Reports

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7/23/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 7/22 + 23

Fishing continues to impress out of Cayuga Lake.  I'm always a happy man when Cayuga is cranking out good to great trout fishing - it means less driving on my end and I can almost have a normal life in the summer.

7/22:  Guided Tim and his son Zack for a full day.  They first fished with me back around 2006 or '07 if I remember right and I saw them last year as well for some bass fishing on Owasco Lake.  Conditions were excellent for lake trout fishing on Friday and the fish bit well throughout the day.  We had a good early bite (we started just after 5:30 am) and then the bite more or less continued until we called it a day around 1:30 pm.  20 solid lakers to 31" long were landed.  We had 2 to 3 doubles going as well.  85' to 95' FOW produced for us. As has been the case this summer thus far - it was hot out, but fortunately the lake breezes kept things comfortable most of the time.  Very few boats were out on the lake.

7/23:  Guided Greg for a full day starting at 5:30 am.  Fishing was tougher than yesterday but still decent with a fair AM bite, slow mid-morning fishing then a good late flurry with some solid 27" to 28" lake trout.   Greg managed 8 solid fish on the day.   We tried a bunch of different areas today and wound up having some good deep fishing (120') in the AM, which is deeper than I usually need to go.   There was no shortage of boat traffic today and the winds really cranked up by noon, though we didn't see too many (if any) of the predicted 30 mph gusts.  The wind-surfers/sailers were loving it.

7/21/2016
Lake Ontario out of Stony Creek 7/20

The last time I was out here was about 3 years ago with my buddy Mike.  We liked what we found/saw then and after a couple of my clients informed me of some hot laker fishing having taken place here recently, I decided to give it a go with my buddy Terry.  Oswego is closer to me, but having to drive north on Rt. 34 is a slow go when you factor in Auburn, Weedsport and especially Oswego.  With Stony, I just hit Rt. 81 in Cortland then run north to Pulaski and jump on Rt. 3.  

The great thing about Oswego as a boat launch is that to hit 200' of water you only need to run out about 2 miles.  To hit 200' out of Stony Creek you're talking 10 miles or more! That's a long run.   It was the furthest out I'd ever fished Lake Ontario.  (If you head out here, you need to make sure all your gear is in good working order.  This is no place to have a motor failure or run out of gas.)   The Rochester Ports offer much better access to deep water too.  Hamlin is another great area to run out of.  Even Sodus.  But Stony is one of the best lake trout areas going.  Spawning areas for whitefish are around here too.  We brought bass gear as well - it offers good bass fishing.

We had laker temps from around 115' out.  We also marked fish in this depth.  Due to west winds over the past few days, I ran out to deep water before taking a temperature. The lake was a little choppy to start (the usual AM hot day - cool night winds.)  We had a couple hits but nothing special, although I marked a lot of fish.  I did a bit of running in and out and as the lake calmed I made the run into the deeps where a lot of the fleet was.  The majority of Charters out here likely come out of Henderson Harbor.  No matter how you look at it or where you launch out of - i.e. Oswego, Mexico, Sandy Pond or Henderson, you're talking a long run to get out here.

I expected a tougher laker bite with the cold front on Tuesday and then the full moon last night and that proved to be the case in the morning.  AM fishing can be slow until certain conditions change.  Sure enough as the day wore on the fish became more active.  I set into a solid laker and after a great, strong battle Terry netted a 29" bull!   A few drops later and I was into another thick brute.  Both were adipose clipped 29" fish but thick - likely close to 10lbs.  We played around with a lot of stuff and I broke off a fish and lost a few, as did Terry.  Terry nailed a good laker as well.  

Lo and behold there was quite a bit of bait out in the 140' to 150' depths.  I marked some good schools of alewives with some good hooks around them.  The baitfish were right near bottom in cold water.  That likely means that it's where they are finding food.  As Quagga mussels keep up their non-stop relentless filter feeding, the deeps become better (or perhaps the only) sources for zooplankton.   Not a good sign to see the bait so deep but at least we were seeing bait.  I have not seen any bait schools like this in the past 5 or 6 trips on the big lake. 

Overall we had a great time and it was fun figuring out the bite.  We'll likely hit Oswego or somewhere along the lakeshore (maybe back here) next week to give it another go.  

7/17/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 7/16 + 17

Guided two full days here this weekend and both days provided solid lake trout jigging action with good fishing on Saturday and excellent fishing on Sunday.

7/17:  Guided Greg starting just after 5:30 am. Morning action was pretty slow though Greg hooked what had to be a giant lake trout which he had trouble moving off of the bottom! That's when you know you have a big fish.  Unfortunately it got off as he was working it up. It was just one of those things when the hook pulled out. Fishing picked up as the day went on and Greg wound up landing 10 to 12 lakers and one nice salmon around 18"+. All fish released today.

7/18:  Guided Mark and his son John for the full day.  Action was excellent for most of the day with just a few momentary lulls. 22 solid lake trout were caught and released today! Just superb action with a double hooked as well.  Fish ranged to 28".  We had a few small ones. There are fish well-distributed throughout Cayuga Lake.  Angling is top-notch!  Fun trip.

7/14/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 7/14 AM

Guided Stu, Todd and Teddy for a 1/2 day trip starting at 8 am which wound up being abbreviated by incoming thunderstorms.  We had some good mid-lake fishing with around a half dozen solid fish landed anchored by Todd's fat 28" slob.   We actually had two live lampreys come up onboard, which is more than I've been seeing this year.  Stu had a hold of a 17" to 18" salmon for a bit as well.

There are plenty of fish and bait now in the mid-lake areas.  This will help scatter some of the fishing pressure that has been taking place around Aurora.  Stu reported some fair smelt fishing having taken place earlier this year at Taughannock Creek.  I get a few emails every year regarding the smelt dipping, so that was encouraging to hear.  Maybe some day the smelt will bounce back.  They have boom and bust cycles and are currently doing well in Lake George, Lake Champlain and Owasco Lake from what I've heard and read.

A couple kayakers were in the middle of the lake working their way back to shore.  They were lucky that the storm stayed north.  I would not want to be in a kayak in the middle of any major Finger Lake when a raging thunderstorm comes through.  It would be an easy way to drown.

7/13/2016
Skaneateles Lake 7/12 AM + Owasco Lake 7/13

This just seems to be one of those years when the DEC Region 7 Finger Lakes are fishing much better than the Region 8 lakes.  I'd love to see all the lakes fishing well, but I live closer to the eastern lakes so if we can only have one hot region, I'll take the Region 7 lakes!  

Region 8 fisheries will be doing their lake trout assessment on Keuka Lake shortly.  We'll finally see exactly what's going on with the baitfish over there.  Anglers did report seeing some alewife spawning activity on Keuka Lake but clearly there aren't many around.  Guide Jon Evans has had some great bass fishing over there this season and the laker bite has been good despite the lack of bait, so I'd say Keuka is fishing well.   

Here's how our fishing went over the past two days:

7/12 AM on Skaneateles Lake:  Guided Martin for a 1/2 day.  He's staying on the lake with family this week and wanted to learn some techniques for smallmouth bass.  We had fun fishing even though the "catching" wasn't much to write home about.  Fishing flukes brought numerous chases from smallmouth bass in the "dink range" up to around 15".  A few bass were landed.  We saw one giant below the fluke late in the AM.  A fish or two was also caught dropshotting and on tube jigs.  We did a little laker jigging and a couple hits were had.

7/13 Owasco Lake:  Guided Scott and his dad Dick for the full day with Dick just fishing a half day before we dropped him off.  We started with lake trout and the fishing was excellent.  I was very impressed by the numbers of fish I marked and the loads of baitfish. Funny how everything bounces back when the lake isn't being overstocked with lakers and walleyes.  Suddenly the so called phosphorus issues just disappear.  The lakers were mostly fish in the 23" to 26" range.  No real giants but not a single dink either.  In less than 4 hours the guys landed around a dozen solids.  

Scott did some bass fishing afterwards and caught 4 smallmouths.  He had some hits from some very nice bass but they didn't hook up.  It's hard to do two things in a day.  It's possible the bass bite was better when the lakers were hitting.  Who knows?  But it was a great day on the water.  

7/11/2016
Cayuga Lake 7/8 - 7/10

7/8:  Guided Mike and Amy out of Myers Park and we had some very solid laker action.  I can't recall how many fish they got but they kept a limit.  I want to say around 11, but it might have been fewer.   Either way, the fishing was steady and the weather hot and humid but the breeze (at times) kept things manageable.  Thunderstorms and rain left us alone.

7/9 - 10:  Did two full days with Dave, Dan, Dan #2 (aka "Dismal Dan"), Steve, Dave #2 and Bill.  No I haven't started guiding 6 people at once but we did 2 full days and swapped out anglers after a few hours.    I will occasionally do this kind of thing but it's all done within the confines of an 8 hour day.

Obviously the guys are all around their 30s to 60s age-wise, otherwise we'd have unique spellings like "Dayve," "Bihl" and "Dahn" in a losing effort to convince the world how special and unique we all are.  Just like snowflakes - no two are exactly alike, yet in most ways every single one is just the same......however I digress, this is a fishing report.

The Salvation Army Derby was going on but as usual we didn't enter it.  Maybe next year but I'd forgotten about it and entering 6 guys and myself would've been tricky given that I didn't know the deal.   The fishing was tough for us in a lot of ways - we had high winds Saturday PM and all day long Sunday but I was able to get the guys into some good fishing despite my trolling motor batteries dying on Sunday (due to age.)   Dismal Dan had the hot hand on Saturday AM landing 2 solid lakers - 27" and 28" and one around 15".  The other Dan also got a decent fish.   The PM bite was tougher with Dave landing a 27" and Steve getting a nice fish. On Day 2 everybody on both trips caught fish with Bill and Dave (#1) stepping up. Each trip on Day 2 resulted in around 6 fish landed and a few good ones lost.  When the guys saw the wind and rain on Sunday I think some of them might have been skeptical (maybe even myself!) but I was very happy with our results given the nasty conditions.  

7/7/2016
Reports 7/5 - 7/7

My schedule this past week was a bit more varied with trips to Skaneateles and Keuka Lakes as well as the usual Cayuga Lake stuff.  Boat traffic has been reasonable, though on Keuka Lake the boating gets a bit more intense and there's more boat wake action due to the narrowness of the lake.  Fishing has been a bit more challenging overall this past week.  

7/5 AM Skaneateles Lake:  Guided Steve and his dad Tom for the morning.  Steve just bought a place on the lake last fall and had been doing a bit of kayak fishing.  They were hoping to pick up some new techniques and areas today.   We started with about an hour of lake trout jigging.  They enjoyed it despite not landing any fish.  The guys had a few good hits so they at least saw that the technique was feasible.

We did a little dropshotting, tube jigging and fluking.  The fluking really tripped the guys' trigger so that's what we focused on.  A lot of hits and fish were missed but that's what makes it fun.  Around 1/2 dozen fish were landed.  Not great but the guys were psyched and within an hour after the trip ended I had two photos sent to me of fish Steve had taken with the flukes off of his dock and kayak!

7/6 Keuka Lake:  Guided Scott, who joined me here last year for a fantastic day of smallmouth action with 5 fish landed in the 18" to 19" range along with some smaller ones as well.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't apprehensive about this trip.  Although we had good conditions, we are now talking about 2 summers with zero alewives to be found.   A lot of the smallie fishing I've done here over the years focuses on alewives - we use topwater, tubes, flukes, spoons and other techniques to match the forage.  On top of that, most of the places we fish are areas where bass can hammer alewives.  Do we have to throw that stuff all out the window now?  I don't know. 

All I can say is that the fishing was tough.  Bass still came up for the flukes (they do so pretty much everywhere they're found - including on Skaneateles Lake, which has zero alewives) but we didn't find any good numbers - certainly no "pods" of bass, which is usually commonplace here.  Scott dropped a beauty that had to go 20".  He then landed a 15" that fought well.  Other (mostly smaller) fish were missed/dropped and one solid fish (probably a largemouth) was lost under a dock.  Dock fishing would've been very good, but we didn't focus on that.  Some fish are likely still spawning but there should have been some hungry post spawn smallies around.  Tough day.   

