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Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs 12/30

Got out with my buddy Mike for a day of perch fishing starting around 10:30. Launching is not easy at Union Springs with a larger boat.  I have large trailer tires which force me to have to back in further than most people in order to get my boat to float off.  Small boats shouldn't have much trouble.   

Fishing was a lot of fun today.  We probably landed well over 60 perch, though maybe 35 were keepable.  We kept 25 fish that ran 8" to about 12".  We had a good number of doubles which are always welcome. The pickerel were super active, which made for a very fun day.  We landed at least 12 to 15 solid pickerel, including a half dozen or so that were in the 24" to 25" range - just super solid fish.  We kept 7 or 8 pickerel - that's a lot of meat for a lot of delicious fish cakes as well as boneless tail pieces for sauteeing.   2 bullheads also found our perch set ups.  

Cayuga is a great lake to perch fish if you just want to have fun and get some fillets.  You probably won't get a pail of 12" to 14" fish, but plenty of fish 8" and up are nearly a guarantee.  Another guarantee is that you won't be surrounded by boats or have to fish amongst a bunch of boats.  The half dozen boats on the lake all had plenty of room to fish without unwanted encroachment.   There are fish everywhere on the lake's north end from 10' FOW out to over 20'.   We used fathead minnows and assorted plastics.  Because the water here in murkier than Skaneateles or Seneca Lake, the fish tend to bite better throughout the day.   

Owasco Lake 12/25 PM + Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 12/26 PM

Owasco Lake:  Got out on my own around 1 pm.  I brought laker and pike tackle.  I marked a few lakers in around 85' to 100'.  On my first drop I managed to land a solid 29" laker that was in pretty good condition.   Fish are scattered around the north end of the lake from 80' on out to around 140' or more.  I didn't encounter any concentrations of fish.  

Casting for pike was good.  I landed a 27" northern on a spoon then caught a 25"er fly-fishing using an intermediate line and double bunny pattern in chartreuse.   Other than that I had one other hit on a spoon.  Wrapped up around 4:15.  A couple other boats were out perch fishing. Water temps went back up to around 46, but will likely drop back to the 44 range soon. Water level was very low but still launchable.

Cayuga Lake:  I kept yesterday's 29" lake trout for the smoker, so I wanted to get 2 or 3 more in order to do a full batch.  Cayuga didn't disappoint!  Fishing was the best I'd seen since early October.  There were very good numbers of nice lakers around the Aurora area. Some fish were deep but the best action I had was around 100' give or take.  I landed 6 or 7 nice fish in less than 2 hours.  They ranged from 17" to 25" long and were in good to excellent condition. These are the first fish I've seen in Cayuga Lake in late December that looked like July fish - well proportioned and still feeding.  Zero signs of lamprey hits.  

Perch and pickerel are active up north.  While casting some tube jigs I picked up a 13" 1lb 1oz perch as well as an 11"er and a dink.  You'd think I was on Seneca!  Maybe I got lucky, but then again, perhaps they are feasting on Cayuga's goby bounty.  Around 1/2 dozen boats were out perch fishing and plenty were out duck hunting too.  Water temps are around 44 to 46.

Keep in mind that day to day conditions are critical to fishing success, especially this time of year.  Action can be great one day then completely shut off the next day.

Otisco Lake 12/23 PM

I got out on my own onto Otisco Lake today from around noon til dark.  I've been meaning to get out here for awhile, mainly to just work my way around the lake to see what I could catch this time of year.   I brought some musky gear, a 10 wt. fly-rod and some tackle that I could use for walleyes/bass.   The weather held out for awhile, but it was windy.  By 3 pm the rain started falling.   No action on muskies for me today.  I had one hit on a deceiver (fly) and it wound up being a chunky 17" to 18" smallmouth.   That was it.   A good portion of the lake was muddy due to rain - I always tend to forget how quickly this lake muddies up.  Weed growth varies - there are still some nice weedbeds around. The first ice bite for muskies is typically very good here from what I've heard, but I have yet to capitalize on the "late open water pre-freeze up" musky bite.   If the weather patterns keep holding up, I may give it another shot.  I had fun casting my 10 wt. Diamondback Backwater, which I haven't used in a good 12 to 14 years since doing some striper fishing on the North shore of Massachusetts. No other boats were out here today.  Water level was surprisingly good and launching was easy at OLM.   44 degrees was the water temp.

Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport 12/22

After spending around 9 days in Arizona and having a couple days to recover I was ready to do some fishing.  My buddy Mike and I shot down to Keuka Lake, arriving at around 9 am. We were launched by 9:30 and had to deal with steady but light rain.  

We stopped at a Kwikfill to pick up some ice and an old geezer that saw my boat on my trailer warned me about how awful the fishing had been on Keuka Lake.  I felt like the hapless kids in the old "Friday the 13th" movies after they'd encounter the old guy on the bicycle just before the carnage would begin.  I warned him about his odds of winning the lottery as he was buying tickets.   On top of that, I'm not superstitious, but for what it's worth my good pal Mike really loaded up on the bananas today.  We had bananas in the truck and the boat. Uh oh.   

I found out within an hour that my 38 year old Sorel Boots had finally given in and were no longer very waterproof - at least the left foot.  What a great pair of boots - the old, original Canadian ones!   This was back when they had a bunch of different lines of boots.  Not just the Carabous or whatever they have now.  I think they were "Buffalos."   

Fishing started out very slow.  We tried some of the points around Hammondsport and marked a few lakers but not much to show - I am pretty certain I had two light hits.  We worked the Bluff area all the way up to the College and marked very, very few fish.  We had a few follows on the sonar, but that was it.  I was starting to wonder if the lottery ticket buying Nostradamus or better yet, Nostra-Geezer was onto something.

The rain finally ended around 1:30 or 2 pm and we did some casting for pickerel and perch on a stretch of lake I hadn't fished in probably over 12 years. I landed a nice pickerel on a spoon and Mike had a follow on a swimbait.  Mike did some casting for perch and was getting bit, so I followed suit.  We caught at least a half dozen keepers, but we had to throw back two dozen dinks, so it really wasn't worth it.  We didn't have time to work enough areas to find any other fish.  So back to lakers we went.

As we motored back towards Hammondsport (we were a LONG way up the lake) Mike remembered a point he hadn't fished since the early 2000s.  We went over there and were finally in business.  We hooked some doubles and landed 8 solid lakers, keeping 7.  We dropped quite a few as well.  Spoons and plastics worked well.  Lakers ran from 17" to 25" long.  Most wound up being males that were post spawn.  One smaller male hadn't spawned yet and two fish appeared to be females - one post spawn and one that was a good sized fish, but had immature eggs.  One fish had food in it - perch fry.  Still no alewives to be marked or found in fish.  I'm pretty sure most of the alewives here are gone.   I'd venture to say that most fish are done spawning but fishing still is tough here. Branchport would be the best bet from what I can see.  For all I know it could be hot fishing there.  It's also very close to the full moon, so that could play a part in the slower bite.  Overcast, rainy days in the late fall/winter can be tough for jigging too, so that's another consideration.   

Cayuga Lake 12/4 PM + Seneca Lake 12/6

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 12/4:  I got out on my own for around 3.5 hours and did some exploring.  Tried casting for trout/salmon and some pike fishing without any action. Lakers are scattered.  I did a little jigging (conditions were not good) and found a few fish scattered in a variety of depths.   Water temps remain around 46.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 12/6:   Guided Mark I. for a full day.  We spent most of the day fly-fishing for salmon.  I wish I had something positive to say about the salmon prospects, but it's been the slowest (worst) start to salmon fishing I've seen on this lake since I bought my first boat in 2001.  The slow day we had on November 25th was no fluke - the fishing is currently very poor.   Today, Mark had a follow from a salmon around 12" to 14" long right off the bat at around 8:45 am and that was it.  No other hits or follows.  We worked a lot of areas on both sides of the lake from Watkins Glen north to Valois.  Nada.  

There are decent numbers of lakers on the lake's south end but they aren't very active.  We gave that a shot for maybe 1/2 hour.   Mark did some fly casting for pike and landed a well-proportioned good fighting 33"er, but even that fish was showing signs of stress.  He had one other solid hit from what was likely a pike but didn't connect.

I'm not sure why we have such good numbers of young salmon on Cayuga Lake this year and very few on Seneca.  Obviously they are different lakes with different conditions and stocking success depends on a lot of factors.  Throughout history, lakes have periods of great fishing, average fishing and poor fishing.  Seneca has been a salmon powerhouse for at least 15 years, if not longer (I didn't live in the area in the early 1990s.) The lake trout fishing is still solid here and it was a pretty good year for brown trout.  We'll see how things pan out.  For now, I don't feel good about guiding for landlocked salmon here this season.  It's a shame after seeing such phenomenal fish caught during the 2015 Memorial Weekend Derby - giant lakers, salmon, browns and nice rainbows.   

Cayuga Lake has a lot of dinks and I can do trips here combining some salmon casting with either laker jigging or pike fishing, but again - it's been small salmon and very few nice ones and it's probably not a great idea to spend a full day just targeting salmon.  I'll be working on some new winter opportunities over the next couple months - stay tuned!

Seneca is currently providing fair to good pike action and good laker fishing can usually be had this time of year further north.

For trout and salmon fly-fishing, Skaneateles Lake has been very solid this season (as usual.)  Salmon are doing well there and the rainbow and laker fishing is very good.

Cayuga Lake out of Myers 11/30 PM

Got out for around 3 hours on my own today.  I fly-fished, gear-fished and spent a little bit of time vertical jigging.  The numbers of young salmon in the 10" to 11" range distributed around the lake remains impressive - I pulled my streamer away from a lot of them today and I was fishing areas I did not fish yesterday or last week.  Most fish are ones that were stocked earlier this year - in April or May.  These fish would have been stocked as yearlings - meaning the eggs were taken around October/November of 2013, hatched in the spring of 2014 and then stocked this past spring.  There are a few fish around in the 14" to 15" range - these would have been stocked in 2014.   Numbers of legal sized fish are apparently quite low.  I have yet to land a legal salmon this fall while casting gear or fly-casting.  

I managed one 17" laker on a 1 oz. jig.  While casting for salmon I had a good hit and after a very good battle I slipped my net under a chunky, clean 21" brown.  I released both of these fish.  I then dropped a salmon around 15".  Next time I fish Cayuga, I'll likely try further north, perhaps around Long Point or AES. 

Water temps were in the 46/47 degree range today.  Launching is possible at Myers but you have to be careful.  It'd be easy for a boat to drift under a dock structure, subsequently damaging a windshield or something of that nature.

Skaneateles Lake 11/28 + Cayuga Lake 11/29

Guided a half day on Skaneateles Lake yesterday and got out for around 6 hours with my buddy Mike today.  Here's the breakdown:

11/28 Skaneateles Lake:  Guided Eric and his friend Brett starting around 9 am.  Eric has a place on the lake and mainly trolls for lake trout.  He wanted to learn some different techniques for catching rainbows/salmon on the lake.   It was cold and we had a high of maybe 38 degrees plus a little bit of rain.  The predicted north winds didn't come up until around 11 am and that hurt us a bit.

We worked a few different areas and finally started contacting some fish.  The jigging we do this time of year is tricky stuff and as I was demonstrating a few things I wound up getting a hit from a nice 18" landlocked salmon.  Brett started contacting some nice smallmouth bass including a 17.5" fish and even a double on one cast!  Eric nabbed a solid perch and had some hits and a follow or two from what were likely trout.   The most important thing is that the guys did a good job dialing in the technique and key areas.

11/29 Cayuga Lake out of Myers:   Got out with my buddy Mike starting around 10:30 am. It was around 32 degrees out this AM so we decided against an early start.   We worked a bunch of areas both old and new and found similar results - plenty of dink salmon widely distributed.   Expect the fall of 2016 and all of 2017 to be banner years for Cayuga salmon, but this fall thus far sizeable (legal) fish have been few and far between.  I caught a small brown trout (13" to 14") on a fly and Mike caught some dink salmon as well as one around 15" (still a dink by Cayuga standards.)   We had a lot of short hits and follows.   Mike nailed one laker around 21" on a swimbait he was casting and I also caught one vertically.  

Mike released his laker but I kept mine.  A stomach check revealed loads of gobies - my laker had at least 6 to 8 inside.

Keuka Lake Report:  Angling Zone friend Jeff reported the best laker jigging of the year on Keuka Lake today.  They are hungry and aggressive and from shallow to deep. Fish are thin and there's nothing in their stomachs.  Jeff had a 27" fish that weighed a meagher 5.5lbs.  A 27" Cayuga or Seneca fish is typically 7lbs+ during the season and probably 6.5 or better after spawning.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 11/25

It was cold this AM when I met Eric and Nate at the launch.  We had an air temp just over 25 degrees.  Only one other boat had launched out of Schamels.  I couldn't have ordered better conditions for salmon if I had tried - we had sunny skies, south winds 5 to 10 (gusting into the teens) and perfect water temperatures hovering around 47 to 48 degrees. What's not to like?  Well, apparently the salmon didn't get the message.

Fishing was very slow for us today. We worked a lot of areas, fishing from shallow out to fairly deep water with two hits to show on the entire day.  I'm pretty sure the hits we got were from salmon, given where we were fishing and the lures we were using, but that isn't good.  We did see a lake trout and brown in one area and another brown in another area, but the fish looked more like spawners than feeders.  

We tried an hour of lake trout jigging and I did mark a lot of fish - some that were moving good for the jigs, but the lakers were pretty neutral to negative.  We stayed focused on salmon for the majority of the day.  The guys did a good job fishing hard and we managed to cover a lot of water, though there's only so much we can do as casters (as opposed to trollers.)

My buddy Mike was on Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock with his nephew.  They managed some dinks including a 13" to 14" rainbow.  Mike landed one very nice salmon around 24 1/2" but that was the only solid fish they had.  Mike was out earlier in the week during some good conditions and didn't find any sizeable fish.

Cayuga Lake has a terrific numbers of young (sublegal - 11" to 13") salmon this year. I have yet to ever see great numbers of young fish that don't materialize into very good numbers of older legal fish.  There are fair numbers of 24" to 25" salmon around too.  We caught them and saw people and know people who caught them all summer long.  There are also a few very large fish around.  I'm going to keep after them. It may be too early to tell what's going on.

Seneca Lake is a different story.  Mike's nephews caught a sublegal (13"ish) fish from shore a few days ago.  I had a student hook a 17" to 19"er on the pier back in September. We had a couple hits today.  Some giants were taken during the derby but fishing was slow this spring and summer for the most part.  We didn't encounter many small fish either last year.   It's a giant lake, so fish can be just about anywhere.  I think we'll see some nice fish come out of this lake this winter/spring, but I am clueless on what the numbers will be like out there.  I'll be back, because it's my favorite fish to target in the winter.  So time will tell.  As always, stay tuned!


Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 11/21

Guided Michael and his dad Bruce for a full day.  We got underway around 8:30 am.  I'm impressed to still see Cayuga Lake's water level up.  I can never figure out what the deal is regarding why some years the lake is drawn down early and moreso than on other years. Either way, I'm happy to see the lake where it should be and some easy launching to be had.

We combined some lake trout jigging with some casting for pickerel.  The weather pattern looked good for both and sure enough it was.  For whatever the reason, Bruce really did a number on the lakers.  He landed 4 and lost one.  Fish ran from 17" to 27".  We kept the three biggest fish - a 21", 22" and the 27" (wild.)  They should be all over the place from shallow to deep, but we caught ours from around 90' to 110' FOW.

The guys both had a lot of fun with the pickerel.  Despite the churned up murky conditions and some good wind, the guys landed 8 or 9 fish up to 24".   We kept around 6 for the sautee' pan and some fish cakes.  Mike dropped what appeared to be a very solid fish - either a big pickerel, pike or perhaps a bass.  Most likely one of the former.

Stomach checks revealed the pickerel having quite the fondness for gobies!  A big bluegill was also in one of the pickerel stomachs.  The lakers were in average condition, no doubt still recovering from the spawn.  Water temps were 50 in the lake's middle portions and around 48/49 up north.  This mild late-fall weather is really slowing down the lake's cooldown.

I have a few more bookings on the calendar for the remainder of the year; most dates remain open for trips.  I don't do any sub-freezing guided trips, but anytime there are highs in the upper 30s or 40s (or higher) and the winds aren't outrageous, I am willing to guide.  I can usually do a trip on short notice.  


Cayuga Lake out of Myers 11/16 PM + Seneca Lake out of Lodi 11/17

Not a whole lot to report here.  I went out for a few hours on my own Monday afternoon out of Myers Park just to check on Cayuga Lake.  The lake level is still very nice.  Water temps were around 50/51 degrees.  I fly-fished for maybe 2 hours for salmon and caught a dink and had a couple other hits from dinks.  I hit just one area.  I expect very good salmon action this fall/winter/spring on Cayuga Lake.  The fish are out there.  I also scouted a few areas for another hour or so checking on weedgrowth for pike fishing.  

I more or less did the same thing on Seneca Lake yesterday.  The winds were supposed to be light out of the south but it was fairly nasty out there.  I scouted out a bunch of areas. Basically just tried to better learn some relatively "alien areas" on the lake.   Water level was still good and temps ran from 49/50.  I found some more pike areas.  Tried some salmon fishing with no hits.  By the time the lake got fishable, it was getting dark out. Oh well....

Skaneateles Lake 11/15

Got out with Mark I. for a full day starting around 8:30.   Only a few trailers were in the parking lot at the State Launch today and we saw maybe 4 boats out on the water all day. The wind was intermittent today and that hurt the middle part of our day a bit.  

Mark fly-fished for most of the day and had a few hits and follows during the first half of the day, but not much to show apart from a nice perch.   Later in the day the wind picked up, the sun got a bit lower and the fish cooperated.  Mark wound up with 3 nice rainbows from 16" to 18.5" and 3 nice lakers ranging from around 19" to 20".   Later in the day he caught some perch but not many with any size. 

The lake was nice and quiet with the exception of an occasional chainsaw and the usual leaf blowers.  Someday I'd love the landowners to lay off the power equipment but that'll probably never happen!  You'd think homeowner would appreciate the natural sounds of the lake, but as soon as the jet skiis stop in October, they start with the weedwhackers, lawn mowers, blowers and chainsaws.  And if by chance it gets really quiet, they can always rev up their yapper.   Ha ha - anyways it was a great day on the lake and the rainbows were gorgeous.  The usual olive buggers did the trick on an Intermediate Line.  50 to 52 degrees was the lake temp.  

Skaneateles Lake 11/11 PM

Got out with my buddy Mike for a half day or so of perch fishing.  The action was fair, but steady.  We wound up with around 16 solid keepers.  We threw back another 15 or so.   A bonus smallmouth and a couple small lakers also found our perch lures.   A fair number of anglers were out.  Water temps were 52 on top.  

Reports 11/6 - 11/8

Fishing was fair to excellent over the past few days.  The high winds and volumes of leaves in the water played havoc with us a bit on Friday, but conditions cleared up by Saturday.  It is typical November fishing - some great opportunities for fun mixed-bag angling, but the weather plays a big role in success.

11/6 Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen:  Guided Kevin and Drew for a full day targeting pike.  We started just after 7 am.   The original plan was to fish Skaneateles, but I wasn't going to chance it there with potential 30 mph gusts out of the southwest, plus no docks in! So we decided to do Skinny on Saturday and go after pike today.  (Launching at Owasco's south shore was also out of the question due to low water - so Seneca it was.)

I'd by lying if I said fishing was easy today.  It was tough.  The guys had to work a lot of water, but eventually we had some action.  Kevin finally had a hit, then landed a 29" pike. They also had a couple follows.  After a few hours went by, Drew landed a nice pickerel that was maybe 23" or better.  Then, fishing one of the same areas we'd worked previously, Drew landed a sold pike around 31"+ if I remember correctly.  The guys were happy with our results given the strong winds and numerous leaves that really rendered some prime areas unfishable.  The pike looked good today in terms of their condition.

11/7 Skaneateles Lake:

AM Trip:  I met the guys (Kevin and Drew) at the ramp around 6:45 am.  We launched the boat and headed south.  The guys had their polarized sunglasses and were ready to work some jigs.  The fishing was very good.  In short order they landed 3 nice lake trout and started getting into some nice perch and smallmouth bass.  No rainbows today, but the bass fishing was solid with a double in one area.  We kept the lakers and perch and I'm sure the meals will be memorable!  It's tough to beat the table qualities of the fish from this lake!

PM Trip:  My PM trip was with longtimers Ron and Matt, who nearly always time things well.  Ron had a trip earlier this summer when he landed 47 solid lake trout!  Tough to beat that and earlier in the year (in mid-March) the guys hit the landlockeds, a big brown and a bunch of northerns on Seneca, so they've been on a roll.

The winds made for tricky boat control and our rainbow trout area did not produce.  We fished way down the lake and the guys got into some very nice smallmouth bass, a laker and some good perch.  Matt caught a memorable 21" smallmouth bass that really gave him a good battle.  

11/8 Owasco Lake AM:  Matt and Ron met me at 6:30 am and we launched out of Emerson Park.  The guys wanted lake trout but were perfectly willing to give the pike a shot. Ron landed a 26" solid, healthy northern on his first cast.  The "dreaded first cast fish."  I'm not superstitious, but sure enough - that was the only pike landed.  Matt had a hit or two (probably from a dink) but that was it.

Laker fishing started out promising with the guys each landing one, but then it slowed. Plenty of fish were around and Matt managed a second one before we wrapped things up.  Lakers ran 22" to 23" and were down around 80', though they are everywhere this time of year given the water temps - you can catch a laker in 150', 100', 50' or even 5' if you hit the right conditions.







Skaneateles Lake 11/4 and Owasco Lake 11/5 PM

Skaneateles Lake 11/4:  Arrived at the launch around 8:45 am with my buddy Eric just in time to see the NYS guys removing the docks.  It's a shame that they pull them out so early in the fall, given the nice weather we currently have.  They have a job to do - I get that, but it'd be nice to keep the docks in for another week or two.  

We brought a bunch of tackle including fly-fishing set-ups, perch rods and some bass gear. The fly-fishing for trout was top notch, so we stuck with that for most of the day.  Eric landed the first couple rainbows - one around 22" that was fat, then one around 24".   I nailed a 25" and a 22"er.  We had other hits, hookups and follows too - just terrific action. We caught 3 lakers and Eric landed another two rainbows - a 22" and an 18".  All except the 18"er were beautifully colored males.  I kept a 22"er for dinner and Eric ended up keeping a bleeder.   Smallmouths were also active and I landed one just shy of 18" on a bugger.  It had another 3 or 4 following it.

We set up for perch later in the day and landed 18 nice keepers.  Another dozen or more dinks were tossed back.  It's hard to top the angling on this lake on the right day in early November!

Owasco Lake 11/5:  Got over here on my own around noon.  Today was more of a "work day" as a guide;  I spent the day scouting.  I've pretty much managed to fish my way around this entire lake a few times over the years, but still have some alien areas that I've been meaning to learn.  As a multi-species guide, there's a lot of time (aka "work") spent learning lakes.  It's "fun work" for me, but I have to learn the deep areas for winter/early spring lake trout, then the 40' to 100' zones for the spring/summer fish and finally spawning areas. Then there's getting in shallow and learning the pike and bass areas again all in a seasonal way.   

