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Cayuga, NY Fishing: A Sought-After Recreational Spot

Cayuga, NY Fishing: A Sought-After Recreational Spot
Published: Monday, July 19th, 2021
Updated on: Friday, July 30th, 2021

Cayuga is a small community found on the northeast edge of the Cayuga Lake within the town of Aurelius in Upstate New York. The village has a total area of just 1.4 square miles (of which about a third of it encompasses the lake). Despite its small size, the village is one of the most popular tourist spots in the Finger Lakes region as it attracts thousands of visitors every year. Access to this outdoor haven is pretty easy as the New York State Route 90 passes through the village and the cities of Rochester and Syracuse are just a few hours' drive away.   

One of the village’s main attractions is the three state parks that boast of trails, nature preserves, and three of the most maintained forests in the region. This means that visitors can go hiking, biking, camping, picnicking, horseback riding, and other fun outdoor activities during their stay here in this charming community. Moreover, it offers easy access to Cayuga Lake, which, by the way, is the longest and the second largest of the six major Finger Lakes. Visitors can enjoy all sorts of activities in the water such as swimming, boating, and fishing. Aside from its natural beauty, Cayuga’s historical and cultural scenes are tourist draws as well, providing visitors with plenty of fun and educational things to do besides enjoying the great outdoors.

The village of Cayuga was incorporated in 1857, although its history goes way back when the first settlements of the Cayuga people (from where the community and the county got its name) were established. Other notable historical events in the area include the arrival of the 600 troops of Sullivan’s Army in 1779, the construction of the Cayuga Bridge (which actually played an essential role in the mass migration to the west) in 1800, the building of the Cayuga branch of the Erie Canal in 1832, the construction of the railroads in 1842, and the development of the outdoor recreational facilities in the 1930s. It is also worth mentioning that Harriet Tubman, the African-American political activist and abolitionist, settled here after rescuing family members and slaves via the Underground Railroad.

Cayuga Fishing

Cayuga Lake is one of the most popular fishing destinations in the Finger Lakes region. Especially on the northern end of the lake (from which the small community is perfectly located), the lake features a healthy growth of aquatic vegetation, which means that this area of the lake is where most fish species can be found. And yes, true enough, anglers report catching a wide array of quarries here, which include trout (the rainbow, lake, and brown varieties), Atlantic salmon, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, bluegill, pumpkinseed, crappie, yellow perch, chain pickerel, channel catfish, freshwater drum, longnose gar, common carp, brown bullhead, rainbow smelt, gizzard shad, and lake sturgeon

Aside from the great underwater habitat that supports the local fish population, the waters are stocked with tens of thousands of different gamefish varieties every year, ensuring healthy populations even if anglers come here to fish for most of the year.

And as you may have noticed from the diversity of the fish species we’ve mentioned, Cayuga Lake offers amazing fishing throughout the year as it supports both warm and cold water species. When the water is relatively warm during spring and summer, targeting smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, trout, and pickerel while drift fishing or trolling in the deeper parts of the lake where there are many weed beds is relatively easy. Using live baits or spinner baits is said to be very effective during this time of the year. And, yes, fly fishing is quite popular here as well during warmer months and can be done straight off the banks or while wading through the shallow parts of the lake and along the smaller tributaries.

Fall and winter, on the other hand, can also be quite productive for all sorts of anglers as Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, brown trout, and northern pike (just to name a few) are pretty active when the water is cold. If there’s sufficient ice, anglers can actually go ice fishing and catch some panfish, pickerel, landlocked salmon.

Now, before planning a fishing trip in Cayuga, you should check the New York State freshwater fishing regulations as there are catch and size limitations that are strictly enforced here. Finally, you may need to hire a fishing guide—especially if you’re a beginner—not only to show you where you can most likely catch a trophy fish but teach you how to catch them as well. 

 

Top Ten Fish Species in Cayuga, NY

The top ten fish species in Cayuga, NY are largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, Atlantic (landlocked) salmon, panfish, pickerel, northern pike, lake sturgeon.

Cayuga, NY Fishing: A Sought-After Recreational Spot Fish species
Chain Pickerel
Chain Pickerel fish

Habitat: Lake, River, Pond, Bogs, Swamps

Weight: 3 - 5 Pounds

Length: 14" - 39"

Largemouth Bass
Largemouth Bass fish

Habitat: Lake, Pond, Rivers

Weight: 2 - 22 Pounds

Length: 15" - 32"

Lake Sturgeon
Lake Sturgeon fish

Habitat: Onshore

Weight: 30 - 300 Pounds

Length: 36" - 108"

Bluegill 
Bluegill  fish

Habitat: Lake, Pond, River

Weight: 1 - 2 Pounds

Length: 6" - 16"

Smallmouth Bass 
Smallmouth Bass  fish

Habitat: Lake, River

Weight: 1 - 4 Pounds

Length: 12" - 27"

Northern Pike
Northern Pike fish

Habitat: Onshore

Weight: 2 - 34 Pounds

Length: 16" - 29"

American Yellow Perch
American Yellow Perch fish

Habitat: River, Lake, Backcountry

Weight: 1 - 4 Pounds

Length: 1" - 10"

Pumpkinseed 
Pumpkinseed  fish

Habitat: Lake, River

Weight: 1 - 1 Pounds

Length: 4" - 16"

Fishing Season in Cayuga

Fall and winter can be quite productive for all sorts of anglers as Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, brown trout, and northern pike (just to name a few) are pretty active when the water is cold. If there’s sufficient ice, anglers can actually go ice fishing and catch some panfish, pickerel, landlocked salmon.

Now, before planning a fishing trip in Cayuga, you should check the New York State freshwater fishing regulations as there are catch and size limitations that are strictly enforced here. Finally, you may need to hire a fishing guide—especially if you’re a beginner—not only to show you where you can most likely catch a trophy fish but teach you how to catch them as well. 

 

Top 4 Activities to Enjoy with Your Family in Cayuga

With tons of fun things to do that can be enjoyed by the whole family here, Cayuga is definitely the perfect family getaway spot. Planning your next family trip? Here are some of the fun activities you should put in your itinerary: 

1. Charter Fishing

Engaging in an outdoor activity like fishing together as a family is definitely something that could make your vacation more memorable, especially for the children. Not only can fishing create fun memories, but it can also teach your kids some valuable lessons in life such as the value of patience and self-sufficiency.  

 

2. Explore the Water

Take advantage of the great sceneries in and around the lake by taking your family on a boating trip. Sure, you can always take a motorized boat but to best experience Mother Nature, we highly recommend exploring the scenic lake on a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. 

 

3. Explore the Land

Take your kids on an adventure around the state parks in and around the village of Cayuga via the trails that pass through the most scenic route. It doesn’t matter if you go on foot, on a bike, on an ATV, or on horseback, the spectacular views will surely blow you away. Wintertime trips can also be fun and exhilarating as you can go on a snowmobile or maybe try your hand at cross-country skiing.

 

4. Explore the Air

Yes, skydiving is actually quite a popular sport in the region with the premier professional skydiver training facility located at the Whitford Airport just a few miles east of Cayuga County. If skydiving is a bit over-the-top for you, you can maybe go on a hot-air balloon tour over the beautiful Finger Lakes.