Fishing Cayuga County’s Small Lakes in Winter

By George Fiorille

 

close up of a man with a fish in his hand in the winter

Cayuga County offers anglers a wide range of lake sizes to fish. The scope goes from a couple of hundred acres to several miles such as Cayuga and Lake Ontario.

   The small lakes such as Cross Lake, Duck Lake, Otter Lake and Lake Como, just may be at their best during the cold-water periods of winter. While these shallower lakes lack cold water fisheries, anglers enjoy chasing the warm water species through the ice.

Fishermen throughout Cayuga County eagerly await the start of ice fishing. The best ice fishing is usually during the first safe ice and the last safe ice. This is due to the warmest water temps during those times of the year. Make sure the ice is safe before venturing out! I have fallen through the ice before and it's not fun but also life threatening.

 Knowledgeable ice anglers will carry a set of picks of life. If you can't find a commercial set, make your own.  Cut two pieces of wood dowel or ones made off of a handle of an old wood broom about 6"-8" each. Cut a couple of large pointed nails in half. Drill a hole in each wood piece on one end the same diameter of the nail. Glue each nail with epoxy with sharpened end out. Screw a couple of eye screws in each other end and attach a 2’ piece of string to connect the two.

  Wear them around your neck when ice fishing. If you fall through, use them to be able to pull yourself back out on to the safe ice.

   According to the old Farmer's Almanac, it takes 3-inches of good, safe ice to support a single person on foot. They advise that slush ice has only half the strength of blue ice. Also, river ice is 15% less as well.

   4-inches of ice will support a group walking in single file. It takes 8-inches or more of good ice to support a passenger car or light truck. A heavy truck takes over 12-inches of ice.

   Lake Como near the town of Summerhill is .6 miles long. Its maximum depth is only 20-feet. Through the ice you can catch various species of panfish there along with bass and Tiger Musky.

   Duck Lake in the town of Conquest is 1.2 miles long. It also is only 20-feet deep at the maximum depth. There you can catch pickerel, panfish, tiger muskie, and northern pike.

   Otter Lake in the town of Cato is 1.5 miles long with 3.6 miles of shoreline. It is 14-feet deep. There you can catch walleye, panfish, and northern pike.

   Of all the smaller lakes mentioned, Cross lake is the largest. It is 4.5 miles long and a maximum depth of 65-feet. There you can catch walleye, bass, northern pike, and pan fish.

 

Man holding a fish on the lake in the winter

  No matter where you drill a hole through the ice in Cayuga County, you can bet that the body of water you are fishing will produce good results. Being in Cayuga County during the winter can be an exciting thing for a serious or novice angler alike. Be patient and wait for safe ice. Try fishing one of the lakes mentioned and be ready for Fish On!