A lot of guides will tout their "experience" aka "..years fished on a lake."  If you do the same thing, fishing the same areas for 30 years using the same tactics, it's the same as repeating 3rd grade thirty times. It means absolutely nothing.   We had a discussion onboard about that recently and that analogy was mentioned! It's a great one.  It's all about quality time and applying yourself.  Deliberate practice is the key term.   Greg Hackney had never fished Cayuga Lake in his life before the 2014 Elite Series Event here.  He had some bass fishing that was better than any guide or local angler could've done! Nearly 20 to 24lbs a DAY for 5 largemouths, four days in a row (one day he only brought in 4 fish, but his average fish was around 4lbs!)

But the lakes change annually and sometimes weekly in terms of weed growth.The areas we used to catch pike in on Cayuga Lake in 2002 are completely different from where we caught them in 2006 and where we catch them now, and every year weeds grow in different areas or not at all in some of the old ones.  Things change constantly.

Anyways I fished a bit and learned a bit today.  Caught some decent pike and perch.  I also raised some bass and even had a nice lake trout take a shot at a jerkbait in around 12' of water!  That would've been a lot of fun and a heck of a good tussle!  

Seneca Lake 10/30 + Owasco Lake 10/31

I like this weather pattern and the fish are hitting!  November might be my favorite month to fish the Finger Lakes:  the fishing is good to excellent, the leaves are still intact and beautiful and next to nobody is out on the lakes!  The cottages are closed up, the jet skis, sailboats, pleasure boaters, paddle boarders et. al. are all long gone.  It's fishing time, pure and simple.   

Seneca Lake 10/30:  Guided Mark I. out of Watkins.  I was a little hesistant regarding the weather forecast with moderate north winds but we decided to go for it.  We can always call it a day after a 1/2 if the conditions aren't very fishable.  Mark prefers to catch fish on the fly-rod but will resort to gear for an occasional break or if the conditions dictate it (too much wind or some arm fatigue.)   The winds were a bit harsh to start but moderated later in the day.  Oftentimes we were able to get out of the wind.

We had some good action on both the flies and lures.  Mark wound up landing 3 solid pike on streamers - a 25"er and a couple around 31".  He also dropped a solid.  On stickbaits he landed 2 solids.  Unfortunately I am seeing some signs of disease on the fish - the bloody, worn fins and excess slime.  The fish were a little on the thin side, but not emaciated.  Thus is life with pike in Seneca Lake.  I also see this condition on Owasco and in Cayuga on occasion, so it may just be a common pike disease or sign of stress.  I'll keep an eye on it.   Water temps are in the low 50s and even upper 40s in places.  Salmon time will be upon us shortly!  I can't wait!

Owasco Lake 10/31:  Guided Tom, Dom and Tom (aka Mars) today for a midday 1/2 day. As I mentioned on my last report on Owasco Lake - it was the conditions that made for a tough laker bite.  Today we had good laker jigging conditions and the fishing was much better than last Sunday or Saturday the 17th.  I've been guiding 11 years now - 10 of them full time, so I know what I'm doing with this least I think I do!

Anyways we worked some points, shelves and even the north end flat for awhile.  We had steady, good fishing with 7 or 8 solid lakers landed to 28" and one bonus 16" rainbow that was badly hooked on a spoon (so it was kept.)   We released a couple lakers as well.  All the lakers except a 22"er caught on the north end were post-spawn, thin but hungry, aggressive fish.   The spoon bite was hottest for us today.  We had fish hit on Hopkins and Kastmasters.  They hit plastics as well, but our fish were landed on the hardware.

The real good news was that we had a few other rainbows chasing our jigs!  I don't know how Owasco Lake has been fishing for still fishermen and trollers, but I can just about guarantee that we are going to see some great rainbow trout fishing on this lake over the next few years at the very least.  There are no lampreys here, loads of bait and the lake trout population is relatively low.  All that should add up to some trophy browns, rainbows and lakers here in the near future!   

Skaneateles Lake 10/27

Got out just past 7 am with Chris (from South Carolina) for what amounted to a 6 hour day. We originally had a full day trip scheduled for tomorrow, but the strong low pressure system with 35 mph gusts and heavy rain didn't look too appealing, so I was able to move an appointment I had and fit him in before my angling class.

Fishing was really top-notch today.  It was 27 degrees this AM driving up to the lake, but the lake temps help keep the air around 35 on and around the lake.  It really warmed up nicely by around noon, but the wind died and fishing slowed by then.   Chris nabbed around 15 to 17 solid smallmouth bass today (I don't recall the exact number) with a few in the 17 1/2" range and fat.  All but one or two were over 12" long and they were really hitting well. A couple bonus lake trout and perch also found his jerkbait today.  Water temps are around 56.  Some rainbows are also being caught nearshore.  The scenery was awesome and we saw a Bald Eagle this AM.  This lake is a top pick for some great fishing over the next 3 weeks!   

Owasco Lake 10/25 am

Guided Tom, his son Joe and friend Mark for a 1/2 day today starting around 9:30.   It was tough making the call on where to fish - we had predicted strong southerlies, changing to strong northerlies midway through the day.  Originally, we were looking at westerlies with some sun, which would've made for good laker jigging conditions.   On the water we were faced with tougher laker jigging conditions.  

We worked points and ledges along the west shore.  Mark nabbed a solid 26" to 27" laker on a spoon after maybe an hour of fishing.  On another point, Joe landed a 23"er.  Both appeared to be wild (unclipped vividly colored) fish.   Joe had another hit as did Mark but that was it. As the conditions improved the guys had to hit the road.   I expect fair action (good at times) to hold up here for a couple more weeks as the spawn gets underway.   Steady, sunny to partly sunny weather tends to produce the best fall lake trout fishing, whether on Owasco, Cayuga (especially around Long Point - Levanna)  or Keuka Lake.  Rainy or overcast days can be good in conjunction with warm fronts.  But bluebird cold front days can be very tough as can rainy cold front days.

The amount of bait on this lake's north end was impressive today!   You'll see more bait on this lake in 5 minutes than you'll see all year on Keuka Lake!  I'd expect to see some big fish coming out of Owasco Lake in the future.

Keuka Lake 10/23 + Skaneateles Lake 10/24

Keuka Lake out of Keuka Lake State Park 10/23 AM:   Guided Scott and his wife Sharon (who fished for about 5 minutes) for a 1/2 day targeting lakers, starting just after 8 am.  They have a place just off the lake and he's looking to do more fishing.   It was COLD out this AM but beautiful with the peak of the fall foliage occurring.  (Gusty winds today, on 10/24 will take out a good number of leaves.)

I checked the area near the State Park for awhile and found respectable numbers of fish here.  Scott had 3 or 4 solid hits but it took a little while to get the hang of things.  We made the chilly run to the bluff and found plenty of fish there.  Scott nailed 4 nice lakers. We headed back towards the park and Scott hooked another.   I can't say I marked any more or less fish on Keuka Lake this time out than in prior years.  The Bluff was pretty much loaded, as usual with lakers.

After the trip ended I did a little casting and landed a large pickerel in short order.  I had a follow or two from some bass.   I did some more jigging along the north end of the Branchport arm and managed to land 3 lakers which I kept.   One of them was loaded with perch fry. A lot of fish are up unusually high in the water column, likely targeting perch.  

DEC Region 8 crews will be doing their "tri-yearly" (every 3 year) coldwater gill netting assessment of Keuka Lake next year.  That will provide us with a lot of answers regarding average sizes of fish, forage and abundance.   Fisheries are not managed by "knee-jerk" decisions, despite the desire of a lot of the bozos up on Lake Ontario who have one or two slow years and want to do crazy stuff with stocking.   It was an extremely cold, then wet season in our region and that likely negatively impacted the fishing.  DEC Biologists do not feel that the ice fishermen put much of a dent on Keuka Lake's massive lake trout population. Remember that angling pressure was focused mainly on some select areas! Most of the lake was lightly fished and lake trout are well-distributed throughout the length and branches of Keuka Lake.

I do think that the alewives are pretty much gone here on Keuka Lake.  Whether they bounce back remains to be seen.  Maybe we'll see some smelt bounce back, but that may be unlikely.   It'll be interesting to see if the smallmouth bass behavior changes and they act more like Skaneateles Lake bass.   Clearly we are going to see a lot more yellow perch here!  That population will likely go way up.

10/24 Skaneateles Lake:  Guided Wayne and Christine from Toronto for what was supposed to be a full day, but wound up being a half day after the winds got extremely gusty.  The weater forecasters called for 9 to 16 mph winds today, with light winds in the AM.  We had strong winds in the AM and they got stronger as the day went on.  By 1 pm we had steady 18 to 19 mph winds with gusts in the mid-20s out of the south!  It was harsh out there.  The run south took a good 1/2 hour or longer.

Wayne fishes a bit from shore and Christine had fished once in her life a long time ago. They both did a great job today.  We went with jerkbaits (the new Rapala Shadow Raps - which are awesome) and they caught a half dozen smallmouths up to 16" long.  We had a near miss from a nice sized pickerel and also one perch landed.  Needless to say, when we got back to the launch, ours was the only boat trailer in the parking lot. Fun day and pretty good fishing despite the brutal winds.   Water temps were 56 degrees.  Water level was good too.




Owasco Lake 10/22

Guided Andrew and Bob for a morning 1/2 day starting around 7:15.   The lake is low and I'm not sure how much longer I'll be launching out of the South Shore Marina.  Even with my motor up a ways, my skeg was acting like an anchor just off of the dock.  Anyways the fishing was very good today with perfect weather conditions - we had steady weather, overcast skies, a tiny bit of rain and light winds.   

We started with casting for pike and the action was good on mostly smallish fish from 19" to 21".   It's good to see a lot of these pickerel-sized fish around as that does bode well for future fishing here.  A couple nicer 26" to 27" pike were landed and Andrew lost what was a likely quite a bit bigger fish.  It ripped out some drag before it got off.  I'm guessing mid-30s inch range.  He also nailed a bonus 12" perch and a rocky.  

We switched up to lake trout and there were plenty around.   The guys landed 2 solid fish and one dink.   Very good half day of fishing!  And we were the only boat out that we could see.

After the trip I was jonesing to fish a bit and continued on with some pikin'.  I nailed one more small pike and missed another.   I also caught a few perch and a largemouth.  I set up for smallmouths with a jerkbait and had some quick action, landing 3 nice fish topped off by a 21"er that was over 4lbs.   The lakers were tough for me today and I caught and released one and didn't have any other hits.   I was impressed - I only fished around 3 hours today if that.

That's the Owasco Lake late-October/mid-November mixed bag fishing that I really like.  I remember first fishing this lake around the fall of 2001 or so and by casting tube jigs I could catch lake trout, walleyes, smallmouth bass, pike and jumbo perch!   It's not necessarily easy fishing, but the scenery is incredible and the tranquility addictive!   

Cayuga Lake out of Myers 10/21 PM

Got out for around 4 hours on my own today.  I've been spending the past few days resting, teaching and working on tackle.  I'm trying out some new lines for laker jigging - I have a 30lb white braided line made by Berkely for saltwater fishing.  It's a round braid, so the startup inertia when the reel's drag is going out should be minimized. I'm very happy with the usual Fireline Crystal we use, but it can't hurt to try new stuff.   I also have some new reels - the latest Abu Orras and Pflueger Supremes.   Both did very well today.

Over the next few weeks I'll put up some used gear for sale on the homepage.  I have some reels all set up for laker jigging.  They are in good working order.  I have a few rods that are best for bass fishing, but can also be used for jigging too.  Either way, it'll be a great way to purchase a quality reel for a great price.   Stay tuned.

I checked out the area around Taughannock quickly.  Had a small salmon hit my jig up high.  The quantity of sublegal landlocked salmon all around Cayuga Lake is impressive this year!   From North of Sheldrake south past Taughannock and North of Aurora down to AES, you can see salmon grabbing bait near the surface at any given moment.  These Sebagos are scattered (like they should be) and looking healthy.   We should see some top notch salmon fishing on Cayuga Lake over the next 2 years (2016/2017) at the very least.  This fall/winter/spring should be very good!

I nabbed a nice "fryer" sized lake trout N. of AES in around 80' FOW.  The thermocline is gradually dissapating but is still intact.  I had 56 degree water right down to 70' or 75' then 20' further down it was in the low 40s.  Surface temps are around 59/60.

I saved 2 hours for perch fishing and caught a few but nothing special.  Next time I'll be doing the perch fishing justice.



Owasco Lake 10/17

Guided Gordon for a brutal full day today.  I emailed him regarding the conditions and he wanted to go for it, so we did.  We had gusty north and west winds in the high teens mixed with some AM freezing rain and hail.  Around 7 or 8 years ago we fished Skaneateles in similar conditions and had a banner day on rainbows.  It wasn't to be this time.  We tried some pike and bass fishing without hits apart from perch.  Loads of lakers and other fish were both on the north end flats (tons of bait) and lower lake points, but they were very negative.  Some fish were chasing the jigs but nothing hit hard.   Water temps are 60 but with this cold weather we should see 58 soon!   The fish are around and will bite - today's action was due to the weather, not any seasonal changes in activity.  

BTW:  The Cayuga Lake eggtake went very well this year.  The crew finished up after 3 nights of gillnetting over 5 days.  They lost one day due to a mechanical issue with their boat.  Bycatch was minimal.  The lakers were in excellent condition - fat and very few signs of lampreys.  Top trout were around 33" to 34" and likely 13 to 14lbs.  The guys didn't notice many wild fish.   I don't think they will show up in the nets until 2016, since most of the wild ones were in the 24" range and wouldn't get caught in the nets until they get bigger.   Cayuga Lake should provide superb fishing again next year and I expect good fall/winter/spring salmon and brown trout action.   

Otisco Lake 10/15 + 16

Guided a full day on the 15th and a PM 1/2 day on the 16th on Otisco Lake for Tiger Muskies.  The bite was tough on both days.   It's always tough to tell what's what with musky fishing, since hits/fish are often few and far between, so one lucky/good move and a nice fish is caught and the day is a success.   

10/15:  Got out around 9:30 am with Bobberman Perry and his pal Fireman Bob.  I hadn't seen Bob in a while and it was good catching up.   The guys like to take their time and I don't mind.  It's their trip, but I felt that our late start really hurt us today in terms of fish-action.  We had perfect light winds and dark/overcast conditions to start in the AM with low hanging cloud cover. As soon as we launched we were faced with bluebird (cloudless) skies and swirling winds. But that's the way it goes.  

The guys had great bait including some nice sucker minnows.  They set up 5 or 6 rods and we worked a few different areas.  Nothing was hitting.  No bass, cats, walleye, perch - nada.   We finally got a hit and Bob wound up landing a nice 34" to 35" Tiger Musky.

10/16:   Guided Ed from around 2 pm till 6:30 pm.  He'd never caught a Tiger Musky before and unfortunately didn't catch one today.   We gave it our best shot and he worked a bunch of different areas with some different lures with no action to speak of.  The weather was very unsettled with mostly cloudy skies and some occasional light showers.  I really thought we'd do alright today but it didn't happen.   Water temp was 60 degrees.

I find Tiger Muskies to be interesting and perplexing fish.  Hybrids are strange - they sometimes show traits of one or the other one of their "parent" species but also have traits all their own.  We've had decent late-season Tiger Musky fishing on Otisco Lake in past years but it's a roll of the dice here.  I think May - September is best, but then again last year we had a brute late in the fall, so you never know.  And of course loads of fish get caught through the ice here - from 1st ice to last ice. 

Musky fishing is rarely easy.  Once in a while it is on Otisco Lake, but not usually and you have to be there at the right time on the right day.  There are plenty of musky lakes across the country that are overloaded with stocked muskies and have resulted in much of the musky fishing mystique being removed.  

But you have to fish on the fish's terms.  Muskies don't care that you want to relax in the morning and have a nice breakfast at the local diner.  They will eat when they want to eat - often in the early AM or late evening.  You have to fish them (and all species) on their own terms!  Dr. Musky has limited visitation hours! 

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 10/13

Guided Joe, one of my former students, for a full day targeting pike.  He'd previously done bait fishing primarily for catfish and species like that before and was psyched to tag his first pike. The fishing was good for some nice sized fish.  He landed 5 pike with 4 of them running from 30" to 34".  The other one was around 25".  He lost one that was at least 34" too.   Spoons did the trick. Water temps on the south end are around 58 degrees.  Boat traffic was pretty much non-existent.

A few dates remain open in October and I have plenty of dates available in November and onwards, weather depending.  Some of the best fishing of the year is upon us now and yet to come!  

Fishing Reports 10/9 - 10/12 Cayuga + Keuka Lakes

Fishing has generally been good in the region, though high pressure systems/cold fronts have played havoc with the bite at times.  I'm on the water all week long and will have reports from other waterways shortly.

10/9 Owasco Lake:  Guided Chino (a guide in Kentucky for sauger, white bass and hybrid stripers) and his son Jonathon.  It rained heavily at times throughout the AM.  Chino and I were prepared for it, Jon was mentally prepared for it but didn't have good raingear and got a decent soaking.  

We started with pike fishing in the AM during the rain.  Jon landed one small northern around 22".  He had 4 or 5 other hits and we saw a nice one take a slash at his spoon. But overall we didn't do as well on pike as I was expecting and hoping.  The laker bite was tough too.  Jon landed one or two early on but then we struggled for them.  

Chino does a lot of vertical jigging for hybrid stripers ("wipers") and was right at home when we discovered a big school of perch under us in deep water.  The guys wound up landing over a dozen that they kept for dinner.   Chino finally nailed a laker later in the day.  We also had a nice smallmouth follow in one of our laker lures.  It was a tough day "catching wise" but satisfactory in that the guys saw some ways we fish up here.

BTW - there were tons of nice perch in the shallows at the south end of the lake.  I see this every year!   Perch can be tricky to target because they are so adaptable.  Our deep perch were in 55' to 70' FOW - the ones "down south" were in less than 5'!

10/10 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  Guided my old friend Chris (we go back to 3rd grade) and our mutual friend/High School chum Jim for a 1/2 day AM trip.  Jim doesn't fish a whole lot but was eager to give it a shot.  We headed north and worked weeds for pickerel.   Action was slow to start but picked up during the AM.  Four or five pickerel were landed on spoons.

Lake trout fishing started out slow, but I found a bunch of fish in deeper water (110' give or take) and the bite really got going.  The guys kept a nice limit of quality eating sized 22" to 24" fish.  I think we threw a couple back if I remember correctly.  Good fishing!

10/11 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  Guided Florian for a full day.  I thought pickerel fishing would be good for him since he doesn't get out much.   The lake was rough with steady winds out of the south in the teens.   Florian did a nice job and hooked and landed around 10 pickerel.   The conditions weren't easy and boat control was important.  We kept 5 for Florian's cooking blog:

If you get a chance, check out the many different ways he cooks lake trout!  I regret not having spent more time on his blog so I could pepper him with questions!  Lake trout sausage sounds good!  He does some amazing stuff here!

Anyways, we spent a good part of the day going after lake trout without much action at all.  We found quite a few fish, but they weren't active.  Florian did manage landing a salmon around 14" or 15" but that was it.  Tough afternoon but the AM pickerel fishing was a lot of fun!

10/12 Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport!:  Wow, have I been waiting for this trip!   I've heard so much regarding the tough fishing on this lake from past clients and Angling Zone friends.  I launched with Harry, Tony and Tony's nephew Rob.   These guys have made Columbus Day on Keuka Lake an annual event for us and they really look forward to the fishing. And it hasn't disappointed us yet.

Word from Ron,  the owner of the Keuka Lakeside Inn, is that fishing has been very slow this season.   We have had some recent encouraging reports from up the main stem of the lake plus the Bluff (as usual) so we ran right to the bluff and started fishing around 9:15 am.   Action was slow for the first two hours but then picked up.  There are plenty of fish up there although I probably marked less fish than in past years.   We had a steady but somewhat slow pick there, then ran south and picked up a few more fish in a few different areas.  White and chartreuse plastics as well as Hopkins spoons did the trick. Overall we landed 13 fish and lost a few.  Had we stayed at the Bluff, there's no doubt we would have caught more, but the guys wanted to try some areas closer to the Motel where they were staying.

The negative news is that all the fish ran 17" to 20" long.  It's rare not to see a few fish in the 21" to 24" range on Keuka.  The other negative is that none of the fish had anything significant in their stomachs.  My guess is that these fish aren't finding much food, because there doesn't seem to be much around.  The writing has been on the wall here for a long time regarding the poor baitfish numbers, though the last couple years seemed to show an uptick in that department.  The harsh winters probably set back the alewives a bit.  We may see growth rates slow down a lot here.  Stay tuned!  But harvesting more fish here is probably a good idea. It will be interesting to see what management action Region 8 DEC takes here, if any. 



Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 10/7 PM

Got out on my own for a little "catch 'em and eat 'em" mission.  Lake trout jigging was pretty good and I managed to land 4 nice fish including a 28" wild one.  I kept two around 24" for the smoker and they were in fine condition - both were full of alewives.  I'll be on Keuka Lake later next week, so that will fill my smoker.  Anyways, I had action from 80' out to around 110'.  Fishing wasn't real easy - the fish were kind of negative.  I spent a lot of time switching out colors and trying different stuff.  Whether it made a difference or not is debatable.

It had been so long since I'd been out  I really wanted to have some great action, so I motored up north for a crack at Cayuga's hefty pickerel population.  The pickerel did not disappoint.  I probably landed at least 10 in less than 2 hours.  I also shook some dinks off and pulled my lure away from some.  I kept my limit of 5 fish, all in the 21" to 22" range.   One perch also found my spoon.  The water temps ranged from 62 to 64 on top and the pickerel were very aggressive!  It's a lot of fun watching these crazy cousins of northern pike chase lures and slam them recklessly.They hit hard.  

Pickerel are bony - there's no getting around that, but they are superb tablefare and worth the extra effort spent filleting and trimming them.  Tonight I'll be making up a massive batch of pickerel patties and freezing a bunch.  The fishcakes are superb by themselves, on a roll (with a pickle and mayo) or as a wonderful accompanyment to eggs and bacon/sausage for breakfast.  They are a vastly underutilized resource both on the Finger Lakes and on Oneida Lake.

Owasco Lake 10/2

Guided Tom, his brother Frank and friend John here for a full day starting around 7:30 am. I wasn't sure what the lake trout jigging would be like, but it was very good for most of the day today.  We worked the middle to lower parts of the lake for the most part and found plenty of fish from 65' on out, with the majority around 85' or so.  21 solid lakers were landed today all on spoons.   This time of year it's important to have an assortment of plastics and "hardware" at hand in order to match the conditions.  Fish ran from 22" to 27" long today with most in the 24" to 25" range.   We had one wild fish out of the entire bunch. The trip today was a blast and a great way to wind down a busy start to the fall season.

I'll be taking a bit of a break and doing a little fishing on my own this week, then it'll be back to a fairly busy schedule over the remaining weekends.  Some weekdays (and two weekend dates - the 18th and 31st,) are still open.

Owasco Lake 10/1 AM

Guided Syd and John for 1/2 day starting at around 7:30 am.  The laker bite was pretty slow today though plenty of fish were around.  Working jigging spoons resulted in 3 solid fish landed between 25" and 27".   It's really of matter of finding the right conditions and the right day.  We had one other fish hooked that got off and a few other light hits were had. Beautiful albeit chilly day out there.  Time for the heavier jackets, knit hat and long underwear!   Surface temps are dropping rapidly.  We had 67/68 degrees today.

