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Status of the Cayuga fish ladder

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Can anyone tell me what the status of the ladder is?  I hear back in the day they used to man it and take a fish count and post the results as they passed through.  I have been there a few times in the last few years and have never seen anything posted or for that matter seen anyone there to talk to?  If there is no funding for manning the ladder and there is no one there, do they keep it open or closed?  I like fishing there, even though the run numbers are nothing like other finger lakes tribs, but dont want to waste my time if the ladder is closed.  I dont think that there has been a high enough water event yet this year to let the fish jump the dam.



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I'm not sure what you mean by operational.


For most of the year the fishway is open allowing unobstructed passage upstream and no staffing is needed. Sometimes in winter this is not the case, as the passage way becomes blocked with anchor ice.


In spring, after the anchor ice melts, the fish on their spawning runs are diverted into a large pen in the fishway, and can not proceed upstream until released by DEC staff. Staff collect data on the fish (length , weight, fun loving) and I believe they still tag them. Additionally, some rainbows are retained so that their eggs and milt are available for hatchery use. During the spring runs, staff are only present a few hours a day, so it can be difficult to catch up with them.


While most fish are allowed to continue upstream, lampreys are removed and destroyed. After the lamprey run is over, the barrier is removed and the fishway again provides unobstructed passage.

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The official access road is off limits so the best way to get there is from 13A. Between Coy Glen Rd. and the cemetery is a driveway on the opposite side of the road. There is a sign for a limo service that is down the road. Go down there to the end, park, and you have to cross the RR bridge to get to the ladder.

edit: FYI I should say this bridge as any other RR bridge is posted. If that's a concern to anyone or it's a nice day and you're up for a walk, the other option is to park on the north side of the Kohl's / Buffalo Wild Wings building and follow the access road (just north) to the inlet.

Edited by hermit
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DJ, don't be surprised if there is not much to see there. I have taken my kids there a few times to try and see what goes on but we have yet to see anything at all. There is a dam there and you can see the occasional fish try and jump but no action at the ladder. And to add to hermits reply, I would think that parking behind the buffalo wild wings and walk the dike down would be a nice walk for you and the kids. Side note, check the kids after your walk! We have found ticks on us 2 times walking in that area. Prob not too much of a problem this year with the temps, just an FYI.

Bigfoot, yes this is where the " finger lakes strain" of rainbows is taken from. They transfer the eggs and milt to the hatchery in Bath. I also understand that the fish are blocked (in a pen to be checked) but the information should be public. Does anyone know if the info is posted anywhere? Would be nice to know if there are fish present for the first, and if none were passed through I would go elsewhere and fight the crowds.

I may swing by Saturday with the kids to check it out and walk the stream.

Sent from my XT1060 using Lake Ontario United mobile app

Edited by floatfisher
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Back in the day they had a sign there that told how many fish ran in the fall and how many ran in the spring. Many of the small males run in the late fall/early winter and spend the winter in deep holes- so even if the spring run has started, there should be fish in the creek, but not necessarily in the headwaters yet. The warmer weather (at last) forecast for later this week should trigger some fish movement.

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I was down at the Fishway the other day watching the fish and decided to call the DEC and inquire about helping.  This was there response.
Hi Jim -
Thank you for your interest in volunteering at the Cayuga Inlet Fishway this spring.  Unfortunately, we are currently fully staffed and not in need of assistance at this time - however, you're more than welcome to stop by and check out the operation!  Monday and Friday mornings are the best bet to catch us there, generally around 11am.  Additionally, if you are interested in volunteering on other ventures throughout the spring and summer we may likely be able to work something out.  Let me know if that's the case and I can drop you a line when we have further activities scheduled - I'm assuming your main interest is Cayuga and its tributaries, correct?  We'll have lots of things going on with lamprey work later this spring in preparation for our upcoming TFM lampricide treatment of the inlet.
Thanks again for the interest!

Ian R. Blackburn

Fish and Wildlife Technician II
NYSDEC Region 7 - Fisheries
1285 Fisher Avenue
Cortland, NY 13045


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Thanks for the input!  It is a far better reply than what I got years back when I tried to volunteer, the reply was basically leave it to the pros!!


Wish I could make it there durring the week.  Too bad they are not interested in a weekend shift of volunteers.

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