7/7 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  Had a slow AM with Jerry and Dan but fortunately things picked up after around 2 hours.  Stormy days in the summer usually result in on and off fishing.  The bite can get great before a storm rolls in, but oftentimes the AM bite is non-existent.   Anyways the guys wound up with 5 nice fish and they also dropped a few.  Trollers were doing well.  I think everybody out there was catching fish.

7/4/2016
Cayuga Lake 7/3 + 7/4 (AM)

Back to lake trout chasing on the upper-midlake portion of Cayuga Lake.  Fishing was slower than the past month but still good on Sunday and fair on Monday.  The winds were hellacious on Saturday so fortunately I was able to switch a trip around.

7/3:  Guided Greg and Matt for an abbreviated full day.  We started early - just after 5 am.  I don't mind the super early starts and it's nice watching the bite materialize throughout the AM and then taper off and then back on again.  The fishing was decent with the guys landing 14 solid fish.  We kept 4 for the smoker.  Action was deeper today - around 85' give or take.  

Greg was out on Lake Ontario with a guide friend of his on Thursday.  They landed a couple steelhead, a laker and a King.  The laker had 5 or 6 gobies in its stomach, the King's stomach was empty.  I will likely be out here jigging again once or twice over the next couple weeks.  

7/4:  Guided Mike, Reice and Kyle today for a 1/2 day starting around 6:45 am.  Fishing was slow to start but picked up gradually as the day went on.  The guy's landed 7 nice lakers to 28".  A few solids were also dropped.  Lots of boats were out here today.  Lots of colors worked today.  

Boat traffic wasn't as bad as I expected on either day.  

 

7/1/2016
Cayuga Lake 6/29, 7/1 + Seneca Lake 6/30

Both Cayuga and Seneca Lakes currently have some algae/weed issues going on. Seneca Lake is full of milfoil parts.  There's also a green, "particulate" sort of bloom going on near its bottom - it's very visible from shore in shallow water.  Whether this is affecting the fishing is unknown.  Cayuga has a murky look to it despite no significant rainfall in weeks. I'm sure it relates to the hot weather.

Both lakes are loaded with baitfish.  Absolutely loaded!  Despite the "tempermental" fishing of the last couple seasons on Seneca, I expect this lake to offer some great fishing for a lot of different species in the near future.  How can it not?  The bait is there!

Cayuga Lake 6/29 AM Long Point:  Guided Eric with a couple residents of a place he works for - Alan and Jim.  We started things off with a bang with both Al and Jim hooking and landing nice lakers.  A few more fish were caught to round off the morning and the guys also finished the AM with another 2 fish.  Fun day and the guys were thrilled that they'd caught some big trout.

Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 6/30:  Guided longtime client and all around excellent angler Tony for a full day.  He wanted to try the pike fishing on Seneca.  I told him the deal - it shines from late-September into mid-March (when the season closes) and again in May and into early-June, then it gets tougher.  We decided to give it a shot anyways, plus I brought backup gear for trout/salmon and bass.

We were amazed as usual at the amount of beautiful pike cover and the lack of fish that inhabited it.  There's just too much deep weedgrowth on Seneca without a commensurate number of northerns.  Add in warmer water and millions of alewives and the bite can be tricky.   Tony did have a nice pike follow in his spoon.  On the next cast the pike crushed it but it got off. We saw one other northern.  Both fish appeared healthy.  The sunny day could've also been a factor.  My feeling is that pike fishing would currently be better on Conesus and Owasco Lakes.

A little dropshotting produced a few undersized smallmouth bass.  We were encouraged to see large numbers of small perch in one area.  Tony had a nice 4lb+ rainbow trout follow in his Rapala Deep Shadow Rap as well.  

Lake trout jigging was promising.  After landing a 22" fish with a large lamprey attached, Tony hooked a "better fish" - the 33" laker was clean, in good condition and gorgeous with dark coloration and the sheer beauty of a wild fish.  Later on a dink salmon followed in Tony's jig. 

We saw plenty of bait just about everywhere we went.  I haven't been up to Geneva in a while, but I'd expect good to very good laker action up there.  This is usually a great time to be on the north end of Seneca Lake trout fishing.

Cayuga Lake 7/1:  On Day 2 with Tony we went out of Taughannock Park.  Laker numbers are very good north of AES although I still feel most migratory fish are further up the lake.  But the numbers around AES are very fishable.  Tony landed 5 nice fish and also had a lot of short hits.  The bite was stubborn.

I am not currently guiding for smallmouth bass on Cayuga Lake as a regular routine.  Do not be fooled by the pros landing decent numbers of brown fish on Cayuga!  They were bed fishing.  Number of smallies on Cayuga remain low.   We tried a few different areas without luck.  Had the pros dealt with the current plankton bloom on Cayuga Lake, sight fishing would've been very difficult.   Tony landed a few perch but that was it.  We got off the lake a bit early as a big line of thunderstorms approached.  

 

 

 

6/28/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/28 AM

Action was superb today for lake trout - amongst the best all day bites I've seen all year.  I chalk it up to the weather conditions.  Jeff, Don and 11 year old Greg had some great fishing, landing over 30 lake trout in less than 4 hours.  Fish ran to over 30".  It was their first time jigging.   Young Greg caught the lion's share of the trout for what it's worth.  It was a birthday present for him so that was appropo.   Fish looked good with no lampreys coming up on any of them.  We had a few wild ones.  Good time and a few were kept for the grill.  Same general depths and lures as usual.  

6/27/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/27 AM

Guided some of the extended clan of the Hermans today.  Eleonore and two of her grandchildren, Leo and Karl.  We started around 7 am with a stubborn bite.  Fishing picked up as the AM went on and 12 solid lakers were landed to 30".  Young Leo had the hot hand but everyone caught fish.  Good day and the weather held out apart from some showers. The usual white and chartreuse Shakers did the trick.  Around 80' to 95' was good for us.

6/26/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/26

Guided Jim and Logan for a full day starting just after 5:30 am.  The early starts have been paying off thus far over the past couple days.  We had a lot of fun today with some great fishing and a lot of joking around.  The guys managed 20 nice lakers with a couple dinks at 16.5" going all the way up to a 28" fish.  Most ran the usual 23" to 26".  Around 3 appeared to be wild.  No live lampreys today either.   The fishing remains excellent on Cayuga Lake and we will keep at them!  Depths ranged from around 60' out to over 90' FOW.   Beautiful day to be out!

6/25/2016
Reports 6/20 - 6/25

Had a nice change of pace over the past week with four full days of fishing on Otisco Lake followed by an interesting trip on Sodus Bay/Lake Ontario.  Then it was back to the lakers today on Cayuga Lake.  

Otisco Lake 6/20 - 6/23:  Did four days in a row with "Bobberman Perry" and Dave.  That's a lot of bobber watching, but we had some superb fishing for Tiger Muskies on day one, slightly slower fishing on day two and then a tough day three and good non-target species action on day four.  

The guys landed 8 muskies over the 4 days - all on large suckers and shiners, with the exception of one around 39" that Perry nailed on a crankbait.  We fished banker hours for the most part. Another trophy was hooked and lost.   Fish landed ranged up to 45".  6 of 8 landed were between 39" and 45". The lost fish was likely 38" to 40".  The condition of the fish was superb.  Perfect fins, great coloration and thick bodied muskies with "gator heads."   The lake is in great shape with the lack of rain.  The weeds were beautiful.  

Bobber fishing with large suckers and shiners for muskies and trophy northern pike is a traditional method - it's been around for decades.  It's fun and can be very effective.  It requires skill and knowledge regarding where to fish, anchor placement, how to set up, how long to let the fish take the bait, and when to move.  I have gained a lot of respect for the technique over my years of taking the "Bobberman" out.  

Contrary to what many anglers believe - mortality with this method is very low.  I had to see it for myself, but by setting the hook on the first run after the bobber goes under and the fish takes maybe 5' to 10' of line, probably 70% of the fish are hooked in the lip or corner of the mouth.  Another 20% are hooked deeper but still easily removeable without damage to the fish.  But If you don't pay attention, or the bait is very small or just from bad luck, once in a while a fish swallows the bait.  It happens.  But fish are deep hooked sometimes when fly-fishing or casting lures.  Mortality can occur.  Over playing a fish can also kill them. Tiger Muskies are stocked for anglers.  That's the only reason they are in these lakes.  So I don't get too uptight about this stuff.  But for anglers that don't care to cast all day, I think bobber fishing with large bait is a great way to fish.

Day four was plagued with some small shiners and we wound up landing a fair number of bass.  One good Tiger was caught.  All in all it was a very productive trip with Day One being the best day I've witnessed on catching numbers of giants.

John at Otisco Lake Marine is trying to add onto the amount of off-road parking.  Word is that NYS DEC is developing a State Launch just south of the Causeway on the east side of the lake.

Sodus Bay/Lake Ontario 6/24:  What a wild day I had with Mark I.!  These are the types of days I really love as a guide and an angler.  I wrote down a list of stuff to bring including gar tackle, gear and fly-gear for drum and smallmouth bass stuff.  Plus I always have vertical jigging gear onboard.  Mark loves fly-fishing for gar.  He's landed some nice tarpon, bonefish and permit on the fly;  he has fished!  Gar fishing is a lot of fun for fly-fishers.  It's exciting sight fishing and the gar are cool to look at and handle. Plus they jump.  Huge gar can fight incredibly well, though not all of them do.  

We started around 7:30 am and I had Mark cast with some gear for pike.  He used a large spoon.  After about 5 or 6 casts he set the hook into a huge fish!  Was it a 15lb+ northern?  Maybe a foul-hooked giant carp?   I didn't know.  It ran out a lot of line, then turned, ran some more and kept digging and pumping.  We saw some gold!  It was a giant drum!  It pulled as good as any musky I saw all week long.  That's not an exaggeration.  These members of the drum/redfish family fight hard!   This one probably weighed 12 to 14lbs.  Great fish and Mark was very impressed.  I just wasn't expecting a drum to hit a large spoon. Mark said it looked almost exactly like the redfish he'd caught except was thicker bodied and lacked the spot near the tail.  

Then we went to the gar fishing on the fly.  They were stacked as I have never witnessed before. They weren't super aggressive, but they provided a lot of sport.   Mark had a ton of follows and short hits and he managed to land four, including one nice one that I had to throw overboard when it went crazy.   So I wasn't able to measure that one but I had to save my hands!   Mark also caught a 12" bonus bass on the fly. 

We then decided to run out to Lake Ontario.  I love Lake Ontario and I think we have some great fishing there ahead of us in the future. But the bait situation is what it is. Mark was up for anything so I headed us out into the deeps.  Why not try some vertical jigging?  We set up around 60' FOW and as I dropped my temp probe Mark dropped his jig.  The north winds set up a fairly deep thermocline (for the Fingers, but average for LO) and I had 61 degrees on the bottom.  Mark actually had a follow down there!  Too warm for lakers and probably too deep for smallmouth this time of year, so I'd guess brown trout.  

We went out deeper and Mark had a very aggressive fish chase his jig up.  Was it an immature King?  Nope - after a short battle I slid the net under a fat 26" steelhead!  The first we've landed on a jig in Lake Ontario.  It was in great condition and we let it go and it took off.  Some steelheader will be happy.  Running deeper I found a pile of bait on bottom.  Oh wait, there isn't much bait east of Rochester.  It was a pile of lakers!  Mark found out as he landed a 20" Canandaigua sized fish.  No other fish landed.  Awesome 2 hours of jigging!   And I expect this fishing to continue like this for years.  We've now taken Kings, Browns, Lakers and finally a Steelhead vertically jigging in deep water (during the summertime openwater season) on Lake Ontario.   And a lot of people said it couldn't be done.  If I lived away from the Fingers and closer to Lake Ontario you can bet I'd be specializing in jigging salmonids out there on the "big lake." And anyone who says the lake still has a lot of bait in it probably fishes the same small radius.  We didn't see squat out of Sodus and I have decent electronics and know how to use them.  The chase of that steelhead spoke volumes regarding how hungry these fish are.   They are expected to do alright after the alewives collapse.

