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:  Seasonal Variations

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Seasonal Variations:

Spring:  Spring can be one of the tougher times to catch lake trout.  The fish are scattered and often suspended over deep water, or on very deep flats.  The weather can be miserable, with cold, early mornings, wind, and often plenty of rain.  If that's not enough to discourage you (it better not be!) it's still possible to find and jig for lake trout.  Bait is key especially in late spring- lakers are ready to eat after a long winter and will be searching out the depths for alewives or other baitfish.  

Depending on where the bait is schooling the fishing can be good to poor.  If the alewives stay deep fishing can be tough.  The fish may still be 150' deep or more, and jigging near this depth still necessary especially in early spring. The lake is slow to warm as days are still short and the lake is still mixing, keeping water the water cold.  In April they are usually still deep at 150'+, for example. Later in spring they may be found much shallower- it's a transition time in the lake, and fish will be fairly scattered with the bulk of them still deep.  In the Finger Lakes, most lake trout are located on the deep flats in the northern 1/2 to 1/3 of the lake during the winter and spring months.

Late Spring:  Laker jigging can be very good to excellent although it is erratic with plenty of tougher days mixed in.  When the thermocline begins to set up and the alewives invade the shallows, the lakers follow in droves and can be caught in very shallow water.  Just fantastic fishing can be had, find a school of bait and hold on!  Look in 30-50 feet of water at first and deeper if need be.  The lakers will still be near their winter habitat, generally in the northern half of the lakes, though some remain lakewide all year.  

Summer:  Nothing beats a hot summer day like jigging up a handful or two of lakers!  Early summer is an excellent time to go jigging and the fishing becomes more predictable.  Lake trout will be just below the thermocline, and your target is structure and flats in the 60-90 FOW range. If the fish aren't anywhere to be seen, chances are the thermocline is doing something odd and you should look in both shallower and deeper water. I like starting early in the morning at 60 FOW through early July, following them deeper as the sun rises in the sky. I've also found lakers in 30 FOW in August- it just depends on how the water is sloshing around in the lake basin.  Often the thermocline is wider and/or deeper on one side of the lake or the other- it can be worth trying the other side if fishing is poor in one area.

Late summer:  Fishing is still good in August and September although conditions are tougher as the lake is loaded with warm water. It is necessary to start fishing deeper, into the 80-120 feet of water range. The deeper the water the longer it takes your jig to fall and the harder it is to stay vertical. There is often a window of tougher fishing before the pre-spawn bite starts up.

Fall:  Spawning time in the Finger Lakes, fall can provide hot action if you know where to go.  Lake trout will be schooling on and near cobble structure in preparation for the spawn.  Actively spawning fish are poor feeders but will strike out of annoyance or nest protection instinct.  Usually other non-spawning fish will be in the area as well and are catchable.  By this time of year the lakers are much less interested in food and are not as aggressive.  Jigging spoons can be a great choice for these short-striking fish.

In general spawning areas are concentrated along the Southwestern shorelines of the Finger Lakes, though lakers do spawn in many other locations as well and any current-swept area with a rocky bottom will attract spawning fish. In Cayuga Lake the NYS DEC does Lake trout egg harvesting by setting out gill nets near Taughannock State Park.  These eggs and the milt from males are used to raise fish for stocking throughout New York waters.

Winter:  Jigging for lake trout through the ice is probably the most popular wintertime angling technique, but not in most of the Finger Lakes- many of the Fingers do not freeze over and lake access is tough with frozen launches.  In winter, lake trout and baitfish move to the deepest, warmest parts of the lake. Yes, in winter deep and warm is correct.  The lake bottom will remain at 39 degrees (water is densest at 39 degrees and sinks) while the surface will be near 32 degrees.

They will be in similar areas as in the spring and early summer but deeper in the water column. Flats of 130-200 FOW near even deeper water are a good place to start looking.  Some fish will be deeper yet, 200+, but the further down you go, the tougher it is to jig properly.  Start as shallow as you can locate good marks.  You'll need to gear up accordingly for winter fishing- you're jigging deep water, and heavy spoons or jigs with a matching stiff rod are necessary. Try 1 1/2 to 2 ounce spoons for deep winter jigging, heavy-headed jigs, or a big 1 1/2 oz striper bucktail.

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