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Cayuga/Seneca Reports 12/26 - 28

I had some time to check on landlocked salmon action on Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.   Both lakes are providing some fair to good fishing for some nice salmon.  The positive is that fish on both lakes are clean and nice-sized.  Cayuga's salmon are averaging a solid 19" to 23" from what I've seen.  And they are robust!   Fish are also relatively lamprey-free on both lakes.  The negative is that not a lot of fish are around.   They are scattered and can be tricky (or downright tough) to find.  

NY State's hatchery system (Adirondack Hatchery)  has transitioned from the "Little Clear" strain of salmon to the "Sebago" strain, though I believe both strains are in our lakes now.    From what I remember reading, the Sebagos tend not to stay in massive schools like the LC strain.  It is hoped that they spread out a bit more.   Anglers loved hammering the LC strain fish, but to the fish's detriment, they would often just stay grouped up and not disperse.  This made them very vulnerable to angling pressure.  The LC strain is no more.  There's no going back even though they did well in the FLs.    Whether the somewhat tougher fishing we are seeing now has to do with the strain or something else is unclear.   Our weather patterns have been weird and we also had a bad lamprey year in 2013, so it's anyone's guess what's affecting the fishing now.

I was encouraged by our fishing over the past couple days.

12/26:  Got out with my buddy Eric on Cayuga Lake out of Myers.    It is launchable there, but there's some skinny water to traverse to get out onto the lake.   My depthfinder read 2' at times.    We fished areas I wasn't able to cover with Mike last week.   The weather conditions were not good with calm winds to start.  I was feeling like we should have gone laker jigging.   But things changed.  We tried some spinning gear and I managed a quick follow of a fish around 17".  Eric also had hits and follows from similar sized fish.

We got to one area and I got hit three times on a streamer.  Then Eric hooked and landed a 19" beauty on a tube jig.   I had another hit and Eric (who had switched to fly-fishing) hooked and landed a spectacular fish just a shade under 24"!  Great fight and the fish fought and looked like it was 25" or 26".   It was thick!   Eric then caught a 21" fish.  That's the reward I get for spending a whole day out with Mike eliminating water!   But things got better for me.  I landed the next two fish - a 17"er and a 21"er.   So we had a flurry of great activity with some beautiful fish.  I kept one and all the rest went back.   They were clean without any hook scars either. 

12/27:  Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen:   Guided Mark I. for the full day of fly-fishing.   We started at around 7:20 am.   It was opening day of duck season and I've never seen more duck hunters out in my life.   I don't begrudge them, because it's a great way to enjoy the outdoors and a short season, but their presence made it very difficult for me to find some areas to fish without being in their way.  It hurt our AM pike fishing. In marginal pike areas Mark had two different pike follow him, but they weren't committing.  One large fish followed 4 times!   The conditions were difficult and today would have been the day to go.   We tried some salmon fishing and Mark landed a hard fighting 21" beauty on a sinking line quite a ways up the lake.  He got some great footage with his "Go Pro" camera.   It's awesome!  I have to hand it to Mark, because he's a trooper - a persistent fisherman and he is a great caster.  And he doesn't give up.  If it weren't for him onboard today, we might not have caught anything.  

My buddy Mike was out on Skaneateles Lake with a friend and they had some very good rainbow trout action.  The lake is fly-fishing very well right now!

12/28:  Cayuga Lake out of Myers:   Today I got out for 3.5 hours in the afternoon to try for some salmon.  It would've been a great pike day, but I have landlocked salmon fever now and there's only one cure - to get into some.   I had some other things on my mind and unfortunately I forgot to double check the sinking line set up Mark was using yesterday.  I'm a big believer in checking and re-checking tackle and I failed to strength test my leader after a full day of fishing yesterday.  It cost me a solid fish.   Conditions were very tough today with a steady north wind around 10 to 12mph.  I was fly-casting in some good chop.  I had a tremendous hit from what had to be a solid low to mid 20s (inch range) salmon.   Had it hooked and my 10lb test tippet parted!   I had one other hit and that was it.  But I fished completely different areas that what I worked with Eric or Mike over the past week.  So that was a good sign.   So far I'm liking Cayuga Lake over Seneca Lake by a touch this year for salmon.  So far that is.  We shall see, but neither one is fishing very easy.  You work for your fish and that's probably the way LL salmon fishing should be. 







Owasco Lake 12/21 + Cayuga Lake 12/22

So far it's shaping up to be a mild winter.  With water temperatures hovering in the 42/43 degree range and above average air temps, it's unlikely we'll see any icing on large lakes for a long time.   Angling effort has been very light on Cayuga and Owasco Lakes.  More anglers are heading to Seneca and Skaneateles Lakes.

Owasco Lake 12/21:   Launched out of Emerson Park with my buddy Mike around 10 or 10:30 am.  With forecast light winds, the highs topping out around 31 degrees weren't too uncomfortable.  I wear a one piece Mustang Survival suit in the winter on the boat and I stay very warm.  We targeted perch today so Mike could get some for a work X-mas party.   With the calmer conditions, the perch weren't nearly as aggressive as they were the last time we were out here.   We used plastics and many bites were undetectable.  Most of the areas we fished had some perch around, but we never hit into the motherlode.   We wound up with around 20 keepers and probably as many were thrown back.   We had a few doubles as well.  Nothing over 10", but a bunch of nice 8" to 9" fish.  In area, Mike fouled a big fish.  He knew it was probably a carp - which it was.  It was big, around 15lbs.  

I did a bit of pike casting while Mike targeted perch and I managed to land 3.  I also had other follows and hits - the pike fishing was very good.  I kept one fish at 32.5" and it was in very good condition - it weighed 9lbs 4oz.  That's why I like winter pike fishing - the fish are heavy for their length.   Water temps were around 43 degrees.  One other boat was out today.

Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 12/22:   Got underway with Mike again around 10:30 am with some nice conditions for landlocked salmon.    I prefer a north wind on Cayuga Lake and like to see a few days in a row of it, but the southerlies can be productive.   They weren't for us today though.  We fished hard, mostly fly-casting using both intermediate and full sinking lines.   Later on we quickly covered some water with gear.   We never raised nor saw a fish. Not even a dink!   

We tried an area or two for perch without luck.   I've never understood why Cayuga's perch seem to concentrate on the lake's north end, whereas it seems like there's some good habitat for them elsewhere.   The same stuff that's great on Owasco is devoid of fish on Cayuga.   Seneca is even trickier.   I know there are small populations of perch on the south end and in a few other places on Cayuga apart from the north end, but I don't find much.  And I almost never see any boats out in the wintertime targeting perch apart from the Union Springs/North areas.   FWIW, I did foul hook a large sucker.  So Mike with a carp yesterday and my sucker today.  Yay.

We finally fished around AES for a bit.  With the mild winter, there's been very little coal burning going on.  Zero warm water has been coming out of the plant.   I landed a big pickerel and an average pike near the plant, but if I said I thought it was worth a special trip, I'd be lying.  I felt lucky, given that water temps are cold there.  But once the plant starts generating, we should see some decent pike/pickerel action and some trout/salmon too.

Overall a tough day on Cayuga Lake.  I felt we should've encountered some LL Salmon if there's a strong year-class or two out there, but we didn't.   That being said, the last time I was on the lake I saw a some very nice salmon and good numbers of them, so there are some very good fish around.   And we encountered a lot of dinks this past summer.  My guess is that fish were suspended over deeper water than what we tried today.   Anyways, we're going to hit Cayuga Lake a few more times under more ideal conditions before we make any judgments regarding this year's salmon fishing.   There was next to nobody fishing from shore at Taughannock, which likely confirms the slow start to this year's salmon/trout season out there.


Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 12/4 + Owasco Lake 12/5 out of Emerson Park

Got out for a couple days of fishing with some fairly brutal weather conditions.   There's a lot of upside to guiding, but the downside is that the best weather days are usually spent working.  So if I want to fish, I have to take what I can get!  

I have been trying to catch some lake trout for my friend/client Ed's Xmas party.   It hasn't been easy finding a good day to get out.  So the best I could do this week was yesterday.  Here's how it went....

12/4 Cayuga Lake:  It was a nice sunny day with more wind than I expected.  Air temps were just above freezing.   Cayuga Lake is low, as is always the case this time of year.  I don't see any reason to drop the levels of this lake so severely.   But it's done so we don't get much "spring flooding" - which is rare these days, given that we barely get any snow and if we do it melts off during our bi-weekly winter thaws (with the exception of last year.)  But it makes it a hassle to launch a boat and doesn't help spawning for pike a bit.

There's a good chance that Lake Ontario will finally be allowed to fluctuate the way nature intended in the near future.   Low spring levels have hurt fish and waterfowl production.  Wetlands are not doing well.   If you want to have a place on the lake, build it far enough away from the shore so the lake can be a natural lake and do what natural lakes do.   They go up in the spring and drop down in the fall - but not drastically and not massively. The whole ecosystem shouldn't suffer because somebody is worried about lake front erosion.  Buying a place on the lake is kind of like the stock market - it can be a risky proposition.   Anyways, the lake was low, very low.  

Ran up past the Power Plant and set up for lakers.  Fishing was tough, perhaps due to the full moon or maybe I should've been out earlier (I started around 1:30) but whatever the reason, I struggled.  Fairly decent numbers of lakers were in 85' to 115' FOW.  I finally hooked up a 27" clean beauty.   Other than that, I dropped a good hit and missed 3 or 4 more on both spoons and plastics.   But it was a hefty fish and will suffice for the smoker.

12/5  Owasco Lake:    The plan was for my buddy Mike and I to go out of Long Point State Park, jig some lakers then head north and whack some pickerel for the table or vice-versa.  We also brought perch gear.   We arrived at Long Point around 10:30 am with around 36 degree air temps and a strong steady south wind around 15 mph gusting to 19.   Not good for a run north!   We've done that kind of thing before and it's never any fun.  So we set the GPS for the south end of Owasco Lake.   A half hour later and we're there.  And the water levels are way too low for me to want to launch my boat, plus the docks are out.   We shot north to Emerson Park and saw a couple boats had gone out.  Water levels obviously were low there too (duh, it's the same lake) but we were able to launch.  Problem was that both boats came in and one guy said it was scary out there.  I would've been scared too if I were out in his small boat.   But that being said, it was nasty out, with winds around 15 to 20 mph gusting into the low 20s out of the south.  It was brutal.  We ran all the way to the south end and the ride was nasty the whole way down.   It was whitecapping down there too - with a south wind!   

Fishing wasn't easy.  Had we known what the weather would've been like, we wouldn't have fished today, but we gave it our best shot.   There were lakers on the south end flats and Mike had a couple hits.  We worked north and he nailed a 31" beauty plus one around 25".   Fish ranged from 80' to 150' FOW.  Lots were around 140' to 150' but they weren't being very cooperative.   I like sunny conditions and less wind this time of year for the best laker action.   We tried the east shore a bit - Mike cast for perch and I cast for pike.  I raised one northern.  Mike landed around 10 keeper perch in very short order.  They were shallow (7' to 9') and biting!   Good fishing but nasty out.   I felt I could've done very well on pike, but I just couldn't access the best areas.   Water temp was 43/44.  






Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 11/30

Did back to back 1/2 day trips here for pike, though we did some salmon targeting during the PM trip.

AM:  Guided Alan and his young son Zach starting at around 7:30 am.   Alan bought a nice boat around a year ago and has booked a few trips this year learning different patterns on the FLs.  Today pike were the target.   Pike fishing was decent this AM.   Alan managed to land 4 solid northerns ranging from around 27" to 32".   Spoons and stickbaits did the trick.  We kept a deeply hooked fish around 31" for dinner and it had a couple partially digested alewives in its stomach.    Other follows were had including a nice fish that almost hit Zach's spoon.   Late season pike fishing isn't necessarily easy and takes some adjusting from the early season and mid-season stuff.  Use the same retrieves and tactics you use in May, June and September and you might not get a strike.   

PM:   I had a call from Carsten on Saturday and he booked a last minute trip.   He has spent most of his life still fishing, so today was an opportunity to learn how to work some lures.  He also got adept at casting a baitcaster.   The catching wasn't great for our PM trip.  We started with a pike around 24" to 25" (it got off just before I went to net it.)    It hit an X-Rap.   We did a drift for salmon (and some pike.)   Carsten hooked a couple salmon, but both were in the 12" to 13" range.   Nice young, clean fish, which bode well for future fishing.  He had a solid grab on a spoon as well, but no hook up.

I will be guiding throughout the winter, weather depending.   I expect continued good pike fishing, decent salmon action, good laker jigging (throughout the area) as well as decent rainbow trout action (on Skaneateles Lake.)    This is a great time to fly-fish, so if you get tired of the crowds on Salmon River and would rather target fish in feeding patterns as opposed to spawning run fish, let me know!  

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 11/23 + Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 11/24

Cayuga Lake:  Guided Dave and Rich for the second 1/2 day of our two day run.  We decided to go with the northern parts of Cayuga Lake after hitting the south end yesterday.  We launched out of Long Point due to the low water levels that might have made it very difficult to go out of Union Springs or Cayuga Lake State Park.  

We had some terrific action on pickerel on the north end of the lake.  A few bass were also landed, but the pickerel action was superb with three doubles and around 24 or 25 fish landed - most being over 20".  We had four or five fish in the 24" to 26" range.  They were all healthy looking and in great condition (fat!)   Three nice largemouths to 17"+ were also landed.   Fish came on spoons, stickbaits and swimbaits.  

I talked to the guys and was wondering whether they enjoyed landing fewer numbers of large pike or great numbers of large pickerel.   It was pretty much a draw, though Dave (who landed fewer pike and more pickerel) thought the pickerel fishing might have been more fun.   Either way, it's great to have the choices we have here!

After the trip I checked on lake trout action and landed three fish (one wild) in short order, though they were in the 18" to 19" range.   120' of water was where I got them.  I didn't have much time to check deeper, but rest assured, good laker jigging can be had this time of year throughout the region.

Seneca Lake:   Guided Ryan and his buddy Dave for a full day out of Watkins targeting pike.   The winds were forecast to be hellacious today, but I felt we could do good just staying south.   Pike fishing was tough to start with no action.   We switched gears and targeted salmon for most of the day, with one good hit and a few follows, but still not much doing.   Conditions got better for pike and we eventually landed some fish.  Ryan caught a solid pickerel around 24" or so and Dave landed two beautiful pike - one around 34" and one at 32".    Tough fishing, since we had to deal with the strong winds and were basically stuck on the lake's south end, but the air temps were awesome and we saw some nice rainbows (not the trout) in the sky throughout the day.   Water temps ranged from 43 to 48.  



Cayuga Lake out of Myers Point 11/22 PM

Guided Dave and Rich for 1/2 day of pike fishing.  These guys got me going on the swimbaits back around 2006 or so and they always give a good effort on the water.   We were going to launch out of Treman, but there was some skim ice over there.  Water temps ranged from 43 on the south end of the lake to 47 further north.  The lake level is low.

Fishing was good today.  We were all pleasantly surprised.   Spoons and jerkbaits yielded a couple decent pickerel and 4 nice pike, a 27", 36", 32" and 34"er if I'm not mistaken.   I'd rank the pike action as "good" on Cayuga Lake.  It's typical Cayuga - not a lot of fish, but some nice ones.  Fish look healthy for the most part. 

The mystery of "The Net" was finally revealed to me today.   I've had a lot of trouble netting fish lately - from the 46" Tiger (which was understandable) to even some pike around 32" and up.   I couldn't figure it out. They would jump out.   I consider myself very perceptive in a lot of ways (I have to be as a guide) but virtually blind in other ways.   Today it finally dawned on me what happened.  With my old Cabelas Super Extra Magnum (or something like that) net, we were able to land a lot of big fish - including my 50" pure strain musky last year, Jarrod's 14lb Derby winning laker and more.  No real problems.  So why was it so hard to net the 46" Tiger?  

This summer my old rubber netting wore out.  I thought I'd replaced it with the same deep rubber mesh, but my jaw dropped when I finally noticed that I had a very shallow net now.  It wasn't the right replacement stuff!   I don't know why it took me 2 months to figure that out.  But it did.  Go figure....

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 11/16

Got out with my buddy Mike for most of the day starting around 9:30 am.   We brought both casting/spinning gear and fly-fishing tackle for salmon and pike.   We also brought some perch set-ups.   Both of us enjoy a lot of different types of fishing, so we prepare for different scenarios and play things by the moment.  

We tried some pike fishing to start, but probably missed the AM window.  Mike had a decent fish that he couldn't identify follow him in.   A drift for landlocked salmon started out promising with me missing a solid grab.   I also had a follow from what appeared to either be a big smallmouth bass or a brown trout.    Conditions weren't great for salmon, but they weren't bad either.

We worked one point for perch and I hooked a solid fish.  It wound up being a nice lake trout around 23" or so.  Conditions got rougher and we worked up the lake and set up for pike again.   I landed a good one around 31" on a spoon.  Shortly thereafter Mike got one on a bunny fly.  It was a twin to my 31".   Mike missed a solid grab, but then wound up landing two more (smaller) pike on the fly-gear.   The lake was quiet today with only two other boats out.   Water temperatures are 49 degrees on the surface for most of the lake, 47 on the south end. 

Cayuga Lake out of Myers Point 11/10

Guided Kan and his son Jonathon for 1/2 day in the AM starting around 6:45.  They were after pike.   We worked a lot of areas today with spoons, swimbaits and jerkbaits.   Fishing wasn't easy by any means, but a few pickerel followed in some lures and Kan nailed one, then he got a 25" pike.   We kept at it and Jon finally hooked up with a 37"er.   Later on he managed another large fish at 34".   The pike fishing is better than last year but not what I was seeing 10 or even 5 years ago.  Historically the pike fishing has fluctuated a bit on this lake.  Last year we had tough fishing around the southern portions of the lake, but found decent numbers of good fish further north.  Things change.   I am scheduled to guide the northern end of this lake for pickerel/pike soon and that should help clarify how fishing is further north.  It's a tough balance here, since the City of Ithaca filled the wetlands on the south end of the lake decades ago, we have less spawning habitat (and of course no swimming on Cayuga's south end.)   If we get high lake levels during the late winter/early spring, the pike can have a good spawn, but lampreys are able to swim up the inlet and spawn.  So the low lake levels help the trout/salmon, but hurt the pike.   I guess we can't have it all, unless you go to Seneca!

I brought some fly-gear and other tackle and after dropping the guys off I went to check on salmon fishing.   Water temps are great for trout inshore - 51 to 52 degrees.   At Taughannock I quickly managed a 19" landlocked and a dink.  I had some follows from larger fish in a couple other areas.  So I'm thinking that we may have a good year on Cayuga Lake for salmon.   It will be interesting to see how these Sebago strain fish do in the lake.  And life in the area is never better than when both Cayuga and Seneca Lakes are good for salmon!

For shore fishermen out there, now is the prime time to fish stream mouths - even if the creeks are nearly dry, you may find that some fish are hanging out.  It's also a good time to try around stocking sites.   Browns will hone in on those areas.  

Skaneateles Lake 11/8 + Seneca Lake 11/9 AM

11/8 Skaneateles Lake:  Guided Mark for the full day.  He was after a rainbow trout on the fly.   It was cold out to start with air temps hovering around 34 degrees.  A couple other boats were out.   We worked a lot of areas.  First fish of the day was a perch around 10".   Then Mark caught a tiny 7" rainbow.  Another area produced an 18" to 19" laker and a good grab from what was likely a rainbow.   Then came an 18" + Landlocked salmon and a rainbow around 16" that jumped and got off.  But no rainbows landed until nearly 4 pm, when Mark connected with a beauty.  The fish fought tremendously.  After numerous netting attempts I finally landed the 20" bow.   Not a monster, but a monster fight!   One of the most beautiful rainbows I've ever seen.

Mark was out with me last week pike fishing.  He's a skilled and determined angler as well as a terrific fly-caster.   I've touted Skaneateles for years for the great fly-fishing opportunities, but I feel I need to reiterate that this fishing is generally quite a challenge.  You EARN your fish on this lake, whether fly-casting or casting light jigs.  The scenery and water color that's beyond compare make any day on this lake special!  

11/9 AM Seneca Lake:  Guided Noah for 1/2 day out of Watkins starting at 6:40 am.  He'd never caught a pike and wanted to check it off of his bucket list.   He managed to land 3 solid northerns today casting spoons.  All were nice fish from 29" to around 32".  He had some other hits as well.   Great hits and good battles.   We saw a landlocked salmon or two along with a bass today in one area.   The lake isn't fishing as "stupid easy" for pike as it was from 2006 to 2008, but the fish are plentiful and running large and generally looking healthy.  I'll actually take what Seneca is putting out now over any pike action I've seen on this lake since I started fishing it regularly (around 1986.)   If these fish survive the disease issues we've seen here in the past, we'll be catching 40"+ fish here fairly regularly.  Let's keep our fingers crossed!  Water temps are around 51.   A few guys were out targeting perch - it's safe to say that it's a good time to do that here and throughout the state.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 11/4

Got out with my friend Anthony today.  Anthony is a student at Cornell and has gotten the Cornell Fishing Club off to a great start as the President.    I met him when he took my classes and he made a solid impression on me;  he's a terrific angler.   Being a west-coaster, he hadn't ever caught a pike, so we decided to give the northerns a try today.   We had some great fishing with Anthony landing a half dozen - all on spoons.   I landed three - one on the spoon, one on a floating flyline set-up and one on my full sink.   I also managed a crazy Landlocked Salmon around 13" or 14" that attempted to eat my large pike spoon.  We both missed some fish as well.   The fishing isn't quite on the level of the world class (numbers) we had back around 2007/2008, but the size is better.  So it's pretty much just as good, but different.

The great casting and fly-casting for salmon is still a week or two away.   Water temps need to get into the 40s to really spur that bite on.   The pike today were in good condition.  

I'm still awaiting the photo of the giant Tiger Musky from Ed.  As soon as I get it, I'll post it!   Plenty of dates are available in November, though all Saturdays except the 29th are currently booked up.

Otisco Lake 11/3

What a crazy day - very reminiscent of my Waneta Lake trip late last fall.   After my unsuccessful (for musky on the fly) guide trip with Ed last week, I managed to land my first and second (both small fish) on the fly.  I told Ed that I thought the summer would be the best time to get a flyrod Tiger.  I also like May for easier Tiger fishing.   But Ed had and still has musky fever and called me yesterday.    He wanted to go today at 9 am and try his hand again.   Later he called me again and told me his buddy Linn would be joining him,  casting gear.   I guided Linn earlier in the year for lakers.

I'd be lying if I said I liked the conditions we'd be dealing with.  High sun, bluebird skies and on top of that, a late start.   But a lot of musky fishermen would tell you that the best time to go is ANYTIME you can.   All it takes is one fish to make your day or year or perhaps fishing lifetime.

We covered a lot of water today.  I tied some large musky Clousers and had Ed throwing those.   Linn expertly casted plugs and bucktails.   I had him doing figure 8s.  Nada.   We fished north and south and places in between with no hits.   Ed had a hit on a fly, but didn't think it was a musky.  Bass anyone?   

One thing that made a great impression on us, was that we saw three mature Bald Eagles all flying at the same time around the north end of the lake.   Sheer majestic beauty.

We were at our last area and getting ready to leave.  Ed put down his fly-rod and was sitting in his seat ready to go home.  Maybe next time we'll finally nail one.   I looked over at Linn and he had a fish on.  "You got one?"  "Yes"    He didn't seem too excited.  Probably a bass.  I didn't see much of a bend in the Fenwick HMX musky rod.   "Put the screws to him" I told him.   Linn did and the rod took a deeper bend and bucked a few times.  The fish wasn't coming up easily, that's for sure.   After a minute or two we got a glimpse of the fish.   Holy $hit!    It was a BEAST!    This is where the teamwork kicked in!   I tried to net it (and yes my new Musky net has just been ordered - over $150 for a flippin' net!)    I could only get about 1/2 the fish in the net and the hooks appeared to be getting caught in the net.  One crazy surge and this fish would be history!   But Ed didn't just stand around.  He grabbed the musky's peduncle and lower body and pushed (helped slide) the fish into the net.   We got her!  I measured the fish at 46".  It was a record class fish or at least looked like one.   We don't know how heavy - Ed thought maybe 27lbs or better.  Who knows?  We'll never know.  Most importantly, we took a quick few photos and let the fish go.  It took off quickly - no reviving needed.   Afterwards we all sat down and enjoyed the moment.   Linn told me that the fish had hit lightly and he figured it was a bass for awhile.   Wow!   Musky fishing is about highs and lows.  Perserverence and occasional tremendous rewards!

The photos came out great and I'm awaiting them.  They'll go up as soon as possible.   Water temps were 53.   Lake level is low.  We were the only boat out fishing.

Otisco Lake 10/29, Owasco Lake 10/30, Seneca Lake 10/31 am, 11/1

Fishing is in tip-top shape throughout the region.  Lots of species are active, colors are still nice and waterways are seeing very little pressure.   It's tough to top mid-fall fishing in the FL Region!   As most of you know, I guide throughout the winter weather-depending.  Here's how the fishing was over the past week:

10/29 Otisco Lake:   I met Ed here around 8 am with the intention of catching a Tiger Musky on the fly.   I hadn't done it before, but people do it and it's been a great year for Tigers.    From what I've seen, I believe August and September might be the best months to do it, but I've seen good Tiger fishing here from May through October.   I set Ed up in a good area and on his first cast he landed a decent smallmouth bass.  Not long afterwards he got another bigger one (they ran 15" to 17".)   He had a few other hits then lost a very solid bass around 4 to 5lbs that was probably a largemouth.   We saw one Tiger cruising the surface with its mouth open.   Not an uncommon sight in the summer, but I usually don't see it as much in the fall.  We tried a few other areas with no action.

I've tried to catch a Tiger musky fly-fishing off and on for probably 12 years now.  I've attempted it maybe 4 times over that time frame, mostly during years when the Tiger population wasn't very good.    It's never been a high priority of mine, but something I've wanted to accomplish.    This year and last year I spent a lot of time still-fishing with Bobberman Perry and have learned a lot about Tiger behavior and location.   Find the right day and it shouldn't be any harder to catch a Tiger on the fly than it is to catch a pike - since Tigers are quite common these days on Otisco Lake.   10 years ago, there were a lot fewer of them around.   So after the 1/2 day trip with Ed wound down, I struck out on my own.   I worked a few different areas and managed to land a 15" dink Tiger - one of last year's stocked fish.  It was a start!    After 3 hours without much action, I finally tried another area with a floating fly-line and had a good hit.   I figured it was a bass, but nope - it was a Tiger around 25".   So I finally nailed one, albeit a small one on the fly.   Next year I'll do more fly-fishing for Tigers if I get time.  I'd also like to hit Waneta Lake for a pure strain.

10/30 Owasco Lake:   Guided Rick and Gary for the full day.  Rick's been joining me for mostly laker jigging trips since 2007 and it's always a fun day when he and his buddy Gary are around.   Action started out OK with Gary losing two solid fish.   He then caught a mutant - a somewhat deformed laker!   Then things slowed a bit.   The north end flats were productive with a few fish finally making it to the net.   We also hit some on the south end and places in-between.  The guys wound up landing 7 solids.   A lot of them are still on the feed heavily here and had the sun poked out and weather system been more amenable, I think we would have really nailed the lakers.   But a good day nonetheless!

10/31 AM Seneca Lake:   Met the Hermans at the Watkins Glen Marina launch at 8 am for a 1/2 day trip.  They don't like to fish,  they want to "catch!"   That's fine I tell them - just don't tell me, tell the fish!    We had great conditions for pike and Eleonore started things out with a gorgeous 31" or 32" pike/pickerel hybrid!  They are not super common in the area, but we've caught them fairly regularly on Seneca Lake and occasionally on Cayuga Lake over the past 10 years.    John managed some good northerns and lost one that was around 37"!   Some fought great, others not so much.   Spoons did the trick.   5 nice fish were caught and released - most over 30" and up to around 35" or 36" if I remember correctly.

After the trip I took my 2013 Crestliner over to Silver Lake Marine for winterization and storage.  I hooked up my 2002 Crestliner, arrived back in Lansing around 8 pm and got it ready to go for my next day's trip.   It's running great and next year I'll be replacing the floor on it.  I had a fantastic trailering cover made for me (custom) at SLM and couldn't be happier.   

BTW - If you're looking to trade in your boat, Skyler at Silver Lake Marine really needs some trade-ins, so now's a good time!   Let him know you heard about them via me!  I'll be working with them at the Rochester Boat Show next February.  That's always a great time to buy a new boat.   I couldn't be happier with my Crestliners and have had great luck with both my Mercury and my Yamaha Four-Stroke Motors.  You can't go wrong with either.     

11/1 Seneca Lake:   Met Mark at the launch at 7:30 AM.   He loves to fly-fish for anything from drum to gar to salmon to bonefish and tarpon.   Pike are a favorite. BTW - Mark's the best fly-caster I guide on a regular basis.  The weather was nasty to start with a good north wind (never a lot of fun out of Watkins Glen) and some rain.   We ran up the lake a ways and found some good areas to fish and some good fishing!   An 8 weight rod with a RIO Clouser line and Clouser Minnow (tied with rabbit) worked great.  Mark had his best day of pike on the fly that he's ever had with me (we usually go a couple times a year.)   He landed 6 solids - three from 31" to 35" long and the rest from 25" to 29".   When the fly-casting wore out his arm, he cast with spinning gear and managed two more.   The pike are generally in good condition, though we are seeing some signs of disease on some of them.  Sores and fin-rot.   No weird slime or anything like that and no emaciated fish, but I hope most remain healthy.  The next few years offer up the best chance for a 40" and over pike that I've seen in a long time.  The average fish in Seneca Lake now is probably over 30"!  That's some great pike fishing! 









Skaneateles Lake 10/24 + Keuka Lake 10/25

Skaneateles Lake 10/24:  Had a late postponement for a guide trip, so I met my buddy Mike at the State Launch around 9:30 am.   We decided it'd be fun to get some perch.  We also brought some bass gear.   Perch fishing was pretty good.   We had to sort through a lot of dinks, but we managed to nail 30+ keepers (9"+) fish between the two of us.  We caught most between 25' to 35' FOW.    Plenty of rockbass also made it onboard.   We tooks some casts for smallmouths and caught 7 or 8 decent fish.   I missed what appeared to be a rainbow trout or salmon on a fluke.  Mike landed a lake trout around 18" while perchin'.   We had one or two jumbo perch, but overall most were small.  We probably tossed back 40 or more dinks.  Lake level is dropping.  Water temps were around 55/56.

Keuka Lake 10/25:  As much as I would've liked to fish locally, the forecast for strong winds made Keuka Lake the best choice.  I met Don and his son Kurt at the launch around 8 am.  Laker jigging was slow to start but came on strong after a couple hours.   Before we quit, the fish were hitting well and the guys even had a double.  But overall the conditions weren't great for lakers.   Kurt's a serious angler and we had a good time talking fishing.

PM:  After winding up my AM half day, I met John Sander at the launch with his girlfriend Pam.   She's been getting into fishing lately and we were hoping she'd land a laker or two.  I hadn't fished with John in around 6 years!   He's been busy as heck with a lot of family/personal stuff, so it felt great to get out.   We keep in touch regularly and I owe a huge chunk of my fishing knowledge to him via his incredible "Sanders Fishing Guides" that were required reading (and still are!)    Hard to believe he wrote those books while in his 20s!   Many of the patterns I do on the FLs are things I gleaned from that guide.    Fishing started out slowly, but we had a good window or two and managed to boat 1/2 dozen lakers.  Pam caught a couple beauties so the trip was a success on that end.   We had a really nice dinner at the Tavern afterwards.   Very good food over there!   We marked a good amount of bait.  Plenty of lakers are available throughout Keuka Lake at this point in time.   They are on the feed heavily!

Cayuga Lake 10/22 AM + Keuka Lake 10/22 PM

Got out for a full day of fishing.   I wanted to scout out Cayuga Lake's lower end for pike and bass.   I had about 3 hours (starting at 8:30 am) to hit a bunch of areas and things went fairly well.   Casting jerkbaits (Rapala X-Raps) produced a chunky 16" to 17" smallmouth bass in short order.   I then lost what appeared to be a northern pike around 23" to 24".   In another area I landed a solid healthy pike at 31".   I also managed to lose what looked like a decent largemouth bass on a spoon.  Water temps range from 57 to 58 degrees.   I think it's still early for the best pike fishing.  And I wasn't able to cover a whole lot of water.    But at least things look better than last year at this point in time.  We'll see.   

I met the Hermans and their friend Paul at Keuka Lake State Park at 2 pm.   In a nutshell, the lake trout action was excellent.  We had cloudy conditions and a steady north wind but working 70' to 90' FOW provided some top-notch lake trout action with 15 nice fish landed to over 27" (the majority ran the usual 17" to 23".)    Water temps here are also around 58/59 degrees.   Fish here are on the feed heavily!

Keuka Lake out of Branchport 10/19

When Jim said he was up for doing this trip today that we'd scheduled earlier in the month I was cringing a little bit.  It's been a pleasant autumn and now we were looking at air temps around 35 degrees in the AM, rain and/or snow and if that wasn't enough, winds from the North from around 11 to 17 mph!  That isn't necessarily my idea of fun, but then again this is work and I made sure I brought my trusty Sorels (that I've had since 1977!) and plenty of warm clothing.   I'm probably getting a little bit soft (or is it smart?) in my advancing age.  And of course, having freedom to pick my fishing days helps at times.  (Though some of my best days in the past were days I'd have never fished when looking at the weather forecasts, but wound up spectacular.)   But I still have memories of fishing perch on Seneca Lake with my buddy Terry on April 1st around 1986 or '87, where we had highs of 40 degrees and cold rain on us all day long.  That was miserable, and I think we only caught around 6 to 10 perch or so, if that.  We could barely feel our hands on that memorable day.

My apprehensions subsided quickly as we got underway.   Jim had an opening in his schedule and this was the best day to do the trip.   With his friends Max and Paul along, we got started and the fishing didn't disappoint.  Within the first hour on the water I'd guess that a half dozen nice lakers made it to the cooler.   We had a few lulls, but the fishing was very good and the guys managed to limit out.   The weather didn't wind up being quite a bad as forecast, which was a relief.   The sun poked out at times and we never did get much rain or snow.  The winds never gusted much over 12 mph or so - and if it did, we must have had enough shelter via the beautiful Keuka hills.   Overall a solid day and a lot of fun.  The lakers I've seen on this lake subsequent to the one day a month or so ago when we encountered large fish, have been average Keuka fish - running 17" to 23".   So my theory of Keuka fish increasing in size recently has been wrong.    But a lot of them are stuffed with baitfish (alewives) and one fish I cleaned had a small sunfish in its stomach.   With the higher winds, we used 1 +1/2 oz jigheads and the drift sock.  I find that can help a lot, even in shallow water.  Best action was from around 85' to 105' though there are plenty of fish shallower and deeper.  

Otisco Lake 10/16 + 17

Guided "Bobberman" Perry and his buddy Dave for what was scheduled to be three days.  We got two in.   The guys brought some terrific bait (and they bring their own gear) and we still-fish for muskies.  

Day 1:  The fishing on Thursday was excellent for Tigers.   After weeding through 5 solid largemouths (up to around 19",) Dave had a hit that we thought was another bass.  It swam towards Dave for a bit, then the giant musky jumped like a tarpon before the solid battle ensued.   I slipped the net under a thick 41" trophy musky - the biggest Tiger I'd ever seen and the best that Dave and Perry had ever landed.   Another 4 muskies made it to the net - fish ranging from 24" to 29".   So one giant and 4 smaller fish.  

Day 2 was tougher fishing.   Dave joined me in the AM then we got Perry around noon.   One hit was had in the AM then a few during the PM.  One 30" Tiger found Perry's bait.  Dave lost a decent channel cat as well.   I find Tiger Musky behavior to be a little bit perplexing.   Sure enough we saw one on Friday AM cruising with its head out of the water.  I talked to Perry and Dave and we all feel that Otisco Lake is as good as it can get for musky these days.  I know there was a heyday in the 1980s, but I'm looking forward to seeing how this year compares via the diary records.  We hooked fish in nearly every area we tried.   If I get time, I'll be out here sooner or later on my own with my fly-gear giving it a shot.   Lake level was low - down at least a foot from the past couple weeks.   Water temps are in the low 60s.  Weeds were not a factor on the surface, which was great and bodes well for fly-fishing.   I still find these fish to be somewhat moodier than pike - I don't think they are easy on a daily basis, but on the right days they can be very aggressive and somewhat abundant.   Then again, pike and pickerel can turn on and off like a faucet too.

Owasco Lake 10/11, 12 + Keuka Lake 10/13, 14

In general, fishing continues to be good to excellent in the area.   Of course some days are still much better than others and a few are downright tough, but flexibility makes a big difference overall. 

Owasco Lake 10/11:   Guided Ron and Matt for the full day.  It's always great to see these guys and without exception they always seem to pick a great day, even though they book well in advance.   It does help that they let me make the call on the lake and launch as well as species, though they do have their preferences.

I thought pike fishing would be good first thing in the AM and then we would switch over to lake trout as the pike bite slowed down.  Things worked very well!   The pike in Owasco Lake can get as big as any in the Finger Lakes, but the overall average size of them runs from about 19" to 26".   A few 29"/30" fish are around, but most of the ones we've seen are smaller.  The guys managed to land 8 northerns and 2 largemouths in the AM.  The pike ran to around 27" if I remember correctly.  Matt raised one solid that was over 30" but it didn't grab.  We worked quite a few different parts of the lake. 

Lake trout action was slow to start then picked up in the afternoon.   The guys nailed a few solid lakers including a couple around 7 to 8lbs.   Spoons were hot as well as the usual plastics.  We found lake trout lakewide.

Owasco Lake 10/12 PM:  Guided Ben and his daughter Rachel with Ben's wife Judy tagging along and doing a little fishing as well.   Ben didn't feel his daughter and wife would want to fish in the AM with temperatures hovering around 36 degrees!  I'm sure he was right.   The goal was to get Rachel into a pike on the fly.  She hadn't cast an 8 wt. rod before and that proved to be a bit of a challenge.  I also informed Ben that the bluebird conditions with next to no wind can be very tough pike fishing, but I did think we'd have a good shot before dark.   We never raised a pike on the fly though Ben had a follow on gear and Judy also had a hit.  I had them do a little bit of laker jigging and Rachel ended up landing a nice one in fairly short order.   

Overall, the 11th was the prime pike day and the 12th was the day to fish lakers.   Every fall I see these cold nights with bluebird/sunny conditions without winds.  They are inevitably tough days for pike.  Even pickerel - which most anglers think are "easy" can be very tough on these days.  Getting out early in the AM makes a big difference.  Working smaller baits or plastics in the weeds can help, but either way, it can be very difficult fishing for esocids.   It was still a fun day on the water with foliage nearing peak colors.

Keuka Lake 10/13:   Guided Harry and Tony for a full day.  This was our 2nd annual Columbus Day trip and one we hope to keep making!   Our start time was going to be around 7:15 am but they got wrapped up in some serious traffic, so we wound up starting over an hour later.   The forecasted high winds were a concern to me, but we wound up doing well despite them.   We didn't do much around Hammondsport to start so we made the chilly run to the Bluff.  Fishing improved and we did well.   We eventually wound up back in Hammondsport and probably due to some atmospheric conditions, the fishing picked up.  Bait and lakers moved in.   The guys wound up with a nice limit of lakers.   Fun day with next to nobody out on the lake.

Keuka Lake 10/14:  Guided Jim and his wife Corinne for a full day.   Again - wind was forecast to be a factor.  The great screen on the fishfinder we experienced on 10/13 pm was still intact to start, so we stayed around Hammondsport.  The AM fishing was great with one double and quite a few fish hooked and landed.   The bite slowed midday and then picked up again in the early afternoon.  We never went more than 2 or 3 miles from the Hotel launch and wound up landing around 14 fish.  It was a fun day and the warm air made the high winds very tolerable, if not downright pleasant.






Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 10/8 AM + Keuka Lake 10/9

Watkins Glen 10/8 AM:   Karl had been trying to book a date for a long time to do some lake trout jigging.  He jigs Keuka regularly.  We must have set up 3 or 4 different dates and had to postpone due to high winds or heavy rain.  Wednesday's forecast wasn't great with winds gusting to 30 mph.  We also were going to go out of Watkins Glen due to the forecast, which is probably the poorest laker jigging this time of year on Seneca Lake (at least in my experience.)  But he was tired of postponing and wanted to give it a shot.

Fishing wasn't easy.  Fish were around but I couldn't find any great numbers in most areas we checked and they weren't hitting when I did find them.  I finally found an area with some fish and Karl and his buddy Dave ended up each landing a decent fish.  Both were clipped and one was a 28"er.   We tried some jigging for other salmonids but didn't have any success.  When we needed wind, we didn't get it!  But I was able to show the guys a few tips and tricks and Karl let me know that the trip paid off for his Keuka fishing yesterday. 

I scouted the lake a bit for pike after the trip and I still feel the milfoil needs to die back a ways.  There were a ton of weed shards around which make for tough presentations and nearly impossible fly-fishing in a lot of areas.   This stuff should clear up soon and may be better further up lake.  Water temps range from 58 to 61.  

Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport 10/9:   Guided Martin and Rich on Thursday for a full day.  Martin has a place on the lake and Rich has a place overlooking the lake.  We started right around Hammondsport without much action.  Some fish were around but not hitting well.  This time of year the best laker jigging is often later in the AM.   We made the chilly run up to the Bluff and started getting into some fish.  We had one double.  We ran up the lake to try some bass fishing but I wound up marking a bunch of lakers so the guys decided to go with that.  We had good laker numbers well up the Penn Yan Arm (which is basically just a continuation of the Bluff Flats.)   Overall it was a lot of fun.  Bait numbers were good from the Bluff northerly.  We didn't mark much bait in Hammondsport, but it's around.   The guys wound up landing at least 13 solid fish.   Good fishing and it will only get better on this lake!

Cayuga Lake 10/2 AM + Otisco Lake 10/3 AM

Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs 10/2 AM:  Guided Mildred and Larry for our 2nd trip of the week before they head back home.   After our tough pike fishing on Tuesday, I thought whacking some pickerel might provide some satisfaction.  We started at around 7:20 am.   The morning pickerel bite was good.  Mildred even dropped what appeared to be an average sized largemouth bass.   All in all, around 7 or 8 pickerel were landed and the usual others missed/dropped.   I experimented with various lure combinations for the pickerel and we had some success.   A few bass boats and some perch fishermen were also out.  Water temps actually got warmer and were around 67 degrees.

Otisco Lake 10/3 AM:   Guided Adam and his dad Mike for a 1/2 day AM starting around 7:15.   Mike is really into bass fishing and we looked at the heavy wind forecasts (out of the south) and made the call to do Otisco Lake.   I've never really guided the lake for bass per se, but I know the lake pretty well and felt that it offered up our best shot at a decent day given the wind forecast for southerlies gusting to 30 mph.

Fishing started out alright drifting the north end flats.   A few bass were picked up on spinnerbaits and a Rat-L Trap.   Adam lost a nice one by the boat.   We also worked some milfoil edges and shoreline stuff with a Chatterbait and Senkos and picked up some more fish.  It seemed like everytime Mike caught one, they'd get bigger.   We didn't land a ton of fish, but at least 6 or 7 up to 17".  They came from all over the lake.   I couldn't handle not trying a little bit for Tiger Muskies and had the guys work a high percentage area for a bit.   Adam lost a good one around 36".   Then we had a follow from one around 30".  Mike finally hooked and landed a smaller on around 25".   These guys have caught their share of muskies having fished around Wisconsin their whole lives, so the muskies weren't high on their priority list.   

The water level was down around 6" to 1'.  Temps were in the mid-60s.  We saw one bass boat on the lake today - that was it for boat traffic.  Needless to say, by 10 am the winds were howling and the lake was whitecapping hard.   I felt we did pretty well given our conditions.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 9/30 AM

Guided Mildred and Larry for a 1/2 day starting at 6:45 am.  We took a long run and were fishing by around 7:10 or so.   Despite the warm water temperatures, I felt we had a good chance at nailing some pike today.  One of my students caught a nice one around 31" to 32" off of the Watkins Glen Pier yesterday, so I was optimistic.   Presentations were difficult due to a large volume of cut up milfoil floating around.   Larry had a good hit and swirl from a pike, but no hookup.  

After giving it two hours, we took a break and tried some laker jigging.   In fairly short order Larry hooked a solid fish.   I was impressed by how strong the "laker" seemed.  It put a big bend in the medium heavy rod and ripped out a lot of line as Larry's rod tip dipped into the water.   Before long I slipped the net under a beautiful 24" Landlocked Salmon!   After a quick photo we released the fish.   We went back to pike fishing and never raised a fish. Water temps remain around 65 degrees.  


Owasco Lake 9/27 + Cayuga Lake 9/28 AM

Owasco Lake 9/27 out of the South Shore Marina:   I had a pike outing scheduled with Jim Jr. and Sr. tentatively out of Watkins Glen, but decided to bump it over to Owasco Lake.   The great thing about Owasco Lake is its length.   You can target pike and run 1 or 2 miles uplake and have great lake trout fishing.  If you want to bass fish, the same thing is possible.  No other Finger Lake offers quite the same opportunities this time of year.   Keuka Lake has great lake trout fishing but doesn't have many pike.   Seneca Lake's best lake trout fishing is often miles and miles up the lake, plus it's past peak in terms of great laker fishing for this calendar year.   And any move on Seneca is typically a long run.   Despite great pike and good smallmouth bass fishing, Conesus Lake doesn't support cold water species.   And Cayuga's smallmouth bass fishing is iffy at present time and the lakers are spawning or just about to.  So Owasco is a special lake with great angling often the case from October through November.

