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Keuka Keuka 5/14


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As far as I know the Gobies haven't been introduced there. Keuka doesn't have a direct connection to the Seneca River for them to spread by themselvesetc. Hopefully they won't be introduced by some idiot using them for bait or something.

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This is a great thread with lots of insights and opinions. Like most complex problems the cause is a combination of things. All the finger lakes have zebra mussels but most of them still have baitfish. Cayuga, Seneca, Owasco, Canadaigua to name a few. 
 

Let’s not forget there was a major baitfish kill in the late 80s combined with the zebra muscles, chemical runoff and major development that most likely prevent the recovery of the lake.

 

I chalk it up to the fragility of our ecosystem and any finger lake that has a bait kill due to a virus will most likely never recover 

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Adesalvo, you mentioned mussels, while I was there two weeks ago trolling, I  had to reel up every 20 minutes or so to remove them from my spoon. Three hours of trolling,...lakers, 0....mussels 9.  

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Sawbellies in a lake have consequences.   They have overrun Seneca.   Skaneateles Lake does not have sawbellies and the fishing is fine there.  The fish aren't as big but they are pretty abundant and taste better without the sawbellies.   If a healthy population of sawbellies re-emerged in Keuka my prediction would be a decline in the perch and bass fishing with an increase in the trout sizes.  So I guess it depends on what you value as a fisherman.  The Fingerlakes as a whole seemed much healthier when smelt were the primary forage fish.   

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bulletbob, I am probably older than you, prewar baby here.  I just want to keep this argument/topic going.  We have had a lot of good day and memories on that lake.  And does anyone know where any smelt are now.  I have dipped for them in most of the big finger lakes but not in 20 years.  Why the computer is typeing this way, I dont know.......jk

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On 6/14/2021 at 2:07 PM, shaneo19 said:

Sawbellies in a lake have consequences.   They have overrun Seneca.   Skaneateles Lake does not have sawbellies and the fishing is fine there.  The fish aren't as big but they are pretty abundant and taste better without the sawbellies.   If a healthy population of sawbellies re-emerged in Keuka my prediction would be a decline in the perch and bass fishing with an increase in the trout sizes.  So I guess it depends on what you value as a fisherman.  The Fingerlakes as a whole seemed much healthier when smelt were the primary forage fish.   

 I understand where you are coming from.. I agree with some of what you posted, but have some disagreements as well.. Sawbellies aren't native and don't belong in these lakes. agreed.. However, neither are browns or rainbows, and I think the landlocks are only native in Cayuga.. Once those species were introduced long ago, the  natural balance of the  lakes had to change as well. Nowadays, if the sawbellies collapse, so might the salmonid populations.. Smelt are decimated compared to years ago, Gobies have infested some of the lakes are have displaced many small bottom dwelling species that can't compete[Sculpins]..  Bass and panfish don't need sawbellies and do fine without them.. Not sure this board would even exist without sawbellies in he Fingers and the Great Lakes, as this  board is 95% trollers, and the first thing most of them do is find the bait concentrations, which in the modern age is sawbellies... I agree that these lakes would be better off without sawbellies, BUT, they might be useless to the multiple thousands of guys that troll these lakes for the stocked trout and salmon that feed exclusively on sawbellies  these days.. yes the are eating gobies as well, but even with lakers, I find 100  sawbellies for every goby in  thier stomachs.. All these lakes are not what they were a few decades ago... Invasives and over development have really taken their toll.

 

 There was a point in the 90's where I sols my boats, as I was catching all the fish I wanted just by fishing from shore. Yes even trout and landlocks, except for a few ,onths mid summer, and even then I caught a few... bass, big perch, Pike, quarter to half pound bluegills and rock bass, all day every day on both Cayuga and Seneca... Once the mussels, fleas, Gobies,  rampant development came around, everything changed, especially around the shorelines.. I have told the story on these pages about how I stood on the shores of seneca with my kids in the 90's ... Tossed a few garden worms into the water and the second they  started to sink, there were foot long flashes coming from every direction, just nice fish milling around everywhere.. These days, I do the exact same thing, and watch the worm sink unmolested, all the way to the bottom, where it just wigglkes around... On Cayuga, if I do the same, when the worm gets near the bottom, there are no foot long flashes anymore  as the worm  sinks, but when it get near bottom, it is   torn into by  hundreds of Gobies swarming from every direction... Yes the stocked  sawbelly fattened  trout trolling is still good, which I know is the  focal point of this forum, but believe me, these lakes are not near what they should be ..  The life in them is not  what it was  20 years ago. I fear for their future,,, bob

