Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 11/29


Got out around 8:30 am with my buddy Mike. Air temps were in the upper 20s when we launched and the wind was blowing around 6 to 8 mph. Conditions looked really good for fly-fishing salmon and we were both optimistic. We saw one other boat out perch fishing, then later a boat bass or pike fishing and that was it.

We worked the southern portions of the lake and it didn’t take long before some small salmon showed themselves. After maybe an hour I landed the first fish – a very fat 21″ salmon that we kept. It weighed in at 3lbs 12 oz! That’s a well-fed fish! We had a lot of action from salmon today – lots of chases and some hits and we landed another sublegal fish apiece. Great fishing but nothing special on the catching. The wind picked up and we kept fishing despite the tough conditions. Just as we were getting ready to move, Mike hooked a beauty not far from the boat. The fish hit hard “on the fly” (swimming fast) then quickly jumped twice and we knew it was a good one. Mike had a look of despair on his face as his line wrapped around my windshield and the fish got behind the boat.

We’re both fairly certain after today that a salmon can split itself into two fish as it fights – because at least 3 fish we hooked today appeared to jump out of the water in two places at a time! It was insanity. I detached the driftbag and after some more aerobics I was able to net the beauty. 25″+ and FAT – likely a 6lb fish! We took a couple quick shots and released the fish.

I was happy for Mike, since I’d had most of the follows and grabs early on. We were going to fish some pike as the day wore on but Mike was up for more salmon. I wasn’t sure how long they’d be hitting, but they kept going. We each cast into the same basic area and I felt Mike had snagged my line – but I was wrong, I had a fish – another beauty! This fish did two arc shaped “tumbling” jumps – like the shape of a rainbow (not the trout.) The jumps appeared to be around six feet across. It was crazy. After another wild fight, Mike netted the clean fat salmon. Another 25″+ fish likely pushing over 6lbs! Took a couple quick photos and released it. A couple more sublegal fish made it to the boat.

Overall we encountered 4 different classes of salmon today. This year’s stocking – fish around 10″ long, last year’s fish – fish around 13″ to 14″, then some around 18″ to 21″ and lastly some big fish around 25″. There were lots of small fish around. The lack of pike in this lake is surely helping the salmon survive. No doubt about it in my mind. My 21″ fish and Mike’s 25″ fish had fresh lamprey hits on them. It’s a shame, but they weren’t worse for the wear.

Tackle used were 6 wt. fast action fly-rods, intermediate and Type 3 full-sinking fly-lines, bionic smelt flies in size 2 and 4 (white.)

These fish are in the best condition I’ve EVER seen landlocked salmon in. They are in football type shape. Better than anything I’ve seen on Cayuga before. Fishing wasn’t particularly easy today. Winter salmon fishing rarely is. This is steelheader type stuff – dealing with difficult and at times trying conditions hoping for a grab. We landed fish in water from 20′ to 150′ deep. Winter salmon fishing out on a large Finger Lake isn’t the “let’s get the 10-year-old kid out and hope we catch a bunch of salmon” stuff – unless you’re trolling. It’s about dressing for cold conditions and searching (hunting) for fish. Yeah, you can troll for them and a lot of people do. But to leave the hits to the rod holder??? To watch a fish behind the boat jump 3 times before you realize you have one on??? Not for me. The jolting grab is 50% of the excitement with these fish. We try to release the big fish too.

I’m currently working out a few bugs on this website, but I’m hoping to get some photo galleries up soon! We got some good shots of these fish!