The Bassmaster Elite Series next stop is Cayuga Lake at the end of June. With tournament favorite Greg Hackney leading the points in the Angler of the Year race, I’ve been looking ahead to see if the rest of the lakes on the schedule fit his style of fishing. Cayuga Lake is completely unfamiliar to me, so I’ve been researching it some.
The lake is over 38 miles long and 435 feet deep at its deepest point. According to one of the local websites, the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byways, it reaches 53 feet below sea level and is considered to be one of the deepest lakes in North America. It has a small island on the eastern shore that is one of only two islands in the Finger Lakes. The lake is a popular sportfishing location as well as recreational boating area with the largest inland marina in the state of New York on its shores.
As expected this New York Lake has both smallmouth and largemouth bass; this combination of species opens the door to many fishing styles and nearly any angler for the win. The Cayuga Lake State Park website has a hydrilla warning with a link, so I’m going to assume it has (or had) a significant source of hydrilla on it. Hydrilla would tilt the table towards the angler’s skilled at catching largemouth. A limit of largemouth will most times outweigh a limit of smallmouth. However, the largemouth population has to be healthy and strong.
The state of New York is known for its high smallmouth populations. Twenty-pound smallmouth limits are not unheard of and compete with limits of largemouth step for step. The bonus for the smallmouth anglers is consistency. Once a school of quality smallmouth is found, it’s much easier to stay with them throughout a tournament. Whereas largemouth can be more spread out in smaller schools and having multiple locations or a pattern with plenty of fresh undisturbed water is necessary.
Viewing the lake in the Navionics Web app, reveals a long narrow lake with hundreds of boat docks lining the shores. Void of creek arms or channels, the “ledge” anglers might be in trouble on this one. However, there is plenty of steep bank lines in the overall cylinder shape lake, which can provide for deep cranking opportunities. Each end of the lake appears to have ledge type structure in the 20-foot range; I’m curious to see how crowded these areas become during the event.
An angler like Greg Hackney with exceptional flipping skills will have an edge with the tremendous number of boat docks. The flip side is that there are so many docks, finding the productive ones is going to be tricky. Plus, it’s hard to get a boat dock to produce quality bass, of any kind, for four days in a row. Anglers running the docks are going to need a lot of them to be competitive.
A couple of areas around the lake show shelves with boat docks on the Navionics map. These could be key to staying on the leader board. Another factor is going to be vegetation. In late June, hydrilla can be thriving. Thick matted hydrilla will pull the bass from the docks and shore and create a frog and punching situation.
Until we start seeing some reports from the anglers on social media, it’s going to be hard to pick a Fantasy Fishing line up for this one. Do your research and be ready for anything, I’d suggest waiting until the last minute to lock in your choices.