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4/16/2015
Cayuga Lake out of Myers 4/15 AM + Lake Ontario out of Oswego 4/16

Cayuga Lake out of Myers 4/15:  Guided Peter for a 1/2 day AM.  He's been getting into fly-fishing and wanted to try the lake.  We did a couple casting lessons over the winter and he was itching to get out and put his skills to practice.   We met at 8 am with light winds which quickly calmed down to glassy conditions.   Not good for casting or fly-fishing on most days.   Peter worked on his casting for a bit and then we headed north to try and get some lakers.  He hadn't jigged them before and managed to get a hit or two and land one nice fish around 21".  Fish still seemed lethargic.  

Winds came up nicely out of the north and we worked a few areas for salmon.  The casting got better, but we never raised any fish.  Conditions were still pretty cold and the tribs were still pumping in water that wasn't more than a couple degrees warmer than the lake.  Late afternoon might've been better, but we had to call it a day so I could teach classes.  Water temps were around 36 or so if I remember right.  The laker had a couple alewives and what appeared to be a small goby in its stomach.

Lake Ontario out of Oswego Harbor 4/16:  I never made it out to Oswego last year - for early browns, summertime browns, lakers, bass - nothing.  This year I'm bound and determined to fish it on a regular basis.  I feel the lack of bait and harsh winter will make for hungry fish and great fishing.  Unfortunately last night my old computer was giving me some issues and it took me some time to straighten things out.  Then rigging and getting the boat ready made for a late night. My body decided to forego the early start and I slept in - turning off my alarm clock that was set at 4:30 am.   As I arrived at 10:45 am a boat was pulling out.  The guys told me that ice-out here was about a week and a half ago.  Trolling had been very good the past two days with today being slower.  But a combination of browns, rainbows, cohos and Atlantics have been caught.  The guys had landed a 10lb Atlantic over the past 3 days.  Even a few lakers up shallow.  No Kings yet for them.   Stomachs have been filled with gobies - no alewives.  It's similar to last year.

For me it was more of a Lake Ontario shakedown.  I fly-fished for 2 hours.  I may have had a brown following my streamer for a bit.  Maybe it was an illusion.  I spent a couple hours scouting the icy depths for signs of life.  I found what appeared to be lakers in around 150' to 160' FOW.   They were pretty lethargic.  I had a fish aggressively follow me almost to the surface.  No way was it a laker.   

I checked some areas west of the river for around 2 hours as well and had a good hit in around 20' FOW that I missed on a tube jig.  It hit as the tube was sinking and maybe halfway down - so it was probably a trout of some kind.  That was it.   The water temp was 34 out in the lake.  I had as much as 46 on the surface momentarily in some sun baked shallows.  The majority of river water was pushing 40 to 43 degrees by the end of the day.  The river was very muddy but the flume wasn't going out too far.   The launch still wasn't officially open so no fee but also no restrooms.  My guess is that they'll be charging this weekend.  I love the kind of exploration I did today and can't wait to get back, though I may have to fish some Landlockeds and Rainbows first around here!

 

4/12/2015
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 4/12

I did a 1/2 day trip in the AM with Tom and his friend Gordon.  They do some trolling and copperlining and wanted to learn the jigging.   Tom wanted to go out of Watkins for this trip. I'm not a big fan of the lake trout fishing on the south end of Seneca Lake most times of the year, but from March through early May, it can be decent, though rarely if ever on a par with Sampson or Geneva.

Today looked like a much better day than yesterday so we gave it a shot.  The south end was still quite murky and downright muddy from all the rain we've had lately.   On the positive side, when we started at around 7:45 am, we marked a lot of fish and bait.  A lot of boats were also out.  Probably 20 or more boats perch fishing and the Finger Lakes Trollers were having a tournament as well.    The laker bite was tough today.  Fish moved a bit for the jigs and a few hits were had.  Gordon landed a dink around 16" that was a wild fish.  We released that one. 

