Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 12/14, Cayuga Lake 12/15 PM
Guided a half day trip with Bub on Friday out of Watkins Glen targeting pike. He lives nearby and wanted to see some areas and approaches to pike fishing out of the Glen area. We started just after 8 am. Nobody was on the lake at that time that we could see. Pike fishing started out pretty good with Bub hooking a solid fish around 28" to 29". Unfortunately just before I could net it, the leader segment of flouro broke off (I use 14 to 20lb braid uni-knotted to 20 to 25lb flouro and then around 8" of TyGer Wire that tests 30lbs.) My fault. I am pretty vigorous about checking my gear, but sometimes things happen – knots get worn and so forth. Anyways it didn't take long before he had another fish on that I was able to land. During the course of the trip he had a few more follows and momentary hookups. He landed one more. All came on spoons. I'd say fishing was pretty good – not great but alright. Both landed pike had some serious lamprey hits. One of the fish had 4 or 5 marks on it. When lampreys are hammering pike, you better believe that the trout/salmon are getting it even worse. Lake level is very good.
After the trip I spent 2 hours targeting salmon via my streamer flies and casting some stickbaits and jigs. I caught one perch around 11" on a tube jig and that was it. No signs of salmon – no splashes/surfaces, hits or follows. Conditions were not great for salmon fishing but they weren't terrible. I also didn't get a chance to fish very thoroughly, so I'm not writing off the salmon fishing here yet this winter by any means but after the tough winter fishing over the past few years I obviously wasn't encouraged. I will be back here to give it another try for salmon and will bring perch and pike gear too. Water temps were around 43 degrees if I remember right.
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 12/15 PM: Met my buddy Todd here just after noon. The original plan was to fish out of Long Point but I had to get a minor tail light bug fixed on my boat trailer in order to pass inspection so I left my rig over at Fletcher's Trailer Service last night. The goal today was to try and figure out more winter laker areas and get a feel for the numbers of fish moving shallow and so on. Of course I also want to see what these crazy salmon are up to. We encountered good numbers of lakers in areas. We each landed one and lost some. We also had a lot of hits and follows. I continued my "tackle bug" issues and managed to break off two solid fish, although one was likely a bite-off from a big pickerel or pike.
Shallow lakers are real fighters. They are deceptively good fighters. They aren't going to peel major line off your reel but if you are used to catching bass, smaller salmon and browns you need to gear up for fish averaging 3 to 8lbs. They have bony mouths and are tough to hook. They also shake their heads a lot and tend to roll and twist on the line if you don't keep some pressure on them. We have dropped and missed a bunch of lakers over the past couple months. Keep your hooks sharp and check and re-check knots throughout the day!
Cayuga Lake's fisheries – both warm and cold water, continue to evolve in the face of the goby explosion. One notable change is that pickerel populations continue to spread along the perimeter of the lake. There have been some around since I can remember but I have to believe that there are more now. Numbers of lakers in shallow – say 20' of water and less are substantial. A lot are also in less than 100' FOW. How many fish remain in the vast deeps of this lake remains a mystery. These gobies are clearly a major gamechanger. We have not seen all the ramifications of this invasion yet. Stay tuned!