Seneca/Cayuga Lake Shorefishing 2/20 – 2/21


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

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

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

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

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

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

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