Owasco Lake 9/30

The plan today was to fish Cayuga Lake out of Long Point for lake trout.  But when I checked the weather forecast early this AM and then met Zack and his friend at the ramp at 7 am, I knew we had to move the trip to Owasco Lake.  Winds gusting into the upper teens out of the north would not make for a fun trip fishing the Aurora area.

We launched at Emerson Park around 7:45.   Fishing was tough due to the wind and conditions, but in short order Zack landed a decent lake trout.  A couple hits were also had and what was likely a bass or two hooked.   Winds came up and we worked different areas around the lake.  Another 3 lakers wound up landed along with a 20 1/2" smallmouth bass (which we released.)  We all felt we did pretty well given the driving winds and rain we dealt with on the day.  By day's end, the air temps had dropped to 50 degrees and it felt even colder.   The lakers we kept were ripe, which was surprising for this time of year on Owasco Lake.  Water temps were 68 on the surface.  We were the only boat on the lake as far as we could tell, but we never got down to the south end.  Fairly brutal out there, but the guys wanted to go for it!

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 9/28 AM

Guided Brian and his son Mike out of Long Point starting just after 7 am.  I was curious at how the fishing would be after the full moon and eclipse.  We had a very good bite today - steady for most of the day.  The guys landed a dozen nice lakers, mostly in the 22" to 24" range, but we had a 27"er as well.  One wild fish today.  A bunch were lost too.  Fish are on the feed up north and our best action was in deeper water today - around 105' to 110'.   Hopefully we'll see some rain develop as forecast over the next few days.  Lake levels are dropping on all of the Finger Lakes as far as I can tell.  

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 9/26 AM

Had some good fishing this morning with John and his son Hunter, who have joined me a couple times before over the past 2 or 3 years.   The lake trout bite was good this AM with one double and 5 fish landed in fairly short order.  We had a mid-morning lull, but the fishing picked up around 11 am and the guys landed another 4.   Fish ran from 17" to 24". Only one was in the 17" range - most were 22" to 24".  Perfect eating size!   

I expect fishing to be good for lakers throughout the region this weekend.  The bluebird skies are giving way to some clouds.  The weather just has a fishy feel to it and "the proof was in the pudding."  Or as Al Lindner would say "Da proof is in da puddin."   Water temp was 69 on top.  We found a floating lake trout that was still alive as we headed in..  We saw an angler catch it and try to release it.  If you can't release the fish, put them on ice for someone else!   I always try to have a small cooler onboard in case we get a non-releasable fish and the clients weren't planning on keeping any.  I had my clients keep two for me for my smoker today so I was able to keep the fish and add it to my others for my limit.


Owasco Lake 9/24 PM

Guided John and Ginny for a 1/2 day starting around 1:15 pm.  The conditions looked pretty good with plenty of bait around.  We tried a bunch of areas and the bite picked up later in the day.  We also had a little bit of good bass action.  Wound up with 4 solid lakers landed and a bass.  A few other fish were dropped including a large smallmouth.  Beautiful day and not many people on the water at all.

Cayuga Lake 9/23

Guided a full day with Patrick and his brother Mike starting around 7 am out of Myers. Fishing started out very good with 5 lakers landed within the first 90 minutes or so.  Then the bite really slowed for us.  The guys missed some good hits but it was tough.  Around 2 pm the fish started cooperating again and they landed another 6 fish on the day.  Nothing huge and no wild fish today.  They mostly ran 23" to 26".  All clean fish with no fresh lamprey wounds.  One laker from the AM bite spit up a live alewive.  

The high pressure systems that are common this time of year make for great, comfortable conditions out on the water, but can make for a challenging bite. Both white and chartreuse plastics produced.  Water temps are around 70 on top.  We'll likely see the upper 60s soon.  Around 80' to 110' was best.

Cayuga Lake out of Myers 9/22 AM

Guided Ben and Arthur for 1/2 day AM starting at 7:30.  Both guys originate from South Africa, which was a first for my "guide client origination."  We had a decent morning of fishing with a half dozen solid lakers landed to 30".   Ben likely had a hold of a couple decent brown trout for a bit.   Loads of fish remain around Taughannock/Frontenac and the vicinity, but feeding activity is sporadic.   Despite the low percentage of biters, there are so many fish around that the jigging is still very good.   Around 85' FOW remains good.  Boat traffic was light and the weather absolutely perfect.   

Owasco Lake 9/20

Did a full day with Rob out of Emerson Park.  He joined me around 4 to 5 years ago for some bass fishing on Keuka Lake.  I was a bit concerned about the effects of the cold front, but sometimes in the fall a cold front can be very good fishing. Today it was.  We had some very good laker jigging today with Rob landing 8 solid fish, of which 2 were over 27" and one was wild.  He also picked up a couple nice bonus smallmouth bass vertically including one at 19.5".   

We did some smallmouth bass fishing down the lake and Rob nabbed another 4 to 5 solid fish up to 18".  The smallmouth fishing was in top-notch form.  He also nailed a nice perch. Lakers bit throughout the day but the best action was mid-AM.  55' to 105' or so was best. We saw another 3 or 4 boats on the water all day.  For much of the day, we had the lake to ourselves.  Water temps was 71/72.  Level was lower than full pool.

Reports from Keuka Lake still have the lake trout bite as slow.  Plenty of fish are around, but they haven't turned on quite yet.  They will!  

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 9/18 and Cayuga Lake 9/19

Seneca Lake 9/18:  Despite being pretty "fried" from my crazy schedule this season, I pushed myself and got out on my own for around 5 hours, starting just before 1 pm to do some scouting.  I didn't fish particularly intensely.  I hadn't fished on my own in months (unbelievably) and just wanted to get out for a day to see what was happening.   No big surprises.  The water levels have dropped a little but the lake levels look good.   The water temps were 69 to 72.   I tested out a couple new dropshot rods I bought - ABU Verocities and caught around 1/2 dozen or more smallmouth bass.  They weren't much to get excited about - 11" to 13" fish.   The rods are great.  No sign of gobies where I was fishing.  They are clearly just starting to show up and will probably be common in a year or two.  It will be interesting to see how many the perch anglers encounter.   

I checked on some lake trout areas and found what I expected - inactive fish.  I had a few hits and landed one that I didn't bother measuring - a clipped fish around 18" or so.   Some large schools of alewives were cruising around the surface in various areas.  There's no shortage of bait on this lake!  

Anglers need to remember that alewives are major predators of perch fry and eggs. Part of the reason the perch numbers in this lake have declined over the past decade is likely due to the high alewife numbers.   With alewives way down on Keuka Lake, we'll probably see some strong year classes of perch and bass over there.  

It's still too warm for prime pike action though on the right day an angler should be able to score.  I saw a good largemouth bass around the marina and I'd guess that with all the weed growth and warmer temps of the past decade the largemouth population is expanding here, just as it is on Oneida and Cayuga Lakes.  Just a hunch.

Cayuga Lake out of Myers 9/19:  Guided Keith and his wife Laurie for a full day starting at 7 am.  I've never seen so many boats on the lake this time of year (apart from maybe derby time) both jigging and trolling.  And why not?  In all likelihood Cayuga Lake is fishing better than any of the other Finger Lakes at this point in time and probably overall this year. Keith and Laurie fish Seneca a bit but haven't had a lot of success and wanted to learn the jigging.  We had tough conditions with a lot of south winds (up over 20 mph at times) and overcast conditions for most of the day.  They still managed to land a half dozen solid lakers including three wild fish.  A few others were lost.  The bite is still very good on Cayuga Lake, though not on the level it was just a couple weeks ago and certainly not close to where it was in late June and July, but it's still very good.  We fished from around 65' to 90'.   White and chartreuse plastics did the trick.   The fish were in excellent condition - no fresh lamprey scars (if any at all) and plump.  Just beautiful looking lake trout.  

Cayuga Lake out of Myers 9/15

Got out with Tim and Dan for another 6 hour day (I usually do 1/2 or full, but we had to shuffle some dates.)     The bite was decent today, but not great.  We had relatively few hits given the numbers of fish that were around us.  The guys landed 5, but lost a fair number of good hookups as well.  There was a good number of boats out on the lake jigging and trolling and everybody appeared to be catching fish.   

My intense summer guiding schedule will be slowing down a bit now.  I'll be doing some long overdue fishing on my own soon.  Cornell classes have started and I'll have a few shorefishing reports coming up over the next 7 weeks.  

Owasco Lake 9/14 AM

Guided Tim and Dan for around 6 hours today starting just after 7 am.   The north end fishing was much better and looked much more promising than what we saw only a week ago.  Plenty of baitfish have moved in.  Good numbers of lake trout ranging from 21" to 28" were around.  I'm sure bigger and smaller ones too, but that size range is what we encountered.  The guys landed 5 solid fish and lost another 4 or 5.  Other hits were missed too.  One nice smallmouth was also landed over deep water.  We used plastics and hardware.   The water level is dropping here.  Surface temps were in the low 70s.  We saw 3 boats on the lake the entire AM!!! Can't beat the fall fishing and lack of angling pressure/boating traffic.

Cayuga Lake out of Myers 9/13 AM

Guided long time client Dave and his friend Brian, who brought along his 9 year old son Evan for a 1/2 day of laker jigging.  Barney's/Bear's fall derby was underway but the guys chose not to enter.  Fortunately it didn't hurt us today.

I've had a couple slow reports from various parts of the lake, but slow fishing didn't befall us today.  We had a good steady bite of fish from around 7:45 am onwards (we started at 7.) The guys landed 13 solid fish up to around 8 1/2lbs or so.  Dave had two good ones get off near the boat.   Evan landed a couple all on his own too.   Fish are moving deeper and although we had action from around 75' outwards, the best fishing for us was from 85' out to nearly 115'.  White and chartreuse plastics did the trick.   

It was great to see a 9.5lb salmon leading the non-laker division of the derby.  There was an 11lb+ laker as well as some nice rainbows on the board up to 8lbs or better.  I'm a happy camper when Cayuga Lake is fishing well.  I've been going out of Myers, but fishing is still very good to excellent around Long Point as well.   

Skaneateles Lake 9/11 PM

Got out with the Hermans for a PM 1/2 day fishing from 1pm till about 5:30.  The smallmouth bite was a bit tentative for us, perhaps due to the front.  Eleonore managed to lure up a giant smallmouth, that I literally thought was a carp for a few seconds, but it didn't grab her Superfluke.  Others were showing themselves but not gobbling.   We found mostly smaller bass active and most fish seemed negative to neutral.  Tubes jigs did best though we caught a couple dropshotting.  Bass ran from around 11" to 17", though most were 11" to 13".  No great numbers today - 7 or 8 was it.   We caught plenty of rockbass too.

Skaneateles Lake 9/8, 10 + Cayuga Lake 9/9

The busiest September start I've ever had continues.  There's nothing like post-Labor Day fishing in the area.  The weather is still nice but the crowds are pretty much gone, especially during the weekdays.  Fishing remains excellent on Cayuga Lake and good on Skaneateles Lake.

9/8 Skaneateles Lake:  Both 1/2 day trips today were with people just getting into, or back into fishing.   So it was a lot of learning new tactics and species information.  Sue had never cast a spinning outfit before and did a very nice job with it.   I started with Sue at 8 am and I had her dropshot for smallmouths and rock bass.  She also did some casting with other lures for smallies then some laker jigging.  I wanted to show her a bunch of stuff.  The dropshotting was ok - pretty good but not great.  She caught the usual rock bass and a few smallmouths.  A better smallie came on a Superfluke.  The laker jigging was good and she landed 2 nice 17" to 19" lakers (if I remember right) that will join a nice bass for dinner.

My PM trip was with John and we spent a bit of time on the lakers with a couple hits and one around 16" to 17" landed.  Dropshotting was OK.  Best pattern was throwing tube jigs, which I've gotten away from a little bit this season.  The shallower bite was great and at times he was getting fish nearly every couple casts.   John showed me a photo of a smallmouth he saw on the surface of the lake (they have a cottage there) earlier in the season.  The smallmouth had a large bullhead (and its spines) lodged in its throat!   He was able to pull the bullhead out and free the bass.  Wow!   Anyways we had a fun trip!

9/9 Cayuga Lake:  What's left to say about Cayuga this summer?   It's been fantastic. Just top-notch fishing for lake trout and the other salmonids are thriving too.  DEC officials tell me that after a bad lamprey year or two, the lake usually has a strong comeback. They weren't kidding!   My AM trip was with the same guys I had on Seneca last Sunday - Dave, Dan and Steve.  The bite was great with around 15 or more lakers landed and 1 nice salmon along with 2 dinks.   Steady all AM long and it got better as the morning went on. They were happy to make the hour drive from just south of Geneva.  

I never try to "bait and switch" locations with clients, but once in a while it really pays off doing some driving.  It's amazing how many people would rather stay on a lake that's fishing slow, rather than drive an hour to experience some top-notch fishing.  Some folks do a lot of driving on a daily basis, so they just don't want to drive once they settle in on vacation (after driving maybe 5 hours to get here - I understand!) but it can really pay off. The guys got a chance to see the falls.  

If I book a trip a month or more in advance, I am hoping the lake we intend to fish fishes well.  Sometimes it doesn't.  3 to 4 weeks ago, Seneca Lake was hot.  That wasn't the case for us on Sunday.  So again, I was glad the guys took the drive and I know they were too.

My PM trip was with Jeff and his wife of 9 years Judy, who were out celebrating their anniversary.  I had them out last year and we had a good time chatting about a lot of stuff.We had some good fishing to start with Jeff landing 4 lakers.  Judy was fishing but fairly non-chalantly.  A strong T-Storm rolled in.  I learned my lesson a few weeks back and we pulled into Taughannock just before the conditions got really nasty.   But a half hour later the skies didn't look so bad and we went back out with some great action.   Jeff landed 9 lakers to commemorate his anniversary and then one more for good measure.

Skaneateles Lake 9/10 AM:  Guided Roxanne and Leo for lakers.  We were trying to procure some for a project of Roxanne's.  We were a little limited on time today and the bite wasn't easy.  Fish were hitting but not great, or at least not getting the jig well enough.  Roxanne landed 2 nice lakers and missed one or two hits.  Leo had some good hits but no fish hooked up for long.  He had the hot hand (if two fish constitutes a "hot hand") on Owasco Monday.  He also had a salmon or maybe a rainbow follow him up.  I haven't had any rainbows vertically jigging deep here before, but that's mainly due to not having logged many days out here doing the deeper jigging.  They are here to be caught.  

BTW - Gobies have made it over to Seneca Lake (via the canal system.)  This year was the first confirmation of that I've heard.  



Owasco Lake 9/7

Guided Roxanne, Leo and James for a full day.  I hadn't been on the lake for a few weeks so we went with a 6:30 am start.  Fishing was surprisingly tough, though when the fish turned on momentarily it would be good for around 1/2 hour.  We had two "bite windows" each lasting about that long.

When we started, I wasn't marking much bait or fish, though Roxanne might have had a laker hit her on the first drop with a jig.  We worked up and down the entire lake and finally scored 3 lakers in short order on the south end.     We had a couple hookups up north and Leo managed to get another fish in the boat.  Other hits were had.  Depths varied from abound 65' on the south end to 85' up north due to the winds and the thermocline.

We've had a lot of unseasonably hot weather this past week and that has likely slowed down the migration of bait and fish to the north end of the lake.  It's weird, because there were good numbers of fish here a few weeks ago.  So it may just be a weather issue.  I expect things to pick up here shortly.  The fish we caught today were all in good condition. Boat traffic was pretty much non-existent until around noon or 1 pm, when it got very heavy! But it's all done now!   

Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park 9/6

Guided Dave and his sons Steve and Dan for the full day.  We got underway around 7:30 am.   In a nutshell, the fishing on Seneca was fair to good today.  On the lake's west shore, we had some hits and Dave managed the first laker - a solid fish around 22" or 23".The wind was strong out of the south to start - the usual "hot AM southerly wind" that we encounter on the larger lakes due to the temperature differences from land vs. water. The sailors have a term for it that I can never remember.  But during the summer, you can have a 3 mph wind on land in most areas and see 12 to 15 mph on Seneca and Cayuga. As the day warms, the winds die.  In past years I've seen numerous boaters trailer down to Sampson and turn right around due to the whitecaps.  Two hours later the lake is flat!

We worked north and wound up around Geneva.  Dave picked up 3 more fish up there, including two very nice wild ones. All the guys were fishing effectively as far as I could tell. Dan dropped a large fish.  We worked south again and at Sampson Steve finally got a hook up.   So we had 6 fish landed, a good one lost and a few other hits.  The strong winds during the AM made the fishing challenging.  But overall there's no comparing Cayuga's current bite to Seneca's.  Cayuga is running a solid 9/10, Seneca is about a 3 or 4/10.  Fish today came from 80' to 105' or so.  We had laker temps down 80' around Sampson and around 95' at Geneva.


Otisco Lake 9/4 and Cayuga Lake 9/5

The hot weather continues.  A nice southerly breeze made for a gorgeous day on the water today.  Calm conditions made for somewhat of a sweatfest yesterday, but there was just enough wind to keep things bearable.

Otisco Lake 9/4:  Guided longtime regular Mark I. on the lake for Tiger Muskies today.  He wants to catch one fly-fishing so that's what we tried for most of the day.   Mark had watched some Youtube videos on doing the "Figure 8" with the fly-rod and did a nice job with it.  Fishing was slow.  We had a late start and calm sunny conditions for most of the day which are rarely good on this lake from my experience.  I was hoping the fish would be active with the steady weather pattern.

He managed to raise a musky around 24" to 25" on the Figure 8 but it never hit.   He did catch a largemouth bass, but basically slow fishing.   He did his part with some great casting (as usual) and we'll be at it again.  I still have a bit to learn about these hybrids. Boat traffic wasn't bad in the AM, but as would be expected picked up as the day went on. The lake looked good and we did see a couple nice muskies lurking around, so we know that we were around them.

Cayuga Lake 9/5:   Fishing continues to be "off the hook" (or is it "on the hook") at Cayuga Lake.  Just stellar action all day long!   Guided Brian and his wife Katie for the full day and it was just one of those perfect days on the water.  Hot conditions, yet a cool and at times strong breeze throughout the day.  There was some chop, but everyone did a good job with it and we were glad we had it!   

The middle to southern portions of the lake are just loaded with fish and Brian and Katie wound up landing 24 solid lakers to 29" and one dink rainbow.  We had one live lamprey come up, but that was it for the parasitic eels.   Fish are in great condition and are fighting very well for the most part, with the occasional exception.  About 65' to 85' was best for us.

Reports 8/31 - 9/3

With the stable weather pattern upon us, the bite remains stellar.  Fishing is pretty much top-notch for whatever you are fishing for now.   It's hot and humid at times out there without much wind, but the angling makes it worthwhile.   

8/31 PM:  Fished Cayuga out of Myers with Bob and his sons Andrew and Chris.  The guys have been fishing with me for quite a few years now and it's always nice to spend the day together in the boat.  The bite for lakers was terrific - the best they've had out with me. The week has been a blur, but I think we had double digits of some solid fish.

9/1 Cayuga AM:  Did a double with Jim and Heather in the AM.  What a strange morning!  I picked them up via boat at Taughannock (I launch at Myers) and they had an unexpected "friend" with them - a small bird that was hanging out at the parking lot.  It has probably been fed a bit.  Not sure if it was a sparrow or what, but that sort of bird.  It hung out with us throughout the ride north.  Sometimes it was by my feet, other times on my console and then at other times at the bow.   It flew off then came back.  We played "tug of war" with an old pumpkin seed that was on the bottom of my boat.  It was amusing.  Then he took off for good.   

The fishing was very good.  Another solid double digit day with around 15 or more fish landed.  Again - I don't remember the numbers.  Nothing huge, but a lot of solid 22" to 26" fish and a few a little bigger.

Another even stranger thing happened when I filleted fish at Taughannock Park.  One of the lakers had a lamprey in its stomach!  First time I'd ever seen a laker that clearly had eaten a lamprey!!!   I wish it happened more often, but it's cool that it happens.  I get asked that question a lot.   I asked a DEC person his opinion on it - he felt that lampreys can swim very fast and it's likely that the laker grabbed it off of another fish.  Quite possible!  Either way, it was ultra cool!

PM:  Met longtime client Rick at Myers around 11:15 am and we worked a bunch of different areas.  He bought a great new Lund and has had some good luck jigging but nearly got the urge to troll recently, so we put an end to that ;-)    Had a fun day with around 7 or 8 solid fish landed.  We fished different areas so he could get some locational ideas.  It wasn't a matter of catching a bunch of fish from one "hotspot."

9/2 PM:  Back out with Bob and his sons on Skaneateles Lake.  Had some very solid fishing with a bunch of rock bass and smallmouths landed.  Most smallies were the usual 11" to 13" fish but we had a few 17"ers that were hefty.  A couple perch as well.  Dropshots and Superflukes did the trick.   5' to 35' of water.  Not trying to be vague here, but that's what it was.  We had good smallmouths shallow and deep.   Had some big ones behind hooked ones, which is always cool.

9/3 Cayuga Lake:  Guided Trevor and his wife Kate in the AM.  Terrific bite!  Just off the hook with some great action on lakers.   Trevor had the hot hand early, but then we switched Kate from a left to right hand crank reel and she started hitting fish just as good.  I think we had over 20 lakers landed.  Chartreuse worked very well.  75' to 105' was good.  The fish were fighting great.  Anyone who thinks lakers don't fight well probably has very limited experience with them.  Or they've just dragged in dinks trolling. They were pulling like fish possessed today.

PM:  Guided the Hermans.  We had one of the best days of the year.  Quite a few doubles.  John landed a 33" SLOB that pulled like a submarine.  I've rarely seen anything like it!  John's heart was pounding with this fish.   He's caught some lakers that size before, but our minds kept wondering what it was.   Giant and we released it unharmed.  John landed a poor Landlocked salmon that had a giant lamprey and horrific wound on its side.   Eleonore managed a nice brown that we released.  Just a terrific bite, but not surprising given the steady weather pattern.

People ask if we ever get checked for licenses.  We did today.  Don't be a fool, make sure you have your license on you when you go fishing - whether from shore or out on a boat!  



Cayuga Lake out of Myers 8/28 pm

I haven't done many, if any evening trips this year, so this was the first. The plan was to pick up Brian, his son Seamus and friend Gabriel at Taughannock around 3:15 pm.   Unfortunately there was a license issue, so we didn't get underway until after 4. Fortunately it's never been easier to purchase a NYS license.  You can do it with ease online or by phone.

The laker bite was fair given how many fish were around.  Overall, I'd still call it good fishing.  The guys managed 5 nice fish up to around 28" or 29".   The full moon likely played into the tougher day bite but as it got later, fish got more aggressive.  I don't night fish for lakers much at all, since the daytime bite is so good, but this would be a good time to try it.   Fish came from around 85' give or take 10'.

Otisco Lake 8/24 + 25, Skaneateles Lake 8/26

My whirlwind guiding "adventure" keeps going and going.  From July through August I only fished 3 days on my own.  All in a row on Cayuga and Seneca Lakes with my buddy Mike.  That was it.  The least amount of fishing I've ever done.  I'm not proud of it, but full time guiding is like farming - you have to make hay when the sun is shining.  The fishing's been good to great so it's been a fairly smooth ride.  September will be more of the same.  I had a couple 1/2 days off that were spent driving to Utica to get my Minn-Kota Terrova trolling motor repaired. When it would turn (the steering mechanism) it would make a horrible grinding noise.  It needed a new steering motor.  That was after about 12 months of use.  I was 2 or 3 months out of warranty.   I like both Minn-Kota and Motor Guides.  The perfect trolling motor isn't out there yet.  For lakers and deep fishing, the auto pilot/spot lock features are great.  But servo controlled motors aren't good for working weedlines.  Cable steering is much better for that.  

