Each year Flower City Sportsmen of New York and Tioga County Bassmasters of Pennsylvania meet for a friendly fish off. Winning is based on the weight of the three top anglers. Last year the clubs met at Honeoye; Tioga County Bassmasters took the trophy home.
When I first started fishing, my partner took me to Honeoye Lake. I had never fished the lake, so I asked a lot of questions. His first, last and only answer was, "there is no bad place to fish on Honeoye." I soon found this to be true. Just name the species you want to catch. There are good, healthy populations of smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye and pickerel. For the pan fisherman there are yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed, rockbass, and black crappie.
Walleye are the only fish stocked in the lake with about 8.7 million fry annually. Walleye stocking began around the turn of the century. The current management goals are to maintain a high density of predators to control the plentiful panfish population and to control the newly established alewive colonies. There is an ongoing cooperative diary keeping program in place to help the local Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) monitor the lake. The diaries are kept by people who fish the lake often and successfully for one or all species of fish.
Honeoye is a lake to fish for all seasons. Pickerel and walleye from early May after ice out through March 15th; both smallmouth and largemouth from the middle of June until Nov. 30th.
Panfish can be caught anytime throughout the year. Black crappie are the only panfish with a size and creel limit. Make sure you read your N.Y. State Fish Regulation Guide.
Let's look at the oxygen and weeds of the lake. In the deepest part of the lake in the hottest months is the only time the oxygen level throughout the lake is influenced. Generally throughout the year the oxygen levels are sufficient for a healthy fish population. The plant life is hale and hearty also. Out to depths of 15 feet, eelgrass, pondweed, Eurasian milfoil and water stargrass are the predominent plant varieties.
Now the fish; let's look at each predator and prey fish.
CHAIN PICKEREL: Zeke loves pickerel fishing with light line. This fresh water alligator strikes like a head on crash of two locomotives. The pickerel does one of two things when hooked. He always runs at a hundred miles an hour either toward you or away from you. Then he stops on a dime and runs at one hundred milesan hour in the opposite direction. If you're not skilled at reeling in or letting out line at one hundred miles an hour, he wins. Even after you net the pickerel and get him in the boat, he doesn't stop fighting. Any weed bed on the lake holds pickerel. Spoons, spinners, deep divers and still fishing with minnows will put the pickerel on the end of your line. When ice fishing forthis alligator use tip-up and minnows for bait.
WALLEYE: The best time for walleye angling is at low light so early morning, evening and night time is productive. Drifting ortrolling slowly with worm harnesses and spinners also works.Stickbaits can be worth investigating, too. Springtime calls forshallow angling near inlets and runoffs and the deeper water asthe seasons progress. Ice fishing demands tip-ups with a minnowor jig and minnow combinations.
BASS: Weeds and largemouth bass go together. Plastic worms, jig and pig, surface plugs, and crankbaits bring the bass to theboat. The largest tournament largemouth bass Zeke ever saw was a7 pounder from Honeoye. Fifteen feet or more over gravel or rocksstill fishing with crayfish, minnows and leeches or castingcrankbaits over this structure will put smallmouth in the livewell.
ROCKBASS: This isn't really a bass but find a dock in the springtime and practice your plastic worm or a curly tail jig fishing and you will load the live well with rockies.
PERCH: They are bottom feeders and according to the season fish accordingly. In winter they are in deep constant temperaturewater. Still fish with minnow or worms and ice fish with the same baits.
BLUEGILLS & SUNFISH: Weeds in any season attract the sunnies. Ice fish using minnows, grubs or worms are productive.
BLACK CRAPPIE: The south end of the lake and the weedy bays in the spring hold crappie. In the winter ice fish these areas also.Small minnows and jigs are the bait for all seasons and check your fish guide for new regulations on crappie.
Come to the Finger Lakes Region. Fish Honeoye Lake where there is no bad place to fish and you will have a day to remember and a positiveentry in your journal.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication