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:  General Locations

Jigging Index  |  Behavior Index  =>  Seasonal Variations

General Locations :

In Cayuga and the Finger Lakes, lake trout are found below the thermocline in summer and scattered throughout the deepest portions of the lakes in winter.  They will suspend in open water but spend most of their time on or near the bottom of the lake.   In general it's not necessary to search the whole water column for fish- focusing on the bottom will be most productive.  Lake trout prefer water that is 48-52 degrees and are often found in great numbers where this water temperature meets the lake bottom.  Find where the thermocline meets lake bottom with the appropriate structure, and you'll have most likely located lake trout.  It's a little tougher in the colder months with no thermocline in place, but similar principles apply and lakers are catchable year round. In Cayuga Lake the biggest winter concentration is near the Northern end of the lake.

Guiding Principles to Locating Lake Trout:

  • Find bait schools
  • Find the thermocline, if it's in place
  • Find underwater lake structure

If you can locate baitfish in or above the right water temps you'll have almost certainly found some lake trout.  Whether or not they are active is another matter and you'll have to test this by jigging.  If you find fish but they aren't biting:  MOVE!  It can be hard to leave fish but if they aren't active it's probably a good idea to relocate, even a few hundred yards can be enough sometimes.  Maybe the lakers where you are just finished a feeding binge- if the fish you are on aren't hitting, it's wise to find another pod, perhaps hungry fish just arriving at a school of bait.

Finding the thermocline can be tough without expensive electronics.  In general in the Finger Lakes region, lakes will set up a thermocline between 30-50 feet in early summer.  By fall it will have deepened to around 80-100 feet and the Lake trout will retreat beneath it. Seasonal variations in weather dictate individual features of each year's thermocline.  A fast, hot spring results in a shallow thermocline- the water warms quickly and forms a pancake on top of the colder deep water.  A cool long spring means a deeper, wider thermocline and possibly tougher fishing due to a greater volume of appropriate temperatures.  Daily local variations are due to the wind, as the breeze pushes the warm surface water up and down the lake.  Big variations occur with individual lake size and structure as well.  In general, the wind mixes the water of the smaller lakes less and they develop shallower thermoclines.  Midsummer in Cayuga it may be at 90 feet, on Keuka, 50 feet.  The Fish Hawk TD is a relatively new product that aids in finding the thermocline and temperature breaks. It is a small device that records temperatures as it is lowered into the water and can be used on downriggers, dipsys, or with a handheld line and weight.

Underwater structure is best found with a combination of good maps and spending time slowly cruising the water with your fishfinder.   Trolling is also a great way to learn lake structures while simultaneously catching fish. Use a GPS and mark a waypoint whenever you catch a laker.  After a few trips it will be obvious where hotspots are with waypoints stacked on top of one another.  Look for drops, flats, points, holes, cutouts, and deeper flats.  All structure is important and will hold fish at some time of the year.  Early spring, shallow flats are good. Late spring and early summer, medium-depth flats.  Late summer and fall, drops and points.  Winter, deep flats.  While this is a good rule of thumb it doesn't always hold true- when searching for lakers, check different kinds of structure at the same depths. If they aren't at 90 foot flats, maybe they're at 90 foot points.  If you aren't finding them on one type of structure they are probably holding on another.

Water movements and currents too are best found through old-fashioned time on the water, though these can be somewhat inferred by paying attention to the wind before you go out.  Knowing what the wind has been doing for the past few days will help you find currents, eddies, the thermocline, and larger numbers of lake trout.  For example, a South wind will stack warm summer water on the South side of a point, pushing the fish deeper in that location and possibly moving them out entirely.  A strong Southerly for several days will often lead to an upwelling in the South end and fill the Northern basin with warm water, pushing the fish South.  The effects of wind and climate on the lakes is covered in detail in the "Water" section. (Not up yet!  Link to be added when it is.)

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