This lake provides excellent year round open water fishing for both warm and cold water species.
Gear and fly-fishing for Landlocked Atlantic salmon is available from January through May and again in November and December. This fishing is concentrated in the southern third of the lake. It varies year by year. 2017 may have been one of the best years for Landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing in the lake’s recent history. I know of at least three fish that were caught that were in the 14 to 15lb range! Numbers were great too. 2018 was good but action in earnest really didn’t get underway until mid-to-late February. So far the ’18/’19 season is showing promise but has been slow to get underway for salmon.
Brown trout and rainbow trout numbers are excellent in Cayuga Lake at present. The lamprey control is the key and we had some terrific brown trout fishing in 2018. I expect Cayuga Lake’s tributaries to offer exceptional rainbow trout runs in 2018. Winter brown trout fishing is off to a great start during the winter ’18/’19.
The largemouth bass fishing was great from reports during the early ’18 season. I did not target bass here much during the summer. The pros will be here this summer in August. Overall Cayuga Lake generally produces top-notch “big-water bass fishing.” Smallmouth bass numbers are down, but starting to rebound with encouraging numbers of young fish around. But for now, if you’re after smallies, you may want to fish a different lake – like Skaneateles or Owasco until Cayuga rebounds.
Cayuga’s pike fishing has really been good so far this winter. I landed a 41″ gator to close out 2018. With great lamprey control and high water during the spring of 2017 (for spawning success) we should see more good pike action on this lake in the future. Pickerel are found lake-wide but are particularly abundant at Cayuga’s north end and provide good sport throughout the late spring and summer. With the rampant goby population to feed upon, pickerel in this lake are getting bigger and bigger. My buddy Eric landed one in 2018 while fishing with me that was close to being a record fish. It was probably well over 7lbs! Don’t be surprised if the next state record chain pickerel comes out of Cayuga Lake!
Lake trout are the dominant cold water fish in Cayuga Lake and they run large here. Fish typically average 4 to 8lbs, with plenty of larger fish available. The jigging used to start off at the lake’s northern basin then move south but the goby invasion has completely changed the distribution patterns of lake trout on this lake. They are pretty much found lake wide throughout the winter with most fish concentrated from around Levanna south to Ithaca. Mid to south lake areas offer great winter action. A few roam further north during the winter. Overall lakers fight hard and taste very good. 2018 was great and 2019 should be another excellent year for fishing Cayuga’s lake trout. I love fishing lakers on Cayuga Lake!
Longnose Gar are available on Cayuga Lake from June though August. They provide an excellent fly-fishing opportunity. Gar run from 30″ up to around 37″ typically, though on occasion larger fish can be caught. Hot, windless days are best for gar fishing. I am not currently guiding gar on Cayuga Lake. They can be tough to locate consistently and the size oftentimes lacks.
Bluegills and sunfish nearly 8″ long can be taken readily from late April through June on Cayuga Lake. These panfish are a blast and taste great! There are plenty of big rockbass around too – some real trophies! I know people that make special trips to Cayuga just for the rockies – fun fish to catch and great eating.
This lake is absolutely loaded with yellow perch. The numbers are fantastic and they probably average from 8″ to 11″ long, with enough 12″ers to keep things fun. Yellow perch have been taken in Cayuga Lake upwards of 18″ long and 3lbs. The presence of tremendous numbers of gobies will help perch grow faster. Many perch fishermen I’ve taked to on Cayuga Lake have noticed that the average size of the perch is going up.
Crappie fishing has slowly been on the rebound in Cayuga Lake. I haven’t had a chance to target them over the past 10 years or so, but I have been seeing more of them caught incidentally.
Other species found on Cayuga include freshwater drum, channel catfish, bullheads, white perch, lake sturgeon and carp. Cayuga Lake has around 55 to 60 species of freshwater fish in it. It is the most diverse of the Finger Lakes “fish-wise”. I look at Cayuga as the Finger Lake’s version of Lake Champlain. Round gobies were found in Cayuga Lake during the summer of 2013. The lake is currently loaded with them. Most species are now eating the gobies including lake trout, brown trout, landlocked salmon, bass, pickerel and yellow perch.
People fish here for
I think fishermen take carp for granted. They are so abundant in the area (and throughout the country) that many people don't value them.
Channel Catfish are found in pockets throughout the region. To the best of my knowledge, none of the Fingerlakes have large populations of them.
Walleyes are common in Conesus and and uncommon in Owasco Lake. Other Finger Lakes having populations of them include Honeoye and Otisco Lakes.
The ubiquitous lowly rockbass. Is there any fish that anglers catch in freshwater that gets less respect? I shall think not.
These fish are fairly enigmatic in most of the Finger Lakes. They are abundant in Skaneateles Lake. Numbers have gone up over the past couple years.
Lake trout are abundant in the Finger Lakes region with Seneca Lake being the most famous for its lake trout fishing.
Yellow Perch are popular North American freshwater pan-fish, available year-round albeit small and easy to catch.
Northern Pike are aggressive, predatory fish and some of the largest freshwater game available to target in North America.
I consider brown trout somewhat of a bonus fish for us on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. They don’t chase flies quite as actively as landlocked salmon.
The Largemouth Bass is by far the most popular freshwater game fish in the US and the state fish of Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.