I'm doing a lot of the usual observing and learning a lot.  So the funny thing is by not fishing, I'm still improving as an angler by learning new areas and making new connections with weather and fish activity.   It probably wouldn't work at most jobs - telling your boss that you are actually working while thinking or daydreaming, that you are improving your performance, but it might be worth a try....

My buddy Mike works at the South Otselic Hatchery.  They raise all NY State's Tiger Muskies, a decent amount of walleyes, heritage strain brook trout and once in a while some other species.  He reports to me that the Tigers they have raised this year are doing very well and will likely be stocked as 10" fish.  That's a good thing if you like Tiger Muskies.   Otisco Lake is #1 on the Tiger stocking priority list.  That lake gets the biggest, nicest Tigers!

Otisco Lake 8/24 + 25:  Got out with Bobberman Perry and his friend Dave for two full days of still-fishing for muskies.  They bring all the gear- rods/reels, bait, tackle and I provide the boat and occasional suggestions.   I have nothing against bait fishing for the species I typically target, but I enjoy casting better and I also don't want to have to deal with procuring bait and anchoring.  But they are good with what they do. Perry learned slip bobber fishing from old time guide Bob Cass on Seneca Lake (targeting pike)in the early 1970s and knows when to set the hook on a running fish.  95% of our fish are lip or mouth hooked.   Anyways the guys were able to purchase some very nice suckers and fair sized shiners and off we went at about 9:30 am on Monday and a little earlier Tuesday.   

Boat traffic was next to nothing.  3 or 4 boats out at a time, if that.   The fishing was good but weird.   Last year we had some real lucky breaks - we "ate the bear." We had a 41" Tiger Musky that was lip-hooked and managed to get one hook tine lodged in an anchor rope - and we landed it!  We had fish nearly jump out of my old net.  We got LUCKY!   

This year the "bear ate us."  We had one really good sized fish jump and throw the hook. Dave hooked a beauty that was coming in then dove down and tangled his line in something nasty - breaking off in the process.  Perry broke one fish off on a hook set (tackle issue.) We had a big musky take a swipe at a bobber!  (Yes, surface fishing for muskies here is a decent option on the right day.)  We had an emaciated 23" walleye that probably weighed a pound!  We had a nice channel catfish, perch and bass gobble shiners.  

Overall I thought the fishing was good.  The guys hooked 5 or 6 muskies, most nice sized fish in the 34" to 37"+ range.  We had some tremendous jumps!   Perry landed a 33" musky, nice channel cat, walleye and 12" perch.  Dave landed a nice bass or two.  

Skaneateles Lake 8/26:  Guided Leo and Ada for our second full day of fishing.  Their trips are "catch 'em and eat 'em" missions.  I encourage them to keep rock bass on Skaneateles Lake.  They wound up keeping close to 50 of them that were all over 8".  We released another 50 or more.  Just ridiculous rock bass action.  These fish compete directly with smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and everything else on the lake so I think harvesting rockies is a good call here.  Around 30 smallmouths were landed - 2/3rds were legal sized up to 19", though most legal fish ran 12.5" to 13.5".   Nearly all but 2 or 3 were over 10", so they are fun fish.   We kept a 1/2 dozen of the legals.  They also landed an undersized rainbow.   Dropshotting was all we did.  Action lakewide was available from around 20' to 40' FOW.  We never ventured shallower than 10'.

Cayuga Lake out of Myers 8/22 AM + 8/23

Fishing continues to be very good on Cayuga Lake from mid-lake south.  Lake trout distribution doesn't get any broader in Cayuga than it is now.  Fish can be taken throughout the length of the lake with the exception of the warm north end.

8/22 AM:  Guided Norbert and his grandson Stephen for a half day starting at 7 am.  The guys were running late, so we couldn't do our scheduled 6:30 am start.  It didn't hurt us much.  Fishing was quite good and the guys wound up with a limit of solid lakers.  We also released some nice fish.  

8/23:  Guided Leo and Ada, who have been fishing with me for at least 4 or 5 years now. They always manage to do well on lakers and today was no exception.  They missed a lot of fish and hits but still landed 10 solid lakers.  They'd never encountered any bonus fish, but today was Ada's day with her managing to land a beautiful 26" rainbow.   It took some great runs and made a couple nice jumps.  We usually release rainbows, but given that it was their first non-laker salmonid in over 5 years we kept it.    Rainbows are doing well in Cayuga Lake.  I'm just hoping the high water in Cayuga Inlet this June didn't wipe out the young that were in there.   

A lot of people from downstate NY and out of state are surprised at how little boat traffic is typically on these lakes.  Well a lot of my weekend trips have been 1/2 days in the AM. Today there was plenty of boat traffic on the lake with jet skiis, sail boats, water skiers, numerous power boats and the usual paddlers.  Midlake between Taughannock and Myers was filled with boat-wake chop.

Cayuga Lake 8/19 + 20

Back out with Tony and Peter on both days.  We did a full day on the 19th and a half in the AM on the 20th.  The wind was very strong on the 20th and made for tougher fishing/boat control.

We had some great fishing on the 19th.  A few lakers including a 32" fish.  Some nice browns and also a decent salmon.  All went back into the lake.  I don't fish the tribs much at all anymore, but I do get questions about them.  If we get some good rainfall this fall, expect some very good fishing for browns, salmon and rainbows.  All these species are doing well this year in Cayuga.  I would expect to see some browns running to at least 12lbs, though most will be around 6lbs.  Salmon seem to be doing well size-wise but numbers are hard to ascertain.  Rainbows are doing well but we encounter very few of them with the jigging techniques.   

The 20th was tougher.  The guys landed a laker and a couple browns.  Tony had a follow from a giant brown and also lost a really nice one that was likely over 8lbs.   I expect lake trout action to hold up fairly well for awhile, but the bite usually starts to taper a bit in September.

Reports 8/14 - 8/18

Since the fun gar trip last Thursday it's been back to lake trout on Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.  Both lakes continue to fish very well with better numbers typically showing up on Cayuga and bigger fish showing up on Seneca.   That being said, former clients of mine managed a 34"er on Cayuga recently and numbers can certainly be had on Seneca.  Fish on both lakes are in good to excellent condition and are still feeding fairly heavily.  Bonus fish are showing up on both lakes.

Overall the thermoclines on the lakes have been moving around.  It's a safe bet to say that the key depth range on both lakes has ranged from 70' to 115'.   The usual whites and chartreuses have worked well.  AM bites have not been predictable.  The wind and sun have been major factors.  Fishing has been holding up fairly well throughout the day, which is the norm for this time of year.   

8/14 AM:  Guided John, Eric and Andy on Cayuga.  Fishing was solid with decent numbers of lakers landed on both sides of the lake.  Fun AM.

8/14 PM:  Guided Mike, Bill and Riley for the afternoon.  Another solid day with around 10 fish or so landed.   The guys were having a slow start to their trip - having fished a couple days without much doing.  They got back on track and had a stellar Saturday here.

8/15:  Guided Cody and Chelsey for a 1/2 day AM out of Geneva.   I thought that we'd surely get hammered by a thunderstorm but they stayed away despite the ominous feeling to the air.  Great AM with some nice fish landed.  Chelsey lost a giant first thing in the AM. Cody managed a nice rainbow trout around 16" to 18" that we released.

8/16:  Guided Dominiek and his son Herbert for the full day out of Geneva.  Very solid fishing on the day with around 18 fish landed if I remember right.   Half of the fish were over 27" long!   Had some solid action to start in deeper water - around 115'.  Then we found an area that fished well in around 85'. The heat was intense when the wind died. Humidity was also sweltering.  

8/17:  Guided Bill and his son Tim for 1/2 day AM on Seneca out of Geneva.  Tougher bite today, but Bill managed a 31"er that we released.  The guys each landed one other fish and each missed a few.  The lake was choppy and it was their first time jigging. Fish were scattered from around 70' out to 115'.  Not easy fishing. 

8/18:  Guided longtime client Tony and his friend Peter for a full day on Cayuga.  Steady pick throughout the day.  Around 19 fish landed I believe.  I got hammered by a thunderstorm after I dropped the guys off at Taughannock where I'd picked them up. The memorable quotes of the day from the guys just after I heard some distant thunder and a few minutes before the lightning, torrential rains and heavy winds:  

1.)  "I don't see much of anything on the radar."

2.)  "That storm is still a ways away.  I saw lightning but didn't hear thunder."

Ha ha.   Best bet this time of the year is to get off of the water ASAP when you see dark clouds forming to your west.  Yes, once in a while you'll get the boat on the trailer and the storm will miss you or be quick and then the skies will clear for the rest of the day.  It happens.  But you may also get a very dangerous, scary, life-threatening storm. Play it safe!  I have to be reminded of this once every few years.


Sodus Bay 8/13

Guided Dan and his father in-law Morris for a 6 hour gar trip on Sodus Bay today.  We couldn't have asked for better weather - absolutely gorgeous sunshine, not too hot and not too cool. We had been trying to schedule a gar trip for awhile and gave them a shot last year for an hour on Cayuga after a laker trip.   We didn't have much success due to the conditions - one follow was it. Today we were "recovering" from a front and I felt it'd be worth rolling the dice so to speak.

We started at around 10:30 am with calm sunny conditions.  Not much happened during the first hour, but before long we found a group of fish.  The bite was pretty decent with Dan having most of the action.  After a while, the wind came up (the onshore breeze that occurs nearly every day in the summer on the big lake) and things slowed down.  But after a few hours the winds died and the fish started breaking again.  Action heated up with a fish sometimes hitting or following on every cast.  

I had to work today de-hooking and handling a lot of gar.  Usually we land around 5 or 6 fish, sometimes 7 or 8.  Today the guys landed at least 15 gar!  That's a lot of dehooking/untangling.   People think pike and pickerel can be nasty to hold - they likely haven't tried handling gar.   They have sharp stuff all over and it's like holding a tube of muscle with interlocking armor-like scales.  You get hit by them and you bleed a bit.  Was it their scales, gill plate or teeth?  I don't know.   Their teeth are sharp and it's like getting whacked by a toothbrush with sharp pins for bristles.  But they are a cool fish!  The smaller ones we got today (maybe up to 36" or 38") aren't particularly strong fighters but they hit hard and jump often.  They are cool to hold.  Many people would probably avoid swimming in waterways filled with gar if they saw what they looked like.

We saw a few up to around 40"  today, but no massive fish.  We call the large ones "big Bentleys" named after a waitress I used to work with, but that's a story for the boat and not this report.  No sign of any Bentleys today.  Morris wound up landing a bigger fish towards the end of the day.  Dan caught a chunky 15" largemouth on his first cast with a swimbait while I re-rigged up a rod. I'd bet the bassin' was good.

Leaving the lake was a little bit of a fiasco with some people who'd never pulled a boat out pulling a boat out.  I try to be patient, but it can be hard.   The people in front of us let us go ahead of them.  They weren't in any rush, cause they were spending "the day on the lake." That's fine with me, but I wasn't up for spending "the day at the launch."   The newbies managed to drag their skeg up the ramp before Dan was able to stop and inform them.

But our patience was rewarded.  I headed over to Orbakers, which has been in business now for over 80 years!  Had a fantastic burger, fries and chocolate malt.   These burgers are done the old fashioned way and have a great roll and time-tested toppings served by cute girls.  That's been a proven formula there since 1932, so why change?  Guy Fieri would love this place.  No $15 "grass fed" hipster burger here - just a burger done the way they were back in the 30s, 40s and 50s.  Perfection!

Owasco Lake 8/10 AM

Met Chris and his wife Heidi at South Shore Marina around 7 am for a scheduled 1/2 day fishing trip.  They joined me last fall on Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport with Heidi landing a memorable 32" Keuka Lake giant laker (hope I remembered the size right.)  They are renting a place on Owasco Lake and wanted to see where the laker fishing was good and then learn a bass tactic or two if we had time.  

We worked various areas up the lake starting on the south end flats.  Chris missed a hit or two down there.  Best action and screens were on the north end.  There were a lot of lakers and baitfish up there along with some bass.   The choppy conditions and overcast skies had the fish somewhat inactive, but both Heidi and Chris managed to land a laker each on a spoon and plastics respectively. Surprisingly, both appeared to be wild unclipped fish!   Fins looked intact, even and gorgeous with some nice colors.  Stocking of lakers was seriously cutback here a few years back after the laker glut combined with decent numbers of walleyes to decimate the baitfish levels and other salmonids on this lake.  We caught hundreds of lakers here in the early to mid-2000s and never saw any wild fish until a year ago or two.  Funny how nature often fills niches.

One 20" smallmouth also was landed up north on a jig by Chris and he also landed a smaller one further south on a Superfluke.   All fish released today.   Lakers were from around 65' on out to 110' or so.  A lot of fish were out suspended over deeper water.  I expect some top-notch fishing on this lake this year.  Derbies held here earlier this year confirmed the "bounce-back" of this lake's generally impressive brown trout, rainbow trout and laker fishery.  Some large walleyes are still around as well.

Reports Cayuga and Seneca Lakes 8/5 - 8/8

Got out for some long-awaited angling with my buddy Mike for three days, then did a guided trip yesterday.  My original plan with Mike was to do some fishing from brown trout and bass on Cayuga/Seneca, then hit Western Lake Ontario for salmonids and gar.  The weather didn't cooperate for the big lake, so we stayed local.   

8/5 Seneca Lake out of Lodi:  Fished most of the day with Mike targeting brown trout. We covered a lot of water and Mike caught and released a very nice brownie around 25" if I remember right. It had a few lamprey hits on it, but was a great fighter.  I hooked a salmon around 18" and landed a laker around the same size.  Conditions weren't great with the west/light winds but we gave it a good shot and were pretty pleased with our efforts.

8/6 Cayuga Lake out of Myers:  We targeted browns and had superb fishing.  We landed 10 solid fish up to 27" and likely close to 12lbs (Mike's Red Cross Derby Winner a few years back was 27" and went about 12 - this fish was just as long and fat.)  All fish but one were released unharmed.  We also landed a laker.  Fish were supremely clean and beautiful.

The browns and other non-salmonids are out there for the "catching."  I've spent a lot of time over the years targeting some of these fish on various waterways, from Cayuga and Seneca over to Lake Ontario from Oak Orchard east to Oswego and beyond.  Because their locations are limited (as opposed to lake trout locations) I do not guide these fish for the most part.   The big thrill of fishing for me and my fishing buddies is the thrill of discovery, so by putting in some time and applying some fundamentals, these fish can be targeted. 

I wanted to do some bass fishing and conditions were excellent.  We hooked a surprising number of bass for mid-low lake areas mainly throwing Senkos.  I had a good smallmouth on as well.  Largemouths were very solid - running 16" to 18" or so.

8/7 Cayuga Lake out of Myers:  I wanted to hit various areas that I hadn't fished hard for bass before mid-lake on Cayuga, so that's what we did.  We mainly worked shallow and did not land a single bass.  That wasn't a big concern today - we were mainly checking out areas - looking at the bottom content, structure and what docks/shorelines looked good and which ones didn't for future reference.  

We did see around 1/2 dozen drum that were fly-fishable.  They were working weedless shelves for food.  Some nice perch and huge carp (as usual) were around too.  My guess is that the bass were out deeper, which is often the case on Cayuga this time of year.  But it was weird that we got them shallow yesterday and had the same conditions more or less today.  That's bass fishing and why it's the #1 most popular type of fishing in the country.  

8/8 Cayuga Lake out of Myers:  Guided Mark I. for the full day.  We had some great fishing with a couple lakers landed, one salmon around 24" and three solid browns.  We released the browns and kept a salmon and two lakers.   All fish were eating alewives and one laker had a large goby in its stomach.   Mark usually fly-fishes when he's out with me - for either salmon, pike or gar.  Keeping the solid salmon was his revenge on these fish that have often shamed us via the fly-rod!


Cayuga Lake out of Myers 8/4 AM

Cayuga appears to be settling out after the rain we had last week.  Fishing was very good today for Harry and his son Zach and daughter Victoria.   As a whole, around 15 or 16 solid lakers were landed with some nice wild fish in the mix.  Fish ran up to around 29".   The bite was fairly steady throughout the day with chartreuse being the most effective color. Victoria actually caught the lion's share of the fish today and did a great job with the fishing, playing of the fish and even holding them for photos, which can be tough.  Fun day with very little boat traffic out there.

Cayuga Lake out of Myers Point 8/2 AM

Guided Laurie and Tami for a 1/2 day starting just after 6:30 am.  Fishing was a bit slower today than it had been over the past week, but the gals did alright.  We wound up landing a half-dozen solid lakers to 28".  It's likely the full-moon put a little bit of a damper on the AM bite.  Fish were tentative for the most part.  Chartreuse baits have been working well in the "vintage green" color that Cayuga Lake has been sporting recently.  Around 65' to 95' remains good.  Fish appeared to be hitting better as the day went on.   

Cayuga Lake out of Myers Point 8/1 AM

Did a 1/2 day AM trip with Tom and Joe.  Tom had joined me maybe back in 2009 or so for some laker jigging out of Taughannock.  Joe forgot to get a license for today so we were delayed by around 1/2 hour.  Keep in mind that in NYS a license is required when on guided trips.  In some states you don't need one when out with a guide, but I don't have any problems with that regulation.  Anyways, it's a lot easier getting a license now than it ever was before.  You can go online or (during working hours) purchase one by phone.   Tough to beat that kind of convenience. 

Fishing was very good to excellent today with quite a few doubles hooked.  No giants today, but Joe landed a 28" wild laker.  Joe also landed a solid 22" salmon.  A few dink salmon were also around, but we try to avoid hooking and maiming them.  Overall we had around 15 or 16 solid lakers.   The bite ranged from slow to excellent during the course of the AM.  A lot of fish have moved well south of Long Point.  Expect fishing to pick up around Taughannock and Frontenac Points by the day.   I think these shorter days (photoperiods) really get them swimming south.   Depths ranged from 65' to 90'.   Fish are still feeding quite a bit for the most part.

Reports 7/30 - 7/31

Just wrapped up the busiest month of my guiding "career" thus far.   I did a fair amount of "lake hopping" which is something I'm unlikely to do much of again, if at all.   Fishing remains very good in general in the area, though I've had a slow report or two coming off of Cayuga Lake for lakers after the heavy rain we got on the AM of the 30th.

7/30 AM - Seneca Lake out of Sampson:   I hadn't been on Seneca Lake in a while, but TJ was staying on Keuka Lake and was looking to do some fishing.  I recommended Seneca. The weather map was looking a little ominous, but we decided to go for it.  Sometimes storms to the west of the area dissipate as they unleash their torrential downpours and other times they pick up steam.  Anyways, we met at Sampson at 6:30 am and conditions were ominous.   Very still and quiet.  Nobody else had launched.   No sign of rain to start but action was kind of slow.  TJ was stoked to land a nice wild 22" laker after maybe 1/2 an hour or 45 minutes of fishing.  

Then the rain started.  I put on my Bass Pro Shops "100 MPH Raingear" which is good stuff.  I haven't found anything that keeps my 100% dry, but it's pretty close.  TJ had a rain jacket.  We couldn't see the west side of the lake after a while.  Rain just poured and poured and when we hoped it would slow down, it got worse.  My bilge pump was running on the boat and TJ had a steady stream of water running down off of him.  Soaked to the bone.  We discussed options but he stuck it out.  Finally we saw some clearing to the west of us.   

We tried the west shore without much action, so I ran up north towards Belhurst.  The sun came out and on his first drop or two he was in business.  He wound up filling his limit with 4 more fish.  He then hooked a monster - a 33" laker that we released.  Tremendous fish and great way to end the day.   He later told me he'd come very close to ending the trip earlier.  I wouldn't have blamed him a bit.  I give him a heck of a lot of credit for hanging in there and reaping the rewards of a great day.   I've heard of a few slow reports from Seneca, but I didn't find any evidence to back that up.  There are still terrific numbers of fish and baitfish up around Geneva.  Sampson looks decent too.

7/30 PM - Otisco Lake:  I did my PM trip with Dan (again) and his other brother Jim. Tiger Muskies were the target again.   I was a little bit worried about the effects of the cold front that had moved through around noon time.  The winds were strong out of the west.    There are some varying schools of thought regarding muskies and other esocids with cold fronts. I don't subscribe to "Musky Hunter" or go online at all on musky forums - so I am out of the loop, but I know that a lot of musky fishermen like steady weather.   Stormy conditions can be good too.  Some people claim (like "In-Fishermen" magazine articles or RichZ's blog) that cold front conditions can be good for pike, but I don't notice that much, with the exception of the fall or winter.  The other school of thought with muskies is that "the best time to fish is anytime you can get out."  We have caught some very nice fish during cold fronts, but we've always had to work hard for them and a little bit of luck also plays a part.  Unfortunately the guys had no luck today.  We fished hard for around 5 hours, working different lures and a lot of different areas both shallow and deep.  I was really hoping Dan would get one after watching his brother hook two on Tuesday, but it wasn't to be.  But 8 hours of fishing without a musky is nothing in terms of musky fishing.  It took me a heck of a lot more time than that to get my first Tiger on Otisco Lake - lot of DAYS over the course of YEARS!  Fishing was harder then, but with muskies you have to put your time in.   The guys did a great job with the effort and I hope they give it another try down the line.

7/31 AM Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs:   Guided the Hermans, who told me they wanted bass today.   Shifting gears from lakers to muskies to largemouth bass fishing is a challenge for me.  I don't have time to keep my tackle in good order.  The more you do something, the better you get (usually.)  But if I just did lakers during the summer, I'd go crazy.  I like the challenge of bass fishing on Cayuga Lake and today was a challenge.  

A lot of my style of guiding is working with people's experience (or lack thereof) and hopefully expanding their fishing repertoire.  When I started taking the Hermans out around 9 or 10 years ago, nearly all of their fishing had been live-bait with guides in Canada.  Over the years we've jigged a lot of lakers as well as fished pike and bass on different water bodies.  We haven't pitched for bass or skipped docks.  Today we did some of the latter in midlake areas and it paid off.  The rain from 7/30 really muddied up a lot of the lake. We found some clearer areas and John wound up nailing (and releasing) two superb largemouths - a 21"er and a 20".  Both fought great.  And he did a great job with the casting.  I had Eleonore throwing a baitcaster very well today.  So the pitching will come down the line.  As an added note, a large school of gar was hanging around Frontenac Island today.  John had one nail his crankbait!  It was very cool!   It got off, but it was neat.





Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 7/28 AM + Otisco Lake 7/28 PM

My busiest month thus far in 11 years of guiding continues.  Normally I wouldn't schedule so many trips in July, but due to the slow fishing and bad weather in April and June I decided I would put the proverbial "pedal to the metal."  A lot of guides don't have the option to book the number of trips they want, but I truly do feel blessed to have such a great clientele that seems to keep growing in numbers.  The great fishing we've experienced here lately certainly doesn't hurt either.