The guys were running late and we got underway at 7:15 am instead of our 6:45 start time.  Even then, the pike bite was still good with over 1/2 dozen fish encountered (hooked/follows) and three fish landed.  Nothing over 27", but fun nonetheless.   I wanted to get the guys on some bass, but there was a tournament going on, which is rare on this lake but does happen.

We did a bit of laker fishing and Jim Jr. got one in fairly short order, then the bite got tough for a few hours.   Around 1:30 pm the bite really picked up and the guys landed 7 more fish.   So doing the full day made a big difference in our success with the lakers.

Cayuga Lake 9/28 AM out of Union Springs:  I also had a pike trip scheduled today with the Hermans, but I switched gears due to the forecast sun and zero winds.  That, combined with warm water temps made pike fishing a riskier proposition.   I've guided the Hermans for a long time and wanted to see them get into some action.  Over the years they've often had to work for their fish more than they've probably wanted to!  So I suggested Cayuga for pickerel.   The pickerel fishing was a blast and they provided us with some great action for most of the AM.   Over a dozen decent fish were landed and another dozen probably lost.  A couple small perch and one keeper sized largemouth also made it to the net.   I heartily recommend pickerel fishing for anyone who likes a hard hit, good fight (often with jumps) and some great eating.  The great thing about Cayuga pickerel is that there are so many of them.  Keeping a bunch of them doesn't hurt anything and the bass fishermen will thank you, so you can't go wrong with them.  We used spoons.  The bass came on a Senko.  Best pickerel action was from around 9' to 13' FOW.   Perch angling is good and getting better.  I talked to a guy and he'd managed a decent catch two weeks ago with a half dozen in the 12" to 13" range.  Those are good perch!

Owasco Lake 9/24 + Seneca Lake 9/25

I took a few days off the guiding and enjoyed a little r + r  then some scouting as well.   There's nothing I like better than loading the boat up with tackle for different species and then having all day to explore.  That's my kind of fishing and the kind of stuff I used to do a lot before my guiding schedule got so heavy.  

Owasco Lake 9/24: I've been jonesing to get on Owasco Lake lately to see what's going on.  I expect this lake to really be good now that the fishery is more in balance.  I had a trip scheduled with Angling Zone friend and past client Ed for Friday for some pike fishing, but it was a no go.  But we talked and he had fished Owasco Lake last weekend and done well downlake. 

Water temps were nice and cool on the south end when I arrived around 8:15 am or so.  People were catching some nice perch.   I worked my way north targeting lakers.   I was very impressed with what I saw - lots of lake trout along the shoreline points and shelves.  I marked some bait too.   I missed a lot of fish and felt like my clients!  But it is fun, whether you hook them or miss them.  After an hour or two I got in a groove.  

An angler out trolling told me he didn't see much on the north end - no bait, nothing.   I decided to check for myself.   Conditions certainly had changed from the early AM, because the north end fishing was excellent and the new moon likely had the fish biting all day long.  I caught some nice lakers and at times had hits on every drop of the jig.

I hit a few areas for smallmouths and caught one and missed a couple.   I also caught a few perch.  This lake might be offering the best laker action in the region now.

Seneca Lake 9/25:   I have a few pike trips on the docket, so I wanted to see what was going on here.  I launched out of Watkins.   Usually this time of year the water temps are very cool (upper 50s) out of Watkins.  Cold rains help.  With this warming trend and the lack of rainfall, the water was still pretty warm and weeds were up.   I raised a pickerel and not much else.   I wound up working my way up the lake and found some pike in a few areas.  They were good fish, but the fishing wasn't great - either due to the time of day or maybe I wasn't using the best presentation (sorry but I don't feel like finessing pike!)   Either way, I will wait till the next cold snap before targeting pike here.

I did some laker jigging and missed a bunch of fish.  Never had a solid hookup.   I did some perch fishing and caught some up to 14".  I didn't hammer them but found a couple groups of them.   And no, I'm not divulging where either, but they were deep for the most part - 35' to 55' or so.  These fish get hit hard enough on this lake!

Keuka Lake 9/19 + Seneca Lake 9/20

Between some fun fishing earlier this month with my buddy Mike, 2 days on the water with my Cornell fishing classes and 17 guided trips in 20 days, I've spent nearly every day of this month on the water.  I'm off tomorrow and will be out with Cornell classes both Monday and Tuesday then off for a couple days.  During this time I'll be "recharging my batteries" and then fishing on my own before the next (shorter) run of trips.   I'm planning on checking out pike fishing on Seneca then doing some laker jigging and maybe other fishing on Owasco Lake.   But who knows?  Things will depend on the weather.  Plenty of dates remain available in October and onwards.   

Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport 9/19:  Guided Ed and Brandon for a 1/2 day AM, then switched out Brandon for Alan for the remaining few hours.   The guys rent a place on the lake annually and wanted to learn the jigging and maybe do some bass fishing.  The jigging was productive, though not spectacular.  Fish came steadily but slowly.  Numbers of fish and bait were poor in Hammondsport.   The Bluff area held a lot more fish.   Fish came from around 65' out to 115'.  

The guys do a bit of shiner fishing for bass and usually do very well.  The AM bass bite for their friends fishing shiners was slow though they did get a couple good pickerel, so I am guessing the front or whatever the weather pattern was, also affected the laker bite.  Their live bait fishing is usually very productive and I didn't think it would be worth targeting bass from what I could gather.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 9/20:   I was looking forward to guiding "Bobberman Perry" and his pal Dave for the full day today.   We had planned to launch out of Geneva, but the weather had other ideas!   The wind was howling this AM out of the south.  I was amped to fish out of Watkins Glen.  The guys drove quite a ways - coming from the Buffalo area, spent the night at a hotel and spent good money on bait, so I figured we should at least give it a try despite the wind forecast.

Unfortunately we couldn't get much going on the bobber bite.   The bait the guys got wasn't up to par - it was mainly 3" shiners more suited for bass and large perch.   Dave threw a spoon and spinnerbait off and on and momentarily lost a good fish on the spinnerbait, but other than that just one hit.   Water temperatures (62 to 64 degrees) and weed growth looked pretty darn good for pike action.  I think the pikin' will be good this week and onwards, so I'll be out on my own giving it a good shot with lures and streamers shortly.   It was difficult still-fishing today with the wind, weed shards and mediocre bait, so I don't see this report as indicative of the pike fishing in general.    Still fishing with slip bobbers is also difficult when flats are covered with vegetation coming to within a couple feet of the surface.   Stickbaits, swimbaits and spoons are more suited for the conditions.

Fishing Reports 9/16 to 9/18

My heavy guiding schedule along with the start of my two Cornell fishing classes has been wearing me down a bit. This time of the year it tends to happen, with the annual cold weather slowdown in sight, I feel like slowing my pace down now, but I can't.  That's the way it goes.  Anyhow,  I'm on the water a couple more days then I've got a few days off and I plan on doing a bit of fishing on my own next week after some relaxation Sunday through Tuesday.  

Fishing is really picking up for the "toothy critters."  The laker action (as is usually the case) has slowed a bit on Cayuga and Seneca but is amping up quickly on Keuka Lake.  I expect Owasco Lake to fish well for lakers too.  Nice stable weather will put the Cayuga/Seneca fish back on the feed a bit, but on most days Keuka will be a far better choice for action throughout the day.  I'll be hitting Owasco Lake on my own shortly!

9/16 AM:  Guided Pat and his wife Susan out of Union Springs on Cayuga Lake.   He used to fish Seneca a bit and now has a place on Cayuga north of U. Springs.   The weather looked ominous just before we started with showers in the area, but it wound up being a perfect fishing day.   I brought a bunch of rods along and set Susan up with a spoon and had Pat work a lot of different stuff, from Chatterbaits to crankbaits to tubes and more.   Pat caught a very small bass early on, but other than that it was pickerel, pickerel, pickerel and yet more pickerel.   They hit hard, fought great, jumped and did everything you'd want a gamefish to do.   Yes, I admit it.  I am a pickerel fan.   Fish ran to 26" and there were times when they followed in lures on every cast.   A few perch were around as well.  We left as the sun was coming out and perhaps that would've gotten the bass active.  We'll never know since I had to teach classes later.  Fun day!

9/17  Keuka Lake out of Keuka State Park:   Guided Tom and Nick for a full day.  We were going to mix it up with lakers and smallmouth bass, but the guys decided to stick with lakers.   I showed them my approach to locating and catching fish and things went well.  After an hour, Nick told me we surpassed their catch totals over the past couple years!  So that was nice to hear.  We even had a bonus 18" smallmouth caught over 55' FOW.  Fishing was hot to start on the Branchport Arm then it slowed and we ran to the bluff.  Action picked up later after a couple hour lull (it probably did the same at Branchport.)  Good day with 13 lakers and one smallmouth landed.  55' to 115' was best for us, with fish shallower around the N. end of the Branchport Arm.

9/18 Skaneateles Lake:  Guided Tom, who joined me last year on Keuka (a different Tom than yesterday) and his brother James for an AM 1/2 day for smallmouths.   Fishing for the smallmouths was fair.   The guys hooked and lost a couple decent ones to start.  The rockies bit non-stop.  We nearly had a "Skaneateles double" with a nice pickerel nearly hitting a hooked rock bass in the southern portion of the lake.   James wound up landing a gorgeous rainbow that was maybe 10" long on a tube jig.  We found bass hitting better shallow as the sun came out, but overall it was great for rockies to 11" and pretty slow for smallmouths with only around a half dozen hooked and fewer landed.  Fun trip and the guys will be on the lake through the weekend giving it a go.




Seneca Lake out of Geneva 9/14

Guided Matthias (from Brazil!) today for a full day for lake trout.   The bite was definitely spotty today, with fish in deep water - generally 85' to 120'.   The strong south winds from Saturday really moved the thermocline deep.   We worked Geneva along with Sampson and some areas in-between.  As the day went on, Matt got better with the technique.  Most fish came right on bottom.   He wound up landing 6 solid fish up to 29".   We had a lot of fun and there were more boats than I've seen in a while out fishing, at least in the afternoon. 

In a totally unrelated topic, I'd be doing a disservice to not recommend the following book for aficionados of Central NY fish and fishing - Ron Berg's great cookbook "Northwoods Fish Cookery."   My dad got this book for me back in 2000 and it's fantastic.   Ron was a guide and is the executive chef at the Gunflint Lodge - a premier northern Minnesota resort.  He has a bunch of great recipes, from simple to complex for lake trout, walleyes, panfish and northern pike along with most other fish of the region.  Want to know exactly how to do a guide's "shore lunch?"  It's in there.   A simple yet incredibly perfect breading mix used by most guides in the North country?  It's in there.  Recipes for smoking fish, filleting pike bonelessly, beer batter, cajun seasoning, pike livers, stuffings, stocks, soups, campfire cooking, quick cocktail sauce (when you don't have the right ingredients,) etc...  He also has info on keeping fish fresh and some great stories and anecdotes from the field.   I can't recommend this book highly enough!  Get it and you won't regret it.

Seneca Lake out of Geneva 9/12 AM + Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 9/13 AM

9/12 Seneca Lake:   Guided the Hermans for 1/2 day starting just after 7 am.  The Geneva area is still loaded with lakers.   The bite was sporadic today overall, but we had some good fishing with around 8 fish landed including a couple doubles.   Fish ranged to over 30".  The cold water had moved up and we had laker friendly temperatures very shallow.  Best fishing was over 80' FOW or more.   Very few anglers were out on the lake.  I'm pretty sure we got a glimpse of the "Northern Lights" in the AM over the NW shore of Seneca.  Very cool!

9/13 Cayuga Lake:  Guided Justin and his dad Darryl for a 1/2 day.   The radar looked clear when I awoke just after 4 am, but we wound up getting quite a bit of rain today.  As nice a day as last Sunday was, this one left a lot to be desired!   It was cold out, we got soaked and the wind kept blowing and the clouds and rain kept moving over us.   But the fishing managed to be alright.  The bite was spotty - good at times, then slow.   It was Darryl's day with him having most of the action - we had 5 fish landed on the day.  Most were 22" to 24"ers, but we got one at 31"!    The guys were great sports despite getting really wet.  We all had raingear, but days like today show the flaws in it!   Still a fun day fishing-wise.


Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 9/10

I can't remember a year when I spent more time on the water than this one - maybe 2009, but I'm not sure.   Got out with my buddy Mike for some largemouth bass action today.  We fished from 8 am till past 4 pm.   I'm learning a lot and things are coming together quickly regarding areas, what to expect bass-wise, presentations for tough conditions and strategies.    Conditions weren't easy today with south winds steady around 10 mph+.  Late in the day the winds started gusting into the upper teens and we dealt with a lot of whitecaps and roiled water.

We wound up landed 8 mostly solid largemouths (up to 19"+,) along with a pickerel and rock bass with Mike catching the majority of the bass.   The bass we caught were in shallower water than they'd previously been.   Best tactics included chatterbaits, senkos and jigs.  We didn't have much of a crankbait bite at all.   As the pros mentioned, fishing for bass in midlake and downlake areas on Cayuga requires a lot of perseverence.   Water needs to be covered quickly and versatility is important.   There's a lot of "dead water" and marginal weed areas on Cayuga Lake, but there are some nice largemouths scattered around the perimeter of the lake.

Cayuga Lake 9/9 AM

Guided John and Ginny out of Taughannock for a 1/2 day AM trip starting just before 7 am.   He fishes Canandaigua Lake a bit and wanted to learn the jigging.   Fishing was very good today around Taughannock Park.   They managed to land 8 solid lakers from around 23" to over 28".  Two of them were wild.  Fish are still feeding heavily and the bite was very good despite the windy conditions.   Some small salmon are around and as I've said before, I'm cautiously optimistic about this winter's prospectives. Fish ranged from 75' on out.  Another gorgeous day in Central NY!  

Seneca Lake out of Sampson 9/5 PM + 9/6 AM, Cayuga Lake out of Myers 9/7

Seneca Lake:   Guided Mihai and his father Bill for a 1/2 day starting around 3:30 pm on Friday then what wound up being a 1/2 day starting around 7:30 am on Saturday.   We had some very good to excellent fishing on Friday (the day prior to the front) with a double or two hooked.  The guys landed 10 solid lakers up to around 27" or 28".   It was great seeing the guys, who fished with me during my first season guiding.  We did quite a few trips during my first few years and Mihai, especially is an excellent jigger. 

On Saturday, the guys were running late which definitely slowed our catch rate.   Four decent fish made it to the net before the winds really came up out of the north.  Although we knew the winds would subside, we called it a day rather than try to wait them out.   Fish ran from around 72' to 85' on Friday and around 10' deeper on Saturday. 

Cayuga Lake out of Myers:   Guided Dean starting at 6:45 am.  We went up the lake a ways and fished largemouth bass.   It took a little while, but we found a few nice ones.   Dean landed one over 17" on a Senko and (he had me help cast around to find fish) I nabbed one around the same size on a crankbait.   I don't usually target two different species on a 1/2 day trip, but I wanted to show Dean the laker fishing.  He nailed around 3 or 4 on jigs in short order.    The bite for lakers was very good.   We tried some other areas quickly for bass but didn't see much, apart from one largemouth I spotted.  We also saw some salmon, carp and drum cruising around.

My PM trip was for lakers with Paul.   We had some action to start then things slowed down for a couple hours.  During the last hour of the trip, we had some excellent fishing near Taughannock.   Paul wound up landing 5 nice fish and lost one by the boat.   The good to excellent laker bite is still holding up for now, though I can tell it's slowing a bit.   Laker action near Aurora should stay hot for another two months if this year is anything like the last few.    The 75' to 90' range seemed best today.   

Today was one of the nicest, most beautiful days I've seen all year.  Absolutely gorgeous, perfect weather with cool, dry, breezy conditions.  There was just the right amount of sun and wind.  It just doesn't get any better!   

Seneca Lake out of Sampson 9/3 + Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport 9/4

As much as I love the short drives to Myers Point and Long Point on Cayuga Lake, it was cool getting over to Seneca and Keuka Lakes and seeing what the fishing was like for myself.  

9/3:  Guided Jeff and his wife Judy out of Sampson State Park on Seneca Lake starting around 6:45 am for the full day.  We worked Sampson, areas across the lake, Geneva and areas on the east shore in between.   The bite was good to start but the fish were mostly smaller ones around 18" to 20".   All wild and clean.   I felt we were working the jigs a bit too slowly but eventually the technique came together.   Fishing got slow for a few hours around mid-morning.   By 1 pm or so, we had another good bite window and Jeff landed a 30"er and Judy managed some nice fish.   Fish were generally pretty deep - around 80' to 90'.   We had one fish come up with a lamprey, but most looked great.   We had over 90% wild fish today.

9/4: Keuka out of Hammondsport - Did back to back 1/2 days today starting with Chris and Heidi in the AM around 7:15.   Hammondsport is always solid in August and September and today was no exception.  I wish we could've started earlier, but I was pretty darn tired and did the best I could.   Our first drift resulted in 3 nice fish for Chris.  Heidi had never caught anything bigger than a sunfish before, but she impressed the heck out of me with how "coachable" she was once she hooked some lakers.  She landed a 28" fish!   That's a great one for this lake these days.  We tried deep and shallow and various places up the lake and things appeared slow.  But just when I though things were slowing down she hooked a big fish that she had trouble reeling up.   I thought that maybe she just didn't have the rod positioned right or was fatigued, but it was a beauty.  We landed a 32" solid laker - maybe 11lbs!     So we didn't land a lot of fish, but managed 5 or 6 and got the right ones.

My PM trip was with the Hermans.  We tried targeting smallmouth bass and things started off encouragingly, if that's a word.   In the first area we tried Eleonore had a nice largemouth come up for her plastic and then a big smallmouth gobbled it, but no hookup.   John had two good smallmouths show for his lure.  But the wind came up and things got tougher, despite making a few adjustments.   We moved up into the Penn Yan arm and still nothing.   We worked deep water for lakers and a school of smallmouths showed up under the boat in 103' FOW in the middle of the lake!  That's the way it is on Keuka, Canandaigua and Owasco Lakes (to name a few) this time of year.  Smallmouths are largely pelagic (free swimming over deep water with no regards for the bottom contours - like tuna in the ocean.)   Unfortunately John lost the nice fish so their dreams of a bass dinner went out the window.   A few lakers cooperated and John landed a 26"er (another beauty for Keuka,)  a dink and an 18"er.  We kept the 18"er.  I will still be encouraging clients to harvest as many 17" to 22" lakers as we can this fall on Keuka Lake.     Plenty of lakers are around the Bluff Area and client Chris from early in the day managed a few up the Penn Yan Arm a ways.  Lakers are well distributed in Keuka Lake.  Action is also picking up near the State Park at Branchport.  We found fish from 65' or so out to over 110' today.

Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs 9/2 midday

I'm making a point to stay more in touch with what's going on with Cayuga's bass fishing and north end fishing.   I intend to do the same with Owasco's smallmouths in the future as well. From around 2005 or 2006 and before that time I was doing a lot more bass fishing and I had my gear together and in good shape.  What I'm trying to do now is get my bass tackle and techniques back in order and I'm also looking for some easier sure-fire ways to target bass without having to go to the flipping/pitching sticks.   I love pitching jigs and plastics, but for guiding it usually isn't feasable.  

So today was more of an experimental day.   I fished from 10:30 am till around 3 pm and hit three or four different areas and did a bit of motoring around.   I didn't catch a lot of fish, but I managed a beautiful hard fighting 18" smallmouth, a few pickerel in the 20" range and a few chunky largemouths - all around 14" give or take.   I spent an hour just practicing my casting and underhand stuff which was fun.  I realize that most anglers don't have time to do that sort of thing, but I think of it as a golfer heading to the driving range or working on his putting away from the course.  It's not a "sexy" thing to do as a fisherman, but it pays big dividends in the grand scheme of things.   Fish came on Senkos, swimbaits and assorted plastics.   Water temps were up to 76 on the surface.   

Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 9/1 AM

Guided Rob and Kathy for a 1/2 day starting around 7 am.  I guided Rob back in 2005 - one of the first trips I ever did, so it was cool seeing him again (he lives in Colorado.)   I expected fishing to be pretty hot today, but it's definitely slowed down a few notches (at least for us.)   We still had a good AM with 8 fish landed - mostly 20" to 26"ers.   We had a lot of fish around us all AM, but they weren't hitting particularly good.  We had some momentary hookups and a lot of short hits.   Some of it was likely the weather conditions - I like the sun this time of year.   But Seneca was hot this AM.  Cayuga usually slows a few notches in September, though some hot fishing can still be had, but the reckless day-in and day-out feeding usually ceases and the fish get a bit more selective in their heavy feeding windows.  So all in all, a good morning of fishing, but slower than the hot bite of the past month on Cayuga.   I'm on Seneca and Keuka Lakes later this week, so that should be interesting. 

BTW - This Saturday 9/6 remains open.    I don't have many dates left in September.  I expect Owasco Lake to turn on soon, but we shall see!

The ramp at Myers was packed for the Labor Day Holiday.   Let the real fishing season start now!!!

Cayuga Lake 8/29 + 30

Fishing continues to be excellent on Cayuga Lake for lakers in the medium to large size range.   The winds yesterday hampered our efforts, but we still managed to have some decent fishing.

8/29:  Guided Greg out of Myers for the full day.  He wanted to sting a bunch of lakers if possible before steelhead season.    We ran up the lake and primarily worked the west shore.    On one of his early drops he hooked a solid fish that put a deep bend in his rod, wouldn't move much and when it did, it made some good runs.  He could feel the head shake so we knew it was a good fish!  We landed a 33" solid laker that we released after a quick photo.  Greg nailed another 10 to 12 fish before we called it an early day.   We had a few nice 27"ers.  

8/30:  Did two 1/2 day trips today.  My first was with James and Heather.   The wind was really blowing good out of the south (I motored across from Myers to pick them up at Taughannock.)   We fished the west shore with one or two quick hookups and one laker landed by Heather.   Eventually we decided to sneak in behind Taughannock point.   Jim landed one and Heather managed another bigger fish.   Tough going compared to the past month but we were all happy given how windy conditions were.  

My PM trip was with Gary and Ethel, who joined me out of Long Point a couple years ago.  Gary had struggled with the jigging on his own, despite doing that trip with me.  Not sure what the problem was, but he got back on track today.   They landed 6 solid fish up to around 27" to 28".   The bite was better than the AM, but it still never got hot 'n heavy.   The wind kept up and after I got home it really cranked!  There was a lot of boat traffic on Cayuga Lake for the first time that I've noticed this year.  That'll all be done with on Monday!

