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skanperch

Cayuga Smallmouths?

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any of you regular fishermen on Cayuga noticed a precipitous decline in the SMB population?   I have fished the lake for decades, and have never found it harder to catch a SMB.......I'm not a bass guy, but just in casually casting off the dock for the past couple of years, I haven't even seen a  SMB... I also go out a couple times in the summer with bait for them...all the places and approaches that have worked for me for decades have not produced a single fish the past 2 -3 yrs. I fish the section of the lake from Union Springs to Long Point and I wonder where all the SMBs have gone.   Oddly, the LMB population in this area seems to be on the rise. We used to catch about 5 SMBS for every LMB, but now it's all LMBs.  Any thoughts or theories?

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Not a bass guy, but have a thought- with the gobies now in the lake and spreading rapidly I imagine the bass food base will be changing... try some goby snacks.  

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zebra mussels = clearer water

clearer water= more and deeper weed beds

weed beds are great for LMB

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zebra mussels = clearer water

clearer water= more and deeper weed beds

weed beds are great for LMB

 

exactly.

 

To add, small mouth will leave the shallow water and hover around the bait fish out in the middle as well.  While they like the rocks and cover they are not married to it whereas it is more unusual to see large mouths suspended in open water.  Could offer suggestions as to what you are seeing rise in largemouths and decline in smallmouths.  I think the smallmouths that you you use to catch are out just a little bit further than you remember them being.  I have seen this on Keuka.  20 feet of water there was nothing but at 30 foot of water they were stacked up.  This was verified by a diver.  Only thing consistent anymore is change.  Got to adjust.  good luck.

 

Joe

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No doubt the zebra and quaggas had an effect but it sounded like he saw a decline in just the past few years?  Skanperch when did you notice it getting tougher?  If it was just recently maybe something other than the mussels as they've been here a while.

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Bigfoot is right on the money. I have a place over on Seneca lake and noticed the same thing about 5-6 years ago. Weedlines have moved deeper and so have the smb. The biggest change recently was that they are getting bigger. The numbers have declined due to the goby population but quality has gone up tremendously. The average was maybe 2.5-3# and now its bumped up to the 3-3.5# category with the occasional 5-6# mixed in. These lakes seem to have a cycle and when the gobies got in the mix it screwed that cycle up big time. Good news is though the bigger smb and Lakers are feeding pretty good on those gobies.

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 To put it very bluntly, most of them are dead.. I posted about this subject perhaps 6 years ago, and was hammered as a know nothing doom and gloomer.

 
 Cayuga experienced a massive die off in  mid spring in 2008 I believe it was, and I was a witness, several times  and places around the lake as a matter of fact..
 Much of the lake was absolutely COVERED in dead fish.. Thousands upon thousands of SMB, Rock Bass, Pike, Suckers, Bullheads, Sunfish,  lesser numbers of,various "herring like" species.  Also a few carp, pickerel , even one Walleye etc... Did not see many LMB for whatever reason.
 The feeder creeks were also covered with floaters.. They had to bring in a bucket loader to Taughannock Park to take the huge piles of  rotting fish off the swimming beach.. I remember it very well.. I brought a friend one day to walk the shoreline and witness what I had seen.. We were in shock.. I called the DEC, and they said it was "thermal conditions, and "spawning stress".. I  smelled BS, and  told them so..The bottom was also littered with thousands of dead crayfish. No trout seemed to be affected, mostly warm water stuff and bottom dwellers..There WAS a story in the Syracuse paper about it, but they basically said the "DEC was investigating"..  Any follow up I did revealed nothing but a lot of stone walling..used to catch SMB by the dozen just standing on shore on the south end of Cayuga.. Stupid fishing really. We would catch big 12 inch rockies, massive bluegills and pumpkinseeds and perch up to 14 inches just using worms and bobbers/... I mean buckets full if you wanted them..  Those fish are simply no longer there.. I have stopped fishing the south end shoreline, because there is just nothing left  to catch.. I have a good friend that lives  on the lake near the Lake Source Coolng plant.. He witnessed what I did, and has told me stories about how for decades he would fish off his dock and be able to catch big pike and bass at will.. All the big panfish anyone could imagine.. Now its sterile. He no longer sees dozens of spawning bass, rockies , and sunnies off his dock,, There is nothing to see except bare sterile lake bottom..

 I  have gone from catching a dozen or so SMB every time I went  to the lake to catching 1 or 2 a year.. None at all this year in about 6 attempts... I now mostly just jig for lakers..  Something hit that lake VERY hard several years ago, and it still has not recovered for some species.. The DEC knew it then, and does now, but they won't talk.. Personally I think it was VHS, but they said no.. They say it was a "thermal event and spawning stress"... I dunno.. I called BS then and still do today.. All i can say is this.. Try very hard some day to catch a few nice rock bass  out of Cayuga to fry up. They were there by the millions, you simply couldn't get away from them.. Past 6 years I haven't even caught ONE of keeping size.. Something happened, I wish I knew what.. Yes you can call me a gloom and doomer, but I have good reason.. So did the friend I brought as a witness, and my  other  friend  that lives on the lake... I would imagine the dozer operator too,.. If he fishes the lake... I hope  the SMB recover, but have my doubts...bob

Edited by bulletbob

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 To put it very bluntly, most of them are dead.. I posted about this subject perhaps 6 years ago, and was hammered as a know nothing doom and gloomer.

 

 Cayuga experienced a massive die off in  mid spring in 2008 I believe it was, and I was a witness, several times  and places around the lake as a matter of fact..