7/28 AM Cayuga:   Did a 1/2 day starting at 6:30 am with Pat and his wife Susan.  They have a place up the lake and we've done a couple trips on this lake over the past year.  The first was a fun and productive pickerel/bass trip; the most recent was a very tough (aka no fish) day with Pat and his friend/neighbor Frank this past spring.  Today was redemption. The jigging bite for lakers continues to excel and we had around 16 fish today including a 28" wild beauty.  We may have had a momentary hookup from a non-laker too.   I'm hearing reports of some nice rainbows around which is awesome.  DEC is now doing their Cayuga Lake laketrout assessment, so if you see floats around, make sure you stay away from the nets.  Let's hope no goof winds up trolling too closely and tangling up in the nets. Curiousity killed the cat and it can mess up the nets.

7/28 PM Otisco:   I had some 1/2 day PM openings and figured they'd wind up on Cayuga, but when Dan called me and said he wanted to do a Tiger Musky trip on Otisco Lake, I decided it wouldn't be a problem.   I was fortunate enough to have time to get home, take a nap and make some coffee and off I went.

Otisco Lake can be weird in the summer.  Go during the week in the AM (apart from Fridays) and you might see 2 or 3 other boats.  In the PM it gets crowded due to the camps south of the causeway.  Weekends in the summer here are very busy after 11 am or so.  

I met Dan and Bill at 2:30 pm and showed them the gear we'd be using. Light, but bonafide musky baitcasting gear.    If I guide muskies I like to have my clients really fish them like muskies.  It sounds silly but here's the point - we use musky tackle.  A lot of Tigers can be and are caught with bass gear on Otisco Lake and it works very well. And I wasted a fair amount of time here throwing some giant baits for muskies over the years.  They often hit small stuff here, but I make my folks throw musky lures on baitcasting tackle.  We do the "L"s or figure 8s every cast.  That to me is what musky fishing is all about.  Big gear and anticipation.  You need fortitude, perseverence and focus.  The two biggest muskies I've encountered - a 50"er on Waneta Lake I caught and a 46" Tiger that my client Lynn caught (on Otisco last fall) came while targeting muskies and both came on the last cast or two of the day.  On both occasions the "co-angler" had basically given up and was putting their gear away.  You never know when the fish of a lifetime will hit and it can hit just as likely on the last cast as the first.

With that in mind we set out and both Dan and his brother Bill did a good job casting the baitcasters.  In short order they were making the casts they needed to do.   The figure 8 takes a little practice to master, but once mastered (most often after an hour or two) it becomes natural.  We have had a fair share of Tigers hit on the Figure 8 on Otisco Lake, so it is important to do.

The lake looked good and Bill wound up having some luck.  He had a fish around 24" to 25" hit a bucktail and he got excited and tried swinging it onboard, which isn't a good idea!  Not good for the musky (we don't want them banging around the boat beating themselves up) and not good for the angler.   But as luck would have it, a little bit later on a Sebile Magic Swimmer Bill hooked up a beautiful Tiger over 33" long that fought good and jumped nicely near the boat.  It was a thick bodied fish and we got some great pics.   The lake looked good and it appears to be another great Tiger year out there.  



Cayuga Lake 7/25 - 7/26 AM

Lake trout action remains excellent on Cayuga Lake.   Baitfish are everywhere.  Fish are feeding heavily!   

7/25 AM:  Guided Bronson and his wife Katie starting at 6:30.  They've fished Keuka Lake quite a bit and had some great ice-fishing there this past winter.  They were impressed with the size and numbers of Cayuga Lake lakers they landed today.  I can't remember how many we had offhand, but I think it was around 16 or so.  Fish ran large and we had 5 wild lakers!  Best fishing was on the shallow side - around 65' if I remember right (these days just blend in after a while.)   

7/26 AM:  Guided Tom and his son Willy.  They joined me on Cayuga Lake 6 or 7 years ago out of Dean's Cove.   We launched out of Myers and had some great fishing from around 8 am till 10:30 or so.  We were fishing by 7:30 and off the water around 11:30, but the action was best during the mid-AM.  Most of our fish came from the 55' to 85' FOW.It's a great time to score on some perfect "eaters" - fish ranging from 20" to 25" long.  They cook up easily and taste very good.   Hot colors were chartreuse and also good ole' white.

As add added postscript, I showed Dave and his wife Beth how to dropshot on Skaneateles Lake on Friday.  The bite was hot on Saturday and they sent me a photo of a 23" smallmouth their daughter landed not too far from their place!   That's the biggest smallmouth I've seen on that lake (though I knew they were there - they had to be!)   Way to go!  Wow!

Skaneateles Lake 7/24 AM

Did a 1/2 day AM trip starting around 9 am.  One of the pitfalls of guiding a lot is that sometimes I get tired and I don't think as clearly as I should.  This AM, I was convinced I had an issue with something on my motor when it wouldn't turnover.  But of course, when the motor doesn't turn at all, it's usually the kill-switch becoming unattached.  Duhhhh! So we ended up launching 90 minutes later than I'd planned.  That mistake won't happen again.   

I've guided David for at least 4 to 5 years on and off and he recently bought a place on Skaneateles Lake.  He's had some good fishing recently with minnows and I showed him around a bit and had him and his wife Beth work some different artificials.   Fish seemed scattered and not terribly aggressive.   We had one fish hit a Skitter Pop mid-AM in 5' of water.  Another bass came dropshotting in 38' FOW.  Others hit SuperFlukes and Tubes as well as dropshotting stickworms.  Nothing much over 15" today - mostly 11" to 14".   The bite got better as the AM went on.  Rockbass were thick in around 20' to 25' FOW.

The "Classic Boat Show" is happening on the lake this weekend.  If you're fishing there, be ready for a lot of traffic - both cars and boats in and around Skaneateles and on the lake.  It's also Harborfest at Oswego.  That's a huge event.   This is pretty much the peak of summer.  Hard to believe it's all "downhill" from here.

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 7/20

Today puts a wrap on the longest stretch of trips I've ever done in 19 days.  I'll be taking a few days off to recover and "patch my bones" then it's back on the water at a slower pace for the most part.   Surface temps on Cayuga Lake hit 76 today (it's probably 72 degrees down 2') but it finally feels like summer on the lake.  Weed mats are floating around and there's a little plankton bloom as well.  

I guided Bob and his dad Andy for the AM 1/2 day.  Jigging lakers was excellent with around 33 or 34 fish landed.  In my 11 years of guiding I've never seen such great numbers of lake trout available.  We had fish to 31" long today, so some big fish are around.  One live lamprey came up on the whole bunch.  I think we had just one wild fish too. Oftentimes I find wild fish in different groups and areas than stocked ones.  On Seneca Lake, the north end fishery is usually mostly wild fish for most of the season.  Catch 4 fish down around Lodi or Valois, or Watkins Glen and 2 of them are usually clipped.  As I've said before, a lot of the unclipped fish are poor hatchery clips that have regenerated, but there are more wild fish than I've ever seen before overall.  Anyways it was a fun AM.

My PM trip was with Steve and Larry.   Steve has joined me in the past a few times for some fly-fishing and jigging.  We checked a few areas south of the launch for bass without much action, but we weren't pitching and the sun was high and water calm.  After an hour or so of casting, we settled on the lakers.  The bite was slower but the guys landed 6 to 8 nice fish.   Fishing for us has been best from 65' to 90' FOW, but there are lakers suspended out over deep water throughout the lake.

Reports 7/15 - 7/19 Keuka, Owasco and Cayuga Lakes

My busiest July continues and thankfully the fishing has been good to great.  Even days I thought would be tough have produced.   Most of my trips have been on Cayuga, though I did make it out to Keuka and Owasco Lakes.  The fishing and great, fun people I've had onboard have made my "work" a real pleasure.  Here's the breakdown:

7/15:  Guided Scott on Keuka Lake for smallmouths.  Hard to believe this was my first guide trip on Keuka Lake this year.  I've been trying to cut back on trips to Keuka.  I absolutely LOVE the lake, but the drivetime is something I can do without.  I still do trips here, but my surcharge is $50.   It's arguably the best bass fishery in the Finger Lakes in terms of largemouth and smallmouth combined.  I think Skaneateles is a better pure smallmouth fishery in terms of day to day fishing and sheer numbers, but Keuka kills it with size.  I like Skaneateles as a "teaching lake" - it's a great place to learn tubes, dropshotting, topwater, flukin' and more.

We started at the State Park after finding out that the Penn Yan Town Launch was being paved.   A cold front came in the night before and was moving through during the AM.  I was expecting a tough bite, but was proven wrong (thankfully!)  I knew the pickerel and lake trout could be a viable back up plan if worse came to worse.   Scott has a place on Skaneateles Lake and had heard about Keuka's great bass fishing.  Casting Superflukes resulted in one of Scott's finest bass days on a non-Great Lake.  He landed 5 fish over 18" (between 18" and 19") and another 3 or 4 decent smallmouths plus a couple largemouths as well.   We hit lakers for around an hour or two and they were not biting well, though Scott landed one and lost one.  A lot of lakers were around the Bluff area and north, but they (as is often the case on this lake in the summer) weren't hitting particularly well.

7/16 AM:  Guided Tom and Cheryl on Cayuga Lake out of Long Point.  Lake trout fishing was excellent.  I don't necessarily like putting down numbers of fish, because it can make for unrealistic expectations, but the fishing has been so unbelievably good I can't help it! They'd never jigged lakers before and landed 33 fish to 29"!!!   4 of them were wild.  I may have to adjust my optimistic wild fish estimate, but it's at least 10%.  Fun day and one that Tom and Cheryl likely won't forget anytime soon.

7/16 PM:  Lake hopping time - I met Tim and Zach out at Owasco Lake out of Emerson Park.  They're staying there in September for a week and wanted a tour of the lake in regards to smallmouth fishing.  We'd done a laker trip there before.  The cold front had definitely moved though and conditions were tough there with very little wind.  But Zach managed a gorgeous 20" smallmouth bass on a Superfluke.  He dropped one due to a (rare) tackle malfunction that was strictly this guide's fault.  Another couple 14" to 15" smallmouths were landed later. We checked on lakers for 1/2 hour on the north end and found a lot of bait and Zach missed one fish.

7/17 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  Guided Steve, his wife Ellen and son David for a 1/2 day.  David has been getting more into fishing, so off we went.  More superb fishing on Cayuga Lake!  36 fish were landed, including 6 wild ones.   Another fun trip and they kept me very busy with the net.

My PM trip was with Dan, Wink and Brandon.  This trip was a riot and as much fun as I've had all season.  We started where we'd left off and 29 fish were landed including 3 wild ones.  Most fish have come from 65' to 85' FOW on various colored swimbaits including white, chartreuse and blue/white.  Great time!

7/18 Cayuga Lake:  This was another riot with three nutcases:  Andy, Tyler and Jeremy. The guys had a blast with 21 lakers landed including 2 wild fish.  The AM bite was as hot as it's been all week, but the fishing slowed a lot during the PM, then picked up again.  We worked downlake as well, but find the best fishing remains around Long Point.  Andy had been out with me a while back on Keuka for some early season deep jigging.

7/19 Cayuga Lake:  Guided longtime client Ron, who nearly always picks a superb day well in advance.  With his son, back around March 14th they landed 2 solid landlocked salmon, a big brown and hammered pike on Seneca.  Today, Ron went solo and on the entire day landed 47 lake trout!   Unreal!!!  It was Keuka-like action (October/November) with Cayuga-sized fish.   A few wild fish were in the mix.  And again, I have to estimate wild fish percentages as above 10% but probably not quite 15% or 20%.  DEC gillnetting done later this summer will give us the real percentages.

Lamprey wounding is LOW!  We had two live eels come up on 47 fish!  Ron dropped another 20.  It was a trip for the ages with fish on nearly every drop of the jig this AM.




Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 7/13 AM and Owasco Lake 7/14 AM

Did trips over the past two days with Joe and his son William.  I met Joe 4 or 5 years ago at a concert and his son expressed an interest in fishing and we've fished together nearly every year since.  Their first introduction to fishing was jigging lakers and dropshotting Skaneateles Lake.  His son William is 11 years old now.  We always have a lot of fun on the boat and it was time to get the guys casting and working some different lures.

7/13 AM:  We met at Cayuga Lake around 7:15 am after some delays due to a road closure/accident.   Fishing was very good to excellent with the guys landing 16 solid lake trout!  It was the best fishing we'd had together and William is at a point now where he can do everything well himself, including fighting some heavy fish.   

7/14 AM:  The guys had fished Skaneateles Lake with me a few times and had some decent smallmouth bass and rock bass/perch action.  I thought it'd be cool to try something different today, involving working different lures.   So we met at Owasco Lake's south shore Marina at 7:30 am.  I really like launching here and as I've said before I think Owasco is a special lake.  There are no Finger Lakes where you can fish smallmouths, largemouths, pike, perch and then catch a big lake trout, rainbow or brown, all within a few miles.   Once Cayuga's smallmouths bounce back a bit, you might be able to say Cayuga, but I still find most of the better salmonid fishing quite a long ways from the north end - like 15 to 20 miles! Anyways, Owasco Lake still has a few big walleyes cruising around and it has an excellent perch population.  I've caught 15" perch here, though the average perch runs 7" to 8" or so.  

Our boat was the only one we saw fishing on the day.  I had the guys give the pike a try for around an hour without any luck, apart from a couple solid perch.  Conditions were great for smallmouth bass with the impending front moving through.  William had some great opportunities for a few solid fish.  He landed a hard fighting chunky bass around 15", but the one he lost had to be pushing 20" - it was a beauty.  He also missed another solid hit that was around 17" or 18".    I checked things quickly for lakers on the north end but we didn't do much.  Some bad weather started moving in.  I hope to be back here soon.

Reports 7/8 - 7/12

I am in the midst of my busiest July guiding thus far.  In years past, I'd stay up late and write in a report, answer all my emails etc...  And within a week I'd be a zombie.  Now I'm more in a "survival mode" and need to get sleep and conserve energy.   So the reports have to wait a few days at times and the emails might not get checked 2X a day. 

The guiding focus has been lakers lately and that's how I like it in July and August on Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.  The fish and fishing are predictable, productive and a lot of fun.   I'm on Keuka one day this week for lakers and bass and plan on fishing Owasco.  I'll be doing more fishing on my own a bit later this month and from August onwards, but now it's guiding and making up for a slow winter, April and June.  

Here's the (quick) breakdown on the past week:

7/8 Skaneateles Lake:  I guided Scott for the 2nd of our 3 full days booked this month. His dad has a place on the lake and we usually get in a trip on Cayuga and here.  Then there's a 3rd "mystery" trip for a new experience.   We started with laker jigging with Scott and his dad Dick.  Fishing started out promising with Scott nailing a nice Skaneateles Laker around 19" or 20" and then dropping another on his next drop.  A few more hits were had, then we decided to go for bass.  The front the previous day put a bit of a damper on the bite for larger bass, but the 11" to 15" (if I remember correctly) smallmouths cooperated, hitting Superflukes and tubes.  We got our lakers in less than 100' FOW (I think it was 60' to 75') and bass in shallow.

7/9 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:   I did two 1/2 day trips back to back today.  The first was with Matt and a couple residents of a center he works for, Jeff and Mike.  The trip was great and featured some of the hottest lake trout fishing thus far of the season.  We had a few doubles and a great time.  Matt's an avid musky, walleye and catfisherman and I plan on getting out with him later this fall.

Between trips I spent around 20 minutes casting for bass near the launch.  I didn't have my tackle with me but had a fluke setup from Skaneateles.  I managed a hook scarred 13" smallmouth bass.

The second trip was with Alan and his son David.  Al has a boat and wanted to learn Cayuga Lake better and the jigging technique.  Dave bought him a gift certificate and we fished two 1/2 days back to back.   Fishing was great, despite the heavy rain.  Alan was very impressed with the lake trout fishing and the whole experience.  It was just a great day guiding.

7/10 AM Seneca Lake out of Geneva:  After a cancellation last week, I was able to get Ed booked for a morning trip with his wife Pam.  I picked them up at "Geneva on the Lake" and we got rolling around 7:30 am.  The bite was a bit slow after the front but it picked up a little.  I'd call it "slow but steady."  It'd be a good winter bite, but a bit slow for this time of the year, if that makes sense.  I think they landed 5 nice lakers and dropped two.  It was decent.

I don't lake-hop much these days, but I have to do it a couple times a year.  So off to Long Point on Cayuga I went...

7/10 PM Cayuga Lake:   Met Al and David again and we headed south towards Sheldrake.  We worked a bunch of different areas.  Fishing wound up good with 9 or 10 nice lakers landed.  The guys really enjoyed themselves again.  It's great seeing adults get "hooked on fishing" just like kids do, (though the guys had fished before.)   So maybe I'd call it "re-hooked on fishing."

7/11 Cayuga out of Long Point:  There's good fishing, then there's superb action (yes, isn't the word "epic" tired and overused?)  Anthony, Steve and Steve's son Daniel hit things perfectly.  The Salvation Army Derby is going on this weekend on Cayuga Lake, and we did not enter, but a lot of boats were out.  In a nutshell, the guys landed 43 lakers todays for my official count.  Another 6 or 7 were dropped boatside while waiting for a net.   So the guys' count was 50.   My netting skills are good, but it wasn't a big deal given that we kept what we wanted within the first 45 minutes of the day or so.

The numbers of wild fish are something I've never seen on Cayuga Lake.  Although stocking has been cut back a lot over the years, you'd never know it.  A huge class of beautiful 22" to 24" lakers are out there!   Plus some older and younger wild fish.  I'd put wild fish numbers at 20%.  Over the past ten years it was more like 7%!  No monsters today, but a fish or two around 29" that likely would've made the derby board.  As I write this, my regular fishing buddy Mike was leading the derby with an 11lb + laker.  I think it was 11lb 4oz.

7/12 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  Guided Al and his kids Mike and Zack today for 1/2 day starting at 6:30 am.  The boys are 12 and 9 years old if I remember right.  They did a darn good job today with 13 fish landed, including 3 around 27.5".   Cayuga Lake is really making up for the slow start to the season.  Great fishing!    





Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 7/5 AM + 7/6

Fishing on Cayuga Lake for lake trout has remained top-notch.  I'm not quite sure if it makes up for the slow spring quite yet, but it's been nice for this guide.   The fish we've kept and that I've cleaned have been eating alewives.  I haven't noticed any gobies recently, but then again I have not examined too many fish.  My initial feelings are that the lakers are keying in more on gobies in the late fall through spring when alewives tend to be deeper. I think alewives are strongly preferred by lakers when available.  It's really like being locked in a candy shop or buffet for these fish - there are so many alewives around.  I'm seeing plenty of bait on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes.

The major news I'm noticing is the number of wild lake trout on Cayuga Lake.  I was told by DEC that fin-clipping needs to be done precisely - the whole fin that's clipped needs to be removed otherwise it'll regenerate.  Sometimes they haven't been done as well as they could have.   I believe on occasion volunteers without fisheries backgrounds have done some of the clipping.   So it's important for diary keepers to make sure no fins are smaller than the others (mainly when checking ventral or pectoral clips.)  And of course, the adipose clip is used a bit (that little fleshy fin between the dorsal and the tail.)    I've seen a few poor clips, but by and large, most of the "wild" fish I'm seeing are wild.  They have better (more vivid) coloration and beautiful intact fins.

Thermoclines are just starting to set up.  Our best fishing has been around 65' to 80' or so. Sometimes shallower.

7/5 AM:  Guided Kevin and his father Cliff and son Jackson.  Fishing was excellent - they landed a bunch of lakers - somewhere between 20 and 30.  Fish are mostly running 22" to 24" but for every dozen fish landed a couple around 27" to 28" are in the mix as are a few smaller ones.  Fun day and the fish were hitting when we left.

7/6:  Guided Scott for the full day.  Again - laker fishing was top-notch.  He landed a bunch of fish.  My brain is fried now - but he landed at least 25.  He lost a beautiful rainbow - maybe 7 or 8lbs!  He thought it got off, but was swimming towards him.  We had a spectacular jump boatside and that was it.   We even went north for 2 hours and raised some pickerel but they weren't too active and the floating weeds (yes, the mats are on the way thanks in large part to all the 4th of July weekend boat traffic) made working some lures a chore.  Scott did manage a nice largemouth on a SuperFluke.




Seneca and Cayuga Reports 7/2 - 7/4

Lake trout action is generally good to excellent on both lakes.  Fishing on Seneca was superb on 7/2 in the AM.   This somewhat steady weather should keep the action decent at least through mid-week.  Time will tell!  Even slow "post frontal" days this time of year are usually good for at least a few fish.  Anything is possible this year.

7/2 AM Seneca Lake out of Seneca Lake State Park:   Guided Jacob and Rachael for a 1/2 day starting just after 6:15 am.  A lot of people ask me when the best times are to fish for lake trout.  In general, during the summer months an early start is always a great idea.  Fishing is generally pretty good throughout the day (which is why I do full days and PM 1/2 days) but an early start can help pinpoint groups of fish, even if they start hitting well later.  During the later part of the summer, through the fall, into the winter and then into the spring, the bites often start later in the AM.  With the full moon on the 2nd, I decided an early start would be best (6 am.)

Fishing was slow during the first hour but then turned on.  My party landed 23 lakers. That's a great day number-wise, but not uncommon on a great lake at the right time.  What made the fishing spectacular was the size of the fish.  We landed 5 or 6 lakers that were in the 30" to 32" range!   And all were well-fed fish likely running 10 to maybe 12lbs!   I don't know if I've ever had a day that good for trophy sized (for inland waters in NY) lakers!   I actually apologized in advance to Jacob and Rachael, cause nothing we do in the future will likely top today!   All the big ones were released unharmed (we never weigh lakers that will be released.)   Fish were shallow - 45' to 75'.

PM:  My PM trip was with Doug and his two sons, Pete and Steve.  The fishing wasn't as hot as the AM bite, but it was still downright excellent.  The guys landed around 15 or 16 fish, mostly in the 22" to 27" range.  Overall we had 5 or 6 lampreys come up on the fish on the whole day, but most fish were in very fine condition.  Most were wild.

7/3 AM Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  Guided Brian and his buddy Kevin for a 1/2 day. We were on the lake at 6:30 and avoided the gauntlet of boat traffic that started lining up just after noon.   Fishing was excellent in shallow (again) with the guys landing their limit in about an hour!  After that it was catch and release, though I had the guys keep two lakers for me.   Fun day!  

My buddy Mike's mom has a great fish recipe that I love for any of the Finger Lake salmonids.  Heat up a saute pan with olive oil, add a fillet or a few skinless pieces of fish, freshly sliced tomatoes, capers and some sliced olives.  Garlic is optional. Sautee' the fish on both sides and serve with the mixture of tomatoes on top.  It goes great with some steamed white rice on the side.  Simple to prepare and simply fantastic.  

7/4 AM Seneca Lake out of Seneca Lake State Park:  Guided Ron and his son Nick for 1/2 day.  We started around 6:30 am with way more wind than was forecast.  The lake was choppy and the stacked warm water pushed the fish deep.  We had fair action in 80' to 90' FOW.  The guys managed to land 4 solid fish up to 29" and probably 9lbs.  Most boats left early due to the conditions.   Tougher day, but the guys saw just what needed to be done in order to have some success despite the whitecaps and rolling lake.  I love the remote controlled Minn-Kota Terrova trolling motor I have.  That combined with a drift sock (used at times) turned what could have been a very difficult day into a somewhat productive one.   









Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs 6/29

Guided Gary and his son Greg for a full day.  Greg just started keeping his boat on Cayuga Lake and wanted to see the lay of the lake and some ways to approach it.  We tried a bunch of areas up north and I had the guys work Superflukes, Chatterbaits, Senkos, Drop Shots, some spoons and some lipless cranks for bass and pickerel.   The pickerel action was best over deeper water (12' to 14') though one or two were caught in shallower stuff.   