6/25:  Cayuga Lake out of Long Point - Well today was back to the homeland.  We started at 5:30 am today and had terrific jigging throughout the AM then a slow pick the rest of the day.  Greg and his nephew Adam landed around 24 solid lakers up to 30".  Also one dink salmon.  Great fishing and two lampreys came up that won't be killing any more trout.

Regarding the Cayuga Lake Elite BASS event.  I'm not thrilled with smallmouths being removed from their beds midlake and being hauled up north given the huge goby population on Cayuga, but that's the way it goes.  The pros have been doing a great job landing some tremendous bags of fish.  This lake is fishing better than Lake Champlain now for bass - at least largemouths.  Hopefully the clubs won't go tournament crazy here over the next bunch of years, but I think that's wishful thinking.  There was a great little article on Bassmaster praising pickerel, which I thought was cool.  Some people get it, some don't.  They are a cool gamefish and I'm glad we have them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6/19/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/19 AM

Guided Mark for a 1/2 day starting at 6:30 am.  The bite was better than yesterday but probably not quite as good as Friday's.   He managed to land 8 solid fish from around 20" up to 27".  We finally had one laker come up with a live lamprey on it, but that's been the only lamprey I've seen in quite some time.  Boat traffic wasn't as heavy as it had been in the AM but picked up later on.  

The big news if you want to call it that, is that a thermocline is just starting to form.  It is pretty weak but clearly there.  We had our best action from around 65' to 90' today on the usual plastics.  

July 3rd through the 5th remain open for trips.  Most people like to relax on that holiday but if you like to fish, the lake is usually very quiet until around 11 am.  So it's a good day to get out with a lot of people sleeping in nursing hangovers.  I am booked solidly until the 3rd so either way, I'm happy to have a day or few days off.   I expect the good to excellent fishing to continue.

6/18/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 6/17 + 18

Cayuga Lake continues to offer powerhouse fishing for a variety of species.  The lake trout bite here on the 17th was superb;  it was slower on the 18th.  There's a ton of bait around and the fish are super clean with very few, if any signs of lampreys.

6/17:  Guided Nick and his son Dave for a full day.  We had some tremendous fishing - the guys timed things perfectly and despite it being their first time ever lake trout jigging they landed around 25 solid lake trout.  The fish hit well first thing in the AM (we actually started just after 6 am) and then it picked up speed around 7.  We had a little lull from 10 to around 12 and then things heated up again.  High point of the day was a nice 30" rainbow trout that Nick caught and we released unharmed.  He also caught a 14" rainbow.  It's great seeing some bows around!   Fish came from around 50' to 90' FOW.  The usual plastics did the trick.  

6/18:  Guided Ken and his son Gus for a tight (4 hour) half day.  The guys don't fish a whole lot but were hoping for some action.  They landed 6 lakers on the day.  We started at 6:30. The bite (while we were fishing) was noticeably slower than on the 17th but my guess is that it would have picked up later.  Either way, it was a fun and productive day.  We had one dink - most fish are running 24" to 25".  We also had a 28"er.

I've seen more fishing pressure on Cayuga Lake over the past couple weekends than I have in a long time.  I think a fair number of anglers are foregoing Lake Ontario trips and deciding to stay local.  Some of my recent clients have been primarily Lake Ontario fishermen in the past and are checking out the great fishing over here.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s there was a big exodus of anglers to Lake Ontario from the Finger Lakes.  The top Lake Ontario guides were ofter former Fingerlakes Guides. They had a big jump on the know-how and making the transition to the big water fisheries.  Now we will likely see a reversal of this trend.

NYDEC will be cutting back on King Salmon stocking on Lake Ontario next year in order to help prolong the King fishery.   Spring trawls on Lake Ontario show two very poor years in a row of alewife production.  The huge alewife class from 2013 (yearlings spawned in 2012) are greatly diminished in numbers.  There are far too many predator fish in Lake Ontario now.   Anglers that think there are too many alewives in LO are delusional.  They probably still think the world is flat, since that's what they can see with their eyes.  What do scientists know?

In Keuka Lake a couple of years ago, it appeared as though baitfish were on the rebound.  We saw more bait there in 2013 and 2014 than we'd seen in a long time. Lake trout caught through the ice after the super cold winter of 2014/15 were FULL of bait. The fish were in good condition.  All seemed well.  They were spitting up alewives and a casual observer would have thought that everything was status quo.  

But lo and behold, within a few months there wasn't a single alewife to be found and we haven't seen ANY in the year and a half since!  Lake Huron's crash was the exact same - record numbers of alewives and then nothing.  It doesn't take long - just a few months and it was like night and day.  DEC knows what they are doing.  Sure, they aren't perfect, but they know that the foundation of the Lake Ontario fishery right now is basically a castle made of sand.

Anglers in the Rochester area and further west think there's plenty of bait.  That is a small portion of the lake.  I talked to a bunch of guys coming off of Oswego and some Sodus area trollers and they are seeing nothing out there.  Kings are roaming the whole lake earlier in the season than ever before - why?  Because they aren't finding enough to eat!

You will see a major reduction in alewives next year.  That is not debatable.  And within a few years it will result in a huge spike in natural production of Lake trout.  There's nothing that can be done to change this.  Lake trout are an apex predator.  They will dominate Lake Ontario with a vengeance, just like they do in the Finger Lakes.  Millions of wild Chinooks leaving the Salmon River will be met by hoardes of hungry lake trout. The same will happen with a lot of freshly stocked browns and other salmonids.   That's what's happened in Lake Huron and is now happening in Lake Michigan.  It will happen here too.  That's the way of the ecosystem. There will likely be great classes of walleyes and perch produced and we'll probably see Atlantic Salmon doing better.  

Lake Ontario will still provide some great angling but the writing is on the wall for the trophy King fishery and DEC can only slow their demise.  That's my take on it and in a few years maybe I'll be proven wrong.  Time will tell!

 

 

 

6/6/2016
Keuka Lake out of Hammondsport 6/6 AM

I've cut back my Keuka Lake guiding over the past couple years to no more than 5 trips a year.  I used to average 20 to 25 trips a year here for primarily lake trout but also smallmouth bass.  It was more feasable to do the drive when I lived in Trumansburg.  Now I'm in Lansing and it's a bit too far.   But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to get out here for the first time this year and see what was happening with the lake trout bite.

The alewives here are gone.  There's no doubt about that.  Nobody I know has seen a "sawbelly" in a laker's stomach since just after the heavy winter/ice fishing season of 2014/2015.   

Larry and Cecilia showed up at the wrong place so instead of our 6:30 am launch time we wound up putting in at around 7:15. We did a 6 hour trip.   It was calm and sunny out.  We fished the south end, the bluff area and some points in-between.   The wind got to be very heavy by around 10 am.  On the day 6 lakers were landed and we kept three.  They bit consistently throughout the day, which often isn't the case on Keuka in June.  Nothing was in any of the fish I cleaned.  The condition of the fish was fairly poor.  They weren't as emaciated as Skaneateles fish, but every one I saw was thin and a couple were getting noticeably thin - where the head is the thickest part of the fish.   Best action was from 80' to 100' for us.

Bottom line of what I took from today is that the slow summer bite might be a thing of the past on Keuka Lake.  With the scarcity of food, these fish may hit a lot better during the dog days of summer than they used to.  We'll see.  We are also heading towards a Skaneateles Lake-like situation.  We'll see an occasional 20lb giant come out of the lake, but the vast majority of fish will be from 16" to 22" and skinny.  Ours today ran from 18" to 21".  

6/3/2016
Skaneateles Lake 6/3

Guided Mark for a full day here.  We'd previously done a Cayuga Lake trip for bass/pickerel/pike and a Seneca trip for lakers.  I thought that he might enjoy Skaneateles Lake for some bass fishing. The bass fishing wound up being pretty good, especially when the wind was up.  Mark landed a handful of nice fish up to 18".  He had a ton of grabs and momentary hookups including some from other 18" class smallies. He had fun fishing with flukes and tubes.  A couple jumbo perch and rock bass also found Mark's lures. Plenty of bass are paired up and I would expect good fishing here.  I'm not a big fan of targeting spawners but there are always plenty of non-spawners around depending on where you fish.  The lake was gorgeous as always and is just about swimable temperature-wise!   We had upwards of 62 degrees on top today.  Boat traffic was low until the latter part of the day.

6/1/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 6/1 AM

I was scheduled to fish Seneca Lake today with Ron and his wife Amanda but after the past weekend's super slow fishing we decided to move the trip to Dean's Cove.  We made the right move!   We fished both sides of the lake with our better action on the east shore. Ron and Amanda did well, landing 10 solid lakers from 20" to 27".  The bait is in big-time and Ron dropped a Landlocked Salmon around 18" next to the boat.  Laker are looking great. Water temp is 60/62 up top.  This Saturday and Sunday remain open for last minutes bookings.  Otherwise I'll have a nice weekend off, which is fine by me.

5/30/2016
Seneca Lake 52nd Annual Lake Trout Derby Report

5/28 - 5/30:  Well the results are in and the fish that made it to the scales during the derby were some of the most impressive EVER!   When the top brown trout is 18lbs and that knocks down a 15lber and a couple 14lbers, all one can say is "WOW!"   An 11lb salmon? "WOW."  A bunch of lakers from 13.8lbs on down - "WOW."  You get the message. Seneca Lake is producing some tremendous fish.  The 18lb brown was the largest fish taken in 52 years of this contest.  And who says "the good old days" are over?  They are right now.  

And it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that the top lake trout caught was jigged (on a boat by one of my former clients.)  The top laker (over 10lbs) caught by a teenager (plus another one in the TA division) was also caught by one of my former clients. One or two other fish were also taken by boats with Angling Zone alums onboard.

Our derby was tough.  I fished with my old time buddy Terry.  We go back over 30 years fishing together and he's the one that got me going on a lot of these lakes back when I was a non-boater for the most part.  

We had a lot of fun though we didn't catch much.  We were on the water by around 6 am to 6:15 am every morning and off the water between noon and 1 pm.  My 12 hour derby days are long gone.  We still fish hard but I'd be lying if I said we fish as intensely as we used to - at least most of the time.   Day 1 started out promising for us. Within about 1/2 hour or less I had a nice 27" to 28" laker onboard taken shallow.  I dropped another one around the same size just before we were about to net it.  Then things just shut down for us.  As anyone who has chartered a trip with me knows, I do not enjoy fishing in crowds.  A lot of key areas were jammed with anglers so we stayed out of the fray.  The community holes are good areas for good reasons - the fish like them.  So that did hurt us a bit.  

Day 2 was very tough for us.  We never had a hit that was for certain.  On both days when the lake calmed down the midge activity was intense.  At least the little bugs don't bite.

Day 3 started out better with Terry dropping a good fish due to a tackle issue.  He later landed a laker around 20".    

I'm not sure if I'll be fishing any more of these derbies.  This one I was on the fence about. My schedule is just too heavy these days and a 3 day derby with a lot of trailering feels more like work than fun at times.  That being said, it's a good time and nice to see all my friends out there.  As to why the bite was so tough, that's a good question and it's things like this that keep angling challenging, even for someone that is out as often as I am.  

 

5/27/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 5/27

Guided Rodney and Bob for 1/2 day starting a little later than usual - about 7:15 am.  They last went fishing with me back in 2009 if my records are accurate.  The late start didn't hurt us today and the guys managed a limit of nice lakers up to 28"+.  We released a legal young wild fish.  The fish I cleaned had some alewives.  They bit pretty steadily all AM - it was a better bite than yesterday.  We got them from very shallow out to over 90'.  Tons of bait is starting to move in.

Good luck to all fishing the Memorial Weekend Derby on Seneca Lake!  It's fun seeing a lot of friends up there.  It should be a real spread out event with fish all over the place.  I've got a brand new custom Canavan jigging rod with carbon fiber grip that rod-maker Mike Canavan dropped off at my place last night!  Can't wait to give it a whirl.  I'll be pairing that up with a brand new Pflueger Supreme baitcasting reel.   Mike reports decent numbers of lakers and tons of bait showing up mid-lake (AES area and north a few miles.)  It's "game-on" on Cayuga Lake now!

