Seneca Lake/Watkins Glen 4/17 + Lake Ontario/Oswego 4/18


Seneca out of Watkins Glen 4/17 AM: Guided Tom for a 1/2 day fly-fishing. Last year he did a laker jigging trip and it made a huge difference in his fishing enjoyment and success. Like me, Tom is a big fan of a quality experience on the water and fly-fishing fits the bill perfectly. His casting was good and I showed him some key areas and tackle/tactics. He had one follow of a decent salmon, but not a lot happening for awhile. The weather conditions were good so it was just a matter of time and perseverance and a little luck. Sure enough, in one area he had a fish take a few swipes at his fly. Within 5 minutes or so, a fat brown trout around 18″ grabbed the smelt pattern. After a terrific fight with some jumps and strong bulldogging under the boat, I netted the fish. Success! He had another grab a little later before we had to go.

Lake Ontario out of Oswego 4/18: Got out with my friend Artie for a day of fly-fishing and jigging Lake Ontario. I’ve been busy with guiding and classes and of course, the weather has left a lot to be desired. Strong winds really limit the options around here on the lakes.

We arrived at Wrights Landing around 6:30 am and the booth was still closed for the season. As far as I could tell, we were the only boat that launched out of there today. I saw a total of two other boats on the lake today.

The forecast called for strong southeast winds and waves under 1′. Of course, when winds gust into the upper 20s and low 30s, you’re looking at big waves offshore. Inshore, conditions looked very good for fly-fishing browns. We had murky water, strong winds and water temperatures into the upper 40s. Boat control was a bit tough and casting ranged from easy to a serious chore. We never raised a brown today.

Before the winds got too strong we tried some jigging. I marked decent amounts of fish – likely lake trout in deep water, but again – boat control made things difficult and wind gusts made it tedious. We went back to fly-fishing some other areas without luck.

Patterning Fish: Most anglers would be quite disappointed with the results we had on Lake Ontario today, i.e., no fish hooked or landed. We had visions of large browns in our head and were hoping to contact some, so we certainly didn’t leave thrilled. But today was a very important step for me in patterning brown trout on the fly in Lake Ontario. I’m seeing what the various conditions I’ll have to face in the future here are. Our fly-casting was good and our flies both performed satisfactorily – i.e. they cast well, tracked well and rarely fouled, which is pivotal. We fished a good looking area that I’ve hit before over and over, which for some reason has never produced, so perhaps I’m done making the run there! And we saw what the lake looked like after yesterday’s light northerlies.

With regards to jigging, I found that what I saw here last year in early May repeats itself -i.e. I should be able to jig lakers here consistently from March through May. We just weren’t able to get a good presentation on the fish with the jigs today. I was also able to see what the lake conditions were like on a strong southeasterly wind; I saw what was doable and what wasn’t.

Before I started my guiding business, I approached fishing and waterways with the same mindset. Whether it was patterning longnose gar, rainbow trout on Skaneateles, seasonal patterns for lakers on the jig in all the major Fingerlakes, pike on the fly, landlocked salmon on the fly, topwater landlocked salmon etc… This “detached” (or scientific) type of effort, not simply relying on fish landed, is the only way I know to improve and develop solid theories that will later be tested and modified, adopted or dropped. The “success” i.e. fish, is the end result and consistent success will occur once enough pieces of the puzzle fit. Nobody has the entire puzzle filled out, because we’re dealing with fish and ever changing conditions. This method will engender confidence. Because you do it YOUR way and YOU conducted all the research.