We found a lot of bass of various sizes in shallow though no lunkers (but we didn't fish too many places.)   Casting dropshot rigs along with Chatterbaits produced some fish.   Bluegills and pumpkinseeds are spawning in those shallows. We didn't work any areas for long.   The lake level was high.

The water was murky and downright muddy in some areas.  During the last 3 hours of the day I ran the guys south and showed them laker areas from Dean's Cove/Aurora on north to Levanna and further.  Laker action was exceptional and the guys had a lot of fun nailing (and releasing) a bunch of fish up to 29" in fairly short order.  One chunky brown, along with some small salmon followed in the jigs.

The fishing over the past 3 to 4 weeks has really been stellar for lake trout.  It's made up for the slow erratic start to the spring.   I certainly have the "bass bug" and want to go bass fishing, but I'm looking at the busiest July I've had in 11 years of guiding.  Due to the slow April and June (plus my AZ trip) I've had to fill most of my days. So much for "balance."  Ha ha.    I've also wanted to fish for gar and drum and just haven't had the time.   Owasco Lake has also been on my "to go" list.    

Seneca Lake out of Geneva 6/26 PM

Met the Hermans at around 3:30 at Seneca Lake State Park.   They wanted to do some bass fishing today but didn't want to drive over to Cayuga or further (they live west of there.) I had AM plans so Keuka was out of the question.   I've seen a lot of bass around the northern parts of Seneca Lake in and around the canal, so we launched there and gave it a try for an hour or so.   Largemouths are spawning and guarding nests.  It's not my favorite thing to do but the Hermans gave it a shot.  John managed to hook a very solid bass - probably over 3lbs, momentarily on a tube.   In a different area, he caught a largemouth around 13".   

The lake trout fishing has been exceptional out of Geneva lately and we gave it an hour. The fishing was superb with the Hermans landing 10 fish in less than an hour!  All were wild and they probably ran to 28" or so.  Today was mostly a "warmwater trip" so I didn't measure the fish or record them in my Region 8 Coldwater Diary.   The fish were shallow - primarily in and around 45' and deeper.

We tried nearly two hours of casting for pike.  Things looked good weed-wise but surface temps are warming up a bit, which tend to get the pike deeper.  We never raised any.  

Otisco Lake 6/24 + Cayuga Lake/Long Point 6/25 AM

Water levels remain high in the region but are receding.   Bass appear to be in spawn mode (on colder lakes like Skaneateles) and post-spawn mode in warmer lakes.   Weed growth is still behind schedule (which isn't a bad thing) and lakes still are nice and clear without any heavy algae/planton blooms.    Fishing has been excellent lately for lake trout and fair to good for bass.   

Otisco Lake 6/24:  Guided Gary and his friend Paul for a full day of fly fishing.   Gary keeps his boat on the lake and has been doing some stream fly-fishing out west and elsewhere. He was looking to learn about lake fly-fishing and what's involved with casting, boat control and presentation.  We were hoping for some bass today.  

Casting proved to be tough at times today.   The wind was up higher than forecast.   We worked a bunch of areas for bass using some different approaches.   Fishing was slow. Paul managed a largemouth around 15" on a leech pattern and missed some hits.  We had some nice fish show some interest in a great Hula Popper imitation that Umpqua tier Jim Stewart tied up for me around 6 or 7 years ago or longer.  This fly was amazing - spitting water like a Rico popper.   Gary managed a smaller bass on a streamer.  Later on Gary cast some Senkos with gear and caught a few more bass.  Nothing large.   We weren't fishing for muskies today, but didn't see any either. Panfish were around and Paul caught a gill on a popper.   Fish didn't seem too active.  The two better bass we caught were thin and appeared to be in a post-spawn state.

Cayuga Lake 6/25 AM:  Guided Chuck and his son Matt for 6 hours today.  We fished for lakers and the bite started out slow when we got underway at 6:45 am, though fish were moving well for the jigs and I felt it'd just be a matter of time.  Fish were remarkably shallow on the lake's west side and the guys hammered them over there from around 30' on out to 65' or so. Some fish were clearly in less than 25' FOW and if I'd had my fly-gear I would've given it a good shot!   The guys nailed 16 lakers on the day.  A couple were wild (or at least unclipped) and all were under 25" and over 17", with most around 22" to 24".   Three live lampreys came up on the fish.  Plenty of bait was around.  On a scale of 1 to 10, today was an 8 or 9 for the bite.  We had a double as well.  The guys don't fish much at all - Chuck used to fish more and Matt is just getting into it.  Numerous fish were dropped as well.  Great day!

If you're looking to get out in July, I don't have many dates left.  I can do some PM 1/2 days during the 1st two weeks of the month.   The 3rd week is booked solid.   I have the 25th and 26th of July available for full or 1/2 days and I can do PM 1/2 days on the 27th - 29th.  I have booked over my "quota" or goal of trips for the month and will likely not take any more trips after a couple more dates get booked.  


Skaneateles Lake 6/22

After spending the better part of the past week and a half in hot Phoenix Arizona and receiving reports of hot fishing in the FL Region, it felt good getting back out onto the water. I no longer actively book 1/2 days just before or after full days, but due to the weather I wound up doing just that and spent the entire day on the water yesterday.

Mike joined me a couple years ago on Seneca Lake and he caught a nice brown trout while pike fishing along with a couple lakers on jigs.  He wanted to jig Skaneateles Lake, which is something I rarely do, apart from casting jigs.  When the fish are shallow (5' to 35' FOW) I have casting techniques that work well at covering water;  when they are deeper than 40' FOW, I like the vertical stuff.   So we set up for jigging.  

I was pleasantly surprised at how well things went.  By the day's end Mike and his brother Barry had landed 10 lakers, including a solid 27" fish.   Most were the usual (but beautiful) Skaneateles cigar-shaped (double Toro) lakers running 17" to 18", but we had a few around 20" to 22" as well.

At 4 pm I met Bill and his son in-law Brian at the launch.  We decided to try fly-fishing the Brown Drake Hatch.   I don't guide the hatch per se for various reasons, namely because it's unpredictable  and really gets underway late - like around 7:45 or 8 pm and by the time I get home it's past 10 pm.  If I lived closer to the lake it'd be a different story.  I also don't guide it because I haven't spent much time on it and really don't have the expertise on it. My buddy Mike and I first fished it back around the year 2000 or so with a guide.   He wasn't much of a fly-fisherman, but did educate us a bit on the hatch.  It was an awesome experience.  We hit it perfectly and saw a couple dozen sizeable rainbows working giant mats of mayflies.  I've gone back 4 times or more since (as have my friends) and never experienced it as good.   On that guided trip, Mike landed a beautiful rainbow around 20" that thrilled us all, especially the guide.  We also caught rock bass, perch and smallmouths.  

We started with some fly-fishing for smallmouths.  The lake style casting with heavy rods was a big adjustment for the guys.   We had a few opportunities, but nothing much happened.  The calm conditions didn't help plus I'm certain most bass are spawning now. But the guys had some big fish show themselves for the flies and a few grabs on the surface,  which was fun.  

The hatch was average to below average.   We started seeing some mayflies (the Brown Drakes) show up around 7:20 to 7:30 pm.   It was fairly good for about an hour.   Some very small (probably recently stocked  - from late April) yearling rainbows were rising, but we couldn't see much else.  Brian wound up landing a spunky little rainbow that jumped a bit but it was a dink - no two ways about it.   The guys are staying on the lake south a ways, so I should be able to see how the hatch materializes throughout the week.  It can be very exciting to fish, but it was nothing special yesterday.  

Skaneateles Lake 6/10 midday

Guided Gustavo and his buddy Cisco (hope I spelled that right) for 1/2 day trip starting around 9:30 am.  The original plan was to jig lakers on Cayuga, but I was concerned about excessive runoff from some heavy downpours and thunderstorms making the lake muddy. Turns out Cayuga wound up being very hot fishing this AM, but I felt "better safe than sorry" (especially after a skunking we had a month ago with muddy conditions on Cayuga that spoiled a previously hot bite.)

Gustavo hadn't really done much fishing at all, so it was all new to him.  Both guys caught fish but I was glad to see him do well. We started with laker jigging, which I rarely do on this lake in the summer (due to the better fishing elsewhere) and the guys managed some grabs and 3 fish landed, of which one was a scrawny 15"er.  The other two were nicer - up to around 22" or so and were kept for dinner.   Smallmouth fishing was good in shallow water with the usual tubes.  Water temps are in the low 60s on the surface in areas.   Plenty of rockbass were around and we kept a couple of those as well.  Very few boats were out and it was clear that the heavy rains of the last couple days raised the surface temps and water level.  The lake's usual clarity was a little bit off around the State Launch, but further down the lake it was crystal clear water as usual.  We had a lot of fun today and got off the lake and wrapped up just in time to miss a very heavy downpour.   

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/6 + Skaneateles Lake 6/7 AM

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/6:  Guided Rick and his son Ian for a 1/2 day starting around 7:30 am.   I woke up early and was concerned about the incoming fog, but it cleared before we started fishing.  Winds were blowing around 10 to 12 mph out of the north when we started.  The lake trout fishing was the best I've seen all year.  The guys did a great job (1st time jigging) and managed to land 10 solid fish.  Rick dropped a couple good ones early due to putting too much pressure on them.   Average fish ran 25" long and we had 3 wild ones in the bunch.  Largest was around 28" or 29" if I remember correctly and wild.  Most fish were in 50' to 75' or so.   Some bait was around too.  We saw a troller nab a nice sized silvery fish right off the point.  You can bet that there are plenty of browns and some salmon in the area!

After the trip I decided to give the perch fishing a go.  My friend (rod builder) Mike Canavan has been doing well off his dock.  The perch fishing is fantastic on Cayuga Lake right now. You can't go wrong anywhere from Long Point down to AES and likely beyond down to Myers. On the west shore, Dean's Cove down to Sheldrake is usually also great this time of year.  Taughannock and Frontenac Points too.   This is great no-brainer perch fishing.  No need for electronics.  No need to have an assortment of bait - none of that typical Seneca Lake stuff.  Just get some minnows, worms or plastic grubs (which are what I used) and go to it.  Within 2 hours I had landed 20 keeper perch ranging from 8" to 10".  All came from shallow water.   Many are fat too, feeding on the heavy goby population.  There are a ton of dinks to weed through as well.   In addition I also had a laker around 8lbs as well as a solid brown chase in my perch set-up!

Skaneateles Lake 6/7 AM:  Guided Rick, whom I also took out last year.  Rick lives along one of my favorite stretches of the lake for bass and he fishes it often (he has a place on the lake) so we fished elsewhere so he could experience some different areas.   I had him work tube jigs and after a 1/2 hour or 45 minutes he started getting some good action, mostly from rock bass but he also managed at least a half dozen smallmouths up to around 17" or more.   One jumbo perch made it into the live-well along with some of the better quality rockies.  I showed him some laker jigging and he managed a 17" or 18" keeper as well as a cigar sized dink.  The bass fishing wasn't as hot as the previous two weeks, but it wasn't bad.  Some fish are likely starting to spawn given that we had a full moon earlier this week.  Kudos to the parking attendant for closing the parking lot early.  It was great not having to navigate past haphazardly parked trailers, though a couple people parked their vehicles as if they had a BAC around 2%.  There's always a few in every bunch.   Water temps were in the mid-50s (56 to be exact is what I had.)

Reports 6/2, 6/4 and 6/5

6/2 Lake Ontario out of Oswego:   Strong winds with a small craft advisory over the past weekend (mainly Sunday) really shifted water temps around over here.  I arrived with heavy fog just having cleared and one trailer in the parking lot at Wright's Landing.  I checked a bunch of areas for salmonids and found very cold water down 20'.   It would've been a troller's game out here.   I tried a bunch of stuff without much success and wound up having some good to excellent smallmouth fishing inshore in the harbor.  That's the great thing about the port of Oswego (as well as many other LO ports,)  there are a lot of options and different species to fish for.   Tube jigs and swim baits worked well for some chunky bass running 11" to 17".

6/4 Seneca Lake out of Lodi Point:  Got out with my buddy Mike for some scouting and fishing for browns/salmon.  We enjoy finding methods and areas that work for big browns and salmon that don't involve trolling.  We had no "catching" but a great day "fishing" if that makes sense.  We each had some follows from big browns (Mike had a giant) in areas we'd never targeted browns in.  We also found some active salmon (that weren't "active" enough to gobble our flies and lure) in a few other areas.  I eventually caught and released a big perch, but that was it.  We covered a lot of water and learned a lot.  The full moon may have played a part in the tough "catching" today.  I don't know.

I'm a huge believer (as is Mike) in doing this kind of stuff.  It pays tremendous dividends in the long run.   We're learning what areas to fish, how to approach them, how they set up in different winds and what to do differently next time.  

6/5 Cayuga Lake out of Myers:   Guided Jack for a full day.  He's joined me a few times in the past with his son Willy (who also fishes with me on occasion.)   He loves to fly-fish but is up for whatever works best.   We searched for late (for my style of fly-fishing) salmon and found some small ones in various areas.  They weren't grabbing great.   But I was happy to see these fish.   Both Seneca and Cayuga Lake are showing promise for future salmon fishing, but these Sebago strain fish really do seem to scatter.   I thing it's a good thing. With many of these fish avoiding being caught easily, we'll likely keep seeing some of the exceptional specimens that we've seen thus far this year.   Who knows, maybe I'm clueless here, but it's a feeling I'm getting.   Some nice perch were following in Jack's streamers at times.   

We did some laker jigging and Jack nailed 3 solid fish.  All were in less than 75' FOW. Bait is moving in big-time and I think most of the 1 and 1/2 oz jigheads and heavier gear can be put away for the next couple months.  We'll see.  Jack also dropped some good hits.  Fish were pretty active.   Water temps are all over the place - from 49 to 61 degrees.  Most of the lake was around 52/53.   Great salmon/brown/laker temps but these fish have "temperature" all over the place along with bait.  It should be good fishing for the trollers.   

Lake Ontario out of Oswego Harbor 5/29 PM

Finally made it back out to "the big lake" yesterday.  My original plan this year was to fish Lake Ontario an average of once a week, but due to the inclement weather in April, my May schedule really booked up heavily.  I recorded the busiest May I've ever had.   Not that I'm complaining!  

Most of you probably know my thoughts regarding Lake Ontario's fishery.  I feel that the writing is on the wall here.  Baitfish numbers are low and I think we'll be in for some serious setbacks in the not-so-distant future.  In a nutshell, I think we'll have very hungry salmonids willing to chase jigs.   I think we'll have Kings 5 years from now, but anglers are going to have to temper their expectations.   

I had my boats inspected by NYS this AM.  Both passed easily.  Us "Public Vessel" operators get inspected on an annual basis.  So I wound up arriving at Wrights Landing just before noon.  I was surprised at how few boats were there.  Only around 5 or 6 trailers were in the parking lot if I remember right.  Not many!    Two boats were getting off of the water as I prepped my boat.   I went solo today.  As some of us found (who were running our boats) at the Memorial Weekend Derby, oftentimes our co-anglers (aka "guy in the back of the boat") catches the most and nicest fish.  They get to concentrate on the fishing while us "boaters" are dropping the trolling motor and positioning the boat  So I wasn't completely disappointed when my old buddy Terry told me he couldn't make it today.   

The guys getting off of the water had slow fishing today.  One boat had nothing and the second (smaller boat) had managed a rainbow and brown or two.  The first boat had worked inside of 50' FOW.  So guess where I wasn't going to fish?   It's easy for anglers to get discouraged when boaters come off of the water and complain about a slow bite, but the best thing is to find out what they did and then do something else.  Use their experience to your advantage.

I worked out from around 70' to 170' of water.  I dropped my temp probe in a few areas and got a feel for what was going on and where I'd be concentrating my fishing.   A few small fish were chasing jigs,  especially up high.   I marked a good amount of bait up high.   Notice that "a good amount of bait" is in Lake Ontario terms circa 2015.  This bait in no way compares with what was out there in the 1980s and before.  I mark more bait routinely on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes than I do on LO.

As I prepared to work my "zone" I got boarded by the Coast Guard for the 2nd time in 3 years.  They are good guys doing their job.  The Captain told me that the King fishing had been very good here until a week ago and been slow ever since.   Oh well.  There's always bass.

I worked some areas with an assortment of stuff.  In one area, I marked a group of good fish on the sonar.  I dropped down and got chased by one of them!   I reeled into a solid hookup.  I got the fish up to the leader then it made a couple good runs sounding back to the bottom.   After a little while I slid my big musky net (I'm an optimist) under the fish.  A nice laker!   27" with an adipose fin clip.  It spit up an alewife on the way up.  I released the fish and started fishing again.

Around 10 or 15 minutes later, another group of fish showed up.  I dropped my jig down and got chased again.   Felt the rod load up and got a mediocre hookset due to the fish swimning upwards.  So I reeled down hard and hit the fish again.   At times the fight was herky-jerky with the rod almost going slack, but I knew I still had him.  As I worked the fish up, he started swimming away from the boat.  Then I felt some serious weight and 150' of line melted off of my reel.  KING!!!   I knew that before, but that was confirmation. There's nothing as exciting as seeing a three foot long silver fish surface 100' or more away from the boat with its shark-like dorsal and tail fin jutting up out of the water and the silvery sheen reflecting!  It doesn't get old (not that I've experienced it much.) It fought great all the way to the net and I was completely adrenalized.  This wasn't the 7lb jack from two years ago.  It was a 35"+ fish!   That black inside of their mouths gives them the look of death.  I weighed it at 17lbs!  A terrific spring King and super fish to take on medium casting gear with 12lb Seaguar leader.   It took around 15 minutes afterwards to calm down but I was pumped.   I fished another 40 minutes or so, then headed in and cast for bass for around 15 minutes, landing one 17" smallmouth.   Great day.  

There was no bait in the King.   A guy at the fish cleaning station was filleting up one around 8 or 9lbs.  It had one alewife in it.   I understand the love and lust for these fish from the Charter lobby.  They truly are the Kings of our fishery and landing a good one takes skill.  There's no way that Lake Ontario circa 2015 will be able to support large numbers of these fish like it used to.   But I'll take them while I can! 

Photos of this fish are up in the photo gallery!




Skaneateles Lake 5/28 AM

Guided Al and his son Jeff here for 1/2 day.  I probably do more trips with home/cottage owners on this lake than on any other (Al owns a place on the lake.)  Fishing was excellent today with water temps in the low 50s and plenty of smallmouths from 11" to 16" along the shorelines as well as out a bit.  The guys landed at least 30 to 35 bass today (maybe as many as 40,) 4 solid lake trout to 23" and a half dozen chunky rock bass thrown in for good measure.  It's a great time to fly-fish smallies as well.  The guys cast tube jigs and hard jerkbaits today with both lures being productive.   Only a couple other boats were out on the water.   I had a few things to take care of and was quite tired, else I would've gone back out and fished for awhile.   It was that good!  The condition of the bass looked great - a lot of fat pre-spawn fish.  One had a 5" perch hanging out of its mouth.

Memorial Weekend Lake Trout Derby Report 5/23 - 5/25

Just got back from three fairly long days of fishing the derby with my buddy Jarrod.  Fishing wound up being pretty good on Saturday and Sunday and a bit slow on Monday, though it picked up as the day went on.  The bite and results were pretty much what we thought it'd be from early in the week - a "slugfest" with a lot of quality fish weighed in.  The results are online and they are a testament to the superb fishery that is Seneca Lake circa 2015.   Two 14lb lakers, numerous 10 to 12lb fish,  a few 13lb browns(!), 4 landlocked salmon in the 8 to 9lb class and some solid rainbows from 7lbs on down.  That's very impressive stuff! I would venture to bet that in terms of numbers of large fish of different species across the board, this might be the best derby ever.   So for what it's worth "These are the 'good old days' for Seneca Lake trout and salmon fishing."

No need for a day by day breakdown, but in a nutshell the deep bite was best the first two days with good numbers of fish pushing shallow on the third day. (We never ventured south of Roy's Marina.)  Expect good to excellent shallow (less than 100') fishing from here through the end of July barring any extreme weather.   Jarrod and myself both landed decent, though not exceptional numbers of fish. On day one Jarrod landed 3 fish in the 10lb range up to 10.5.  It wasn't good enough for a prize.   He lost a good one as well on day one that we never saw but was likely a class up from the 10s.   I landed a decent number of fish up to around 28" or 29" but again, nothing board-worthy.  I also dropped a good fish (on day 2.)   We both felt that we fished a good event and the lost fish weren't due to preventable tackle issues - the hooks just pulled out, which happens with jigging.   I was pretty darn tired for the event with eleven trips in the past 9 days prior to the event (and if you want to count, 16 trips over the past 17 days.)   That didn't affect our fishing but I was worn out big-time.   

Many friends and past clients were out enjoying the beautiful weather and quite a few of them put up some nice fish, some of which wound up earning nice prizes.   My job as a guide that specializes in teaching this stuff is to give you guys the best head start possible and given how well my past clients are doing in these events, I know I'm doing my job!

Skaneateles 5/20 PM, 5/22 and Otisco Lake 5/21 PM

This fishing and guiding binge I've been on will wind up with this weekend's Derby on Seneca Lake.  I'll be fishing it again with my buddy Jarrod and we'll try to repeat as winners and if nothing else, have a lot of fun, get some lakers for the smoker and maybe cash a check or two.   Report will be coming on Tuesday!  Here's the breakdown from the past 3 days.

5/20 PM on Skaneateles:  Guided Kevin with his girlfriend Laurie tagging along for the scenery.  She didn't fish.   Kevin originally wanted to fly-fish pike, but the conditions and wind forecast weren't good.  We did our first trip together back in 2006 or so on Skaneateles Lake.  We had great "catching" back then, but brutal "fishing" - with rain, wind, fog and air temps in the 40s.   Today, we had wind and cool temps.   

Kevin had some hits fly-fishing but was a little rusty on the casting.  Things came back throughout the day.   He threw a tube jig and managed to catch some solid perch and if I remember right, a bass or two.   Water temps were good for trout fishing.

5/21 PM on Otisco Lake:  We decided to give Otisco a try for bass and perhaps a Tiger on the fly.   The water was really murky and downright muddy in areas.  He had a few hits on the flies, but they didn't seem like large fish.  Some anglers were doing well deadsticking Senkos near shoreline cover, but Kevin wasn't up for that.  He took some casts with a tube jig and landed a few small bass.   He had some tackle he'd brought and did some casting for muskies.  We worked the causeway and a few other areas for awhile without anything to show.  He insisted I fish a bit so I casted for around 1/2 hour.  I had a hard hit on a spoon and figured it was a Tiger, but nope - it was a surprisingly hard fighting walleye around 21" long and probably 4lbs (it was fat.)  That fed me for two days.

5/22 Skaneateles Lake:   David called me a few weeks back and booked today looking for some action, "I just want to catch some fish" is what he said.  So that's what we set out to do and Skaneateles Lake didn't disappoint.   Fishing was exceptional today.   We started by working a windblown stretch for bass.   Dave was getting hits every two to four casts. He landed a bunch of smallmouths (maybe a dozen or more) including a 20"er and a few around 16" or 17".   Most were 13" to 15".   He also nailed a decent number of perch.   Further down the lake he missed/lost a rainbow and a couple salmon.   He DID land a gorgeous wild brown trout around 20"+.   He also landed a big pickerel and more smallmouths.   We had a lot of action all day long, including some grabs from trout/salmon and bass after the wind really was flying. Fish all came on jigs.   Fly casting for trout is still possible here on the right day.  The smallmouth action is superb.

