The Cayuga Fisher

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Hot Knots

Never tie an improved clinch again.

The uni knot is versatile, easy to tie, and strong. Use it to tie on hooks or join two lines together with the double uni knot. Works great for tying dissimilar lines together or a leader to braid. For tying a braid backing to heavier mono or even a leader to braid the Red Phillips knot is faster and smaller.

Jigging for Lake Trout:  Behavior:  Light Related Habits

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Light Related Habits:

Lakers often feed by sight, and understanding how they react to different conditions can help your fishing.  In a nutshell, too much light is bad, and too little light is bad.  It gets a little more complicated when you take into account the season of the year, the angle of the sun, the water temperature, how cloudy it is, how cloudy it has been recently, whether the moon was out the night before, how windy it is, the relative humidity, the turbidity of the water, how hungry the fish is, and perhaps even how hungry you are.  All the above and more affect the movements and activity level of lake trout.

The angle of the sun is easiest to figure out, and makes the biggest difference.  In spring and summer, the sun is high in the sky, with long days.  The fishing is often poor on a bright sunny day at high noon. That same morning, though, the light levels may have been perfect, and fish were feeding heavily.  This "high sun effect" plays less of a role on cloudy days.  In fall and winter, the sun is low in the sky and fishing is often best at midday.  High noon in December is equivelent to 9:00 AM in June as far as the sun angle goes!  The lower the sun is, the lower the percentage of light that penetrates the water's surface, and it's not a direct relationship.  Comparing 20 degrees to 40 degrees, for example, far less than half of the light penetrates the water.

So figure the sun angle as your starting point, and all other factors either build from it or are related.  A cloudy summer day could be good, while a cloudy winter's day just too dark.  If the fish are in deeper water, you need more sunlight to penetrate the depths.  Is it hazy outside?  That really cuts the intensity of the incoming sunshine.  A light chop on the water increases the light below, heavy waves decrease it.  A glassy calm surface reflects the most light.  If it's been cloudy for days and the sun appears, the fishing may turn on, and the opposite can also be true.

The amount of suspended sediment and algae plays a large role in light penetration.  No matter how high it is in the sky, the sun can't get through "thick" water as easily as clear water.  In Cayuga Lake, water clarity corresponds very nicely with water temperature.  June, July, August and September have the cloudiest water, mostly due to algae and phytoplankton, with July and August being the worst for water clarity.  The organic organisms responsible live in the warm water, so during the summer stratified period, the warm surface layer is a "light-cap" that filters much of the available light, while the deeper water remains at a fairly constant and low turbidity ("cloudiness") year round.  This effect is somewhat countered by the height of the sun during this period, but note there isn't a perfect overlap- the sun is highest in May, June, and July.  

If the moon was high and bright, most likely the lakers fed at night and won't be particularly hungry at dawn. Under these conditions, late morning is often better, though by then it's often quite bright out.  Your best bet during the high sun, bright moon periods will be late afternoon, as the fish will be getting hungry again.  The moon may also be underfoot at this time, adding it's allure to your lure.

The alewives play a role too, they are light-sensitive as well and their movements should be considered.  They are found closer to the surface at night, dusk and dawn, and on darker days.  Most of the time you are trying to target active, hungry lakers, and they'll most often be near the alewives.  At peak alewive spawning time, around June in the Finger Lakes, they may remain near the surface all day, especially with overcast skies.  A bright sun will quickly drive schooling alewife into the depths, and active lakers will follow.

That all said, there are exceptions. Some of my best fishing last summer was during pounding rainstorms, near-twilight conditions in the afternoon.  High noon on a sunny day can also be very good at times... this is where it gets tricky and experience is the best teacher!  In general, though, the above principles apply and can help you decide when to fish.  Don't forget the alewives, either, they are light-sensitive as well and their movements should be considered.


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