Stellar lake trout fishing with trophies in the mix, an up-and-coming mega group of clean, gorgeous landlocked Atlantic salmon, some browns that make the former Lake Ontario footballs think they aren't fat and some steady rainbow action - it all adds up to some of the best overall prospects for Cayuga Lake coldwater angling since the mid 1990s.   

5/26/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 5/26

Guided Bob and Jim for a full day of laker jigging.  It was a slow, steady pick with fishing a bit slower than the last few days but still good.  The guys wound up with 6 fish up to 29". Fish came from varied depths - 50' to 80' was where we caught most of them.  Nothing much else to report.  The usual plastics and colors did the trick.  Plenty of baitfish are moving in.  A few loons are still around along with some osprey.  Occasionally we are seeing bald eagles too. We kept all 6 fish today and there wasn't much in their stomachs.

5/24/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Dean's Cove 5/24

Guided Keith for a full day today.  Laker jigging was very good with 10 nice lakers landed to 31".  We had three wild fish.  One 17" salmon too.  Fish are very scattered - you can find them in 25' and also on bottom in 150'.  Typical late May/early June pattern.  We fished both sides of the lake today from Stoney Point north towards Levanna and then around Dean's Cove.  Surface temps hit the upper 50s.

5/23/2016
Otisco Lake 5/23 AM

Guided long time client Dave on Otisco Lake starting at 6 am.  He hadn't caught a Tiger Musky yet and really wanted to, so we did a 1/2 day today.  The conditions certainly weren't great with the bluebird sunny skies and zero wind but our early start really helped with the lingering fog.  

Dave was casting a spoon and nailed a 37" beauty within 1/2 hour of our start.  The fish was everything we could have asked for - it hit hard away from the boat, ran good and then jumped nicely and of course it was a nice sized fish.  After Dave hooked up he was looking at me wondering what to do!  Muskies are capable fighters but they aren't a King or Steelhead - you don't have to worry about them stripping your reel.

To me, the myth or legend of muskies and musky fishing overshadows the reality of the fish. Muskies are certainly an apex predator and capable of a fight that will provide a lifetime of memories.  The musky myths really center around people not geared up for them.  You hear stories of somebody reeling in a walleye or bass on 6lb test that gets hit by a giant musky and the person then fights the musky for 45 minutes (due to the light line) before either a.) landing the fish or b.) the musky releasing the other gamefish.  That's where the mystique lies.  The mystique also centers around big water, not small stocked lakes.  The St. Lawrence River and Georgian Bay (Moon River) are a couple areas that have a lot of musky folklore.   

We saw a bit of commotion on the surface for awhile not far from where we were fishing and ran the boat over.  A huge Tiger musky was upside down and not doing well - clearly dying. We netted it and measured it at around 47" to 48" - a real beast.  The fish stayed on the surface for awhile and then went under.  I doubt it survived.   We figured somebody caught it this past weekend.  At OLM, the owner John confirmed that one of the regular musky fanatics reported landing a 48"er this weekend.  I'm sure that was the same fish.  I know hardcore musky anglers do their best to try to release fish unharmed.  Some of these old trophy fish just don't have a lot of life left in them - it happens.  

Anyways Otisco Lake has produced at least 4 fish that I have heard of over 46" during the past 2 years.  I think the new regs are doing what they should do.  I like the 36" size limit. It prevents the numerous 30" to 34" fish from being harvested (which happens a lot through the ice) yet allows for occasional harvest of bigger fish.  Given that every single Otisco Lake fish is a hatchery fish I feel regs should allow for some harvest.  Once in a while a fish gets mortally wounded and it'd be nice to be able to keep it.  Plus, as we saw on the lake today, there are no guarantees with any fish being released surviving.  We'd like to believe they all survive when not badly hooked.  This fish looked good - we checked the mouth area really quickly and didn't see any signs of anglers but we didn't look for long.

5/22/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 5/22 AM

Guided Rich today for a 1/2 day starting just after 7 am.  The bite was excellent with 9 solid lakers and one salmon landed.  All fish came from less than 100' FOW.  A lot of boats were on the lake today with the Barney/Bear Derby going on.  We were not entered.  Our best laker probably went 9lbs+ FWIW.

Rich just did back to back half-day charters out of Sodus Point on Lake Ontario and had some decent lake trout fishing with a steelhead and decent coho caught.  A sublegal Atlantic and coho were released.  Their best Lake Ontario laker was in the 35/36" range. He left very impressed with the Cayuga Lake fishery and the jigging method. He caught more fish today himself than the Charter boat did yesterday.  The majority of the Cayuga Lake lakers compared with the majority of Lake Ontario fish, although L.O. produced two lunkers for his party.  

I'm looking forward to the Memorial Weekend Derby on Seneca Lake.  I'll be fishing it with my old fishing buddy Terry - we started fishing together back in 1986 and he was the first really good multi-species angler I ever fished with.  He introduced me to a lot of the different lakes and techniques/patterns for fishing perch, bass, walleyes and so forth.  So it will be fun.  My buddy Mike with be out there with his friend and my former co-angler (and 2013 Derby Grand Prize Winner) Jarrod will be out fishing with his young son.  Plenty of lunker lake trout reside in Seneca Lake and some giant browns are out there.  I expect to see a few large salmon and halfway decent rainbows weighed in.  I think results will be "par for the course" with a 13 to 14lb trout winning.  Likely a laker but there's always a chance of a brown.  No big surprise there.  

5/21/2016
Reports 5/18 to 5/20

Despite the mild winter and unseasonably warm March, the water temperatures remain cold for this time of the year due to the cold April and early May.  Fishing remains good to excellent throughout the region for a variety of species.

5/18 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  I guided Bruce and his wife Laurie for a 1/2 day of lake trout jigging.  Fishing wasn't easy for us.  I checked deep and shallow and we had scattered fish in both areas.  Bruce wound up having a good day with 3 solid lakers landed and another 4 or 5 hits missed.  Laurie just wasn't able to connect today although she had a few hits.  We found action from 110' or so out to 150'.  Gorgeous day on the water.

5/18 PM Lake Ontario out of Oswego Harbor:  I looked at my schedule and with pretty much wall to wall trips booked I figured it was now or never for a run up to Oswego.  I was tired and certainly paid the price in sleep deprivation.  I know the conditions I want up there and after the 3 day brutal blow (west winds to 30 mph and 7'+ waves) I would've rather waited until Thurs, Friday or this weekend, but either way I enjoy getting up there for a change of scene.   

As I launched the boat, a local reported to me that he'd lost a decent laker and caught a nice spring King in 38' of water.  I weighed it for him and it was a well-proportioned solid 12lber.  I worked a bunch of areas and lost one fish that I'm sure was a lake trout.  I also had a hit or two from what was likely an immature salmon.  In the harbor I nailed a fat smallmouth that fought very hard.  That was it. I'm not complaining - I only had around 3 hours to fish if that.  Other anglers (trollers) I talked to didn't report much - a brown or laker.  Spring brown fishing was not too good here from what I gather.  I'm not marking any bait, though there's certainly some around.

The amount of denial amongst some of the Lake Ontario Charter community regarding the State of the Lake never ceases to amaze me.  All someone needs to do is look at how the migratory patterns of Kings has changed over the years.  A few years back large numbers of Kings started showing up earlier than normal.  People thought it was the warm winter. Then it was the cold winters.   I have a different answer:  they are hungry and bait is scarce!  They are roaming the entire lake in search of bait.  Clearly there isn't enough to keep them over around the west end of the lake for long. 

5/19 AM:  Seneca Lake out of Geneva - Guided Dave and his friend Mike for a 1/2 day AM laker trip.  Action started out slowly but then picked up good.  Mike claimed to not have much luck fishing but he changed his tune after a couple hours and he landed back to back 33" lakers!  One had to go 13 to 14lbs!  The other was a little thinner - probably around 12. They are both still swimming around out there waiting for derby weekend!   Dave got everything rolling with the first few fish.  Great day!

5/19 PM:  Cayuga Lake out of Long Point - Met George and his son Andrew at Myers Park only to find the launch temporarily closed due to the lot being paved.  I should've met them at Taughannock since it was on my way home from Seneca.  We drove up to Long Point and launched with calm conditions that soon got windy out of the north.  The laker bite was tough to start.  Eventually we found fish shallow.  It wound up being a solid 1/2 day with George landing 3 fish and Andy landing one big one.

5/20 AM: Cayuga Lake out of Union Springs - Guided Pat for a 1/2 day for some pickerel action.  We both have a fondness for these "younger brothers" or "red-headed stepchildren" of the Esox family that dates back to our respected youths!  I'm always amazed at how some anglers - namely walleye anglers on Oneida and bass fishermen on Cayuga Lake despise pickerel.   Yes, they are often easy to catch.  What in the world is wrong with that???  Do you prefer hard to catch fish?   If you want those, try to get a burbot in Canandaigua Lake or a whitefish on Lake Ontario.  Good luck and 10 years from now let me know if you've caught one yet.  

(Actually, the local I talked to at Oswego caught two whitefish while trolling last month.  He thought they were ciscoes, but 20" ciscoes as far as I know would be too large to be one.  They are the same family and the cisco has an underbite and the whitefish an overbite - but they look alike from what I understand.)

Anyways you can get nasty cuts from pickerel, they are bony and they do bite off expensive imported $25 bass plugs so I do understand some of the dislike.  But we had fun.  We checked a bunch of areas out and one produced the best fishing with around a dozen or more landed up to 24".  Perch and bass anglers were out in droves.  I might have even seen a boat or two fishing for crappies.  At least 30 boats were on the northern end of Cayuga.  Gorgeous day out there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

5/17/2016
Seneca Lake out of Geneva 5/17

In twelve years of guiding this is the latest I've ever done my first Seneca Lake trip of the season.  I used to make a point of scouting out the area lakes;  I'd hit Owasco, Skaneateles, Seneca and so forth in order to see what was going on.  By now I've done enough guiding and logged enough hours on the water to feel fairly confident in finding fish without prior scouting - I understand the "lake rhythms" and how things set up and can tell in fairly short order what's going on.  That was the case today.  

Tim's girlfriend bought him a gift certificate for a full day trip last winter.  I met Tim and his friend Kendall at the Chamber of Commerce at around 6:45 am.   I've been starting trips a bit earlier lately, due to the time of the year.  The guys do well trolling but wanted to learn the jigging.  

We had a great day today with 9 mostly lunker lake trout coming to the net. The best fish was Kendall's 33" 12lb. 4oz laker that's heading to the smoker with 3 other fish we kept.   Nearly all the big lakers had healed lamprey scars on them.  None of the fish were in great condition - i.e. they were pretty fish, but none were fat.  Most were a little on the thin side. My guess is that they are just starting to feed a bit.  There was plenty of bait around in the depths of Seneca.  As usual for this time of year fish were scattered - they were common from 90' out to 150'+.   All the fish landed were wild ones today.  We had one 20"er but all the rest ran from 26" to 29" and then the 33".

5/14/2016
Cayuga and Otisco Lake reports 5/11 - 5/13

Had a good three day run of fishing.  It's been the most solid start to a season I've seen or experienced in a few years, mainly due to the milder winter.  The fishing is where it should be in mid-May - it's darn good for just about everything everywhere.  Panfish, trout, salmon, pike, bass, carp - they're all active.  I wish May fishing lastest longer!

5/11 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  Got out with a couple of girl-friends for some fun PM fishing.  I always forget about "take a gal fishing day" but this year I remembered.   Either way, we had a great time with 3 nice lakers landed between them including a fish around 10lbs.   Fishing wasn't easy but it's pretty clear that the lakers are moving shallow at times.  I laid back and smoked a few cigars while they had most of the fun.

5/12 Cayuga Lake out of Long Point:  Guided Andrew and Jim for a 1/2 day starting around 8 am.  Laker fishing was good and we caught fish both shallow and deep on both sides of the lake.  Andy dropped 4 or 5 solid fish but we still found up with 4 nice keepers for Jim's smoker and grill.    

5/13 Otisco Lake:   Guided Dave and his friend Chris for a full day of Tiger Musky fishing on the fly starting just after 6 am.   Dave and his father Bob joined me on Cayuga Lake for a great fly-fishing trip on March 30th on Cayuga Lake.   They are both exceptional fly-tiers and fly-fishermen and it's shown on both trips.  Their flies are superb!  