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 5/19 AM

Well, it's back to the tough bite again.  Guided Pat and Frank for 1/2 day in the morning starting around 8:15 am.  We put in a long day.   The bite was very tough with no noticeable concentrations of fish.  Pat had two good grabs, but it wasn't to be. That's the way it goes.  Water was muddy throughout the mid-portions of the lake from Long Point north to Levanna and Dean's Cove down to Sheldrake.  Working the murky water was probably the way to go (and where we had our hits.)   Fish are moving shallow along with bait.   From here on in, I expect to see decent laker fishing in less than 100 FOW and in water as shallow as 25' or 30'.  Windy days will bring fish even shallower (as will lowlight conditions.)   We had a good time on the water.

Thus far this season I've had more tough trips already than probably some of my previous years COMBINED!   It's been a real challenge.   But the laker fishing on last Thursday was some of the best I've ever seen in terms of BIG FISH.   So it's been a yin-yangy type of year.  That's what keeps it from getting boring.  It's always changing.

Seneca Lake out of Geneva 5/18 am

Got out with Julius and Tom for a 1/2 day trip (targeting lake trout,) which ended up getting cut off by an hour or so due to incoming thunderstorms.   The fish are definitely on the move and despite the very hot bite of the past week, there's a chance the derby may feature more of a conventional, rather than hot bite.  We shall see.  Fish aren't as bunched up as they were, at least from what I saw.  Or at least they weren't where they previously were, which is more likely the case.  But with 47 degree water on the surface, lakers are comfortable everywhere from 10 FOW out to 100 and deeper, on the bottom, suspended and top.  

Tom wound up with the hot hand landing three solid lakers.  Fish were hitting well.  We talked to two other groups (boats) and they didn't catch any.  Some of it may be technique or location.  I won't likely be back on Seneca until the derby.  


Reports 5/14 - 5/17

In eleven years of guiding this has been my busiest May to date.   I'm on the water virtually every day, due largely to the harsh winter and slow fishing in April.   Angling is generally good to excellent in the region and the mixed bag fishing that can be had on nearly all the lakes is really a lot of fun.   It's a great feeling setting the hook and not knowing what the species is on the end of the line.   Due to my busy schedule, I'm keeping these reports concise.   Here's the breakdown:

5/14 Seneca Lake out of Geneva AM Trip:   Guided Pat and Chuck for a 1/2 day.  The fishing was excellent with 6 or 7 solid lakers landed if my memory serves me correctly. The fish are all running large and most are wild.  There are fish both deep and shallow on Seneca Lake but the majority are deep. Flatliners reported landing some salmon and a pike on the lake's north end during the past week.

PM Trip:  Guided the Hermans for the afternoon.  After our tough trip a week or two ago, it was great to get the rods bent.  They managed 15 solid lakers!  And Eleonore landed a 31" beauty.  Nearly every trip on Seneca Lake for lakers over the past week has produced derby "board worthy" lunkers!   Solid 10 to 11lb+ wild fish stuffed with bait.  Seneca is living up to its reputation and Geneva remains the LAKE TROUT CAPITAL OF THE WORLD!!! We have released unharmed the majority of large lakers.  

5/15 Skaneateles Lake:   Guided Jerrit for a 1/2 day AM then I fished with my friend Anthony afterwards.   We had a fun day from start to finish.   The AM fishing was a little tough, but after a few hours the fish started hitting.  Jerrit did a good job with the jig fishing and landed a couple lake trout, a rock bass and a handful of beautiful jumbo perch up to 1lb 6oz!   Those fish made the day!  Others were missed and dropped. The lake is high due to nearly 6" of rain that fell in the region during storms the past week. Water temps shot up and a lot of bass will be moving up.  Lakers are in shallow.

Our PM fishing was also lot of fun.  We set up primarily for perch but Anthony landed a nice rainbow around 18" or so.  We landed 5 lakers, a bunch of mostly small perch (though we caught a few jumbos,) around 15 smallmouths to 18" (most were small,) and a pickerel. The afternoon/evening bite was definitely hotter than the AM fishing and we were able to fish more areas. Surface temps were 47 degrees.

5/16 Seneca Lake out of Geneva AM:  Guided David and Bill in the AM.  I knew right where to go and the guys hammered lakers up to around 31"!  Great morning of fishing and not much else to say.  Good guys and fun day.  Most of our action has been from 140' to 160'.

PM Trip:  Guided Michael for the afternoon trip.   He tried Clute Park in the AM and managed a 26" salmon that weighed 7lbs 10oz!  That's a PIG!  Back in the early 2000s my best salmon were 26" fish out of Cayuga that would typically weigh 6lbs.   These fish are in much better condition and Cayuga's in the old days weren't bad!  FYI:  Lake Ontario's trout and salmon are on the thin side this year.  Seneca is producing FOOTBALLS!  We got Michael a few lakers for the smoker and he nailed one around 31" that we released.   Small lampreys are common on Seneca Lake this year, but the fish have looked good.   We looked around for pike and fished pretty hard but didn't have any luck.  Conditions weren't great.

5/17 AM  Seneca out of Watkins:  Guided Michael again and we hoped for pike and maybe more salmon/browns.  It wasn't to be.  The fog was brutal in the AM for most of the trip and the lake was as flat as glass.  Miserable conditions that I usually won't guide for most species, but Mike knew what we'd be up against and we gave it a great try.  The large numbers of lakers have moved up the lake in all likelihood.  We saw a few salmon and pike, but not many.  If we'd had better conditions, I think we would've scored.  Michael is a superb angler and one of the best I've guided.    





Cayuga Lake out of Myers 5/11 + Seneca Lake out of Geneva 5/12 AM

Wow!  Back to back solid trips.  It's been awhile since I've been able to string together some consistently good fishing.  Let's hope the trend continues.  As I guide, I feel at the top of my game.  Hindsight is always 20/20, but things feel good.  The variable is always Mother Nature. Here's the breakdown:

5/11 Cayuga Lake out of Myers:  Guided Dean and Scott, who've been joining me on an almost annual basis since the crazy days of the Owasco "Lake trout overload" back around 2005/2007.   We always have a blast onboard whether catching fish or not, and fortunately usually we do well.  

Thunderstorms and heavy, steady rain were a game changer on the night of the 10th and 11th.  Salmon Creek was incredibly muddy yet Ithaca tribs were running fairly clear comparatively.   We tried some pike fishing with slow results.  Dean had a hit but that was about it.  Conditions were fairly good, although not great.   

We changed up to casting for salmon and worked a long stretch of water.  It felt like the guys were just washing lures for awhile, but some hits and follows from Landlocked salmon and perhaps a brown or two kept us focused.  A few fish were momentarily dropped and we had a couple follows from some beauties.   We finally managed to land some nice fish - an 18", 19.5", 21" and 22" salmon if I remember right.  We kept the middle sized fish and let the small one and big one go.  

Thunderstorms with some serious lightning rolled in north of us and we wrapped up a bit early. Any time we can nail some solid landlockeds casting is a good day!   Special thanks go to my friend Todd for a few recent trolling reports that helped us quite a bit.

5/12 Seneca Lake out of Geneva:   Well I knew it would happen - the mega numbers of lakers on the northern portion of Seneca Lake would start to turn on, and it did.  My buddy Mike hit them pretty good up here yesterday, landing some very solid fish.  My 3rd annual half day trip with Jim and Andrew proved that this bite is getting consistent (at least up to the front that's rolling in as I type this!)   We had a somewhat slow start with 2 fish lost near the net and one other one dropped.  Technical difficulties.  

After a couple hours the bite really picked up and the guys landed a couple doubles. One SOLID 31"+ laker that pulled the scale down to 11lbs 7oz was landed by Jim, who wanted me to look at his drag because he was concerned that he couldn't just "reel in the fish" like he could the others.  Funny how that happens when the fish turns out to be a trophy sized laker! I can't say how many times some of my clients hook big fish and are completely unaware of just how big they are.  Big fish just can't be cranked in like a bluegill unless you have tuna gear and you want to rip the hook out of their mouth.  I use 7' Medium Heavy rods for the deep fishing and I think they're perfect.  All in all a great day and one we'll all remember for a long time.   The fish are feeding heavily and in great condition for their length.  Best depths were around 120' to 140'.  We kept all the lakers today.  

Owasco Lake 5/9 + Seneca Lake out of Watkins 5/10

Did back to back full day trips, with more to come.  The past two days have had something in common - tough bites.  Working hard and having a little luck will put fish in the boat, but the weather played havoc with us today.  Even Keuka Lake has been tough this year! That's uncommon.   Here's the shakedown on the past two days:

5/9 Owasco Lake out of South Shore Marina:   Guided Florian for the full day. I actually taught him how to fish with a laker jigging trip maybe 7 or 8 years ago.  He doesn't get out much and we had some "rust" to shake off on this trip.   He was hoping for pike and trout. I thought that Owasco Lake would offer the best chances for him on both.   Pike action was slow on the south end to start for us.  It's been up and down this past week from what I've heard.   We also checked areas for trout with no luck.  A fair number of boats were out and that did prevent us from hitting some places I like.

About halfway up the lake Florian had a pike come close to hitting his spoon - it was right behind it.   No other grabs.  The north end of the lake was also crowded with four boats on Martens Point.  

We worked down the lake fishing hard.  Over 7 hours rolled by with no fish in the boat and no hookups.  Maybe a hit or two.   On the south end I had Florian work the warm murky water and he hooked and landed a solid pike around 26" on a spoon.   We periodically checked on trout.  Right before we called it a (long) day, Florian jigged up a very nice laker, probably also 26".   We kept both fish and they were full of alewives.  The lakers we marked were for the most part suspended over deep water.  Like roughly down 50' over 130' to 150'.   Not an easy day, but persistance paid off!

5/10 Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen:  Guided Mark I. for an abbreviated full day.   He's one of my best clients and we've shared a lot of memorable days on the water together.  Today was enjoyable, but not productive.   We worked a lot of areas for salmon with fly-fishing gear. Mark had a grab near the canal and that was it.   We worked up the lake past Glenora and Peach Orchard with nothing to show.  We planned on setting up for pike late in the day, but incoming thunderstorms put a stop to that.   Mark's an excellent angler and I felt we would've had some decent pike action, but it was not to be with the dangerous storms threatening to move through.   Water around the canal was up to the low 60s.  Most of the lake is around 39 to 40 degrees.   There's water around some bays and creek mouths in the low to mid-40s.   

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 5/8

Guided a full day with James, Mark and Pat starting around 8 am.   There are fairly staggering numbers of lake trout in the 130' to 150' range.  Baitfish are moving up.  The bite was slow for us to start, despite the heavy numbers of fish, but in the early PM the fishing improved.  The guys landed 6 solid trout, including 2 around the 27" mark.  A few were missed/dropped too, as the guys learned the technique.   We had one small lamprey come up on a trout, but overall the fish were gorgeous - as clean as they come.   One fish was wild.

We kept them all today and I was looking forward to seeing what they'd been eating.   It was kind of surprising to see that they were all stuffed with the usual alewives.  We had one or two gobies in the entire lot of fish.  No smelt.   This seems to suggest that the lakers have a strong preference for alewives.   As many of you probably know, there was a large goby die-off in Cayuga Lake late this winter or early this spring.  Dead gobies litter the bottom in the shallows around Aurora and Long Point.  I'm sure they're all over the entire lake, but those are the places we looked at. We also saw some healthy ones, but either overpopulation or something possibly related to the heavy winter (or some other factor) wiped many of them out.

Some bluegills were in at the Long Point Marina.  Apart from that, we didn't see any panfish shallow.  If you want those, up north would be the place to go, though with this streak of July temps panfish should be moving in just about everywhere shortly.   Funny though, James did spot one sunfish just under the surface in around 140' FOW.  Pretty amazing! 

Otisco Lake 5/4 + 5/5

Got out with Bobberman Perry and his pal Dave for two full days of Tiger Musky fishing. Perry and Dave used to do Seneca Lake trips regularly with me, but the musky fishing has been so productive on Otisco Lake that that's where they want to fish most of the time these days. This is the earliest (in the season) Tiger trip I've ever done with Perry.  For those of you new to these reports, Perry and Dave bring their own bait, outfits and know-how with them and I more or less provide the boat and occasional suggestions.  

Fishing was good for us on Monday.  The guys had some giant golden shiners and it was great not being bothered by non-target species.   We probably had 5 good hits, with 2 fish landed.  The first was a solid 28 1/2"er and the second was a very solid 35" thick musky. Great fight on the 35"er and I was stoked to put my new giant Musky net to use.   It's a hassle to have onboard, but it makes netting big fish a cinch.

I get some inquiries for musky trips, but it's not a big part of my guiding.  After last year's 46" Tiger, I decided that I needed to get the proper equipment to handle these fish safely and effectively.   I can't have a trophy musky jumping out of the net.

After putting all my gear away Monday, I took some casts from shore and was quickly rewarded with 3 nice perch in the 9" to 10" range, a solid smallmouth and a largemouth.   A lot of fun could be had here casting around the shoreline of the lake with some panfish jigs.

Tuesday's fishing was tough.  The front that came through was very mild.  Reports over the weekend from Otisco Lake Marine was that the fishing was tough.  I felt we got lucky on Monday.   But we tried a few different areas Tuesday without a single hit.

Either way, we had beautiful days on the water with amenable temperatures and no rain. NY State's pure strain musky season now opens on June 1st.  I've never been a huge fan of fishing Waneta Lake in the summer due to all the camps that surround it, but I may go out and give it a shot with some casting gear and maybe even the fly-rods sometimes in June. If I like what I see, I may do a couple trips there.  I've been asked before to do some.   Funny, I haven't fished it once since landing that 50"er a couple falls ago.  Time sure flies.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 5/3 AM

Guided the Hermans today for a 1/2 day starting around 8:30 am.  I wanted to go for an earlier start, but they have a long drive up, so we went a bit later.  I don't think it hurt us today - we had some nice winds out of the south to start, then they turned calm and finally came up lightly out of the NNW.   

Another fairly tough day today.  We worked some areas on the south end of the lake for salmon and pike.  We saw a few pike but no solid hits.  John said he had one hit, which may have been a salmon.  Some nice carp were cruising the flats and it looked like one boat was taking advantage of the fly-fishing opportunity.  I'm not sure.   But it's a great chance to nail a 20lb+ carp on the fly, and something I should do one of these days, but I'm too busy.  

Laker jigging on the south end remains poor.  There are a lot of fish around, but I think the murky water makes them negative towards the jigs.  People are catching some salmon and browns casting from shore at Clute Park.   Eleonore had one nice follow from an average (18") brown trout near there.   

We worked up the lake doing some casting for pike and salmon.  John had a good hit on an alewife colored tube jig.  I thought he hooked a nice pike, but after a great fight and some good runs I slipped the net under a 25" wild lake trout.  It came out of around 15' of water with sunny conditions and relatively little wind - go figure!   We kept it and it was packed with alewives.

I felt we could have scored on salmon or pike had we spent the entire time targeting one or the other, but I moved us around hoping to capitalize on the wind while we had it.   Without trying to sound like a broken record, I must say that I'm fairly certain things will pick up shortly with the warming conditions.   I expect good pike fishing and good salmon/brown trout fishing as the lake warms up.   Laker jigging action should pick up a lot this week. Time will tell! 

Cayuga Lake out of Myers 5/2 PM

Got out with Mike at around 1:15 pm today.  He was a little under the weather so we decided to stay local.  We fly-fished and did a little bit of gear fishing for salmon and browns.   There's a lot of warm water on the south end of the lake and some warm water around the larger creek mouths.   The amount of alewives that moved in to the Inlet this past week was reportedly fairly staggering.   We have no shortage of bait on Cayuga Lake! 

Fishing was slow for us today.  We worked a lot of areas as thoroughly as we could by casting and drifting.  Some of our slow day was due to conditions changing (wind to no wind.)  But overall I'd say the fishing is fair and occasionally good when you find the fish, but they don't seem to be particularly abundant.   We never had a hit until the end of the day when Mike nailed a solid 4lb 10oz 21" salmon on one of his tube flies (the "Hooligan.")  It fought great, but we got lucky!  We saw a shorefisher get a silver fish as well.

I kept Mike's fish for dinner and surprise, it had a goby in its stomach along with the remains of a couple alewives.  It's great to see the salmon eating gobies.  Gobies do not have the concentration of Thiaminase that alewives and smelt have, so it's conceivable that a salmon that ate a lot of gobies would produce viable eggs and fry.  We can only hope.

There was a large group - at least 140 cormorants stationed along Cayuga Inlet near Treman Marina.  That's not good.  They are likely eating alewives.  Let's hope they don't find the newly stocked browns and salmon.

Skaneateles Lake, Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lakes 4/29 - 5/1

I got a chance to guide full day trips on these three lakes over the past three days.  The only great fishing was on Skaneateles Lake.  Seneca and Cayuga were tough with a capital "T" as Dick Vitale would say.

4/29 Skaneateles Lake:  Got out with JD for a full day.  We'd been trying to coordinate a date for awhile and things finally came together with our schedules and more importantly, the weather.   He's a terrific fly-caster (most certainly in the top 5 I've ever guided.)  That made a big difference.  The plan was for me to show him laker jigging, some perch tactics and fly-fishing for trout and salmon on the lake.   We accomplished those things.

Thankfully, NYS finally re-striped the parking lot.  Hopefully that will alleviate the confusion this summer with vehicles parked haphazardly everywhere.   Conditions were calm to start and we worked on some laker jigging.  I jig this lake less than any of the other FLs I guide, so take it for what it is.  We found some fish in a few different areas and depths ranging from around 120' out to 150'.  I think we had some shallower too.  No hookups but a few were moving for the jigs.

The wind came up and we set up for trout on the fly.   It didn't take long before JD landed a LL Salmon just over 16".   He had hits and a few other momentary hookups from what were likely some nice rainbows.  A 16" rainbow was landed as well.   He even caught another 16" bow on a perch setup.   It was great seeing the seemingly oftentimes (in recent times for this guide) absent 15" to 17" bows.   

JD was able to get some perch, though we didn't have much time for it.   But we had a great day with beautiful conditions on the lake.  We even saw a bass moving up.  These fish don't let the 36 degree water slow them down!

4/30 Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen:  I guided longtime client Rick and his buddy Dave, who was out with me for the first time.  Dave was hoping to get a salmon on the fly.  He's more of a stream fly-fisher, but was up for trying the lake fishing.  Rick wanted to learn the lake a bit (he'd never fished it) and was also hoping for salmon.   We came close, but no cigar.  With the calm conditions to start at 9 am, I showed the guys a good laker jigging area.  We marked a ton of fish and Dave had a couple grabs but no hookups.

Near the canal, Rick had a very nice salmon around 24" or so beeline for his stickbait, but no grab.  We worked a ton of areas up the lake and back down without seeing a single salmon.  Shortly thereafter, strong north winds played some havoc with our fishing.  One smallish pike grabbed our salmon offering, but that was it.   Very tough day and I kept the guys fishing hard despite some very gusty north winds that made the lake quite choppy.

5/1 Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock:   After having such a tough day and seeing the south end of Seneca Lake get whipped up by the winds at the day's end, I decided to move my trip today with Dan (another long time client) from Seneca to Cayuga Lake. Maybe it was a mistake, but one can never tell.  

We had the same weather pattern that we've been having all week long.  Calm sunny conditions to start and then a north wind around 5 to 8 mph starting around 11 am with higher gusts late in the day.

I had Dan start with the laker jigging, which showed some promise.  Again - lots of fish and some aggressive chases (on the fishfinder) but not a single hit!  People who think lake trout jigging is always easy really don't know laker jigging!  It can be damn hard.  

We worked a bunch of areas for salmon.  Off of one point, we had three different salmon show themselves for Dan's stickbait, but no hits.  We tried another half dozen areas without seeing any sign of life.  Eventually we wound up at the south end of the lake, where Dan had a few grabs but wasn't able to hook up.  One fish apparently hit twice - which is a salmon trait.   A kayak troller we talked to had landed two salmon.  The water around the lower part of the lake had about 1' of visibility.  These north winds really concentrate "the murk" even though in some areas the water underneath is quite clear.

We went back to our "good area" and reworked it with no sign of fish.  We called it a day without landing or solidly hooking anything - Dan's arm was bothering him.  The first pure skunk of the year.  I went out after the trip and fished for 1/2 hour.  I had one large fish (a salmonid) of some type chase after my tube jig, but not hit it - or if it did I missed it.  

Water temperatures in the main portions of these large lakes are still in the mid-to upper 30s.  These are the same temps we dealt with during winter(!) over the past 15 years, with the exception of last year. Many fish still seem dormant or sluggish.  This week's temps forecast to hit the 70s and 80s should quickly reverse this. It's been a very interesting and challenging year!  There are nice salmon in all three of these lakes.  Between Seneca and Cayuga Lake, neither lake really seems to have better fishing than the other.  Some nice fish are being taken in both lakes, but I don't think the numbers are great.  They are OK.






Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 4/25 and Seneca Lake out of Geneva 4/26

4/25 Cayuga out of Long Point:  Guided Jim and his buddy Mitch for a full day.  It's always great seeing Jim and his enthusiasm on the water is always contagious.   In a nutshell the laker bite was tough today.  The fish were moving pretty well for the jigs and we found a lot of fish, but they are still stubborn.  Water temps are still very cold (more like March temperatures from 2005 - 2013.)  So the fish are somewhat dormant.  There are very few signs of baitfish moving in, but the two fish Jim landed were loaded with alewives from different year classes.  One or two gobies were also in the stomachs.  A few other hits were had, but it was tough.   Best action was deep - around 130' give or take, though we tried out to over 200' FOW and were marking fish out there.  We were the only boat out of Long Point today!   We also found quite a few fish just N. of Dean's Cove. 

4/26 Seneca Lake out of Geneva:  Ditto for here today.  I guided Matt and his wife Barbara and things looked good to start.  Matt nailed two nice lakers in short order, but despite some hard chasing fish, no more fish were hooked.  A few more hits were had.  We tried a lot of different tactics.  Angling Zone friend Jimmy nailed a couple beauties here yesterday.   The fish here are starting to feed as well, but the two I cleaned today didn't have nearly the amount of bait in them that the Cayuga fish had.   Keuka Lake would be a good bet for more action, but I'm interested in seeing how Seneca and Cayuga pick up, cause the size is there. Very few boats were out.  A couple perch guys and a couple trollers was it. 

Once the switch gets flipped on these lakes, the action will be great.  Things should set up beautifully this week.   Can't wait!

Stream Guiding Available

I posted this on my homepage, but for those of you who click right on to the reports:

A fair number of inquiries come my way for stream guiding and fly-fishing instruction. My great pal Eric Mastroberti has just started a guiding business focusing on area (CNY) streams for trout, carp and other species. He also guides lake-run fish and has access to some ponds. He's a class act and has been involved in angler education for over 10 years. He's also a superb fly-tier and his full dressed Atlantic Salmon flies are a work of art. Check out his website and guiding at:

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/19

Got out for a full day with Brian and his friend Puneet.   The goal was to fly-fish for Landlocked Salmon but the guys were up for whatever might offer the best action.  It was tough deciding whether to fish Seneca or Cayuga Lakes, but I thought the wind forecast might set up better for Seneca.   We started around 10 am with a bit of laker jigging.  There were loads of fish around but as has been the case for the past couple weeks they weren't too active.  Brian did manage a 20"er in fairly short order in around 140' FOW.  It had a small lamprey attached, but overall was in good condition.  

