This lake provides excellent year round open water fishing for both warm and cold water species.
Gear and fly-fishing for Landlocked Atlantic salmon is available from January through May and again in November and December. This fishing is concentrated in the southern third of the lake. It varies year by year. Lampreys are back under control and their numbers are very low. I expect to see some good to excellent fishing for all the salmonids in Cayuga Lake in 2015.
The largemouth bass fishing has been very good over the past few seasons with large fish and numbers showing a rebound. Tournaments recorded good weights with many 20lb+ bags for 5 fish limits. The B.A.S.S. Elite Series pros were very impressed with Cayuga Lake's largemouth bass fishing in 2014 with regards to both the quantity and quality of the bass. Smallmouth bass numbers are down, but starting to rebound with encouraging numbers of young fish around. But for now, if you're after smallies, you may want to fish a different lake - like Skaneateles or Canandaigua/Keuka until Cayuga rebounds.
Cayuga's pike fishing has been fair to good over recent years. It's a great lake for catching 27" to 36" pike. Spawning success doesn't appear to have been great over the past few years, but the fishing has been holding steady. Low lake levels that help keep lampreys from swimming over the lowhead dam at Cayuga Inlet likely also hurt pike spawning success. If you want a shot at a northern over 32" long, Cayuga offers good chances. Pickerel are found lake-wide but are particularly abundant at Cayuga's north end and provide good sport throughout the late spring and summer.
Lake trout are the dominant cold water fish in Cayuga Lake and they run large here. Fish typically average 4 to 8lbs, with plenty of larger fish available. The jigging typically starts off at the lake's northern basin then moves south. These fish fight hard and taste very good. I love fishing lakers on Cayuga Lake!
Longnose Gar are available on Cayuga Lake from June though August. They provide an excellent fly-fishing opportunity. Gar run from 30" up to around 37" typically, though on occasion larger fish can be caught. Hot, windless days are best for gar fishing.
Bluegills and sunfish averaging 8" long can be taken readily from late April through June on Cayuga Lake. These panfish are a blast and taste great! There are plenty of big rockbass around too - some real trophies! I know people that make special trips to Cayuga just for the rockies - fun fish to catch and great eating.
This lake is absolutely loaded with yellow perch. The numbers are fantastic and they probably average from 8" to 11" long, with enough 12"ers to keep things fun. Cayuga has trophy perch running upwards of 18" long (if you don't believe me, check the photos next to the fish tank at Bass Pro Shops and you'll see my friend's wife's grandfather holding one alongside some 14"ers!) I think the smaller perch are so much easier to catch here, that most people stick with them rather than searching for schools of larger fish (that are likely deeper.)
At one point in time during the 1980s and early 1990s Cayuga was the site of a "Crappiethon" tournament. Crappies appear to have bounced back a bit over the past couple years. All I can say is that I hadn't encountered them since the late 1980s and over the past summer (2014) I had 3 on in two different parts of the lake. It's not a lot to go by, but I have to believe that they are on the rebound.
Other species found on Cayuga include freshwater drum, channel catfish, bullheads, white perch, lake sturgeon and carp. Cayuga Lake has around 55 to 60 species of freshwater fish in it. It is the most diverse of the Finger Lakes "fish-wise". I look at Cayuga as the Finger Lake's version of Lake Champlain. Round gobies were found in Cayuga Lake during the summer of 2013. Their impacts have not been noticeable yet. Stay tuned.
The launch at Taughannock Park is bubbled and kept free of ice in the winter, so launching of boats is available year round. Cayuga’s winding basin helps keep waves at a manageable level in many parts of the lake during windy days. Ice fishing is available at the north end of the lake during most years.