Seneca Lake 7/24 – 25, Cayuga Lake 7/26 – 27


7/24 AM Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park:  Guided Tyson out of Sampson State Park for a 1/2 day trip starting at 6:30 am.  He has a camp on Waneta Lake and fishes a few of the Finger Lakes.  He was looking to give Seneca a try.  We had a very good day with four solid lake trout landed and another half-dozen or more dropped.  If I remember correctly, fish ran fairly large.  We had a couple wild and a couple hatchery fish.  One large lamprey (which we dispatched) came up on a fish.  We marked a lot of fish and overall they were pretty active.  Fishing remains good on Seneca Lake!

7/25 Seneca Lake out of Sampson State Park:  Guided Mark I. today for a full day.  He was looking for a change of pace, so we gave Seneca a try.  Years ago, we’d do some jigging out of Watkins Glen when the conditions weren’t conducive for pike or salmon.  We had another good day out here with Mark landing a couple trout in the first hour of the day.  Fish were pulling hard and fighting great.  A few trolling charters were the only other fishing boats we encountered, so the solitude on a huge lake was pretty awesome.  Due to the wind and chop, fishing the hot area from yesterday was pretty much out of the question, so we worked alternate zones.   Mark hooked a solid laker in one area and after a great fight with some good runs, I slipped the net under a 31 1/2″ fish!  Beauty! After that, he landed two more fish for a total of five.  Other fish were dropped on the day.

Even though I mentioned it in a prior post, I’d forgotten how rough this lake gets! Cayuga Lake stays pretty mellow when compared to Seneca, due to Cayuga’s winding basin.  We had a cell of some sort nearby which really amped the north winds up into the teens or lower 20s (for gusts) as we wrapped up the trip!   It was the first real chop I’d dealt with in quite some time.  It wasn’t a big deal, but it took us a while to get across the lake.  What was the lake like?  Ask any dog, they’ll tell you – RUFF!

Hooked up with a big one!

Mark with a 2022 Seneca Slob!

7/26 Cayuga Lake out of Myers:  I talked to “Mac” on the phone over the weekend and we decided to stick with our plans to fish Cayuga Lake.  Throughout the algae bloom, friends and past clients (as well as myself and my clients) have been making out pretty well.  As I’ve often said, “A slow day on Cayuga is still better than a good day on most other lakes.”  I stand by that adage.   “Mac” aka Mike has a place on the lake just north of the Boy Scout Camp; he’s been there for years, so it made sense to stay on Cayuga.  Friends told me that the algae had cleared up in the lower to mid-lake.  The winds that went through the area on Monday (that we dealt with on Seneca Lake) certainly also helped to get rid of some of the bloom.

I picked up Mac and Jeremy via boat just after 7:30 am.  The lake looked great.  We wound up having a terrific double-digit day with Mac and his son in-law Jeremy.  The guys kept five solid lake trout and they really were feeding heavily.  We found active fish everywhere we fished.  We were into the double-digits within two hours or less.  The angling is currently representative of typical hot late-season (August) fishing on Cayuga Lake.  Great day!

Mac with a nice fish

Jeremy on

7/27 Cayuga Lake out of Myers:  Guided just under a full day with Scott today starting just after 6:30 am.  After yesterday’s great fishing, he was primed to fish Cayuga.  Over the past couple years, we’d done our two trips during the summer on Owasco and Onondaga Lakes.  He hadn’t fished Cayuga in a while, and it was a good time to give it a try.  The top-notch bite continues over here with Scott getting into the double-digits in just over an hour.  We had a steady bite for a few hours then we decided to see if we could get into any browns and/or rainbows.  We never did catch any of those species, but Scott nabbed a good landlocked salmon (which seem to be a fairly scarce specie this year) on a bladebait that he wanted to try.  It was a clean 23″ salmon that we released (along with everything else today.)  Scott brought along a bunch of terrific tackle including high-end Shimano imported rods, which were pretty cool to check out.,

Scott with one of his better lake trout

Scott's 23" Salmon

Conditions got tougher for nabbing browns/rainbows and we tried without any luck, apart from more lake trout.  Great day and it’s nice to see Cayuga Lake back on track after 2+1/2 weeks of algae issues.

The hot weather of the past week has resulted in large swaths of warm water – “plateaus” so to speak.  Pulling and fighting fish through 50 to 70 feet of 75-degree water can be hard on lake trout, which we know are cold water fish.  It didn’t look like Mark’s fish from Seneca Lake was going to survive, but it did as far as we could tell.  We had a couple other fish over the past few days show signs of stress from the battle in the warm water.  There are three ways to handle this issue (apart from not fishing, which doesn’t make sense given how great the fishing is):

1.)  Don’t stress out any fish inordinately.   Minimize “fight time” by using proper tackle and not “playing the fish” for a long time.  My clients use medium to medium heavy baitcasting outfits with leaders testing 12lbs.  Don’t have the drag set too light.  Put ample pressure on the fish so you can get it to the net in relatively short order. (Obviously you don’t want to pressure the fish too hard, where it breaks off.)   This is no time or place for light tackle and “fairy wands” – not unless you plan on keeping fish.  Minimize the amount of time you handle fish – if it takes time to dehook or untangle a fish, then pass on the photo.

2.)  Don’t spend time “reviving the fish” in the warm surface water!  After you’ve dehooked the fish, plunge it into the water headfirst.  Don’t rock it back and forth in the 76-degree surface water!  Give it a head start going down into the cooler water.  The trout or salmon should head right down into the depths.  I was able to watch our big lakers of the past couple days swim down to the bottom on my Lowrance!

3.)  If worse comes to worse, have your cooler with ice onboard and plan on having to keep a fish or two.  There’s no point in wasting one!  If you don’t eat fish or don’t care for them, give one to somebody that would enjoy it!

Without a doubt (and I’ve said it before) Seneca Lake is fishing better for lake trout than it has in any of the past 6 years.  It still isn’t as good as Cayuga Lake, but on any given day it could fish better – if that makes sense.  By 2024 or 2025, we’ll see the effects of the stocking increases on Seneca (basically the restoration of the last stocking cut over there) and the lake should be fishing as good as Cayuga.  Seneca Lake’s lake trout fishing should improve every year.  If you want large wild lake trout, Seneca is the place to go in the Finger Lakes Region.  I am happy and thrilled to be guiding here again for lake trout.  Life is better when Seneca Lake is fishing well.  All the major Finger Lakes with the exception of Keuka Lake, are fishing well for lake trout as far as I know.  I haven’t heard anything recently from Canandaigua Lake, but without lampreys there, it is generally very consistent over the years.  Keuka Lake has been tougher with the condition of the fish getting worse (they are getting skinnier,) so that lake is currently the “weak sister” of the five bigger Finger Lakes.  I’ll have some information regarding that fishery in a few weeks once Region 8 finishes up their cold-water netting over there.