Cayuga Lake 8/28 AM

Fishing remains excellent for lake trout.  Picked up Ed and Denise at Taughannock Park via boat and we headed up the lake.   The good news is that larger fish are moving in.   Why we hadn't caught many 27"+ fish earlier in the season remains a mystery.   I think we were content catching the large numbers of smaller lakers grouped up around Aurora and AES, thus we didn't look elsewhere.   Many larger fish could've been suspended too.  But Ed and Denise did great landing around 14 fish, of which 4 or 5 ranged from 27" to 30"+.   A couple wild ones in the mix and one live lamprey came up.   The larger fish all have well healed lamprey hits.   It got windy.   Fish remain deep, which is normal for this time of year - around 85' give or take 10'.

Skaneateles Lake 8/26 + 27

Did a couple full days on Skaneateles Lake guiding bass.   The fishing is markedly more challenging than it was last time I was out here, around 2 to 3 weeks ago.  That being said, nice catches are still possible, though versatility is important.  

8/26:  Guided Richard and his son Titus starting around 7:30 am.   We had quite a bit of action on smallmouths and rock bass in a lot of areas, but fish over 13" were hard to come by.   Fish came on topwater, dropshot, tubes and soft jerkbaits.   The guys had a great time working some new techniques (for them.)  We worked from shallow out to around 25' to 30' FOW.   The beauty of this lake remains beyond compare and we spent some time a ways down the lake.  The boat launch was packed when we got back.  Water temps on the surface were around 70 to 73 degrees.

8/27:  Guided Leo and Ada, who fish this lake every year around this timeframe with me.   The advantage of being out yesterday was that I came in with a different gameplan and we worked completely different areas.   Smallmouths are scattered right down to the thermocline.   We caught fish up to nearly 18" long (that one came in over 50' FOW dropshotting.)   More sizeable fish made it to the net today with a fair number of solid 15"+ bass.    The dropshot, tube and topwater all worked today.   There is a lot of "grass" from the 5' to 15' range, so tubes have been more difficult to fish.  I've been experimenting with some Keitech baits and other things, but overall the dropshot was probably best.   The forecast resulted in most people staying home and only a couple rigs were in the parking lot today.   Another fun day.  

Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 8/24 + 25

Just wrapped up two full days on Cayuga Lake.  Lake trout fishing remains excellent.  The last four weeks or more have featured exceptional action that has generally been decent throughout the entire day with even a few fish being caught during the 2 to 3 hours "lulls."   We're encountering a decent number of young (this year's stocking of) Landlocked salmon chasing the jigs in.   A few nicer salmon are around, so I am optimistic about our late fall through spring salmon fishing on Cayuga Lake, though the younger fish won't be a factor until next spring at the very least.

Lakers are well distributed throughout the lake from Myers north to Kidders and beyond.   Some larger (27" to 28"+) fish are starting to find our jigs.  Most fish are very clean.  The largest fish have at least one completely healed (old) lamprey scar on them.  We've had one live lamprey come up attached to a fish over the past week!  That's a great sign.  DEC just treated Cayuga Inlet for lampreys, so we should be in good shape on Cayuga Lake for the forseeable future.

Fish are moving deeper with the thermocline.  Today featured the largest number of lakers in the deepest water I've seen since the thermocline set up.  Laker-friendly temperatures were at around 90' to 95' FOW today.     

8/24:  Guided Ron and Matt, who've been joining me on various fishing trip since around 2008.  They nearly always time things right and today was no exception.   They had stellar jigging throughout most of the day with 26 solid lakers landed!   We had our best fishing from around 75' to 85' FOW.    Fish primarily ran from around 22" to 25" long.  Great time as always.

8/25:  Guided Leo and Ada, who've also been joining me over at least the past 3 to 4 years as well.  They landed 19 solid fish including three in the 27" to 28.5" range.   Another great day.  We kept a limit and there are no signs of any gobies in laker stomachs yet.   

Otisco Lake 8/20 - 21

Got out for two days (despite the threatening weather) with "Bobberman Perry" (whom I would like to rechristen "Catman Perry" but I don't think that nickname will fly) and his friend Dave.  Those of you familiar with my reports know that when they come out with me they bring their rods, rigs and bait.   Tiger Muskies were the target.  

The bait these guys got ahold of this trip was exceptional!   Big Golden Shiners like we used to see throughout the area back in the 1970s and 80s when "pike bait" meant 4" to 5" shiners.   None of these "bass minnows" masquerading as pike bait.   They also brought a couple pounds of sucker minnows!  Now that's what I call being prepared.

8/20 AM:   Our fishing yesterday started out promising.   Perry had a bobber takeoff and hooked a solid fish that ran some line out and put a deep bend in his rod.  Was it a 40"+ Tiger?   Nope.  I saw it dive under the boat - it was a foul-hooked 29" Channel Catfish!  Beautiful, quality fish, but Perry wasn't impressed!   I held it for a couple photos before we sent it back into the drink.   Next fish was better for Perry - a hard fighting 34" Tiger!   The fish nearly went through my landing net, but Perry didn't think it would be a problem.   But the rubber was starting to wear out and I was concerned.  It would throw an interesting wrinkle into the fishing today.

The T-Storms rolled in around 12:30 pm, so after 3+ hours we called it a day.  Better safe than sorry.

8/21:  Perry wasn't sure if we should even attempt fishing today after looking at the 100% chance of rain and thunderstorms, but we decided to play things by ear.   We made the right move!  We started around 8:30 am and after 45 minutes or so we had to run back in and wait out a line of storms (which mostly avoided us except for some heavy rain.)  After an hour we got back out and headed north to our area from yesterday. We could hear thunder in the distance all around us, but it never seemed to come close!  Weird!

Dave nailed a bass.  Then Perry got a Tiger.  We had another Tiger that cleared the water aways away from the boat!  Great jump.   We made a couple moves and then Dave nailed a 19" bass and a few others.   Perry nabbed yet another solid Tiger then Dave caught one and then another on a sucker minnow and spinnerbait respectively.    Nearly all the Tigers were beauties.  The five we landed today ranged from a 29"er up to over 36", with most going 32" to 34" and thick bodied.  The fights were great and the condition of the fish also excellent.   We had three go through my net and I had to adopt a new netting/musky handling technique.   Dave's 36"er not only jumped incredibly, but it went through the net and also got hung up on the anchor line!  It was crazy, but we landed every Tiger we hooked.    Perry wound things up with a 24" channel cat!   We had bonus yellow and white perch along with other bass.   My replacement netting is ready to roll and we'll be all set for the next guided trip.    

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 8/19 AM

Guided Dan and Peggy for an AM 1/2 day starting around 6:45.  The days are rapidly getting noticeably shorter.  Fishing on Cayuga Lake for lake trout remains top-notch.   In terms of catching good numbers of decent fighting, nice sized, good eating gamefish, laker jigging cannot be beat.  Neither Dan nor Peggy had done the technique before, but by the time we wrapped up around 4 1/2 hours later, they'd landed 16 solid lakers to 27".   No lampreys and very few signs of them.  The only scar I recall seeing was a completely healed one on the 27"er.   2 or 3 wild fish were in the mix.  Same general depths as before - 65' to around 85'.   

Around 1/2 dozen pro bass anglers launched out of Long Point today, obviously checking on the midlake areas for bass.   Kevin Van Dam, Greg Hackney, John Crews and others!    I don't think the results will be too surprising.  My buddy Mike (who follows pro bass fishing closer than I do) thinks around 17 1/2 to 18lbs a day will win this contest.   I agree.  There will be a few 20lb+ bags brought in to the scales, but I seriously doubt anyone will be able to maintain those weights through 4 days.   Cayuga Lake just isn't great bass habitat apart from the lake's north end.  If the whole 37 miles of the lake was like the lake's north end - weedy and topping out around 30', it'd be a different story.  

Some fish will come via "frogging" shallow around the lake's north end and channel.  It isn't a commonly used method here, but a few guys will catch some this way.  Overall, I think most fish will come from 8' to 18' FOW, though some pros are expecting cooler temps to move fish shallow.   Crankbaits, swimjigs, jigs and dropshotting will probably do the job.   Cayuga Lake has some big smallmouth bass, but I seriously doubt anyone will target them for long and I seriously doubt we'll see anyone come in with 5 smallmouths on a given day, though as always, a few nice ones will be weighed in.    No doubt some big largemouth bass will be caught "down lake" - as they are there, but I don't think any pros are going to do well enough away from the northern 10 miles of the lake to carry the event.   The habitat is limited and a fair number of guys will be hitting the areas.    Those are my predictions and I'll gladly be wrong!   I hope I am proven wrong and the pros show us locals some new tricks.  

Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 8/14

I did an AM and PM trip out of Myers today.  Both trips featured excellent fishing.   I'll be taking a break from the guiding this weekend, but I'm sure that the fishing will be really good!

Did my AM trip starting at 6:30 with Wayne and Lucas.  It was a bit windy and a little choppy to start.  We worked our way up the lake.   Wayne's first fish fought great and ripped out a lot of line.  It stayed down.  He thought I should tighten the drag;  I thought it was a BIG fish.  I was right.   After a good fight I slipped the net under the hefty 33" lake trout - our biggest this year out of Cayuga!   After a couple quick photos the fish took off.  Angling was very good for the rest of the AM with another 5 or 6 fish landed, most in the range that's been typical this year - 22" to 24".  

My PM trip was with three local anglers - Todd, Tony and Stewart.   We picked up right where the first group left off with some terrific fishing.   Over 20 fish were landed.   A brown and decent landlocked salmon were lost, as were a fair number of other fish, but overall the guys did great.  A lot of small salmon were chasing the jigs.  Hopefully these fish will grow up fast and provide some decent angling this winter, if not next season. 

We had a lot of fun with fish ranging from 50' to 120' of water.  Cayuga's trout fishing is excellent right now!    The guys kept a few for the grill with most released.  Lamprey wounding rates are very low.   The usual Lunker City Shakers and Swimfish did the trick.

Reports 8/7 to 8/11

When it comes to getting these reports up in a timely manner, I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't.   If I put up a report in the middle of a busy guiding run, I miss out on valuable sleep, if I don't then the days stack up and details get a bit muddy.   

In general, the "steady yet unsteady" weather pattern has resulted in good to excellent fishing lately.  I hope it keeps up!

8/7:  Cayuga out of Taughannock - Guided Tony for a full day.  It was good seeing him, as it had been a while.  We were hoping to get into browns and he managed to land one solid fish around 24".   Laker action wasn't bad, though for some reason - either bad luck or what, Tony got a lot of hits but the hookups weren't solid.   During the last couple hours of the trip he landed some solid lakers.

8/8:  Seneca Lake out of Geneva - Tony was out for bigger fish today and Seneca didn't disappoint.   He had a banner day on some large lakers to 31".  I think he landed around 23 fish if I'm not mistaken.  It was excellent fishing and we started around 6:30 am.  It was fun day and Tony was back to his usual excellent form.  Fish remain in the same depths as before.

8/9:  Owasco Lake out of Emerson Park -  I was psyched to do this trip with Dan and his buddy Carl.  We hit great fishing on Cayuga Lake last week and with the Lighthouse Derby going on, we decided to fish elsewhere.  Dan wanted to do gar, but Sodus is a zoo on weekends and I was leary about targeting gar with the cold nights we've been having.  Dan was up for learning a "new lake" (for him.)   So Owasco it was.

How is the laker fishing on Owasco Lake this year?   Earlier this season and last year were very good, with fish looking healthier than I've seen them since I've been fishing this lake (circa 2002.)    We fished all over the lake today and Dan landed the only laker - one around 23".   Quite a few other fish were hooked and dropped, but I'm not sure how many were lakers.   It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of the lakers were suspended over deep water, but we didn't encounter too many today on the flats.   We did mark lakers nearly everywhere - on both ends of the lake, Bucks - Fays, Wykoff, Long Point, the South end et al.   But they weren't too active.  So the fish are around.

We had some fish moving very aggressively for the jigs.  Not a chance they were lakers or bass.  They had to be rainbows and browns and the numbers of them were good!  If you like to troll, now's the time to hit Owasco.   Dan managed to land a beautiful brown around 23" that we released after a quick photo. 

Conditions were looking good to excellent for smallmouths so we targeted them for awhile with soft jerkbaits.   The guys managed a double and landed another 3 to 4 fish - including a 19.5"er earlier in the day over deep water.  I'd be happy to guide smallmouths here and not go over to Keuka, but I need to put more time in on them.  For now, I consider them more of a secondary, rather than primary option here.  Fun day fishing!

8/10 AM:  Cayuga Lake out of Long Point -Guided Kan and his son Jonathon for a 1/2 day starting at 7.   We got a late start after Kan took a wrong turn, but it didn't matter.  Fishing was excellent north of Long Point!  The guys wanted to learn how to jig and they landed 13 solid lakers!   Great fishing with a few wild ones in the mix.   We wrapped up with a limit before 11 am, though yours truly left one in the live well and completely forgot about it!  Duh.   But it gets hectic and I get tired, so unfortunately these things happen - though very rarely.

8/10 PM:  Met Riley, Steven and Dalton at the launch around 11:15 and we headed out.  We were last out 2 or 3 years ago and 2 out of 3 of the brothers were on the trip with their dad and we hammered the lakers on an afternoon/evening trip in late August, so we were hoping for a repeat.  Unfortunately the bite got tough.   The guys missed a lot of hits, but most of them weren't very solid.   We fished hard and I kept them out a while and finally things started happening.  It was a tough day, but the guys wound up catching and releasing 6 lakers.

8/11 AM:  Cayuga Lake out of Long Point - Met Mike, Steve and Riley (believe it or not, a completely different group of guys - sheer coincidence we had two Steves and Rileys on two consecutive days!)   I was looking forward to a day off today, but after seeing the forecast for tomorrow, I had to bump the guys up.  I'm not into wicked storms and 30 mph gusts.   It was a fun trip with a lot of shucking and jiving for lack of a better term.   The guys wanted to learn the technique and they did.  Fishing was very good with around 10 or 11 solid fish landed including a couple nice wild ones.  Fish topped out around 26".   We had at least one double.   Our best fishing was deeper to start (around 75' to 85') then moved shallower (50' to 60') around 9:30 am.   We started at 6:30 am.  Fun day. 




Cayuga Lake 8/4 + Skaneateles Lake 8/5 AM

Great fishing continues on Cayuga Lake for lakers and bonus salmonids.  Skaneateles Lake remains a solid bet for smallmouth bass action.

8/4 AM:  Met John, John Jr. and Ben at Taughannock State Park around 6:30 am.  These guys have been going fishing with me for longer than I can remember.   They have roots in the area as well as some land, but now reside a ways away.   We've always done well on our trips and today was no exception.

We spent most of our time around the Power Plant "Flats" and bait numbers and action was exceptional.   A troller remarked that they'd caught a couple rainbows, salmon and lakers.  We started talking rainbows and sure enough, in short order John Jr. landed a stocked 18" rainbow!  Wild coincidence!   First one on the lake for the guys and our first one of the year here guiding.   We took good care of this uncommon fish and released it after a quick shot or two.   Laker action got better and better throughout the day with the guys even experiencing a triple!   A small salmon was also landed.   No luck with the "Grand Slam" as we weren't able to hook any browns.   But a terrific morning with around 19 fish landed if I remember correctly.   Very few boats were out either.

8/4 PM:  Met Mike, Jeffrey and Sarah at the ramp and we checked out some areas as we worked north.   The wind had died and action had really slowed.   Jeff had a bump on his first drop, but Sarah hooked the first fish.  It was a brown!  Unfortunately it got off before it was in netting range.   Then she landed a laker with attached lamprey.  The bite had slowed noticeably from the AM and not much was happening, even though on my FF (fish finder) some fish were still moving for the jigs - which almost always means that they are catchable.   By this point in time the guys had really laid back and weren't giving it a good effort.  Mike missed a few hits due to some technique issues.   Sarah hung in there and she hooked another fish.   I had to play cheerleader for awhile.  I implore people to fish hard, especially on 1/2 day trips - because as much can happen during the second half of the day as the first.  

Everyone but me jumped in the lake for a quick swim/cool off.   I felt that fishing was good and we needed to stick with it.  I was marking a lot of fish and they were active.  While they were in the lake, I took a couple drops and managed to land a laker.   We were 3 hours into the trip (half days run 4 to 5 hours.)    Sure enough, the action had clicked back on like a switch and everyone started landing some fish.  Another 4 to 6 fish were landed before we headed back in.  I give Sarah a lot of credit.  Usually the guys fish hardest and the less hard-core fisherpeople quit.  She kept at it.

8/5 AM:  Picked up Robert at his place on Skaneateles Lake at 7:30.   His place is right around one of my favorite areas to guide.   He does a good amount of drifting with crayfish and usually does well. I mentioned our 21" bass from last week and he informed me that he and his buddy have caught a couple fish at 22" over the past two years!  Some of the bass in this lake are really starting to get bigger, though most are still on the small side.

I showed him my three favorite late spring to fall bass techniques on the lake.  The tube, soft jerkbaits and dropshotting.   Everything worked but the Fluke stuff was the most fun and Robert really enjoyed the sight-fishing aspect of it.  We had a good trip with around a dozen bass landed - some being nice 15" range fish.   Very few cars were in the State Ramp lot, which was nice to see.  





Cayuga Lake 8/2 + 8/3

Lake trout jigging is in peak summer form on Cayuga Lake.  This time of year can't be beat for the combination of generally good "all day" fishing, nice weather and uncrowded waterways.   The big news on Cayuga Lake this year is wild lakers.  We're seeing a good class of fish in the 23" to 24" range that are clean and wild.  There are also wild fish that are younger showing up.   In 1996 a few wild fish showed up in netting surveys.  According to what biologist Tom Chiotti said at a Trout Unlimited meeting in 1996, these were the first wild Cayuga Lake trout at that point in time that had been seen in decades.  I would say that natural reproduction on Cayuga's lakers is around a solid 10%.   When checking clips, be sure to look closely for re-generated fins, also the fleshy nub between the dorsal and caudal (tail) fin is also often clipped.  But no doubt, I'm seeing significant numbers of wild fish on Cayuga and finally a few on Owasco Lake too, which is great news.

Next year may wind up being one of the best Cayuga Lake trout/salmon years for fishing in a long time!  We'll have plenty of 27" to 28" BIG lakers.  Stay tuned!

8/2 AM Taughannock:  Guided regular client Mark I. with his 91 year old father for the 1/2 day starting just after 6:30 am.   The goal was to give Mark's dad a memorable fishing trip with some action.   It took a little while for Joe to get things dialed in, but after he did he managed to land 3 solid lakers!  He told me it was the best fishing he'd ever had.   Mark's usually a fly-fisherman, but really enjoys the laker jigging.  He landed around 10 or 11 solid lakers.   Great AM bite!  And I'm guessing Joe is probably the oldest angler I've ever guided.  It ain't always "about da kids" - it can be a lot of fun getting the elders into some good fishing!

8/2 PM:  Met brothers Don and Roy at the Taughannock launch around 11:15 am.  Roy was a long time Charter Captain on the Niagara River and Lake Ontario as well as a guide in Alaska for a while.   He's put his time in on the water and it was great talking guiding with him, as well as Lake Ontario patterns.   Don's a longtime troller (as well as other types of fishing) and wanted to get the jigging pattern down better.   Fishing started a little slow, but really picked up after an hour or two with some terrific action midlake with around 14 fish landed if I remember right - up to over 27".   Great time with some great people and great fishing!  Don usually fishes Seneca Lake and I expect him to do very well over there.

8/3 Long Point:   Met Dan and his nephew Brandon at the launch just after 6 am.   We'd been trying to coordinate a couple trips for a long time (since last year) but Dan works about 7 different jobs.  He's a busy man!   But things finally set up for us today.  We worked the Aurora area N. of Stoney Point and had terrific early AM laker fishing with around 16 fish landed in less than 2 hours!  The bite was really smoking with loads of baitfish and aggressive lakers in fairly shallow - 55' FOW or so.  The shallow stuff dissipated as the baitfish moved out and we picked up a few more fish before running down towards Sheldrake and further south.   Good fishing continued. 

Neither Dan nor Brandon had ever caught a gar, and that was on the bucket list so we ran north.  We found a large group (loose "school") of them but apart from one follow, they weren't very cooperative.  The lack of sunshine hurt us.   We headed back south to Long Point and set up just before we got dumped on with rain.   The guys landed a few more fish making for a tremendous total of 26!    I'm not "Mr. Numbers Guy" - I appreciate a good experience on the water whether I catch them or not, but it's a testimonial to the superb fisheries we have in the FL Region when a couple guys can have that kind of fishing.  The guys have an extensive walleye jigging background, so that certainly helped!    Around 4 or more of the 26 fish were wild!  That's a good sign.


Skaneateles Lake 8/1 AM

Guided Amelia and Eric for a 1/2 day starting at 7 am.  They've more or less just started getting into fishing and were out with me (separately) over the past week and managed to get into some bass and rockbass.   We tried to jig up a few lakers today and it was slow going.  Amelia wound up landing her first laker - a 15.5" fish.   A couple other hits were had, but nothing much.   We wound up the day with some bass fishing and Amelia managed to land and release a 21" beauty!!!   Biggest smallmouth from this lake I've seen!  So congrats go out to her.   It came in around 25' to 30' FOW dropshotting.   Great catch!   Water temp on top was around 71.   Thermocline was down around 65' to 85'.

Cayuga Lake 7/28 - 30

Guiding has kept me super-busy in July, and August will be more of the same.  I've had to work extra-hard to make up for lost time due to the poor weather and slow fishing in May, along with the harsh winter.   So needless to say, I was looking forward to spending a few days fishing with my pal Mike.  Originally we planned on a Lake Champlain trip, but the places I called were booked solid, so we decided to stay closer to home.   I was hoping to hit Cayuga for a day targeting browns, Lake Ontario for either gar/bass or browns and giant smallmouths, then Cayuga for largemouths.  We wound up spending all three days on Cayuga, which provided some terrific fishing and some relief for my wallet.  Here's how things went:

7/28 AM:  We went out of Myers Point targeting browns.  I got to our area and within short order we started catching lakers.   The laker fishing was really good, though no pigs.   Mike wound up getting a nice brown around 20".  We each had a lot of opportunities, but no cigars.   Storms blew us off the lake around noontime.   Eventually I will likely do some guiding for browns, but areas are limited and success rates vary greatly.   They aren't nearly as widely distributed as lakers and I really am not interested in whacking a bunch of these fish.  Laker areas are vast and there's plenty of room to get away from other anglers.   There's never an excuse for laker jiggers to be right on top of each other.  Never - the lakers are all over the place.   But browns are also tough to handle and will easily beat themselves up flopping around on the bottom of a boat.

7/29:  We launched at Union Springs around 9:30 am if I remember correctly.  Maybe it was a little later.   We were very excited to get out and see for ourselves what the bass fishing was like.   We spent our time targeting 3 main areas.   There were bass in all of them, but one of them was tremendous.   As has been the case over the past few years, Mike has really been on top of his bass fishing.  This was my first time largemouth fishing this season!   When I started this business, I was doing some tournaments and really into bassin, but most of my calls are for lakers and other species.  I love fishing bass, but the stuff we do on Cayuga isn't real easy and requires the ability to cast baitcasters and fish hard with intensity. 

