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.)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.