The good news today were the salmon that were in as deep a water as I've seen them this time of year!  Tom landed 2 beauties - both around 24" long and in the 5lb range.   Gordon lost one that had to be a class or two up from the ones Tom got.  Gordon's appeared to be over 25".   The salmon were in deep water - water around 120' to 150' deep and were suspended.  Both fish had lamprey hits and the first one we landed had a small (4") lamprey attached to it.  Both fish were in pretty good condition.  I realize that these depths are fairly routine for trollers, but I've rarely had to fish that deep for salmon this time of year (and of course I've had my tough days and skunkings, so it makes sense that a good number of these fish could be quite deep.)

That was it for the trip.  Afterwards, I grabbed my fly-gear and a couple spin rods and did some exploring up the lake.  I found salmon/trout to be as well distributed as I could hope. I didn't catch any, but they were around in the gin-clear water.   The calm conditions I ended up with aren't great for catching salmon, but they are fun for exploring.  I also saw fair numbers of pike and even a couple carp.  We'll be back for the pike in May once the season re-opens.    My friend Mike was amongst the masses working the perch.  He nabbed some good ones but they were being picky.  

This next four weeks is THE time for salmon, whether on the fly or via gear fishing.  Very few fish have moved up, but they will in droves this week.  Then we'll see what's out there. I'm very optimistic regarding our salmon fishing.  I think it's going to be good.  

4/3/2015
Cayuga Lake out of Long Point 4/3

The ice just melted off in the Long Point harbor last night. All ramps were open today. Got out with my pal Mike around 11 am for lakers and some perch. The good news is that there are loads of lakers on the deep flats between Long Point and Levanna. Plenty of fish and some bait out to over 170'. The fish are still fairly lethargic. Some of this may be the full moon, but I think most of it is the cold water temps after a super cold winter.

We tried a lot of different tactics. Late in the day some fish got active for our jigs. Mike nailed a solid 28"er. We each dropped a couple fish. We had zero action on perch, giving it about 2 hours. We worked as far north as we could, but there's still ice on most of the northern portions of the lake - basically just above Farley's Point and northward.

I was excited to see what was in the stomach of Mike's laker. It was full of bait - mostly alewives, but one giant goby! It was over 6" long! So these fish are gobbling some big bait. I expect to see lakers here get bigger and bigger. We'll see what happens.

4/1/2015
Cayuga Lake out of Myers Point 4/1 PM
Got out with my buddy Eric from around 1 pm till 7. We checked on salmon fishing in a bunch of areas. Water temps are still very cold - around 35 to 36 degrees and our winds weren't what we needed. Our day was slow. Eric did manage a rare rainbow trout on a streamer off of Taughannock. The fish was a wild 14"er. We checked the flats north of Millican. There are a lot of lakers up there, but during the hour or so we gave it, the action was slow. 120' to about 150' held plenty of fish. I'm looking forward to getting back out once we get some steady wind and warmer weather.
3/31/2015
Seneca Lake out of Watkins Glen 3/29 PM

Guided Mark for a 1/2 day PM.  I didn't think the conditions would be that great, but his availability is pretty limited so we decided to go for it.  Tried some laker jigging to start and it was slow.  Fair numbers of fish were around from about 120' to 150'.   Salmon fly-fishing was what we planned on.   Mark had one solid hookup and a great battle from a fish that was in the 22" to 23" range.   He got most of the fight on his Go-Pro, but unfortunately the fish got off after it ran under the boat.   We'll be back at them soon!

Laker jigging is fair to good on Cayuga.  My buddy Mike got a few solids on the same day.  H2O on Cayuga was around 33 degrees, Seneca was 36. 

