Skaneateles Lake Fishing

Tips from a local Finger Lakes fisherman


By: Frank Petrosino, a fisherman in the Finger Lakes for over 40 years. 


The warmer water of the more shallow northern and southern ends of Skaneateles Lake makes for great fishing, especially for pickerel, large-mouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye and panfish. 

Smallmouth Bass

The boat launch at Pine Grove, located on State Route 41A, about 2 miles south of town on the west side of the lake, is free and offers a good spot for cold water fishing.  If you launch from the state site, a short ride north will bring you to the Skaneateles Country Club.  The buoy line there is a favorite bass hangout, and fishing at day break or dusk using topwater lures is recommended.  Any lures will do, but the Heddon torpedo or tiny torpedo are local favorites. Cast the lure, and wait for the ripples it creates to disappear, then erratically jerk the bait and hang on.  To give the line added buoyancy, rub some lip balm along the 3-4 inches of line that are tied to the lure.  

Perch and trout are also abundant in this lake.  A good rule of thumb for this or any Finger Lake is to fish between any "points" on either shore.  Start shallow and work deeper until you find fish bouncing bait or jigging on the way out.  Trolling streamers is very effective for rainbow trout on this lake, and can be done year round due to the cold temperatures of the water.  

If you are not able to get on the water, Thayer Park, just east of the town, is a great spot.  It seems the marshmallow/worm combination is very effective here.  Hook a night crawler, then cover the barb of the hook with a mini-marshmallow (colored ones are even better).  This will help keep your hook from snagging bottom and will also float the worm just slightly off the bottom.  Fish near the main pier in town for a chance to catch panfish.