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January Landlock Tips

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Next weekend, I'll be be going for my first winter salmon trip. I've come up with a pretty decent summer program, but that might not won't work right now. We won't be in the Finger Lakes, but we'll be in Lake George, instead. I figure there are enough similarities that any tips I can get here might at least get me pointed in the right direction.

 

First, the basics. My instincts are telling me to use stickbaits and smaller spoons in the top 10 feet of the water column. Probably slow, maybe less that 2.0 mph. Does that sound right? What about colors? The water will be clear and the skies will be over cast.

 

The bigger question is what type of water am I looking for? I could stay relatively shallow with structure and stream deltas. Or I could fish over deep water, out in the open or I could be in 150' fow within 100' of shore in some areas.What kind of habitat would they hang out in this time of the year?

 

Any suggestions would be helpful. The salmon fishery in Lake George has just started to come back a few years ago, and its hard to get anyone around here to spill any information. Thanks.

 

 

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From what I have been hearing from a friend up there who frequents LG for lakers, you may want to be looking for open water, as he is talking about fishable ice very soon, and a good deal of the Adirondacks is already locked up.  But if you are in Lake George, you have a better handle on that than I or he.

 

My experience is limited under the ice, but the Landlocks are generally at the surface.  Beyond that, the guys I know from the Fulton Chain look for areas that will concentrate bait, like steep drop-offs, humps and islands, and then they either parallel or set perpendicular with their tip ups, so I would guess that trolling areas like that would work as well.  I would not get wedded to the slow speed however, landlocks and rainbows can both be taken at very high speeds, so I would try faster unless slow is producing right off the bat.  And in the spring, they seem to be attracted to the wash, so running a short line 30 or so feet behind the boat could be productive if the longer lines don't produce.

 

Tandem streamers could also be hot, and you can't beat a Sutton 44 or a Mooselick wobbler for Landlocks. 

Edited by Lucky13

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I'm not sure about Lake George but in many of the Finger lakes where landlocks are they tend to congregate in late Fall right through now at the south ends of the lakes and can be found roaming the shallows as well as in the upper levels of deeper water and around creek mouths. At this time of the year the sawbellies go deep and are largely bottom oriented and the lakers often follow them out there in the depth near bottom but the salmon having a diverse diet and roaming "genes" seem to be all over and less predictable than lakers. I have caught them just under the ice in Keuka and rainbows and browns likewise on Canandaigua in water less than 30 ft.deep so they do roam around in shallower water in the winter time. I would be trying small say J7 Rapalas in silver and/or gold, small 2-3 inch spoons trolled at variable speeds (experimenting). The jointed Rapalas seem to tolerate higher speed and speed on turns a little better and just adding a large split shot about 3-4 ft above it can be productive and the floaters can go pretty shallow without problems A single color or two of leadcore can be productive with a red streamer run behind it on a small sized dodger too. It may pay to run lures further back than usual as it will slow them on turns which is in keeping with their metabolism now in the colder water.but don't assume that slow speed per se is totally necessary either because if they see something they view as vulnerable and are hungry they will go after it. I would definitely stay in the small to medium (at most) range for lures. I think you'll be OK with the strategy you mentioned above too. I have been told it is a somewhat fickle lake for silvers so you may have to "work" for them and cover a lot of water:lol: Don't be reluctant to try some "start and stops" intermittently along the way either.

Edited by Sk8man

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Have a fair amount of experience fishing in the winter months. LLs will be found all over the water column depending on the day and the bait. On Cayuga a lot of alewives get locked up deep- they are not strong swimmers, and sometimes you will catch the LLs feeding on them deep. I typically target multiple depths from surface with trolling flies and stick baits to mid depths w/ sticks and spoons off lead core and slide divers to deeper water with rigger spoons and  wire flasher fly. I also weave from shallower to deeper water. I do tend to run smaller spoons in the winter than I would in the summer and I usually run cheaters as well. I would be prepared to cover as much productive water as possible.

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I was out on Cayuga yesterday (12/26) and had a few hook ups. In a couple hours of fishing we landed a landlocked, a brown, and a laker and lost two more browns at the boat. We were using medium sized ~4" stick baits in fire tiger, silver, and goby brown colors, the fire tiger had 3/5 hookups. Trolling my planer boards as close as we could to the docks ~10 FOW around 2.3 mph with lines between 100-75 ft behind planer mast. Marked many fish where streams fed into the lake. Fished from 11:00-1:30. No big fish but it was fun almost hitting the grand slam. Hope this helps as a starting point.

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:yes:

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LEs et al are correct, zigging and zagging always seems to up my strikes, and a lot of times it is on the turns when the lure accelerates.

 

There should be plenty of targets out there, they stocked 30 K LLS and 30 K rainbows last year, those are high numbers for either species in a "smaller" inland lake.  

Edited by Lucky13
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Thanks for the tips, guys. Lots of good ideas here. The main forage here is smelt. Not sure if that might change anything. We also have ciscos, but they seem to be a little much for the salmon. The lakers love them though. In fact, we target them while jigging, just so we can put them on our tipups.

 

A lot of the lakes north of here and some of the smaller ones to the south are freezing and fishable. The perch grounds in the bays on George were almost ready to go before this thaw, but it takes a lot to get the main lake to freeze. We need a few nights of sub zero and windless nights to make it happen. We have plenty of years where it doesn't come together right and the ice just doesn't happen. Even in a perfect world, theres still a month until the main lake freezes.

 

And I had no idea about rainbow stocking. I guess its been a few years since I've looked at the stocking lists. I've heard about extremely rare cases where people have caught rainbows while trolling for salmon, but I guess I just assumed they were getting washed in from the stocked streams. Looking at the lists, most of them seem to be pretty small and probably become food pretty quick.

 

We're still waiting on the forecast to figure out when we're hitting the lake, but I'm looking forward to it.

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There are some great smelt pattern tandem trolling fly patterns out there. some days those are just the ticket for the Atlantics on the Fingerlakes.

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As far as the smelt as bait go.....if you have any Sutton #31 or 71's they might be just the ticket too:smile:

Edited by Sk8man

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I give streamers a chance every now and then for a number of species. Never seems to work for me.

 

Flutter spoons are always somewhere in my game plan. I don't have a lot of Suttons, but a whole box full of Hinckleys. They're made locally, so they're a lot easier to find than Suttons.

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Any Finger Lake guys into Crazy Ivan spoons? I picked up a fistful of them this fall in my favorite Ontario patterns. I'm hoping to get those into the mix.

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My suggestion above relates mostly to the shape (slender and long like smelt:smile: but they like small stuff that look like fathead minnows too....Hinckleys will work too.

Edited by Sk8man

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I have used the Crazy Ivan spoons they work very well on rainbows & landlocks

 

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