Despite having only caught a couple relatively small Tiger Muskies on the fly myself, I felt confident going into the fishing today.  We had a great weather pattern with a crescent moon, wind, clouds and obviously a falling barometer with the impending front coming through.  But it's still musky fishing and still a challenge on the fly.  Just casting large flies can be a challenge for many fly-fishers.

We worked a few areas without any action.  After about an hour, Dave connected with a 27"er.   It was a nice clean fish and we all saw it grab the fly.   Chris landed a chunky smallmouth.   While Chris searched for a new fly to try, I got a chance to cast one of Dave's SAGE pike rods (10 wts) and I even caught a small largemouth bass.  BTW - The Sage casts beautifully!  I now know what my next pike/musky/gar rods are going to be!

There's a nice submerged weedbed that I remembered from my days of fishing with Jessica back in 2008 and sometimes it sets up nicely, so we gave that a shot.  Dave's fly got crushed again a long ways out and after a good battle I slipped the net under a 36" Tiger!!!  Awesome!  To make a long story short he had more follows including another one around the same large class.  I suspect he would've hooked at least one or more of the fish had he done "figure 8s" or "Ls" but the excitement of the moment got the best of him.  Either way, it was the best day I've had on my boat for fly-fishing Tigers and it's mainly because of Dave and his (dad's in this case) aptitude with fly-tying and perseverence with muskies. He had been researching musky on the fly for around 10 years and the bug finally got him good over the past couple seasons.

 

 

 

 

5/10/2016
Skaneateles Lake 5/9

Guided Gordon for a full day starting around 8:30 am.   I believe he's been coming out fishing with me since my first year in business.  He mainly fly-fishes and apart from 2 hours of laker jigging while we waited for the winds to set up, that's what he did.  He had a hold of 4 or 5 lakers momentarily.  Smaller hooks probably would've helped us in hooking the usual 15" to 18" lakers found here.   Who knows?  Whatever the reason, the hooks pulled out after a few second battle.  Even ones I thought he stung well came off.

Fly-fishing was a challenge here as usual.  He had to work some different areas before we encountered any trout or salmon.  In one area Gordon landed 2 salmon around 16" to 17", lost one and also landed a gorgeous 21" rainbow.  Another salmon at 17.5" was landed in another part of the lake.   A few smallmouths and a couple jumbo perch rounded out the day.  Everything was released apart from the jumbo ringbacks.  The good old olive bugger in a size 4 did the trick today fished on an intermediate 7 weight line.  Water temps were in the mid 40s.

5/8/2016
Reports 5/5 - 5/8

Fishing in the region remains good to very good for a number of different species.  May weather can be volatile but it's a great month to be on the water with very few annoyances. Boat launches are uncrowded, there are next to no jetskiis or "performance boats" around (not that we ever see many, apart from the once a year Rochester Power Boaters "poker run.")  Anyways, Loons abound and the fishing is often excellent.

5/5 AM:  Met Mark, his son David and David's father in-law Ganu at Dean's Cove just after 8 am.  David hadn't fished in a long, long time and Ganu had never fished before, so it was a good chance to introduce them to the joys of catching big lake trout in deep water.  The trip didn't disappoint.  In a nutshell, 10 solid lake trout were landed anchored by David's monstrous 31" to 32" fish!  We release the big brutes at FLAZ guide service most of the time and today was no exception.  It was likely 11lbs or better.   Ganu managed his first and 2nd fish and hopefully he'll be hooked for life.  110' to 150' was productive for us.

5/6 AM:  Met the Hermans at Taughannock Park for some casting for trout/salmon.  We had good north winds and decent conditions for some good action.  John started things out with a 17" salmon.  He then lost another fish.  Eleonore had a follow from a decent brown in the 20"+ range and then landed an 18" laker.  She also caught a 20" laker.  Both fish came from less than 10' of water on stickbaits.   John and Eleonore landed 2 more salmon that were undersized but not dinks.  We removed a lamprey from one salmon but apart from that, every fish was clean.  Good day!

5/6 PM:  Met Josh and his friend Mike at Dean's Cove launch at 1:30 pm.   Fortunately for once the weathermen were wrong and the conditions turned out to be better than expected! Yes, instead on the high winds, rain and thunderstorms, we had high winds, rain and then low winds, clear skies and a beautiful rainbow in the sky!  Can't beat that.  And the fishing didn't disappoint.  The guys did a great job landing at least a half dozen nice fish to around 29" long if my memory serves me correctly.  Cayuga is back to great form with regards to large lakers being around.  Nearly every trip is producing 27" to 29" fish!

5/7:  Guided Earl out of Dean's Cove for a full day.   I like the Long Point ramp, but for people coming from the southern tier or during stronger north winds it makes more sense for me to launch out of Dean's.  The launch is easier for one person, I do less running and it's more convenient for my clients not to have to drive through Ithaca.   Earl had a good day with some decent action to start, a slowdown then some good fishing at the end of the day. I think he landed 5 fish and lost a few too.  110' to 150' again.

5/8:  Guided Mike out of Emerson Park on Owasco Lake - Be forewarned that the Emerson Park personnel are getting more adament about paying the gate fee, whether or not you beat the gatekeeper in through the door!   I don't mind, because the park has excellent facilities with the exception of the "too shallowly sloping" ramp.  I bought a season pass because I expect to be here a bit this year.

Mike is one of the best anglers I guide and one of the nicest people I know to spend a day on the water with.  He's fished all over the country and world and loves to angle. But he also fishes his local rivers, streams, lakes and ponds and understands what's involved.  I would have felt fine postponing or cancelling today's trip given the forecast with northwest winds gusting to 28 mph, rain and highs in the low 50s but he wanted to give it a shot and see how things went.  They went very well!

His last three trips with me resulted in some good lakers but only a dink pike or two on Seneca.  He really wanted to get some pike this time.  We tried a couple different areas and despite the cranking winds I felt at the top of my game today with strategies and Mike was at the top of his game with his angling attitude, skills and perseverence.  We were the only boat at the launch at 7 am and the only boat we saw all day til we got up north around 1 pm.  Mike managed to land 7 pike - all 24" to 26 or 27" I believe with the exception of one 21"er.  He nabbed a 19.5" walleye and a 12" perch.  He also landed a 13" and 20" giant smallmouth bass.  Great catching on a very difficult day fishing!  By the end of the day my trolling motor had pretty much given up the ghost.  Fish came on stickbaits, spoons and we had a hit or two on tubes.  

FWIW:  The first pike he caught had a beautiful brand new Yozuri stickbait on the side of his mouth.  Pike fishing without some form of bite leader is silly.  It's kind of like unprotected sex in a foreign country, mouthing off to a bunch of outlaw bikers, skydiving without a parachute or any other form of recklessness - nothing good can come of it!   Our Tyger wire leader resulted in no bite-offs plus the bass, walleye and perch all hit. Yes, even a "finicky walleye" couldn't resist the Rapala Shadow Rap, wire and all!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

5/4/2016
Cayuga Lake 5/3 PM + 5/4 AM

5/3 PM out of Myers:  Did some salmon fly-fishing and lake trout jigging with a friend of a friend I'd been acquainted with for a long time but finally got to get out fishing with.  We had a good time fly casting for salmon and although we didn't land any, on the day we contacted several fish in a few different areas.  Prospects are still good for fly-fishing.

Mike and I set up for lakers and had some great jigging action near AES.  He nailed one around 28" or 29" to start (if I remember right) and we each caught some nice fish, winding up with around 7 or 8 on the day between the two of us.   Stomach checks on the fish we kept showed a mix of gobies and alewives.  As noted previously this year, the goby-fed fish are sporting very appealing deep orange flesh.  I kept a mortally hooked laker that was around 18" are it provided me with some terrific eating.  Mike kept a couple bigger fish that will certainly keep him in good eating for awhile.   Fun trip!

5/4 AM out of Long Point:  Guided John and his friend Andy for 1/2 day AM starting around 8:15.  Action was good on lakers with around 6 landed.  Andy got a 28" wild beauty that we let go.  For whatever the reason, he wound up dropping 4 fish that appeared to be hooked well.  John did a nice job in the "landing department" and it wound up being a very solid day.  We never saw another boat out fishing all AM!  It's been unreal how light the boat traffic has been thus far this season.  The loons are still out in droves and the lakes are mighty quiet!  Just the way I like it....

4/29/2016
Cayuga Lake 4/28 + 29

I am hoping to get out on some different lakes shortly.  It's been hard to want to fish anywhere else but Cayuga with the terrific lake trout action and solid salmon/brown trout fishing.   Skaneateles Lake is one of my favorite lakes to fish in May and I intend to get out on Seneca and Owasco Lakes in the near future.  Lake Ontario is another one I want to fish but I have a lot of bookings on Cayuga over the next couple weeks, so we'll see what happens.

4/28 AM out of Long Point:  I met Leighton and his brother Nick at the ramp just after 8:15 am and we headed out for some laker jigging.  The fishing was very good with Leighton catching a fish just shy of 31"!  This slob was spitting up young alewives one after another! A couple 28" or 29"ers were also caught and released.  The guys kept a couple 24" range fish for the grill.  Those fish were eating alewives plus an occasional goby.   Best action was deep - 140'+ range.  Great half day with 7 solid fish landed if I remember correctly.  We saw one other boat out on the day, that was it!  

4/29 PM out of Myers:  Guided Sergio and his son Francisco, both from Argentina. Fran has been getting into fly-fishing and taught himself some casting.   I was pretty impressed with his casting and with some coaching he was making some very good casts as the day went on.  Sergio had never fished before, so I got him casting a spinning rod and working stickbaits.  We had overcast conditions (with a little rain late in the day) and a north wind around 4 to 5 mph at best.  Within an hour Sergio had landed two nice lake trout in shallow water.  One was around 18" and one was 22".  Our second area produced two hits for Fran, the second hit resulting in an 18" landlocked salmon that he landed and we released.

Sergio had two good hits and then lost another 18" range salmon on a jump in the next area we fished and that was it.  Given the "calm wind forecast" I was happy to see the winds up out of the north and the guys catching some nice fish.

I get asked about the winds on occasion and recently had a local angler email me with a report of some good trout and salmon fishing during glassy, sunny conditions.  I've never said that you can't catch fish when it's like glass out.  I just find that day-in and day-out, calm conditions in a clear lake tend to make for spooky fish.  What I like about the wind is that it forms currents which move plankton.  This typically will activate baitfish, which move in to feed on the plankton.  And that sets up gamefish in predictable areas. The wind and wave action diffracts the sun, which helps to camouflage the bottom and enables predators to move shallow with less likelihood of getting preyed upon by birds and other predators.   When I have no wind, I need to step on my trolling motor to move the boat.  That tends to spook fish.   Fish will often follow lures but not commit to them. That can be fun to watch but also frustrating.

I like to go with the highest percentage fishing available.   When it's calm out the best bet is often making long casts with spinning rods. Hair jigs and stickbaits can be very effective.  And deeper water or working along edges or cliff areas can be good.  Any murky water (like around creek mouths) is also worth checking out.   (Doing some laker jigging or bass/crappie fishing can be a better bet when it's calm and sunny out - it's a much higher percentage proposition - so that's why I do it and recommend it.)  But there are exceptions to the rule and salmon often like basking in the sun.  I'll even see them move up creek mouths on occasion in the springtime just to get into some warmer water.  It also makes for great cigar smoking.  Bottom line:  Even if it's calm and sunny out and the bite might be tough, it's still worth going fishing!

4/27/2016
Skaneateles Lake 4/27 AM

Did a 1/2 day trip with Sue, who fished with me last year.  Conditions were cool, cloudy and calm this AM then the sun finally broke through and we wound up with a nice day.  I was hoping she could do some casting a possibly hook some trout, perch or bass but with the calm conditions lake trout jigging was probably the best bet.  She had 4 or 5 grabs and managed to land one laker around 18".  These aren't the full-bodied ("full figured") Cayuga trout - they're somewhat scrawny cigar shaped fish, but beautiful nonetheless.  Water temps were around 43 on top.  

