Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/27 PM


The winds have just been non-stop over the past few days or even weeks, and for the most part, are forecast to stay up over the next 10 days or more.  We’ll see.   I knew what I’d be in for today out of Watkins Glen, but I was itching to get out and do some fly-fishing.

I was the only one out on the lake that I could see.  I worked a popular spring fishing area for maybe 30 minutes without any signs of fish, so I headed to some areas that are typically good in March.  It didn’t take long before I had a couple of hits that didn’t hook up.  That’s usually a sign of small fish, and it was.  Shortly thereafter I landed a very clean 17.5″ salmon on a streamer.  I wanted to keep one to eat, but this fish was perfect with no scars and not hooked badly, so I let it go.  (Keep in mind that the legal size for landlocked salmon in the Finger Lakes is 15″ with the exception of Cayuga, where it’s 18″.)   The winds were hauling and made fly-casting very challenging.  My boat was also drifting quickly, but I decided against using much spot-lock or a drift bag.  I “controlled” my drift (if you can call it that,) with my trolling motor.  Anyhow, I had a couple more follows from sub-legal and barely legal fish before trying some different areas.

In one area, I spotted a huge dark fish following in my fly – was it a northern pike?  Maybe a big brown trout?  I don’t know.  I never saw it again.  It was dark with a little white scar on it (lamprey.)

I was just getting ready to make another move when a salmon showed up under my motionless fly, so I kept working this particular area heading north.  No grabs on the fly and the winds were up, so I used some gear and managed a very fat 19″ salmon – the fish was almost like a (Lake Ontario) football brown, not quite, but close.   This fish had an attached lamprey, so it became my dinner fish.  On my way back in, I fished another area and had another just legal fish follow in a fly.

In a nutshell, the fish were pretty lethargic on the lake today.  It’s possible that some of them had a tough time seeing my fly in the chop.  I’d forgotten to bring my larger streamers along, which I think was a mistake, but even the larger lures I threw on spinning tackle didn’t seem to make much of a difference – so I’d lean towards the fish being lethargic.  Water temps ranged from 41 to 43 degrees.  I’d still rate the salmon fishing here as fair to good at best.  Conditions aligned up pretty well today.  Some steadily warming weather without rain would be ideal, but I don’t see it happening.  A lot of these fish are moving north and scattering.  Trolling (flat-lining) would be a good bet here now.  If you’re looking to get into some landlocks on the fly, having a flexible schedule would make all the difference here.  Cayuga has also been producing small landlocks with occasional better fish in the mix.  I hope to check it out shortly.  A weird storm blew through just as I was putting my gear away, so in my rush to get back home, I forget to snap a photo of the fat salmon.  Next time!