Seneca Lake Memorial Weekend Lake Trout Tournament 5/28 – 5/30


The more guiding I do, the less I enjoy fishing derbies and tournaments. I frankly don’t have the energy and drive to get onto the water at “dark-thirty,” fish a long day, then do it again and again. I used to enjoy fishing Avon Anglers Bass Tournaments, but again – with no time to “pre-fish,” winging it on tournament day gets old, especially when other competitors are getting out and scouting for a couple days. But my buddy Mike has been fishing the Memorial Day Lake Trout tournament over the past few years and he really enjoys it. He’s been encouraging me to get into it. My prior experiences going out of Sampson State Park and being surrounded by crazy trollers and copper pullers weren’t endearing to say the least!

Regular client Ed booked two half days with me with the intent of fishing the laker derby. The plan was for Ed and his friend John to hunt turkeys in the morning, then meet me at 2 pm and fish lakers till 6 on Saturday and Sunday. It’s hard to turn down two days of guiding, especially with the sketchy economy this year, so off we went. Here’s how things broke down:

5/28 PM: I got on the water around 11:30 am or so out of Seneca Lake State Park. Mike had been fishing since 5:30 am so I had an on-the-water report. They hadn’t caught a fish! It looked like things were going to be a grind. I scouted out some depths and marked lakers as shallow as 40′. Had a hit or two and was mildly optimistic. Mike filled me in that client (from 9/19/09) Jeff Toombs was in the lead for the Grand Prize with a 13lb+ whopper. Fishing was tough for us. John did manage to hook what appeared to be a solid laker but lost it. Ed lost a smaller fish that was up high in the water column. That was it for day 1. After the trip ended around 6 pm I fished another hour and missed a couple hits. No great shakes.

5/29 PM: Mike and his buddy Jim reported a better AM today, with 5 fish landed by the time I arrived. My plan of getting on the water around 6:30 am failed and I slept in. Got out around noon again. I managed to land 3 fish before picking up Ed and John at 2 pm. In a nutshell, the fishing was tough again. But Ed hooked a good fish around 4 pm. It was on the thin side, but 32″ long! So we put the fish on ice and motored in to the weigh station. Ed’s 10.55lb laker wound up a few hundredths of a pound out of 1st place in the Sr. Division! So we were pretty stoked. That was the only fish we landed! Mike’s nephews Chris and Justin had 3 fish on the board in the 9 to 10lbs range. Past client Paul Nagel also weighed in a board fish. Mike’s partner for the tournament, Jim weighed in an 11.6lb laker – good for 5th place overall.

5/30 AM: I finally got out around 6:30 am to be met with foggy conditions and no wind. I expected sun and a westerly, which likely would have made for a good bite, but it wasn’t to be. I landed 4 fish – including a couple 28 1/2″ers but no board fish. Marked a ton from 35′ on out to around 60′. Yes – they are shallow!

From what I heard, at least 1,200 people entered the derby. There were laker prize categories for 31 places, including overall biggest fish, grand prize, biggest caught by juveniles, teens, seniors, men and women. At least 7 of the 31 were taken by jiggers that I know personally. Perhaps more were taken jigging – I don’t know. But it should be very clear to anyone reading this that day in and day out JIGGING CATCHES THE BIGGEST LAKE TROUT! It’s common sense – fish don’t get large chasing down bait. The biggest fish lazily swim along picking off dead and dying baitfish – the stuff that we imitate with our jigs. If you’d like to catch bigger lake trout – and maybe win a derby, now’s the time to learn this stuff! It’s a bargain!