Skaneateles Lake 3/29 + Seneca/Watkins 3/30


Skaneateles Lake 3/29: I had an email from Angling Zone friend Ralph telling me that the gate was open at the State Launch. It’d been a while since I was on this lake and I had a free afternoon, so off I went. The forecast highs were supposed to be 48 degrees, but I had 39 as I drove over around 1 pm! A couple boats were out and I launched and headed north.

I fly-fished for rainbows for around 2 hours with one solid hit and a miss. I didn’t see the fish, but I’d bet a nickel to a dollar it was a rainbow from the feel of the hit. Definitely not a perch, bass or lake trout. I ran down the lake and tried another high percentage area without luck.

It was time to try some deeper water and I love casting hair jigs about as much as I like to fly-fish, so I tried a 1/16oz home-tied hair jig on 6lb test. Worked a few drop-offs painstakingly slow (see how long it takes a 1/16 oz jig to sink to the bottom in 23′ fow!) I had a grab near the boat and after a short, sluggish battle I slipped the net under a 20.5″ landlocked salmon. I kept the fish for supper. It looked a little bit roughed up – like a dropback. Did some more fly-fishing for rainbows without any action.

I can’t say conditions were great for rainbows, but they weren’t too bad. I expected at least a few hits and only had the one possible rainbow hit. I want to get back here for a full day and give it another shot, but my hunch is that the rainbow fishing is a little bit slow, especially given the reports I’d had throughout last fall and winter both by shorefishermen and boaters. We’ll see. My salmon proved to actually be a female full of eggs! It didn’t spawn last fall when it should have – maybe due to a lack of water or good spawning streams. My guess is that the fish would’ve reabsorbed its eggs.

Salmon really haven’t done very well on this lake. Looking at the DEC Diary results over the decades, it’s clear that there were a few good years for salmon in the past, but it isn’t great from year to year and hasn’t been that productive recently. Rainbows and lakers are the only salmonids that tend to thrive here.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/30: Did two one-half day trips today. The first was with Bob and Chris and we started just after 8 am. It was cold this AM and the launch was icy. We headed out and Chris had a salmon hit him on his first cast. He’s a top-notch fly-caster and it showed. He had one other hit and that was it on our first drift. But we saw a LOT of nice fish!!! They just weren’t too active. The wind forecast as of yesterday for today was north around 7 mph and sunny, then the weather people changed it to calm turning west. Not good. But we had light southerlies and sun to start, which isn’t bad.

Our wind died around 10 am and we tried laker jigging. Bob nailed 3 nice lakers up to around 25″ or so – all in deep water ranging from 135′ to 160′. During our last hour we poked around the south end for salmon and saw a fair number of them cruising around but not too interested in hitting. Chris managed to hook a nice one that got off after a nice jump and run under the boat. It was maybe 19″ to 20″ long. Water temps range from around 40 to 47 on this lake, with most areas around 40/43.

My second trip was with Mike and John. We tried salmon for a bit, since north winds finally came up (though they were light.) John landed a dink. He had a couple other follows too. Laker jigging proved to be the ticket with a lot of fish around. John landed 2 beauties – 26″ to 27″ solid fish in deep water. A lot of lakers were around but not too active. At time we had 4 fish showing interest in the jigs.

Cayuga Update: My buddy Mike reported the launch in great shape at Myers Park. He had good laker jigging near AES. Creek mouths are still pushing fairly cold water in the lake and fly-fishing trout/salmon was unproductive today. This was also due to the lack of wind. Water temps were similar to that of Seneca – 40 to 43 degrees.