 

3/27/2015
Seneca Lake out of Lodi Point 3/26

What a brutal day!   Wow.   I talked to my buddy Mike last weekend and Thursday was looking to be a good weather day to go out.   We had forecast highs in the upper 40s.  Day by day the forecast for nice weather deteriorated.   On Wednesday night it was an 80% chance of rain, with up to 3/4" predicted.  Mostly coming after 1pm.  By Thursday AM it was 100% chance of rain with most of it due after 11 am.   Should've said screw it, but we took a chance and went early.   Most times I say "when in doubt, go out" but once in a while it bites you back.  Yesterday was one of those days.

We had a 20 minute window of good looking salmon conditions.  No action there.  Then the winds died and rain started in.  I found out after an hour or so that my Mustang Suit isn't especially water proof.   The dampness and rain was relentless though I didn't get too wet, just a little damp.   No bonechill, but it reminded me of a few nasty days in my youth of being out in the boat.   We tried some perch fishing without any sign of them.  I did manage to hook a solid brown trout on my perch rig which was pretty cool!   But that was it.   We tried a few drops for lake trout but the rain made us pretty miserable. 

The coolest weirdest part of the day was the static in the air.   I've been out around lightning storms and had my hair standing on end, rod tip buzzing and fishing line going skyward.   That's the time to get off of the lake!   Mike had never seen the bit with the line, but today we got to see it.   You could have cut off your lure and fed fishing line into the sky and watched it rise.   Scary, but this isn't really a time of the year we see much thunderstorm activity, though we did hear a rumble or two.  Anyways, we cured our cabin fever.   Looking forward to getting out again soon.  Water temps are around 35.8 degrees.

3/19/2015
Seneca Lake out of Lodi Point 3/19 PM

Guided Ali and Mike for what wound up being a long 1/2 day starting around noon.   The launch at Lodi is open (and has been all winter from what I've heard.)   I thought we'd have a great shot at some good laker jigging today.   The bite wound up being tough for us.  We worked our way up towards Sampson and in our first area Ali landed a 20" laker and missed another.  We marked some fish but they weren't hitting well.  It definitely felt like the fish were still fairly dormant and in a winter pattern.   It's not like Keuka where they feed heavily throughout the winter!    We marked fish from around 140' to 180' and beyond.  I think the north end would be a good bet, but I wasn't going to make a 20 mile+ run, since we wanted to do some salmon fishing further south as well.   The jigging should improve by the week as the days get longer and the fish move in.

We worked some other areas for lakers and salmon and Mike wound up getting one hit that was likely a salmon, but that was it.   Tough day and we fished hard and covered a lot of water.   Only a handful of boats were out - mostly perch anglers around Sampson that ran from Roy's.   Perch fishing on Seneca these days is a far cry from the 1980s, where you'd see boats on many different points throughout the lake.  Now the schools are fewer and fished harder.

3/14/2015
Seneca Lake Reports 3/11, 13 + 14

Seneca Lake 3/11 AM Shorefishing:   Met my buddy Mike at one of our favorite shorefishing haunts.  The lake was flat calm and sunny, which in wintertime is pretty much the "kiss of death" for shore activity.   So we fired up cigars and waited for the wind to come up.   We fished for 2 hours or so with no action.   I had to teach classes, so I hit one other area also without any action.   Mike stuck things out and managed to lose a fish in the first area he fished.  In another area he caught a couple dink salmon as well as two legal fish - one around 16" and one over 20".  

Seneca Lake 3/13 out of Severne Point:   Drove the boat down with my buddy Eric and we checked out the launch at Schamels.   Some guys broke the ice this AM and around 4 boats launched, but by the time we arrived at 11 am the marina area was frozen solid again!   So up to Severne we went.   Wind conditions were pretty darn brutal and perch anglers were coming off the lake in fairly rapid succession.   I'd guess the winds were around 18 mph out of the south with 3' and some 4' waves.  It was nasty.   Some perch anglers did well in the AM, but fishing had reportedly slowed.

