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Fishing Pole

Try Fishing in Cayuga County Parks this Winter 

By George Fiorille 

 Winter can sure be a boring time for outdoorsmen and women in our area. Many people look forward to ice fishing, but with our recent global warming, it can be a hit and miss thing.  

Most of the Finger Lakes are drawn down for spring flooding and it can be a hard thing to find a launch where you can get your boat in. Even if you can get your boat, canoe, or kayak in the water, it’s very dangerous to be out in a small craft with freezing water temperatures.  

Luckily for guests and residents of Cayuga County, there’s a handful of areas that are public and can be accessed for fishing opportunities during the winter. Since they are public areas, they are kept open so anglers can reach them quite readily. 

Pick the ideal days and be sure to pay attention to the weather. It usually is a pain to fish in below freezing weather as your line will freeze up and cause problems. If there’s a strong wind out of the south, you don’t want to be fishing on the north end of one of Cayuga County lakes.  

Man wearing a red hoodie, standing on the grass with a yellow fish in his hand
man with the lake in the background, holding a fish with a lure hanging out of the fishes mouth

Emerson Park, Auburn, NY 

 Emerson Park in Auburn, New York has a couple of unique places to fish in the winter. Both areas on the Owasco Outlet provide fishing opportunities for different species. Both sectors are the two break walls at the end of the pump house.  

Try fishing at both ends of both break walls. If one doesn’t produce, walk back around and try the other one. Winter fish are often schooled up in one small area, and a small distance not fished can be a big factor in scoring or not. Often long casts will produce better than short ones.  

Live bait works well in winter. Try fishing small fathead minnows for perch and larger shiners for trout, northern pike, and walleye. Fish them suspended under bobbers or just right on the bottom.  

Hair jigs which have a slow, tantalizing action can trigger all sorts of fish in the winter. Try fishing 1/16-1/8-ounce sizes for perch and ¼-½-ounce ones for trout, walleye, and bass. A white one will resemble an alewife or shiner, and a brown or green one can resemble a panfish or other minnow. On dark days it’s hard to beat a black one.  

 Other lures that can produce in winter are baits such as casting spoons. Lures such as Little Cleos and Crocodile spoons cast far and can catch a variety of fish. Blade baits excel at this time of the year as well. Small ones work well for perch and larger ones jigged on bottom catch other game fish. Try fishing lures such as rattling baits in winter. Lures such as Lucky Craft’s LV150 can catch a variety of species reeled medium/fast for active fish and jigged off the bottom for inactive fish.  

Other areas to try are:  

Frontenac Park, Union Springs, NY  

Long Point State Park, Aurora, NY  

Harris Park, Cayuga, NY  

Fair Haven State Park, Fair Haven NY


The patterns and species mentioned above for Emerson Park can work at any of the parks mentioned above. The most comfortable times of the day to fish are usually from midmorning to midafternoon. But the early morning period right at sunrise may be cold, but fishing may be the best some days.  

Winter doesn’t have to be a boring time during winter. Pick a decent day, bring the right tackle, and visit one of Cayuga County’s public parks to get rid of your winter cabin fever.

Fish On!