My buddy Mike was out here last weekend and managed to get a decent rainbow trout on the fly and some good eating perch.   

4/24/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 4/24

Guided Eric and his dad Mike for a full day starting just after 8 am.  We'd been trying to schedule a laker trip for awhile but had some terrible luck with the weather.  It was a beautiful day today albeit a bit cold in the AM.

The guys did well.  Eight nice lakers from around 22" to 29" were landed today.  Eric probably lost another 1/2 dozen or more.   It can be difficult bringing up a fighting, twisting laker from 150' of water or more!  Sometimes the fish just get off no matter what you do. Fish came from 120' to 150' with the best action being around 140' to 150'.   Surface temps are creeping up into the 45/46 degree range.  The lakes are quiet with very few pleasure boaters and no jet skiis to be heard or seen.  You can't beat it!

4/22/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 4/22 AM

Guided Avery and his fiancee' Zina for a 1/2 day of laker jigging.  He took my fly-fishing class years ago and was back in town.  The fishing started out great with Avery landing a 29" laker on his first drop with the jig!  The oft-dreaded "first cast" syndrome (I'm not superstitious but a lot of fishermen and guides are.)   It didn't take long for Zina to land a couple nice fish too but then the action slowed for awhile.  The conditions were a bit cool with some showers but not overly uncomfortable.

We did some moving around from the 150' or so that we started in and in around 110' we starting hitting some good fish.  Action was very good and we just about had a double a few times. Overall it was a great day with 8 solid fish landed.  We kept two of the smaller fish for Avery and Zina's dinner.  The fish I cleaned were packed with alewives.   One wild fish was in the mix.  Only sign of lampreys were on the two biggest fish and they were healed scars.  Nobody else was out that we could see today.   All signs point to another terrific year on Cayuga Lake!  

4/21/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 4/21

I got out today on my own for around 3 hours.  I was really psyched when I saw the forecasted south winds and sun so I grabbed my fly-rods and headed out the door. Unfortuntately the wind was in the process of diminishing soon after I arrived.  I fly-fished for around 2.5 hours and never had a definite hit.  A little bit of laker jigging produced a dink laker.

Anglers flat-lining are doing well around the south end of the lake on mostly sublegal landlockeds and a few barely legal brown trout, with the occasional solid big brown or salmon.  There's a lot of small debris on the surface of the lake and some large swathes of nice green, warm water (surface temps are running from 44 to 48 degrees)  but it's turning into more of a troller's ballgame out there.  Lots of fishy water to cover!  Once we get some good steady north winds, the fly-fishing and spincasting should turn on a bit.  

I get a fair number of questions regarding smelt runs every year.  I was talking to "Bear" at Bear's Bait and Tackle at Myers Park and he did hear of some being dipped.  So "the run" is likely on but numbers are low.

A gal in one of my fly-fishing classes hooked a very nice salmon yesterday from shore.  It was probably around 23" give or take.  Some very nice fish have been caught this season out in the lake (that's the first salmon a student of mine has hooked while fly-fishing from shore in a few years if my memory serves me correctly.)

The number of loons out on the lake is incredible!   I'm not talking about morons out in boats and kayaks but the birds!  Man - they are everywhere!  I've never, ever seen so many.

DEC Diaries finally arrived in my mailbox this week.  I like getting them in March but I will give the guys and gal a lot of credit because the reports are much more comprehensive now than they were back in the late 1990s and early to mid 2000s.  

Wild lake trout numbers on Cayuga are at around 11%.   They are definitely creeping up and I don't think we'll notice any of the stocking cuts while fishing.  As a matter of fact, catch rates for salmonids on Cayuga Lake were the highest they've been since the start of the program.  With low lamprey numbers out there, we're seeing a banner year on Cayuga Lake and should see another great year in 2017.    I've been itching to fish Seneca and Skaneateles and will likely head to one of those lakes soon.

 

 

4/18/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 4/18 AM

Guided the Hermans for a 1/2 day starting just after 8:15 am.  We had a consistent bite with 7 lakers landed.  Nearly all were solid fish with one wild one.  About 120' to 150' was best for us.  Surface temps hit 43 today.

Dates are filling rapidly from the remainder of April through the end of June.  See my homepage if you're looking to get out.  July and onwards are wide open though all Saturdays are booked through October 22nd.

4/17/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 4/17

Guided Dean, Scott and Scott's son Aidan for a full day of laker jigging.  Dean and Scott have been coming out with me since the crazy Owasco Lake laker bite of the mid to late 2000s.  If you're in the Philadelphia area, check out his distillery - Rowhouse Spirits.  The website is http://www.rowhousespirits.us/   

Dean used to formulate some of the beers sold by Yards and then Philadelphia Brewing Company and has a knack with all kinds of food and drink.  Whether he's making beef jerky or sandwiches, he really has a great individual flare and sense of taste.   

Anyways it's always a great time when I see the guys and we had some solid jigging to start this AM then things slowed down a bit.  The lack of wind hurt us a bit today, since it's harder to cover water but either way, the guys had a great day with 10 solid lakers landed and a couple dropped.   The weather was gorgeous and downright hot at times.  We kept 2 lakers and they were gorging themselves with alewives.  No sign of gobies in these fish as of late for us.   

4/16/2016
Cayuga Lake 4/14 - 4/16

Thus far this season I've spent more time than ever before fishing Cayuga Lake as opposed to Seneca, Skaneateles and Keuka, which are my usual early season favorites.  Why? Mainly because the fishing has been so good and it's nearby!  Can't beat that and I love not having to do too much driving or running around with the boat.  

4/14:  Guided Don and his 10 year old (soon to be eleven year old) nephew Greg.  We originally were shooting for Skaneateles Lake where Don has a cottage, but due to circumstances on Don's end we decided Myers would be a better bet.

He's been getting into some lake fly-fishing and working on his casting and it showed. We had some follows from trout/salmon right away.  Greg hooked up and nabbed a fat 16.5" brown that we kept.  It had a goby in its stomach around 4 to 5 inches long!  Don wound up catching a couple nice 16.5"/17" salmon both on my flyrod setup (with an intermediate line) and his (with a floating setup.)   Good day on the water with some other follows too.

4/15:  Guided Mark I. for a full day.  I met him at Dean's Cove which for me was a blast from the past, but it was better for Mark and easier than launching by myself and running back and forth across the lake.  Our target was carp on the fly, though we started by trying some salmon fly-fishing (with no action - which wasn't too surprising up north) and then we had some very solid laker jigging with Mark landing four solid fish in short order up to over 30".   

The carping is something I hadn't done in at least 7 years and was just like I remembered it.  A LOT of fish mudding on vast flats.  It basically involved blind casting the flats and some guesswork casting to fresh mudders.   Mark fouled a couple fish to start.  One was landed and was probably in the 25lb to nearly 30lb range!   Later he had a fish around 12lbs gobble the fly, so that was cool.  A lot of fun today!  Great fights too!

4/16:  Guided Ron and his daughter Rachel for a full day.  Usually Ron shows up with his son Matt or alone but it was a nice change of pace.  She doesn't do a whole lot of fishing but has done her share.  The laker bite was hot early with around 9 or 10 fish landed fairly quickly up to over 28".   The bite then slowed down next to nothing but picked up to a slower steady pick later and we wound up with 16 solid fish.  2 or 3 were likely wild.  All were let go today.  We worked from around 130' to 160'.  Beautiful day!  

4/13/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 4/13 AM

Had a late cancellation, so I wound up getting my boat out for 3 hours of fly-fishing.  I did a bit of exploring and managed a follow from a very nice salmon around 23" to 24".  Didn't have any other luck until I was ready to leave.  My fly got smashed by a 23 1/2" (I think - or was it 22 1/2"? It's a blur) salmon.  Great fight and I kept this one for this week's fish dinners.  It still had eggs in it from last fall, so it did not spawn.  Probably on its way to reabsorbing its eggs.  That's what happens when we don't get rain until too late in the season.  A stomach check revealed freshwater shrimp and gobies.  

A guy was checking the lake level for his own knowledge - Cayuga is about 6" below full pool.  It should be launchable everywhere.  

4/10/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 4/10

Guided brothers Nate and Chris for a full day today starting around 10:30 am.  The guys were originally scheduled for yesterday but fortunately we were able to change things around after the brutal weather that was forecast and subsequently took place.  Today wasn't exactly a picnic - it was cold!  Probably around 37 for a high.  I've never been one of those "let's take the boat out - it's 25 degrees" guys.  I'm not averse to fishing in the cold in a boat but dealing with frozen ramps and bitter wind isn't my idea of enjoyment unless the rewards are very high.  

The conditions dictated lake trout to me, so that's what we did to start.  The fish were biting fairly well but the action was tentative - they weren't grabbing great, although they were moving for the jigs and hitting them half-heartedly.   The guys were stoked to catch some fish and four nice clean lakers made it to the net.  At least a half dozen to dozen were missed/dropped/lost.  We found them from around 85' out to 140'.

The casting for salmon was really good.  The guys landed 4 solid salmon - all chunky fish in the 19"+ range, with one that was 18"+.  I believe it's the first trip I've had all season on Cayuga where we caught more than one or two legal sized landlockeds.  Around 2 to 3 solid fish (in the same 19" range) were lost and some others followed.  For whatever reason, the salmon (and some bigger ones) are starting to show on Cayuga Lake.  For what it's worth, this is the first year in my 13 years of guiding that I haven't done a Seneca trip yet.   I am completely happy just fishing locally, though I wouldn't mind seeing what is going on there.  But it's hard not to want to fish here after my big salmon a few weeks ago and given what I've been seeing unfolding here.   And a 5 mile drive to the launch is so nice as opposed to a 45 minute jaunt.

We kept one lake trout and one salmon (which had a lamprey attached.)  The salmon was stuffed with alewives.  These are the first sawbellies I've seen in a salmon thus far this season.  Water temps remain cold lakewide with 40/41 degrees on the surface.

4/8/2016
Cayuga Lake Shorefishing 4/7

It was very windy out yesterday but as the winds died I needed some relief for my "stir-craziness," so off I went.  It's pretty darn depressing at times in the northeastern part of this country, when we get three weeks of sunshine and beautiful spring conditions and then suddenly have it all taken away from us as we get hit with air temperatures in the 12 degree range and walloped with a foot of wet snow.  It's been good weather for doing things indoors.

I was able to get some fly-fishing in as the winds diminished and was quickly rewarded with a solid 21" Landlocked salmon.  The fish had some bad hook scars and was fairly thin, so I was inclined to keep it.  A stomach/intestinal check revealed some leftover salmon eggs and around 4 to 5 gobies in its stomach, including one so fresh it must have been alive earlier in the day!   So the fish was likely a dropback salmon that had resumed feeding.  I thought it was thin due to the bad hookscars (the maxillary was dislodged and ran across the fish's mouth) but it may have just been the rigors of spawning. 

Dropback salmon and browns are rare in Cayuga and Seneca Lake.  I've always blamed the thiamine issues (along with the non-stop catch, release, catch, release then catch again and release again fishing that happens in the tribs that wears out already worn out fish that need every bit of energy they can get.)  One fish doesn't mean much but it won't surprise me a bit if we start seeing more fish surviving the spawn, given that their thiamine levels should be on the rise.  We may also start seeing a few wild spawned salmon in Cayuga Lake in the future.

I had a couple other hits on one cast, but that was it.  I have a busy week of guiding ahead and should have plenty of reports going up.   My buddy Mike just finished work on the Oneida Lake walleye egg-take and they reached their quota.  He was able to talk to one of the guys from the Adirondack hatchery (hatchery workers from around the State help out with the massive eggtake) who confirmed that the Finger Lakes just received their salmon stockings.  The fish reportedly were in excellent condition, so with a little luck we should be in good shape over the next few years. 

4/1/2016
Skaneateles Lake 4/1

Guided John and John Jr. for around 6 hours today.  The weather forecast earlier in the week was looking very iffy with forecast high winds, rain and possible thunderstorms, but we decided to go for it after the forecast moderated.  We were the only boat at the launch when we put in just before 8:30 am.  It was raining a bit, but the winds were actually very light.  I'm not a fan of light winds on this lake but we gave it our best shot.  John Jr. did most of the fishing though his dad fished a little bit.  They were out with me a few years ago on this lake and had caught a nice pickerel and bass, but no trout. 

