakers did the trick on 1+1/2 oz jig heads.   Magic depth was around 167' smack dab in the middle of the lake.  

BTW - Crappies, bluegills and sunfish are active on the south end of the lake in West River.  I'd expect good crappie fishing throughout the State right now!

3/18/2012
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/18 PM

I found I had a trailer light out last night and the whole unit needed to be replaced.   No one around here had it or was open, so off to Barrett Marine in Geneva I went.    My buddy Mike's busy season starts next week so I figured it'd be worth fly-fishing for salmon at Watkins, even if just for a couple hours.   Got the light fixed and by 4:15 pm we were fishing.

Conditions weren't great for salmon with the lack of wind and impending rain (at least it looked that way.)   But we did manage some action with hits and follows from neutral fish which was fun.   Mike's fly was dangling off his rod tip overboard when one swirled for it.   He grabbed his fly-rod and got the 20" fish to hit.   So that was pretty cool.   That was the only fish we landed - we got off the lake around 7 pm.   I'll likely be out later this week once conditions improve.  I expect some good to excellent fishing.   Water temps are pushing 50 degrees on Seneca's south end in places, though the general temp is more around 46 to 47 from what I saw.

3/18/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 3/17

Guided Tom and Mark for the full day today starting around 10:30 am.   The fishing was solid from start to finish today, with the guys having a blast landing over 40 lakers!    I don't think we ever had 5 minutes go by without a hit.   We did best around 135' to 145'.   Another couple guys I talked to at the launch at the end of the day did great out deeper - upper 150s to 160s.   But the bottom line is that the fish were gobbling.  

It didn't matter what colors or lures we used today.   White, chartreuse, smelt, white-ice, sparkle - you name it, it worked.    Tom did great just relaxing and sitting on his cooler the whole day.   Mark stayed in the front of the boat.   We used 1 1/2 oz jig heads.   The 12lb Invis-X flouro leaders were incredible!  The only time I re-tied was after we had a couple tangles, otherwise the line never broke or needed to be re-tied.   That's a lot to think about after 42 fish!   

We had one 30"er and quite a few 29"s and down.  At the end of the day "big fish Tom" caught a couple dinks, but overall the quality of the fish on the northern flats of the lake is better than those around AES.   Fish were generally on the thin side.   They are just starting to feed.  We didn't mark much bait.   We had a couple lampreys come up with fish.  

Regarding Lamprey on Cayuga this year:

Most people realize that lamprey control is the number #1 issue on Cayuga Lake in terms of having a quality fishery.  You can stock all you want, but if lampreys are abundant, we won't have much of a fishery (see Lake Champlain in the 1980s and 90s.)     We are lucky to have the low-head dam on Cayuga Inlet, which enables DEC to collect spawning eels at the fishway.   This generally prohibits the need for time consuming, expensive chemical treatments.   Right now there's a 4' drop between the dam and the lake.  Every single lamprey that moves up the inlet will get collected and destroyed.

But over the past couple years we had a year when the lake levels were very high and the inlet was as well.  So a fair number of eels got into Cayuga Inlet and spawned.  So this year and next year we will see a spike in eels (treating the inlet now doesn't help - these fish are already in the fishery.)   And these eels are transforming (into parasites) at the south end, where they converge with browns and salmon.   The eels will live for one year or so, then spawn and die.   And that will be it.  Barring any flooding or crazy weather this year, we'll see eel numbers drop way down again by 2014.   So we have one to two years of more lampreys on Cayuga.  

There are enough gamefish in the lake to buffer these eels.   When eels have enough hosts, they are "parasitic" - they will attach to one fish and then move onto another host, oftentimes not killing their host.   When there aren't many hosts - the eels become "predatory" - meaning they attach to the host and stay with it until it dies, then they move on.   So even though the eels are unsightly, they likely won't be killing many trout and salmon.  

BTW - the eels are edible and considered a gourmet food in much of the world, apart from the U.S.    See my article on trying one.    They really are delicious, though you need to have a sense of adventure and some cajones to eat one.  So feel free to step up this year, vow to put the pink lace underwear in the garbage forever and eat an eel like the real men you all know you are!  ;-)  Anthony Bourdain would certainly do it!   Try one and you won't be disappointed!   Just cut off the head, slit the belly and gut it, then saute with butter.  You can bread them too.   

3/16/2012
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/15

Got out around 10:30 am to do a little scouting for my noon trip with Ed and John.   Found a couple areas with some warm water and had a follow from a nice salmon in one area, then had follows and hits from 5 salmon in 7 casts or so in another area, so I knew where to fish!  

Picked up John and Ed and we went fishing.   John tried some fly-casting and as I've often said, the boat isn't the place to learn it, so we switched over to spinning gear.   (BTW - I do offer casting lessons geared towards distance if anyone is interested.)

After I set up a leader for Ed's own outfit, he was ready to roll.   (I do provide all tackle, but clients are always welcome to use their own.)   The conditions on the lake changed a bit and the fish got a bit tentative.   The guys had a lot of activity including hits and follows, but weren't able to hook up.    John eventually hooked a nice salmon around 4lbs and lost it.    One interesting thing of note is that John cast a stickbait and a fish - likely a nice lake trout (!) took a shot at it on the surface!   I do carry surface flies like gurglers on board for when I see good topwater salmon opportunities.     

Two areas provided some pike action.  John wound up landing 3 pike in a row up to 35" long in one area, then the guys each landed pike in the second area.   Funny how that goes after Monday's tough pike fishing trip.   The warm water was drawing in the pike and the overcast skies and (likely) barometer put them on the feed.    We kept plugging away at the salmon and more hits and follows/swirls were had, but no cigars.   

Fun day fishing, but the salmon catching could have been better.   I'd still rate this day of fishing as excellent in terms of opportunities.   

3/12/2012
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/12

Got out for a 1/2 day guiding with esocid fanatic Perry - who brings the floats and minnows.   The forecast called for sunny skies clouding up and light winds from the south.     A few things to remember regarding winds in the region:

1.)  My buddy Craig warned me that on Oneida Lake - Forecast Southwinds = East winds.   So beware.  (Just an out of context Oneida tip from an angler very familiar with the lake.) 

2.)  When fishing out of Watkins Glen, double the speed of any forecast south winds.   So if you see "South Winds 5 to 10 mph" that really equates to "South winds 10 to 20 mph."  And so on.  

The winds were not bad today.   We worked areas from 4' of water out to the outer weedlines with very little action.   Perry might have had a fish or two fooling with the minnows, but it isn't something we'd bet on.   We spent a lot of time out in 8' to 12' of water - but zippo.   Unfortunately I had classes to teach this PM, so we had to leave before the evening bite and before we could check out some other areas.  

I remember tough days perch fishing in March and April and occasionally we'd lip hook negative, lethargic northerns on the bottom using really light line and perch jigs - like 1/16 oz jigs with twister tails tipped with a fathead minnow.   My guess is that the pike were fairly inactive, or we just never found them.  But we did move around a lot and had three lines out, so I'd have to believe we were around some.    A few are being taken on the pier.  

Surface temps are over 40 degrees and trib temps are getting higher than the lake temps - which means it's just about time for some good nearshore fishing.   A few trollers were out today and around 1/2 dozen boats were perch fishing.   We saw one salmon or trout caught by a troller.   Perch guys were moving around a lot - I'd guess the AM wasn't real productive for perch, but that's just a guess.  

Despite the tough bite, it felt great being on the lake with the warm air temps.  It felt like MAY out there! 

3/11/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 3/11

Got the 2012 guiding season to a start with longtime clients Ed and Stan.   I got the boat launched at 7:45 am and was ready to roll.  The guys got in and everytime I put the motor in reverse, it died.   Long story short - I managed to wrap one of the aeriator hoses around my prop!  

Lesson #1:  When water is low at launch, do not trim big motor down.  Use trolling motor power to get into the lake, then fire up big motor.

Lesson #2:  Thankfully the prop was an older beat-up one.  Never a good idea to use a pristine prop for winter fishing around low water launches.  I will put a new prop on once water levels reach full pool.

After a quick prop switchout, I was ready to roll.   Stan had to be on the road by noon, so we didn't have too much time to check anything out.  We tried landlocked salmon fishing with our fly-rods and Stan had one hit, but nothing else.   After an hour and a half at two different areas, we decided lakers would be a quicker and surer bet, so we ran up past the power plant.  

The laker fishing was excellent - especially for this time of year.  The guys managed a couple double hookups and landed 7 nice fish to 29" and missed another 10 to 20 hits or more.   Some of the fish had some real "game" and fought well.   Before we knew it, it was time to go.   We kept a few and one was starting to feed on alewives.

At 1 pm I picked up my buddy Mike at the launch and we headed back north.  We also managed to land 7 nice lakers and I was happy that the fish were hitting well.   We tried an hour and a half of salmon fishing with our fly-rods to end the day.  I managed a 20.5" fish S. of Taughannock.   Some guys we'd met at the ramp have had a couple great days for salmon over the past week, landing some real beauties!  It was good to see.

Water temps are the highest I've seen for this time of year - 40 degrees on the surface.   Fishermen are reporting quite a few lamprey sightings on their salmon.   Our lakers were clean.  We had 3 lampreys come up on the total of 14 lakers I handled today, and two of the eels were on one fish.  Most were very nice, healthy looking lakers, so overall I don't think things are as bad as some anglers think.   My salmon had an older scar, but we've heard that large percentages of salmon have attached small lampreys on them.    Some fish have had upwards of 4 eels on them.   Maybe the eels are gravitating towards the salmon, but either way, the salmon have been in good to excellent condition length vs. weight-wise.   I weighed a legit 9lb Landlock for a fisherman today (the biggest I'd ever seen in person) - and it was fat, probably at least 28" long.    This warm-up will show us what we have in terms of salmon on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes!   

3/2/2012
Lake Ontario out of Oswego 3/2

Oswego 3/2:    I was up at Bass Pro Shops last weekend and my buddy Jarrod told me he'd heard that "spring" brown trout fishing was underway on the big lake and had been very good.   Now that I live a bit closer to Oswego, I plan on spending a few days each spring fishing Lake Ontario with my fly-rod for browns and maybe a bonus coho or rainbow.    I'm still a die-hard Fingerlakes Angler at heart, but I enjoy the challenge of locating fish on bigger water and I like to keep learning.

Today was a "get the bugs" out type of day - basically a day to scout some areas, see the lake conditions, see what my flies look/swim like (and what modifications I need to make) and see how various rod/reel/line combos fish.  And of course I'm hoping for some fish too!  I tried to convince my buddy Mike to join me, but he wanted to get over to Seneca Lake for Landlocked salmon (so I now have a Seneca report too!)  He also didn't feel equipped for the big lake yet.   

The goal for a fly-rodder on a big lake in the early spring is to locate some warm(er) water.   Any area stirred up by wave action is also worth checking out.  Both together can be some good fishing!   The challenge is finding an area small enough where I can pinpoint fish, since I'm not trolling a giant spread of lures covering water.   So I can't cover a huge swath of muddy water effectively.    When I lived in Rochester, the trout hangouts were pretty well known and easy to find - the mouth of the Genny, Irondequoit Outlet, Russel Station, Hedges, Webster, Shipbuilders etc...   But I enjoy getting away from some of the obvious areas and trying to get my own take on things.   That, and I'm not sure what launches are ice-free, so Oswego it was.

On the drive up I saw a bit of snow on the ground.  We have none here around Ithaca, but I knew warmer temps would be scarce since melting snow would surely keep creek temps very low.    I was the only rig at the launch at 9 am.   The launch was in excellent shape and it was easy dumping in.   Water temps in the harbor were a chilly 35.9 degrees.   Out in the lake it wasn't much warmer - I had 36.9 to 37.2 all over.   I worked three different areas and might have had one hit, though I wouldn't have bet on it.    I tried two different lines on the same type of rod (TFO TiCR 8wt) - a Cortland 8 wt. intermediate line and a RIO Outbound.   In the past I had some success with an intermediate line as well as a floating line (if I remember correctly) on shallow browns. 

My flies performed OK.  Some were a bit overdressed.   Basically smaller versions of my pike flies seemed to swim at the right depth with the least amount of fouling and resistance.    Once we get a couple warm days, I'll try to get back out.  Time to hit the fly-tying bench again!

On the way back in I got stopped and checked by the Coast Guard!  Who'd have thunk it?   Anyways the officials were very courteous and helpful and it was good to get my gear inspected.    One of them was impressed with my Mustang Survival suit,  "smart choice" he said.   I recommend one to anybody who fishes often in the winter and/or alone in the winter.

Seneca/Watkins 3/2:  Mike landed a nice 22" landlocked salmon fly-fishing on Seneca.   It came with an attached lamprey which he was able to kill.  On gear he landed another salmon just over 15".    The wind was howling over there and it felt much colder than it did on the big lake.    A couple boats were trolling the shoreline areas.   Water temps remain cold on both the main lake and feeders.

It's funny but  I've had a fair number of comments from past clients asking me if I still fish much!    People see the unseasonably warm days outside and think it's automatically a good fishing day.  

Every year, winter is generally a time for me to take a bit of a break and "patch my bones."   I swim a lot which keeps me in good physical condition so I can work long hours during the summer on diminished sleep.   If I wanted to fish 250 or more days a year I'd live in the south!   I do like the intensity of our seasons.     That being said,  if I'm off and I think a day will be good or just feel like fishing, I go.   I've pretty much fished the same number of days this year thus far as I did last - with the exception of less shore-fishing, which I don't miss.    

A couple things to consider:   1.)  Warmer than usual winters aren't often great fishing winters.   Cold temperatures set up fish in predictable ways.   Lots of strong north winds and cold air usually makes for a great winter at Taughannock and plenty of fish on the south end of Seneca Lake.  They also intensify action at warm water discharges.    El Nino and La Nina years often feature plenty of westerlies and south westerlies that seem to scatter fish, so they don't set up well on the usual drop offs.  2.)   Many of these so called nice days have featured either a.)  no wind or b.) hellacious winds.   This probably isn't always noticeable unless you're away from buildings.    But no wind can be a good lake trout jigging scenario, but it generally isn't good for much else IMO.  And many of the best laker flats near me have featured frozen boat ramps.    Hellacious winds are good for boning up on four-letter words.   They are also good perch fishing days, but I'm not addicted to eating perch.  I don't need 300 fillets in the freezer.     One or two good perch days a winter and I'm happy.   

But rest assured, I will be out on the water a bit over the next few weeks and my guiding schedule is right on course with April and May showing a good number of bookings! 

2/23/2012
Skaneateles Lake out of Mandana 2/23

Given the outrageously mild winter we've had, the State certainly could have kept the launch open on this lake, but of course there's no way to predict these things.   The original plan was to fish Seneca Lake this AM for pike and salmon/trout, but a last minute weather forecast check showed that the forecasted south winds had turned into northerlies.   I don't like winter fishing on Seneca out of Watkins with North winds gusting into the teens!  It's not fun.

We've done a disproportionate amount of fishing on Cayuga this winter, so we decided to hit Skinny for rainbows/salmon.   Mike and I brought fly-rods as well as some gear - it turns out all we needed were 4 fly outfits and about 5 or 6 flies max.   We started around 10: 30 am.   Launching at Mandana was simple.   A couple perch guys had gone out before us, but we never saw another boat out while we were fishing.   The pure joy and solitude of winter fishing is hard to beat!  

I had easy rainbow trout fishing on this lake from the fall through spring for quite a few years on this lake (check out the reports from 2005 till around at least 2008.)   At least it felt easy.   I never caught a lot of fish, but I caught them consistently.   Over the past few years, I've struggled a bit more out here.   I know the habits of the rainbows, but they've shamed me.   They've become unbuttoned or I just haven't hit them.   I've done less fly-fishing and focused more on jigs, since that's what I generally have clients do.  And the flies catch more trout.    But jigs are fun and good for more variety.    Mike has fared better, but he's more of a recent convert to the rainbow fishing here and he mainly fly fishes this lake.  

It wasn't easy today.   The water temp was 38 degrees and it snowed a bit while we were out.   It was cold.    Winter rainbows are lethargic.   They don't chase flies well.  They just pounce on them.  After about two hours Mike got a hit.  I might've had one, but wasn't sure.   After working a favorite stretch with my Type 4 Sinking line (on a 6 wt rod) I felt some weight and set into a very nice rainbow.   It fought more like a lazy lake trout, but I was still quite relieved to get the 23"+ fat female rainbow into the net.   We took a few shots and let her go.  My beginner fly-tying students will get a kick out of seeing the (easily tied) woolly bugger in this beauty's mouth!

A run down the lake provided some salmon action from mostly juveniles - the usual short hits.   Mike connected with a "keeper" of 15 1/2" that he released.   They look like cigars and we still can't believe that size of a fish is legal across most of the state, but they are.   It would take two or more of those to feed an adult!    While working a 5' to 10' shelf, I had a definite hit, and made sure I kept stripping the fly in - and after two more strips -whammo, a silver female rainbow over 22" long was on (using my intermediate line and olive bugger!)   Great digging fight!    This fish was tongue hooked and looked to have already spawned, so I kept it for dinner (actually "dinners" since this fish will feed me for at least 3 to 4 nights.)    On the north end of the lake I dropped a fish that appeared to be a fat laker in the low 20" range - but there aren't any fat lakers in this lake ;-) so I'm sure it was a dull colored rainbow.   But it got off.   We wrapped up around 5:45 pm.   Decent day, but we worked hard for our fish.   My hand is blistered from all the fly-casting.  I do feel a sense of redemption on these rainbows that have mostly made things tough for me on this lake over the past few outings!

The rainbow I kept was a healthy fish.  It had already spawned.   A stomach check revealed a lot of digested food (apparently insect related,) one zebra mussel and not much else.   Spring runs of rainbows this year will likely be very poor.   With all the warm weather we've had, along with the rain, I'd guess many fish have already spawned and are back in the lakes.   The rest will likely do so over the next month.   Photos of the rainbows will be up shortly.  And don't even think about launching at Mandana without some waders or a boat you can drive up onto your trailer!   It's a shallow sloping ramp.

 

2/10/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Ithaca 2/10

Got out with my buddy Mike on his boat for most of the day starting around 10 am.   He wanted to launch at Treman, so that's what we did.   I wouldn't recommend launching there this time of year - we both learned that today.   The lake level is very low and we had to traverse 1 to 2' of water in places.    There are also very shallow areas at the mouth of the Inlet.

Wind forecasts didn't go as planned.   We were hoping for some good salmon conditions, but decided to forego the salmon fishing and head up the lake for some lake trout action.   It was a good call!   We found nice groups of fish N. of AES from 125' to around 150' and more.   The usual plastics worked well and we landed 7 nice fish, most between 24" and 28" including one nice wild fish.    We dropped one other good fish near the boat.

For some reason a lot of the winter AES area fish get beat upon by lampreys.   We had two small lampreys attached to fish, and one fish with a fresh wound.   I see this every year around AES and it is not indicative of the general lamprey wounding - which is very, very low on Cayuga Lake.

We kept our limit of lakers for the fryer and smoker today.  One laker had an alewife in its stomach, but overall they didn't appear to have been feeding much. 

We did some pike fishing on the way down the lake and Mike landed a 35" beauty on one of my deceivers near the S. end of the lake.   We got a few great photos of the fat female before releasing her.

Water temps are 38 to 39 (warm for this time of year) on the lake.   Water levels are VERY low!   Boaters need to be careful around the launches.      