We tried a bunch of areas for salmon and one nice fish followed in a stickbait on a point. We didn't get a good look at it, but it was dark and large.  Maybe a brown.  On the south end, Brian got hammered by a solid fish!   He played it expertly and after a couple jumps and some strong digging I netted a beautiful salmon - we kept it and it wound up measuring 26" and weighing 6lb 10oz.   Incredible first salmon and on a streamer to boot!  It doesn't get much better than that! We tried more laker jigging and Puneet dropped one.  Later, a 14" fresh wild rainbow was also landed (on a stickbait) and of course released.   

We haven't been encountering many small or sublegal salmon this season yet.   Earlier this winter my buddy Mike did get into some further up the lake, so they are out there.  It remains to be seen whether these Sebago strain fish are as widely distributed as we hope. With luck, there are plenty of small salmon scattered around the lake that we just aren't around.  Time will tell.  Great day and we have some terrific photos too.  It's been an interesting season to say the least.  Stay tuned! 

Cayuga Lake out of Myers 4/15 AM + Lake Ontario out of Oswego 4/16

Cayuga Lake out of Myers 4/15:  Guided Peter for a 1/2 day AM.  He's been getting into fly-fishing and wanted to try the lake.  We did a couple casting lessons over the winter and he was itching to get out and put his skills to practice.   We met at 8 am with light winds which quickly calmed down to glassy conditions.   Not good for casting or fly-fishing on most days.   Peter worked on his casting for a bit and then we headed north to try and get some lakers.  He hadn't jigged them before and managed to get a hit or two and land one nice fish around 21".  Fish still seemed lethargic.  

Winds came up nicely out of the north and we worked a few areas for salmon.  The casting got better, but we never raised any fish.  Conditions were still pretty cold and the tribs were still pumping in water that wasn't more than a couple degrees warmer than the lake.  Late afternoon might've been better, but we had to call it a day so I could teach classes.  Water temps were around 36 or so if I remember right.  The laker had a couple alewives and what appeared to be a small goby in its stomach.

Lake Ontario out of Oswego Harbor 4/16:  I never made it out to Oswego last year - for early browns, summertime browns, lakers, bass - nothing.  This year I'm bound and determined to fish it on a regular basis.  I feel the lack of bait and harsh winter will make for hungry fish and great fishing.  Unfortunately last night my old computer was giving me some issues and it took me some time to straighten things out.  Then rigging and getting the boat ready made for a late night. My body decided to forego the early start and I slept in - turning off my alarm clock that was set at 4:30 am.   As I arrived at 10:45 am a boat was pulling out.  The guys told me that ice-out here was about a week and a half ago.  Trolling had been very good the past two days with today being slower.  But a combination of browns, rainbows, cohos and Atlantics have been caught.  The guys had landed a 10lb Atlantic over the past 3 days.  Even a few lakers up shallow.  No Kings yet for them.   Stomachs have been filled with gobies - no alewives.  It's similar to last year.

For me it was more of a Lake Ontario shakedown.  I fly-fished for 2 hours.  I may have had a brown following my streamer for a bit.  Maybe it was an illusion.  I spent a couple hours scouting the icy depths for signs of life.  I found what appeared to be lakers in around 150' to 160' FOW.   They were pretty lethargic.  I had a fish aggressively follow me almost to the surface.  No way was it a laker.   

I checked some areas west of the river for around 2 hours as well and had a good hit in around 20' FOW that I missed on a tube jig.  It hit as the tube was sinking and maybe halfway down - so it was probably a trout of some kind.  That was it.   The water temp was 34 out in the lake.  I had as much as 46 on the surface momentarily in some sun baked shallows.  The majority of river water was pushing 40 to 43 degrees by the end of the day.  The river was very muddy but the flume wasn't going out too far.   The launch still wasn't officially open so no fee but also no restrooms.  My guess is that they'll be charging this weekend.  I love the kind of exploration I did today and can't wait to get back, though I may have to fish some Landlockeds and Rainbows first around here!


Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/12

I did a 1/2 day trip in the AM with Tom and his friend Gordon.  They do some trolling and copperlining and wanted to learn the jigging.   Tom wanted to go out of Watkins for this trip. I'm not a big fan of the lake trout fishing on the south end of Seneca Lake most times of the year, but from March through early May, it can be decent, though rarely if ever on a par with Sampson or Geneva.

Today looked like a much better day than yesterday so we gave it a shot.  The south end was still quite murky and downright muddy from all the rain we've had lately.   On the positive side, when we started at around 7:45 am, we marked a lot of fish and bait.  A lot of boats were also out.  Probably 20 or more boats perch fishing and the Finger Lakes Trollers were having a tournament as well.    The laker bite was tough today.  Fish moved a bit for the jigs and a few hits were had.  Gordon landed a dink around 16" that was a wild fish.  We released that one. 

The good news today were the salmon that were in as deep a water as I've seen them this time of year!  Tom landed 2 beauties - both around 24" long and in the 5lb range.   Gordon lost one that had to be a class or two up from the ones Tom got.  Gordon's appeared to be over 25".   The salmon were in deep water - water around 120' to 150' deep and were suspended.  Both fish had lamprey hits and the first one we landed had a small (4") lamprey attached to it.  Both fish were in pretty good condition.  I realize that these depths are fairly routine for trollers, but I've rarely had to fish that deep for salmon this time of year (and of course I've had my tough days and skunkings, so it makes sense that a good number of these fish could be quite deep.)

That was it for the trip.  Afterwards, I grabbed my fly-gear and a couple spin rods and did some exploring up the lake.  I found salmon/trout to be as well distributed as I could hope. I didn't catch any, but they were around in the gin-clear water.   The calm conditions I ended up with aren't great for catching salmon, but they are fun for exploring.  I also saw fair numbers of pike and even a couple carp.  We'll be back for the pike in May once the season re-opens.    My friend Mike was amongst the masses working the perch.  He nabbed some good ones but they were being picky.  

This next four weeks is THE time for salmon, whether on the fly or via gear fishing.  Very few fish have moved up, but they will in droves this week.  Then we'll see what's out there. I'm very optimistic regarding our salmon fishing.  I think it's going to be good.  

Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 4/3

The ice just melted off in the Long Point harbor last night. All ramps were open today. Got out with my pal Mike around 11 am for lakers and some perch. The good news is that there are loads of lakers on the deep flats between Long Point and Levanna. Plenty of fish and some bait out to over 170'. The fish are still fairly lethargic. Some of this may be the full moon, but I think most of it is the cold water temps after a super cold winter.

We tried a lot of different tactics. Late in the day some fish got active for our jigs. Mike nailed a solid 28"er. We each dropped a couple fish. We had zero action on perch, giving it about 2 hours. We worked as far north as we could, but there's still ice on most of the northern portions of the lake - basically just above Farley's Point and northward.

I was excited to see what was in the stomach of Mike's laker. It was full of bait - mostly alewives, but one giant goby! It was over 6" long! So these fish are gobbling some big bait. I expect to see lakers here get bigger and bigger. We'll see what happens.

Cayuga Lake out of Myers Point 4/1 PM
Got out with my buddy Eric from around 1 pm till 7. We checked on salmon fishing in a bunch of areas. Water temps are still very cold - around 35 to 36 degrees and our winds weren't what we needed. Our day was slow. Eric did manage a rare rainbow trout on a streamer off of Taughannock. The fish was a wild 14"er. We checked the flats north of Millican. There are a lot of lakers up there, but during the hour or so we gave it, the action was slow. 120' to about 150' held plenty of fish. I'm looking forward to getting back out once we get some steady wind and warmer weather.
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/29 PM

Guided Mark for a 1/2 day PM.  I didn't think the conditions would be that great, but his availability is pretty limited so we decided to go for it.  Tried some laker jigging to start and it was slow.  Fair numbers of fish were around from about 120' to 150'.   Salmon fly-fishing was what we planned on.   Mark had one solid hookup and a great battle from a fish that was in the 22" to 23" range.   He got most of the fight on his Go-Pro, but unfortunately the fish got off after it ran under the boat.   We'll be back at them soon!

Laker jigging is fair to good on Cayuga.  My buddy Mike got a few solids on the same day.  H2O on Cayuga was around 33 degrees, Seneca was 36. 


Seneca Lake out of Lodi Point 3/26

What a brutal day!   Wow.   I talked to my buddy Mike last weekend and Thursday was looking to be a good weather day to go out.   We had forecast highs in the upper 40s.  Day by day the forecast for nice weather deteriorated.   On Wednesday night it was an 80% chance of rain, with up to 3/4" predicted.  Mostly coming after 1pm.  By Thursday AM it was 100% chance of rain with most of it due after 11 am.   Should've said screw it, but we took a chance and went early.   Most times I say "when in doubt, go out" but once in a while it bites you back.  Yesterday was one of those days.

We had a 20 minute window of good looking salmon conditions.  No action there.  Then the winds died and rain started in.  I found out after an hour or so that my Mustang Suit isn't especially water proof.   The dampness and rain was relentless though I didn't get too wet, just a little damp.   No bonechill, but it reminded me of a few nasty days in my youth of being out in the boat.   We tried some perch fishing without any sign of them.  I did manage to hook a solid brown trout on my perch rig which was pretty cool!   But that was it.   We tried a few drops for lake trout but the rain made us pretty miserable. 

The coolest weirdest part of the day was the static in the air.   I've been out around lightning storms and had my hair standing on end, rod tip buzzing and fishing line going skyward.   That's the time to get off of the lake!   Mike had never seen the bit with the line, but today we got to see it.   You could have cut off your lure and fed fishing line into the sky and watched it rise.   Scary, but this isn't really a time of the year we see much thunderstorm activity, though we did hear a rumble or two.  Anyways, we cured our cabin fever.   Looking forward to getting out again soon.  Water temps are around 35.8 degrees.

Seneca Lake out of Lodi Point 3/19 PM

Guided Ali and Mike for what wound up being a long 1/2 day starting around noon.   The launch at Lodi is open (and has been all winter from what I've heard.)   I thought we'd have a great shot at some good laker jigging today.   The bite wound up being tough for us.  We worked our way up towards Sampson and in our first area Ali landed a 20" laker and missed another.  We marked some fish but they weren't hitting well.  It definitely felt like the fish were still fairly dormant and in a winter pattern.   It's not like Keuka where they feed heavily throughout the winter!    We marked fish from around 140' to 180' and beyond.  I think the north end would be a good bet, but I wasn't going to make a 20 mile+ run, since we wanted to do some salmon fishing further south as well.   The jigging should improve by the week as the days get longer and the fish move in.

We worked some other areas for lakers and salmon and Mike wound up getting one hit that was likely a salmon, but that was it.   Tough day and we fished hard and covered a lot of water.   Only a handful of boats were out - mostly perch anglers around Sampson that ran from Roy's.   Perch fishing on Seneca these days is a far cry from the 1980s, where you'd see boats on many different points throughout the lake.  Now the schools are fewer and fished harder.

Seneca Lake Reports 3/11, 13 + 14

Seneca Lake 3/11 AM Shorefishing:   Met my buddy Mike at one of our favorite shorefishing haunts.  The lake was flat calm and sunny, which in wintertime is pretty much the "kiss of death" for shore activity.   So we fired up cigars and waited for the wind to come up.   We fished for 2 hours or so with no action.   I had to teach classes, so I hit one other area also without any action.   Mike stuck things out and managed to lose a fish in the first area he fished.  In another area he caught a couple dink salmon as well as two legal fish - one around 16" and one over 20".  

Seneca Lake 3/13 out of Severne Point:   Drove the boat down with my buddy Eric and we checked out the launch at Schamels.   Some guys broke the ice this AM and around 4 boats launched, but by the time we arrived at 11 am the marina area was frozen solid again!   So up to Severne we went.   Wind conditions were pretty darn brutal and perch anglers were coming off the lake in fairly rapid succession.   I'd guess the winds were around 18 mph out of the south with 3' and some 4' waves.  It was nasty.   Some perch anglers did well in the AM, but fishing had reportedly slowed.

We launched and made a slow, rough, cold, nasty, wet run, checking out some nearby areas.  It was the kind of run most people wouldn't do and I rarely ever do with a client onboard, but it was my pal Eric and he's used to it (ha ha.)   It was a bit too windy for enjoyable fly-fishing, so the spinning gear came out.   I landed a pike around 29" or 30" in short order on a tube jig.  It was not a very healthy looking fish with some weird slime (shades of 2008) and lamprey hits.   But it fought pretty well.   Eric had a hit from a salmon and I had a follow from one around 18".   I then hooked and lost a decent salmon.  We fished a bit more without any action.

We hit a few more areas.  I hooked a very solid fish on a white bionic smelt and type 4 sinking line.  After a few strong runs and some dogging Eric slipped the net under a chunky 25.5" brown.   Eric had another follow, but that was it for us.  Water temps were around 36/37.   The canal was up around 38/39 and 40 in places.   Tough fishing with the windy conditions.  

Seneca Lake 3/14 out of Severne Point:   Kicked off the 2015 guiding season with longtime clients Ron and Matt.   They nearly always pick stellar days to go out (way in advance!) and today was no exception.    The forecast didn't look great with rain called for but we barely felt a drop.   Anyways they had ice-fished Keuka in the AM and met me at 12:30 at Schamels, and of course it was frozen so we drove up to Severne.

I thought conditions were perfect for targeting pike with only one more day til the season closes, so that's what we went for.  The first area we fished is an inconspicuous area that I like a lot.   Matt nailed a healthy looking fish around 30" on a swimbait.   Nice start.   In our next area he caught another good fish on a spoon.  Then Ron hooked up on his X-Rap.  But this fish jumped!  After a few runs I netted a 25.5" brown!   A beauty and Ron's first on the Finger Lakes.  Success on the trip within 2 hours!  I was stoked.  

We worked some other areas for pike and trout/salmon and Ron and Matt both hooked up simultaneously on salmon.  We landed both fish - a 23.5" and a 24" Landlocked salmon.   The last area we fished was a pike area and it was lights out pike fishing.  The guys hammered them with fish following at times on nearly every cast.   Another dozen or more solid fish were landed to 36".

Most pike are looking reasonably well.  There are quite a few lamprey scars but no sign of the nasty slime (apart from our first fish) on any of the others.   I think a fair number have already spawned.  

All fish went back in the lake today.   I'm not seeing any real concentrations of salmon, but they appear to be very well dispersed throughout the lake.   That's what was expected of these Sebago strain fish and perhaps that's what we'll get.   I'm looking forward to when the water starts warming up and these fish start to get more concentrated and aggressive.






Keuka Lake Ice fishing 3/6 out of Keuka State Park

Met my buddy Mike at the State Park around noon.   We set up to jig lakers. The fishing was a bit slow for us today.  Maybe we missed the hot bite or weren't in the best areas but we worked for our fish.  I wound up with 3 nice lakers and had another 3 close to the hole.  One that hit right under the ice!   Mike landed 2 and also dropped more.  He was using a makeshift laker jigging set up and wasn't real happy with the softer rod, feeling that he couldn't get a good hookset.   We worked from 100' to 170' and found fish - albeit one or two at all the depth ranges for the most part.  We'd first drill a hole, then typically have some action, then have to move on.  But we never had a lot going on under us.  Fish didn't seem too aggressive. 

An angler we talked to that had fished early in the AM landed 20 to 30 fish.   We were a day away from the full moon, so it's likely that lakers are feeding heavily at night.  We also met 3 anglers heading out after dark to give it a shot!  I'd love to know how they did.   The Bluff Area would be a great choice right now.  The Bluff on the Penn Yan Arm maxes out at around 120', so there's no need to go deeper.   It's loaded with lakers and would be my pick (as an avid open water Keuka Lake angler) for finding larger numbers of hungry lake trout.  I'm guessing I might give Keuka one more shot this winter through the ice. 

I think this heavy icefishing pressure on Keuka's lake trout is a good thing and will hopefully help to keep this large population of fish in check.  We'll see come open-water season if we see some more bait or bigger fish.  

Cayuga Lake Shorefishing 3/4

Hit Milliken Station for an hour and a half today with fly-gear.   (I'm just going to call it that instead of AES or Cayuga Operating Company from now on.  It's too darn confusing with all the name changes - but for those who don't know, I'm talking about the power plant.)   Nothing was doing.   A few other anglers worked it as well.  My buddy Mike drove up a ways to fish there and he stayed the whole day.  Conditions changed a bit for the better and he persevered, landing a couple solid salmon and pike.   

It was very cool being able to see the "influence" of the warm water throughout the area.   I knew that fish could detect it from a long ways away, but in my boat I could never measure much of a water temperature difference for more than a little ways around the discharge and bay.  But clearly the influence of the plant goes more than 2/3rds the way across the lake, up the lake 2+ miles and down the lake probably the same amount.  That's changed my perspective on things a lot! 

Ice fishing?! Yowsa - Keuka Lake 2/28 out of Keuka State Park


It looks like we are official with the coldest February on record here in Central NY.   No surprise there - I'd never seen week after week with lows below zero and highs sometimes also below zero until this year.   People ask me fairly often whether I ice fish or not.  I usually go once or twice a year with my buddy Mike - generally for bluegills on small lakes.   Those are the only reports I don't post, since parking areas are limited and it really has nothing to do with the Finger Lakes.   But I used to ice-fish a lot from around 7th or 8th grade onwards.  I was never particularly adept at it.  We'd set tip ups for pike or pickerel and jig for perch.   No electronics (like nearly everyone back then.)  No real shelter.  Just stand or sit on a 5 gallon pail and let the nose run.   Look for the anglers and set up not too far away, or just wing it. I bought a cheap Frabill shelter and I also did a little bit of icefishing when I moved up here in 1995, mostly at Whitney Point Reservoir.

My buddy Mike convinced me to get a good shelter this season and I broke down and bought a nice Frabill.  They are great for tall people.   On the way back from the boat show I stopped in at Bass Pro Shops and grabbed a Jason Mitchell Mackinaw stick - the last one they had.   I want to catch a laker through the ice.  I also want to jig a few pickerel.

Angling Zone Friend Jeff B. has been into icing lakers for years and on a whim I texted him and found out Keuka Lake State Park had been hot.  No surprise there.   So off we went yesterday.   My buddy Jarrod, his 6 year old son Max, Jarrod's buddy Eric and myself.   We got set up around 11:30/Noon and fished away.  We wound up doing pretty well once we got things dialed in.  Jarrod nailed the first laker then Eric caught a beauty (with 6lb test.)   I started hitting them good as well and I have to give my Vexilar FL-18 a lot of credit. We wound up with a nice bunch of fish.   I was able to help young Max (doing all the fishing himself) get a nice fish around 23" or better.   Our best action was around 140' to 155'.

There was a good foot of clear blue ice on the lake.  I could see my jig come up 7' or 8' below the ice without even looking in the hole.  It was great seeing the pale lakers coming up towards the hole doing their usual twisting and pumping.  Eric's fish took some nice runs, which was cool.   Jeff B. told me that the Keuka Lake fish load up with bait in the winter.  He wasn't kidding.  Nearly all of our fish were spitting bait.   My theory is that the well-fed lakers on Seneca and Cayuga Lake don't need to feed as hard in the winter.  They can live on their fat reserves.  These Keuka fish need to keep eating!

My setup was pretty basic.  The 34" Jason Mitchell rod was great.  I could jig in my shelter, the tip was soft enough not to pull the jig away from the fish and there was plenty of backbone to fight the lakers.  It's a well thought out rod.   I went with an ABU Orra Casting reel loaded with the smoke (black)14lb  Fireline so I could see it against the ice.  The Fireline Crystal probably would've been fine in the shelter.  (I brought a reel set up with it, but didn't get to try it.  I will next time.)   I used the usual 12lb test Seaguar Invis-X Flouro leader.  Stout stuff - I don't think lakers are line-shy and stout gear makes it easy to get the fish coming up through the hole till you can grab him or just pull him through.   Also ice can nick line and why take any chances?   A 1+1/2 oz jighead with a white Lunker City Swim Fishie did the damage.  Spoons and bladebaits are also working good.  These fish aren't that picky.  They are hungry!

On an added note, one angler I spoke with landed a 17" Landlocked salmon.   If you want DEC to keep stocking salmon and browns in Keuka Lake and you fish there, make a point of signing up for the angler diary program.  They aren't seeing much interest or success with these species.  If that continues to be the case, you may see these stocking programs discontinued.   The same angler told me of a 19lb laker iced yesterday on Canandaigua Lake!  That's a BIG FISH!  



Cayuga Lake Shorefishing 1/24 PM

I live fairly close to the "Cayuga Operating Company" plant aka Milliken Station/Cayuga AES, so it's not a big deal to drive over to check it out.    In the wintertime I can usually see the stack from my living room window.   They've been generating power over the past few days, but today they weren't doing much.  I still gave the pike fishing around 2 hours or so with the 8 wt. fly-rod.

Nobody else was fishing when I arrived around 3:15 pm.   I casted a very heavy unwieldy Clouser Minnow and within 10 minutes I landed a solid northern pike around 28" or 29" long.  Great fight!   But that was it.   Casting was tough with the north wind - at least at certain angles.   The lake is as low as I've seen it.   Just ridiculously low.   I remember winters in the early 2000s and late 1990s where we'd have to wade under the docks to get over to the point.  Now it's easy to wade OFF of the docks.   Big difference and I'd like to know why the DOT or Canal System or whoever controls the lake level feels that it needs to be even lower than it was 10 years ago - and it was low back then.  I'd call the pike fishing "fair."  

Seneca Lake shorefishing 1/23 PM

Finally got out for a little bit of shorefishing. Just like with guided trips, I try to pick good days. If the conditions aren't optimal or at least pretty good for what I want to do, I do something else - either fish for a different specie or stay home.  

I spent just over 2 hours fly-casting on Seneca Lake and landed 2 nice salmon.   The first one was a 19"er that hit a large deceiver.  I was going to release the fish but it destroyed its eye on the big hook, so that fish was kept for dinner.  It was full of scuds, which is often the case this time of year around certain parts of the lake.   The only other hit I had felt like a lake trout when I hooked it, but was slightly more frantic.  I saw silver and then landed a really nice looking clean salmon that was around 23.5"/24".   This one had a slight hookscar (meaning it'd been caught once before.)   This one I released.  

It can be tough wanting to put a salmon back in the lake.  They do taste great and they can be hard to catch/find at times.   I could've gotten 4 nice meals at the very least out of the larger salmon today!   A lot of us enjoy eating FL salmon.   I certainly do!   With the lakes' overall productivity being considerably lower than some of the heyday years of the late 1980s, 90s and 2000s, I think it's a great idea to release most of the healthy fish.  If you catch more than a couple salmon - whether trolling, casting, fly-casting or using live-bait, you are likely going to have a fish or more that are deeply hooked, scarred from eels, bleeding badly or just worn out.  Keep those fish and try to release the healthy ones!   We all love catching salmon but I just don't get the feeling that there are a ton of them to go around.  It isn't like lake trout.  The poor salmon runs in the tribs - regardless of rain, should tip anglers off to the fact that most of these fish aren't making it to the spawn.   Not that it matters ecologically, since they don't reproduce much at all, but my point is that most of these fish are getting harvested before they run the tribs. And trib fishing for salmon is something a lot of people really look forward to.  It's a great component of our local fisheries.    Just some food for thought.

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