We launched and made a slow, rough, cold, nasty, wet run, checking out some nearby areas.  It was the kind of run most people wouldn't do and I rarely ever do with a client onboard, but it was my pal Eric and he's used to it (ha ha.)   It was a bit too windy for enjoyable fly-fishing, so the spinning gear came out.   I landed a pike around 29" or 30" in short order on a tube jig.  It was not a very healthy looking fish with some weird slime (shades of 2008) and lamprey hits.   But it fought pretty well.   Eric had a hit from a salmon and I had a follow from one around 18".   I then hooked and lost a decent salmon.  We fished a bit more without any action.

We hit a few more areas.  I hooked a very solid fish on a white bionic smelt and type 4 sinking line.  After a few strong runs and some dogging Eric slipped the net under a chunky 25.5" brown.   Eric had another follow, but that was it for us.  Water temps were around 36/37.   The canal was up around 38/39 and 40 in places.   Tough fishing with the windy conditions.  

Seneca Lake 3/14 out of Severne Point:   Kicked off the 2015 guiding season with longtime clients Ron and Matt.   They nearly always pick stellar days to go out (way in advance!) and today was no exception.    The forecast didn't look great with rain called for but we barely felt a drop.   Anyways they had ice-fished Keuka in the AM and met me at 12:30 at Schamels, and of course it was frozen so we drove up to Severne.

I thought conditions were perfect for targeting pike with only one more day til the season closes, so that's what we went for.  The first area we fished is an inconspicuous area that I like a lot.   Matt nailed a healthy looking fish around 30" on a swimbait.   Nice start.   In our next area he caught another good fish on a spoon.  Then Ron hooked up on his X-Rap.  But this fish jumped!  After a few runs I netted a 25.5" brown!   A beauty and Ron's first on the Finger Lakes.  Success on the trip within 2 hours!  I was stoked.  

We worked some other areas for pike and trout/salmon and Ron and Matt both hooked up simultaneously on salmon.  We landed both fish - a 23.5" and a 24" Landlocked salmon.   The last area we fished was a pike area and it was lights out pike fishing.  The guys hammered them with fish following at times on nearly every cast.   Another dozen or more solid fish were landed to 36".

Most pike are looking reasonably well.  There are quite a few lamprey scars but no sign of the nasty slime (apart from our first fish) on any of the others.   I think a fair number have already spawned.  

All fish went back in the lake today.   I'm not seeing any real concentrations of salmon, but they appear to be very well dispersed throughout the lake.   That's what was expected of these Sebago strain fish and perhaps that's what we'll get.   I'm looking forward to when the water starts warming up and these fish start to get more concentrated and aggressive.

 

 

 

 

 

3/7/2015
Keuka Lake Ice fishing 3/6 out of Keuka State Park

Met my buddy Mike at the State Park around noon.   We set up to jig lakers. The fishing was a bit slow for us today.  Maybe we missed the hot bite or weren't in the best areas but we worked for our fish.  I wound up with 3 nice lakers and had another 3 close to the hole.  One that hit right under the ice!   Mike landed 2 and also dropped more.  He was using a makeshift laker jigging set up and wasn't real happy with the softer rod, feeling that he couldn't get a good hookset.   We worked from 100' to 170' and found fish - albeit one or two at all the depth ranges for the most part.  We'd first drill a hole, then typically have some action, then have to move on.  But we never had a lot going on under us.  Fish didn't seem too aggressive. 

An angler we talked to that had fished early in the AM landed 20 to 30 fish.   We were a day away from the full moon, so it's likely that lakers are feeding heavily at night.  We also met 3 anglers heading out after dark to give it a shot!  I'd love to know how they did.   The Bluff Area would be a great choice right now.  The Bluff on the Penn Yan Arm maxes out at around 120', so there's no need to go deeper.   It's loaded with lakers and would be my pick (as an avid open water Keuka Lake angler) for finding larger numbers of hungry lake trout.  I'm guessing I might give Keuka one more shot this winter through the ice. 

