Reports

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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