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12/29/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 12/28

Guided my old friend Art and his son Mark for most of the day.   We go way back to middle school.   We used to ice-fish together back on Conesus Lake in the late 1970s, we'd carp fish on the Barge Canal,  steelhead fish as well as fish for everything else on Irondequoit Creek,  cast for bass in Mendon Ponds, fish trout around Bear Creek and Pultneyville - you name it.   Of course half the time we didn't know what we were doing, but that in no way diminishes the sheer enjoyment that comes with seeing a bunch of fish and the thrill of discovery.   So needless to say it was really nice to catch up.

The winds never came up as forecast, so the salmon fishing was a bit tough.  Mark fly-fished for them and had a follow in short order and a hit a bit later, but that was it on the flies.   Art wound up landing a couple in the 17" to 18 1/2" range.    As winds died down we tried some laker jigging.   The conditions were good, but we didn't find many fish.   I feel the majority of lake trout on Seneca Lake this time of year are a ways up north, though the southern portions of the lake can be really good in March, April and early May.   Art had one good hit, but that was it for where we fished.  

Duck season just opened, so the duck hunters were out in droves.  We did some pike fishing and the guys both had some hits and hookups.   Art landed a couple nice fish in the 24" to 26" range and Mark lost one good one and landed one as well.   I think most of them were males.  

Water temps were around 42/43.   A lot of boats were out in the AM.   Water level was still good and launching remains easy.  

We saw a lot of salmon today and this should be another banner year for Seneca Landlockeds.   As a side note, over the past few weeks it's been hard not to notice the hook scarring on these fish.   They really take a beating.   A lot of guys are clearly using large stickbaits with multiple treble hooks on them, since we can see cuts on the sides of these fish.   I applaud the fish being released, but it'd be nice to figure out a way to minimize the damage to the fish.   The hook scars are as unsightly as lamprey wounds and the scars penetrate the flesh.   Maybe experimenting with removing a treble hook or two on a three-hooked lure is the answer, I'm not sure.   Using jigs can also help.   We kill our fair share even with single hook flies, so it does happen no matter what the technique is that is being employed, but if you find yourself continually removing or worse yet, shaking the hooks out of the backs of these fish, you may want to re-evaluate your lure choice or hook configuration.

12/5/2013
Keuka Lake 12/4, Seneca Lake 12/5

We had a nice break in the weather over the past two days.  With no trips scheduled, it was a perfect time to get together with my buddy Mike and do some serious, yet fun fishing.    The weather was great and the fishing followed suit.

Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport:  Tis the time of year for smoked fish and I usually bring them to a Christmas Party I attend in early December, so it was time to get some lakers.   I can't think of a more relaxing, enjoyable day fishing than one spent jigging lakers on Keuka Lake in the late-fall on a calm, sunny day.   Maybe perch fishing, but jigging really fits the bill.  

Mike and I launched the boat around 10:30 at the Hotel.   One other boat had launched out from there and that was the only other boat we saw on the lake.   We checked near shore around the south end and marked a few fish.   We had some hits, but nothing great.   The deep flats in around 110' to 120' produced a few fish for us.   But the best fishing by far was on the points - pretty much any point!   They were loaded with fish.  I thought most of the spawning would have been completed by now, but nearly every fish we caught still had eggs or milt in their belly!

Fishing was hot and we had a few doubles.   Within around 3 hours we'd landed around a dozen fish to 23", most coming off the points within about 1 1/2 hours.   We kept a limit for the smoker.   Plastics and hardware (spoons) worked well, with plastics being tops.   We then tried a few areas for perch and landed a couple.  We also saw a few nice bass, but that was it.  Water temps was 44/45.   Lake level was down about 18" to 2'.   Launching was still easy.  

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen:   We were fishing Seneca by 9 am.  Conditions were cloudy with south winds around 10 to 20 mph on the day.   It got pretty rough!   We tried around 3 hours of fly-fishing for pike without any grabs.  It was tough - but hard to say whether a lot of that was due to our presentations being hampered in the wind and chop.  

We tried a little perch fishing today and we also cast some lures.  In one cove, my alewife tube jig got hammered and a decent brown took to the surface and jumped a few times.  Great fight!   Landed the partially spawned out fish - which was around 21" to 22".   Its mouth and stomach (I kept it) were loaded with lake trout eggs!   That was a surprise.

Some more casting (with conventional gear) for pike proved fruitless.   Mike's favorite fish by far are Landlocked salmon, so we set up for those with the fly-rods.   The fishing was very good and we both had hits in short order.  I lost one quick grab but then hooked and landed a feisty salmon around 23 1/2".   It fought spectacularly - jumping at least 4 to 5 times.   Mike nailed a 20"er that also jumped a bit.   As it got later I started putting rods away while Mike casted.  He had a hit a long ways out on his Type 3 full-sinking fly-line and tube fly.   It was a fat brown!  Another great battle and I slid the net under the 23.5" brown.   We released everything but that first brown today.   Fish were all in very good condition.  One lamprey wound, hook scar and possible "lure cut"was pretty much the only blatant thing we noticed on any of the fish.    Water temp was 44.  A few perch guys were out along with one salmon-troller.

11/22/2013
Otisco Lake 11/22

Guided Ed today from around 9:15 till close to 4 pm.   He was hoping to land a Tiger Musky on the fly-rod, using streamers, which is something I still have yet to do.    Conditions were good for fly-fishing with light winds and overcast/misty skies.  Water temps were around 46 and the water level was down from summer pool at least 6" to 1'.  

We never hooked any muskies.  Ed might have had a musky hit, but nothing confirmed.   We saw a nice one surface near the boat, which was encouraging.  Fishing wound up being pretty good with some nice bass gobbling Ed's streamer.  He landed an 18", 17.5" and a couple 11" to 12" largemouths plus a hard fighting smallmouth bass that was 18" or better.   So it wound up being a fun day.   Beautiful gray fall day to be out.  Very classic and comfortable out there.

Ed's a die-hard fly-fisherman and we'll try it again next season.   I think the best opportunities for getting a Tiger on the fly will be in May/early June and Sept/October when the weeds are down a bit and smaller fish a bit more active.  We'll find out!

11/21/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 11/21

Went out with my friend Jeff for a shot at some salmon and/or pike on the fly starting around 11 am.   Salmon fishing was slow.  We definitely had a few hits, but they weren't very solid.   I tend to think that the overcast conditions tend to keep the fish deeper.  The forecast called for sun, but that's not what we had.  

After close to 3 hours, we switched out to pike.   We had some slow action for those as well, though we didn't have too much time to fish.   I nailed a hard-fighting 34" fish on our first drift on a floating line and deceiver.   

Saw two boat total on the lake today.   Both were likely chasing perch.   Water temp was 48 degrees.  

11/16/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 11/14 + 16, Skaneateles Lake 11/15

Did some fishing with my buddy Terry on Thursday and Friday, then guided back to back 1/2 days out of Watkins Glen today.   Here's the breakdown:

11/14 Watkins Glen:   Met my buddy Terry at Schamel's launch just after 10:45 am.   By 11:15 or 11:30 we were fishing.   Conditions looked beautiful for some salmon fishing with a light south wind and bluebird skies, though there were a few clouds lingering.   Air temps were cold to start.    And nobody, except for one boat perch fishing was out on the lake. 

Water temps were around 49/50.   It does take a big lake like Seneca a while to cool down.   I fly-fished and Terry gear-fished - I used my bionic smelt fly on an Intermediate fly-line and Terry went with an alewife tube - a lure he turned me onto about 20 years ago!

Fishing was good.   Before we even set up, a few small salmon were crashing a little bait on the surface.   Terry had most of the action to start - he dropped a silvery fish around 18" to 19" in short order.   He had another as well.   We both saw fish, had hits and had follows - which in my opinion constitutes very good landlocked salmon fishing.   He landed the first good fish, a 23" chromer.  It fought great.   I landed a 22"er that also fought great.   A couple dinks were also landed.   All fish were released today.  

Fish were generally in good condition.   Many have minor hook scars and that's always a testiment to the effectiveness of catch and release on these aggressive fish.   

We did some pike fishing for around 1/2 hour and I landed a 30"er on a Lunker City Shaker/Sworming Hornet combo.   The fish literally swallowed the lure!  The lure was invisible in the fish - it was in its stomach.   So that one we kept.  

As we wrapped up at the parking lot, a guy showed us a 28" "brown" - it was a hook jawed  (male)  salmon he'd caught off the pier.   Full of spawning colors!   Nice, hefty fish!

11/15 Skaneateles Lake:  Met Terry around 10:30.  Seeing the docks still in absolutely made my day!   What a relief, though I was prepared to deal with no docks if I had to.    I'd like to see those docks stay in until the conclusion of the Thanksgiving weekend, if we don't have a major snow storm.   A lot of people like to fish perch in that lake and not every sportsman hunts.  And many deer hunters are already back fishing perch by then anyways.

We ran down the lake a ways and set up with some assorted jigs.   Fishing was slow to start.   We had a few "pops" but nothing for awhile.   I finally nabbed a big perch in around 17' to 23' FOW.   Then I missed another hit and Terry hooked up with a nice 18"+ rainbow.    It hit a dark tube jig.   We caught about a dozen more perch including some slobs and things went well until my depthfinder started acting weird and trolling motor started dying.   With two trips on Saturday, we fished a little longer, but knocked off before what I consider the best fishing of the day - the evening.  

When we pulled the boat out, I found a lot of fishing line wrapped around the trolling motor prop.   Maybe that was the issue!   It saved me a trip to Bass Pro Shops.  At least for now. 

11/16 AM Watkins Glen:   Met Jon and Bill at Schamel's just before 7 am.   It was cold out and we set up for pike for maybe 45 minutes.   No luck there.  Bill fly-fished while Jon cast with spinning gear.   Bill does mostly stream/river fly-fishing and it took some time to get used to casting heavier flies on heavy rods.

We set up for salmon and in fairly short order Jon hooked and lost a decent fish.   Jon had a couple other follows on the gear and Bill had a follow or two on the fly but it was slow going.   Jon eventually hooked a 18.5" salmon that we kept.   We did see a few big fish today.  Saw one average salmon with a HUGE lamprey attached.   Bill's casting really got better as the morning progressed and eventually he hooked a nice salmon which got off.   Saw one boat trolling salmon today and a few boats out perch fishing. 

PM:   Picked up Mark I. at the launch at noon.   We started in the same area we'd raised some fish in this AM.   With 20 minutes or so, Mark was hooked onto a nice 22" salmon!   One of the best fights I've ever seen from a landlocked salmon ensued.   The fish jumped around 8 times!   I've had that once before.  Just an awe-inspiring spectacular fight - for my money the most exciting fighter in freshwater!  At least when they are on their game.  We released this fish for another day.

About 10 minutes later Mark was onto another one.  This one was a little bigger.  Around 22.5".    Not as good a fight and unfortunately this one was hooked in the gill rakes/tongue area and bled all over.   One for Mark's dinner!    When salmon fishing is "on" I recommend releasing healthy fish.  Even if you want to keep some fish, you'll often find at least one or more will maim themselves and you'll have to keep them anyways.   

I thought this would signal the start of a hot fishing day - but that was about it.  Mark got a dink or two, but no more hits or follows.   Very mysterious!   And of course my trolling motor batteries were shot.  Sheer coincidence that that fishing line was in there as well.    

 

 

 

11/7/2013
Waneta Lake 11/7

Well I was hoping to get out and fish a bit this week, but yesterday's heavy winds resulted in my taking the day off.   I was hoping to hit Skaneateles Lake.   My friend Chris was out there and said it was brutal, though some bass were hitting and lakers were biting on the points.   My plan today was to fish Waneta.   I've been talking to my very busy buddy Jarrod about fishing it this season but we haven't had the chance yet.   The weather today made it a good choice.   I'd never caught a musky there and wanted to scout out the lake a bit more and hopefully catch a fish or two, before I fish it with Jarrod.   Last night I called my buddy Terry to join me there this AM, but after seeing the large expanse of rain in the area, we decided to hold off until around 10 am and touch base.   Things had cleared up a bit and despite my nagging cough, we decided to meet around 11:30 am and fish till close to dark.

Over the years, Terry has hooked a few muskies here before and landed at least one, both while bass fishing and musky fishing.   He hadn't been out here in over 10 years.   I started patterning the lake for muskies on 10/20/2010 (hard to believe it had been that long ago!) and hadn't been back since.  So much for that effort.    It's tough around here - we have soooo much great fishing.  I lived 35 miles away from Waneta/Lamoka and Cayuta Lake for close to 15 years and barely fished them!    

I'm not the biggest musky fisherman.  I get it.   It's a lot of grinding and some moments of incredible intensity and unforgettable experiences, but I tend to enjoy other types of fishing more.  But I'm happy to guide Tigers on Otisco and I did invest in the gear.   Anyways, back in 2010 I covered/learned about 50 to 60% of the lake and was looking forward to seeing the rest of it.   I called DEC's Region 8 and had a chance to talk to one of the biologists, who informed me that the lake's musky population was doing well this year.   So I was psyched to go.  I'd also read about musky fishing and weather, and oftentimes I'd hear that the "nastier the weather the better the fishing" so I wanted to see for myself.

It felt good fishing with my buddy Terry and he mostly tossed bucktails while I worked plugs, spoons, huge tubes (Red-October baits!) bucktails and swimbaits.   I brought 4 musky rods (one that Terry used) plus 2 spinning rods and a flipping stick.   The spinning rods were set up to toss lighter baits.  My heavy musky rod is so heavy, that casting a normal musky rod feels like going to an ultralight spinning rod afterwards.

We worked around the lake and never saw a fish.  Not a bass, pickerel or anything apart from a carp that jumped.    Eventually we found a great looking area.   The degree to which this area was better than the rest of the lake was very noticeable.   Terry had a fish swirl or surface for his bucktail.   But no grabs.  We could've ended the trip right then and I would have been happy just for finding this area.  

It started getting darker and we both had to take off our polarized glasses and go to our regular specs.    We fished another 1/2 hour and I said "let's take a couple more casts then get going."  Terry took off his lure and started putting stuff away while I took one or two more casts with my spinning gear and a spoon.   Then it happened - my lure got hammered hard!    I said "got one!"  I'm glad I'd retied my leader (14lb Fireline/20lb Berkely 100% Flouro/30lb. Tyger Wire) last night!    The fish surged past the trolling motor and ripped out some line.  Terry thought maybe I had a 30" to 32" fish.  I knew better.   It fought better than the decent mid-teens fish I'd hooked a few years ago on the St. Lawrence!

The fish surfaced and both of our jaws dropped, and had I not gone to the bathroom in the morning, my underwear might have needed changing!  It was a MONSTER!!!    The fish had mellowed out and was hanging near the boat.  God how I wished we had a camera on it.   I felt for sure it would get off.   I don't carry a monster sized musky net or cradle.  I'm a casual musky angler and don't expect to hook fish in the 30 to 40lb range!  But here we were.   Do I try grabbing the fish under the gill plate a la Al Lindner?  Or do we see how much of it we can get in the net?   

Terry did a great job with the net and it took all my strength to get the fish onboard.  Thankfully the fish was calm and not hooked deeply at all.  My only concern at this point was the safety of the fish.   I held it horizontally for 2 quick photos and I got her back in the water ASAP.   After a couple minutes she took off.   I wish the photos came out better, but even after I saw the mediocre shots we got,  I wasn't going to stress the fish anymore by re-holding it.   Next time I'll get a cradle or giant musky net.   How long was the fish?   50"+!!!   Length to weight general guidelines suggest 39 to 40lbs.   I don't know for sure, but it was the biggest freshwater fish either of us had ever caught or seen and one that we'll never forget!    Just the length between its eyes was a sight!   Am I a musky fanatic now?   Not totally, though I do love them, but my next outing will likely be Skaneateles or maybe Canandaigua Lake.   But what a fish!   And hopefully we can hit Chautauqua Lake later this year for another one!

 

 

 

 

  

11/5/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 11/5

Got out on my own for around 4 hours.   I brought some pike and bass tackle, but wound up spending most of my time searching for northerns.   Pike action was pretty slow today, despite the fairly good conditions - windy and cloudy.   Water temps ranged from 50 to 53 and the level is still good.   There was a lot of debris in the water - mostly leaves, but occasional large waterlogged logs.    I've found that pike fishing can be tough when there's a lot of junk in the water.

I fished a few key areas and all featured decent weed growth.  I landed one nice northern around 33".   It had some blueish slime on it and a few marks - not a particularly healthy looking fish.  I also caught a big pickerel - close to 25" and fat.  That was it - no other hits.   I saw a pike swimming with its head out of the water - similar to what Tiger Muskies do on Conesus and Otisco Lakes, but even moreso!   It had its entire head out of the water!  Very strange!   

Will there be some decent pike action on Cayuga Lake this year?   I'd like to believe so, but I'm not holding my breath.    Hopefully we'll see some successful spawning here soon - we are due for some.  But the overall pike fishing on Cayuga over the past couple years has been a shadow of what it was in the early 2000s.    The north end might be worth a trip and I plan on checking up there shortly.   Stay tuned!  Seneca is offering better pike action and I believe Owasco Lake will also be a better bet.

11/4/2013
Keuka Lake out of Branchport 11/2 midday

Guided Dave and his son Jeffrey starting at 10 am at Keuka Lake State Park.   Conditions featured overcast, threatening skies and light winds.  From November onwards through May, I rarely find a need to run far from the park.  Plenty of fish are within a couple miles of the park and they are generally cooperative.   That was the case for us.

The guys had done some jigging on their own before but wanted a few more tips.   Within short order we figured out a few things that really helped their success.   The guys landed 6 or 7 fish in about 2.5 hours before rain started moving in.   They had a few things they wanted to get done in the afternoon, so we wrapped things up early.   None of the fish landed had spawned yet and some still were feeding actively.  Bait is still around on Keuka Lake.   We had our best action from around 85' out to 105' (on the Branchport Arm.)

BTW, Angling Zone friend Mark L. called me up yesterday and told me that lakers they caught in the spring on Keuka had some smelt in their stomachs.  He's positive.  If that's the case, it's certainly news to me.  I have seen some sculpins in laker stomachs and word is from the DEC that the Keuka fish are eating a lot of sculpins, at least the smaller, younger lake trout.   I'll keep my eyes open for smelt, but I have never found one in a laker stomach here thus far. 

10/27/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs 10/27

Guided Mark and his son Carl for a midday 1/2 day trip starting around 9:30 am.   Mark mostly stream fishes and was looking forward to doing some lake fishing and getting into it.    I felt the north end of Cayuga was our best bet today for some good action, but fishing started out slow to start.  I had them casting spoons, stickbaits, lipless cranks and tubes.   We focused on the spoons.   Only a couple boats were out today and the lake level has dropped a little bit.  Water temps were in the mid-50s.

Nothing much happened for the first two hours and things weren't looking good.  There was a fair amount of murky water around, probably left over from the brutal southerly gusts from yesterday.    I knew fish would be around and we searched for and found some clearer water.  Before long, Mark had a solid hit and hard fighting large fish.   A pike!!!   It surfaced and made a strong run under the boat before I landed it.   Beautiful fish!   34" to 35" long.   Pike haven't been as common on the north end of Cayuga Lake over the past decade or so, though they are around - pickerel really dominate the fishing up there.    A few nice pickerel were hooked and Mark also nailed a couple nice largemouths - 14" and 16".  

Carl managed to hook and land a couple pickerel.   They hit hard and are decent fighters.   I set up a tube jig for Mark and just before we left he hooked a fish that really dug and ripped out a bit of drag.   A big bass!   I netted the 19" fat largemouth.   Great way to cap the day.   All fish were released unharmed.  

I tend to tout a lot of Cayuga and Seneca Lakes' south end fisheries this time of year, but one of the best, and most overlooked opportunities in the region is the terrific late season bass and pickerel fishing on Cayuga's north end.   I love Cayuga in late October and November!   The fish are fat and healthy and untouched.  There are virtually no bass tournaments this time of year.   The north end of Cayuga Lake is also capable of producing huge pike - fish pushing over 20lbs this time of year!    Great day!

10/26/2013
Keuka Lake 10/25 + 26

Fishing for lake trout remains excellent on Keuka Lake.  The lake level is starting to drop but launching remains a cinch.   Fished out of the State Park yesterday and Hammondsport today. 

10/25:  Did a full day with Mike and Koen (from Belgium!)    They joined me a couple years ago for some laker jigging out of Sampson.  They've had some decent fishing this season on Seneca and were looking to get out on Keuka.  These guys do some saltwater vertical jigging as well and brought along some different styles of jigs and equipment.

The bite started out slow, but somewhat steady in Branchport with around 2 to 3 fish landed.   Good numbers of lakers and bait were around.   I prefer the Bluff oftentimes for many reasons and we made the run there after 2 hours.   Fishing gradually picked up and the guys wound up landing and releasing a nice bunch of lakers to 24".   I think 23 fish were landed, so action was generally very good.   The plastics worked best, but fish came on a few other jig types as well.    The Bluff area continues to hold a lot of bait!   Surface temps are in the upper 50s.

10/26 AM:  I had to shuffle a few trips around due to cancellations and a late booking, but all worked well.   I met Don, his brother Bruce and Don's son Don at the Hotel at 7:45.   We knew the winds were forecast to gust up to 40 mph out of the south, so I wouldn't have launched anywhere else!   Going early was a good call and the winds were good for the first two hours.   The bite went really well today, despite being confined to the lower part of the lake.   We never ventured more than 1/2 mile north.   The guys landed 13 solid fish including a 24"+ fatty.    We are releasing our largest Keuka fish in hopes they get even bigger.  

We had a really good time and Bruce fishes Lake Superior a bit for lakers and I'm psyched to see how he does with the jigging up there.  He said that the Keuka fish were very reminiscient of Lake Superior lake trout.    The bite slowed a little after the wind kicked up big-time, but the fish were still hitting and we caught fish until we quit.    We saw two other boats out.   That was it!

10/23/2013
Canandaigua Lake out of Woodville 10/23 PM

Guided the Hermans for what wound up being a slightly abbreviated 1/2 day.  Conditions were all over the map with swirling winds, periods of sun, clouds and then occasional threatening skies with rain.   We spent some time laker jigging with Eleonore landing one around 25" to 26".  It was post-spawn.   We had some other hits and good chases from lakers but that was the only fish landed.   One other was dropped on bottom.   Decent numbers of lakers were in 85' to 95' FOW.

Tried one stretch of water for bass with a few hits but no hook ups.   Water temps ranged from around 57 to 59.   The south end was coolest.   The launch at the south end of the lake is very nice now and perfectly sloped.  

10/17/2013
Otisco Lake 10/16 + Seneca Lake/Watkins Glen 10/17

Guided "Bobberman Perry" and his pal Dave over the past two days.  Trips with them always provide a nice break from the usual thing and I really do enjoy watching the bobbers go down.   They bring their own gear and bait and I provide the boat and some guidance here and there.  It's all about pike and muskies for Perry.  Other species need not apply!  We take it easy and don't move around a whole lot.   Maybe hit three or four areas.   It's about relaxation!

Otisco Lake 10/16:   Met the guys around 9:15am at Otisco Lake Marine and we headed out.   The forecast was calling for heavy winds and some rain but for most of the day we got lucky and avoided it.   Things got off to a good start near the Causeway with a couple good hits.  The guys found some good bait up in Auburn on a place on Turnpike Drive.   

I'm pretty sure a Tiger was lost, then a 14" largemouth made it aboard.   Dave had a hellacious hit that wound up snagging his rig on a tree or something.   Then Perry had a great hit and run.   He set into a very nice fish that fought and fought.   Was it a 35" Tiger?   Maybe a big Walleye?   Nope - it was a channel catfish around 5lbs!   Perry was as disappointed as I was elated.  I love channel cats and now have a good photo for my species page!   They have been showing up in decent numbers on Otisco Lake this year (aka "Big Bullheads."    No doubt an illegal introduction.  But the lake is probably perfect for them - muddy with current at the outlet, poor oxygen and not a lot of predators.  

A move up the lake resulted in one Tiger around 25" for Perry.  Another good hit was also missed.  All an all a fun day with the bobbers, though landing or at least seeing the missed fish would've been nice.  Water temp was around 61/62.

Seneca Lake 10/17:  We met at Watkins Glen around 10 am.   Conditions weren't great for pike with light to non-existent winds and a clear sky and high sun, but we gave it our best shot.   The bait the guys got wasn't quite as "pike sized" as what we had yesterday.  I guess we'd cleaned the guy out of the "big bait."  Oh well.

Perry had most of the action yesterday, but today was Dave's turn.   Fishing was slow in the AM with one pike landed casting lures.   We had a few hits on the minnows, but it was slow.  Perry still-fished while Dave did a little casting in addition to having a minnow out.   A couple small pike came on the bait (22" to 24" fish.)   Dave did great on spoons later in the day with a 33", 34" and about 3 or 4 other decent 25" fish as well.   We did see a Landlocked salmon and what appeared to be a couple browns (in different areas) in close to shore cruising around.  Water temp was around 58/59.

 

10/14/2013
Keuka Lake 10/12 - 10/14

Just wound up three full days in a row on Keuka Lake.   Fishing ranged from slow steady to very good.  Colors were great and lakers/baitfish were abundant. 

FWIW:  A few browns have been splashing around the boat launch first thing in the AM.  These are fly-fishable fish - not worth a special trip, but possibly worth a look if you're already in the area.   Can't say we've seen more than one or two at a time, but there are some around.

10/12:   Guided Doug and his son Andy for a full day.  It was hot outside - not the fishing per se, but the cloudless sky and sun coupled with no wind.   Fishing was good with around a dozen or more lakers landed.   Fish ranged from throughout the bluff to Branchport.  Not a stellar bite, but steady action throughout the day.

10/13:  Guided Boris, Mitchell and Sam for a full day.   The bite was solid throughout the day.   15 or 16 solid fish were landed.   Not much new to report - we're mostly working the deepest water around the bluff area:  105' to 115'. 

10/14:  Did a full day with Harry, Tony and Kiefer.   It was a misty, kind of rainy AM with some good fishing to start and it only got better.   Today was the best bite I've seen thus far this season for lakers on the Bluff.  The guys landed around 25 solid lakers to over 25" and also dropped a lot of fish.  Everyone was really impressed with how good the fishing was.  

These are clearly the "good old days" for Keuka Lake's laker fishing.   To be able to catch a bushel of wild lake trout on nearly any day from September throughout the end of the year is really something special.   Yes, the fish aren't trophy sized, but the numbers are terrific and there are no lampreys in the lake.  The fish are superb eating and are nice and lean.   Just great fun.   And the condition of these fish is the best I've seen since I've been targeting lakers on this lake (over the past 12 years or so.) 

10/11/2013
Keuka Lake 10/10 + 10/11

I've been spending so much time on Keuka Lake lately, I may as well rent a motel room in Penn Yan.   The lake is fishing very well, so for now I bite the bullet and make the drive.

10/10:  Guided Rick and Gary for a full day starting around 8:30 am.   They've joined me in the past for a handful of laker trips and it was their first time on Keuka to jig lakers.   Fishing was very good to downright excellent on the day, both at the Bluff and around Branchport/State Park.   The guys landed 20 solid fish and lost/dropped a bunch as well.   That's the way laker jigging goes.   The amount of bait on this lake remains impressive!   Fish ran from around 17" to 23".   Fun day and great weather.

10/11:  Got out with my friend and rod-making buddy Mike Canavan and his son Ryan.   We had tougher conditions today with overcast skies and next to no wind all AM long.  We fished around 6 hours from 8:45 till around 2:30.    I fished as well.   We did well on the day despite the tough bite with around 12 to 13 fish landed.   Mike and Ryan used lighter mono today and that may have made a big difference, because they landed the vast majority of the fish.   I did play around with some different plastics and colors, but I whiffed on most of my opportunities.   Best two fish were Mike and Ryan's 24"ers.   They enjoyed the October action on Keuka.    Keep in mind that experimentation can pay off when the bite gets tough!

10/5/2013
Keuka Lake 10/4 + 10/5

Guided full days on Friday and today.   On Friday I met Clyde and his wife Deb at the launch around 7 am.   Thunderstorms and heavy rain showers were in the area, but cleared just as we got underway.   The laker jigging was very good and Deb had a riot hooking a lot of fish.   Clyde did well too, but it was fun watching Deb.    At least 13 fish were landed, all around the Bluff.    We spent about 2 hours and change targeting bass after the laker fishing.  Had one or two show up, but no great shakes.   I wouldn't put a lot of stock in our bass report since we didn't really cover too much water.   Water temps have crept up into the mid-60s here.   Some nice perch are shallow.

Today was a trip with Paul.   Terrific bite throughout the day both on the Bluff and around Branchport.   Bait was everywhere and the best fishing was from around 100' to 115' for us.   A lot of fish are also shallower, but the deeper ones seemed more cooperative.   A huge variety of plastics worked today.  Fish ran from 16.5" up to 23".   The condition of these Keuka fish is improving.

10/2/2013
Keuka Lake 10/2 AM

Guided a 1/2 day trip at the Bluff today with Brian and Kim.   Action was spotty (for Keuka in October, which still means "good fishing") with no real flurries of activity.   But fish came throughout the morning with a total of 8 landed and 7 kept.   Brian's the serious fisherman, but Kim really did a great job landing the lion's share of the fish today.   I have a feeling the bite probably peaked after our trip was done, given the conditions.   Baitfish numbers remain excellent (for Keuka) around the Bluff area and fish are stuffing themselves with the alewives, along with some sculpin.   Nothing new to report depth or technique-wise.   Mostly 100' to 115' was good for us and white and chartreuse alone or in combination worked best.   Nothing on the spoon today.  

Water levels remain at summer pool and water temps on the surface crept up a little to around 64.   Very few boats were out today, bass or otherwise.   Foliage has a long ways to go on the lake, but was in peak form in the valleys between the lakes heading west from Branchport to Canandaigua (where I went for truck service.)

10/1/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 10/1 AM
Guided Dan and Tom for a 1/2 day's worth of laker jigging.  Action was steady throughout the AM with 4 fish landed to nearly 27".  No lampreys came up, though the large one had a fresh wound.   The guys dropped another 3 to 4 fish, and there were a lot around and chasing - so overall I felt the bite was very good.    85' to 95' was best.   Another spectacular day to be out with some vivid colors showing up along the highways.  The lake foliage, due to the warmer lake water is still in the early stages of changing color.  
9/30/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 9/30 AM

Guided the Hermans for a half day of pike fishing starting around daybreak.  Fishing was very good and they landed 8 solid fish including 3 in the 31" range.  The rest were around 25" with one around 22".   Getting out early really helps on sunny days.   Spoons did the trick.   One smallmouth was also caught on a tube jig.   One pike had a lamprey scar, but the others were in decent condition - not fat, but not thin.   Water temps were 61 on the south end.  

High point of the trip (apart from the great pike action) was seeing not one, not two, but THREE mature bald eagles cruising the thermals!    Just an amazing day all the way around. 

 

9/29/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 9/29 AM

Guided John and his nearly 10 year old son Hunter today starting just after 7 am.   Hunter's birthday is shortly and the trip was for him to hopefully catch his first pike.   I don't consider the pike fishing on Seneca to be easy right now, but it's pretty good, so I wasn't sure how things would go - especially given the clear, sunny conditions and lack of fog we had this AM.

John had the first hit on a swimbait (Lunker City Shaker/Sworming Hornet) and managed to land a very nice fish around 33".   Hunter was half-asleep and had more or less spaced on how to cast, so for the first hour I made the casts and handed him the rod to reel in.   He missed a solid hit or two, then John hooked up and tried handing him the rod (which is tough to do) and that didn't work. 

Lo and behold after an hour Hunter started casting on his own, and within short order he was booming out some nice casts.   He missed another hit or two and then wound up catching his first and second pike!   The first was pretty small - around 20" but the second was nicer - maybe 24", so that was great.   John also landed another nice fish or two in the 24" to 25" range.   All in all, the fishing was decent and it was nice seeing that some successful spawning has taken place here over recent years.   An angler I talked to at a gas station told me they'd been trolling up some smaller salmon recently.  So that was a good sign.   Relatively few boats were out and we had 61 degrees on the surface on the lake's south end.  

9/28/2013
Keuka Lake 9/28

Guided Jim and his son Jim for the full day.   It was foggy this AM and we started around 7:45.   Working areas around the bluff produced some nice fish up to 24" today.   The bite started out a little slow and was off and on all day.  Nothing new to report.  

We tried for some smallmouth bass but the bite was slow with soft jerkbaits and tubes.   Pickerel were active and a few were hooked along with what was likely one bass momentarily.   Fish definitely seemed locked in on the bottom.

Trying for lakers later resulted in more fish.  Total for the day was around 11 lakers.   A couple good fish were lost as well.   I'm still seeing a lot of bait on this lake.   A fair number of jiggers were working the bluff.  Boat traffic was low this AM but then picked up considerably later on with lots of boaters checking out the gorgeous fall weather.   Water temps remain around 66.  

9/27/2013
Lake Ontario/Oswego 9/26 + Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 9/27

Oswego 9/26:   Arrived on my own at Wright's Landing just before 7 and was on the water shortly thereafter.   Fishing pressure is very low on the lake now, with the charter season basically over.   The winds were calm this AM, which usually isn't a good time to jig browns, but I wanted to see what was up.   The thermocline remains deep, at 110' to 115' or so.   A few browns were set up along it.   I had one brown follow a jig to the surface and show itself by breaking the surface.   Another rolled nearby as well.  That was it for me on the AM brown bite.

I set up for bass and worked a familiar shoal for a little while in order to get a feel for the bite.   In around 20' FOW I had a light hit and set into a fish.  It fought like a 10" bass until it came up to the surface.   Wow!   It was closer to 4 1/2 to 5lbs!   Then it got off.    After a little more fishing around the shoal I decided it was time to explore some other areas.   A nearby point resulted in a couple decent bass landed - fish from 16" to 17.5".    I'm learning a lot about Lake Ontario smallmouths in the goby-era and found out a few interesting things today.

The winds came up much moreso than the predicted 5 mph and 1' waves.  Before long I was dealing with 1' to 3' waves.   The browns set up heavily along the thermocline, but they just weren't hitting or moving much for the jigs.   Water temps on top were in the upper 60s.   

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 9/27:   Had to do some scouting for upcoming pike trips on Seneca today.  (Yes, this guide does his homework.)   I also love to get out in late September/early October out of Watkins Glen when the milfoil and coontail is still lush and the pike are active.   Met my old time fishing buddy and lake angling mentor Terry at the ramp around 6:30 am and we were underway and fishing before 7.    It was a classic fall day with foggy mist coming off the lake and gorgeous colors along parts of the lakeshore.   I absolutely love the fall in the FL Region (who doesn't?)  

Pike fishing started out slow for us, but Terry nailed a 22" fish after about an hour.   Then I clocked one at 37 1/2".   There are some nice pike in Seneca Lake this year and plenty of year classes.   We each caught around 3 fish, including a 25" pickerel and a couple more pike around 24" to 25".  

I had my kind of day and we kept working up the lake, kind of like I used to do when I first began patterning the FLs.   In one area I nailed a couple chunky 13" to 14" smallmouths on green pumpkin tube jigs.   Later, I caught one dropshotting in 42' FOW.  

We set up for lakers way up the lake and missed a bunch of them.   They weren't committing well, but there were plenty of fish south of Lodi towards Valois.   These fish are probably close to spawning.   There were fish out deep over bait too.  Thermocline was deep up there - 95' to 100'+ for laker temps.   We also had a couple smallish salmon messing with our jigs.   Fun day and it was nice to get out before another long run of guiding.   I'm doing more trips during the 1st two weeks of October than I had planned, but look forward to the nice colors and hopefully good to great fishing out on the lakes.    

9/20/2013
Keuka Lake 9/20

Did a full day trip with Glenn and his sons Vinnie and Joe.   Fishing was a little bit slow first thing in the AM, but picked up to a nice steady pace that lasted throughout the day.  The guys limited out (15 nice fish) and also dropped a few good ones.   Lakers ran from 18" to 24" today.   The Bluff area, as usual is absolutely loaded with fish.   They range in good numbers from around 85' to 90' out to 115'.   At times the fishfinder screen is just full of lakers.   We didn't mark as much bait today.   Plastics worked great with chartreuse being the best today.  

I had my old boat out and it ran great.  Having two boats fully rigged and ready to go is my way of insuring that scheduled trips run smoothly.   Now I just need a second truck and a clone ;-)    If you're planning on booking a trip later this season, please do it now!  

 

9/19/2013
Keuka Lake out of Keuka State Park 9/19 AM
Been doing a lot of driving lately - so much I've really done a number on my new boat tires!    Today I dug out my 2002 Crestliner and met Tom and his brother Chris at the launch at 7 am.   The full moon often delays the bite and AM fishing can be slow, since the theory is that many fish feed heavily through the night.  That appeared to be the case today, with a lot of fish around but a slow bite to start.   By 10 am or so, the bite picked up and the guys were able to make the day respectable.   5 fish rounded out the catch.   We had a lot of fun today joking around - it was another very nice day to be out on the water.   Not much new to report otherwise.   Leaves are changing colors - moreso in the valleys, not so much on the lake yet.   Water temps are in the mid-60s.  Water levels are good and boat traffic minimal.  
9/18/2013
Skaneateles Lake 9/18 PM

Did an afternoon trip with Ed and Brian.  They were hoping for some topwater bass action on the fly-rods.   I didn't think the action would be great today with the weather, but we went for it and it wound up being decent.   We started just after 1 pm and drifted depths from 8' to 15'.   Ed and Brian had some good blowups - maybe 10 to 12 and managed to land 4 solid fish and miss another half dozen.   It was great fun watching the smallmouths absolutely hammer poppers and sliders.   Hot fly was a chartreuse popper with rubber legs and a hackled tail.   Water temps were in the mid-60s.  Very few people were on the lake.  Just a stunning day to be outside.

 

9/17/2013
Keuka Lake out of Keuka Lake State Park 9/16
Had more solid fishing around the Bluff with David and Sheila.   Started around 7 am with somewhat slow fishing, though Sheila managed to hook and drop 3 or 4 in a row.  Not sure why - it looked like she had a good hook in them.   By the AM's end we had 7 or 8 solid lakers in the boat.   Only saw one or two other boats out.   It's a long drive for me, but Keuka is generally "money in the bank" when it comes to fall fishing for lakers!   Can't beat it.   Weird weather with some swirling winds and it was darn cold - cold and misty!  Water temps were around 69. 
9/15/2013
Keuka Lake 9/14 AM + Cayuga Lake 9/15

Busy, busy and more busy is the way things have been getting for me.   With classes having started at Cornell and a full guiding schedule in September, the fall is already whizzing by.   Here's how things went:

Keuka Lake out of Keuka State Park 9/14 AM:  Met Kerry and Ann at the launch around 7:30 am.  After semi-slow fishing on the Branchport arm on 10/5 I decided to run right over to the Bluff.  The Bluff might be the best jigging area in the Fingerlakes in terms of steady year-round action and a slow sloping bottom that makes for easier jigging/bottom contact.   Fishing was great with solid action from start to finish.   Kerry and Ann don't do a lot of fishing, but they had no trouble getting the hang of the jigging.  Thirteen solid fish were landed in 4 hours and many other hits and hookups were had.   

Wild lakers in numbers that beg for more harvest isn't something to take for granted!  We're blessed in the Fingerlakes with this caliber of trout fishing within such a short drive of so many people.  Not to mention the amenities and other activities in the region.  Kerry is one of the funniest people I've guided (and I'm over 1000 trips now!) so that is saying something.  He kept me laughing throughout the day and my job didn't feel a bit like work.  

The number of seagulls hanging around Keuka Lake is a testament to the large amount of bait in the lake now.  The numbers of 22" to 23" well-proportioned fish in our catch are also a testament to the solid quantity of alewives.   Expect to see larger perch and bass on this lake in the future, along with increased survival of other salmonids.   A couple of their lakers are swimming in my chowder pot now!

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 9/15:   Did a full day with Bill and his wife Valerie, who happen to be renting a place north of Long Point for the week.   They do some lake fishing, but Bill was primarily a stream fisherman.   The goal was to see a bit of the lake and learn a few patterns. 

We started with laker jigging north of Stoney Point.   Fishing was slow to start, but picked up to a decent, albeit not spectacular pace within a couple hours.   5 fish were landed, 2 of which were small (16" to 17") and three that were in the 22" to 24" range.   One good one was dropped.  

A run up north resulted in some fun action with some solid pickerel.  One nice bass also chased in Bill's swimbait.   7' to 12' was good.   A bass tournament was going on, as is nearly always the case on Cayuga during the season.   On the way back down the lake dropshotting produced a chunky 13" to 14" smallmouth for Val.  Pickerel hit Rat-L Traps, spoons, X-raps and Sworming Hornets rigged with swimbaits.   

Temps on the main lake were around 67 on top.  A little cooler on top up north.  Laker action was best from 95' to 105'.   Barney's Derby was today and again, smaller lakers dominated with very little non-laker action from what I heard.  We did not enter.   My prognosis for fall salmon/brown runs isn't good on Cayuga.  Rainbows will probably be very good.   But lampreys have taken their toll on the non-lakers this year.  Can you say "Seneca?"

9/11/2013
Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport 9/11

Met the Hermans around 7 am and we headed out from the Motel launch.  Wind forecasts were originally for strong southerlies so "Hport" (I don't feel like spelling Hammondsport out every time I type it) was the call.  By the day before the trip the forecast moderated, but we decided to stick with the plan.   Keuka Lake State Park offers great fishing, but can be brutal for launching and retrieving a boat with strong south winds. 

We've had some steady weather and the big cold front is forecast to come through before Friday, so I was very optimistic about the fishing prospects today - no matter what the target.   We started with lakers right on the south end of the lake and the bite was tentative to start, which was surprising.   A few hits were had, but they weren't really gobbling the jig, apart from one hit Eleonore had on bottom.   It would've been easy to throw in the "laker towel" and switch to some smallmouth bass fishing, but I encouraged the Hermans to stick the laker bite out for a bit.   I just refuse to not catch lakers on Keuka in September.  Finally, by around 9:30 or 9:45 the lakers turned on with a vengeance.   Around a 1/2 dozen were landed in less than an hour.   Fish were averaging 20" to almost 24", which is better than the usual 18" to 22" we usually catch on Keuka.  It's a subtle difference, but the laker size was clearly a step up from what I'm used to seeing here.   There was a lot of bait around Hport too.  Large expanses of the bottom were covered in it.   I don't necessarily think Keuka's average laker size has gone up, but the biggest fish are almost always around the most bait - like on the N. end of Seneca early in the year, and that looked to be the case here.

I felt today would offer up some good to excellent smallmouth bass fishing, so we switched gears after we got the laker itch scratched a bit.   It didn't take long to get into some nice bass, with Eleonore having the first few hits.  She landed a 15"er that we kept for supper.  After that, it was catch and release.   Superflukes and tube jigs resulted in some beautiful fish, including a 19" and 20"er for Eleonore.  The bigger one was probably well over 4lbs, but not quite 5.   Great fights and action with quite a few fish missed/dropped as well.   I saw at least two other 4lb+ fish follow in the flukes.   John threw a tube jig a bit and landed a smallmouth, pickerel and rockbass.   He missed a few hits on the Superfluke.   Most bass came in or around deep water - like upwards of 40' and casting inwards.   Bait was clearly in the area - I saw a fish pop something near the surface.   Great day and it didn't feel too hot out there with the nice breeze out of the south.  We finished what went from a half, to a six hour day around 1:15 pm.  Water temp was around 70 on top.    

9/8/2013
Skaneateles Lake 9/8

Did a half day and a 6 hour trip today.  Here's how things went:

AM:  Started a bit after 8 am with Gordon, who prefers to fly-fish.   Showers had just cleared and the wind was picking up when we started.   We had decent shallow fly-fishing for smallmouths with around 10 or 11 fish landed.  Most were smallish but spunky 11" fish, though we had one around 15".   An olive woolly bugger worked well on an intermediate line.  Dropshotting produced plenty of rockbass and a smallmouth or two as well.  A few perch also hit the bugger.   I felt we could have had some topwater bass action this morning, but we didn't try it.

PM:  Met Rob at the launch and we headed out around 1 pm.   He'd rather throw crankbaits and spinnerbaits for bass than tubes/dropshot, so that's what he did for the most part.   He also had a cool technique for topwater that a buddy of his came up with in Florida that he tried.  The crankbait action was pretty good.  He also did well on a Superfluke for a while.   We did some dropshotting and the rockbass were aggressive.   Decent afternoon with bass to over 16" and a bit better average size than the AM bite. 

Water temps are cooling and perch are starting to show up in slightly better numbers than previous weeks.    We saw some solid smallmouths today in the 16" to 17"+ range - often showing up under or around hooked fish.   As long as the weather keeps cooling and the winds stay up, I expect good fishing.  Bigger fish would be in the mix tomorrow - there's no doubt in my mind that they are activating.  Winds were high today and very few boats were out.   Absolutely fantastic weather conditions out there - cool and sunny.    

9/7/2013
Owasco Lake 9/7 AM

Guided Dave and Tom here for 1/2 day starting around 6:45 am.   They had a wedding to get to, so Keuka wouldn't have been a good call with the extra drive-time and race activities at Watkins Glen this weekend, so we went with Owasco Lake.   I was psyched to give it a go, since it had been over a year if my memory serves me correctly.

Conditions were cloudy and choppy to start due to the cold night "land" air mixing with the warm lake air -  resulting in some good wind out of the south.   Loads of baitfish were on the north end from 50' on out.   The bite was slow to start.   Eventually Dave had a hit or two and as the sun came out and winds calmed (there is a pattern there...,) he hooked and landed a good fish.  The 25"+ laker looked plump and had nice coloration.   Tom nabbed one around 20".   Then he lost a fish that was head shaking vigorously - we're not sure what it was.   That was about it.  We tried a lot of areas north of Long Point.   I didn't mark a lot of lakers.  With the cutbacks in stocking, my guess is that the laker population is low and hopefully more in balance with the forage.   We did see some trollers unhook a couple undersized fish - likely rainbows or sublegal lakers. 

Got our fish from 70' to 80' today.  Thermocline ran from 55' to 70' or so.  A fair number of fish were out suspended over deep water.   I would've liked to have stayed and fished later, since the conditions were improving, but fatigue got the best of me and I have a busy week ahead, so it'll have to wait.   Overall my impression is that this lake is on the rebound in terms of fishery balance, but it's not there yet.  

9/6/2013
Otisco Lake 9/6 AM

Guided Tony and Christina again for a 1/2 day in the morning.   We started at 6:30 am and motored north in search of Tiger Muskies.  Tony had caught a few before in Pennsylvania incidentally, while targeting bass.   I was hoping for a good bite today with the cold nights we'd just experienced.   We had a little wind to start and fog was rolling off the lake after the 41 degree night.  Surface temps were 71 degrees.   

Fishing was slow today.  Christina managed to hook what appeared to be a decent fish on a hollow bodied swimbait.   It got off after a few seconds, but hit close to the boat, which is a Tiger Musky/esocid trait, though we never did identify the fish.  About an hour later a halfway decent largemouth bass hit her jerkbait.   Tony threw spinnerbaits, plastics, inline spinners and some plugs.  He was casting my Revo Toro Winch like a champ!   He had a quick pop on a spinnerbait, but nothing solid.   Eventually on the lake's west side a Tiger chased in his Super Shad Rap, but never gobbled it.   Fish appeared negative today.   Likely due to the front.   I'm not sure.  A lot of Tigers probably also suspend around baitfish out over deeper water in the mid-summer as well.  But quite a few usually can be found shallow and we did see a couple surface.

It's hard figuring out what to do when we have two 1/2 days and want to target two different species on different lakes and one day looks to be the best.   Yesterday was probably the good day to fish, no matter what we went for and today - the 2nd day after the front, was likely going to be the tougher day whether we targeted lake trout or bass.   I'll give Otisco Lake a couple weeks to hopefully cool down and get some muskies a bit more active and some baitfish back in shallow.   Either way, it was good time and a beautiful day to be out.  Very few boats were on the lake. 

9/5/2013
Keuka Lake out of Keuka State Park 9/5 AM
Guided Tony and Christina for 1/2 day starting around 6:45 am.   We didn't find many fish around the State Park.   A couple were landed in short order but I felt we could do better at the Bluff, so we made the run.   Fishing was fair to start at the Bluff but got better as the day progressed.   Lakers were hitting well right up until we left.   Eleven fish were landed - mostly around 19" to 21".   We had one dink, but even that was a legal fish.   Marked some bait but not much, though seagulls were around, so I'd bet more bait was in the area.   The thermocline was shallow - around 55' to 65' FOW.   We did well shallow around Branchport and deep around the Bluff (105' to 110' was best for us.)   Very good fishing and it should only get better.   Very few boats were out.   White, chartreuse and smelt colors all worked fine.
9/2/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 9/2

Met Ron and his son Jeremy at Taughannock Park at 6:25 am.   I'd seen a few T-Storms on the weather map around 5:45 am, and it appeared that they'd be passing within a 1/2 hour.  But that didn't prove to be the case- radar at 7 am showed a large number of severe storms heading towards the lower Finger Lakes from PA and things didn't look good.   We saw that the northern parts of the lake might miss the storms, so after waiting 1/2 hour, we decided to launch out of Dean's.  It was a great call.  

We arrived at Dean's around 7:40 am and were fishing by 8.   It had been a while since I launched out of there, but nothing had changed.   The launch was still in good condition.  Lake level is high.   On his first drop with a jig Jeremy connected with a nice laker.   The bite was hot as the storms raged south of us.   3 fish were landed in short order.  Best one on the day was a 27.5" male.    The skies cleared and the bite stayed good, with another 6 fish landed.   No eels today and most fish were clean.   The smallest was 18.5" and most were the same class - left ventral clips and around 22" to 24" long - perfect eating sized lakers. 

105' to 110' was best today.   Jig color didn't seem to matter.   The thermocline had moved shallower - we had laker (48 degree) temps in around 85' FOW, but deeper was better.   Great day and the fish are still putting on the "feedbag" on Cayuga - which makes up a bit for the slow early August fishing we had.   As I drove home down Rt. 89, it became apparent that Ithaca was hit with some very dangerous storms.  Torrential rainfall and winds downed many trees and branches.   It's been a stormy, very wet summer here in the Finger Lakes Region.

8/29/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/29

What a day for some tranquility on Cayuga Lake!   The quietest days to get out are usually the Wednesdays and Thursdays before holiday weekends.   The lakes are dead in terms of boat traffic.   It was great - not that we ever deal with much boat traffic these days anyways.  I did consecutive 1/2 days and here's how they went:

AM:  Guided Linn (sp?) and Jeff this morning starting at 6 am.   It was perfect timing to hit first light.   There was some fog/haze around but fishing was decent.  The guys had some fish chasing and hitting the jigs from the get-go.   Fish hit slow/steady all morning with 4 landed and a couple dropped.  It was Jeff's first time jigging and he had the hot hand landing 3 solid lakers.   The size of the fish was good with some 26"ers.   Some big lampreys were on the fish and one of the fish was scarred up pretty well.   

PM:  At 11 am I met Jeff and Abby, who've joined me periodically in the past.  I love August fishing on Cayuga Lake - the bite often goes throughout the day, and today was no exception.  We fished all over - from AES to Rocky Dock and Kidders and back towards Taughannock.  Nearly every area we fished contained bait and lake trout.   Six fish were landed ranging in size from Abby's 16" dink to her solid 28" beauty and Jeff's nice 26"ers.   We even had a double going for a little while.  Dark colors worked best today, like Lunker City's smelt colored Swim Fishy.

Fish ranged from 85' to 115' on the east shore and 65' to 100' on the west shore.   Plenty of bait was around. 

8/28/2013
Otisco Lake 8/27 + Skaneateles Lake 8/28 AM

8/27 Otisco Lake:  I went out on my own on Otisco around 11 am and fished till 4.  It was probably the worst time to go out.  The humidity was intense, there was no wind and the sun would come out periodically making things very uncomfortable.   In between pouring sweat, I did some casting for Tiger Muskies and picked up two largemouths.  I downsized to a Rapala Husky Jerk and had a smallish Tiger around 25" to 27" hit me three times and I wasn't able to hook it.   Lots of weeds were floating around on the surface.   Fishing has been very good here this summer, but it still helps to pick a good day and get out early.   I'll be out again here soon. 

8/28 Skaneateles Lake:  Guided Ali and Mike for a half day starting at 7:45 am.  It was good seeing them again after having a great day together early this season for browns/salmon and pike.   Smallmouth fishing on this lake has been slower over the last few trips I've done.   We had a couple fish early on tube jigs and then went to the dropshot.   The rockbass were pretty much non-stop and a few decent smallmouths were in the mix out to 40'.   We tried some soft jerkbaits and even topwater in the AM.   I've worked a lot of different areas over the past three trips as well as some tried 'n true.    Ali and Mike were into the action today, so we stuck with the dropshotting program.  Water temp was around 73.  Parking lot wasn't too busy.  

8/25/2013
Lake Ontario out of Oswego 8/25 am

I was very excited to do my first guided trip out of Oswego. Nat was up from Tennessee and loves smallmouth bass. We did a couple mornings out on Skaneateles Lake with good fishing from bass in the 11" to 15" range. I was hoping we could find some better fish on the "big lake" and he was up for the challenge of being my first client (aka the old expression "guinea pig") out of this port.

I've been fishing Oswego for bass since my pre-boat days, but it's a different fishery now, with fish less widespread and more concentrated. To complicate matters, there was a small (15 boat or more) bass tournament going on today. They'd launched before we did (we met around 6:30 and got underway at 6:45.) I enjoy following B.A.S.S., but dealing with tournaments on weekends is a hassle for the non-tournament bass angler. There are boats in many of the obvious/popular spots and sometimes tournament anglers will fish closer than what I see as comfortable to other non-competitors, but the latter wasn't a problem today.   The former was;  I usually fish Oswego on weekdays and have never seen more than 2 bass boats on the lake, so we experienced a bit of a culture shock today, since my "guaranteed" go-to areas were getting hammered.

We tried a popular shoal a few miles from the launch. Within 20 minutes or so, Nat landed a bass around 13" on a tube. It felt like we were being haunted by Skaneateles-sized bass! I demonstrated a few subtleties of dropshotting and managed another bass on a lucky drop. Competitors were on the shoal in good numbers, so we had to find some new areas on the fly. That's the stuff that really gets my blood pumping. In one area Nat managed a 17"er. He dropped a couple bass as well. I then managed to find a "new" (to me) area without any other boats around and Nat landed two more solid bass. No 18"ers today. We tried deep and he had a chunky bass follow him up in 70' FOW! He also had a good hit from what was either a bass or a nice brown trout. So not a great day, but not terrible. We found our fish from 12' to about 37' deep today. But now I know what I have to do in terms of finding more productive areas that aren't fished hard by other anglers. And I know the areas that get pounded with pressure. My work is cut out for me and I can't wait to get back on the lake. Trollers report OK salmon fishing (4 to 5 a day) and some were targeting browns when the salmon bite slowed. Lots of boats were out on a picture-perfect day.

8/24/2013
Skaneateles Lake 8/23 + 24 AMs

Guided Nat Jr. and Sr. over the past two days starting from 6:30 to 6:45 am and winding up after 11 am today and later on Friday.   Water temps are around 72/73.   Boat traffic has been fairly light, though was increasing substantially today (Saturday)  as air temps warmed up.

Fishing started out quick on Friday, and slower today, but hit some good levels by 10 am on both days.   We really covered some water and I didn't fish any of the same areas on Friday vs. Saturday.   Overall, there are loads of rockbass and a few perch in deeper water - from around 23' on out to 45' or so.    There are smallmouths in these areas, but we had to weed through the aggressive panfish.    Best smallmouth action for us was shallower - basically from beating the bank out to 15' of water.  

The usual smallmouth tactics did the trick - the best was probably the Superfluke, though tube jigs and dropshotting also produced well.   Bass are eating perch fry in droves - one bass around 13" spit up nearly 20 fry!    Also present in the livewell have been the usual loads of crayfish parts.   Around a dozen bass  were landed today and 1.5X that yesterday, plus the usual loads of rockbass (many nice sized ones) and bonus perch.  Bass over 16" were absent from our catches on both days.   I wouldn't be surprised if some of these bigger fish were out in deeper water suspended feeding on perch fry.    

8/22/2013
Otisco Lake 8/21 -22

Guided Perry and his buddy Dave for two full days.   We started between 8 and 9 am.   Perry brings live bait and fishes slip bobber rigs.   It isn't something I generally do, but I'm happy to accomodate him and it's always neat trying something different.    The guys were able to procure some good bait (in Auburn on Turnpike Road if my memory serves me correctly) and we had a good time. 

Fishing around the north end of the lake on 8/21 resulted in a solid 20" smallmouth bass.   One Tiger around 28" came to the net as well.   A couple good fish were hooked and lost.   The causeway area produced a 29" Tiger.   

Today we had a lot of largemouths gobble up the minnows - I think 7 or 8 of them came to the net, along with a 25" Tiger.   Some fish were missed/lost as well.   The lake looks very good for the most part.   I think casting and covering a lot of water would produce very well, though bait can be topnotch on some days.   Water temp was around 72 on the surface.  Boat traffic, as usual, was light.   There has been some weed harvesting going on and certain areas were lacking their usual cover.  

I enjoy bait fishing and always have a good time with Perry and whomever he brings along.  The past two days were no exception and the action was generally pretty steady.    

8/20/2013
Stoney Point/Henderson Bay 8/18 + 19

Over the past two days I did a pretty spontaneous trip with my buddy Mike.   I had the weekend and Monday/Tuesday free and he was able to grab an extra day off.   Usually we head up to Lake Champlain every year, but he decided to fish the BASS Northern Open on Oneida Lake as a co-angler, which took a chunk out of his annual fishing budget, so we made due a little closer to home.   I've gradually been piecing together the different sections of Lake Ontario for trout/salmon and bass, so I was pretty psyched to learn a few new areas and get our own takes on them.   And of course, Brandon Paluniuk's great B.A.S.S. tournament win was also extra motivation to try HH rather than Chaumont (which he also fished, but we already had experience on.)

On Day One we went out of Stoney Creek's boat launch.   The State boat launches in the Golden Crescent and Thousand Islands Region are superb.  I wanted to try some areas south and west of Henderson Harbor - not the usual stuff.   The bottom contours looked good and it's a bit closer to home.    Fishing wasn't great for us.   We worked a lot of areas from about 15' out to 50' or more.   I marked fish, but we didn't get anything apart from loads of gobies.   I was hoping for some no-brainer smallmouth bass action, and it wasn't the case.   The shallows looked decent, but we concentrated our efforts out deep. 

We checked the "trench" and marked tons of lake trout and likely a few other salmonids.   The west winds had stacked a lot of warm water on the eastern shore of the lake and the thermocline was very deep.   The hot trout/salmon action had slowed a week or two ago according to a couple fishermen we talked to.   Great area structurally though, and it's now on my list.   We did have fish move for our jigs.  Large trolling fleet out there too.  

On the way back in we tried a few more areas.  Goby numbers are still very high out in this part of the lake.   They seem lower around Oswego, but I may be wrong on that.    Mike wanted to hit a shallow area that we'd seen earlier so we did.   We had some action on a point with a few decent bass up to 17" and one nice drum that Mike landed around 5 to 6lbs.   It was all about precision and finding the right rocky areas.    That evening we met my swimming buddy and occasional fishing buddy Chris and he grilled us up a bite to eat.   He has a place on Henderson Harbor and has been going up there his entire life.

On Day Two we went out of Westcott State Park.   Nice park!   It's on the eastern side of Henderson Bay.   Another great boat launch there.   The plan was to work the obvious shoals that more or less protect Henderson Bay.    My buddy Chris motored over and fished near us with his Lund.  And by the way, is there a worse cup of coffee than that found at a "Nice and Easy?"   I've given them a couple tries and my coffee usually winds up rinsing off the pavement at the nearest Dunkin' Donuts.   It's not too good.   At least the dark roast at the one I've gone to a couple times.      

We found some chunky bass running 15" to 16" near some weeds on the first shoal we hit.  It was very reminiscent of areas we'd previously caught bass in, on Oneida Lake and on Lake Champlain.   That's the great thing about fishing a lot of different waterways regularly - you learn what areas hold fish, and you KNOW they hold fish without having to fish them.  Of course you want to make sure there are fish present by catching some, but overall that's how the pros are able to break down unfamiliar waterways without even wetting a line.   Just looking at the cover and structure really helps.   It's like reading a stream.   A boat loaded with a half dozen anglers pulled up within eyeshot of us and they clearly had a good "spot."  They caught at least a half dozen fish in short order with live bait.  

We worked another area and Mike dropshotted a few small fish - 11" to 12" bass.   Another shoal produced a 17"er for me.    Chris landed a chunky 18".   We then worked yet another shoal and Mike landed a couple beauts - an 18 1/2" and a 17 1/2".   Chris also caught another decent fish or two. But it wasn't great fishing for us.   We caught a handful but never got into any concentrations, like the one I'd found at Oswego two weeks ago.   We caught fish on tube jigs and dropshotting.   A double-swimbait rig yielded a follow for Mike.   Fish didn't hit the dropshot on the fall.  Just on the bottom.   Gobies were rampant and in some areas we also marked alewives.  

Not sure where I'll be heading next time.   We plan on fishing Chaumont a couple more times before the season ends.   I will be back at Oswego at least two more times.   I'd also like to fish around Pultneyville/Sodus.    The bass on Lake Ontario have never been in better condition - they seem to get bigger every year, but it still requires giving forth a solid effort.   The fishing generally isn't easy and it's not like the late 1990s/early 2000s when you could catch bass on nearly any shoal or even flat fairly easily just casting a tube jig.   It's a different ballgame now, but the rewards can be tremendous in terms of big bass.  

 

 

    

8/16/2013
Cayuga Lake North Section 8/16

Guided Mark for a full day today starting around 7:30.   He loves to fly-fish and we set up for pickerel today near Canoga.   The bite and fishing weren't easy.   Mark actually foul-hooked a decent pickerel in short order.   That was strange.   He landed a chunky largemouth around 14" that had two other bass following it.   Another pickerel around 22" gobbled a chartreuse streamer on a sinking line.   The fish weren't super active today.   He had a few other hits from pickerel,  but the fish really needed coaxing to hit.   Fly-fishing can also be tough when fish are buried in the vegetation.   That's why I like early and late season fishing.

Mark really enjoys gar on the fly, so we checked a couple areas out.   Water temps were just around 71 to 72, which usually isn't easy gar fishing.   We found a large school of gar and he worked them for awhile.  Eventually a few fish started showing some mild interest in the rope flies.   A Type 6 Full Sinking Line produced a couple nice gar for Mark.   The gar look like the bass, in that both appear to be very well fed this year.

We had a little time to check on laker jigging.   I marked a few, but no grabs.  As I dropped off Mark at Dean's Cove,  I met Peter Ponds, a BASS fisherman on the Elite Series tour.   A few savvy bassers have been getting acquainted with the lake this week, before heading to Lake St. Clair for the finale of the 2013 Elite Series.  He's a nice guy and I wish him well.   By the way, if anyone thinks being a pro-bass fisherman is a piece of cake, I have some news for you.   It's work, pure and simple.  

P.S.  Pete did mention seeing a chunky 5lb largemouth near an area of hydrilla - and it wasn't on the lake's south end.   He knows his weeds - so it's pretty clear that the hydrilla has spread throughout Cayuga Lake.   So we now have gobies and hydrilla.   I don't think hydrilla will be any worse than the milfoil, despite the gloom and doom.   But we shall see.   A friend of mine said it's been in the inlet for a good 5 years, so the eradication efforts are probably a bit late.   Cayuga's been spared the milfoil problems that Seneca has.  

8/15/2013
Skaneateles Lake 8/15

Did a full day with Leo and Ada starting around 8:30.  Had some terrific action all day long working dropshot rigs from around 15' all the way out to 45' FOW.   Nothing huge, but most bass were respectable - 12" to 15".   Top fish was around 17".   Rock bass were everywhere and we kept a lot of them.   Also had a couple decent pumpkinseeds and perch.   A lot of different lures worked, everything from Berkley Gulp minnows, Keitech Swing Impact, BPS Dropshot minnows etc... to Senkos/Stikos and more.   

Water temps on the surface were around 69 degrees.   Water level was high and boat traffic was low.   Great day on the water.

8/12/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 8/12

Did a full day today with Leo and Ada.   They've joined me for a few dates over the past few years.   They do things on their terms and like to start around 8 am.   For some reason, things always work out for them.  Today was no exception. 

We got started around 8:30 am.   The bite around Aurora was decent with Ada landing two fish in fairly short order in around 90 FOW.   Then things shut off.  We then worked a lot of places without much to show.   But lo and behold, in the afternoon storm clouds began forming and the bite resumed with Leo catching the next 3 fish and then Ada caught one more.   So we did limit out and they got some nice fish to take home.  Size ranged from around 19" to 25".   A couple fish had fresh lamprey marks on them, but that was it for the eels.   One dink salmon was also landed.  

8/11/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock Park 8/10 + 11

Fishing was "challenging" at the very least this past weekend for us on Cayuga.  Actually forget the euphemisms, it was darn tough for the most part.  Here's how things broke down:

8/10 AM:  Met longtime clients Ed and John at the ramp at 6:30 am.   We ran north and fished AES as well as areas on the west shore.   The Myers Lighthouse Derby was going on, but I'd found out about it a bit late and didn't enter (plus I'd already booked the afternoon and wasn't sure what we'd be fishing for and where.)   But a lot of boats were out. 

John and Ed had quite a few good hits.   One fat wild 25" to 26" laker was landed, along with one small one.   A few good fish got off.   The bite wasn't great, but wasn't bad for at least an hour or two.

PM:  North winds came up substantially around 11 am and kept building till at least 2 pm.  They gusted into the high teens at the very least.  Lots of white caps!   That made things tough on Michele and Nicholas, whom I met at the launch around 11.    We fished hard and I worked them up the lake quite a ways.  Michele managed a dink around 14" and lost one (likely) good fish that hit her a couple times near Kidders.   But very tough fishing.  It was beautiful out and we had a good time, but it was hard.

8/11 AM:  Did my 2nd 1/2 day in a row with Michele and Nicholas starting at 6:30.   Things didn't look good to start with the absolute bluebird skies and not much of a sign on anything on the graph or at the ends of our lines!  On the west shore we started encountering some bait and fish.   It apparently was "Nick's turn" today and he did well  landing 2 solid lakers from around 22" to 25".  He also landed a dink.   I had some good reports from my rod builder friend Mike Canavan, who encountered a flurry of good action this AM.  So fishing should be back on the upswing soon.  

Overall we found fish and temperature in a variety of depths.   65' to 80' was good on the west shore and we actually didn't have much action on the east, but laker temps were in 85' to 100' + over there.   Things change all the time and anyone who thinks jigging lakers is really easy hasn't fished much during high winds and cold fronts combined with murky water.  It can be very difficult.

8/7/2013
Honeoye Lake 8/7

Fished Honeoye with my buddy Jarrod today. He'd never been there before, and we wanted to fish a lake that offered good numbers of largemouth bass. The wind forecast was another major factor, with southerlies forecast to gust into the 20s.

We arrived around 7:30 to a steady wind around 10 mph or better. I should start this by saying that Honeoye Lake holds special memories for me. I caught my first pickerel there in the early 1980s. My friend Jeff and I used to fish bullheads there quite often. I also learned how to fish Texas rigged plastic worms on it and caught quite a few nice bass and walleyes there throughout the 1980s and into the 90s. A lot of things were still the same on the lake (I last fished it a year or two ago.) And a lot had changed.

The layout of the cottages was pretty much the same - the "McMansions" haven't sprouted up there, like they have on so many other lakes. It still has the ma and pa cottage feel to it. The south end looks the same. But the water quality appears to have degraded considerably over the past 25 to 30 years. I just think lakes like Honeoye and Conesus have too many cottages/homes on them.  They are wall to wall.  And it's possible that nutrient loading has finally overwhelmed the lake.

Hopefully water quality will be addressed, but the lake's clarity wasn't there. And I realize that this may just be a summertime thing, but I never saw the lake look like this years ago, even during the middle of the summer. The amount of algae was staggering compared to the "old days." The lake reminded me more of Port Bay, whereas it used to be clear and have a walleye/smallmouth feel to it midlake, and more largemouth habitat on its ends - though it's always been a good largemouth fishery from end to end.

We caught quite a few bass today. Maybe 15 legal ones or so, which isn't great for Honeoye these days, but the conditions were quite difficult with the high winds (gusting into the 20s) and algae bloom.  And did I mention the weed harvester?  Lots of prime weedbeds were gone.  It's now a crapshoot regarding weeds - here today, gone tomorrow.  And the weed machines really murk up the bottom and leave parts of the lake looking like a muddy bowl.  

The bass fishery here has been a numbers fishery over the last 5 to 10 years or so, whereas in the early 1980s it featured larger bass and plenty of pickerel - more like Cayuga is now. The pickerel population is down - we caught just one today. Didn't run into the once numerous rockbass, though we did see some perch. Lots of small baitfish were around. I would chalk a lot of it up to today's conditions.

The lake is clearly fished hard. A few bass had hook scars. The best bass of the day - maybe a 15" to 16" fish had a large head but was very skinny. Most fish ran right around 12" to 13". Just about everything we tried worked - pitching plastics, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and dropshotting all produced fish.

If there's a harder fish to handle in New York State's freshwater than a pickerel, I haven't found it. One 20" pickerel I caught thrashed as I was trying to grab it, and simultaneously slashed the base of my thumb and split my thumbnail! Just like a razor. Man, do these fish have teeth! I will take my revenge on the Cayuga Lake pickerel next time I'm out. I'll make sure I have an ample supply of patties and "poor man's lobster!"

All in all it was a satisfying day. We found a few different patterns that produced and caught fish in 3 or 4 areas. It felt good being on the former "home lake" and it triggered a lot of great memories. Cayuga's north end water didn't look great 7 or 8 years ago and now looks fantastic, so hopefully Honeoye will bounce back soon. But at this point in time, I don't see it being worth a special trip.

Fish came from 7' to 11' FOW. We may have caught one or two shallower and deeper, but that was our most productive zone.

8/6/2013
Lake Ontario out of Oswego Harbor 8/6

It's felt great doing some serious fishing lately.   The recent weather hasn't been great for hitting the "Big Lake,"  at least on days I've been off, so I was psyched to get out today on my own.   I was on the water around 6:15 am and went searching for browns.

Temperatures weren't what I needed for great brown trout action, but I did have a hold of a beauty on a jig.  The fish hit me three times (in around 120') and I finally hooked it momentarily.   Probably a 10 to 12lb fish, but it got off.   The fleet was out working 250' to 350' FOW.   I tried out there for a little bit but didn't see much.   Salmon action was reportedly slow today, and has been slow much of the season according to the creel census guys.   They blamed the poor weather/fishing conditions.   The good fish are out there - the weather needs to cooperate! 

Bass fishing was the highlight of the day.   I had some terrific dropshotting with fish gobbling my Gulp Gobies on 5 or 6 drops in a row.   I spent around 3 hours on the bass and landed 8 nice fish and lost a couple good ones.  Best fish was 20" and weighed 4lbs 9oz.   I also had a few 18"ers.   The quality of the fish off of Oswego was the best I've seen over the past decade.   My fish came from 27' to 37' FOW.   Fish range in depth from shallow to over 100' FOW!   The bite was hot when the wind was blowing. 

I had a chance to talk to DEC folks doing the Lake Ontario Angler Survey.  They report that bass action has been good out of Oswego, Henderson and Chaumont.   Action has been slow west of Oswego.   I would like to try a few key areas off of Sodus to see for myself.   Goby numbers are definitely down and this may be making for better fishing.   I had very few hits from gobies today.  When I got bit, it was a bass more often than not!   

8/3/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 8/3 AM

There is a major triathlon going out of Taughannock tomorrow, so if you're planning on fishing Cayuga (it's supposed to be very, very windy,)  avoid that launch in the AM.

Met Mark and Ron at the launch around 6:30 and headed north.  We started around 90' to 95' with one or two fish landed.  The temperature differential between areas of the lake is really remarkable.    Laker-friendly temps were shallow and we moved into the 70' to 80' range.   Fishing was excellent with over 10 lakers landed.  Fish ranged from 18" to 25"+.   We had one nice wild laker that we released.   White and chartreuse plastics did the trick.  One lamprey came up - that was it, so the eels haven't been too bad over the last couple trips.   Bait was everywhere and the fish are feeding heavily.   Great trip!

8/2/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 8/2 AM
Guided Todd and Jeremy for 1/2 day starting around 6:45 am.   Fishing was very good today - typical solid August action!   Laker temps were deep - around 95' to 105' FOW and that's where we had the best action.  The guys landed 11 nice fish and probably lost/missed as many today.  Yes, it was very steady right until we called it quits.   2 lampreys came up on the fish, but overall they were quite clean - no scars even.   Weedmats are disappearing and water fleas are pretty much gone.   Surface temps were around 73.   Best fish was around 28".   Most were 22" to 24".  I think we had 3 wild fish today, which is uncommon on Cayuga Lake.   Fish are also feeding fairly heavily, as is usually the case this time of year.   I cleaned 5 or 6 fish today and there were no signs of any gobies in the laker stomachs.
7/31/2013
Cayuga Lake 7/31 PM out of Union Springs

Met my buddy Jarrod at around 2:45 PM for some afternoon/evening bass fishing.  I'm getting my tackle together and plan on doing a lot more largemouth fishing over the next month or two.

The weather pattern has been steady and conducive to good fishing.  It didn't take long before we had a good crankbait bite going.  Pickerel were very active too and we caught quite a few, including some solids around 22" to 23" or more.   Cranking over grass, pitching beaver-baits, plastic worms, the usual Senkos - all worked.  We landed 8 or 9 nice largemouths, with the best being chunky 17 to 17.5 inchers.  I dropped a very solid fish on a crankbait early on.

The water looks great.  Nice and clear and plenty of vegetation around.  Young of the year alewives and maybe some shad are around in droves.   Bluegills, pumpkinseeds and perch were also active.   I hooked a 12" largemouth on a plastic worm and had a pike around 34" to 35" come up and show itself as I was fighting the bass!   No Canadian double, but it was very exciting.   We stayed in the northern portions of the lake working mid-range depths - 8' to around 14'.   Cayuga's largemouth bass fishing is really top-notch right now.  It's amazing to see how the lake's fishing cycles up and down with time.  Water temps were around 75 on top.

7/30/2013
Skaneateles Lake 7/30 AM
Guided Al and Phil for a 1/2 day AM starting around 6:45.   Smallmouth bass fishing remains very good on this lake.  The guys landed around a dozen with most being legal fish.  Best fish was almost 18"!!!   That's a nice smallmouth for this lake.   Fish ranged from shallow to around 26' or more.   Loads of rockbass and even a perch and sunfish were landed today.   Tubes, Super Flukes and Dropshotting all produced fish.   Phil basically hadn't fished much before, but once he got the hang of it, he did great.   Water temps were around 73 on top.  Not too busy out there.  Beautiful day!
7/29/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Myers Point 7/29

Got out with my buddy Eric for a relaxing day of "old school fishing" - I brought some nightcrawlers and some (hard shell) "crabs" and we headed out around 6:45 am.    My goal for the trip (there's always something...) was to see how abundant gobies are in Cayuga Lake.   We were also hoping to find some drum and bass.  

Eric landed the first goby just north of Myers Point.   It took about 10 minutes to catch one, and it hit a part of a nightcrawler.    Coloration appeared to be just like the Lake Ontario gobies.   Surprisingly, that fish was the ONLY goby of the day.   They may be common, but they haven't yet turned into the nuisance we are expecting.   That may take several years yet.  

The panfishing was pretty darn good, and I really enjoyed it.   Catching hand-sized pumpkinseeds one after another is more fun than I'd like to admit!   I do get questions about panfishing on the Finger Lakes, and for Cayuga we had good action using 1/2 a crawler on a dropshot rig, just off of weedlines and around major points.  14' to about 18' FOW was best.  I'm guessing the water temp down there is probably around 65.   We encountered plenty of large sunfish (7" to 8",) bluegills (around 6") and yellow perch (mostly around 7" to 9".)   We landed a half dozen sublegal smallmouth bass.   Never encountered one over 10"! 

Surface temps have dropped considerably on Cayuga Lake and the forecast is for more pleasant days and cool nights.   I didn't see any drum today - at least none that I could confirm.  We saw some carp.   No sign of gar up by the Power Plant, which is discharging water around 76 degrees.   

Smallmouth bass fishing remains slow on Cayuga Lake.   When I first moved here in 1995 the smallmouth bass fishing was very good to downright excellent.   You could catch them on all the major points and along a lot of shorelines.   Apparently there was a die-off around 6 to 7 years ago, and fishing just hasn't been the same.   But these days for me, smallmouths on Cayuga are more of a seasonal opportunity, kind of like pike.   There's good fishing in May up north, and in October and November further south.   Summer smallmouth fishing is limited.  I'm sure there are some anglers who do ok with them in the summer, but they aren't common and they aren't easy.   Other lakes offer much better fishing if that's what you're after.

Largemouth bass fishing just keeps getting better and better on Cayuga Lake.  And today I dropshotted up a chunky 17.5" largie near Frontenac Point.   I'd only caught smallmouths in the past in the area I was fishing - so that does say a lot for the poor quality smallmouth fishing and improving largemouth fishing.  

7/27/2013
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 7/27 AM
Guided Jim for a 1/2 day starting around 6 am.   It's getting lighter noticeably later now which is nice.   Winds were up steadily from the south.  Fishing around Sampson was difficult and slow.   A run to the west side of the lake produced immediate results with around 1/2 dozen solid fish hooked and 4 nice ones landed.   Chartreuse Swim Fishy was the hot lure.   Plenty of fish were around the 95' to 115' mark today.   Good day and we were wrapped up by 10:15.   3/4 of the fish were clipped.  To me stocking is still a significant part of the management of Seneca Lake laketrout.    We marked a fair amount of bait as well.
7/25/2013
Oneida Lake 7/25

My buddy Mike will be fishing the B.A.S.S. Northern Open on Oneida Lake next week.   He's been fishing the lake once to twice a week over the past month or so, and today I met him at Marion Manor on the lake's east end to do some exploring and scouting.  We fished areas we've never fished before for the most part.  I met him around 5:45 am and we were on the water not long after 6.

There was a bit of chill to the air this morning with temps hovering in the upper 40s!   I threw on a knit hat, 2 sweatshirts, a down vest and a fleece.   Maybe I'm just getting old, but I felt comfortable.   We tried one area on the south shore and didn't do much.   Working a drop along the north shore provided some decent action for a little while.   I'm still a bit rusty with my bass fishing and managed to drop a very nice fish on a tube and one on a drop shot.   I landed one on a tube.  Mike did well and landed 3 solid smallmouths,  all weighing right at the 3lb mark.  

I lasted till around 2 pm before I knew fatigue would set in.   Mike, to his credit, fished till around 5 pm and managed another 7 or 8 decent fish in some other areas, as well as the first area we'd worked.   Assorted plastics and rubber jigs did the trick.   If he gets a good draw (boater) for the event, I'd expect him to do well.   It'll be exciting to see how things go, especially with the large number of pros that will be fishing the tournament.   Algae blooms were common and heavy in places.

 

 

7/24/2013
Keuka Lake out of Keuka State Park 7/24 am
Guided Nate and Sally for 1/2 day.  We had a 1/2 hour late start, due to their alarm clock malfunction, but it didn't hurt us much.   We started at 7 am with unsettled conditions - lots of clouds and some wind.   A lot of fish were chasing and hitting short today, but they managed to land four.  I'd bet another 6 to 12 hits were had and a few other fish dropped.   65' to 75' on out to over 100' was good.  Water level was up.   Water temps are cooling a little bit.   Plenty of fish were around the N. end of the "Branchport Arm."  
7/23/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 7/23 AM

Guided Greg and his son Alex for 1/2 day starting at 6 am.  We were met with 3 hours of fairly steady, soaking rain and the bite was pretty much non-existent to start.   But as skies began clearing, the lakers turned on with a vengeance and Alex got things started with a nice 23" fish.  Then came a 27"er.  Another 6 or 7 fish were landed making for a terrific 90 minutes of fishing.   85' to 95' was best near Aurora;  laker temps were deeper further north.  

Best lures the last few days have been white reapers (yesterday,) chartreuse BPS inshore angler swimbaits (today) and the usual Lunker City baits.   I've been trying out the new Lunker City Swimming Grubsters and Swimming Ribsters with some success.   I'm looking forward to trying them on Keuka soon.   Again, no lampreys today.  We had one wild fish in the mix as well.  Most fish released today and yesterday.   Loads of 23" fish in the mix.

BTW - Alex tried eating a lamprey last year and enjoyed it.   I've now known around a dozen people who have tried eating lampreys out of Seneca/Cayuga.  Everybody has found them to be good eating.  Not one person I've talked to who has tried them didn't think they were good - and that's rare with just about any kind of food.   It doesn't mean I keep them to eat often, but for those interested, they are very good.  English Royalty must know something!

7/22/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 7/22

Guided Dave, Blake and Todd for the full day today.  They've joined me a couple times over the past couple years for some laker jigging.   Dave books the trip well in advance and he's had a knack for picking generally good days.  Today was no exception.

We started just after 6 am with some steady laker action.  Despite the full moon and mild cold front, the bite was very good to excellent throughout the day.   Cayuga Lake is tough to beat from late July through August.  By September, I find the fishing significantly better (for trout) on Keuka and Owasco Lakes.   Dave nailed a 27" laker to start things off.  Later in the day the guys hooked a triple!   Around 14 lakers were landed on the day, and not a single lamprey came up!   That was weird, given what we've seen thus far this year.   Fish resumed hitting well again as storms began to develop around 1 pm.

High moment of the day was Todd hooking a very solid rainbow right up top, late in the trip.   After some strong runs and a great surface fight I netted the 28" bow.  What a fish!  It did have a large live lamprey attached and a few other wounds.   We took a quick couple photos but unfortunately were unable to release the fish.  I think the eels, plus the hard (although quick) fight in the tepid 81 degree water combined to be a bit too much.   The fish was on the thinner side, weighing around 7lbs 9oz.   

I've had some good to excellent reports regarding rainbow trout action on Cayuga Lake this year.   We had a very good spawning run of them starting back last December and the fish were in very good  to excellent condition.   It's been an off year for Cayuga's salmon, browns and to some extent lakers (at least in terms of size) so it's nice having some long-awaited great news regarding Cayuga Lake's coldwater fishery.   

7/20/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 7/19

Got out with my buddy Chris starting around 6 am.  I wanted to check on a few things around Seneca's south end.   We drifted a bit with jigs in hopes of some salmon activity.   I picked up a dink around 14.5" and Chris nailed a solid wild lake trout around 24".   I did have a decent salmon follow my jig - a fish around 3lbs or so.   Plenty of baitfish abound.  

We quickly checked a couple areas for bass and managed to have one pretty nice one follow in a fluke, but overall Keuka, Canandaigua and Skinny over much better bass opportunities if you want smallmouths these days.  (Jon Evans is a great guide to contact for smallies on Keuka/Canandaigua.)   Looked for some gar too and didn't see any but by that time the sun was intermittent and it wouldn't have been easy to spot them.  The south end does have a small population of them.    Milfoil is very high in areas.   Water temps were in the low to mid 70s on top.  Cold water wasn't far from the surface around Watkins Glen.  

Stopped in at the Watkins Bar + Grill afterwards.  The short rib sandwich was great and you can't go wrong with the Reuben over there either.  Highly recommended.  Great homemade potato chips too.  

7/18/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs 7/18

Went out bass fishing with my buddy Mike starting around 5:45 am.  Unbeliveably, this was my first time out "fun fishing" since Memorial Day Weekend.   And my first time bass fishing for the year!   That's pathetic and was way too long and hopefully it won't happen again, but the weather and an intense guiding schedule has made it tough to get out.   Over the remainder of the year I'll be out fishing on my own at least once to twice (or more) a week.  

Mike has been hitting the bass pretty hard on Oneida Lake (he'll be fishing as a co-angler during the Northern Open) and on his local lakes.  He's in the bass mode, fishing a couple times a week and it showed with him nailing the lion's share of the fish today.   He studies the fishing shows and has played around a lot with tackle.   Anyways this morning we caught 6 solid largemouths with most coming via pitching and my lone (but nice) bass coming with a crankbait.   Texas rigged craws worked best.   I had a few issues with my pitching set up that we ironed out, but it's amazing how seemingly little things can make a big difference.   We moved around a bit and checked on a few different zones/areas for the bass.    Pickerel were active with us landing around 5 or 6 too.   Bass ran from 14.5" to around 18" and all were in very good to excellent condition - FAT.

We checked a few coves for gar at around 11:30 am.   Found them in a usual area that's tough to fly-fish, but we gave it a shot.  Mike had a few blow-ups before noticing the menacing skies to our north.   We got off the lake around 12:45.   The storms looked very nasty!  Water temps were around 81 to 83 today.   Our fish came from around 7' to 14' FOW.   I took a few photos today and will put them up later this season.  

7/14/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 7/14

Well I'm quite relieved to have just wound up a long run of trips.   I plan on doing some fishing on my own this week and then the rest of the season will be broken up a bit more with a few days on and a few off.  I haven't fished a day on my own since the Memorial Day Derby!  That's a long time.

Here's how things went today:  Guided Brent and Garrison for a full day starting just after 6:15 am.   We had pretty good laker action to start with 4 fish landed in relatively short order, then things slowed until around noon.   At that time, the guys landed two more fish before we called it a day.   Best two fish were a 28"+ laker that Brent caught that we kept and it weighed 8lbs 2 3/8 oz after I bled it out.   We let go a fish in the 7lb range.   The Salvation Army Derby was going on this weekend and we didn't enter, so I knew it was inevitable that we'd manage a good fish or two.  Hopefully someone will blow it out of the water with a 9 to 10lb plus fish and I won't feel too bad!   Lampreys weren't bad today - just one came up.   Depths we worked ranged from 75' to 120' with the best fishing from 75' to 85'.   Plenty of bait is around and there is a slight algae bloom taking place.   Good day, but very hot out there.  

7/13/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs 7/13 AM

Guided Matt today for 1/2 day AM.  We'd experienced the horrid weather on the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, and were ready for some much nicer fishing conditions.  He's been catching a lot of largemouths on the north end of the lake lately and I took him around to some late summer areas.   We didn't have any action to speak of in the places south that he worked.   We checked on lakers, which he hadn't done before and he had some very good action, landing 5 in short order.  Unfortunately each one came up with an attached lamprey!  Matt's now a convert to the laker fishing on Cayuga.  It does feel good to land some heavy fish!  Top fish was around 7lbs or better.

We returned north to some areas around his cottage and the bass fishing was good, with him landing 4 decent largemouths on a Yozuri Rattlin' Vibe in 12' to 14' FOW.   He also had a very nice bluegill gobble a crankbait.  Cayuga is a fantastic panfish lake, though the sunnies and bluegills don't get much attention from open-water anglers.  We also saw quite a few gar today surfacing, which was cool.   As is usually the case on Cayuga in the summer, there were at least 3 bass tournaments going on.  I enjoy tournaments but don't like the fact that fish are moved around so much.  Expect good bass fishing around Long Point and Dean's Cove solely due to the fact that so many fish get released in those areas due to tournaments. 

Bass appear to be in late-June/early July patterns on Cayuga Lake - meaning most good action that I could see (and I could also see where numerous tournament boats were fishing) was up north.   If we see a big migration southerly, it may not be for awhile yet.   We'll see.  Water temps around Union Springs were about 76, and around the crescent area they were 72.  Lakers ranged from about 73' to 85'.

7/12/2013
Skaneateles Lake 7/12 AM
Guided Nat and Chris today starting around 6:45 am.   Smallmouth fishing was significantly better than it had been over the past couple weeks with some larger fish activating.  Fish today ran to over 17" and we had more 14" to 15" bass than in the past week.   I think some of the bigger fish have recovered from spawning and are back "on the feed."    The guys did a great job working the tubes.  A handful of rockbass were in the mix too.   The boat launch was crowded today.   Surface temps range in the mid-70s.  We had bass from 5' to 27' FOW.   Over a dozen solid bass were landed.
7/11/2013
Skaneateles Lake 7/11

Guided Scott for the full day starting around 6:45; his father Dick joined us about halfway through the trip.   Over the last couple years Scott has joined me for a few trips a season during his vacation.   He's always up for trying some new stuff and it paid off big time a couple years ago with the best day of brown trout jigging recorded thus far on my boat.   This time, we kept things "closer to the vest" with a couple trips on his home lake of Skaneateles Lake for bass and a few pickerel and one successful Cayuga trip.  His youthful enthusiasm for fishing is contagious and inspiring and he "ain't no kid!"

Fishing was slow for us to start but Scott nailed one 15" smallmouth on a dropshot.   Conditions changed a bit and the bass activated shallow.   Fishing was good with Dick and Scott landing over a dozen smallies.  Quite a few were legal, but there was the usual handful of "Skaneateles dinks" in the mix.   A few good rock bass and even some perch, including a 13"er made it aboard.   Tube jigs and the dropshot rigs were the best producers.  We caught fish from 5' to around 27' FOW.   Surface temps are very warm, around 76 degrees.   Boat traffic was light.

7/10/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/10 AM

Guided Ross and his wife Kris for a 1/2 day starting around 6:30 am.   They seem to know how to pick good days and today was no exception.   We found some steady, good action near the Power Plant with some larger fish hooked.  Ross landed a 28"+ laker which we unfortunately couldn't release, likely due to stress in the warm surface waters.   Another 4 or 5 fish were landed with Kris probably getting the lion's share.  Ross dropped another solid as well.