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Each of the Finger lakes has its problems and they are each complex in nature. Keuka has been in severe decline for a number of years and again the reasons are complex and not singular as some folks may wish to believe. Bulletbob makes some good points. One of the things that gets in the way of understanding the magnitude of the problems with the lakes is related to age of the folks viewing the situation as the younger you are the less you have of a baseline of information and direct experience from which to view the changes that have occurred and this fact has been evident in many past threads regarding the issues. What I am referring to is that there have been massive changes in these ecosystems since the mid to late eighties and they no longer resemble the lake or fishing conditions present in the past. I had uncles with cottages on Keuka, Cayuga and Seneca lakes when I was a kid and we had many reunions and get togethers etc. and I stayed sometimes weeks during the summers there fishing off the dock or rowing out in a a little deeper water to fish. The lakes were teeming with life back in the 50's through 70's and early eighties. There were fish of many different species along the shorelines and under docks or boathouses that could be caught from shore. There were minnows and young of various species all along the shorelines of these lakes. panfish could be caught at will as well as bass both smallmouth and largemouth and the occasional pike or pickerel mixed in all right from docks. During the Spring there were massive runs of Rainbow Smelt and al little later sawbellies in many of the streams on each of these lakes with runs of a  few rainbow trout and large amounts of redfin and black suckers mixed in that we were allowed to spear at the time. The cottages along these lakes were quite conservative and just that "cottages" not mult-million dollar monstrosities with huge manicured lawns and multiple boat hoists etc. There was available land separating between the cottages.

 

Contrast this picture with the present conditions on these lakes after all the development of residential properties, commercial enterprises such as vineyards, and farming etc. coupled with massive changes in the type and distribution of weed growth, vegetative invasives, zoological invasives, increased rates of photosynthesis from increased water clarity combined with increased introduction of bio-limiting factors from road salt deposits, to lawn chemicals, to sewage spills and many other factors too numerous to catalog. One of the main things the Zebra and Quagga mussels have done is to strain out an essential microscopic links in the food chain directly affecting minnows on upward in the food chain. Their shells encrust much of the traditional spawning areas for both bait and fish. When you take out a basic element early in the food chain things above it start to disappear some of it is gradual and some is relatively quick to happen. The process is ever burgeoning and Waterfleas and Gobies and who knows what else have been added to the complexity of the situation. When you put all of this together in an increasingly complex web large bodies of water such as these can take just so much and over time the sum total of these processes overcomes the natural ability of the lakes to counteract or recover.  For Seneca and Cayuga the additional threat posed by Lamprey propagation is a huge burden to the already taxed ecosystem. The predator to prey balance appears to be significantly better at present in Cayuga as I think the lamprey control may be better than that on Seneca right now. The baitfish collapse on Keuka, disappearance of formerly available species such as landlocks, rainbows and browns, stunted growth of the Lake trout, and the rapidly disappearing perch and panfish population due to being ingested out of desperation by lakers is disturbing; and just stocking a few Cisco's doesn't seem to be the answer either.

Edited by Sk8man
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Very powerful and unfortunately true statements Bob, Les.  Being a Long Island guy, you don’t have to tell me about the effects of too much development on a lake or the south shore of LI.  The decline of Keuka was amazingly fast.  When the alewives crashed, everything started eating the perch including the larger perch!  In 2017-18 every perch I caught in May was loaded with baby perch. Since then every laker I get is loaded with perch.  Most of you guys are not bass fishermen but they too have taken a nose dive.  I have gone from a dozen + Bass per day while just perch fishing the shoreline to one or none.  The Cisco stocking does not seem to be the answer. I just wonder what is.

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 Les gave a fine   opinion based on long experience.. I am not a kid at 67, and  am not native to the FL Region.. I moved here exactly 30 years ago. June 1991.
 

