Skaneateles Lake 4/4 + Seneca Lake 4/5


Got out on my own for a couple days of scouting.  Here’s how things went:

Skaneateles Lake 4/4:  I figured the parking lot here would be packed with perch and walleye fishermen but was very surprised to only see two other vehicles in the lot when I arrived.  I fished from 1 pm until 5.  I spent most of the day throwing hair jigs and occasionally would try a bladebait or tube jig.  A hair jig will catch pretty much any species that swims in this lake.  I was hoping to encounter a walleye or two but just wound up catching around 1/2 dozen big perch.  My conditions were ok for around an hour or two and then they deteriorated.  I did a bit of exploration as well, fishing areas I hadn’t fished in a long time.  The walleye bite has been off and on here.  I didn’t encounter a single trout or salmon today, which historically for this time of year would have been very surprising – though not so much given what we’ve seen here over the past few years.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/5:  The good news here is that the Marina Bar and Grill has been bought (or leased) and will be turned into an Elmira Brewpub or something like that. I used to enjoy stopping over at the Bar and Grill after guiding out of Watkins Glen and was disappointed to see that it closed down for good after the end of last season.  They did good business there, but the owners/operators (I believe the City of Watkins Glen actually owns all that property) had had their fill after running in for a good dozen or more years.  Yes – time flies.

I had weird windy conditions with the northwest winds.  Much of the lake was like glass.  I scouted one area for salmon and then decided to try some lake trout jigging, which I hadn’t done around the mid-southern part of the lake in probably 9 or 10 years.  Once I found fish, I was impressed with the numbers on my graph, but as is often the case, they weren’t hitting or chasing jigs well.  According to one friend that fishes the southern half of Seneca Lake for lakers, the numbers are good but fish run small.  That’s my guess as to what was happening.  Young fish don’t chase jigs much.  I’m guessing either their swim bladder doesn’t allow it and/or their instincts are to stay close to the bottom for more security from predators.  I had one or two hits that I couldn’t connect with despite downsizing my jig body and jig head hook.

The good news is that these fish will grow up and within a year or two we should start seeing an improvement on this lake.  Once the laker population builds up, it will help to buffer lamprey attacks on other species as well as knock back the abundant alewives, which should result in hungrier trout as well as better yellow perch production on this lake.  Alewives are notorious for destroying perch populations.  Conesus Lake was probably the top perch lake in NY State for its size back in the 1960s and 1970s.  One illegal introduction of alewives destroyed the perch fishery there within a few years!

Speaking of illegal introductions, will the morons ever stop?  More reports of walleyes are coming out of Keuka Lake.  I wish people would leave the fish introductions to DEC.  They don’t always get it right, but at least they have a clue.  What do the mouth-breathers that stock these fish think that the walleyes are going to eat?   The only remaining forage in that lake is more or less yellow perch and sculpins.  Alewives exist in small numbers.  The walleyes will basically crash the perch population eventually.   Rainbow trout there are already in peril, but walleye-guy doesn’t care about anything or anyone apart from himself.  We’ll wind up with small lake trout, pickerel, bass, a relatively small population of walleyes that very few people will catch and fewer and fewer perch – a fish that everyone loves to catch.  I’d bet a nickel to a dollar that the perch population is already starting to go down in Skaneateles Lake.  It’s not enough to have abundant walleyes in Otisco Lake, Conesus Lake, Honeoye Lake, Oneida Lake, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, the Susquehanna River, Whitney Point Reservoir and so on.  Oh well…I guess you can’t have too many walleyes according to bonehead logic.

Anyways, I digress.  After finishing up with the lake trout, I tried a couple areas for salmon.  I was casting stickbaits in order to cover water fast.  Lo and behold, I had a follow and then a hit without a hookup in one area, so I broke out the 6-weight fly-rod and in short order finally nabbed a 16.5″ salmon.  Not big, but after 2 or 3 fishless trips on this lake, I’ll take it (I actually let it go.)  Great fight with some nice aerials!   My friend/client Pete lives on the lake near Watkins and my joke to him (after he finally trolled one up after maybe 20 hours of fishing) was that “Sorry to tell you this, but I caught the other salmon in Seneca Lake!”   Obviously there are some nice salmon around somewhere and over the past two years some beauties have been landed during the Memorial Weekend Derby.  There are some 10lb+ landlockeds swimming around in Seneca Lake.

Stable warm weather makes for good spring fishing.  If these warming trends continue – and they are supposed to, we should see some fair to good salmon/trout fishing over the next few weeks.  A few nice salmon are being caught on Cayuga Lake as well.

I am keeping my open date list updated.  Just click on the “reports” and scroll down to the post of “Availability going forward.”