 Much of the lake was absolutely COVERED in dead fish.. Thousands upon thousands of SMB, Rock Bass, Pike, Suckers, Bullheads, Sunfish,  lesser numbers of,various "herring like" species.  Also a few carp, pickerel , even one Walleye etc... Did not see many LMB for whatever reason.

 The feeder creeks were also covered with floaters.. They had to bring in a bucket loader to Taughannock Park to take the huge piles of  rotting fish off the swimming beach.. I remember it very well.. I brought a friend one day to walk the shoreline and witness what I had seen.. We were in shock.. I called the DEC, and they said it was "thermal conditions, and "spawning stress".. I  smelled BS, and  told them so..The bottom was also littered with thousands of dead crayfish. No trout seemed to be affected, mostly warm water stuff and bottom dwellers..There WAS a story in the Syracuse paper about it, but they basically said the "DEC was investigating"..  Any follow up I did revealed nothing but a lot of stone walling..used to catch SMB by the dozen just standing on shore on the south end of Cayuga.. Stupid fishing really. We would catch big 12 inch rockies, massive bluegills and pumpkinseeds and perch up to 14 inches just using worms and bobbers/... I mean buckets full if you wanted them..  Those fish are simply no longer there.. I have stopped fishing the south end shoreline, because there is just nothing left  to catch.. I have a good friend that lives  on the lake near the Lake Source Coolng plant.. He witnessed what I did, and has told me stories about how for decades he would fish off his dock and be able to catch big pike and bass at will.. All the big panfish anyone could imagine.. Now its sterile. He no longer sees dozens of spawning bass, rockies , and sunnies off his dock,, There is nothing to see except bare sterile lake bottom..

 I  have gone from catching a dozen or so SMB every time I went  to the lake to catching 1 or 2 a year.. None at all this year in about 6 attempts... I now mostly just jig for lakers..  Something hit that lake VERY hard several years ago, and it still has not recovered for some species.. The DEC knew it then, and does now, but they won't talk.. Personally I think it was VHS, but they said no.. They say it was a "thermal event and spawning stress"... I dunno.. I called BS then and still do today.. All i can say is this.. Try very hard some day to catch a few nice rock bass  out of Cayuga to fry up. They were there by the millions, you simply couldn't get away from them.. Past 6 years I haven't even caught ONE of keeping size.. Something happened, I wish I knew what.. Yes you can call me a gloom and doomer, but I have good reason.. So did the friend I brought as a witness, and my  other  friend  that lives on the lake... I would imagine the dozer operator too,.. If he fishes the lake... I hope  the SMB recover, but have my doubts...bob

I agree!  I just fished the south end of Cayuga last week and caught alot of small perch and a few small bluegills. No rock bass.

I used to fish Cayuga the first day of bass season and could catch at least 100 rockies and could sort them out to bring home 50 fairly good sized ones. For the last ~6 years, I have caught none. They have just disappeared. I blamed it on VHS even though the DEC said that wasn't the problem.

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thanks for all your thoughtful responses....to Hermit, Bigfoot,and BSmaster..Ihave to mention that your ideas about SMBs and the weeds were not really applicable in this instance because the SMBs I used to catch would come off  a) the docks in June, well before any weed growth started and b) out in my boat in August, where we would fish in 40 -50 fow, well away from any weeds. Nowadays, both types of fishing yield nothing in the way of SMBs. In June, off the docks, I would see many of them swim past, and would catch a fair number of them. Now, I don't even see any, and that has been the case for several years.

 

Which brings me to bulletbob........bb, I am so glad you broached the topic of something catastrophic happening to a portion of the Cayuga fishery, as given what I have witnessed and experienced, I have suspected the same thing. I did not want to mention my suspicions in my first post, as I did not want to influence anyones' responses to my question. Besides the SMBs, now that you mention it, the rock bass have virtually disappeared from my fishing too....and they used to be a pain in the ass, there were so many of them. I still see and catch some perch, and there is a small number of sunnies/bluegill ( but not nearly the numbers that used to be) off the docks. I never did witness a fish kill of the magnitude you described, but I do remember that some yrs back we had many dead panfish floating around in May or early June. Also I recall a year about the same time when we had loads and loads of dead carp floating. I didn't mind that at the time, but in hindsight, maybe I should have.

 

As I wrote earlier, I see and catch more LMBs than ever before in my area of the lake. I wonder if they filled a niche vacated by the smallies.And you wrote that you did not see many LMBs in your desciption of the fish kill.

 

RE the DEC....I get suspicious at how they use the expressions." spawning stress" and "thermal event" after nearly every fish die-off. Hell, the fish spawn and the lake temps change every spring.;... and there's stuff going on with the fishery I have not witnessed in 50 years. I can state with certainty that the warm water abundance that Cayuga used to support has been MIA for the past 5 or so years. If some calamitous event has occured in Cayuga, I wish the DEC would be straight with us about it. Even if there's nothing they can do about it, if the DEC can shed some light on it, they should.

 

If that fish kill happened in 2008 as bb said, one would think the lake would have rebounded some by now. But it hasn't. Between these possible diseases, and the invasives, it's a shame what  has happened to the Finger Lakes. I hope the trout fishing holds up.

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DEC confirmed VHS in the Seneca-Cayuga canal in 2007. So, it's entirely possible that it caused the die off in Cayuga Lake in 2008. It has also been confirmed in Skaneateles and Conesus Lakes.

 

2008 was a bad time for DEC. Gov. Patterson froze spending and left positions open. DEC probably couldn't even afford the testing at that time to determine if VHS was present in Cayuga.

 

Before the spending freeze region 8 had purchased a lamprey barrier for Catherine Creek. FLTA stepped in and purchased the hardware to install the barrier- money DEC wasn't at that point allowed to spend!!!!!

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