Trout has to be in diet of Cayuga bass

Anglers have remarked all week how healthy the Cayuga Lake bass, both largemouth and smallmouth, appear.

Derek Hudnall caught an 8-pound, 1-ounce largemouth freak should most certainly take the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the event. There have been other huge fish by northern strain largemouth standards, namely Koby Kreiger's 6-10 and Jamie Hartman's 6-7 on Day 3, among other 6-plus pounders. (The state record largemouth is an 11-4 caught on Buckhorn Lake in central New York in 1987.)

Top 10 angler Chris Zaldain has reported he looked into the lake's main baitfish, and said on Bassmaster LIVE he's been trying to mimic alewive. Goby have been in Cayuga for about a decade, but Bassmaster TV host Davy Hite said stocking of fish by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation might be of help as well.

"It's got to have something to do with it," Hite said after learning the extent of the stocking program.

There are 60,000 lake trout, 25,000 brown trout and 40,000 Atlantic salmon stocked in Cayuga annually, and 50,000 rainbow trout are placed into some of the 140 streams that flow in the lake. They imprint on that stream before living in the lake and returning upstream to spawn.

"A 6-pound bass can eat one of the 12-inch trout with no problem," Hite said.

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Gustafson makes a move

Shortly after boating his fifth keeper, Jeff Gustafson made a seven-mile run south to Long Point. He stayed there about 20 minutes, then made another move three miles further south. He’s in the area where Pete Gluzcek won a Bassmaster Open on Cayuga in August 2012 and just north of where Greg Hackney won the 2014 Elite Series tournament. 

Beggars can’t be choosers

Jeff Gustafson caught his fifth keeper at 10:05, and remarked, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

He said it was the smallest bass he’s caught all week. It weighed 1.90 pounds on his scales. 

Gustafson is begging right now with a 12-pound limit. But he’s got a limit, plenty of time to cull up and, most importantly, he started the day with a big lead over the guys that are ahead of him now on BASSTrakk.

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Angler history on Cayuga

This is the third time the Bassmaster Elite Series has fished Cayuga Lake. For half of our Top 10 (Jeff Gustafson, Jamie Hartman, Cory Johnston, Stetson Blaylock and Drew Cook) it's their first Bassmaster Elite event on this body of water.

For the five anglers that have fished here in either 2014, 2016 or both, here are their results.

Chris Zaldain
2016: 62nd
2014: 3rd

Seth Feider
2016: 17th

David Mullins
2016: 76th
2014: 51st

Cliff Prince
2016: 39th
2014: 53rd

Brandon Lester
2016: 63rd
2014: 17th

No. 4 - A hair over 2 1/2 pounds

Slowly - slower than he’d like - Jeff Gustafson is working his way toward a limit. He put No. 4 on his handheld scales about 9:15 and said, “A hair over two-and-a-half pounds.”

Gustafson continues to video-game - watching his graph as he drops on structure in 15- to 25-feet.

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Gussy, Mullins move closer toward first Classic

There are seven anglers fishing today who are among the top 11 in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings. Determining the 2019 AOY winner might not be done until the final day of the AOY Championship on Lake St. Clair, but great finishes by two anglers have taken them off the bubble and solidified their hopes to reach next year's Bassmaster Classic.

Jeff Gustafson and David Mullins both came into the SiteOne Elite on Cayuga Lake only about 30 points inside the cut to qualify for the 50th Classic on Lake Guntersville next March. Their top 10 finishes have certainly made things more comfortable before next month's rescheduled Elite finale on Fort Gibson Lake.

Gustafson, a newcomer to the Elites, has jumped from 36th place to 32nd in the season-long point standings, but he's now 75 points from the current cut line for the Classic, which is 42nd. He was only 29 points above the cut.

Mullins, who made only his third top 35 cut this year at Cayuga, has moved from 35th to 31st in the standings, 76 points above the cut line, which has him in line to qualify for his first Classic.

Feider with a limit and upgrading

Much like the previous three days, Seth Feider started his day north of Union Springs. He caught an 11- to 13-pound limit, and then runs about 20 minutes south to more isolated patches of grass that hasn’t received as much pressure. It’s here he’ll likely finish his day working on bigger fish to cull up with.

A rough estimate might conclude that he needs 22 pounds today to have a shot at winning. And even that depends on the derby leaders falling a little bit.

An unlikely circumstance, but absolutely possible. On both days 1 and 2, he caught 21 and some change, and if the conditions get better—meaning more sun and warmth and fewer clouds—he’s confident he can catch 20 or more.

So far it’s stayed cooler and the clouds have yet to burn off. 

Today’s Top 10 anglers are presenting one of the most exciting Championship Sundays in recent memory. While Seth would surely prefer it be him, any of the Top 10 would make for an awesome story. 

We’ll probably stay with him for another hour before moving on, but from what I’ve seen with the Minnesota angler this week, he’s executing his plan to perfection. 

Whether or not it’s the winning pattern, we’ve yet to find out.

Could be.

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Gustafson: “Time to get serious”

At 9 o’clock Jeff Gustafson stripped off the last of his cool weather clothing and announced, “It’s time to get serious.”

Gustafson has hopscotched over a half-dozen spots on the northern end of Cayuga Lake, not far from the Frontenac Park takeoff spot. 

He’s started catching fish on this latest stop, but only a tiny smallmouth bass and a pickerel. But biting fish of any kind are a good sign. And when you start the day with as big of a lead as Gustafson had, it won’t take much to put him back on top.

No. 3 for Gustafson

Jeff Gustafson put his third keeper in the boat about 8:15, but it’s much like the previous ones - 2-pounders that don’t need to stay in his livewell if he’s going to win this tournament. 

It’s slick calm this morning. Chris Zaldain is about 100 yards away. And Gustafson is on the
move again.

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Zaldain with a move

Zaldain moves, lands No. 2

Chris Zaldain didn’t give his steep ledge long this morning. He moved to an area directly across from the landing, and has been alternating between a wacky rig and an underspin.
And that allowed him to boat bass No. 2, a largemouth that went an estimated 1 pound, 2 ounces. 
That puts him at 3-2, according to Basstrakk. He has tumbled to seventh, so he has his work cut out for him.