For some reason these fish were fairly lamprey-infested with 3 attached eels coming up.  Others had wounds, so it's been a strange season.  Certain groups of fish have been hammered fairly heavily and others appear unscathed.    Best action was around 85' to 105' today.   The fish bit all morning.  

7/9/2013
Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport 7/9 AM

Guided Steve and George, who both have cottages on Keuka Lake.  They've been jigging on their own for the past year with some success and wanted to see another approach to it.   We met at 6 am at the Hammondsport Hotel.

Fishing was very good today and we never ranged more than a mile away from the launch during the entire 4 1/2 hour trip.   As anybody that has booked me in the past knows, I have no qualms about running just about anywhere within reason in the quest for good fishing, but to not have to go anywhere and save time and gas is always welcome.

The guys wound up landing 9 lakers - only one being a 13" dink.   The high point of the trip was Steve's 22"+ rainbow!   A silver beauty that gave a great battle.  I thought it was a foul hooked laker for awhile, since it ran so hard and often.   All fish came on Lunker City Shakers and Zoom Superfluke Jrs.   This rainbow was a wild fish.  Now DEC is stocking rainbows at a tune of 5,000 per year.  If people continue to harvest lake trout with vigor, we may see more rainbows like this one if not bigger ones in the future.   

I had a great time with the guys and it really was a perfect trip was start to finish.   After the tough start to the "summer jigging season," the past few days have been like a breath of fresh air.  The thermocline at the south end of the lake ranged from around 40 to 65 feet or so.  Lakers were concentrated at their preferred temps in around 65' to 70' FOW.  As the day went on we did better over deeper water, like at 65' over 80' out to around 100'.

And boy do I like Cabelas!  My new Super Magnum Rubber Landing Net was at my door when I got home!  That was with Standard Shipping and it was ordered on Sunday!  That's basically two day shipping for the normal charge!   Hopefully this one will stay on my boat where it belongs.   The associate I talked to on the phone told me that the net shipped from their eastern distribution center which I believe he said was in Virginia or West Virginia.  Awesome!

7/8/2013
Cayuga Lake 7/8 out of Long Point
Guided Scott for a full day starting around 6 am.   His father joined us for a few hours after around 10:45 am.    Conditions were overcast and calm to start in the morning.  The bite was slow for the first couple hours.  Eventually things picked up and fish hit fairly steadily throughout the entire day.  Slow but steady.  The wind helped as did a little bit of sunshine.   Scott wound up landing 7 solid fish from around 19" to 24".  A couple live attached lampreys came up with the fish, but overall most looked good.  
7/7/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 7/6 + 7/7

7/6:  Guided Rick and Gary for a full day starting bright and early, around 5:45 am.   Fishing on the day was slow but steady.   The guys managed to land 5 fish and lost a few as well.  Fish ran to about 26" long and FWIW we had a good little flurry of activity in around 115' of water.  Lampreys weren't an issue.   We found fish from Long Point north to Levanna, with no areas being particularly better than others.   A run over to the Dean's Cove area didn't show much more.   Unfortunately today (7/7) I realized that my nice Super Magnum Landing Net from Cabelas likely blew out of the boat on the ride back in.   Perhaps some lucky jigger will snag themselves a nice net!   Water temps are very warm on the surface - reaching around 82.

7/7:  Guided Ron and Matt for the full day starting at 5:30 am.   With these hot, muggy days it's been nice getting on the water early and being done early.   We had one fish near Stoney Point then ran south to Sheldrake and worked south from there.  Fishing was a notch up from 7/6 with 10 solid fish landed up to 28" and the last two coming just before we quit, at about 1:20 pm - so they hit all day today.  And I managed without a net, which was a semi-dangerous or at least risky thing to do!   But I was able to hand-land the fish without receiving a jig head to the hand or face, by being very careful.   Two attached lampreys made it onboard, but overall most fish were clean.   About 65' to 110' was best.

The guys from the past two days have been fishing with me since 2005 in the case of Rick and since around 2008 with Ron and Matt, and it's really awesome seeing familiar faces on a fairly regular basis.  We had a lot of fun on both days and all fish were released on both trips, which was nice.   The laker population on Cayuga Lake is fairly balanced and selective harvest is the way to go these days.  A large year class of fish is missing due to a stocking diversion that took place around 7 or 8 years ago when the Federal Hatchery had to destroy a bunch of lakers due to disease.   Wild fish numbers on Cayuga remain low, hovering around 8 to 9 percent.   Keep in mind that wild fish numbers on Cayuga were basically non-existent when the smelt population was high, prior to the mid-1990s, so at least we're seeing some wild lakers.   Boat traffic remains light on Cayuga Lake. 

7/5/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/5 AM
Guided Mark, Mike and Reice (I got the right spelling this time) on Cayuga starting at 6:30 am.   Sunny conditions got me thinking that we may have done better starting earlier, but one can never tell.  Headed up towards AES and on the first drop Mark got hit 3X then scored on the first laker of the day.   But fishing overall was pretty slow.   A few more hits were had and Mark, who really has got the knack for this jigging nabbed 2 more fish.   Reice landed one and Mike lost a solid fish.   Both sides of the lake produced and we had fish in water ranging from 70' to over 100' deep.   Plenty of bait abounds and lampreys weren't a factor for us today.   The Sampson area received a few heavy downpours yesterday, so I had these Seneca guys try Cayuga.   Fish ran on the small side today.  Tomorrow I'll be trying some other areas in an attempt to find some larger fish.  Stay tuned!
7/4/2013
Skaneateles Lake 7/3 + Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/4

It felt good to have some solid, good fishing over the past two days.  My job felt a lot easier!  Less stress and more fun.    Water levels came up around 2' on Cayuga and at least a foot on Skaneateles Lake.   Perhaps it's the weather, but boat traffic was remarkably light on BOTH lakes!  I was amazed to pull out of Skaneateles Lake on a hot sunny July 3rd and only see a few trailers in the lot.  I was expecting chaos over there.   Cayuga wasn't bad for the 4th either.  

Skaneateles Lake 7/3:   Picked up Scott at his dock and we headed south around 6:30 am.   High water and cloudy/windy conditions, plus the relatively consistent "stable yet unstable" weather pattern made for some very good bass action.   The usual tubes were excellent in the morning with plenty of fish in less than 8 FOW.   No monster bass today, but a load of fish in the 11" to 12" range with a handful up to just over 15".   What they lacked in size, they made up for in sheer aggressiveness!   A few rockbass were also landed.   VHS remains a factor in this lake, mainly taking its toll on the rockbass.  

At around 10:30 we swung back to Scott's dock and picked up his son Joseph and went back to fishing.   The sun came out and winds diminished a bit.  Fish moved out a bit (18' to 23' or so) and instead of dropshotting them, we decided to take a run further south to find some shallower fish that might hit some Superflukes.  Casting the Superflukes was a blast and Scott did well with them.  Joe did some tubing and also managed to land a small (12" to 13") lake trout while dropshotting in around 30 FOW.  We ran all the way down to the south end weeds and a decent smallmouth was landed on the dropshot and a few pickerel were hooked/landed on a spinnerbait.  The pickerel for the most part run small here, but they hit hard and the guys love hooking them.  Fun day with steady action throughout.

Cayuga Lake 7/4:  Had a last minute call from Mitch and met him, his friend Tyler and Tyler's dad Steve at Taughannock around 6:30 am.   The laker bite was on and we had good steady action from the get-go near AES.  Fish can be found throughout both shore right now.   No great size on the lakers today - it felt like Keuka Lake out there, but there were plenty of fish.  A couple lampreys came up with the trout.   The guys landed 9 nice fish and lost a few as well.  Very good fishing and we managed to wrap up right after about 4 1/2 hours of fishing - we beat the 4th of July rush at the park (there was a line of cars backed up on Rt. 89 by the time I pulled out,) so I was pleased.   Lakers are still feeding fairly heavily and out of the two we kept, one was loaded with alewives.

6/30/2013
Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 6/30 AM

Guided Mark from last week, with Mike and Reice for what wound up being a long half-day.    We started at 6:30 am with somewhat murky conditions and fog.   Tough bite to start.   Reice had one hit.  We tried a couple areas and wound up north with Reice (again) hooking what seemed like a good fish that got off.   A lot of fish were on the Belhurst Flats.   Reice dropped another fish around Sampson.   The lack of wind and cloudy water made fishing tough.   Eventually Mark wound up picking up a couple wild fish - a 16"er and a 19"er.   Not the size we expect from Seneca Lake, but a lot better than not landing anything!   Quite a few fish were chasing and I was surprised that we didn't hook or land more. 

I have a full schedule coming up over the next couple weeks and may as well be living on the water.   With the way the weather and bite have been, I have my work (and it is work!) cut out for me.   I was all set to head up to western Lake Ontario for some jigging, but the forecast northerlies put the "kabosh" on that trip, so that'll have to wait for another day.  I'm hoping to get my bass gear together and at least do a shakedown on Cayuga or Otisco Lake, but that requires something called "time," which I haven't had much of.   Very interesting year thus far.  BTW - boat traffic on the lakes has been minimal!

6/26/2013
Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 6/26

Did two 1/2 day trips today.  The bite was steady throughout the whole day, which was great to see after the last month or so of fairly spotty action.

AM Trip:  Guided Rob and his son Bobby, whom I picked up from their rental at Dresden.   We poked around Dresden for awhile and Bobby picked up a nice laker around 26"+.   A lot of fish were around.   Working around the park resulted in a short flurry of good fishing and then a few more trout before we wound the day up.  Around 6 fish were landed and one good one lost.   85' to 110' was best.   White and chartreuse plastics on 1 ounce jigheads did the trick.  

PM Trip:  My afternoon trip was with Rob and his friend Tom.  Rob joined me earlier in the year for some landlocked salmon fly-fishing out of Watkins.   We worked Sampson, Geneva and some areas in-between.   7 solid fish were landed up to around 29".   One lamprey came up with a fish, but overall the eel numbers appear down.  

Almost 1/2 the fish taken during our last couple trips here were fin-clipped (hatchery fish.) My PM trip featured mostly wild fish.   There's a nice balance of wild and stocked fish on this lake.    Lakers are fighting very good this time of year.  They are rarely ever spectacular battlers, but they are pulling hard and offering up some very good sport!     

6/25/2013
Cayuga Lake 6/24 + 25, Long Point/Taughannock

I spent the last two days on Cayuga Lake and the bite and fishing were challenging and perplexing to say the least.   Fish are mostly in fairly deep water - around 75' to 90'.   Here's how things went:

6/24 AM:   Guided Doug and his 7 year old grandson Wesley for a 1/2 day.   7 years old is generally too young for the kind of fishing I do, but Doug had been out with me before and knew what things entailed.  Wes did a commendable job of persevering despite the slow bite.   Our region (north of Ithaca) and areas further north were hit with very heavy rain on the night of the 23rd.  We likely had 1" to 2" of rain!   Vast areas of Cayuga Lake were muddy.   The laker bite was tough and I ran all around looking for areas of clearer water.  We had a couple hits in the murk, but lakers are sight feeders and I felt clear water would be better.   We tried around Dean's, North and South of Sheldrake,  Rocky Dock and around AES.   Very few hits were had, though an awful lot of fish were around.  Fish seemed hard to hook.   Eventually I took a few drops in hope of hooking a fish for Wes as he took a break.   I managed to hook one and handed him the rod!   He was very excited.   Sometimes you have to do what you gotta do!    He had a great time - enjoying the boat ride as much as anything.   But it was very tough - especially for a youngster.

6/25 AM:   After yesterday's tough bite, I felt today would be better.   I met Bruce and his wife Mary (I think she goes by Shelly if my brain serves me correctly) at the launch at 6:30 am and off we went.  No boats had gone out of Taughannock before us.  Boat traffic was very light, which is the way I like it.   We found terrific numbers of fish and Bruce had one on with his first drop of the jig.   Despite a lot of chasers and activity on the FF, nothing much happened in terms of solid grabs.   We tweaked a few things with our presentation as time went on and were in business.   Shelly got things started with a nice 27.5" laker.   Then Bruce landed a couple more, including a 19" and 27" wild fish that we released.   Our fish didn't have any attached eels, which was nice.   It was a very pleasant day on the water with good company.  Bruce had a lot of great info regarding fly-fishing sea-run Atlantic Salmon which was really neat to hear.

6/23/2013
Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport 6/22 + Seneca out of Sampson 6/23

Keuka Lake 6/22:  Guided Allen, Branden and Mindy for the full day starting around 6:00 am.   Plenty of large boats were out from the get-go at Hammondsport.  Probably a FL Troller's tournament or something of that nature.   We had a couple hits from the start, but not much happening.   

We ran to the Bluff Area and eventually a fish or two came to the boat.   Branden and Mindy hadn't done a whole lot of fishing in the past, so today was a day to learn some new stuff for them.   A couple solid hookups were dropped.  We worked some water on the way back south and another fish was landed.   The bite got better by the end of the day with 2 more.   Fishing was generally tough today but fishing hard resulted in 5 fish landed on the day.  

I find that Keuka Lake tends to fish kind of tough at times during the summer.  The bite generally isn't as good as Cayuga or Seneca Lake.  If you want fish on Keuka from June through August, it's best to start early in the AM!   We had a fun day and the lakers landed were all pretty solid fish - mostly 20" to 23" long.

As I mentioned last year, the launch at the Motel is nice now with some solid upgrades.  Better dock and ramps.   Still a $10 fee, but may be worth it if you want to fish the lower part of the lake and not do a long run.

Seneca Lake 6/23:   Guided Mark and Mike for a 1/2 day starting around 6:30 am.   Not a single boat trailer was at the launch when I pulled up around 6:15!   Lots of boats were on the water yesterday, so that may have been the reason.  Seneca had a decent south wind and I put my I-Pilot to work, often "anchoring" the boat.   We had a steady pick of some solid lakers, ranging from one dink around 16" to a 27"+ beauty.   Around 6 fish were landed  if my memory serves me correctly.   They were fighting very well.   Had one lamprey come up that Mark is planning on sauteeing.  We'll see if he goes through with it!  I cleaned it for him.   Best action was on chartreuse Lunker City Shakers, 80' to 95' FOW.   Another fun day with some really good guys.

6/21/2013
Seneca Lake out of Sampson 6/21
Guided Ron, Vince and 12 year old Max for a half day.  They wanted to learn the laker jigging technique.   Plenty of fish abound around Sampson State Park and even more around the north end flats.   The thermocline was deep with laker amenable temperatures around 85' to 95' FOW around Sampson and  75' to 90' up north.  The guys had quite a few hits and managed to land 4 nice fish from 25" to 27" with Max catching the first two on his own.   Lots of bait up north.   Some panfish, bass and even a pike were hanging around the marina.   Good day.
6/20/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/20 PM
Started a half day trip with Dave and Beth just past 3:30 pm.   Water temps on the surface are around 65 degrees.   We found great numbers of lakers from around 85' to 95' FOW.   Fish were moving and chasing the jigs but we didn't have a lot of hits.  Some small salmon appeared to be around as well.   Beth landed one around 15" and then Dave nailed a 27"er.   A few other hits were had.  Things are set up very well and I expect very good fishing over the next few weeks.   Beth was getting a bit cold, so we wound up a tad early.   The winds came up more so than forecast and that probably hurt us a bit.   I felt we would have had a strong evening bite once the winds died down.  Marked a decent amount of bait and our big laker did have a lamprey attached.  
6/19/2013
Keuka Lake out of Keuka State Park 6/19

Guided John and Anzie today for a 1/2 day starting at 10 am.   I brought some bass gear as well as laker stuff.   Going laker jigging at 10 am on Keuka Lake this time of year can be tough.   Bass after a cold front like the one that just rolled through can also be tough.   But John (1/2 of the Hermans - who do a fair number of trips a year with me) didn't care to show up at 6 am, so we worked with the cards we were dealt with.  They knew what the deal was!

I've been sticking around the northern part of the Branchport Arm a bit more than usual this year instead of making the run to the bluff and fishing has been working out well.  We marked a fair number of lakers and bait from around 65' on out.   85' was productive.  John and Anzie each landed a fish around 18.5".  They missed/lost several as well, so I was happy.  

I had them fish bass/pickerel a bit.   Working some alewife patterned tube jigs and superflukes was tough, but John managed to raise a couple decent smallmouth bass and hook a pickerel.   We spent about 2 hours on lakers and 2 hours on bass.

One interesting thing we saw were carp rolling around on the surface along the slick lines from Guyanoga Creek.  That's pretty common, but what wasn't was the depth they were in!  The carp were suspended in anywhere from 85' to 125' or more water.   That was the first time I'd seen that.  And there were a lot of them doing it.   We've seen carp swimming in 400' of water on the surface going across Seneca or Cayuga Lakes.  We've even seen gar do that.   But these carp looked like they might have even been feeding.  

Water temps hit around 65 degrees on top.  The thermocline remains solid - it's here to stay.  A few loons remain around - we could hear them.  That was neat.

6/16/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/16 AM
Guided John and his 9 year old son Hunter for a half day starting at 6 am.   Bite started out well with John hooking two solid fish and landing one over 27".   Then things slowed for us.  By around 9:30 fish were showing some signs of activating again.   Hunter hooked and landed a laker around 20" then John caught another around 23" before we called it a day.   The thermocline was set up with around 60/62 degrees on the surface and 48/50 down around 75'.   Of course, these depths and corresponding temperatures will vary depending on what side/end of the lake you're on and where.   But that's what we found N. of Long Point near Aurora.  No lampreys or fresh scars on any of the fish.
6/15/2013
Keuka Lake out of Keuka Lake State Park 6/15 AM

Guided Steve and Quinn for 1/2 day starting at 6:30 am.   It felt good getting back into guiding mode after a week spent in hot Arizona visiting my mom.   As was to be expected, with the rainy weather we've had lately, this first nice day in a while drew out the boaters.  But launching was no problem and we were underway and fishing by 6:45.  

My temp probe showed a thermocline setting up around 65' FOW.   Quinn did pick up one or two lakers in shallower - around 55'.    The morning bite was good and the guys did well landing 4 solid lakers to 23".   It was their first time jigging lakers and a lot of hits were missed and fish dropped.  The bite slowed down as the morning went on, but they lost a couple fish around 10:30 am and also had a few more hits, so the action kept us focused.  

Impressive numbers of alewives (at least for Keuka) are around the lake this year, and have been around for the past couple years.   Quite a few were in by the boat launch - some big ones I might add.   I'd like to think we'll see an uptick here in the non-laker salmonid populations soon.  But then again, the lake's massive laker population usually decimates the bait by mid-summer!  So time will tell.  I'm actually pretty happy with the terrific laker fishing on Keuka Lake and I like the lean, smaller fish a lot on the table.  They're the native salmonid here, so it's good to see them where they should be.

I checked in on my rod building friend Mike Canavan and he reported similar fishing on Cayuga Lake this AM.   Good early bite but then things shut off.  Lamprey numbers appear to remain up and he even saw some 14" salmon with attached eels swimming around.   DEC has done a fantastic job managing Cayuga Lake over the past decades and lampreys have been under control since I moved to the area in 1995, so these things will happen from time to time due to environmental reasons - i.e. high lake and stream levels during the lamprey spawning run.   Next year should show a big improvement in wounding and they'll be treating the inlet.   So we just need to ride this out.  I'll be back on Cayuga shortly and am looking forward to seeing how things are looking.  

6/5/2013
Report 6/3 - 6/5

Fishing has been off and on lately throughout the region.  I like to blame the weather.  Lake temps in the large Finger Lakes remain cold; it may be hitting the upper 50s on top, but cold water isn't far below the surface.  Trout can show up anywhere!

Skaneateles Lake 6/3:  Guided Robert for the full day starting around 8 am.   He lives in largemouth and spotted bass country and was hoping for some smallies.   Water temps were in the mid-50s if I remember right.   The north end of the lake was loaded with rockbass.  He caught plenty of those on tube jigs as well as a small smallmouth.   I'd assume many smallies are starting to spawn.  I don't generally target those, so we checked colder water areas for prespawn bass.

A move down the lake still resulted in slow bass fishing.  The sun came out and winds moderated and we found a decent concentration of smallmouths willing to gobble superflukes.  The fishing was a lot of fun and he nailed 1/2 dozen decent bass and had another 10 to 20 showing interest and hitting the flukes but not getting hooked.   A few large perch also made things fun.  He didn't work many jigs in deep water for long.  Had we done that, I felt some lakers and perhaps a rainbow or two would've made it to the net.  I did spot a nice salmon or rainbow in around 10' of water, so they are still inshore - at least some of them.   Fun day.

Seneca/Geneva 6/4:  Guided Ron, Bill #1 and Bill #2 for a half day.   Laker fishing was very hot out of Geneva yesterday.  In a nutshell, fish were shallow - around 50' to 65' was excellent and 10 solid fish up to around 32" and 12lbs made it to the net.  Bill #2 had the hot hand, with Bill #1 getting things started and Ron holding his own.  We released the two biggest fish - a 28" and the 32".  Smaller ones were kept for the table.  Great fishing!  BTW - lamprey wounding was very low.

Seneca/Geneva 6/5:  Did a full day with John, Jack and Brian.   Wow - what a difference a day makes!  (Great song, btw.)  In short order Jack landed a laker around 20" shallow.   Then it was zippo for a long time.  We worked shallow, deep and in-between.   Lake temps had dropped a bit with laker-friendly 48 degree water down 10', so lakers may have been in super shallow water for all we know.  Only one other fish was landed - a nicer one around 24" if I remember correctly.  That one was in 160' FOW on bottom.   A run to Sampson didn't help.  Sticky sort of bite with fish quite negative.  My friend Mike reported similar tough fishing on Oneida Lake compared to earlier in the week and I also had a tough report on Cayuga from Angling Zone friend Dave.   So it was definitely a weather-thing.  We had a fun day and it was beautiful out.  The guys learned the technique and had it down pretty well by day's end. 

5/31/2013
Otisco Lake 5/30

Guided Annie and Ron for 1/2 day starting around 6:30/7 am.   Ron has a farm overlooking the lake and has been around the area for 40+ years and never fished it.   Annie was in town visiting.   Normally I would recommend Skaneateles or another lake for better action, but Otisco was the call since Ron lived so close.   I had them cast for Tiger Muskies and try for bass for a bit.   Ann had one Tiger turn momentarily for her lure, but apart from that no real action.   Conditions weren't great with a lot of debris, cottonwood seed and murky water in certain areas from the heavy T-Storms the night before.  The lack of wind didn't make things easier.   On the positive side, on the course of the day (I went back out after the trip) I did see quite a few Tigers around - mostly sublegal fish.  But they were common.  