Overall action was slow on the day.  John Jr. wound up picking up a smallmouth around 13" on a hairjig along a dropoff.   I showed the guys the laker jigging pattern but we didn't spend more than 20 minutes with it.  John had really wanted to catch a rainbow on the lake (the guys have a place there) so we gave it our best shot.  Halfway through the day the rain stopped, sun came out and the winds cranked up out of the north.  We finally had some good conditions.  We were about to leave an area when John Jr. finally hooked up with some silver - a nice landlocked salmon around 16" to 17" long.   That was it on the day. Water temps hit 43 degrees up north, were 39 on the east shore and 41 on the west shore. I expect good fishing here once we have a good wind pattern.  Lake level is a little low but ok.

3/30/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 3/30

Guided a full day of fly-fishing with Bob and his son Dave.  Bob had contacted me once or twice over the past year or two and we were finally able to get a date in.  I thought today looked great "on paper" and it wound up being a solid day.  I was wondering what yesterday's strong winds would do to the fishing.  Nothing was affected as far as I could tell.

In short order Bob had a follow from a decent lake trout (on a floating line!) which was cool and certainly relaxed me on our prospects following the brutal winds yesterday. The fish nearly took his hand-tied fly three times but just never grabbed it.  Follows from juvenille and a few better salmon kept us engaged.  Dave got the first fish which wound up being a brown just over 15". Everything was released today.  The guys wound up with another legal brown and around 5 or 6 salmon that were all from 15" to 17.5" except one smaller one. The landlockeds had a lot of zip to them today.   Dave lost a solid salmon in the 22"+ range that jumped and fought great.  

A few areas we tried produced good action and in a couple areas we didn't contact anything. Great weather and the wind wasn't bad for the most part.  Yesterday Bob whipped up the flies they used.  It included a very effective pattern that Dave took full advantage of.  Water temps ranged from 39 to 43 degrees.  3 small lampreys came up on the fish today.  Some small lampreys are around but most of the fish were very clean.  

3/28/2016
Cayuga Lake 3/26 + 27

Got out two days in a row for some fly-fishing.  We've had some very good action on mostly sub-legal fish, though enough solid fish have been in the mix to keep things interesting.

3/26:  Guided Mark I. for a full day starting just after 9 am.   He's one of the best fly-casters I guide.  Winds were fairly calm to start and a lot of boats were out trolling both the south end and around Taughannock/Frontenac Points.   We tried north of Taughannock for a bit and didn't do anything.  Some trollers were picking up short fish.   

A run downlake paid off pretty quickly with Mark getting into some good action on salmon around 13" to 14".  He then managed to hook a solid fish that put a good bend in his 7 wt. fly-rod but for some reason it got off.  He had good pressure on it and got a good hookset. We worked a lot of water near the south end of the lake but didn't do much.  

Mark was throwing some big flies on his 7 wt. so we took a break and did some lake trout jigging.  The jigging was pretty darn good and he had quite a few hits and hookups.  He landed two nice fish that wound up as dinner.  One was wild and both appeared to have gobies in their stomachs.  We finished up with some more fly fishing but didn't encounter any fish.

3/27:  Got out with Mike for around 6 hours of afternoon fly-fishing.  There were some areas we wanted to work that I hadn't fished in awhile (and some I'd never fished much at all.) We hit paydirt in pretty short order and were getting hits and follows from salmon of various sizes - most sublegal.  Mike landed the first few fish and also nabbed a brown just under 15".  Not quite the chunkster of recent weeks, but it's good to see the browns doing well. He also had some 18" range salmon follow him in.  In one area I got a hit and landed and released an 18.5" salmon after a quick photo.   Mike had also had a follow from what might have been a decent laker or brown.   We worked a few other areas of the lake with no fish. We did see a bald eagle being harrassed by some seagulls.  Seeing majestic eagles in the sky never gets old!

Water levels are still low on Cayuga Lake.  Water temperatures are still cold.  Average lake temps we encountered yesterday were around 41 and that was probably on the warmer side of the lake.  Looks like some nice warmer temps this week, then back down again next.  

3/25/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 3/24

Guided my old school friend Chris, his son Brian and Chris's nephew Tim today for around 6 hours.   Tim was a bit out of commission with a bum knee from a wrestling injury, so we weren't fishing at "full power" today.  We had a good time with a lot of follows, some big fish hooked up and some smaller fish brought to the net.  The guys dropped some nice sized browns and possibly salmon today - a couple were in the 4 to 6lb range.  But that's the way things go.  I had them using some stickbaits with single hooks in the back.  After a couple lost fish I switched them out to trebles in the back, but it didn't help.  

Around 1/2 dozen sublegal salmon including one dink brown made it to the net.  I record the lengths for the DEC angler diary program.  One lamprey came up on a salmon.  Water temps made it up to around 45 degrees today.  We hooked and saw fish in a variety of areas.  I'm not sure why some of the winter angling was slow.  A lot of fish may have been keying in on the gobies.  The brown trout are starting to make a good showing.  My friend Todd landed a 28.75" beauty while trolling a couple days ago - that fish was probably 13lbs or better.  I've seen quite a few nice browns around and as I mentioned before, the 16" to 17" small browns are hefty and are very nice fish this year.  These ain't cigars!  These are quality fish that hit hard, jump and fight very well.  I remember the term "Lake Ontario Footballs" in regards to brown trout.   I'm not sure what the Lake Ontario browns look like this year, but the football team may have relocated to Cayuga!

3/22/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Myers Park 3/22 PM

I hadn't been paying a whole lot of attention to the weather lately when today's forecast caught my eye.  I'm teaching on Monday and Wednesday afternoon/evenings, so Tuesdays are good fishing days for me.  Now's a great time of year to fly-fish for browns, salmon and rainbows throughout the region.  And my busy season will start soon, so now's the best time of the year for me to fish on my own.  So with flyrods in tow I was on the water around noon and within an hour I had located some fish.   I kept the first fish I caught, a FAT 16 1/2" brown that had a small lamprey attached.  Despite the successful treatments of the past year, some lampreys are definitely around.   This brown turned out to be loaded with gobies and it weighed 2lbs. 2oz.   That's a fat fish!

I caught a dink salmon and managed to pull my fly away from some other "shorts."  I did have some follows from bigger (20" to 23" range) fish - likely browns.   Suddenly a very large salmon appeared and chased in my fly a bit.  It kept hovering around a rocky area and I made a few more casts and had him (or her) show some interest, but then the wind picked up and I lost sight of her.  It isn't often that I can sight-fish to salmon, but it can be fun.  When I first saw the fish, I thought it was huge - at least 28".  But my brain tried to convince me it was smaller.  Anyways I kept working my way up the lake.  Another brown hammered my fly - it was a 16"er.  These small browns are heavy and they hit and fight like 20" fish!  They are fun!

I made a few short runs with the big motor and set up with a sinking line.  After a few casts my line tightened up hard and a big salmon took to the air three times before surging strongly into deep water.   The ensuing battle was one that I'll never forget.  I had sinking line wrapped around boat seats, my windshield, my net and my body.   This fish ran under the boat a few times.  It should've broken my rod at least 4 different times with the pressure I was trying to put on it.  The wind was blowing my boat north and the fish was upwind of me.  It was a huge mess.  I nearly broke another fly-rod I had laying around when it got tangled in the net.  I made a few attempts at netting the fish that didn't go too well. I finally managed to get the fish in the net.  I put it in the livewell while I regained my composure and got my camera out. I measured it carefully twice and had 30 1/2".  A Landlocked salmon of a lifetime on the fly.  I took a poor shot of it in my well (that didn't come out because I think I only pressed the button half way.)  The fish had a lot of vigor as I prepared to release him.  I stretched out for my camera (for a release shot) just as the fish gave a good kick with its tail and took off.  Oh well.  I wouldn't have been able to get a great shot anyways.   My previous best salmon was a 27"er caught from shore on Seneca and at least 4 or 5 different 26"ers mainly from Cayuga.  I wasn't expecting a fish like this one at all!

I mentioned it before in my reports, but in years when legal (aka "keeper") salmon are scarce, usually a few trophies are caught.  It happened on Lake George this winter with a 15lb Landlocked salmon caught through the ice.  It will happen this spring/summer on Seneca and it will happen here - the small number of fish that survive longer than the rest (whether it was the "lamprey gauntlet" or poor conditions when stocked or what,) will get bigger than usual.

There is no greater fish in this region than the Landlocked Atlantic (or just plain Atlantic) salmon in my opinion.  I had a recent email from a past client who has caught some good ones on Seneca.  He found out that if you catch one good fish you're hooked for life!   They are everything a top game fish should be:  they are gorgeous, they hit hard, they fight hard and crazy, they jump a lot (not all of them, but at their best they do,) they actively chase flies, they taste great and they require clean cold water.  They don't survive in poor conditions.   If you want good Atlantic Salmon you need to take care of your waterways.  Anyways I probably won't need to visit a cardiologist any time soon, since that fish gave me a great stress test and it took me a couple hours to get back to feeling normal.  I've been fly-fishing for salmon in the FL region now for over 20 years - I hope I don't have to wait another 20 years for the next trophy!

 

 

3/15/2016
Owasco Lake out of Emerson Park 3/15

Guided Steve and Christine for a full day of fly-fishing for northern pike on Owasco Lake. They last joined me 2 or 3 years ago for some pike fishing on Seneca Lake just before the season closed.  Conditions were good today and we were able to find a decent concentration of fish after some searching.  They managed to land 5 northerns (one was a dink) and they also dropped and missed some good hits/fish as well.  Steve had a nice fish swirl for his fly - it was likely some kind of salmonid, perhaps a brown or rainbow.   It was a very solid fish!   

Perch anglers are doing very well here.  This lake is just full of perch, though you may have to weed through a bunch to find enough keepers.  A DEC En-Con officer was checking boats at the launch and he reported to me that Skaneateles and Cayuga Lakes had been a bit slower for perch - especially Skaneateles.   The boat that came in before us on Owasco reportedly had landed a 7lb walleye while perch fishing.  Now that's a nice bonus fish!

3/13/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 3/12 + 3/13

3/12:   Guided around 6 hours for lake trout yesterday with Harry and his sons Vince and Dominic. We had a delayed start to the trip with a mechanical issue that was remedied after an hour delay (it's a long story but nothing serious, just an oversight that wasn't directly my fault.) The delay didn't hurt our fishing and we were off and fishing by around 10:30.   The laker jigging started out ok with Harry catching a nice fish in fairly short order.  Fish were pretty scattered with occasional clusters here and there.  We had a double in one area and a fairly steady pick in another area near the end of the day.  Fish ranged from around 90' out to 150'.  

It was windy to start at 8:30 am when we arrived at Long Point and more than one boater decided to forego launching on Cayuga.  The lake was as flat as glass by 2 pm.   Fun day with 7 nice fish landed and a few others dropped.  Launching was easy at Long Point.

3/13:  Got out with Mike today for a shot at some perch and pickerel.  We couldn't keep the pickerel away and we probably caught around a dozen solid fish to around 23" to 24". They are fat and active, though the season ends after Tuesday.  We started at noon today, so perhaps we missed the good perch fishing (if there was any) but the perch bite was tough for us.  Mike landed all the perch and we only had around 3 keepers.  Fish came shallow for us - mostly around 7' to 9' FOW.  We worked a few areas out to around 25'. Pickerel were just swarming in most places we fished and they managed to mess up most of my tackle as well as eat most of our minnows, plastic grubs and tube jigs.  Fun day anyways.

3/8/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 3/8

Spent the day out with Mike in his Lund.  Today was more or less the second day of his "shakedown trip" - basically getting the boat out after a couple months of storage.  We were hoping for some steady wind leading to good salmon fly-fishing, but most of the day was dead calm.  We did some laker jigging and I managed to land three decent fish.  The jigging in the mid-lower lake areas was significantly slower than what we had over the past couple trips.  My advice for anglers targeting lakers on Cayuga would be to fish the usual early spring/late winter areas north of Long Point/Deans.   There were plenty of fish in the 120' to 160' "deeps" near AES, but the "cooperators" were in around 75' to 100'.