I think this heavy icefishing pressure on Keuka's lake trout is a good thing and will hopefully help to keep this large population of fish in check.  We'll see come open-water season if we see some more bait or bigger fish.  
 

3/4/2015
Cayuga Lake Shorefishing 3/4

Hit Milliken Station for an hour and a half today with fly-gear.   (I'm just going to call it that instead of AES or Cayuga Operating Company from now on.  It's too darn confusing with all the name changes - but for those who don't know, I'm talking about the power plant.)   Nothing was doing.   A few other anglers worked it as well.  My buddy Mike drove up a ways to fish there and he stayed the whole day.  Conditions changed a bit for the better and he persevered, landing a couple solid salmon and pike.   

It was very cool being able to see the "influence" of the warm water throughout the area.   I knew that fish could detect it from a long ways away, but in my boat I could never measure much of a water temperature difference for more than a little ways around the discharge and bay.  But clearly the influence of the plant goes more than 2/3rds the way across the lake, up the lake 2+ miles and down the lake probably the same amount.  That's changed my perspective on things a lot! 

3/1/2015
Ice fishing?! Yowsa - Keuka Lake 2/28 out of Keuka State Park

 

It looks like we are official with the coldest February on record here in Central NY.   No surprise there - I'd never seen week after week with lows below zero and highs sometimes also below zero until this year.   People ask me fairly often whether I ice fish or not.  I usually go once or twice a year with my buddy Mike - generally for bluegills on small lakes.   Those are the only reports I don't post, since parking areas are limited and it really has nothing to do with the Finger Lakes.   But I used to ice-fish a lot from around 7th or 8th grade onwards.  I was never particularly adept at it.  We'd set tip ups for pike or pickerel and jig for perch.   No electronics (like nearly everyone back then.)  No real shelter.  Just stand or sit on a 5 gallon pail and let the nose run.   Look for the anglers and set up not too far away, or just wing it. I bought a cheap Frabill shelter and I also did a little bit of icefishing when I moved up here in 1995, mostly at Whitney Point Reservoir.

My buddy Mike convinced me to get a good shelter this season and I broke down and bought a nice Frabill.  They are great for tall people.   On the way back from the boat show I stopped in at Bass Pro Shops and grabbed a Jason Mitchell Mackinaw stick - the last one they had.   I want to catch a laker through the ice.  I also want to jig a few pickerel.

Angling Zone Friend Jeff B. has been into icing lakers for years and on a whim I texted him and found out Keuka Lake State Park had been hot.  No surprise there.   So off we went yesterday.   My buddy Jarrod, his 6 year old son Max, Jarrod's buddy Eric and myself.   We got set up around 11:30/Noon and fished away.  We wound up doing pretty well once we got things dialed in.  Jarrod nailed the first laker then Eric caught a beauty (with 6lb test.)   I started hitting them good as well and I have to give my Vexilar FL-18 a lot of credit. We wound up with a nice bunch of fish.   I was able to help young Max (doing all the fishing himself) get a nice fish around 23" or better.   Our best action was around 140' to 155'.

There was a good foot of clear blue ice on the lake.  I could see my jig come up 7' or 8' below the ice without even looking in the hole.  It was great seeing the pale lakers coming up towards the hole doing their usual twisting and pumping.  Eric's fish took some nice runs, which was cool.   Jeff B. told me that the Keuka Lake fish load up with bait in the winter.  He wasn't kidding.  Nearly all of our fish were spitting bait.   My theory is that the well-fed lakers on Seneca and Cayuga Lake don't need to feed as hard in the winter.  They can live on their fat reserves.  These Keuka fish need to keep eating!