We wound up the day with 20 solid largemouths (including one smallmouth) landed before we quit around 8 pm.   The smallmouth was 13" long and largies averaged 15" to 18" and ran to 20".   It was some of the best bass fishing I've ever had on Cayuga.  We also caught a boatload of pickerel. Fish came on crankbaits, plastic worms and tubes.

The cool part of the day for me catching the first crappie I've caught in this lake since the late 1980s or early 1990s!   The fish was a beautiful 13"er.   I lost another one and also landed a 14" white perch!    Later on I landed a 13" to 14" yellow perch. 

7/30:  We went back to Union Springs starting around 10:30 or 11 am.  The wind was up but we were able to get on the bass again in short order.  Mike landed one within around 2 or 3 casts.  My first fish came quickly as well but was a 26" pike.   I caught yet another crappie (11") on a big crankbait.   This crappie was in a completely different area than the two I hooked yesterday.   So that was a good sign.   Mike hammered the bass - he landed 7 or 8 before I even got one!   But that's the way fishing goes.   I'm always happy for my buddies, but it's nice to get a few myself.  If your fishing buddy enjoys catching fish when you aren't getting anything - find a new buddy!   I finally landed a good one as well.   We scouted some other areas and didn't find much.  And again, thunderstorms chased us off the lake by 4 pm.

What a great fishery Cayuga is!   Hard to believe, but in 2 days of bass fishing we caught largemouths, smallmouths, crappies, perch, pickerel, pike, sunfish, bluegills and even white perch.   Add in the cold water day and we caught lakers and a brown trout.  There's really no absolute need to go elsewhere, though I do enjoy a lot of the great fishing we have around the state.   And I kept one crappie, a rockbass and the white perch and did a taste test.   Results we be up in the article section shortly.  



Reports 7/25 to 7/27

Fishing remains good to excellent in the region.   Here's the breakdown over the past few days:

7/25 Seneca Lake out of Geneva:  Guided Kevin and Drew for the full day starting at 6 am.  Laker fishing was decent though a step or two slower than last week's tremendous action.  The guys did well though, landing 8 solid fish including a couple in the 28" to 29" class.   Nearly all were wild.  Depths were all over the map with the first fish coming from around 55' FOW then subsequent fish hitting in over 115' FOW.   Seneca's water temps are the most volatile in the FLs and heavy or even just steady winds can move the thermocline quickly.  Add in a few cold springs and laker location can be a head-scratcher.  The Great Lakes are similar!    BTW - Action was very slow after around 11 am.  Moving deep helped, but if you aren't getting on the water first thing in the AM, more often than not you're basically missing out on the best action.

7/26 AM Cayuga Lake out of Myers Point:   Met Kevin and Drew around 6:30 am after they were running a little late.  Action on Cayuga was every bit as good as Seneca Lake with a couple solid browns landed and a half dozen nice lakers.   One brown had a couple lampreys attached, including a very large one.   All fish were released today.  The brown condition looks tremendous!

PM:  Around 11:15 am I picked up Glenn and Glen at Taughannock.  Glen's a longtime troller and grew up around my hometown of Penfield (he's from East Rochester) and we have a lot of shared memories of Irondequoit Creek as well as the assorted characters (including various goofballs) that inhabited the Linear Park region in the late 1970s and 80s.  I met Glen at Geneva and he wanted to get better at the jigging, which he'd had some success with in the past.  

The bite near the Power Plant started out very promising with a lot of fish chasing.   By the time the guys got the technique dialed in - which didn't take long, the fish had slowed a lot.   So we caught the end of it.   But we had a slow steady pick with 4 nice lakers landed and a few hits missed right up until we left.   We worked both shores and the fish seem to be fairly well distributed, though concentrations get better the further north you go.  Things will likely change daily and I expect mid and lower lake areas to see good numbers of lakers and other salmonids moving in shortly.

7/27 AM:  I was kind of dreading guiding Skaneateles Lake this AM with the wooden "classic" boat show going on and the typical mid-summer scene at the launch, but my fears were unfounded.   Some heavy T-Storms moved through the region around 5 to 6:30 am and when I arrived at the parking lot of the State Launch only one other boat had gone out.   Eric, Dave and Henry did alright given the overcast and at times windless and at other times very windy conditions.  Eric doesn't fish much at all and managed some nice bass to over 17" and some rockies as well.  Dave wound up being the rockbass king and Henry caught a mix of rockies and smallmouths.   Tubes and dropshot rigs produced best today.    Water temp was 73 on top.




Sodus Bay 7/21

Guided Mark for the full day.  He just got back from a tarpon trip and was ready to chase some gar.   I suggested starting early and doing a little smallmouth bass fishing.   We tried a few areas west of the bay in Lake Ontario and had non-stop hits from pesky gobies.  Finally on a slow sloping point Mark picked up a hefty fish just shy of 18".   I would've liked to have spent more time chasing smallmouths, but unfortunately this time of year, storms and clouds are common around the bay, and they tend to slow the gar bite, so we headed back into the bay while the conditions were still good. (BTW:  In Lake Ontario I was impressed by the numbers of alewives that were in shallow.  So the bass have quite a bit to eat.)

The gar fishing was smoking hot when we started.  Follow after follow and plenty of hits.  In short order Mark landed 6 fish up to 40".   What made things tricky was that I had forgotten my "gar gloves" - having left them in my other boat.   So I had to handle them barehanded, which went well, though it was entertaining.  Mark used his go-pro camera and we got some cool footage of some leaping gar.  Then the fish shut off as the wind picked up.  We went to sinking fly-lines and had a few more hits, but they weren't aggressive.   The next couple hours were non-productive.

The bay looked great and I hadn't been on it in since 2012 if my memory serves me correctly.   Boat traffic was pretty light.   And of course, I hit Orbakers in Williamson on the (out of the) way home.  It's on Rt. 104 just about 8 or 9 miles west of Sodus Point.   Better burgers than Five Guys, 'In and Out' and anywhere else I know of!  Fantastic malted milkshakes too (better than Doug's Fish Fry!)  The place has been around since the 1930s and one stop there and you'll know why! 

Cayuga and Seneca Lake Reports 7/18 - 7/20

Fishing has been about as good as it gets over the past few days.  On Saturday Charles from my first trip and Jimmy from my second told me that the fishing they had was "the best of their lives."  That's a great feeling and I'm glad that the Finger Lakes are delivering!

7/18  Cayuga Lake out of Myers:  Guided Greg on a quest for brown trout.   He was out with me last week and lost a beauty on Seneca.  He hammered them a few years back on Cayuga.   We worked some areas and Greg landed close to a dozen lakers but no browns.   The last area we hit was full of browns and we had a lot of follows.  Greg landed a couple fat fish in the 20" to 22" range (they are FAT and pushing 5lbs or more!)    They fought great.  We had one nearly jump into the boat.   A ton of browns were lost/dropped.

We are going to see some superb fishing on Cayuga Lake next year for lakers and brown trout at the very least.  Lamprey numbers are down (and they will be treated in August.)  Plenty of lakers will be pushing 27" to 28" next year and ranging upwards of 7 to 9lbs.  Add in more wild fish than ever on Cayuga, plus a good class of browns and 2015 will be a salmonid party on this lake.

7/19 Seneca, Seneca, Seneca:   There isn't a better Finger Lake for lakers than Seneca when it is on.  Nothing better!    Large wild lakers were hitting hard for my AM trip with Charles and my PM (actually mid-AM trip) with Eddie and his buddy Jimmy.   I could write an essay on the day, but in a nutshell the fishing was terrific with plenty of 27" to 29" fish landed.  They were fat and healthy.   Eddie's first laker was bigger than the one my buddy Jarrod won the 2013 49th Annual Memorial Weekend Derby with!  This thing was huge 35"+ long and in good condition.   I'd guess 15lbs.  At least high 14s.  Fish came from around 85' to 95' deep.  Assorted plastics did the trick.   A few browns are around the north end as well and AZ friend Jeff nailed a nice one and Eddie had one follow.  

7/20 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:   Guided Jim and Paul for 1/2 day starting around 6:15.   Very good fishing on Cayuga with 10 solid lakers landed to 27".   Very few signs of lampreys.  Just another great day and good time on the lake.   Very few boats were out apart from the Federation Anglers fishing the tournament.   Fun day with fish coming from 75' to 90'.  The usual plastics, including white reapers were hot.

Seneca Lake out of Geneva 7/16 + Skaneateles Lake 7/17 AM

Seneca Lake 7/16:   Did a morning trip starting at 6 am with Tom and his uncle Bob.   With the weird weather over the past few days I didn't know what to expect.   A cold front came through last night, but oftentimes the first day of the front is still good fishing.  The trout bit great late last week. Maybe this would slow them down.   But nope, fishing was excellent throughout the AM and was steady to downright great right into the afternoon.  The action is certainly making up for the slow laker fishing we experienced in May.

The guys kept 4 fish and wound up releasing another dozen up to around 31".   Most were wild and we had an inordinate number of large, 27" to 28" fish.   One fish was lost by Bob that appeared to be a real solid brown trout.   We had lakers in as shallow as 55' of water (though we were along dropoffs, so the fish likely came from deeper water.)   Best activity ran from 80' or so out to 115' or 120'.   Two or three other boats were out fishing - that was it!  

My PM trip was booked at the last minute on the prior day and was with Andrew and Jessica who keep their boat in Watkins Glen.   I was wondering how good the PM bite would be after the good AM fishing, but there was no need to worry.  By the day's end 8 or 9 more solid lakers were landed.   The fishing got hot just before we called it a day with Jessica landing 3 nice 26" to 27"ers.  Andy was complaining about his sore wrist!  That's a good day of fishing!

The Chamber of Commerce boat launch area and "circle" was torn up while we were out.  It will be repaved soon.  Don't be surprised if it's closed for a day or two sometimes this next week or two.

Skaneateles Lake 7/17:  Guided Amelia and her brother Stanley for a morning 1/2 day.  They have a place on the lake and Amelia has been wanting to get into fishing and fly-fishing.  After literally teaching Amelia how to cast, it was great watching her really launch some jigs!    We worked on fishing tubes, soft jerkbaits and dropshotting.  All produced fish.  The AM fishing was very good with bass from shallow to 20' or so.   We kept a couple for the table and they had been feasting on the usual crayfish.  

In the parking lot I ran into a friend who was trolling and had landed a nice salmon, lakers and some other nice fish.  He even caught a couple nice smallmouths out over 200' FOW eating perch fry.  Skaneateles perch fry are just that - fry!   They are tiny - around 1/2" each.  It's hard to believe that the gamefish in this lake live on those things.  It's like eating popcorn and peanuts one at a time and nothing bigger.  Water temps on the lakes remain cool - 71 degrees on top.

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 7/14

Guided Scott for the full day today starting just after 6 am.  Action was excellent throughout the day, with momentary lulls mainly due to the fish changing location or depth.  But they were biting all day long!   Scott's father Dick joined us at 10 am.   We wrapped up right around 2 pm with 23 lakers landed and numerous fish dropped or missed!   Two fish were sublegals - 14"ers.   Most fish ran from 22" to 24" - kind of like larger Keuka fish.  We had two fish come up with eels.   Largest was around 27".   Just a fantastic bite!   We mostly fished 65' to 90'.  Plenty of bait was around.  White/chart Swimfish and Shakers worked just fine.   Great day and I know Scott was psyched to land a bunch of fish after our tough effort searching for browns on Seneca Lake last week.

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 7/12 AM

Guided Deb and her sister Liz for a 1/2 day targeting lake trout.   The jigging was superb on Cayuga Lake with an exceptional bite going throughout the entire AM.   Deb and Liz don't fish much, but they managed to land 15 solid lakers.   I took one cast to straighten out a reel and landed a 28" fish - that's how good it was!    Reports from mid-lake were that the bite slowed down a bit.  We had great fishing start in around 75' to 90' then the hot bite seemed shallower - like from 50' to 65' or so.   Countless fish were missed and dropped.  Every third drop of the jig pretty much resulted in a hit!   Anyways, terrific AM and we had 2 wild fish in the mix.  One large laker came up with 2 attached live lampreys, but that was it.  The other fish were healthy looking and pretty clean.  

The Salvation Army Derby was going on (which I was unaware of.)   That'll give a good indication of how the salmon and non-laker trout fishing is going on Cayuga.  

Skaneateles Lake 7/10 + Seneca Lake out of Lodi 7/11

7/10 Skaneateles Lake:  Guided Joe and his 10 year old son William for a 1/2 day on the second day of our two day fishing excursion.   I had the guys throw tubes and superflukes to start, though with the weather pattern (or just our experience) the bite was slow to start in the shallows.  They landed a few fish including some rockbass and a solid perch, along with some undersized smallmouths.   I could see that this wasn't going to be the best way to go, so I had the guys fish some dropshot rigs.   Action improved with Joe landing a couple solid smallmouths to around 17" along with some more rockbass.   I actually met Joe at a concert around 3 or 4 years ago and it's always a treat having him and especially his son William aboard.  Will does some great impressions far beyond his years!  Water temps were around 70/71 and things went well at the parking lot with the anglers clearing out just as the pleasure boaters showed up.  

7/11 Seneca Lake:   Someday down the line when I write my book, I will certainly thank the clients like Greg (from today) that have enabled me to experiment on new patterns and techniques with them!   It's a gamble, but the rewards can be high.   We were after brown trout on the jig today.  Like Scott from earlier in the week, Greg crushed the browns out with me a couple years ago on Cayuga, so he knew what the potential was here.  

Things started well around 6 am with some browns crashing bait on the surface near the launch.   Greg had a follow from a 20" to 22"er.   Working other areas resulted in some grabs and follows (likely from lakers and smallish salmon respectively.)   In one area, Greg had a big brown follow him.  He slowed his jig and the fish grabbed it!  Game on!  The fish dug underneath the boat, ran upfront and then came up for the big jump!   Then Greg's heart sank as the jig came flying back sans brown trout.   He was stoked, however, and this brown goes on the list of lost fish to be remembered for a lifetime.  We had a good look at it and it was likely 7 to 8lbs or better.   He later had another solid brown follow him along with some salmon.  BTW -  Angling Zone friend/past client Al reported a steady all-day bite on lakers at Geneva today.    

Reports 7/5 to 7/9

I've been guiding or fishing nearly everyday lately.  As much as I'd love to update the site on a daily basis, sometimes that has to take a backseat to much needed sleep!    Here's how the fishing has fared for us lately:

7/5 Seneca Lake out of Lodi:   Got out with my buddy Mike (on his boat) for a shot at jigging some browns.  This has been on our "to-do list" for a long time and we just hadn't gotten to it.   I'm not a fan of the Lodi State Boat Launch, but with two people it isn't too bad.   It's just a very shallow sloping ramp.   We worked a lot of areas and managed to each land solid browns, with Mike nailing a 26" fish (if I remember right) and me nailing one around 23".   We also had some follows from another brown and a small salmon.  I landed a solid 14"+ perch and missed a good hit as well.  The usual laker swim baits worked well.  Conditions weren't great with light wind, weed mats and a lot of boat traffic. 

7/6:  Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  Guided Richard and Johnny in the AM starting around 6 for lakers.   We had some OK jigging to start, then action really picked up around 9 am.  The thermocline has been moving around a lot lately, so taking deep temperatures has really helped with fish location.   Rich wanted the tutorial trip and he wasn't disappointed.   Around 6 to 8 fish were landed (again if my memory serves me correctly.)   Fish ranged up to 28" and were clean without many signs of eel attacks.  

PM:  For my PM trip I picked up Kevin at Dean's Cove.  He's been doing trips with me since my first or second season and it's always good to see him.  He's mainly a fly-fisher.   We were hoping to get some gar on the fly, but the gar didn't cooperate.  Hot weather is best for gar with water temps into the 80s.  We had some warm water in a cove, but the fish weren't interested and it was hard to pinpoint them without spooking them, which didn't help.   Other favorite gar areas were too windy to fish or devoid of fish.   We tried some fly-fishing for bass and pickerel and despite the nice looking clear, weedy water on the lake, we didn't have any action.  I'll be getting out here over the next couple weeks with a full array of bass gear and will see how the fishing shapes up.   Laker jigging saved the day in terms of a few bent rods and the fishing was excellent with Kevin nailing 4 or 5 solid fish in short order.

7/7 Skaneateles Lake:  Guided Scott for the full day.   The weather forecast wasn't looking good and we had to keep an eye out for storms, but we managed to get in a full day of fishing.  We started with laker jigging and Scott nailed a very skinny, emaciated looking fish in short order.   A few other hits were had, then we switched to bass.   Bass fishing was spotty, probably due to the changing weather.   Scott either caught fish or had action on a lot of tactics, including topwater, spinnerbaits, tubes, flukes, spoons and the dropshot.  But we'd get one fish on something and that was it.   Then we'd get one on something else and nothing else.  It went on and on.   Weird day, but he had a lot of good fishing though the "catching" could've been better.   Not a single other rig was at the State Launch when I launched, nor when I pulled back in.   We did have one storm blow by but were able to wait it out.  Thankfully it was nowhere nearly as severe has the one that went through the region yesterday!

7/8 Seneca Lake out of Lodi:   Scott hammered the browns with me on Cayuga Lake 3 or 4 years ago, and with the forecast I thought he might be able to do the same on Seneca, but it wasn't to be.   We tried pike fishing for around 90 minutes in the AM.  Scott had one good hit and that was it.   Water temps were still a bit warm and that'll likely be the last time I give them a shot for awhile unless I see a good opportunity (I have said that before though...)

Our thermocline from Saturday had pretty much dissapated in areas.   Weather was also weird.   No fish on the day.   Scott had a few follows (one on a fluke) from what appeared to be browns and at least two small salmon.   But fish were very tentative.  We tried pike again further south towards Watkins Glen.  Saw a big one surface near us, but didn't want to commit to deep fishing for them.   Tough day!  We plan on being out again next week.  We'll probably try something easier.

7/9 AM Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  Guided Joe and his 10 year old son William for 1/2 day for lakers.   They joined me for the first time 2 years ago and it was great to see them again.   Fishing started out great at 6:30 am, slowed down then picked up again before we called it a day.   William landed 3 solid lakers and Joe got one.  They both lost some decent fish and missed hits as well.  The early bite was excellent, but didn't last long.   Fish ranged from 85' to 95', though we might have had one shallow.   The lakers looked good and are still feeding heavily on Cayuga Lake.  







Seneca Lake out of Geneva 7/3

Guided Todd and his buddies Frankie and Sal for 1/2 day starting just after 6 am.   Loads of fish remain on the flats off of Geneva/Belhurst but the bite was spotty.  Some of it likely had to do with the weather conditions - we had alternating clouds and sun after a lot of steady weather.  The guys still did well with 1/2 dozen fish landed to 28" or so.   The thermocline was down around 50' and we did well from about 50' to 90'.   I will be on Cayuga Lake a bit more over the next month and am looking forward to fishing closer to home, but Seneca Lake should be hot for awhile yet.  The fish I cleaned were PACKED with bait.  We had one or two hatchery fish, but most are wild and in good shape lamprey-wise.    It was a fun trip!

Skaneateles Lake 7/1

Guided Jeremy and Bill for the full day starting just after 6 am.   The guys are staying at a rental down the lake for the week.   We had very good smallmouth bass action pretty much all day long.   Jeremy landed an 18 1/2" beauty and around 40% of the 30 or so fish landed were over 12".  The undersized fish were all around 9" to 11".   These guys both do a lot of fishing, which showed,  and brought along their own (great) gear.   I have great stuff as well, but it can be nice using your own stuff.   Tubes and Flukes did the damage today.   The best fishing for us still seems to be shallow  - from a few feet of water out to around 10', though there were certainly some nice fish out deeper.   A decent amount of rock bass were caught along with a nice perch or two.

Winds were really blowing today and for the most part it helped the bite.  The State Launch was surprisingly vacant - probably due to the forecast high winds/possibly T-Storms, holiday weekend approaching and the fact that last weekend featured great weather, so a lot of folks were able to scratch their boating itch.   Whatever the reason, it was very surprising to only see a handful of rigs in the small State Launch parking lot on such a hot sunny day.   Water temps are around 70/71 on top.

Seneca Lake out of Sampson 6/30

Guided Mike for the full day.starting at 5:30 am.   A few rain showers were in the area, but we were able to avoid them by heading north.   Laker jigging was very good with around 8 fish landed, including 3 in the 28" range.   The thermocline had moved deeper and we had our best fishing around 65' to 85'.   Mike is an exceptional angler and even managed to hook into a lucky Landlocked Salmon in the low 20s inch range right next to the boat.   Lakers were in excellent condition with very few lamprey marks.  All were wild and many were totally clean with some beautiful colors.

We tried 2 hours or so of pike fishing and he landed one around 22" and had another of the same size follow him in.  Without a doubt most pike have moved into deeper water.   At times they will certainly move up, but the fun, relatively easy pike action will likely have to wait until September and onwards.  Medium to large sized pike seek cool and sometimes downright cold water if it's available, so that's likely where they are, and there's plenty of it on Seneca Lake!   On Lake Champlain in some areas anglers routinely target northerns in 20' to 40' FOW.   At some point in time this summer I may try it, but it's down on the "bucket list" quite a bit.  We'll see.    Overall it was a great day on the water and we only saw a couple other boats out.  The weather was generally very good.   Mike's fished all over the country and world and it was great hearing about his angling exploits and thoughts.

Skaneateles Lake 6/27 AM, 28 + Seneca Lake out of Sampson 6/29 AM

After a slow winter season (for obvious reasons) a busy April and a slow May, my schedule has been really busy lately and will likely continue into July and the rest of the season.  I have been posting my month by month open dates on my homepage (just for the current month.)  Keep in mind that I will limit the number of trips I do each month and once a certain number of dates are booked, I will "close off" that month.  

I've been getting some calls for "tutorial trips" lately.  These are trips where I basically combine a fishing trip with a lesson if you will, on either fishing that particular lake, species or various techniques.  These trips are more about learning than catching per se, though I try to keep the catching as good as possible.  If you're interested in one of these trips, please let me know.  The rates are the same.

Here's how things went this past weekend:

Friday 6/27 AM:  Guided Rick on Skaneateles Lake.  He's a good example of a talented angler who has good equipment, a boat and the "angling drive" but could use a little coaching on knowing how long to stay in a particular area, what to try and when to move.   And for most people, time on the water is a factor.  The "time value of money" is high for a lot of busy people who don't have a lot of free time and they want to maximize their success while out.  I'm no whiz on all these aforementioned things and even the top level bass pros out there sometimes stay in an area too long, or conversely move too quickly, but having some outside advice can certainly help. 

We focused on smallmouth bass - working the soft jerkbaits, tubes and dropshotting.   We didn't have much success or spend much time on the drop shot, but Rick got a lot of confidence on the tube and fluke-type baits.   We had a fun morning with some nice bass landed - mostly shallow.  Water temp on top was 69.