Bass were around the shorelines in droves and many were building/guarding nests.   Plenty of panfish were around as well.  Ann and Ron don't get on the water much and it was Ron's first time lake fishing, so we really had an enjoyable time despite the lack of catching.   Later in the day I had a couple solid bass blast some superflukes.  

5/29/2013
Keuka Lake out of Keuka Lake State Park (Branchport Arm) 5/28
Guided Don for around 6 hours targeting lakers.   He's learning the technique and getting better with it.   Fish varied in depth (as is the case pretty much everywhere this time of year.)   We had prime laker temps around 65' deep and that's where the better fish were.   Don got a dink (15") in the deeps - around 120'.   Some nicer fish came shallow.  He landed 4 or 5 fish on the day and had plenty of other hits.   No sign of much bait on the FF.   Surface temps were in the mid 50s.    Water level was good.   Fun day with Don - we always have a good time!  White and chartreuse Shakers and Swim Fishes did the trick.
5/28/2013
Memorial Day Annual Lake Trout Derby Report 5/25 - 5/27

Legendary Angler and Angler Educator Buck Perry talking to a packed room of skeptical fishermen:

"I can go to any lake - anywhere around the world, and tell you, just by looking at the lake, exactly where the fish are going to be." 

Audience - "Yeah right.  No way."   

"Deep, shallow or somewhere in-between" -  Buck Perry

Laughter would then erupt and the seminar would start. 

That quote or something similar to it is how Buck would start his seminars he conducted in the late 1960s - early 1970s.   At least that's what I've heard.   That's kind of how things played out during this past weekend's Memorial Day Lake Trout Derby.

I don't think any complete "play by play rundown" is necessary here, but here's a little backstory and "modern Fingerlake Jigging history" as it relates to me.   I first fished the Seneca Derby around the year 2003 if I remember correctly.   At this point in time I'd owned my first boat for a little over a year and a half.  I'd bought it in the Fall of 2001 and prior to that time the only boat fishing I did was with boater friends of mine - mostly my buddy Terry, but sometimes with a few other people.   Things were really falling into place quickly for me.  I was patterning fish (mainly lakers, salmon, pike and bass) on Cayuga, Seneca, Skaneateles and Owasco Lakes more or less simultaneously.   I stumbled onto a laker jig bite that correlated with all of these lakes.   I would wait for the lake temps to hit around 48 to 56 or so on the surface, then cast alewife tube jigs or hair jigs with my spinning rod on secondary shelves and occasionally primary ones.   It worked all over the place and I was excited about it and had just discovered the internet and would post a few reports about it.   On a good day I'd catch 4 or 5 lakers, but that was rare.  Most of the time it was one or two.   But they were usually good fish. 

In the past, we'd stumble onto an occasional big laker while perch fishing Seneca Lake in the late 1980s/early 1990s.   And we'd vertically jig in October around the points of Taughannock Park in the late 1990s.   The only other serious vertical jigging for lakers I'd done was in Irondequoit Bay around November of 1988 or so.  We'd catch them on white tubes or Mr. Twisters down around 17' to 25' FOW with our spinning rods.

I'd done a couple fishing excursions with a guy named Steve, who I'd met while I was fruitlessly trying to fly-fish Kings at night off of the Summerville pier in Rochester.   He felt I was living in the stone age not having a computer and I finally did get one and discovered the Lake Ontario Fishing Forum.   Anyways, lo and behold after I'd been posting my reports, this guy named Toby Wood started posting reports about jigging lakers and he wasn't just getting one or two.  He was getting more like 8 to 20 or more - per evening.   Turns out Toby was a buddy of Steve's and we wound up chatting and I learned the basics and some of the not-so basics from Toby.   Toby was a complex guy - to put it in a respectful way and we had some ups and downs.   I encouraged him to get his Captain's License and also gave him the bug to hit Lake Ontario for Kings.   But he, without a doubt is the father of this modern jigging style we do today.   He never took me out and showed me how to do it - he'd just answer some of my questions and he more or less let me figure things out on my own with some tutelage.  Eventually we did fish together a few times.   He absolutely LOVED the north end of Seneca.   He passed away some years ago, but the impact he made still reverberates every time a "jigger" catches a fish somewhere in the Finger Lakes or beyond on a fluke or other plastic.  Since the "Toby days" the pattern has expanded a lot and with modifications we're jigging deeper than ever before and targeting different salmonids with success.  

Anyways, I fished the derby around 2004 doing the vertical style we do now, and in 2003 casting jigs for lakers.   We caught fish both times, but the crowds at Sampson were insane and the long days really took a toll on me.  Over the past two years the only reason I fished the derby was because I guided it with Ed and John and I'd fish after our trip was over and when they were turkey hunting in the AM.   This year Ed took a vacation elsewhere and I called my buddy Jarrod to see if he was interested in joining me.   The Red Cross Derby is no longer being done, and I'd like to do one big derby a year, so this is it.  Jarrod's a great guy and he's been super busy over the past few years with a new family, new house and new job.   But his zest for fishing hasn't waned and he's a monster angler.

I decided we needed to fish with 100% effort, but not beat ourselves down to where we weren't thinking straight.   I knew the weather would impact things a bit and conditions would improve by the day (at least that was the theory!)   So we fished from 6:15 am to noon Saturday;  5:30 am till 1 pm Sunday and around 5:30 am till 11 am on Monday. 

We found scattered fish from shallow to deep on Saturday and the shallow bite was good enough to keep us there.   I think we landed 4 fish up to around 27" with me getting the lion's share.   One was in 50', two in around 65' to 85' and one (the last one) around 135'.   That last one came later in the AM when the shallow bite was nil.   So that pointed us in the right direction for Sunday.

On Sunday the shallow waters really were devoid of fish.   We probably spent 20 minutes looking, before moving deep.   My friend Mike was fishing the derby in another boat, so I had a contact working different water and we kept each other updated.   Same story there.  We made a run south looking for warmer water with nothing.  My FishHawk showed 42 degrees on top in 130' and 40 degrees on bottom.  So temperature was not going to play much of a role, except for keeping fish out of the shallows!  

We found some fish out from around 120' to 160' as we motored north.   Jarrod had one around 27" just gobble a jig and we knew we were in business.  Then I nailed one around 22".  Then he got what appeared to be a potential board fish - one around 9lbs+.   Then he got one at least a pound bigger.  We moved again and he hooked one that was a good class or two up from the bigger one.   It was business as usual and we were very workmanlike in our approach.   That was it for Day 2.

Day 3 yielded more deep fish for us but nothing board-worthy.  I think we caught two 29"ers.   We probably landed 15 to 17 fish all weekend long.   We took it easy at the end of the derby and kept our fingers crossed.

When I netted the big one, I thought 10lbs+.  Maybe 11 or 12, but we didn't talk about it much.   We were both surprised to see it go 14lbs.  And it was huge - around 34.5" long at least.   All the fish were just netted without much hoopla and went right into the livewell.

Some people might hear about the derby results and think - "well John is basically guiding Jarrod (or Mike when we won Red Cross) or what have you."   The truth of the matter is I generally provide overall direction/strategy and locational advice.  And then we play a lot of verbal tennis.   Major moves aren't made without serious reasoning backing them.   And the dialogue with Jarrod frankly is intense.   But I wouldn't trade these fishing buddies for the world, and these guys make stuff happen.  They balance me out perfectly.   Jarrod has won or placed in numerous ice-fishing derbies, he won a Bass Federation Tournament as a non-boater AND got lunker and he just makes things happen, whether in his career or elsewhere.  He did some unorthodox stuff during this derby and those things got us on the board.   And those things we'll keep to ourselves.   But overall it's the same thing with Mike during the last Red Cross Derby we fished and a lot of his personal fishing.  He nailed a 39" Tiger on Otisco Lake last year and this year he landed a 29"+ landlocked salmon fly-fishing from shore on Seneca Lake!   These guys aren't just great anglers, they're even better friends.  And that comradery and the memories are what these derbies are all about to me, whether we place or we don't. 

Favorite conversation had at the derby: 

Angler in large trolling vessel at weigh-in to me and Jarrod,

"Didn't one of you guys work at Bass Pro Shops?"

Jarrod:  "Yes, we both did."

Guy looks at me:  "I remember you gave me some flukes years ago at Dean's Cove."

Jarrod:  "Then why the hell are you trolling?!"

Last thought:  We played by the rules.  We started past 6 am on Saturday.  Why is it there were already about 20+ boats out fishing at the north end alone at 5:30am Saturday morning?   I'm really happy the way things turned out and during the polygraph they did ask Jarrod if he understood and followed the rules.   For those of you who start the derby on your own schedule, keep that in mind.   Thanks.    

    

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

5/27/2013
5/24 Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs
Not much to report here.    This trip was aborted after about 90 minutes.  The winds were brutal!  I gave Matt the option of cancelling the trip as I drove north and experienced the weather conditions.  Winds were gusting in the 20s, the air temperature was around 42 and it was raining lightly.   Other than that, it was great weather!   It literally felt like January out there.  Matt didn't think things would be as bad as they were, but he couldn't feel his hands after a short while and we called it a day.   It's tough when you look forward to something for so long.   We'll make up for it next time!
5/21/2013
Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 5/21

Did an abbreviated full day trip with Michael.   I had him try pike fishing for the first hour and a half and no pike.  He did get lucky, which is always nice, and had a chunky brown around 22" to 23" and probably around 5 3/4lbs hammer a Rapala Husky Jerk!   Funny how so many people cast and troll light line for these fish.  This one gobbled the stickbait with about 8" of 30lb TyGer Wire leader on it.   Great fight!   One small lamprey was attached.  

Jigging lakers resulted in 2 nice fish in around 80' to 115' FOW.   Fish remain shallow, deep and in-between.   Thunderstorms started rolling in around noon, so we called it a day.  Bait was scattered.  

The Memorial Day Lake Trout Derby should be very interesting.  The weather will feature a full moon on Saturday.  Does that mean a lot of lakers will feed at night and be lock-jawed during the day?   We'll see.   I think the Derby timing is perfect every year.  It's always before the thermocline sets up, so anglers can fish however and wherever they want depth-wise.  It's rarely ever a "slaughter fest" since the fish aren't concentrated at the thermocline.   Strategy is important, because bite windows can be short and sweet.  Will the shallow fish hit better early or the deep ones?   Will there be an evening bite?  Is it worth grinding it out all day?  (We probably won't!)  Lots of decisions need to be made.  How long to stay in one area?   There are plenty of nice browns around this year for some reason.  Also some huge salmon and likely rainbows.  Maybe it's worth targeting those instead.  (We won't.)  Will it take a 13 to 14lb laker to win?   I haven't seen a lot of big lakers yet this season on Seneca or Cayuga, so it won't surprise me if 11 to 12lbs wins it.   Don't even think about fishing Seneca Lake for trout/salmon this weekend unless you're in the derby!  Not being entered is a sure way to guarantee you catch a big one.    And you will kick yourself for years to come. 

5/20/2013
Reports 5/17 - 5/20

I've had a very busy week, between picking up my new boat (and dropping off the old one for some maintenance, CPR recertification at Cornell and guiding - a lot of guiding.   A few years ago I vowed to myself to space trips out a bit more, but I've fallen back into my old ways (not quite, but close) and have booked some fairly heavy weeks.   I'll have some info up re: my new boat and all the nice amenities, but for now, here are the reports.

Fishing has been all over the map, from tough to darn good lately.   Sometimes during the same trip!  

5/17: Skaneateles Lake:   Guided Mark for the full day.  He loves to fly-fish and it was nice to "break in" the new boat with him.  The fishing here sometimes get really predictable with the way the species move up and others move out.   Fishing the northend wasn't too productive for us first thing.   Mark picked up a rockbass and a smallmouth on a woolly bugger.   A run down the lake produced a decent 18" landlocked salmon on the fly for Mark.   I had him work some gear, and jigs landed him some more bass, perch (small ones) and a very nice 23" lake trout.   Water here remains COLD with mid-40s in much of the lake on the surface.   Nice trip and we saw a bald eagle (probably the same one as on 5/6.)  Very cool!!!

5/18: Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:   I arrived at 6:45 am to a parking lot with quite a few boats in it.  Barney's Derby!   The trollers were out in droves this AM.  Henry wanted to learn the laker technique, so that's what we did.  I gave him the full tutorial circa 2013 (which is a lot different from how I taught it in the "early years.")    Fish were scattered from shallow to deep, which is nearly always the case this time of year.   The bite wasn't real easy for us, but Henry managed to land a really old fish around 27" long (a black laker!)   He had a few other hits as well.   He really grasped all the reasoning behind what we did and I was impressed.

5/19:  Seneca Lake out of Sampson:

AM:  Guided longtime copper puller Tom and his buddy Rob for the morning starting at 7.     We stayed right around the park and action was good - from very shallow (less than 30') out to around 60'.   Tom's experience from the day before was dead on - prime temps (confirmed with my FishHawk) were right around the 35' to 50' mark.   Tom got a fish right away and really got the knack for things.  Rob was a bit cold and I think it distracted him.  But the guys (aka Tom) wound up landing 7 solid lakers up to 29" and around 9lbs+.   We released the big one.  Maybe she'll help us during the derby.

PM:  My PM trip was with Todd and his son Connery.   Just as I picked them up at the dock, the wind started coming up and the waves really built up to make jigging a hassle.  Whitecaps around 2.5 to 3'.   We made a run to the west shore, but didn't find much happening.   Connery even tried some pike casting for an hour or so, with just one follow from a small northern or pickerel.  The winds died down slightly and we ran back to Sampson.  Todd managed a solid 27" laker and that was about it.  He'd had one other possible hit earlier.   So it was very good AM fishing and slow for the PM.  

5/20 AM:  Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs:   Guided Todd again for 1/2 day starting around 7.   The strong blow from the south really muddied up the northern end of Cayuga, basically from Canoga up north.  A lot of weeds and junk were floating around.  I felt that those areas probably held a lot of largemouth, but didn't have the confidence to really work them for long.   So I had Todd work some water further south.   The bite was very tough.  Not even a pickerel to show.   Eventually Todd nailed a solid smallmouth around 17 1/2" on a Superfluke, but that was it.

After the trip I had to fish to see what was up.  I did nail a solid pickerel around 24.5".   I searched the shallows for bass and saw quite a few spawning smallmouths.   Largemouths are still pre-spawn for the most part, as far as I can tell.  But I'd guess it's "late pre-spawn" without the rampant hardcore feeding that goes on in late-April/early May.   That's my take on it, and I may be wrong.  As I've said many-a-time on here, I just don't get to bass fish enough on Cayuga to know what's going on nearly as well as I should.   I will be back out here later this week and with the warming weather and the upcoming full-moon, we should see the largemouths move up in droves shortly.   Water temps were in the upper 50s when I was there. 

 

 

 

5/14/2013
Skaneateles Lake 5/14 PM

Guided the Hermans today starting around 2:15 pm.   I felt we dodged the proverbial "bullet" today - calm water.   We had just enough wind to push us a bit and keep fish hitting - at least for awhile.  By 4:30 pm the wind was dead and the fishing slowed right with it.   But we didn't complain.

Bass were the ticket today with John and Eleonore landing a 1/2 dozen solid fish up to around 17"+.   Green pumpkin tube jigs fished on 1/4 oz jigheads did the trick.  After maybe 45 minutes of fishing, John set into a nice fish that showed silvery sides.  A big rainbow!   After a decent battle I slipped the net under the 24.5" rainbow.   Great fish!   It was a nice female that still had a lot of eggs in her.  Many of these Skaneateles fish just don't get to spawn.  There aren't enough quality tributaries for spawning, so some rainbows here just dump into the lake near small streams or likely just reabsorb their eggs.   But bigger rainbows are more common now than ever on this lake.   They ain't necessarily easy, but I've seen more 23"+ fish here over the past 2 years than in the past 12.  And I know in the 1970s - 90s the rainbows averaged around 12" to 15" here.  A few rockbass and perch were also in the mix today.   Water temps remain cold with mid-40s on the northend and low 40s just 20' down.

5/12/2013
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 5/12 AM

The cold front and strong accompanying winds really put a damper on the laker bite today.  Guided Andrew, Jim and Mike for a long 1/2 day.   I was hoping the forecast light winds for the overnight would hold up into the AM, but at 6 am NWS had southerlies in the low teens gusting up around 20 to 22 mph.  Not good for Geneva!  But fortunately the winds turned to the west and the lake flattened out a bit.

I showed the guys the technique and we worked a lot of areas from deep to shallow.   Fish were just very negative.  Mike had one on for a few seconds.  He also might have had another.   The other guys had a hit or two, but the bait schools from earlier in the week were gone.   Cold fronts have a way of doing that - I believe the whole food chain tends to come to a screeching halt when a severe front blows through.   Plankton production slows, so baitfish scatter or move deep and predators sulk.    At least that's my take on it.   Anyways I battled the wind for awhile and lakers started showing a little interest in the jigs, but still no more solid grabs.   Tough day with no fish landed.  The guys did a decent job with the technique so hopefully next time will pan out better.  It was the only date we could do the trip on before a vacation for Jim, so we went for it.

5/11/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 5/11 AM

Guided Brian, Bob and Brad for 1/2 day on Cayuga.  The AM weather was very unsettled but things calmed down a bit when we started.  Fishing wasn't easy, but it wasn't terrible.   Fish range from around 50' out to over 160'.  Our fish came deep with the guys landing 3 nice trout in the 25" to 27.5" range and one around 15" that we released.  The bigger fish were loaded with alewives - just stuffed.   Some smaller fish were following the jigs up and down - they were likely salmon.  Only a few boats were out today.

5/7/2013
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 5/7

With the Memorial Day Weekend lake trout derby only around 2 1/2 weeks away, I can say that I think this derby - weather permitting, has the potential to feature some of the best laker action seen there in a long time.   Time will tell, but I think we're finally going to see a very hot bite during the derby.

Guided Tony again for a full day.   I brought pike gear, salmon tackle and of course, laker jigging gear.   Pike fishing was slow.  We saw a pike or two late in the day, but never raised any early.   I'm not sure, but the recent upswing in pike fishing on this lake may primarily be in the lake's south end, where it is very good for the most part.   I don't care much for sunny, bluebird days for early season pike fishing (or any pike fishing for that matter,) so we'll see how things go, but we didn't see much of anything in the couple areas we tried, and they are usually good early season areas.

A few salmon are around the lake's north end and we saw a couple small ones surface, but no follows.    The laker jigging is very, very good right now and has the potential to be superb on any given day.   Tony did great working deep water (over 140'.)  He landed 8 fish up to over 30" and likely 10lbs.   We released the big one and I kept the average ones for the smoker and grill.   Anyone that tells you fresh lakers aren't good eating:  1.)  Doesn't know how to take care of the catch after the catch.  2.) Doesn't know how to cook fish.    3.)  Doesn't like fish. They are excellent table fare.   But they don't freeze or keep well for long.

The big news was the alewives aka sawbellies aka "mooneyes" moving in.   They are everywhere and lakers are right on them.   A cast with an alewive tube in 15' of water yielded a follow from a beauty in calm conditions with sun, midday!   Tony had fish in 40' FOW and we had them chasing jigs in over 180'.    Surface temps hit the upper 50s, though it's certainly much colder underneath.  A few smallmouths are moving up.  Panfish are moving shallow along with carp.  

5/6/2013
Skaneateles Lake 5/6

Guided Tony for the full day today starting around 7:45 (am.)   It was great seeing only 3 boat trailers at the boat launch.   Of course the usual broken trailer lights from the crowded weekend littered the parking lot.   This place is a crowded mess on hot weekends!  The lot still needs to be re-striped and users need to be a little less selfish in trying to use the lot when it is clearly full.   Mandana's launch is only a few miles away.

Fishing was very good today.   Tony did well on smallmouth bass up to around 17", large perch to around 14" and the salmonids.   Two nice salmon came to the net - a 21"+ fish and one around 16" or 17".   He also landed two rainbows - a 17" and a 24.5" beauty.    A pickerel and rockbass rounded out the species he caught today.   I should mention that Tony is a top-notch angler.  Working light jigs in deep water isn't super easy and can take patience and concentration.   Surface temps climbed to 60 degrees on the north end, but it was deceiving.  A drop with my temp probe showed 52 degrees down just 8'.   That clearly explains last year's lake trout caught with the high surface temps!   Most of the lake was around 42 to 44 degrees.   Rainbows came from deeper water today - 20'+.   Bass haven't yet moved up in heavy numbers around most of the lake.   Hot lure was one of my home-tied hairjigs, though a tube jig also produced.

High point of the day wasn't the gorgeous 24"+ rainbow (though that certainly was one of them,)  it was seeing a large bald eagle perched on a big tree fairly close to us!   Tony spotted it.  What an amazing sight!   I've only seen a few bald eagles before but never one so close.   Such majestic birds! 

5/5/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 5/4 + Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 5/5

My schedule is rapidly filling up, so please email or call now for the best selection of dates in May and June.   July and onwards are wide-open with most dates available at this point in time.

Seneca Lake 5/4:   Guided Dean and Scott for what has become an annual trip for them.   It's always a lot of fun on the boat when they show up and last year we had some great mixed bag salmonid fishing, plus Dean got to pull a cold canoeist out of Cayuga Lake.  It's always nice to do a good deed!

I had high hopes for some good mixed bag fishing Saturday with pike season opening and salmon/lake trout still around Seneca's south end.   But the fish seemed a bit "off," regardless of what we tried.   Sometimes cold weather in the spring will cool off the fishing a bit.   Rich Zaleski of Fishing Facts and "IN-Fisherman" fame feels that spring fishing is best when the weather warms up like it's supposed to, and that fall fishing is best when it cools as it's supposed to.  I agree 100%.    Cold days in the spring oftentimes put a damper on the bite.

I had the guys do a quick pass or two for pike and we didn't see anything.  So we tried some salmon.   A hit or two was had and after a couple passes Dean picked up a 16"er that we let go.   A few follows/hits were had but the fish seemed tentative, despite fairly good water temps and conditions.  

Laker jigging was poor.  Some fish were around, but my guess is that many are moving north.   We had a few fish moving for the jigs, but nothing to "write home about."    Tried pike again and Scott had a big one follow, but not hit.   Back to salmon and more follows and half-hearted hits.   You get the idea!  It was tough.   A move up the lake resulted in finding a nice school or two of salmon - including some bigger fish, but again - tentative follows and hits.  The lack of wind didn't help.   The guys almost had a double going, but both fish got off.    We spotted a few perch schools in around 20' to 30' FOW.   Kind of a fun fishing day, but poor catching. 

