Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 12/25 + 26


Christmas Day with sun, light winds and a high of around 50 was too nice for me not to go fishing.  I’ve been meaning to get back to Seneca Lake so that’s where I went. It was smooth driving to Watkins Glen with very few cars whatsoever on the road.  I brought both fly-tackle and spinning gear.  I spent a good hour and a half fly-casting without any luck.  I decided to cover water quickly with a  spinning rod and a Flat-Rap.   After maybe 10 minutes I had a salmon grab my lure by the boat.  It was around 18″ long and had a good lamprey scar or two on it, so I decided to keep it.  Lamprey wounds are just skin wounds and fish are fine to eat that have them.  A few casts later I picked up a bigger, thicker salmon that smashed my stickbait a ways away from the boat.  Solid hit and great fight!   This fish was around 19″ to 20″ and clean.  I released it.

Now that I could see some fish were around, I felt more confident searching with a flyrod.  In short order I landed a 16″ salmon that had damaged its eye by my hook – so I kept that fish.  I much prefer to release clean young salmon but would rather keep one that’s injured, even though they can function ok with one eye.  (The salmon size limit on Seneca Lake is 15″, whereas it’s 18″ on Cayuga for those who don’t know.)  I got hit again and landed and released a  good fighting brown around 16″.  It was fat.

I had a few other follows later in the day but that was it for the catching.  Four legal salmonids on Seneca Lake was a great Christmas gift!   It was more than I was hoping for or expecting.   Fishing is better than it was last year, and last year was better than the prior two years, so things are looking up on Seneca.  Some if not most fish are still showing signs of last year’s lamprey infestation.  But they appear to be clearing up.  Fish are very well fed.  The only ones I’ve seen that are skinny are those that have been hit by lampreys.

Salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout should really start to recover a bit this year.  It’s a shame that we had the stocking shortfall (due to the power failure at the Adirondack Hatchery last winter) but unfortunately that’s the way it goes.  If lamprey numbers stay down for the next year or two we may see Seneca’s fishing reach some of its prior greatness.   I’d call the salmon fishing fair to good.

A couple salmon for the table

A nasty wound

12/26: Needless to say, I filled in my buddy Mike on my great Christmas Day fishing and he was eager to head out today.   As much as we love the tremendous fishing (basically “catching”) on Cayuga Lake, we do miss lake fly-fishing for salmon.  It’s doable on Cayuga but I think Seneca is going to be much more consistent for time being.  We were on the water around 10:15 am.  We were the only boat out (until maybe 3 hours later when some perch anglers came out.)  I started us right where I’d left off yesterday and Mike had a hit on a streamer in short order.  We each had a few follows.  Eventually I hooked up a fish around 17″ to 18″ on one of my white Bionic Smelt.  Surprisingly, it got off near the boat.  And shockingly, it (I’m pretty sure the same fish) attacked my fly again, but didn’t hook up.  Anyways overall it was no big deal – I had my fish from yesterday for dinner and today was going to be all catch and release for me.  We tried a few different areas without any sign of fish.  We came back later and I got walloped by a fish that I didn’t hook, but a split-second later Mike hooked up and landed an 18″er.  That was it on the flies.  Later on, he nabbed a 20″er on a blade blade once we got back into search mode with the spinning gear.   All in all a satisfying day.

Flyrod Salmon for Mike

Gear Caught Salmon for Mike

More scarring

Mike kept his larger salmon and it was fairly well fed with a few small alewives and one real big one.  It’s great to see no sign of gobies in this lake.  That bodes well for fly-fishing.  We used 6 weight fast action rods today with full sinking fly-lines with a sink rate around 4 IPS.  Streamers imitating alewives did the trick today.  I don’t recommend this fishing for people that want plenty of action.  It can be slow going – we fished 6 hours today for two fish in the boat total!  That’s not what most people want.  But if you want to catch a salmon either on gear by casting or by fly-casting and are willing to grind it out, it may be up your alley.  Some larger fish are around too – I had a follow on Christmas Day from a fish that was in the 24″ range.