Saturday 6/28:   Guided Chris and Anna out of Mandana.  I knew the State Launch would be a mess so we went out of Mandana's Town Launch.  The launch is a bear to go out of during the late fall and winter, due to low water, but is a reasonably decent launch when the lake's at full pool.   There is a long walk to the parking area.  They were on vacation and enjoying a kid-free day, so I ran them nearly all the way to the south end of the lake, where the beauty is amongst the absolute best in the entire region.   100' cliffs with water trickling over, forests and very little auto or boat traffic make for an unforgettable experience.  And the fishing ain't half bad either.  We worked right up the lake with the usual tubes and flukes and had some very good action (you'll see a lot more fish come up for the flukes than you'll catch.)  Anna is a talented fisherwoman and landed a nice largemouth around 16" that yours truly mishandled at the boat - so no pic.  Some decent smallmouths were also taken as well as the usual number of dinks.  We saw a good laker cruise by as well as a few smallish salmon/trout that showed up for the lures.  

We finished up the last hour with some laker jigging.  Chris and Anna head to the Adirondacks on an annual basis and the lake they fish has lakers.   Things went beautifully as I set us up and we had hits in short order (it doesn't always go like that!)   Working the stretch north of Mandana resulted in three hookups for Chris and a solid 18" to 19"er landed in 65' to 80' FOW.  Someday it'd be fun to spend some time trying to jig the "Skaneateles Monster Lakers" but for now I'll be doing most laker jigging on the other FLs.   Water temp was 70 on top.  Fun trip.

Sunday 6/29 AM Seneca out of Sampson:   Guided Barry and Julie for a 1/2 day.   We wound up with some tough fishing today for various reasons.  I had the boat ready to roll at our 6 am start time but they were running late so we didn't get underway until 6:30.   The lake was calm first thing in the AM but then got a bit choppy which seemed to put the bite off.   We started with a try at pike for around 2 hours.  Fishing was weird with Julie landing a chunky, but small smallmouth bass around 13" or so on a large Daredevle!   Then Barry topped her but landing a bullhead on one!  The bullhead actually hit a 1 oz spoon!   Weird.   No hits or follows on northerns as far as I could tell and we tried both sides of the lake in some high percentage areas.

We set up for lakers and found mid-lake fishing slow.   The wave action was getting to Julie, who happens to be 5 months pregnant, so any run up to the "hot" Belhurst flats was out of the question.   A few hits were had on the lakers around Sampson, but the bite was tough.   Friends did do well at Geneva this AM.   Either way, it was a fun day on the water and nice to see Julie and Barry, who've been fishing with me for at least 6 or 7 years and usually with better results than we had today.   




Seneca Lake out of Geneva 6/26

Guided Dan from South Carolina, who's been booking with me since my first year.  It was good to see him.  I started him out with some pike casting just after 6 am.   We had about 40 minutes with no action and we switched gears and went for lakers.  The north end of Seneca has a LOT of water and although pike fishing can be very good at times, it's more of a search to find them, and I didn't feel like potentially wasting a hot laker bite.

There were a lot of lakers on the flats as shallow as 45'.   A lot!   That didn't mean they were hitting great though.  After maybe an hour with just light hits and chases, Dan had a flurry of good activity.   Overall it wound up being a great day with 11 nice fish landed to 32" long, though things slowed seriously by around 11 am.   All but two of the fish were wild and we had one lamprey come up on a fish.   Most fish were clean.  The condition of some of the lake trout was amazing - these fish are feeding big-time.  We kept 4 of the medium sized fish and I weighed them all (we never weigh fish that we are going to release.)   IF I remember correctly, a 26" laker was running in the 7lb range.  The amount of baitfish on the north end of the lake was staggering.   Seneca Lake really appears to be in excellent shape going ahead into the near future.   Surface temps were 67 degrees.  A thermocline has formed with laker temps down around 40'.   

Reports 6/20 to 6/22

I was all over the place over the past weekend.  Here's what happened:

6/20 AM:  Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove - I guided Alan and his son Zach for a "tutorial trip."   I don't guide perch, but Alan enjoys eating them (who doesn't?) and wanted to learn some techniques and locational tips.  I went over that info with him and also some smallmouth bass (and general FL) tactics including working tube jigs and soft jerkbaits.   Perch were scattered from around 7' to 20' FOW on both sides of the lake.  No great numbers, but it wouldn't be hard to catch enough for a few decent meals.  Bluegills were also active in the same depths.   There are loads of alewives around as well.   We saw a few shallow smallmouths but no great shakes.  We finished the morning with some laker jigging and the bite was excellent with 4 fish landed in around 1/2 hour up to 26".   We even saw a couple shallow pike.  Water temps are in the low 60s on top, but it's very cold down 30' to 40'.

6/21 AM: Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park: Guided longtime client Jeff and his dad Dan for pike.  Jeff wanted to catch them on the fly-rod.  His father tossed spoons and jerkbaits with the spoons working best.   Pike fishing was very good with 7 solid fish landed and released including 2 fish @ 34".  Those are solid pike!  The others ran from 25" to 31".  Jeff managed to land three on the fly rod including a 29" - 30" fish.  He missed a few as well.  Fish were shallow.   They were also healthy looking.  We tried some laker jigging afterwards and a few were missed, but they weren't grabbing well.   Time will tell how long the pike action will be good.  Pike can be caught all summer on Seneca Lake, but the bite usually gets spotty - i.e. you have to go really early and have the right conditions.  There's a lot of good deep cool habitat for pike in Seneca and they use it.  I expect the milfoil to start growing very, very fast this week over there.  

6/21 PM:   Met Bob and Ray (other repeat clients) at Sampson and we checked on pike (without action) and then ran to the Geneva area for lakers.  A fish was landed in short order.  The area was LOADED!   Fish weren't grabbing well until the wind picked up, and that's when the fun started.  The guys wound up with 7 or 8 nice fish - all wild ones in the 22" to 25" range for the most part.  About 40' to 50' FOW was very good.  Angling Zone friends Craig and Jim did well out deep - so the fish were everywhere.  The lakers I cleaned all had alewives in them.

My buddy Mike fished Skaneateles for bass and had some superb action on fish up to 20"!   Perch and lake trout were hitting in around 25' to 30' FOW.  Not much encouraging news on the hatch.  Not enough bugs were on top and rainbows likely picked off mayflies before they hit the surface.

6/22:  Guided Mark on Otisco Lake.  The goal was to get a Tiger Musky on the fly-rod.  I still haven't done it myself, but felt Mark had a good chance at it.  He fished HARD and is one of the best casters I guide.  We worked a lot of areas without any sign of Tigers.  Conditions weren't great - we had algae blooms, no wind and a lot of cut up weeds on the surface.   The trouble with fly fishing Tigers on Otisco Lake is that it can be hard to trigger negative or neutral fish that are buried in weed growth.  Musky lures like Rat-L Traps and various other baits can be ripped through the vegetation and you can get reaction bites.  Rip most streamers through vegetation and you get a fouled fly that nothing will hit!   I'll have to work on some foul proof streamer designs and better yet, pick more high-percentage days to go fishing.   Mark caught a decent smallmouth.

My buddy Jarrod was out gear-fishing and caught a nice 34" Tiger and some bass.  Another boat I talked to got a Tiger and a bass as well.   We were checked for licenses and life vests by a DEC Conservation Officer.   When you least expect to be checked, you will be checked, so make sure you have all that necessary stuff with you!

The lake was packed with pleasure boaters.  I really like to avoid Skaneateles and Otisco Lakes on hot weekend days.  The lake was really crowded and that certainly didn't help our fishing.   We launched out of Ryfuns and the facilities there are nice.  Water temps got into the mid to upper 70s on the lake.  Summer is here and weeds are coming up quickly.







Otisco Lake 6/18 + 19

Guided "Bobberman" Perry and his pal Dave over the past two days for Tiger Muskies on Otisco Lake.  I provide the boat and anchor and the guys bring their gear and bait.  It's always a nice change of pace to anchor, throw out some minnows and wait for bobbers to go down.  

The guys have caught some beautiful fish over the years on a lot of different waterways.  The challenge oftentimes comes down to getting good bait.   A dealer that's really come through recently is Dave's Bait and Tackle on 1421 Turnpike Rd. in Auburn.  His phone number is (315) 209-4115.   We were all excited when the guys showed up with some nice suckers and large golden shiners.  What often passes for "pike bait" these days are what we used to call "bass minnows" - puny 2" to 3" golden shiners.  We want BIG bait for BIG fish!

Perry and Dave are on vacation when we go out, so we start around 9 am or later and we generally set up "camp" and don't move around a whole lot.   Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn't.   But on Wednesday we had good conditions and in our second area Perry managed to land a 32" musky that was in great condition.  The fish are really fighting well!   We had very few hits.  Dave had a hit on a spoon and one big perch gobbled a big golden shiner, but that was it for day 1.

Today we started near the area of the lake where we'd caught the musky yesterday.  In short order, Perry nabbed another chunky Tiger - this one was around 30", and again, fought great.   We had some other hits but nothing to show.

After the front came through, the winds picked up and clouds cleared.   I had found an area last year that looked promising for muskies (and walleyes) and we set up there.   Perry was reeling in a sucker quickly when it got hammered!  FISH ON!!!  I could tell this was no "teeny bopper" Tiger - this was a solid one!  After a great fight and a lot of dancing around the boat trying to find the right netting opportunity, I slid the net under a 38" Tiger!  What a fish!  Great big mouth and teeth, and it was in great condition.  We snapped a few quick shots and let it go.   Perry had landed a 40"er before and lost a bigger one years ago, but this was his 2nd or 3rd biggest ever, so it was quite an accomplishment.   A nice smallmouth and perch were also landed.   Great day and I'll be doing some fly-fishing guiding here shortly, looking for our first one on the fly.    I will have some good photos to put up once I get time, which unfortunately won't be real soon looking at my schedule.

Owasco Lake 6/17 AM

Had a call yesterday from Oscar,  who was staying on the lake for a few days.  He wanted to get out with his son Jared.   We met at 6 am at Emerson Park.   There was a south wind to start around 7 mph.   We did not find the good concentrations of fish we had on Sunday, but we did get into some nice ones.   Thirteen year old Jared managed to land two lakers - one at 27" and one at 28"!   Oscar landed two smaller, but still respectable fish around 24" to 26" - again (like yesterday) one being a wild fish.  

The condition of the Owasco Lake lake trout is the best I've seen overall, since 2003 or 2004, when I first started fishing the lake.  Gone are the skinny, pale, bleached-out looking fish of the mid-2000s (though the heavy numbers of them were fun to catch.)  The Owasco fish are plump and have nice coloration.   There are no lampreys in Owasco Lake, so the lake does have some trophy potential and also produces clean fish.   Another big plus of Owasco Lake is that it is a small Finger Lake and fishable in some higher winds out of any direction, though a 15 mph + southerly is no picnic here on the north end. 

I was going to stay out a bit and bass fish, but the winds died down to nothing.  It would've been a great day to head north to Sodus Bay and fly-fish gar, but I have a busy week ahead and need to save up some energy!   Anyways, it was a good trip with some good fishing!

Owasco Lake 6/16

Had a cancellation today, so off to Owasco I went.  For my guiding, I enjoy Skaneateles Lake for smallmouth bass numbers, though fish 18" and over are scarce there.  Keuka Lake might be the best major Finger Lake in terms of numbers of quality-sized fish, but it is a good drive for me.  Owasco Lake has a decent smallmouth bass population - it isn't great, but it's not bad and I'd like to guide more smallmouths over there, but I'm still tentative on it.

I launched at the South Shore marina just after 10 am and fished till around 4pm, spending an hour targeting pike (which wasn't successful.   Some large pumpkinseed sunfish were bedding all along the docks and around the south end of the lake.   I worked a bunch of areas on the lake with Superflukes today.  On my 1st cast I raised a smallmouth around 3lbs or better that I missed.  Overall I didn't raise too many quality bass.  I did manage to land a beauty that was just shy of 20", as well as a 15"er.   Tons of nice perch were following the fluke in nearly everywhere I went.   I also saw a ton of alewives inshore.   I just didn't encounter decent numbers of bass in the areas I fished.  Some of that was the weather conditions - dead calm and sunny.  But regarding the smallmouths, many may still be spawning and I will check on that shortly if I get time.   With pike, the best fishing here will be early in the AM and late PM.  The weeds are up a bit and water temps are in the mid-60s, which tend to drive pike deeper and scatter them.   This is a better lake to hit for northerns right when the season opens in May and then again in October and November. 

Seneca Lake out of Sampson 6/14 + Owasco Lake 6/15

Seneca Lake:  Guided Greg and Laura starting at 6 am.   Next to nobody was out on the lake - just a few other boats.   We marked plenty of fish but they were fairly tentative to start.  The weather was changing with a few light showers lingering mid-lake.  Bait was around and Laura managed to land a laker around 24".  A couple hits were had as well.  We shot north and worked the Belhurst area with Greg landing a 20" laker.   The bite remained tentative.  It was COLD outside and I regretted pulling my winter coat out of my truck last week.   We dropped Laura off and tried pike for around 45 minutes with just one hit.

After the trip, I was psyched to work a few different areas for northerns.   I cast a variety of lures and in around 2 1/2 hours I landed 3 solid fish - one around 30" and two in the 27" range.   I kept the larger pike and it was stuffed with alewives.  I caught fish on both sides of the lake.  I did cover a lot of water and didn't consider the bite to be easy, but it was mid-day.   Conditions were good with a light to moderate northwest wind and some good cloud cover (overcast skies.)  Water temps were around 56.

Owasco Lake:  Guided Fred, Fred Sr. and Matt for 6 hours today targeting lakers starting just after 6 am.   Fred Sr. was a Lake Ontario Charter Captain and it's always fun hearing his anecdotes.   The AM bite was hot - we had a couple doubles and the guys landed 8 solid fish and dropped a few as well.  Plenty of bait was around and the lakers are looking great.  Fish ran from 20" to 26" and at least 4 different classes (stocking groups) were represented.   We had a second smaller flurry of action with Matt landing a couple more fish, including a rare (but increasingly common) wild Owasco Laker.  In the early 2000s when Owasco was over-loaded with lake trout, wild fish were non-existent in our catches.  If we caught a very rare unclipped fish, it looked more like a missed clip, rather than a wild fish.  Matt's fish had striking orange fins.  It was a beauty and we released it.  Fish were in around 60' to 75' FOW.  

I'll be spending more time on this lake in the future.  I will be checking here for pike and smallmouth bass shortly.  I'd rather target smallmouths here than have to drive over to Keuka Lake - though I do love Keuka!

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 6/8 AM

Guided James and his friend Sean for an early 1/2 day starting at 5:30 am.  We targeted northern pike - a species which the guys had never caught before.  (They're from the west coast.)  We worked 5 to 6 areas and found some pike just about everywhere, though the best action was on the south end.  4 fish were landed up to about 28" or 29", though most were in the 23" to 25" range.   Spoons and swimbaits yielded the most action. The catching was OK but the fishing was better.  Some nice hits were missed and a couple really good fish hit and/or followed the guys, so the pace was steady.   We had a lot of fun and the weather was absolutely perfect.  Seneca will offer good pike fishing right into July, but picking the right days and getting an early start (or fishing late) will be important.   A bonus perch was also caught.  A few trollers were out but overall fishing pressure was light.  A couple boats also appeared to be targeting pike.

Seneca Lake out of Geneva 6/6

Guided Greg today for the full day starting just after 6 am.  We launched at the State Park.  There's a carnival going on this weekend at the Chamber of Commerce area and it will likely be very crowded there this weekend.   Greg wanted lakers and we marked plenty  of them along the north end flats. 

Fishing started a little slow but soon picked up with Greg landing 5 solid, wild lake trout in short order.  Fish were active shallow.  Another one or two were lost.  All were cookie cutter 22" to 25" clean healthy looking fish.  Great colors and patterns on them! 

Very few boats were out today.  I had Greg try a little pike casting and he managed a solid northern around 27" to 29" in fairly short order.  I don't know how good the pike fishing is "up north" but I'd venture a guess that it's pretty good.  The fish wasn't in great condition - it was a little thin, but not too bad.   A big perch also hit Greg's pike spoon!   We let everything go today.   No sign of recent lamprey attacks on the lakers.   We didn't mark much bait either.   Water temps on the surface are around 56 degrees.  I expect good pike fishing throughout June and into July with the way the climate has been!  I'm looking forward to it!

Keuka Lake out of Penn Yan 6/4 AM + Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 6/5 AM

Guided Tom for consecutive 1/2 days.   He wanted to bass fish for a morning and pike fish for one as well. 

6/4:  Keuka Lake - As most of you know, I'm not on Keuka Lake much for smallmouth bass these days.   I love the lake and enjoy guiding it for bass, but I typically refer bass clients to Jon Evans, who lives and breathes smallmouths.  He does weekday guide trips in the summer, but as far as I know is still in weekend mode.   Anyways, Tom wanted me to fish alongside him to help see what worked, so that's what I did - even though I don't care to fish when I'm guiding.  The trips are for those of you who book them.

Some kind of mild cold front was hanging around the area in the AM.  It was apparent with the bluebird skies and lethargic fish.   I picked up a barely legal smallmouth on a tube that I never felt hit.  Also got pickerel as well on a fluke.  Tom wanted to dropshot and he stuck with that.    Around 8 or 8:30 am the atmosphere changed and fish started activating.  A few pods of large smallmouth bass showed themselves for flukes and were crashing some nearby baitfish on the surface.   Tom was quick and managed a nice blow up then landed a chunky bass around 14" to 15" on topwater.   I missed a couple beauties.   Unfortunately we weren't able to capitalize on these opportunities.   I'm not big on bed fishing but we checked one area out and found a few bass remaining.  Most fish seem to be post-spawn and back on the feed, at least in the warmer Penn Yan arm of the lake.

I'm going to try to do more smallmouth bass fishing on Cayuga and Owasco Lakes this year.   Some of it due to my wanting to fish some alewife fueled fisheries closer to home.  Otisco Lake also is a good smallmouth fishery.   So stay tuned....

6/5:  Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen:   I wasn't thrilled with the sunny bluebird conditions and zero wind when we got on the lake around 6 am, but there was nothing I could do about it.   We tried a few areas for pike and found some very cooperative fish!  The 25" - 27" fish that we hadn't located when I did the fly-fishing trip with Mark a couple weeks ago were around in good numbers.  We landed at least 8 to 10 solid northerns on spoons.  In one area we saw a bass or two and some perch and bullheads.  Quite a few small pike are around on Seneca Lake and it's pretty safe to say we are going to have some very good to excellent pike action on Seneca over the next couple years.   Tom insisted I fish again and I didn't want to disappoint him.  I also had a nice trout/salmon follow in a tube jig.  

Keuka Lake out of Keuka Lake State Park (Branchport Arm) 5/31 - 6/1

Laker jigging is fair to good right now on Keuka Lake.  Some areas and depths have been much more productive than others.   Water level is high, but we didn't encounter any debris.  Here's how things went over the past couple days:

5/31 AM:  Guided Alan and his son Zach for a 1/2 day starting around 6:30 am.   He's an accomplished hunter and recently bought a great fishing set-up and wants to become a more knowledgable fisherman.   I appreciate tutorial trips and enjoy doing them.    "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime - and so do his offspring!"  Of course I added that last part, but it's true. 

Basing your fishing on docktalk, baitshop info, weekly DEC reports and other anglers is a crapshoot and you always wind up behind the proverbial eight-ball, i.e. a day late and dollar short.   In fishing, with the old info floating around, you're more likely 2 weeks late and (given the high gas prices) you'll wind up sixty dollars short.   Being able to size up the fishing conditions and knowing how to adapt keeps you on the fish - and not just on a daily basis, but sometimes on an hourly one.   I figured lakers would be shallow and showed Alan how to figure out laker location.   We set up and within 10 minutes were onto fish.  After about 2 hours, seven solid lakers were landed (with Zach nailing a good one or two,) so we decided to see how other areas of the lake - both deep and shallow were fishing.   In a nutshell, we found out that our first area was the best.  The winds came up and we called it a day.

We talked to two anglers that were taking a quick break.  They hadn't caught a single fish that morning.  They told us that "...the guy at the baitshop said to fish down 150' over 180' FOW" or something like that.   That may have been true 3 weeks ago, but nobody with a motorized boat had been on the lake for 2 weeks, so it was old news.   Nearly every boat we saw was working deep water - they were fishing "yesterday's news."

6/1:  Guided Dave, Blake and Todd for a full day.  After yesterday's early bite, I thought starting earlier might have been a good call, but we stuck with the 6:30 am start time.   We tried yesterday's areas near the park and a couple fish were hooked and one landed, but things didn't seem as productive.   So off to the Bluff we went.   Fishing was slow until around 9 am, when action picked up a bit.  We had a slow to moderately steady pick for a few hours, then fishing slowed a lot.   By 2 pm we were back near the State Park and Blake had a good run - landing another 3 fish or so.  We wound up with 13 fish landed on the day, up to around 24".

Keuka provides good to excellent laker action all year long, but the June to August period tends to strike me as the slowest overall.  You can still have great days during the summer here, but getting up very early is often required.  These fish (and Canandaigua's) do a lot of night feeding.

A lot of fish are shallow and high in the water column.  I saw some very good fly-fishing conditions for lake trout here over the past two days.  I intend to give it a try once I have time - this is probably the best lake in the area for laker fly-fishing during the May/June timeframe.    




Skaneateles Lake 5/30 PM

Guided the Hermans for 1/2 day starting around 1:30 pm.  Very few rigs were in the parking lot.   I think there was one or two others when we launched, and then a few more when we came back in.   Tried some fishing up north with a couple rock bass and a nice perch to show.   We didn't find much of anything shallow.   Fishing the 20' to 30' zone proved most productive with the Hermans landing 4 lake trout and around 15 or more perch, with a dozen being "keepers."  You do have to work through some dinks.   Drop shot styled 2 jig rigs worked best, though a few fish came on tubes.    Bass have been moving up - a friend saw a bunch shallow in the AM, but we didn't see any where we fished.   The winds were strong out of the north - probably gusting to 22 to 23 mph.  Most perch were males and they were ready to spawn.    We had one spawned out female from the north end.   Lakers ran 17" to 18".   Expect some fun fishing here over the next couple weeks.  Water temp on the surface was around 56.

Seneca Lake out of Lodi Point 5/29 PM

Got out for around 5 hours today to check on midlake salmon/trout and pike action.   I've been getting back into exploratory mode lately and really enjoying myself.  There's still quite a bit of debris in the lake, but most of it's small stuff.  Not a problem for boating, but definitely an issue with fishing presentation.  I had some great fishing today, but not catching. 

Water temperatures were great - I had 52 to 56 everywhere.  I managed to raise a large salmon (around 25") on a streamer but couldn't close the deal.  I also had a big one chase in a stickbait and a smaller one chase in a tube.  Calm conditions can make salmon skittish - give me some wind!    I also had one bite-off by a pickerel or small pike on a fly intended for salmon.   Casting for pike resulted in a couple follows from some decent fish.  What was encouraging was that I was working some marginal areas - not prime stuff.   The pike population is getting stronger on Seneca Lake and I've had encouraging reports lake-wide.   Bait is moving up and we have some terrific fishing ahead of us.

Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 5/28

Guided Mike for what wound up being a long half day, due to gusty north winds and fog in the AM.   We met at 6 am and the goal was some browns and/or salmon via casting.   Things weren't looking too good for awhile.  I had him cast around the major stream mouths and warmwater areas without even a hit or follow.   Eventually we tried some laker jigging and found decent numbers of neutral fish from around 70' on out.   Mike landed a laker around 16" (wild) and might have had one or two more hits. 

We went back to casting and Mike had a hit and follow from what was likely a nice brown.   Later, at Taughannock, Mike nailed an 18" beautifully colored brown and a nice laker around 21" both on spoons.   Water temps ranged from 48 to 59, with 54 being about the average of what we ran into.  There was some moderate debris around AES.

After the trip I wound up doing a bit of fly-fishing on my own.  I actually fished till nearly 6 pm, which was a long day.  I caught and released a very hard fighting brown trout that was fat and over 20" long.   We wore each other out.  I had a follow from a small salmon then two follows from a real nice one.  I would call the fishing good, not great but certainly not bad.   No eels or fresh eel marks on any of the fish.

Seneca Lake 50th Annual Memorial Day Weekend Lake Trout Derby

After winning this derby last year, needless to say my buddy Jarrod and I were very excited to get out and see what we could do this year.   Last year, the bite was tough due to the water and weather conditions (strong winds and very cold water) and we made the right calls and with a good portion of luck, we wound up in the right place at the right time, finding a hot bite window in deep water.  In 2013, overall the jiggers dominated the laker division of the derby, with 3 out of 4 of the biggest lakers coming via jigging, and all at the north end of the lake.

This year started very off-kilter for me.   First of all, around 2 months ago my buddy Jarrod informed me that he wouldn't be able to fish on Monday, due to a family vacation that he couldn't skirt around.   So from the get-go we'd be fishing at around 66% effort - since I only want to fish 1/2 days in the AM for this contest.   I wasn't about to arrange a derby partner for the last 1/2 day of the derby - that wouldn't be fair to my partner.   Secondly, the jigging bite has been very tough thus far this season.   High water with turbidity makes for tough jigging.  We want clear water!   Lastly, normally I'm guiding on Seneca Lake a bit just prior to the derby, but this year due to some weird timing, I had to visit my Mom in Arizona the week before the derby, so I hadn't done any scouting.

But I know the lake well and we fished hard on both Saturday and Sunday.  We put in long, slow days which I don't like doing anymore.   I want to fish 6 or 7 hours in peak form and with peak intensity, not sit out and bake in the sun with a slow to non-existent bite.   But that's what we did, and we didn't catch much.  I landed one 9lb 1oz laker on Saturday in around 85' FOW.  It lasted on the board for a few hours before getting knocked way down!  That was it for us apart from a nice smallmouth and even a bullhead I caught while trying for some shallow trout/salmon!  We had a few other hits on the lakers but no hookups.   Overall fish were caught shallow and deep. Jiggers did better at Sampson overall than on the north end.    And as of this writing, my prediction of a brown possibly winning the overall derby has been dead-on.  I was wrong about the debris affecting the trollers - they did great as far as I could tell.

Kudos go out to my past clients, who for the most part all did better than we did!   My great guitar teacher always says he expects me to be a better player than him (and he's tremendous,) since it took him decades to learn what he teaches me in short order, and it's the same with my clients.  They get 12 years of hard-core laker jigging knowledge in a half or full day of guiding.   So they naturally start at a higher level and can take it from there. 

A lot of people may think that this derby shows that trolling is the best way to catch large lake trout in the Finger Lakes.   I don't necessarily agree.   I think this derby is the exception that proves the rule.   Our visibility (water clarity) on Seneca Lake (and Cayuga recently) has been around 4 feet due to all the rain and wind we've had. That's compared to 15' to 25' typically this time of year.   If Seneca Lake and other FLs had this 4' visibility level all the time, trolling would certainly be the most productive method day-in and day-out, but again, this is an exception these days.   Quagga mussels are filtering our water 24/7, 365 days a year.   Once things clear up I see the jigging becoming very productive again.  The last 4 years of the Memorial Lake Derby (with 2/4 winners coming via jigging) and nearly the entire history of the now defunct Red Cross Derby (with numerous top fish - both browns and lakers coming via jigging) is proof.  But to each his own, and a lot of people love to troll or still fish or pull copper or Seth Green rigs, and as long as the method is sporting, I have no issues with it.

I'm already looking forward to next year's contest.   But boy is fishing humbling at times!  Just when you think you have things figured out, it throws another curveball at you.   What's most impressive about this year's contest is how Seneca Lake just keeps producing incredible numbers of quality fish!  The lake is in supreme balance now and eels aren't too bad.   As I've often told people I meet re: Seneca Lake fishing these days - "These are the good old days!"   And the proof is in these derby results, which overall might be the best ever or at least in the top 2 or 3 over the past 50 years! 




Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 5/21

I'd just arrived from Phoenix at around 6 pm yesterday when I received a message from Jaimie looking for a 1/2 day trip tomorrow.  His scheduled guide had some mechanical issues and suggested they give me a call.  Jet lag be damned and I got the boat ready to roll.   It was time to get the 2013 Crestliner ready to fish for this season.  Thus far I've been running my old boat and it's been running great.  We met at around 8:30 am due to my fatigue.  I did warn Jaimie on the uncertainty of the conditions, but he was ready to roll.

Cayuga Lake is high and there's still some debris laden discolored (i.e. murky) water around.  It's a great color for spring browns and salmon, but not what we want for laker jigging.  We searched a lot of depths and found very few lakers anywhere.  The most we marked were from around 120' to 140'.  I'm seeing the least amount of bait I've ever seen on Cayuga Lake thus far, this deep into the season.   I'm not saying there isn't a lot of bait around - but I'm not finding much. 

Things started out alright with Jaimie's dad David nailing a nice 27" laker.   The fish had a healed lamprey wound and was in average condition.   He had another hit soon thereafter, but then we didn't do much for awhile.   A run towards Sheldrake resulted in a solid, heavy hookup for Jaimie, but the fish got off.  Afterwards, he landed a very small laker that measured 14".   Maybe one or two other hits were had, but that was it.   I'm cautiously optimistic about the laker fishing this year on Cayuga.  I marked good numbers of fish (though they weren't hitting well) last time I was out.  This time we didn't see much, but the water did have some color to it, which can slow things down.   I can guarantee that I'll be spending more time on Owasco Lake this year than in years past.   Hopefully things will settle out on Cayuga Lake and the fishing will return to its usual great form.  Water temps on the surface ranged from 47 to 53 degrees.

Reports 5/8, 9, 11,12th Various Lakes

Fishing was all over the map over the past week.  Most issues have been ironed out on my website (some of it being my own incompetence,) so reports in the future will be back on time.   Conditions continue to be challenging in many ways, especially with lake trout fishing.  Here's how things shook out:

5/8 Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove:   Guided George and his future son in-law John for a full day on Cayuga Lake targeting lake trout.   That sounds pretty easy, right?   I've only spent the last 12 years or so vertically fishing lakers on a consistent year-round basis (and it's over 60% of my guide trips.)  But it wasn't.  George was worried about forecast rain/T-storms, so we started later in the AM - around 9.  In hindsight, the weather was great and it probably hurt us, but in 8 hours starting ANYTIME in May we should be able to find and catch some fish.

Action was slow.  We started shallow around Dean's and we had a few follows from fish from around 70' on out.  Deeper water had good numbers of lakers, and like my trip on Seneca Lake a week or two ago with the Hermans they were following but not committing well.   We moved around a lot and worked areas from the Silos/Crescent down to Aurora.   A couple hits/momentary hookups were had, but no solid fish.   Everytime I thought the lakers would turn on, they didn't.   The good news is that there were a lot of fish around - Cayuga doesn't have a laker shortage, that's for sure.  But nada.  That's my second skunking of the year - both on Cayuga coincidentally.

Some of my clients are big fans of Butterfly Jigs when the lakers won't move for the plastics.  Johan (one of the lifesavers) and his friend Mike and Koen like them for days like we had.   The late Toby Wood's had a tackle rep friend from New Jersey, who's a huge fan of them. It's a big investment in gear, but likely one I will have to make if I see many more days like this.   

5/9  Seneca Lake out of Geneva:   Fishing is nearly always good from Sampson to Geneva this time of year on Seneca Lake and today was no exception.

AM Trip:  My morning trip was with Jim and Andrew - who actually drew a blank last year around this time with me on Seneca Lake. But that was a downright brutal day with 25 mph west winds (SW at times) and a cold front hampering things.   Conditions looked better today, but things started ominously slow.   Working deep water as the skies cleared a bit turned everything around and the guys were really tickled with how they did - landing some (4 plus 3 dropped) big lakers up to around 28".   For a couple Keuka Lake copper-pullers, seeing fish in the 8lb range was quite a thrill (as it would be for just about anybody.)

PM Trip:  My PM trip was with Todd and it was good to see him for the first time this season.  He's excellent with the jigging and was ready to fish.  The bite remained decent and Todd landed three solid fish - again up to around 27" to 28".   Plenty of bait is available on Seneca Lake.  I'm very encouraged about future fishing on this lake.

5/11  Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen:   Mark had an opening in his schedule and was up for different types of fly-fishing.   The winds weren't what I wanted for anything, so we played things conservatively and went with a 1/2 day out of Watkins with a very early start (for my guiding this time of year anyways) at 6 am.  I figured the pike would bite good early no matter what the forecast was for later.  

Fly-fishing for pike didn't disappoint!  In short order - using an Intermediate Line and Double-Bunny (Scott Sanchez) pattern Mark connected with a solid 34" fish!    I was expecting mostly smaller males in the 25" to 29" range, so it was a pleasant surprise.   The fish was a little beat up, but was healthy condition-wise (it was hefty.)   A little while later Mark nailed a 32"er.   But it wasn't quite like a regular pike - it was a hybrid pike-pickerel.  I've seen these fish detailed on the Lake Champlain (Capt. Mickey Maynard) website and we've been catching them for years in Seneca and Cayuga, but I never quite knew what they were.   I call them pike-eral.  I will put up a photo soon, along with links to some other ones we've caught.  But they have light green base colors, pike-like markings and some vertical marks.   Big head too!   No doubt a hybrid.

We wound up doing the full day.  Salmon were around but skittish.  Mark had a hook in a nice one around 22" to 23" but it got off somehow - Mark did a great job, sometimes the hooks just pull out.   He also had a few other hits and follows, but no more landed.  We laker jigged a little bit and had one hit and again - the fish were skittish.  Salmon are scattering rapidly on Seneca Lake now.  With the big rain storms pushing loads of warm water into the lake, it will get trickier for us non-trollers to locate them.

5/12  Conesus Lake:   Met bobberman Perry and his friend Dave at the State Ramp at Conesus Lake just after 8 am.   Conesus Lake is a favorite of mine, but it's a long haul so I do charge a $100 surcharge to guide there.   Obviously I'm not on the lake a whole lot, but I do know it pretty well from years of fishing it when I lived in Rochester.

Perry wasn't doing well health-wise with some sudden symptoms.  But he hung in there.  Dave nailed a 23" Pike casting a spoon.  I was happy, cause it was dead calm out and sunny - not the best pike conditions.  Things started looking up with some cloud cover and wind and we set up on an underwater point I like a lot.  In a few minutes Perry's bobber shot down.  "Bobber down!"  I enjoy the bobber stuff since I can kick back and light a cigar.   Perry landed a solid pike - a 32"er that we released unharmed.  In year's past, Perry's caught pike in the 42" to 44" range on Conesus.  The live bait can be deadly.  The winds died and sun came out and we gave in another couple hours but Perry was in agony.  We pulled out and things didn't improve.  We planned on fishing on Tuesday as well but Perry went home and checked himself in the ER where he received some much needed treatment and relief.

Water temps were in the high 50s and low 60s.  Had I not known we weren't going to fish on Tuesday I would've brought my nighttime walleye gear.  Conditions were PERFECT for walleyes with very little weedgrowth, steady weather and loads of baitfish including alewives, bluegills and baby bass moving inshore.

As an added note, I got to meet Rochester Bassmaster Jim Bianchi, who wound up winning the Northern Open BASS Event on Oneida Lake last year.  He beat out numerous pros!   We were very happy for him as were most, if not just about all fans of professional bass fishing in NY.   He's a great guy and I hope to get out with him sometimes this year.















Owasco Lake 5/7 PM

Gave Owasco Lake a few hour shot in the afternoon.  The outlet looked great with good numbers of alewives around.   Lake trout were shallow - ranging from around 70' on out.  I marked some out over the deeps, but didn't find any appreciable numbers in water much deeper than 110' or so.   Fish were very aggressive and I landed 3 ranging from 24" to 26".  All nice looking fish.

I threw a few tube jigs around for an hour or two and saw one fish that looked to be a trout.   I didn't try any of the shallow warm water areas, but I'd imagine some bass are moving up.   I'd expect halfway decent pike fishing on the lake's southend.   Around 1/2 dozen boats were out total.  Water temps ran from the mid-40s to low 50s on top.

Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 5/6 PM

It was time to get some new tires for my older boat trailer and my friend Jarrod was in town, so we decided to give Cayuga Lake a try for a few hours starting around 4:30 pm.  Nobody else had launched out of Taughannock.

Warm water still is at a premium on Cayuga.   We found warmer, albeit very muddy water on the south end of the lake that we worked with some gear.   We tried a few areas and on the east shore Jarrod connected with a healthy looking 17" salmon on a swimbait.  We had a few follows and bumps from some smaller fish in that same area, but that was it.   I have a feeling that this year on Cayuga Lake is going to be a bit like last year for salmon and browns though a notch or two better.   I still need to give it a few more tries once things warm up.  It will improve this year.  Water temps are around 40 lakewide, 41 to 43 on the east shore and around 55 on the far south end.      

Seneca Lake out of Geneva 5/6 PM

Guided the Hermans for a 1/2 day trip.  It'd been awhile since we had been out, so it was a bit of a "get the rust out" trip.   There are plenty of fish in the northern portions of Seneca Lake, ranging from 70' out to around 180' or more.   Despite all the fish we marked, we had a tough time hooking and landing them.  The front certainly had fish slowed up a bit, but they were chasing jigs fairly well - sometimes upwards of 40' to 50' from the bottom.   John and Eleonore each lost a fish and John landed one solid laker which was a hatchery fish that was stuffed with alewvies.   But for some reason we weren't able to trigger hits as well as I felt we should have.   Angling Zone friends/clients were out on the lake as well and managed to land 6 or 7 solid fish, so some were definitely biting.  

I feel that Seneca Lake right now has the potential to offer some of the biggest fish and best lake trout action in the region, given the sheer quantity and quality of fish up there.   Chances are I'll be back there soon!  Water levels seemed OK and surface temps were in the low 40s.





Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 5/2

Guided back to back half-days today.  Fishing started out a bit slow for Rich and Denis, but picked up once we moved north towards Geneva and found greater concentrations of them.  The guys landed 5 solid lake trout - all wild fish ranging from around 22" to 27".   We marked fish in water from 120' out to over 180' deep.   It was good day fishing despite the rapidly changing weather.  If you didn't like it, just wait 5 minutes (literally!) and it would change.   Wind, calm, sun, rain - we had it all on a rotating basis!   Water temps were 39 on top.  Shore fishers are getting a few good perch at Sampson.  Not much else going on there.

Guided Mark for the PM trip.  He joined me back in November on the north end of Cayuga Lake for a fun day with bass, pickerel and a big pike.   He wound up catching a couple solid lakers - one that was 28".   Again - all wild fish.   The weather started out nasty, but did moderate as the day went on. 

If you're looking to get out for lakers, salmon, pike (all on Seneca or Cayuga for the lakers) or even rainbows (on Skaneateles), this is a great week to do it.  The weather looks really solid.  After this week I will be quite busy right through Memorial Day weekend! 

Ithaca Pier 4/28 PM
Just as an added note, I brought my fly-fishing class out to the Ithaca Pier today.  The water is a little low compared to what I remember during some of the better years out there.  A man kayak-trolling reported losing a big salmon and landing a brown as well as losing a fish.  I had one hit.   Water conditions/clarity was perfect on the Fall Creek side.  No signs of any bait yet.
Skaneateles Lake 4/26 + Cayuga out of Myers Point 4/27

As much as I enjoy writing in good fishing reports, it does pain me a bit to write in the tough days.  But here it is.  I ALWAYS put up a report - on all days I fish or guide, whether the fishing is good or bad, so you never get any sugar coating here!   Bottom line is that we had a tough weekend fishing, no question about it.  The weather wasn't nice on Saturday either.

Skaneateles Lake 4/26 midday:  Guided John and his father John for a long 1/2 day starting at 9 am.   I was concerned the day before when I saw the forecast for Ithaca, with west winds predicted to gust to 28 mph, but the Skaneateles forecast wasn't as bad.  

It turned out that we had next to no wind!  Which some people might like, but as a fisherman on a crystal clear lake, that ain't good!   And the bite was tough for us.  The guys have a place on the lake and wanted to learn some techniques for the lake year-round and also for catching rainbows.   Action was slow, but John Jr. picked up a large pickerel and an average smallmouth.  He managed to have a couple different nice rainbow trout follow him in 4 or 5 times, but the fish were skittish due to the lack of wind.   It rained a bit and we called it a day after a good effort.   Water temps are still cold - we had 43 on the north end and around 38 further south.  

Cayuga Lake 4/27:   As tough as yesterday was, I would've loved to have some of that "action" today, but it wasn't to be.   Guided Dave and James for a full day.  Dave joined me a couple years ago for a great laker trip and he puts the pattern to good use out of his kayak, having landed a huge brown a couple years ago, amongst some lakers.   Due to high winds, a guy was pulling his boat out of Myers as we launched, but he had reported good action trolling for browns yesterday and last week, so the fish are around.  But the cold water left us puzzled.

We worked a bunch of areas from the south end to Taughannock and many points in between, both doing some fly-fishing, but mostly casting.   James had one possible hit right when we started, but after that we never contacted a fish.  No hits, no follows - nada.   The weather conditions and wind were perfect as far as I could tell.   The water temperature was certainly a culprit with cold water nearly everywhere, and when we did find warmer water (like on the south end) it was laden with debris, with made presentations very difficult.   I'll get back here once things warm up a bit.   No doubt we couldn't have done worse on Seneca, but Dave mainly fishes Cayuga and I felt we would've done alright here.  But it wasn't to be.   Water temps were in the mid-40s on the southend, but around 38/39 everywhere else.   Expect much better fishing as we get a nice warm spell.  


Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport 4/25

Guided Paul for an abbreviated full day today starting around 8:15 am.  Laker action was a notch or two slower than it had been before in the Hammondsport area.   A lot of fish remain around from around 70' on out (though a lot of shallow fish seemed to vacate the shallows by midday.)    We had our best fishing in around 110' to 130'.  

Paul landed 6 or 7 solid lakers.  He had a hold of another 6 to 8 fish, but had some difficulty hooking up.   Sometimes the fish weren't grabbing the jigs well and at other times it was a matter of not being completely comfortable with the baitcasting tackle.  But the fishing was good and steady from around 10 am onwards.

I cleaned a limit of nice fish and their stomachs were nearly empty or had one or two well digested alewives in them.   Over the past 3 weeks most lakers had been packed to the hilt with bait!  Not today!    We didn't mark much bait at all.  

In summary, a slower day on Keuka is still a terrific day nearly anywhere else and I'd still rate the bite here as good to excellent or at least very good.  Other anglers were moving around a bit and it seemed to be a lakewide phenomenon (the tough AM bite.)  These fish will feed heavily through May.   Water temps on top are about 40/41.   I drove past Seneca Lake and could see the water level was very high.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/21 + Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 4/22 AM

4/21 Watkins Glen:   Monday through Wednesday were my days off from guiding this week, but after the hot action for large salmon on Sunday, I had to get out and try it for myself, despite being quite tired.   Conditions were forecast to be similar for Monday, so how could I go wrong?  Well the thing about salmon is (as Peter Thilveros says about smallmouth bass) is that they have fins and they use them.   A few fish were around the usual areas like the canal, but it was clear to me after a short while that a lot of fish had moved out.  

I only had 3 hours to fish before I had to get back to Ithaca to teach my Cornell classes.   Unfortunately it wasn't enough time for me to connect on my flies.  I worked 3 or 4 areas and finally found some fish, but after missing a hit I had to go.  That's how it goes!  

4/22 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  I had an email from Joel, who was looking to get out for a 1/2 day for lakers or salmon so I decided to forget about a day off.   I wasn't going to do salmon after the cold evenings.  I figured gear fishing would produce fish, but I didn't want to chance it, so we went after lakers.   Laker fishing wasn't easy.  We moved a lot in order to locate fish.  After some searching we found lakers very deep.   Joel wound up catching his limit of 3 fish which we kept.  All were 24" to 25".   Lamprey wounding wasn't bad - one fresh scar, one clean fish and one with a healed wound.   We found fish in upwards of 190' FOW, though some were in as shallow as 110'.   Water level was high.  Not too much debris was around.      

Skaneateles Lake 4/19 + Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/20

Spring fishing is in full-swing!  Time is also flying.  Hard to believe we are less than two weeks away from May.

Skaneateles Lake 4/19:   Guided Rick and Gary for a full day starting around 8:30 am.   The lake temps were warmer than I would've expected with surface temps near 40 at the lake's north end, and 37/38 further south.   Early season angling generally isn't super easy on this lake, but perseverence can pay off with nice mixed bag catches.  The guys had to work for their fish, but managed to get some nice ones.

At the north end, a few smallmouths had moved up.  Gary landed an 18 3/4" beauty on a hair jig.  He also got one around 14".   Other hits were had.   A trip down the lake resulted in two solid 18" rainbows for Gary.   Both appeared to be hatchery fish and weren't spawners.   We didn't catch the usual drop-back rainbows, likely because of the late spring thaw.  Most are probably still spawning or haven't quite recovered from the spawn.   A few large perch were also landed and a rainbow or two lost.   All in all, it wasn't easy fishing, but working a lot of water from shallow to deeper paid off.  

As a side note, a lot of docks were damaged during the winter freeze.   There's some new cover for smallmouth bass in the lake now!  Water level was full-pool.  Fishing pressure fairly light with most anglers targeting perch.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/20:   I was amazed at how few boats were out on Seneca today.  It was great!   The Easter Holiday kept most people at home.   Ron wanted some salmon and he had some great action on large fish - mostly in the 23" to nearly 25" range.  He landed 5 solid fish and lost a half dozen.  These large fish were fighting spectacularly with numerous jumps and quick runs.  They are in very good condition for the most part.  We kept one fish that was hooked and damaged.  It was 24.5" and weighed almost 6lbs!  That's a well fed fish.   We had one come up with a small lamprey attached and a few had scars, but most of the fish seemed to have survived the eels.  I'm giving credit to the harsh winter and lack of fishing pressure over the past winter.  These fish are available throughout the southern portions of the lake.  

