Seneca out of Watkins 10/25


If I said I was looking forward to yesterday’s guide trip out of Watkins Glen, I’d have been lying! The weather people were calling for “one to two inches of rain and winds at 20 to 30 mph with higher gusts” – or something like that. I called Dave and asked if he wanted to postpone, but it wasn’t an option. They know what they were in for – clients Dave and Rich turned off the weather radio halfway through the forecast! But this was their only day to fish, so we had to chance it and keep our fingers crossed. On top of this, add in the slow action we’d experienced out of Watkins over the past month and we had our work cut out for us.

Fishing started out OK, with a couple pike landed during our first 2 hours of fishing. We were happy that the wind and rain stayed down. Water temps were brutal at the south end of the lake, due to the Friday’s strong southerlies. We had temps as low as 39 on the surface – that’s colder than what lake trout like! The water LOOKED cold. It was ultra clear and green. So we had a decision – run up the lake and risk a nasty ride back or stay and fish for lethargic pike in 39-to-44-degree water. We ran up the lake – knowing that winds could come up and make for a nasty ride back down in potential 2′ to 3′ waves and 40-degree water splashing us incessantly. We were able to find water temps in the low 50s about 10 miles up the lake. We worked a few different areas, then decided to fish a stretch that was terrific last year but had been a big dud a couple weeks ago. But a few weeks ago we had a tough high-pressure day, with the usual bluebird skies and no wind. The gamble paid off and we immediately got into nice pike and stayed on them for the next few hours. As the trip wound down we headed south and fished the cold stuff, managing a few more fish. Overall a great fishing day, though my “water resistant boots” let me down big time. I was sloshing water all day long and finally took the boots off and wrung out my socks. $500 in rain gear and I have soaking feet! Go figure.

My advice for anglers is as follows regarding pike in any Finger Lake – and most lakes in general. Every year the weeds set up differently. Last year’s hotspot can be void of fish a year later – or even 2 weeks later! I’ve seen a lot of this on Cayuga Lake. You can’t get married to “spots”. You need to keep moving. Lure selection is not nearly as important as finding fish. You need the right lure for the depths and the activity level of the fish, but staying in a spot that isn’t producing and switching out lures every 5 minutes rarely works. You’re probably in the wrong area or fishing the wrong depth. Keep the weather in mind. Clear bluebird days often produce the best pike fishing early and late in the day. Calm conditions can be tough in any clear lake.

Dave from yesterday’s trip got me going on the swimbaits a couple years ago and I’m still grateful. These baits are easy on me, the fish and are versatile as heck. We used 3/4 oz. heads today and chartreuse, mahi-mahi and atomic chicken (!) bodies. Around 16 or 17 nice fish were landed. And the predicted weather never materialized – we had winds under 10 mph all day long!