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. 2017 may have been one of the best years for Landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing in the lake's recent history. I know of at least three fish that were caught that were in the 14 to 15lb range! Numbers were great too. I expect 2018 to offer more top-notch salmon fishing.
Brown trout and rainbow trout numbers are excellent in Cayuga Lake at present. The lamprey control is the key and we had some terrific brown trout fishing in 2017. I expect Cayuga Lake's tributaries to offer exceptional rainbow trout runs in 2018.
The largemouth bass fishing was tougher than usual in 2017. Most of the blame likely falls on the rainy murky April through July we experienced. The muddy water really stunted and curtailed the usual great weed growth that we usually see. Overall Cayuga Lake generally produces top-notch "big-water bass fishing." 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 Owasco until Cayuga rebounds.
Cayuga's pike fishing has been fair at best over recent years. Spawning success doesn't appear to have been great over the past few years, though we did have good conditions in 2017 for pike spawning, so maybe in the next few years we'll see some more northern pike. I am currently targeting pike for guide trips on Owasco and Seneca Lake. Cayuga just isn't worth it for the time being. 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, though fish are distributed lake-wide. These fish fight hard and taste very good. 2018 should be an excellent year for fishing Cayuga's lake trout. I love fishing lakers on Cayuga Lake! As an added bonus, a lot of lakers are moving up shallow in the winter to feed on gobies, so this gives anglers another great opportunity to catch lakers casting from shore, both with conventional and fly-gear.
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. I am not currently guiding gar on Cayuga Lake. They can be tough to locate consistently and the size oftentimes lacks.
Bluegills and sunfish nearly 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. Yellow perch have been taken in Cayuga Lake upwards of 18" long and 3lbs. The presence of tremendous numbers of gobies will help perch grow faster. Many perch fishermen I've taked to on Cayuga Lake have noticed that the average size of the perch is going up.
Crappie fishing has slowly been on the rebound in Cayuga Lake. I haven't had a chance to target them over the past 10 years or so, but I have been seeing more of them caught incidentally.
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. The lake is currently loaded with them. Most species are now eating the gobies including lake trout, brown trout, landlocked salmon, bass, pickerel and yellow perch.
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.