We did some salmon casting primarily with gear and I managed one salmon around 14.5" south of Taughannock.  Mike had some grabs in a couple areas - also likely dinks.  Water temps remain around 38/39, but hit 44 during the peak warmth of the afternoon in front of some of the creek mouths.

2/28/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 2/28

Guided Mark I. and his friend Kevin for a full day.  Mark fly-fished and Kevin casted spinning gear.  Kevin's mainly a saltwater guy and this was his first freshwater fishing experience. He was impressed with the beauty of Cayuga Lake.  

Water levels on Cayuga Lake are still low, but have come up 1+1/2 to 2' or more since last week's rain.  Things have settled nicely and there's plenty of fishy looking green water around and not too much debris.  We worked 1/2 dozen areas on the day and had hits in one-half of them.  We found a good concentration of fish in one area and the guys landed 6 salmon between 14" and 20" long.  Most were 14" to 17 1/2".  A few had lamprey scars and one had a very small lamprey attached.  We had a follow from a brown trout as well. Stickbaits and streamers did the trick.  I am experimenting with some special single hooks designed to use with stickbaits.  These should help reduce the "maiming" factor that happens more often than I like to see on these salmon.  One other salmon in the 17 1/2" range was landed by Mark in another area on a goby pattern that I tied up during a tying session with my friend Eric, who has had some good luck with these flies.  They are tied on articulated shanks.

I strongly recommend having some duct tape and zip ties on board just in case.  Zip ties saved the day today when my old trolling motor shaft knob (for height adjustments) failed. The threads got stripped.  A handful of zip ties and we were back in business. 

With salmon and brown trout eating gobies as well as the usual alewives and rare smelt, I have to believe that we'll see quite a few salmon getting around legal size within a few months. 

As a funny aside, we finished up our day fishing right alongside Taughannock Point.  I heard a large splash - I thought maybe a big dog had jumped in the water, but nope - it was a group of two guys and girls, likely college students doing a polar bear swim!  I've never seen anything like it, but they jumped in and got out.  One guy even jumped in backwards! Thirty Nine degree water!!!  I've seen it all now...

2/23/2016
Seneca/Cayuga Lakes shorefishing 2/23

Got out with Mike for some shore fishing today.  We hit an area on Seneca and I had one nice salmon beeline in for my streamer at the last second, but miss it.  Mike had two solid hits and a momentary hook up, but no fish.  So we tried two areas on Cayuga Lake to end the day.  I managed to land a nice 20" landlocked salmon on a Bionic Smelt that was clean except for a hook scar.   We didn't have any other action.

The big news was that when I cleaned the salmon, it was full of gobies!  Most knowledgable anglers would expect salmon to eat a goby here or there, but to see a salmon loaded with them was pretty surprising.   Cayuga isn't exactly low on alewives, but the salmon clearly are finding enough gobies to make it worthwhile.  The lake trout and salmon that have been gorging on gobies have had redder flesh than what I usually see. I'm not sure why that's the case.  

Seneca's salmon numbers continue to seem low.  We had great conditions today and hits were hard to come by.  I only saw one boat out on the water out of Watkins Glen today and one further uplake - both were targeting perch.   Why there isn't a decent class of salmon on Seneca Lake is a mystery to me.  Usually there seems to be at least 3 classes of fish contributing to the fishery.  We often would catch 12" to 14" fish, 17" to 19"s,  20" to 22s" and a few in the 24" to 25" range.  We aren't seeing much of anything this year apart from an occasional 17" to 19" er.  The one that followed me in today was around 19".   Where are the dinks?  I don't see much here to get excited about salmon-wise.  Lake trout should be good here in 2016.  We should see decent pike and the smallmouth bass are gradually rebounding.  Diary results show a tough year in 2015;  2016 will be even worse in all likelihood.  Don't be surprised if someone gets a giant salmon in the 9 to 12lb+ range here this spring or during the derby - that tends to happen when overall fishing is slow.  A few solid fish survive to grow up and find abundant food with very little competition.   But hopefully this great fishery will bounce back soon.  

 

2/21/2016
Cayuga/Seneca Shorefishing

Hit a couple areas on both lakes. with my pal Mike on Saturday.  It was really more of an excuse to get out and enjoy the 55 degree plus air temps.  Winds were poor for what we wanted to do. We never had a hit.  These wind forecasts are crazy this time of year.  The National Weather Service really has a tough time getting things right.  Plenty of high muddy/murky water is flowing into the FLs and Lake Ontario now.

2/7/2016
Cayuga Lake 2/6 + 2/7

The weather was too nice to not fish, so I did some shorefishing with my buddy Mike yesterday, then we headed out in the boat today.   Quite a few people were both shore angling and fishing from boats over the past couple days.

2/6:  Met Mike over at Myers Park around 10:30 am and we did some fly-casting from shore.  I also brought along a spinning rod.  Conditions looked good and I managed to hook a nice laker around 22" to 23" that wound up getting off in shallow water.  It hit a swimbait cast on a spinning rod.   

We headed over to Taughannock and Mike wound up landing a solid 19" salmon on a streamer with his 6 wt. type 3 sinking line setup.  We didn't have any other hits.

2/7:  We launched out of Taughannock today around 11 am and worked some areas with the flyrods.  We each landed sublegal (13" range) salmon. Mike had a good one follow him in and attack his fly a couple times, but no grab.  We worked a stretch of water we hadn't fished before and I had encounters with 3 lakers - one of which I landed and kept for dinner. Another one I lost near the boat and the third (actually the first I'd encountered) followed in a swimbait.  The fish I kept had at least 3 gobies in its stomach.  The lakers came from 7' to 25' FOW.  Mike landed another dink salmon on gear.  We finished the day with some good laker jigging in around 120' FOW and landed 3 more fish, two of which were in the 24" to 25" range (one wild.)

2/3/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 2/2 PM

I got out on my own around noon and did a bit of scouting today.  I caught a couple lakers and dropped one as well.  They had a lot of vigor and the 22"er I landed felt more like a 26" or 27" fish.   Fish were in deep water - 120' to 150'.   I checked a couple areas for salmon with my flyrod and had the usual (for this season) dinks following my fly in, though I did have one or two better fish also follow (maybe 18" to 19"ers.)   I also scoped out a few areas checking on the habitat for pike fishing.  Another gorgeous day to be out - it felt more like April or October than February, that's for sure. 

1/31/2016
Cayuga Lake out of Taughannock 1/31 PM

Guided John for a 1/2 day starting right at noon.  The boat trailer parking area had around 7 or 8 rigs parked in it.  It was a great day to be on the water with warm air temperatures, light winds and good fishing conditions.  The water level on Cayuga Lake is very low.  It's another year of the Canal Authority (or whoever regulates Cayuga's water level) seemingly seeing how low they can get the lake.  I do realize they can drop it further, but I think it's low enough.  It is great for shore fishing - you can wade right up to the dropoffs!

John really loaded the boat with bananas today.  He'd never heard of the guiding superstition that ranges all around this country.  Anyways, I absorbed enough potassium today to ward off any cramps I might get while swimming this week.  I brought gear for pike, lake trout and casting for salmon/trout.  You never know what the conditions will dictate.  We tried pike for a bit without action.  Casting for trout produced a follow from (what appeared to be) a nice sized laker and a couple decent salmon.  But they followed and wouldn't hit.  John kept insisting I fish, but I don't like to fish on guide trips.  Clients aren't there to pay me to fish.  It's YOUR day when you are out with me, and I frown on guides that fish all day while purportedly trying to assist others in catching fish.  But some folks are adament.  He insisted I try, so I took one cast and hooked a decent fish that wound up being a laker.  It's hilarious, because as a guide that kind of thing (like magic) happens more often than you might think.  I've spent many a day casting all day and not catching anything or much but it's always weird when that happens.

So at least John had dinner, but I really wanted to see him catch fish and I know he wanted them more than I did.  We switched gears and went back to pike fishing.  He had another fish - this time a nice northern around 32" follow in a Rapala and not hit.  I wasn't about to pick up a rod.  He kept at it and finally set the hook into a solid pike that measured 34". Incidentally, for what it's worth that happened just after I finished off the last banana.

I was impressed to see some better quality salmonids around than just the dinks of the past few months, though I don't think a lot has changed - most fish are still sublegal.  What I've noticed thus far this year that I hadn't seen before is the number of lakers that are prowling the shallows!  This was the third or forth we've encountered this season and usually we encounter ZERO.  On Finger Lakes without many baitfish, and even ones with a lot of bait, on occasion you'll see opportunistic lakers roaming the shallows in the winter when they have a predatory advantage.  They will gobble up sunfish, minnows, sculpin, freshwater shrimp, perch, pike, bass, bullheads and anything else that gets in their way.  It was very common to see that take place on Seneca Lake in the late 1990s and early 2000s when alewife levels were low.  Same with Owasco Lake.  But Cayuga is loaded with alewives.  What I think is happening is that some lakers are keying in on the abundant and oftentimes shallow gobies that ply the bottom of Cayuga Lake.  But I hadn't seen this before on Cayuga and it's adding another dimension i.e. a bonus species to our winter salmon casting (as opposed to jigging for laker) trips.

Water temps ranged from 37 (south end) to 41 on the east shore.  Looks like the mild winter will continue!

1/25/2016
Shorefishing Report 1/25 Seneca/Keuka

I got out on my own today and fly-fished a favorite shore area on Seneca Lake.  In short order I landed a 19" brown and then lost a smaller salmon (18" range.)  That was it - no other action.  The lake temperature was 40 degrees.  A few boats were out perch fishing out of Watkins Glen and one boat appeared to be trolling or casting for salmon.

A ride over to Keuka Lake did not produce any action on the flies.  Next time I'll do some spincasting, but I felt like sticking with the streamers today.  Fly-fishing from shore is nearly always worth it -  if nothing else it's a good day of casting practice.  There is some thin ice on the Penn Yan arm maybe 1/2 mile at most down the lake, but nobody is fishing it.  It looked pretty sketchy.

1/8/2016
Skaneateles Lake 1/8 out of Mandana

Guided a full day on Skaneateles Lake today with Mark I.  Conditions were much windier than forecast and anticipated, but we tried to make the best of it. Oh yes, and it was cold too!  The highs might have hit 38, but not for long!  Launching there was a pain (as usual in the winter) with the low lake levels.  Water temps are hovering around 42/43.

My hat is off to Mark, as he fly-fished the whole day today in the face of winds averaging around 14 mph and gusting up into the 20s.  The fishing was tough - due to the wind (and subsequent difficult boat control) and stirred up water.  Some murky water is good for rainbows on this lake, but huge swaths of it can make for tougher fishing.  Mark hooked two decent sized silver fish on the day - at least one was a rainbow, but unfortunately none came to the net.  One was dropped a ways away and another was hooked nearly boatside but got off before I could get the net. We had reasonably good fishing during the 3 hours that we had fly-fishable conditions.  Mark did land a nice jumbo perch but that was it.

According to the DEC fishing hotline (just updated today) the State Ramp is still open, but may close early this week.  If you launch at Mandana, angle you trailer slightly towards the dock.  Do not go straight out!  It's too shallow and your tow vehicle will wind up too far in the drink.  Also bring waders, just in case!  It was beautiful out on the lake, that's for sure. I expect good fishing with the right conditions.   

1/6/2016
Seneca Lake Shorefishing 1/6

Got out with my buddy Mike for some fly-fishing from shore.  We fished 4 areas on Seneca Lake and didn't see much going on until we hit our last spot. I had one "swirl," that may have been a lake trout slowly following in a fly (that happened to be fouled.)  I don't know. But Mike wound up landing a very solid laker around 28" long, give or take that he released. Duck hunting is in full force and the season ends this Sunday. Expect to see a lot of hunters out on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes this weekend. The lake temp on Seneca was 42 degrees. Launching is still possible at Schamels and Severne Point (as usual.) The south end canal launch is iced in.

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Lake Ontario Sodus Bay Cross Lake Skaneateles Lake Owasco Lake Cayuga Lake Seneca Lake Keuka Lake