I was disappointed to see a lot of hook scars visible on the schooling salmon we saw.   Most of them had clearly been stung before.   It's good that people release many of these fish, but they really get torn up.   I wasn't a big fan of the maximum number of rods anglers can use going up to 3 per person.   Enough of these fish get hammered as it is with trollers using two rods a piece.   Nothing against trolling, because all forms of fishing (including fly-fishing) do damage to these salmon, but the stickbaits with multiple trebles really do a number on the young fish.    The only people fishermen are hurting with this maximum harvest/hookup approach are themselves and their future fishing.  I heartily recommend that more anglers cast for these fish. 

Cayuga Lake 5/5 AM:  Back out with Dean and Scott for a half day AM trip.   After yesterday's slow day - just the one 16" salmon made it onboard, it was time for some laker jigging.   I've done fewer laker trips thus far this year than ever before at this point in time, so I've been a bit out of touch with the lakers up north.  I was really happy to get out after them.   AM fishing was fair at best.  We worked  a bit between 90' and 140' since I was marking fish and the guys had some success.   Bait was also moving up.    The guys landed 4 solid lakers and lost/missed one or two.

PM Trip:  Guided Donna and Andy starting around noon.   Fishing was slow in the same areas we'd worked earlier.   A move deep proved to be the ticket.   145' to 160' was the best depth we found all day with some active fish.   They landed 3 including Donna's 28"+ laker.   We finished the trip early and headed in.  No doubt we could've landed more fish out there - it was loaded pretty well!  White and smelt colored Lunker City Swim Fishes fished on 1.5 oz. jigheads did the trick.  

 

5/3/2013
Lake Ontario out of Oswego Harbor 5/3

I had a lot of choices today!  What a dilemma - head over to Seneca out of Watkins for salmon on the fly, or maybe hit Cayuga again and try some different areas now that things have warmed up a lot.   Perhaps take a run over to Skaneateles Lake and catch some big perch and a nice mixed bag.   Then there's Canandaigua Lake - perfect time to jig some lakers and cast for some rainbows.   Maybe try crappie fishing somewhere.   Wow.  It's not easy being a Fingerlakes Angler.    My desire for some big browns on the fly and perhaps some deep jigging for lakers/Kings got the best of me, so back to Oswego I went.

It took longer than I thought to get there and I was on the water about 45 minutes after I should have been.   Charters were out in force and I was about to set up when I heard a boat horn blow.   Yes, sorry but I didn't realize guys would be running about 50' to 60' of planer board line on each side of their boat to capitalize their spread and this guy had to make a wide turn.  Wow.  Once in a while I see that on the Finger Lakes, but even for the Great Lakes, this to me was pushing the envelope on what constitutes a reasonable "program" in a crowded harbor.   I nearly hammered my prop backing out of the way onto some big boulders, but at least the captain did what he should have done with that spread and headed down the shoreline away from the growing number of boats in the harbor.  But all in all, I guess I can't blame him, since he was probably one of the first people on the water and no one else was likely around when he started his troll.

Fly-casting started well and within about 15 minutes I had a grab and subsequent follow from a solid brown trout.   Then in warmer water I started getting hits but couldn't hook the fish.   Another pass through, more grabs and I was into a solid smallmouth, then another.   What a difference from Tuesday.   Add in another 4 to 5 degrees of warmth in the water temp and the bass move right in and activate.    One of these days I will do an article on the similarities and differences between fishing the Finger Lakes and the Great Lakes for trout and salmon, via my style - which is casting/fly-casting (and not trolling.)   In a nutshell, the Great Lakes change and change fast.   Currents are stronger, the water is bigger and you must make wise decisions quickly or miss out on what is often a small bite window.   That's the challenge I love.  I could catch more fish on a Fingerlake at this point in time, but making smart (or dumb decisions) and reaping the benefits (or paying the price) is what trips my trigger nowadays.

Before long, as is usually the case with spring browns on sunny calm days, the bite moved out deeper and action really slowed in the shallows.  I ran out to some laker/salmon areas.   I saw some interesting stuff.   Piles of fish on bottom in 125' to 135'.   Bait was up high and I had a school of fish swim down, then back up for my jig.  Had a hit here or there, but no hookups.   Wrapped up around 12:30 pm back in the harbor.   Saw a few carp but no more hits.     

4/30/2013
Lake Ontario out of Oswego 4/30

Fished Oswego with my buddy Mike from around 6:45 till 2 pm.   We got a late start and that likely hurt our chances a bit, but we still had a fun trip.   We worked a few areas with our 8 wt. fly-rods.  I used an Intermediate line and he went with a Type 3 full-sinking line.  The water was clear at the first place we worked and we weren't able to raise any fish.  We found some warmer water and each had a follow from a large brown in short order.   Inside the Harbor, I had a hit and after a short but electric-like swift battle, Mike slid the net under the 21" spring Coho.  My first Lake Ontario coho on the fly!   I was psyched and it seemed like an eternity before Mike was able to slip the net under the fish, though it was only a matter of seconds.   It's great having that childlike enthusiasm for fishing after all the hours on the water.

Mike had a momentary grab while casting a swimbait, but fishing pretty much died down for us around 9:30 or 10 am.   We motored out into the depths and tried working some jigs for lakers.  We also worked deeper water outside the harbor for browns without any hits.   Warmest water we found was around 52/53 in the harbor.   Main lake temp offshore on the surface was 42/43.   Fun day and I'll have some photos up sooner or later. 

4/28/2013
Cayuga 4/27 + Skaneateles Lake 4/28

Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs 4/27:   I took my boat off of Union Springs mainly just to motor around and see what was happening.  I enjoy fish watching around the north end of Cayuga Lake this time of year.  The lake is clear and bass, bluegills, sunfish, perch and carp are all cruising around.   Water temps are in the mid-50s.  I had over 60 degrees along the railroad tracks.

I saw plenty of panfish and carp.  Mostly signs of carp muddying up the water.   The perch fishermen were out in droves and it looked like most boats were doing well.   I'm looking forward to pickerel season opening up Saturday and will also be doing some fly-fishing for carp and gar if I get the time. 

Skaneateles Lake 4/28:   Guided Terry for the full day today.  He contacted me and told me he'd be around Skaneateles Lake for the weekend for his wife's birthday and wanted to do a full day fishing trip.   I was very impressed with Terry's skills.  He's a very good fisherman, but I was more impressed with any guy that could do a trip for his wife's birthday without his wife onboard.   He should write a book!

I put brand new 6lb test Trilene on my outfits early this morning and was glad I did.   I should mention that I every time I fill up a reel with either braid, mono or flourocarbon, I spray the line with some line-conditioner.   The stuff works magic.  No tangles or problems with brand new line.

The fishing was excellent today.  I barely got the boat set up and Terry was into a smallmouth bass.  Then a big perch.  Then a salmon.  More bass, perch and a laker.   He wound up landing one salmon, 3 nice lakers and 4 rainbows.  The rainbows ran 17", 22", 24.5" and 26"!!!   All quality, gorgeous fish.   2 of the lakers were emaciated and we kept those.   The rainbows were all released.   We kept the good perch and the largest weighed 1lb 10oz.   Good numbers of bass were around too.   Tube and hair jigs worked great.

We spent most of the day in 12' to 23' FOW,  though he was often casting inshore.  Fly-fishing would have worked just fine for the rainbows today.   Water temps remain in the low 40s.     

4/26/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/26 PM

Guided the Hermans for 1/2 day trip today starting around 1:30.   We tried a lot of areas for landlocked salmon but only raised fish in one.   I think a lot of fish:

1.) Moved up the lake following bait or temperature

2.) Were harvested during the winter

But some nice fish remain around the south end of the lake.   Eleonore and John had quite a few follows from salmon and browns of various sizes.   John nailed a solid 24" salmon on a stickbait.  Eleonore caught an 17 to 18" brown as well as a small pike.   Water temps are around 44 degrees throughout the southern portions of the lake and over 52 in the canal.   I fished for about an hour after the trip and had one follow on a streamer and landed one small pike on a stickbait.   The Watkins Bar and Grill is now open and serving food and drinks.  They do a nice Reuben Sandwich and the homemade potato chips are highly recommended!

4/25/2013
Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 4/25

Guided Jeff and his friend Steve for the full day today.   We targeted lake trout starting at around 8:30 am.   Good numbers of fish were along the 120' break and also from 140' out.   The guys managed to land a half dozen lakers, nearly all in the 22" to 24.5" range.   We had a mix of hatchery and wild fish with only one lamprey coming up.   Various colored Flukes, Shakers and Swim Fishes worked well on 1.5 oz jigheads.   FYI - The AM bite was slow, but things picked up as the wind died down - which is often the case.

We had an hour left in the trip and the laker fishing had really slowed, so I took the guys to an area that gave them a chance for some browns or salmon.   On a stickbait, Steve hooked a beauty that jumped at least 4 to 5 times.   After a great battle I netted the fish that was around 24" and a shade under 5lbs.   It was a nice silvery salmon - though it looked an awful lot like a brown.   I've seen a couple fish that both fit the same description - maxillary like a brown, tail similar to a salmon, spot pattern more like a brown.   A check on the vomerine teeth revealed it to be an Atlantic. 

Shore fishing looks to be pretty good right now.  I heard a bit of talk about salmon around Sampson.    Quite a few fishermen were working the walls over there.   No sign of much bait yet.   H2O was 44 degrees around the mid-portions of the lake.    

4/23/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 4/23

Conditions looked terrific today as I arrived at the Myers Boat Launch around 12:30 pm.   I'd been planning on checking salmon action on the fly for awhile, so was psyched to give it a go.   I worked as many areas as I could today, from Myers south to the Ithaca Pier until I called it a day around 7:30.

I wish I had a great report to post, but I don't.  I found a few pods of salmon, but nearly all of them were small - anywhere from 10" to 14" or so.  A lot of good areas didn't produce any follows or hits for me.  I had a hold of what felt like a good fish for a few seconds and had one follow from what might have been a decent fish, but I didn't get a good look at it.

Water temps reached over 51 degrees on the lake's south end today.  I had upwards of 47 degrees on the east shore.  Some midlake areas are still around 40. I'm just one person with a fly-rod, so take this report for what it is, but it appears to me, from what I've seen and heard over the past winter/spring, that Cayuga's (legal) salmon numbers are very low this year.   That to me is to be expected with the lamprey infestation we had last year.   In 2012, a lot of 17" and 18" fish had lampreys attached - some had 2 or 3.  These are the fish that would run from 19" to 24" or better this year.

Trollers are picking up some decent numbers of brown trout this season.  For some reason browns seem to be doing very well in Cayuga and Seneca Lakes this year.  The browns don't respond quite as well (or easily) to the fly as Landlocked Salmon, so I may have been around plenty of browns and not known it today.   But for salmon, Seneca Lake is still the best bet in my opinion.  

4/21/2013
Seneca Lake out of Lodi 4/21

Got out with my buddy Mike around 10 am today.  We haven't had a chance to fish together in quite a while, so we were happy to coordinate something.   Canandaigua Lake was on our minds but not feasable due to Mike's work schedule, so we gave the nod to Seneca's mid-lower-lake sections today.   (I will be checking on Cayuga's salmon/browns soon!)   We wanted to try some areas that we hadn't fished in quite some time and see what was happening.

As a guide, it's easy to fall back on the "tried 'n true."   When doing trips - especially half days, I often start by fishing history, basically areas I'd found fish in last time I was there, especially if I was there recently.   Weather, wind and other factors also are taken into account, but there usually isn't time to experiment and try many different things or areas.   So I really enjoy either doing full day trips or just going out on my own or with a pal. 

Today we fly-fished a bunch of areas both north and south of Lodi.   The good news was seeing some brown trout caught in several areas by baitfishermen.   Browns seem to be doing well in Seneca Lake this year.   Plenty of 17" to 18" fish abound and some larger ones are also showing up.

We didn't have many salmon encounters.  Fish seemed sluggish after the unseasonably cold night.    I've seen this pattern before.  We had some halfhearted follows from non-commital salmon today.   In one area I managed a decent brown on the fly and Mike had a couple solid hits.   We caught one laker while jigging and missed around 1/2 dozen hits as well, near Severne.   So no great shakes today.  I kept my laker and the fish was full of alewives.  We fished hard, from 10 am till around 7:30 pm.  The long days are great!    Water temps are around 41 degrees, though we had 44 in spots.  

4/18/2013
Seneca Lake/Watkins Glen 4/17 + Lake Ontario/Oswego 4/18

Seneca out of Watkins Glen 4/17 AM:   Guided Tom for a 1/2 day fly-fishing.   Last year he did a laker jigging trip and it made a huge difference in his fishing enjoyment and success.   Like me, Tom is a big fan of a quality experience on the water and fly-fishing fits the bill perfectly.  His casting was good and I showed him some key areas and tackle/tactics.   He had one follow of a decent salmon, but not a lot happening for awhile.  The weather conditions were good so it was just a matter of time and perseverence and a little luck.    Sure enough, in one area he had a fish take a few swipes at his fly.   Within 5 minutes or so, a fat brown trout around 18" grabbed the smelt pattern.   After a terrific fight with some jumps and strong bulldogging under the boat, I netted the fish.   Success!  He had another grab a little later before we had to go.  

Lake Ontario out of Oswego 4/18:   Got out with my friend Artie for a day of fly-fishing and jigging Lake Ontario.   I've been busy with guiding and classes and of course, the weather has left a lot to be desired.   Strong winds really limit the options around here on the lakes.  

We arrived at Wrights Landing around 6:30 am and the booth was still closed for the season.  As far as I could tell, we were the only boat that launched out of there today.  I saw a total of two other boats on the lake today.

The forecast called for strong southeast winds and waves under 1'.   Of course, when winds gust into the upper 20s and low 30s, you're looking at big waves offshore.  Inshore, conditions looked very good for fly-fishing browns.  We had murky water, strong winds and water temperatures into the upper 40s.   Boat control was a bit tough and casting ranged from easy to a serious chore.   We never raised a brown today. 

Before the winds got too strong we tried some jigging.  I marked decent amounts of fish - likely lake trout in deep water, but again - boat control made things difficult and wind gusts made it tedious.    We went back to fly-fishing some other areas without luck.

Patterning Fish:   Most anglers would be quite disappointed with the results we had on Lake Ontario today i.e. no fish hooked or landed.   We had visions of large browns in our head and were hoping to contact some, so we certainly didn't leave thrilled.   But today was a very important step for me in patterning brown trout on the fly in Lake Ontario.   I'm seeing what the various conditions I'll have to face in the future here are.   Our fly-casting was good and our flies both performed satisfactorily - i.e. they cast well, tracked well and rarely fouled, which is pivotal.  We fished a good looking area that I've hit before over and over, which for some reason has never produced, so perhaps I'm done making the run there!    And we saw what the lake looked like after yesterday's light northerlies.    

With regards to jigging,  I found that what I saw here last year in early May repeats itself -i.e. I should be able to jig lakers here consistently from March through May.   We just weren't able to get a good presentation on the fish with the jigs today.   I was also able to see what the lake conditions were like on a strong southeasterly wind;  I saw what was doable and what wasn't.  

Before I started my guiding business, I approached fishing and waterways with the same mindset.    Whether it was patterning longnose gar, rainbow trout on Skaneateles, seasonal patterns for lakers on the jig in all the major Fingerlakes, pike on the fly, landlocked salmon on the fly, topwater landlocked salmon etc...  This "detached" (or scientific) type of effort, not simply relying on fish landed, is the only way I know to improve and develop solid theories that will later be tested and modified, adopted or dropped.  The "success" i.e. fish, is the end result and consistent success will occur once enough pieces of the puzzle fit.  Nobody has the entire puzzle filled out, because we're dealing with fish and ever changing conditions.   This method will engender confidence.   Because you do it YOUR way and YOU conducted all the research.

4/16/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/16

Guided Mike for a 1/2 day today.   The forecasted strong southerlies made WG the place to go.   The fishing wasn't bad today, but the conditions changed continually and the strong winds and rain made for tough angling.   The winds weren't bad when we started at 8:15 am and I had Mike try some laker jigging.  The bite wasn't great, but he had one fish grab his jig three times and not get hooked.   Fish were moving for the jigs a little, but not much for the most part.

Mike did some salmon casting and had a hit from a good fish which then followed the stickbait to the boat.  It looked to be a salmon or brown in the 21" to 23" range.   A large pike also followed in Mike's stickbait.   We tried lakers and Mike managed to hook up again, but the fish got off.   That was it for the morning.   Some opportunities, but we fell short.  It's amazing how a day can go either way!   It was cold and wet and there was only one other boat out that I could see.

Due to the rain and T-Storms in the area, my PM trip was postponed, so I got a chance to do a little fishing on my own.   As is often the case, the conditions changed for the better in the afternoon, at least for awhile - the winds died down a bit, the rain stopped and the sun came out.   I did some salmon fly-fishing in some areas we didn't have time to fish in the AM and managed to hook 3, mostly small salmon.  It was fun getting the hard hits on my new Type 3 sinking line.   I also gave a new Intermediate line a few casts without luck.   Changing out an old fly-line and fishing a new one is one of the small pleasures in a fly-fisherman's life.  Lines tend to deteriorate slowly and the process often goes unnoticed until things get bad!

I did some laker jigging and managed to land two fish - a 19.5"er and a 27".  I kept the small one for the table and it was loaded with alewives.   Both fish were stocked.  There are clearly different populations of lake trout on this lake.   The fish we catch up north from now until mid-July are 95% wild.  These fish follow around the alewives, both up and down the lake.   Most fish I catch in "lesser habitats" are stocked.   It's interesting, but I'd venture a guess that 75% of the lakers around Watkins Glen right now (that we've been catching) are stocked fish.   

4/7/2013
Keuka/Seneca 4/6 + Seneca out of Watkins 4/7

4/6 AM Keuka Lake out of Branchport:   Guided Mike and Jay for a 1/2 day starting at 8:30 am.  It was cold to start and the guys had icing going on in their guides and linewinders.   But the fishing was HOT!   Things got off to a good start and only improved.  The numbers of nice perfect eating-sized lake trout are staggering in this lake - especially near Keuka Lake State Park.   Jay figured he caught more lake trout today than he did ever before or at least last year (I can't remember the quote.)

After around 3 hours of jigging the guys had landed around two dozen fish to 24.5".   The fish hit all kinds of plastics from flukes to shakers and even beaver-type baits.   Fish came from around 120' to 150'.  We didn't check shallower - never got around to it, but I'm sure some were shallow.   I had a good time reminiscing with Mike, who happened to be from my hometown of Penfield NY.   Great trip.

4/6 PM Seneca Lake out of Watkins:  Guided Lindsey and Eric - both residing in Buffalo for a half day trip.  We targeted salmon and lake trout.   Eric hadn't fly-fished in a long time and had never lake fly-fished so he gave it a try.   Lindsey really hadn't ever fished much before - maybe once or twice as a child, so today was a learning experience.   Eric did as good a job as could be expected "learning on the fly."   Lindsey was casting the spinning gear very well in no time.  She had a few follows - one from a nice salmon in the 20"+ range.  She hooked a smaller one that got off.

We tried some laker jigging and Eric landed a beauty around 26" to 27" if I remember right.  Lindsey had one or two on that got off.   Fun day and it was beautiful out there. 

4/7 Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen:   Guided Mark, who typically joins me for a handful of trips a year - generally fly-fishing.   He's an awesome caster and great guy to spend a day on the lake with.   Today he brought a 7 wt. Sage XP loaded with an Intermediate line and was hoping for some salmon action.

Ah, the wind.   We knew things would be "challenging" to say the least, but my mantra is "when in doubt, go out."   More often than not, I'm glad I went fishing when the weather was sketchy.  We can always turn around and head home if conditions are dangerous or horrid, but 80% of the time if you slog it out, you get rewarded.  And sometimes with some of the best fishing you've ever had.   Today wasn't quite that, but things have a way of working out and they did.

We worked a few typical April areas for a while.  I had Mark cast all over the place without even a follow.  The driving southerlies - gusting close to 30 mph, brought a lot of cold water into the south end (basically the winds pushed out what little warm water had been around.)   

After hours of nothingness, I took Mark deep for lakers.  He scored on a clean, fat beauty in short order and he had fun playing the fish with whitecaps rolling around us.   Another laker came maybe an hour later.   The first was 28" and the second a 22"er.  

Lo and behold, the winds died down and Mark went back to the fly-rod.  He had a follow from a nice salmon then missed a very solid grab.   We did another pass and in another area Mark hooked up and landed an incredibly FAT 22" salmon.  We kept all three fish today and the salmon weighed in at 4lbs 5 oz.  The salmonids in Seneca Lake are pigging out on very large alewives right now.  That's typical in the spring, but these fish are clearly finding a lot of bait!  And that's a good sign.  Lamprey wounding has not been bad this year  - I'm very thankful for that!

Mark fishes hard and doesn't give up.  That's why we were successful on a day when it would have been much easier to call it quits early.   Nice going, Mark!

 

4/5/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/4 + 4/5

4/4:  Guided Tony and his boys Dan and John for a full day on 4/4 and a slightly abbreviated 1/2 day today (4/5.)   They've made the trip annually for what is the third year in a row.   Tony is along for the ride and the boys handle most of the fishing.    Salmon action left a bit to be desired for us on Thursday.  Most people on the lake had some action - whether trolling, casting or fly-fishing.   We had a lot of follows from some very nice fish on various lures but the boys weren't able to close the deal.   Tony took a few casts and wound up landing an 18"er.   Last year Dan caught a 27" beauty, so maybe he had to pay a few more dues.  I'm not sure ;-)

Lakers can pull hard and Tony wanted to wait on the jigging until he felt John could handle bringing a good one in himself.  He's around 12 years old now, so it was a good time to start.   The boys really enjoyed the laker jigging and hooked a double on the first drop with the jigs.   They each landed a laker and missed a few as well.  Late day salmon fishing resulted in another chase or two but no cigar.

4/5:  We went right for the laker jigging this AM (at 9) with strong north winds in the forecast.   Northwesterlies are doable with the high hills sheltering the lake, but if the winds shift easterly it's easy to get in trouble on this lake, especially when gusts hit the 30 mph range.  Then the lake (and many other Finger Lakes) become(s) downright dangerous.  There are good numbers of lakers around Watkins Glen now and young John did well landing two solid fish.  A 26"er really pulled hard and it was all he could do to land the fish without getting tired.   Lakers are capable of strong fights this time of year and into the early summer.  Sometimes when they are tight to the thermocline late in summer and they get pulled into very warm water they lose energy fast.