My setup was pretty basic.  The 34" Jason Mitchell rod was great.  I could jig in my shelter, the tip was soft enough not to pull the jig away from the fish and there was plenty of backbone to fight the lakers.  It's a well thought out rod.   I went with an ABU Orra Casting reel loaded with the smoke (black)14lb  Fireline so I could see it against the ice.  The Fireline Crystal probably would've been fine in the shelter.  (I brought a reel set up with it, but didn't get to try it.  I will next time.)   I used the usual 12lb test Seaguar Invis-X Flouro leader.  Stout stuff - I don't think lakers are line-shy and stout gear makes it easy to get the fish coming up through the hole till you can grab him or just pull him through.   Also ice can nick line and why take any chances?   A 1+1/2 oz jighead with a white Lunker City Swim Fishie did the damage.  Spoons and bladebaits are also working good.  These fish aren't that picky.  They are hungry!

On an added note, one angler I spoke with landed a 17" Landlocked salmon.   If you want DEC to keep stocking salmon and browns in Keuka Lake and you fish there, make a point of signing up for the angler diary program.  They aren't seeing much interest or success with these species.  If that continues to be the case, you may see these stocking programs discontinued.   The same angler told me of a 19lb laker iced yesterday on Canandaigua Lake!  That's a BIG FISH!  

 

 

1/24/2015
Cayuga Lake Shorefishing 1/24 PM

I live fairly close to the "Cayuga Operating Company" plant aka Milliken Station/Cayuga AES, so it's not a big deal to drive over to check it out.    In the wintertime I can usually see the stack from my living room window.   They've been generating power over the past few days, but today they weren't doing much.  I still gave the pike fishing around 2 hours or so with the 8 wt. fly-rod.

Nobody else was fishing when I arrived around 3:15 pm.   I casted a very heavy unwieldy Clouser Minnow and within 10 minutes I landed a solid northern pike around 28" or 29" long.  Great fight!   But that was it.   Casting was tough with the north wind - at least at certain angles.   The lake is as low as I've seen it.   Just ridiculously low.   I remember winters in the early 2000s and late 1990s where we'd have to wade under the docks to get over to the point.  Now it's easy to wade OFF of the docks.   Big difference and I'd like to know why the DOT or Canal System or whoever controls the lake level feels that it needs to be even lower than it was 10 years ago - and it was low back then.  I'd call the pike fishing "fair."  

1/23/2015
Seneca Lake shorefishing 1/23 PM

Finally got out for a little bit of shorefishing. Just like with guided trips, I try to pick good days. If the conditions aren't optimal or at least pretty good for what I want to do, I do something else - either fish for a different specie or stay home.  

I spent just over 2 hours fly-casting on Seneca Lake and landed 2 nice salmon.   The first one was a 19"er that hit a large deceiver.  I was going to release the fish but it destroyed its eye on the big hook, so that fish was kept for dinner.  It was full of scuds, which is often the case this time of year around certain parts of the lake.   The only other hit I had felt like a lake trout when I hooked it, but was slightly more frantic.  I saw silver and then landed a really nice looking clean salmon that was around 23.5"/24".   This one had a slight hookscar (meaning it'd been caught once before.)   This one I released.  

It can be tough wanting to put a salmon back in the lake.  They do taste great and they can be hard to catch/find at times.   I could've gotten 4 nice meals at the very least out of the larger salmon today!   A lot of us enjoy eating FL salmon.   I certainly do!   With the lakes' overall productivity being considerably lower than some of the heyday years of the late 1980s, 90s and 2000s, I think it's a great idea to release most of the healthy fish.  If you catch more than a couple salmon - whether trolling, casting, fly-casting or using live-bait, you are likely going to have a fish or more that are deeply hooked, scarred from eels, bleeding badly or just worn out.  Keep those fish and try to release the healthy ones!   We all love catching salmon but I just don't get the feeling that there are a ton of them to go around.  It isn't like lake trout.  The poor salmon runs in the tribs - regardless of rain, should tip anglers off to the fact that most of these fish aren't making it to the spawn.   Not that it matters ecologically, since they don't reproduce much at all, but my point is that most of these fish are getting harvested before they run the tribs. And trib fishing for salmon is something a lot of people really look forward to.  It's a great component of our local fisheries.    Just some food for thought.

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