Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/20


Did a full-day trip with Mark I, who’s fished with me on numerous occasions in the past. We’ve had our share of tough fishing together and today was no exception. It’s very tough for Mark to pick his days since he’s very busy with his work, so we often have to just go for it. He’s an avid fly-fisherman and excellent fly-caster – he’s very perseverant too, which are the right ingredients for lake fly-fishing success. I didn’t think today had a lot of promise as a landlocked salmon day due to the forecast cloudy conditions and lack of wind. Ironically, the day turned out to be the opposite – we had sun, but the forecasted light westerlies morphed into a reality of 10 to 15 mph northerlies with gusts to 22 mph – not a great wind for the south end of the largest Finger Lake!

Things started with promise as calm conditions turned into a light wind. Within about 20 minutes of fishing Mark had a hit or two on the south end. We worked the west shore – alongside probably 15 to 20 boats that were trolling. Winds kicked up and we moved around a bit, trying a bunch of different things. Eventually we wound up back on the west shore and Mark had a couple light grabs in a row. Maybe a smallish salmon, who knows? I watched Mark strip in a fly on a sinking line and saw an exceptionally clean, bright and large salmon beeline for his fly. But the fish was too late, Mark was at the end of his retrieve and the fish turned around. We fished both shores hard until the wind got even nastier, so we wound things up. Water temps ranged from 39 to 46.

An added note on fishing Landlocked Atlantic Salmon: I’ve had a fair number of calls for these fish. Keep in mind that fly-fishing and spincasting for landlocked salmon on Seneca, Cayuga and Skaneateles Lakes is not a “piece of cake” or sure bet. I have yet to see another boat fly-fishing salmon on Seneca Lake! Ever! On some days, it feels like it is easy, but these fish are like steelhead – west coast steelies. It takes a lot of persistence and a bit of luck to score. My friend Mike and I put in a lot of hours over past winters (incl. this one.) If we could catch one legal fish per person in every 4 hours, we’d be happy. Our success rates are usually a lot lower when shore fishing in the winter. And boat fishing can be tough too. A great day on Seneca can really make up for things, but keep in mind – this isn’t laker fishing. These fish have fins and they use them! They move a lot both horizontally and vertically and their activity levels change frequently. We’ve got a lot of great salmon action ahead of us this spring – but if you must have action, and lots of it – there are going to be a lot of days when laker jigging or something else would be your best bet. Impatient? Forget salmon fishing with the exception of days with the best conditions.