This lake usually provides excellent year round open water fishing as it virtually never freezes over due to its intense depths. However 2016 and to a lesser extent 2015 showed Seneca Lake's salmonid fishing to have slowed down dramatically. Certainly the lake trout and landlocked salmon fishing left a lot to be desired. Some tremendous fish were taken during the 2016 Memorial Weekend Derby and fishing was a little slow, but good right up through mid-May. After that, it got very spotty. See my article in the "Article/Tips" section for my theory (theories) on what the matter might be. Time will tell. Owasco Lake had a very tough year a few years back for reasons unknown, so sometimes these things happen. 2017 will be an interesting year on this lake.
The numbers of baitfish we saw and marked (on our sonars) here in 2016 were very impressive. The coldwater fishery on this lake can and most likely will bounce back soon once the fishery issues are addressed - namely low numbers of lake trout (in my opinion) and high lamprey numbers. Water clarity may have hindered the fishing too in 2016.
Wild Lake trout are the dominant species and they can be caught year round by using a variety of techniques. The most intense fishing is jigging these fish from May through July when baitfish schools move shallow. However these lakers can be jigged year 'round. These fish hit hard, fight great and taste very good. I don't plan on doing much guiding here for lake trout in 2017 unless I see a substantial improvement in the quality of the angling here. Some big fish are around, but Cayuga Lake is closer to me and is currently offering much better fishing.
Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and brown trout can provide some good fishing in Seneca Lake. The success of these species is largely based upon lamprey control and the quality of stocked fish (and in the case of rainbows, the size at which they downmigrate into Seneca Lake after being hatched.) For 2017 I think we'll see some fair fishing for browns and salmon and possibly good fishing for rainbows from what I have heard.
Pike fishing here was good early in 2016 then slow in the fall, due to primarily to warm water temperatures. Overall the lake still has a decent pike population. Owasco Lake is a better bet for northern pike in the region if that's what you are after. Conesus Lake to the west is also nearly always a solid bet. A few pickerel are around on Seneca Lake and occasionally you might even run into a hybrid pike/pickerel, but Cayuga offers more consistent pickerel action if that's what you're into and Keuka is also terrific for these toothy critters.
Seneca Lake is an excellent trophy yellow perch fishery and has an good population of smallmouth bass, which is on the rise. Perch fishing is best from November through May but they are concentrated and fished hard. Getting skunked for perch happens often on this lake if you don't know exactly what you're doing. Other fish found in Seneca Lake include largemouth bass and huge carp. The smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and freshwater drum populations are going up in this lake; I've never seen more drum in Seneca Lake than over the past season or two! Any fish species found in Cayuga Lake can swim over to Seneca and vice-versa - I'm even seeing a few longnose gar in Seneca Lake these days!
This lake has a virtually straight north to south basin with very few major points and very little curvature; high winds can produce huge waves here.