Cayuga Lake: A fresh start

The final Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open is right around the corner. On August 16 — the first day of competition — we’ll launch our boats on a new body of water, Cayuga Lake in New York. I say that with just a tiny bit of hesitation because I can’t confirm that we’ve never been there. I’m pretty sure we haven’t, though. If we did, I can’t remember it, and I have a pretty good memory for those things.

Cayuga Lake is a natural body of water. It’s one of central New York’s glacial Finger Lakes. It’s just a little less than 40 miles long and somewhere between 3.5 and 5 miles wide at its widest point. (There’s some confusion about how wide it is. Different sources say different things.) The deepest spot is over 400 feet deep, some say it’s 500 feet deep. Four hundred or 500 feet doesn’t matter much. It’s deep either way.

The size is a little worrisome. The lake lies basically north and south. That means that a strong wind blowing from either direction will create big waves that’ll make navigation very difficult and dangerous.

That’s compounded by the fact that we’re launching at the northern end while the best fishing seems to be at the southern end. Up north, the water’s deep and clear. Down south the water’s shallower and has some color to it. If we make long runs in the morning, a strong afternoon wind out of the north could make trouble. Of course, if the wind’s blowing in the morning, we might not get down south at all.

The fact that the lake is really deep isn’t so worrisome. Once the water gets much over 60 feet, I look elsewhere. I know bass live deeper than that. I also know bass have been caught deeper than that. But for me, 60 feet is about the limit.

I’m really excited about getting up there and starting my preparation. Not only is it one of my three remaining chances to qualify for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, but it’s also my kind of fishing tournament. Since we don’t have any history on it, we’ll be able to break it down in practice the way we want. And we’ll all be in the same shape. A few guys will know something about it, but most of us won’t. That makes for a level playing field — as level as it gets anyway.

You hear all the time that professional bass anglers don’t fish yesterday, that we approach each tournament as a fresh venue. In truth, that’s closer to a goal than it is to reality. No one is able to completely ignore the past. How can you not think about where the last tournament on a particular lake was won and what the winning angler was throwing? You can’t.

It’s human nature to think about that, and it’s human nature to let that influence your decision making. On Cayuga Lake that won’t be a problem. We don’t have any prior winners, so none of that will come into play.

I’m ready!

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