Ron brought me some moose pepperoni and sausage that was great.   He has had some great timing with his trips which are booked quite a ways in advance.   The water level remains very high, but should start to recede.  BTW:  The Bar and Grill is finally open.  The Short-Rib sandwich is fantastic and recommended as is the Reuben, though the kitchen was closed when I got done with the trip.  

Water temps ranged from 38 or so to 48 in the canal.  Fish came on stickbaits and spoons.

Sebago strain salmon were stocked recently at Severne Point.  It is hoped these fish will return better (survive) than the Little Clear Strain fish.  It is also thought that they will spread out more and provide better runs into the tribs in the fall.  The quality of the fish that was stocked was superb.   They were larger than usual and should have a better chance of surviving to adulthood.   

I didn't see a single boat out perch fishing.  It's safe to say that the good perch fishing is done with for now for many anglers.   Cayuga is usually the hot lake after Seneca slows.    

Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport 4/17 + Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 4/18

After a nice long winter with lots of relaxation, I've been ready for some full-out guiding, and that's what I've been doing.  Here's the latest:

4/17 AM:   Guided Keuka for a full day with my friend Dave and his buddies Craig and Scott.  Cayuga at Taughannock had been very slow for them and they weren't having any luck tossing minnows off the dock of their rental, so we decided lakers would be the best way to get some rods bent.   Action started out slow at 7:30 am, but picked up markedly after a couple hours, despite the presence of a few bananas on the boat.  Winds were up and it was cold out in the AM with ice in the guides.  I had 23 degrees on the ride over!

Fishing wound up very good by Keuka standards (which would be "excellent" anywhere else) and over 20 fish were landed, pretty much equally by everyone.  We had a few doubles and almost had a triple going! The lakers are still eating a lot.   Fish are throughout the south end with concentrations around 110' and 130'.   But as most of you know, everyday is a new day and you need to check things out without too many pre-conceived notions re: depth, especially this time of year.  

PM:  I did a 1/2 day trip afterwards with Bob and his sons Andrew and Chris, who have joined me nearly every spring over the past 3 to 4 years.   We were originally scheduled for Wednesday, but a day out in the boat with very cold, windy conditions sounded more like we'd be fishing for a case of the flu, rather than a good fishing experience, so I bumped the trip to Thursday.   I work with people, not against them with my guiding.    Fishing started off good with Andrew nailing a laker 1st drop.   Then things slowed.  But before long action picked up and the guys landed over a dozen fish.  Another great Keuka trip in the books and we didn't have to pull anyone out of the lake!

4/18:   I was excited with a capital "E" as Dick Vitale would say, to finally get out on Cayuga Lake!  How are the trout doing?  What's up with the lampreys?  What's the lake look like level and debris-wise?   These questions were racing through my mind.   Plus add in a reasonable drive!   Yes, as much as I like fishing Hammondsport and Keuka Lake, I can do without the long drive!

The winds were up more than forecast when we headed north of AES for lakers.  The lake is high and there's some debris out, but most debris is on the shoreline.  Cottage and homeowners love to pick up debris and pile it up.  It makes for good bonfires.  

It was gusting into the low 20s and steady around 14 mph by my estimation.   Thor had never caught a laker and he was ready to learn how to do that, as well as some approaches and areas for catching browns and salmon on Cayuga via casting - the only way to go as far as I'm concerned.   Laker fishing was tough.  We marked a few but only landed one around 19".  Thor's buddy Mike hooked and lost 2 and Thor had a couple other grabs, but they weren't super active.  110' to 130' was where we found them.

Casting was what I was most interested in.  We worked a lot of areas.  In one area, Thor had a follow from a very clean, chunky salmon around 20".   Conditions were good at the lake's south end but no fish for us - though they had to be there.  Water temps lake-wise were 37.   We had up to 46 "down south."   I had the guys hit one small area on a whim and Mike nailed a chunky 19" brown.   In another area he landed a salmon just shy of 18".

The good news is that the fish looked great.  ZERO lamprey marks on any of them and they were well-fed.   Don't write off Cayuga Lake this year!  It's going to be good.  Maybe not great, but solid!



Keuka and Seneca Lake Reports 4/12 - 4/14

Keuka Lake 4/12: Guided Michael, Dan and Johan for a full day. They wanted to get into some numbers of lake trout after a some tough fishing on Seneca Lake over their past couple trips during the fall last year and perhaps the year before (if I remember correctly.) Keuka didn't disappoint. We started around 8:15 am with Johan landing the first few fish. After a bit, Dan and Michael got their technique together and before long everybody was catching nice lakers ranging from 17" to 22" on average, with Dan landing a couple big ones around 24" to 26". Conditions were great and we caught fish from 60' out to around 130'. Best action was probably 125' to 130'. Fun trip with 30 legal lakers landed.

Keuka Lake 4/13: The winds were forecast to blow into the high teens and low 20s, with gusts into the low 30s. Fortunately they held off for most of the AM. We started just after 8:15 am. Dan and Michael got things rolling this time with Johan coming on strong later. Another great day with over 30 fish landed. As usual, I am exhausted as I write this and my brain is spent! But the best fishing we had was deeper on Sunday, with good action from 130' to 145'. The warmest water this time of year (before the shallows warm up) is on bottom and deep. On Saturday I cleaned a bunch of lakers and they all had varying amounts of alewives in their stomachs.

Seneca Lake 4/14: Guided Ed and John for a half day. Ed really wanted to get into some Landlocked salmon on the fly and the conditions looked promising, though winds would be up a bit. A handful of fly-fishermen were out working the south end of the lake. All the former Cayuga Ithaca Pier fly-fishing contingent that I remember from when I first moved here and was boatless. Cayuga Lake's salmon fishing has been slow the past 2 years. We'll see what happens there this year. But Seneca's been solid for probably 15 to 16 years at least.

It took a while, but Ed nailed a couple beauties that he took home for supper. One was just under 5lbs at 4lbs 14 oz and the other was 4lbs 3oz. Fish around 23" to 24". One had an attached lamprey.  John caught a nice 2lb brown that was clean and 16.5".   The winds got pretty gusty and we wrapped up around 12:30 pm. 

The Right To Be Foolish Postscript to 4/13:   Some things are very predictable in the Finger Lakes Region.  I know every year we'll have some good to great fishing.  We'll have fairly uncrowded lakes.   We'll also have beautiful fall foliage.   And unfortunately, when we get the first few hot days of the year, we'll have people going out in kayaks, canoes and even SUPs (stand-up paddle-boards) in conditions that are akin to playing Russian Roulette.  What conditions might you ask?   Icy cold water.  Dangerous waves.  High winds.  

We didn't see any other boats out around 2 or 3 pm as we were slowly winding down our full day trip on 4/13.  Most fishermen had headed in - perhaps with their limits and some most likely wanted to go in due to the windy choppy conditions.  Fishing wasn't easy with 15 to 17 mph winds and gusts into the mid-20s and even low 30s. 

Our fishing had slowed down.  We were at least a mile or two north of Snug Harbor, out from the west shore of Keuka Lake - maybe 1/4 to 1/3rd of a mile from shore.  One of the guys noticed some kayaks out on the lake.  I scanned the east shore and spotted one kayaker.  But it wasn't what the guys had seen - they saw two kayakers.  Then I saw the two.  So there was a kayaker on the east shore and two of them heading across the lake.  Crazy.   We didn't think much of it - though we all thought it was stupid to be a few miles up the lake in kayaks in those conditions.  But sadly, it's a fairly common sight in this area.

After working the area for around 15 minutes, I decided to move us over to the eastern portion of the lake.  Johan suggested trying further south again - maybe going shallower.  It had worked before, but I figured we'd give the east shore a try - where we'd seen the fleet earlier.  We motored over and started fishing.  Within 5 to 10 minutes Dan heard a shout.  Michael said it sounded like "help."   We searched around us and someone saw a swimmer!  Out over 140 FOW!   We quickly reeled up and I fired up the outboard and pulled up alongside him.  Johan and I helped him onboard.  He was pale white and thought he'd been in the water for 5 to 10 minutes.   Johan really took care of things - we got some warm clothes on him and I called 911. 

The ambulance pulled into the Hammondsport Hotel a couple minutes after we did.   It was a 5 minute run back there from where we'd been fishing.  The 911 Operator had asked me to ask the youth if he was experiencing chest pain - yes, he was - a little.   He had been kayaking with the other 2 guys and his kayak had filled with water due to the waves and sank.

The EMTs put him on a stretcher.  He was too weak to walk.  They were going to send a boat to search for the others, but we went out and found them.   His two "friends" were non-chalantly paddling back towards the town launch, completely oblivious to the fact that their friend was probably 10 minutes away from certain death or brain damage and had been taken away in an ambulance.  

The renter of the Kayaks told us he'd told the guys (college age boys) to stay along the south end of the lake where it was calm.   So much for that.   It was amazing that the two guys in separate kayaks didn't pay any attention to their friend or even bother checking on him.   Maybe at least a glance back once in a while.

A couple years ago we pulled a lady into our boat who'd tipped her canoe while out with some girl scouts.  That was a potentially scary situation, but somewhat under control.   What happened to us yesterday was a very scary matter of life and death.   Call it fate or an act of God, but there is a young man who is very, very fortunate that a few people out fishing had been nearby him and heard his cries for help.  For nobody else was around and it was on a complete whim that we wound up where we were!  His friends could never have reached him in time and they were probably a mile away.  

As fishermen, we are the eyes and ears of the water.   And unfortunately this time of year when we see kayaks out there and canoeists - sometimes without lifejackets, or with toddlers onboard we almost have to expect these things to happen.  My buddies joke about Darwin, but I defy anyone not to help.   Hopefully this will be a wakeup call and a lifechanger for these college students.



Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport 4/11 midday

Guided Leann and Norris from around 11 am till 3:30 pm for lakers.  We were going to do salmon elsewhere, but I felt laker conditions were much better.   The fishing didn't disappoint!   They landed 19 fish and hooked a bunch more.  Fish ran from 17" to 22" for the most part.  They are loaded with alewives and that was the case last weekend from the report I'd received from Anglingzone friend Jeff.

We had a lot of fun out there today and the weather was quite changeable.  It went from cloudy to more clouds to light rain and then a little brightness.   I felt I definitely made two new converts to the jigging technique.  It felt great getting my season underway and joking around with Leann and Norris made my job feel like play.  Water temps were around 37 degrees.

You won't find a nicer guy than Hammondsport Hotel owner Ron either.   I love what he's done with the launch over there and I don't feel bad giving him my $10!  It's well worth it to have the direct access to that end of the lake.  The launch is great now.    

Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 4/6 midday

Guided Scott and Marvin for a 1/2 day trip starting just before 11 am.   As has been the case lately, perch fishermen are out in droves.  Of course other lakes are frozen, so the pressure in concentrated here.   Fishing was generally slow from what I heard, though usually a few people figure them out and do well.  But the lower parking lot was full and the upper lot had at least 8 to 10 rigs in it.

I had high hopes for the laker bite today, but the lakers seemed to have other ideas.   The lack of wind made it tough to cover water, but the guys had some opportunities from around 130' to 160'.   A few hookups were dropped but fortunately Marvin managed to land a laker around 26" - his personal best trout, so that was nice.   But overall, the lakers just weren't super-aggressive.  It was a very enjoyable day with the sun and light to non-existent winds.  I marked a little bit of bait, but not much.   Water temps on the surface are starting to creep up just a touch - 36 to 37 is what we had.  

Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 4/2 + 4/3

4/2:   I'm still "breaking in" my new Toyota Tundra (it's a beauty!) and my buddy Mike was looking to get his boat running after its winter dormancy.   Given the wind and water conditions, perch fishing seemed like a great call.   We've wanted to get into some perch fishing for awhile anyways, so off to Sampson we went.   I stopped by Sampson earlier in the week and perch fishing was hot.  Quite a few limit catches were happening and large numbers of fish were scattered around the area.   

We picked up some fatheads and wax worms and headed down around 11 am.  There were loads of perch in the marina and all around the shoreline perimeter of the park.  Of course, there were loads of boats and people around as well.  That's springtime perch fishing on Seneca Lake in the 2000s.   We had some slow but steady fishing and managed to land around 8 or 9 fish in 2 hours or so.   Other boats were picking fish up too, but the bite was nothing to get excited about.  

It was time to check out some deep water lakers and on my first drop I had a fish grab my jig a few times.   Within 20 minutes we landed 2 nice lakers.  More fish followed including a real nice one-eyed laker that I released.  Usually the lakers missing an eye (mostly due to a hooking injury) are skinny, but not that one!    We wound up with 6 fish and I kept 3 for the smoker.   I wanted one more laker to keep but didn't get it.   Funny that when the bite's going well, I think I can pick and choose, but then things have a way of slowing down.   Fish were generally in good condition - clean and not emaciated, though on the thin side.  No fresh lamprey wounds.

We went back to perching and picked up a few more for a total of a dozen.   Funny thing with Seneca perch was I felt like I had kept a half dozen that were "dinks," but once we cleaned 'em up, the dinks wound up being mostly 11" fish!  That's how nice the Seneca perch are. 

4/3:   We pulled in around the same time as yesterday and the same guys were pulling out ahead of us.  They said it was very slow today - no fish and they didn't even see any caught.   I had no reason not to believe them.   It was kind of strange seeing the same people out, day after day after day trying to pound the perch.   Same boat trailers in the lot, same boats on the water - a lot of people knew each other.   How many fish do you eat a week?   Seneca perch guys are all about the numbers and fillets.  It's like a competition for them.   A few guys are obviously selling fish, a practice that current rod 'n reel regs were never intended for.   But it's legal for now.   But I feel sorry for the casual perch angler that wants a few fillets once in a while on Seneca Lake.  He has to compete with "professional perch fishermen" that are on the lakes day-in and day-out.   Seneca Lake is not a numbers perch fishery.   Yes, people catch large numbers of big fish on occasion (and the pros do frequently) but vast parts of decent habitat are void of fish.   You can fish a half dozen great looking areas and never see a single perch.   Being allowed to keep 50 perch on Seneca Lake averaging 12" to 14" long is like killing 50 bass.  I think the regulations on Seneca need to be seriously tightened.  Especially given that we have quagga mussels filtering that water 24/7.  It ain't the 1970s/80s out there.   These fish are not as common as people think.  There were a lot more fish in the lake in the 1980s/90s.  No question about it.   The fishing can still be spectacular there now, but you didn't need cameras to find fish and you didn't see 90% of the boats on a single vast school of fish! 

Mike and I decided to scout out some areas on the west shore, so that's what we did.   We tried a handful of perch areas that I see fish in later in the month.  Also fished some areas I used to fish 20 years ago for perch.   Nada.   We saw plenty of bluegills and bullheads.   I caught one pike and a funny incident happened.   I knew we were pressed for time but I'd asked Mike if he wanted to hit a few lakers for a little while, and he wasn't up for it.   I just wanted one more for my smoker.   He said I had my chance yesterday and released them.  That's fine.    So we pulled into Dresden Bay in around 25' of water and Mike tossed out his plastics.   Fish on!   Maybe we found some perch nobody else was onto.  Nope.  It was a laker!  Ha ha.  The lake came through for me anyways and I got my laker.  Into the smoker they go tomorrow!  Can't wait!

Seneca Lake Shorefishing 4/1

Well I've got my new 2014 model year Tundra and it's a beautiful machine.  But before towing the recommendation is to get in around 500 miles of driving, so I decided to shore fish today, rather than tow the boat.  

I checked out a couple different areas today.   Lots of fishermen were on the south end of the lake - it was loaded with boats perch fishing, trolling for salmon/trout and casting for salmon/trout.   There's a lot of debris and muddy water but things are starting to settle down.

I went to one of my favorite areas and cast a 6 wt. type 4 sinking fly-line.  Managed to land 2 legal salmon in about an hour and a half on chartreuse deceivers.   One was around 17" and the other was a fish just shy of 4lbs that measured 23".   Great fight with 1/2 dozen leaps.  

Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake Shorefishing 3/6 + 3/7

Cayuga Lake 3/6:  I gave the Power Plant a try for about an hour and a half in the late afternoon for trout/salmon with no hits.   My buddy Mike did well there earlier fly-fishing, catching mostly browns and a few salmon to around 19".   Most browns are running around 15" to 17".   We saw a nice rainbow caught and released along with a nice brown that made it home for a friend's dinner.  Quite a few limit catches of mostly browns have been taken here over the past couple weeks.  It's hit or miss in terms of angler pressure - you can drive over and be the only one there, or be sharing the water with 15 others.

Seneca Lake 3/7:  Mike and I tried a couple different areas with our fly-rods.  In the first area, I had one hit and managed to land a 27" landlocked salmon - my longest one to date.   It was a clean beautiful fish and found long and hard, mostly digging and doing some strong, sturdy runs.  After a couple quick photos we released the fish.    

In our second area, Mike landed a solid brown just under 5lbs and about 23" that he kept.  I also kept a 22" salmon that was around 3lb 10 oz if I remember right.  That one was stuffed with a few small minnows, bluegills and tons of scuds.   Mike had a couple other hits but that was it.

I was hoping to do some guiding this weekend or early next week, but unfortunately my truck is in the shop for a major repair (transfer case.)    I've had good luck with my vehicles, but once in a while something happens.  My 2007 Toyota Tundra has 121,000 miles on it - and probably 1/2 of it is towing, so I can't complain too much.

3/1pm Power Plant
Got out for around an hour and a half in the evening just before dark and gave fly-fishing for pike a try.   Not much doing.  Conditions looked very good.  I had one definite grab, but that was it.   I had a late start and a little more time would've been good.   Trout and salmon action continues to be good over there.  Tough thing is dealing with the weather!
Seneca/Cayuga Lake Shorefishing 2/20 - 2/21

Got out with my buddy Mike for some fly-fishing shore-action.  It didn't disappoint!   It is great being able to have some good to excellent action without launching a boat.  

2/20:  Seneca Lake - Fished one of our perennial favorite areas that we hadn't really been able to access a whole lot over the past few years (and no, I ain't devulging where it is either!)  Working sinking fly-lines for just over 3 hours provided some world-class action on lake trout, landlocked salmon and brown trout.   We each landed nice browns in the 21" to 22.5" inch range - Mike's was a yellow flanked male beauty, mine was more of a typical looking female brown.  Mike had the hot hand with lakers, landing 4 solid fish including his personal best Finger Lakes laker on the fly, a 32" fish that we kept which weighed in at just over 10lbs.    I landed 4 legal LL Salmon up to around 22".   We kept a few lakers and a few of the more scarred up salmon.  Browns and my biggest and smallest salmon were released. 

The condition of the lakers and salmon was fair, browns were good.   I don't recall how much bait we encountered on Seneca Lake last year, but I'd venture to guess that we might be on a downward cycle in terms of alewife numbers.  Time will tell, but stomach checks revealed that these fish were eating plenty of sunfish, banded killifish and other small minnows.  Only a couple alewives were found.

BTW:  Seneca Lake was very, very low.   The runoff will certainly help, but I'd bet that I've never seen the lake lower than it was.  It'd be very hard to launch at Schamels without driving a trailer right off the lip, though with many rigs that wouldn't pose a problem.  

2/21:  Cayuga Lake - After the furious winds of the AM, we took our time and hit the local diner on the way up to AES.   Pike were our target and the conditions weren't great for them, but by sticking it out we wound up doing well, landing some nice fish, including a good pickerel.   Brown trout action - along with a few salmon, has been good.   We saw some decent fish caught and most were in good shape, though a few had some unsightly lamprey scars.    This should be a very good year for salmon and browns on Cayuga Lake!    One angler reported landing a 7lb salmon recently.  

We were impressed to see decent numbers of pike in the 24" to 26" range at the Power Plant.   I haven't encountered those fish around the south end of the lake in recent years.    Clearly there has been some successful spawning recently, but it's been a mystery to me why we haven't run into a lot of these fish.  Mike caught a really small northern and saw an even smaller one too.   With the ultra-cold year we've had, the warm water can be a real fish-magnet.   Who knows how far away these fish are coming from?   North end ice-fishing has reportedly been producing some pike too.  

I feel weird trying to ascertain "classes" of fish and how the bass or pike are doing in these lakes via a few trips.   It's kind of ridiculous, yet DEC doesn't do any warm-water fisheries research on Cayuga Lake.   We know nothing of the smallmouth bass population and why fishing for them has been lackluster over the past decade; how largemouths are doing in response to tournament pressure, what the pike population is, what the crappies are doing, what the perch growth rates are, what the catch rates are.  Zippo.    So these reports are the best I can do.   I'm not a fan of gill-netting, but it'd be nice to have some sort of indexing or research done, otherwise how do you manage the warmwater fisheries?   I'd like to see a pike limit of 2 fish, given that most of the Finger Lakes aren't numbers fisheries, but size fisheries.   Cayuga doesn't have a large enough pike population to support heavy harvest of pike, and I mean just a few people keeping limits!     And I know that most of you that follow this site likely use sound judgment.   But as an example, some of the guys we saw at the power plant didn't know the difference between a salmon and a brown amongst a lot of other things.  And believe me, there are anglers who think that just because they do well in a given area on a given day, means that the lake is full of fish and they can harvest ad nauseum.  It just isn't the case. 

Cayuga Lake/Taughannock Park shorefishing 2/15
I gave the park a quick shot for about 45 minutes.   I mostly wanted to check the launch and make sure the bubbler was working.   Conditions were brutal off the marina piers with lots of wave action and a stirred up bottom with shards of milfoil and debris drifting around.    The lake looked better off the south point.  Nobody else was fishing - I never had any hits or saw anything.   Lake level was very low (it makes for good access in waders walking the point.)   
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 1/13

Guided Mark for the full day starting around 7:30 am.   Last time we were out (on November 16th,)  he had some good fly-fishing for salmon.   Yesterday, the forecast for today was calling for very windy conditions, but fortunately the wind forecast was downgraded this morning and moderate winds are what we encountered.

The fishing wasn't easy to start.  Mark worked some "historically"great areas and after an hour and a half he landed a hard fighting brown around 16.5" long.  He had a dink salmon chase his leader/line knot.   Another hit was had up the lake, but the fishing was slow.  

We tried some midday fly-fishing for pike without any grabs.   A lot of cold, murky and downright muddy water was around.   We tried for salmon again further up the lake and Mark had a solid salmon around 20" follow him in.   In over 60' of water, he nailed another decent brown on a streamer.  Lastly a small salmon around 11" grabbed his fly.    Fish were around but seemed neutral.  

Pike fishing is what we did to end the day, and casting swimbaits/Sworming Hornets resulted in a few hookups on the northerns and one fish landed around 27" to 28".    Water temps ranged from 39 to 41.   Water level is down.  Canal was starting to thaw out, but still iced over with the exception of the channel.  

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