The second fish was over 29" long and fought well, but not as good as the first.  We kept both and the bigger one was around 8lb 6oz.   They are gorging on alewives, even though I'm not marking much bait.   We tried some salmon casting but decided after a short while to end the trip due to the increasing wind gusts.  Water temps range from 40 to 43.  It's still early in the season and the lake is still COLD!

3/30/2013
Skaneateles Lake 3/29 + Seneca/Watkins 3/30

Skaneateles Lake 3/29:   I had an email from Angling Zone friend Ralph telling me that the gate was open at the State Launch.   It'd been a while since I was on this lake and I had a free afternoon, so off I went.   The forecast highs were supposed to be 48 degrees, but I had 39 as I drove over around 1 pm!   A couple boats were out and I launched and headed north.

I fly-fished for rainbows for around 2 hours with one solid hit and a miss.  I didn't see the fish, but I'd bet a nickel to a dollar it was a rainbow from the feel of the hit.  Definitely not a perch, bass or lake trout.   I ran down the lake and tried another high percentage area without luck.

It was time to try some deeper water and I love casting hair jigs about as much as I like to fly-fish, so I tried a 1/16 oz hometied hair jig on 6lb test.   Worked a few drop-offs painstakingly slow (see how long it takes a 1/16 oz jig to sink to the bottom in 23' fow!)    I had a grab near the boat and after a short, sluggish battle I slipped the net under a 20.5" landlocked salmon.   I kept the fish for supper.  It looked a little bit roughed up - like a dropback.   Did some more fly-fishing for rainbows without any action.

I can't say conditions were great for rainbows, but they weren't too bad.   I expected at least a few hits and only had the one possible rainbow hit.  I want to get back here for a full day and give it another shot, but my hunch is that the rainbow fishing is a little bit slow, especially given the reports I'd had throughout last fall and winter both by shorefishermen and boaters.  We'll see.   My salmon proved to actually be a female full of eggs!  It didn't spawn last fall when it should have - maybe due to a lack of water or good spawning streams.   My guess is that the fish would've reabsorbed its eggs.

Salmon really haven't done very well on this lake.  Looking at the DEC Diary results over the decades, it's clear that there were a few good years for salmon in the past, but it isn't great from year to year and hasn't been that productive recently.  Rainbows and lakers are the only salmonids that tend to thrive here.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/30:  Did two one-half day trips today.   The first was with Bob and Chris and we started just after 8 am.  It was cold this AM and the launch was icy.   We headed out and Chris had a salmon hit him on his first cast.  He's a top-notch fly-caster and it showed.   He had one other hit and that was it on our first drift.   But we saw a LOT of nice fish!!!  They just weren't too active.   The wind forecast as of yesterday for today was north around 7 mph and sunny, then the weather people changed it to calm turning west.  Not good.   But we had light southerlies and sun to start, which isn't bad.  

Our wind died around 10 am and we tried laker jigging.   Bob nailed 3 nice lakers up to around 25" or so - all in deep water ranging from 135' to 160'.   During our last hour we poked around the south end for salmon and saw a fair number of them cruising around but not too interested in hitting.  Chris managed to hook a nice one that got off after a nice jump and run under the boat.  It was maybe 19" to 20" long.   Water temps range from around 40 to 47 on this lake, with most areas around 40/43.

My second trip was with Mike and John.   We tried salmon for a bit, since north winds finally came up (though they were light.)   John landed a dink.   He had a couple other follows too.   Laker jigging proved to be the ticket with a lot of fish around.   John landed 2 beauties - 26" to 27" solid fish in deep water.   A lot of lakers were around but not too active.  At time we had 4 fish showing interest in the jigs.  

Cayuga Update:   My buddy Mike reported the launch in great shape at Myers Park.  He had good laker jigging near AES.   Creek mouths are still pushing fairly cold water in the lake and fly-fishing trout/salmon was unproductive today.  This was also due to the lack of wind.  Water temps were similar to that of Seneca - 40 to 43 degrees.

 

 

 

3/24/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 3/24 pm

Guided Garry and his wife Ethel for a 1/2 day afternoon trip on Cayuga Lake targeting lake trout on the jig.   Fishing was very good with around 8 or 9 nice lakers landed.   Lakers ran from 17" to 28" long.   Despite the bad year for lamprey eels in 2012, these fish were in very good to excellent condition with most fish completely void of lamprey hits/scars.   The fish are starting to feed heavily, though I didn't mark much bait.  

Fish ran from 125' out to 168'.   Ethel nailed one just off the bottom in 168' - that's a DEEP fish!  The launch is in good shape and the water level wasn't too low.  Now's the time for some of the best laker action of the year.   They feed all day long!  We were the only boat on the water!

3/24/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 3/23

Guided Florian and Alysa for around 6 hours yesterday.   Last year on two consecutive days we had a zero on carp and a great day for salmon on Cayuga.   This year the conditions were much tougher.   This was the only day they could fish, so we had to go for it.   I orignally wanted to fish out of Long Point, but wind forecasts would have made for a brutal day.   For various reasons, it wasn't worth Florian and Alysa driving over to Keuka Lake (out of Branchport - which would have been a good call) so we decided to go with Taughannock.   The brown/salmon fishing has been very spotty thus far this season on Cayuga, so it was a roll of the dice, but I liked the winds and thought the conditions were alright.

We worked a lot of areas on Cayuga's west shore, which is where we were confined due to the wind.  We never drew a single hit or fish on stickbaits and jigs.   We tried some laker jigging and marked a few fish.   I rarely find decent numbers of lakers south of Taughannock (or more accurately the power plant) this time of year.  In a month or two, things usually improve.   But I think the decline of the smelt population has resulted in fewer lake trout frequenting the southern portions of Cayuga Lake in late winter/early spring.  Just a thought.  

After four hours without any hits things looked pretty discouraging, but I don't give up.  Florian finally hooked up with a small laker in around 135'.   Only 14.5" long but at least it was a fish.   Around 10 minutes later as he was jigging I saw him raise the jig and then watched the line go slack!  The infamous "slack line hit" which many people miss.   He missed the fish but then it came back but got off.   That was it for the day.  We would've fished longer but they had other obligations.  The run back to Taughannock was borderline brutal with north winds gusting to 26 mph.   We took a wave or two over the bow, which is never fun.  These gusts weren't in the forecast, but this stuff happens!   They were well dressed for the weather and the air temps actually didn't feel too bad.  And yes, we were the only boat out of Taughannock or the southend of Cayuga Lake yesterday.

3/12/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/12

Steve first contacted me a couple years ago for a late season trip, but due to the weather we weren't able to coordinate anything.   We finally got a fly-fishing pike trip with his wife Christine set up.   The forecast for today really changed a lot over the past few days, but we weren't expecting the north winds around 10 to 12 mph this AM when we met at 8:30.   It also was raining at a good clip.   We took a long coffee break before heading out just before 10 am.  The rain subsided a bit and the winds did the same.

Water temps warmed up a degree or two over the past few days and the pike were very cooperative.  Christine landed the first few fish - nice 29" to 31" thick bodied pike.   The pike fought great.   By the end of the elongated half day around a dozen or so fish had been landed - most in the 27" to 30" range.   Various set ups worked well - at first a floating line and double bunny fly did the trick.  Later in the day, an intermediate line and deceiver worked best.

After the trip's great fishing,  I felt compelled to do a little fly-fishing of my own and managed to land a couple nice pike before they shut off.   It's tough to beat the grabs of aggressive pike - especially on the fly.   Pike season closes Friday, so this will be it for the pike for us for awhile.

Re: Fishing superstitions - I'm not very superstitious.   A lot of people, including fishermen and guides/charter captains are.   One common one is that if you catch a fish on the first cast, that'll be the only fish caught that day.   I have seen things happen along those lines, but the answer is that chances are you arrived late for the morning bite and caught the tail end of it.

The "bananas on the boat" one is really goofy.   We had fun joking with it this past week.  It probably started way back in time where perhaps someone had a bushel of bananas onboard with a poisonous tarantula or something like that - maybe it was a ship transporting bananas.   I don't know.  But I hear stories to this day of Charter Captains (often in Florida or somewhere warm) literally getting very angry at people for bringing bananas on board.   Can you imagine Al Lindner, Larry Dahlberg or Kevin Van Dam blaming bananas for poor fishing?   Not a chance.  Experts don't do that.   Any Capt. blaming bananas for poor luck needs to look in the mirror and do more homework.  It's a bush league move.     We like to joke about it, but seriously?   Anyways feel free to bring whatever you want to eat with you on a guided trip.  If the fish don't bite I'll at least come up with a more creative excuse than the bananas you ate  ;-)

3/10/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/10

Guided a full day with Ron and Matt starting around 8 am.   Salmon action was pretty slow to start with each guy having a hook-up and landing one between the two of them.   A few other hits were missed.    After covering a lot of water, Matt had a couple hits then landed a sublegal brown trout.  

We tried a little deep laker jigging with mediocre results.    A fair number of lakers were on bottom from around 120' to 160'.   Ron appeared to have a hold of one or two for a few seconds before the fish were dropped.   Conditions were trying at best with strong southerlies and very little sun.

When we went back to the salmon fishing, the bite improved considerably with good numbers of fish moving in.   The guys landed another 12 to 13 fish up to 17.5", though most were just sublegal.   We kept one around 16".    My buddy Mike was fly-fishing and managed 3 solid fish from around 18" to 22", so some good fish were around.  Our fish came on stickbaits and jigs.

Water temps are around 39/40.   Perch action was reportedly pretty slow today out of Watkins, but I didn't talk to many people.   Mike fished Taughannock for a couple hours and didn't see anything.

Salmon fishing on Seneca Lake thus far this season hasn't been on a par with the tremendous fishing we experienced in 2011.    But there are a lot of fish around, although on some days you might not think so.   If these fish do well this spring and summer, we should see some great salmon fishing on Seneca Lake next winter. 

3/9/2013
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 3/9

Guided Ed and Stan for a 1/2 day targeting lake trout.  We got underway around 11 am and headed up N. of AES.   Lakers were scattered with a few concentrations of fish from around 120' on out to 160'.   The fish weren't super aggressive, but it wasn't bad and the guys had around ten to a dozen hits with three fish landed from 19" to 24" plus one or two dropped.   Fish were all in good condition with the largest having a healed lamprey wound and the others perfectly clean.   White Swim Fishes did the trick today fished on 1 oz. jigheads.

I fly-casted for around an hour after the trip without any action, but I didn't cover much water and the conditions weren't great, so I don't put too much stock in it.  A shore angler reported that salmon fishing overall recently has been OK - not great, but better than it was during the early season.   Water level was low but not bad for launching.  Water temps range from around 38 to 40.    The forecast rain on Monday/Tuesday should clear the launches of ice (if they aren't already) at Long Point State Park and perhaps Dean's Cove.   I believe that the northern portions of the lake contain the majority of Cayuga's lake trout this time of year.

2/26/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 2/26

Guided Rob for a full day of mostly fly-fishing starting around 8:30 am.   Temperatures hovered between 27 and 43 during our day.   It was chilly when the wind came up, but otherwise enjoyable out on the water.  Only a few boats were out today on Seneca's south end - a couple trollers and a couple perch fishermen.

I expected good things with the weather forecast and sunny conditions with light winds, but the fish had other plans to start.   The last couple days' northerlies might have altered things a bit.   We had slow fishing to start for the first half of the day.   Rob might've had a hit or two early on.  He had a good salmon follow in his streamer but not much else happening.   The wind came up a bit and I had him toss some gear for pike.   Some large pike followed in spoons, but were tentative.  Rob nailed one around 25".   He also had a pickerel show some interest.

The afternoon salmon bite was better with some solid hits and a handful of sublegal salmon landed on the streamers.   Water temps ranged from 38 to 40 degrees.   During the winter of 2013 the fishing's been so good on Seneca, that a tough day is still not a bad day. We accomplished our mission of getting some landlocked salmon on the fly in the lake.     

2/14/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 2/14

My boat was all set up and ready to roll last night, but when I looked at the Ithaca forecast, the highs had changed from around 42 to 37.   Only a few degree difference, but psychologically it was enough to make me think twice about going out.   But the Elmira/Watkins forecast still called for highs in the low 40s and sunny conditions emerged around 10 am, so I headed out.   It was tempting to fish Cayuga, but I decided on a surer thing and headed to Watkins.  

Action was excellent on smaller salmon today.   I spent a lot of my first hour or two on the water feeling grabs from dinks and pulling the fly away from them.   A few nicer fish were around, but it took me a while to hook up with any.  Clouds moved in and the bite slowed a bit, but then started up again despite the overcast conditions.   I wound up landing a 1/2 dozen salmon to around 21" in around 3.5 hours of fly-fishing.  All but one were legal.   The biggest one and an 18"er fought great.  

A few boats were out trolling and I saw one boat have exceptional success, while many others didn't fare as well.    I tried for pike a bit, though I accidentally left most of my pike gear at home.  An hour of casting (without my top lures) resulted in one hit and one follow from a pickerel.   Water level is up a little bit from the last time I was here.  Water temp is around 40/41 - still warm for this time of year.  This winter has featured some terrific fishing!

1/13/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 1/12 + 1/13

When I started Fingerlakes Angling Zone in 2005 (technically late 2004,) the first guided trip I ever did was a mid-March fly-fishing trip for Landlocked Salmon on Cayuga Lake.  It went incredibly well.  I have always felt some of the best fishing in the area ranges from the months of November through March, yet surprisingly, very few people take advantage of that fishing window - especially January, February and early March.  I haven't spent much effort touting this fishing, since I do enjoy my "off season."  

Why fish in January or February?   The normal legitimate excuse is that it's too damn cold!   That is no longer valid.  With "climate change" or global warming or El Nino or La Nina - whatever you want to call it, the last 10 to 15 years have featured temperatures often ranging into the 40s and 50s even during the typically coldest months of the year, like from December through March.

What about the fishing?  Isn't it better in April and May?    The fishing varies in the winter, just like it does during the spring, summer and fall.   Sometimes it's phenomenal, sometimes mediocre.   But there are several advantages to mid-winter fishing, and they merit consideration:  

* Landlocked salmon are often concentrated and in predictable areas.  They are also often still in very good condition.  As the winter wears on, they use up more of their fat reserves.  

* Pike are in some of the best condition of the year - they are still feeding a lot and putting on weight before the spawn.  Wait until the opener in May and you're almost always targeting post-spawn pike - usually males that are often skinny and beat-up.  Pike are also concentrated.  Once they spawn, they linger for a little while, then migrate back to their "residential areas."

* There are fewer anglers out and ZERO jet skiis, sail boats and pleasure boats.  It's just fishermen - serious fishermen!  And it is beautiful out there!

What about the fishing reports?  They don't often seem that impressive this time of year.    Sometimes angling is tough in the winter.  I respect people's time and money and always try to work with anglers in terms of picking the best lake, day and time for the fish we want to target.   Of course nothing is 100% predictable, especially the weather, which often is the number one factor affecting angling success.   But with that in mind, having alternative species and patterns can go a long ways towards insuring a successful day. 

Keep in mind, that when I'm on my own, or fishing with one of my buddies, we are in relaxation mode.  Cigars are often lit and we kick back and take our time.  We aren't big numbers guys;  I get zero thrill out of landing or attempting to land "insert number here" fish.  Neither do my buddies.   If I'm jigging lakers and catch 5 or 6, I often put away the laker gear and try something else.  If I'm catching a bunch of salmon I might tie on a new fly pattern and see if that works.   The only time we really go for numbers is during derby-time.   For me and my friends, it's about patterning fish and the thrill of discovery.  Sure, we will double back over groups of fish, but we don't sit around milking areas ad-nauseum.   I lay back on the normal guiding intensity.  I also spend a lot of time trying "new" areas and exploring.

I will say, however that winter fishing isn't necessarily super easy.   Very few fish come without effort, and patience and determination are a must.  This isn't a time of year for very casual anglers - but it's great for passionate fishermen, whether experienced or not. 

Anyways, it was a big thrill to finally do a couple guided trips in January and have some other prospects interested in some trips.  Here's how things went:

1/12:  Met Ali and her brother Mike at Watkins around 7:40 for our 1/2 day trip.   A lot of boats went out on the lake today and goose hunters were out in droves around the lake's south end.   We started with pike fishing since I thought that would produce the best action.   Ali really impressed me with her casting - she was better than 95% of the anglers (read: guys!) that I guide.   She caught the first pike within around 20 minutes on a stickbait.   Mike started hitting fish pretty good with a spoon and managed some nice fish including a 29", 30"+ and a 23" to 24" pickerel.  

Conditions started getting better for salmon as the AM progressed and we switched tactics and areas.  Again, Ali got things rolling with a salmon around 16.5".   She and Mike doubled up - this time with Mike catching a dink and Ali getting a sublegal brown.   As we worked our drift Mike hooked a solid fish.  After a spirited battle and a few thrashes at the surface I slipped the net under the full bodied gorgeous 23" landlocked salmon.  We took a quick photo or two and released it (all fish were released today.)   We tried our drift one more time and I saw Mike's rod doubled over.  I knew he had a very good fish.   After a strong fight I netted a FAT brown over 24".  Probably 6lbs+.  Great way to end a super day.   It'll be hard to top this day, but that's alright!    Stickbaits produced the salmonids.  

I fished on my own a bit after the trip, moving up the lake and fishing completely different areas (homework.)    I landed a salmon around 14 to 15" and did some pike fishing.  A couple nice pike found my spoons! 

1/13:  Met Ron and Matt at Watkins just before 8 am.   They've been coming out with me since around 2007 or so and I always look forward to our trips.   The lake was a ghost-town compared to yesterday, with only a few boats out and one other one at Schamel's launch.   Creeks pumped in a lot of muddy, cold water into the lake and the south end was a muddy mess.   Every blind had a hunter or two or three taking advantage of the day.

We targeted salmon to start, though conditions were marginal.  We drifted through one stretch with no action.   Switching to pike didn't prove much better, though I knew the weather conditions were best for northerns.  After a couple hours of hard fishing Matt hooked and lost a good pike on a swimbait.  

I had a feeling we'd be in business after that and despite the strengthening winds the guys did a great job on the pike once we found them.  Two areas proved to be very productive and the guys had two doubles!  It was shades of the great pike action from 2007/2008, except the fish were bigger, but somewhat lesser in numbers.   The guys wound up landing around a dozen, mostly gorgeous northerns averaging around 29" to 31" with fish up to 34" long.  Most were very healthy looking, though a couple showed signs of some fin-rot and the virus that wiped out so many fish a few years back.  

We tried more salmon action later, with Matt having a follow from a small one, but that was it.   Overall some excellent pike action.  All fish released again today.  Hot pike lure was a Lunker City Shaker fished on a Sworming Hornet jig head.   Water temps ranged around 42/43 degrees.    

 

 

 

1/9/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 1/9

Tried getting up this AM around 5:15 am but my body had other ideas.  Finally got up and drove over to Watkins and arrived around 7:30.   It gets light around 7 to 7:15 this time of year.   I figured there would be a few boats on the water, but I think most anglers are waiting for the forecast warm-up this weekend.   I was the only boat at the Village Marine Boat Launch and the only boat on the water (on the lake's south end) till around noon or later.   It was COLD out!!!   I had no problems launching, but I always forget gloves.   I don't even know if I have a good pair - I usually go without them, but I could've used them this AM.   As I type this at 9 pm I can still feel the "bone-chill," and that's after a hot shower and plenty of hot coffee.  My own fault though - I didn't dress up as much as I should have.

Started with some fishing around the south end for perch.  I found plenty of fish, but couldn't find much size and a lot of them weren't hitting very good.  I only caught around 8 or 9 fish and half were keepers - and not the usual "Seneca Keepers."  They were more like Cayuga or Owasco Lake sized fish.   They ranged from around 40' to 82' deep.   They were clearly more active yesterday.   It was too cold to mess much with tackle, so I only tried one method (using plastics.)   I stuck with the perch till it warmed up to the point where my guides weren't freezing up too badly.   Then it was salmon time.

I really do enjoy the challenge of finding perch on Seneca, especially the big ones.   But Landlocked Atlantic Salmon are my favorite fish and it's really hard for me to put in the hours on the perch fishing, which may or may not pay off, when I KNOW conditions are prime for fly-casting to salmon.   I'll hit the perch on windier, cloudier days.   But sun and light winds spell F-L-Y F-I-S-H-I-N-G for me.   If you've only trolled for salmon or fished live-bait for them, you've likely missed the #1 "funnest" thing about salmon fishing.  The STRIKE!   They annihililate flies and of course jigs and stickbaits.  

Fishing started out slow for me, but once the winds finally died down a bit and the sun appeared I had a couple hard hits from what felt like respectable fish.   I wound up landing 4 nice salmon ranging from a couple 16 1/2"ers to a 19" and 20".   I had a lot more hits - mostly from smaller fish.   The fish are generally in good condition - the bigger ones had healed lamprey scars and some fat to them.   One smaller one had some severe gashes on its side - likely cormorants or loon hits.    I used a Type 3 full-sinking line and assorted streamers.   When I get time I'll post my Bionic Smelt Pattern on this website, as well as our pike choices.   I tried a bunch of areas in order to get a feel for the salmon distribution (at least as well a feel for it as a single fly-fisher can get FWIW.)    Time will tell, but numbers seem reasonable.  Cayuga should be harboring some good fish, but I'm seeing more Cayuga guys on Seneca lately, so perhaps it's been slower.   I tried a little more perch fishing at the day's end with no luck.  Wrapped up just after 3 pm.   Fun day!

1/8/2013
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 1/8

Got out on my own for 1/2 day in the afternoon after getting my boat trailer inspected.   I checked on salmon and pike today.  The forecast looked great for salmon fly-fishing, but the reality was that weather conditions were tough.  I had no wind and partial sun/mostly clouds.   There are plenty of young salmon around - these are fish that were stocked last spring, not fish that anglers should target, fish around 10" to 11" long.  I saw a good number of them and had quite a few chasing and hitting my streamer.   I did see some better fish below the numerous dinks.   I'll be back out shortly to get a better idea of what's going on.  H2O is around 43 on top and down around 39 on the south end. 

Pike and pickerel are active.   I had a few hitting and chasing my streamers, even though the conditions weren't good.  I switched to gear and landed a 23" pickerel, 31" pike and a pike around 29".   Both pike had a couple lamprey marks.  I kept the pickerel and a pike for the table.   The pike had a yearling salmon in her stomach!  I don't see that often, but in the winter and early spring salmon and pike are often in the same areas.

I did have a nice perch follow in a streamer.  I also marked a few perch schools in various areas.   I saw a bunch of carp and also a good sized school of large gizzard shad.   The lake was definitely bustling with life.     

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