Seneca Lake 11/12, Owasco Lake 11/13


The air temperature was cold out there for the past couple days. The fishing has been hot. Take care of yourself from head to toe – i.e. wear plenty of layers, a warm hat, gloves and winter boots and it can be comfortable in 30 to 40 degree air.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 11/12: Guided Jeff and Jake for a full day starting around 8 am. It was cold to start! The guys both fly-fish but Jeff was adamant about catching one on the fly. So much so, that he kept fly fishing after Jake landed 5 on gear. Jeff finally switched over to gear and got a couple northerns in the boat, then he went back to the flies. His perseverance paid off and he nabbed a 33″ solid pike and one around 27″ or so on an intermediate fly line. We had a few salmon follow. Some are around and I hope to check on this lake’s salmon fly-fishing action soon. Water temps should be good for it by the start of next week. Pike generally looked good. We had a couple at 33″ and another 8 or 9 from around 23″ to 30″. Most were 27″ to 28″.

We saw a dead rainbow trout. We didn’t look too carefully at it (it was fairly deteriorated) but we could see at least one lamprey scar. 50% to 75% of the pike are sporting at least one and sometimes 2 to 3 lamprey wounds. No need for conspiracy theories on Seneca Lake regarding salinity, winery run-off or other mysterious pollutants. One good look at the fish reveals the most likely culprit – lampreys. One adult lamprey can kill 20 to 30 POUNDS worth of trout/salmon in its short lifetime (12 to 18 months in the lake.) By that token, 1000 adult lampreys could kill 20,000 pounds of fish. Given that the average trout/salmon in Seneca Lake is probably 2 to 4lbs, that would account for 5,000 to 10,000 adult trout being consumed. I have no idea how many adult lamprey were in Seneca Lake over the past 3 years. It’s probably a lot more than 1000. Maybe thousands. How many adult trout are typically in the lake? Do the math and you’ll see why there hasn’t been much of a salmonid fishery in the lake over the past couple years. Things should turn around soon with successful treatments being done this past spring.

Owasco Lake 11/13: Winter weather advisory. 100% chance of rain and snow. Highs in the upper 30s. I can’t say I was excited to do this trip apart from wondering how I would fare. I used to boat fish this stuff quite a bit in the 2000s but a funny thing happened to me. I got older. That being said, we used to have some great fall fishing out in cold weather, especially on Skaneateles Lake. Anyways, Nathan and his brother Chris were psyched to do the trip so how could I refuse. It’s my job.

Everything actually went very smoothly. My hands were a little cold here and there (I did bring gloves.) The guys did great in the weather. It was a similar situation to yesterday, with Nate doing the fly-casting and Chris throwing gear. Both guys had a pretty equal amount of action but Nate missed a lot more fish on the flies. It happens – while stripping line your hands get cold or you don’t get a good grip on the line with gloves and it slips out during a crucial moment. He did catch the biggest I think – and it was on a fly. I think it was around 31″ to 32″. He lost what appeared to be a really good one too – I’m guessing mid-30s from the fight. He nabbed a big perch that was at least 12″ on the fly. The guys both hooked nice big smallmouths on jerkbaits and Nate got his in – an 18.5″er. Seven nice pike were landed on the day and we had a lot more chasing and hitting. Fun day despite being pelted with some freezing rain on the way back in. Water level is low but launchable. Water temps are 49 to 50. Needless to say, we were the only boat out on the lake.

Bass Pro Shops: What happened over there? I hadn’t been there in a few months. The rod selection was greatly reduced. I didn’t see the usual G.Loomis, Quantum, Diawa and some other major brands. Maybe I just missed them. The fly shop inventory was way down too. It didn’t feel like being in a Bass Pro Shops. I saw more rods at Field and Stream in Big Flats than I did here. Hopefully this was just an anomaly. Other departments looked like normal from my quick walk around the store, but c’mon – Bass Pro Shops is a FISHING store. I expect a top-notch selection of fishing tackle here.