1/11/2012
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 1/11

Started around 7:30 am with my buddy Mike - we tried perch fishing for a couple hours with no luck.    Tried some areas for landlocked salmon.  It didn't take too long to have some contact with fish - we saw some and had some hits from dinks.   I landed a couple.  But some quality fish were showing too.  I had a miss from what appeared to be a nice brown trout around 22" give or take.   Then Mike hooked a solid 19" landlocked salmon on his Kingfish tube pattern.   We had a few more short hits.   Winds cranked up and Mike switched to some gear.  I missed a good hit on a chartreuse streamer fished on a RIO Deep 7 line.    Mike nailed a 19.5" salmon on a jig/plastic.    Water temps were around 41/42 degrees.   Lake level was low, but no problems launching at Schamels.   

Fishing (our style of casting and fly-fishing) remains fair on Seneca Lake for salmon/browns.   Trolling success has varied according to those we talked to on the water.   Most boats we saw trolling were covering a lot of water and not concentrating on any areas too much.  

I expect some better fishing as winter continues, but early indications are that the classes of salmon here aren't on a par with what we saw over the past two years.   Time will tell though.  It has been a warm winter and it's quite possible that many schools of fish are in different parts of the lake.    Stay tuned!

1/7/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 1/7

After a couple days of temps in the mid to upper 40s, I figured the boat ramps uplake might be launchable.   I took a chance and drove up to Long Point this AM and found chunks of broken up ice.   Great!   So I dumped in the boat around 10:30 am.   BTW - the last two times I've launched with chunk ice around, I've hit the ice (as I back in the boat) with my transducer and found that caused my transducer to go way out of allignment.   In general, if you get poor bottom readings, inaccurate depth reading and things just don't look right, that's the first thing to check.

The plan was to jig up some lakers, and then if I had time, scout out some mid-lake areas on Cayuga for pike.   Things started similarly to yesterday, within a few drops of the jig I landed a small laker around 18".    Again fish ranged from around 100' out to 160' - I basically found lakers as deep as I cared to look.  Within a half hour or so I landed a good fish for the smoker, one around 26".   A foul-hooked dink from 150' surprised me.   

I stayed a few miles around Long Point then headed across the lake.   The southerlies died down and the forecast was for light westerlies, changing into the north 10 to 15 tonight.  The ride across was nice.   But things didn't last.  Winds came cranking out of the WNW hard!   Before I knew it, the lake was awash with whitecaps.   I did manage to hook a couple more lakers, landing another around 26", but the fishing really shut down.  

I really enjoy the deep jigging for lakers.  I needed one more good fish for my smoker and didn't get it (should have kept a couple of the small ones from yesterday, but hindsight is always 20/20!)   Never had any time to scout any pike areas.   I don't expect much mid-lake for pike away from the powerplant.  Cayuga really doesn't have a great pike population, but once in a while a big one turns up in an unexpected area.   

1/6/2012
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 1/6

Decided to give the laker jigging a try, given the weather conditions and the fact that I'd like to smoke a batch of fish soon!    I fished around 4 hours today from 12:30 till 4:30 pm.   Cayuga Lake's level is LOW.    Water temps mid-lake are 43 degrees.   

I was very impressed with the numbers of perch and baitfish I saw in the marina area on the way back in.   It's interesting to see perch and alewives move into colder, shallow water.  Must have been something they like to eat in there.

The laker jigging was good.  I forgot my jigheads and failed to check a knot after landing a fish - that cost me one I should have landed.  But I landed 4 and missed quite a few more.  I surmise that many of the "misses" were smaller fish.   No great size on the fish for me today - all 18" to 23", with most around 22" to 23".   Plenty of fish were available N. of AES and I can guarantee if Long Point or Dean's launch gets ice-free, we'll have some great laker action up north.  I used 1 and 1 1/2 oz. jigs today with Shakers and Tubes.   Fish were fairly scattered depth-wise, but there were concentrations around 105', 135' and 165'.  

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