Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 11/14 + 16, Skaneateles Lake 11/15


Did some fishing with my buddy Terry on Thursday and Friday, then guided back to back 1/2 days out of Watkins Glen today. Here’s the breakdown:

11/14 Watkins Glen: Met my buddy Terry at Schamel’s launch just after10:45 am. By 11:15 or 11:30 we were fishing. Conditions looked beautiful for some salmon fishing with a light south wind and bluebird skies, though there were a few clouds lingering. Air temps were cold to start. And nobody, except for one boat perch fishing was out on the lake.

Water temps were around 49/50. It does take a big lake like Seneca a while to cool down. I fly-fished and Terry gear-fished – I used my bionic smelt fly on an Intermediate fly-line and Terry went with an alewife tube – a lure he turned me onto about 20 years ago!

Fishing was good. Before we even set up, a few small salmon were crashing a little bait on the surface. Terry had most of the action to start – he dropped a silvery fish around 18″ to 19″ in short order. He had another as well. We both saw fish, had hits and had follows – which in my opinion constitutes very good landlocked salmon fishing. He landed the first good fish, a 23″ chromer. It fought great. I landed a 22″er that also fought great. A couple dinks were also landed. All fish were released today.

Fish were generally in good condition. Many have minor hook scars and that’s always a testament to the effectiveness of catch and release on these aggressive fish.

We did some pike fishing for around 1/2 hour and I landed a 30″er on a Lunker City Shaker/Sworming Hornet combo. The fish literally swallowed the lure! The lure was invisible in the fish -it was in its stomach. So that one we kept.

As we wrapped up at the parking lot, a guy showed us a 28″ “brown” – it was a hook jawed (male) salmon he’d caught off the pier. Full of spawning colors! Nice, hefty fish!

11/15 Skaneateles Lake: Met Terry around 10:30. Seeing the docks still in absolutely made my day! What a relief, though I was prepared to deal with no docks if I had to. I’d like to see those docks stay in until the conclusion of the Thanksgiving weekend, if we don’t have a major snow storm. A lot of people like to fish perch in that lake and not every sportsman hunts. And many deer hunters are already back fishing perch by then anyways.

We ran down the lake a ways and set up with some assorted jigs. Fishing was slow to start. We had a few “pops” but nothing for awhile. I finally nabbed a big perch in around 17′ to 23′ FOW. Then I missed another hit and Terry hooked up with a nice 18″+ rainbow. It hit a dark tube jig. We caught about a dozen more perch including some slobs and things went well until my depthfinder started acting weird and trolling motor started dying. With two trips on Saturday, we fished a little longer, but knocked off before what I consider the best fishing of the day – the evening.

When we pulled the boat out, I found a lot of fishing line wrapped around the trolling motor prop. Maybe that was the issue! It saved me a trip to Bass Pro Shops. At least for now.

11/16 AM Watkins Glen: Met Jon and Bill at Schamel’s just before 7 am. It was cold out and we set up for pike for maybe 45 minutes. No luck there. Bill fly-fished while Jon cast with spinning gear. Bill does mostly stream/river fly-fishing and it took some time to get used to casting heavier flies on heavy rods.

We set up for salmon and in fairly short order Jon hooked and lost a decent fish. Jon had a couple other follows on the gear and Bill had a follow or two on the fly but it was slow going. Jon eventually hooked a 18.5″ salmon that we kept. We did see a few big fish today. Saw one average salmon with a HUGE lamprey attached. Bill’s casting really got better as the morning progressed and eventually he hooked a nice salmon which got off. Saw one boat trolling salmon today and a few boats out perch fishing.

PM: Picked up Mark I. at the launch at noon. We started in the same area we’d raised some fish in this AM. With 20 minutes or so, Mark was hooked onto a nice 22″ salmon! One of the best fights I’ve ever seen from a landlocked salmon ensued. The fish jumped around 8 times! I’ve had that once before. Just an awe-inspiring spectacular fight – for my money the most exciting fighter in freshwater! At least when they are on their game. We released this fish for another day.

About 10 minutes later Mark was onto another one. This one was a little bigger. Around 22.5″. Not as good a fight and unfortunately this one was hooked in the gill rakes/tongue area and bled all over. One for Mark’s dinner! When salmon fishing is “on” I recommend releasing healthy fish. Even if you want to keep some fish, you’ll often find at least one or more will maim themselves and you’ll have to keep them anyways.

I thought this would signal the start of a hot fishing day – but that was about it. Mark got a dink or two, but no more hits or follows. Very mysterious! And of course my trolling motor batteries were shot. Sheer coincidence that that fishing line was in there as well.