 I was  amazed at the fishing.   As stated, I sold a  Wellcraft Center Console I used  fishing the bays and ocean in NJ, simply because, i didn't need it to catch fish.. I recall working as a tech/mechanic in Ithaca, and running down to the lake mid day during my lunch hour, casting from shore, and  catching big Browns, Salmon, Lakers, SMB, Pike, Pickerel,  massive panfish,,, once in a while a 25  pound or better Carp, just wonderful fishing I thought would never end... Until it did... This is a great forum, and there are a lot of great guys  that are wonderful, knowledgeable fishermen.
 The only regret I have is that a lot of guys think the lakes are fine as long as the stocked trout get fat on sawbellies, and hit their deep trolled  lures in open water... Those of us  that  fish for panfish and  species like Pike and Bass have noticed  that  some of these populations are in freefall.   Invasives and over development are killing these lakes- its that simple.. More noticable in near shore habitats than in the cold water zones, and it seems to grow worse every year..   I hope  things change for the better in my lifetime.... bob

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I'm sorry to say but I don't think it's gonna get better for a few reasons. A big one is the prospect that we could eventually be dealing with the invasive silver and bighead carp that populate waterways connected to the great lakes. Second is all the aquatic invasive plants that keep spreading. Water chestnut, hydrilla, eurasian watermilfoil to name a few. They do a good job with the boat checks but so many people use all these waterways that they are gonna just keep spreading. Motorboats are a big one in the scheme of things but not the only reason for the spread of these invasives.  I'm not sure I've ever heard or people checking canoes, kayaks, sups and yet you see so many more nowadays than just 10 years ago. There's people that don't even know or care about all these invasives that threaten the their waterways. Staffing of the DEC is the third aspect. I'm not sure our governor really cares. He sends out any kind of press release he can to get noticed...governor issues weather statement, governor issues statement on start of this season, governor issues reminder for people to wipe their ass, etc. There would be more Co's in the field and more people working for the DEC to figure out some of these problems if it really mattered people higher up in govt. Basil Seggos is just the governors whipping boy who just puts out fires. Our society does a great job at reacting to situations once a good thing is gone. 

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Was up fishing the other day, caught a lot of lakers jigging, but nothing over 23 and they all had big heads and thin bodies.  Last year we saw schools of bait most of the time but not this year.  What information have they gotten from the bouys that are now red out there.  I think the ciscos are disappearing down the lakers stomachs faster than they are reproducing.  We enjoy fishing there but it certainly has changed.......jk   Ps it was COLD and windy

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 big heads thin bodies on fish in any body of water anywhere is bad news.. Underfed fish, plain and simple as we all know... I still say the DEC needs to  forget ciscoes  and just  load the lake back up with sawbellies,  so these fish can eat.

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Bob is right. Same thing happened in the '60s. Had to release a few  "hammerhandles" for each keeper. If I remember right DEC netted sawbellies from Waneta and Seneca. Took several years to build back a robust fishery but it lasted some 40 years. What is DEC's problem in restocking sawbellies, they proved it works 40+ years ago?

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Many of our problems start with man....and his tries to manipulate nature. A good recent example is over in Tasmania. They were worried about facial tumors appearing on the animal called Tasmanian Devils so they transported a bunch of them to supposedly "protect" them to an uninhabited island where there were only birds and they ate every single penguin and other birds on that island. Now they are scratching their heads wondering why they did it. Everywhere you look there are examples of man's attempt to intervene in nature and nearly always it ends in disaster.

Edited by Sk8man
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1 hour ago, Sk8man said:

Many of our problems start with man....and hsi tries to manipulate natture. A good recent example is obver in Tasmania. Thye were worried about facial tumors appearing on the animal called Tasmanian Devils so they transported a bunch of them to supposedly "protect" them to an uninhabited island where theeir were only birds and they ate every single penguin and other birds on that island. Now they are scratching thier heads wondering why they did it. Everywhere you look there are examples of man's attempt to intervene in nature and nearly always it ends in disaster.

absolutely correct.  The sawbellies were never supposed to be there in the first place. They are salt water invasives that came into this area initially through the Welland Canal.
 However, now that they are here, they are the main reason all the trollers can catch big trout and salmon in the great lakes as well as the finger lakes.. Without them,  the fish would be smaller and less abundant, and its doubtful the populations would  do as well as they do.

 I see them today as a "necessary evil".  The fish in Keuka need a food source thats rich in calories... Landlocked alewives seem the best bet..If they get too  abundant?- Do what all the southern states do to help control them-Put stripers in the lakes.  NY has never had much interest in them, but a LOT of states do, and the anglers there love them.

 In any case, Keuka needs help.. Its astounding how depressed that entire fishery has become compared to 15-20 years ago. As I mentioned earlier, I don't even bother anymore.. Switched to Skaneateles when I don't fish Cayuga... For me anyway, the fishing has been better there... bob

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