Clearest of the Finger Lakes
After a trip around the world President Lincoln's secretary of state, William Henry Seward called Skaneateles Lake "the most beautiful body of water in the world." Skaneateles is the Indian name for Long Lake.
The first steamboat to churn the waters of Skaneateles Lake was the 80 foot long "Independent" launched in 1831. Over the years major sailing events have been held here, one international and two national regattas. Today it serves as the water supply for the city of Syracuse.
Skaneateles is the highest of the Finger Lakes at 867 feet above sea level. Hence the name, "The Roof Garden of the Lakes." It is almost fourteen miles long, with gorge-like sides that drop off quickly. Its width varies from one mile to one-quarter mile. The maximum depth is about 300 feet.
The water is medium hard and the oxygen level is good at all depths. The lake supports a healthy population of both cold and warm water species of fish, which includes lakers, bows and brown trout, with a growing Atlantic salmon fishery. There are four private launches and one state launch. The state launch is accessible from the northwest side.
From June through September, in the thermocline use #8 and #6 Sutton Spoons with silver plating trolling the lure 50 to 100 feet behind boat Lakers, rainbows & browns. When the thermocline forms in the summer it is at 35 feet. The lake is shallow at both ends so this is the main warm water species fishery. Also when accessible, anglers use these areas for ice fishing.
If this will be your first time on the lake, I would divide the lake into four sections. First, fish the north and south ends for warm water species such as pickerel, largemouth bass, walleye, smallmouth bass and panfish. Use stickbaits and spinnerbaits near the weeds. Minnows also will bring pickerel and largemouths to the net with an occasional perch for good measure. Worms and crayfish will put panfish in the boat. During July and August use crankbaits in the morning and evening at points and on the edge of the drop-offs.
Next, fish from the New York State launch to Pine Grove for the cold water species. Then move from Pine Grove to the Onadaga County Line and target for cold water species. Lastly, fish the south end.
There's also some good hunting between Bear Swamp Creek and the lake on the southwest section. Here you'll find grouse, wood duck and beaver. A nearby reforestation area also allows some hunting. Check your local DEC office for current information.
In his book, "Slim Fingers Beckon" Arch Merrill offers a parting tip to tourists:
"If your fancy runs to night life, strip teasers, Coney Island hub bub, glitter, garishness and a wild and wooly time, you won't care much for Skaneateles. But if you respond to the serene charm facing a long blue lake, a little fishing, camping and nice people you will enjoy 'the most beautiful lake in the world.'"
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication