Seneca Lake/Watkins Glen 12/30 + Cayuga Lake/Taughannock 12/31
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 12/30: After spending the better part of last week dealing with the massive snow storm in New Jersey I arrived back in T-Burg with a phone message from my buddy Mike, who’d noticed that we had some nice weather on the way. The lows were around 17 degrees on Wed. night so we took our time getting ready on Thursday AM. We expect to see a bunch of boats on Seneca Lake but were very surprised to see just one trailer at the launch. This was around noon. After clearing some ice from the ramp we were ready to roll.
We fly-fished for landlocked salmon and had what I consider to be ideal conditions, though the forecast 3 to 6 mph winds were around 10 to 15. Watkins Glen is a funnel for wind and the best way to interpret wind forecasts when fishing that area is to double the forecast and then add a couple mph! I’m not joking. We worked some of the best areas I know and didn’t even have a noticeable follow. I had a couple minor tackle issues, but the bite was tough. Mike even saw a salmonid in one area that was stationary. My guess is that the fish just weren’t very active – at least the ones in fly-fishing range. We worked a lot of areas and wound up back in our prime area just as the day was ending. The winds had died down and I’d solved my tackle issues. I made some casts in around 90′ of water and a 17 1/2″ salmon grabbed my fly. So at least we weren’t skunked. It was beautiful and peaceful out on the water and we only saw one other boat out on the lake all day long. Water temps are around 41 to 42.
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 12/31: With the moderate air temps at night we knew that if we motivated fairly early, we could have a full day’s fishing on Cayuga Lake, so at 9 am I met Mike at the launch. Cayuga’s lake level is as low as I’ve seen it. We used the electric motor to get us out onto the lake. There was at least a half dozen trailers in the parking lot. Tons of shore fishermen too. We tooka pass around the park without even firing up the big motor and I had a follow from a very nice salmon – maybe a 22″ to 23″ fish. We tried another pass w/o luck. We worked a few more areas and eventually found a pod of (apparently) small salmon. I landed one around 13″ and we both missed others. (Trollers around the park were also catching plenty of sub-legal “shakers.”) Mike and I worked type 4 full sinking lines. I made a long cast and let my fly sink. When I went to strip it in I had a very solid fish on! I knew it and told Mike and he grabbed the net. After a strong battle we netted the fish. I thought it might have been a laker, since I saw light colored fins and the fish fought deep, but Mike saw it and was pretty sure it was a brown. It was! We quickly photographed and measured the fish before releasingit. 26 1/2″ long. It was clearly a drop-back (post-spawn) brown. It was a bit beaten uparound the fins and it had a lamprey scar, but it was a strong fighter and a nice looking fish. I encourage my clients and other people to catch and release big browns as much as possible. I’m sure someone had caught and released this one and I thank them. I have photos and will post them shortly.
We tried some more areas for salmon and thought about pike fishing when we decided to hit the area where we’d contacted the dinks. We each had more hits when Mike set into a good fish. He knew it was no dink! After a good fight we netted the salmon. A fat clean 23″ fish that Mike kept for the table. A couple more areas fished resulted in Mike having another hit. That was it. Water temps were around 41 degrees. Other anglers (trollers) we talked to had luck both over deep water (300′ to 350′) and in along the shallows.
We’re in for some great salmon fishing this year. Both Cayuga and Seneca Lakes have great classes of fish!!! That doesn’t happen often! Fasten your seat belts…..