Cayuga is no Oneida

I’m writing this one from the Days Inn motel in Auburn, New York. It’s Monday evening. For the past two days, I’ve been pre-fishing Cayuga Lake for the third and final Bass Pro Shops Northern Open for 2012

I’ve been fishing with Ryan Rex. I brought him with me from Ohio. He’s the 19-year-old son of Mike Rex, a good friend and neighbor I’ve known for 25 years or more.

Ryan is fishing the tournament as a non-boater. It’s his first major tournament. He’s pumped.

I’ve introduced him to Gary Klein and Stephen Browning, who are also fishing this event. It’s pretty heady stuff for Ryan. He’s got the bass fishing bug bad and has already learned a great deal on his own.

Mike Rex is one of the best whitetail hunters I know. He hunts with bow only and has taken more than 20 Ohio Pope & Young class bucks in consecutive years. His best buck is a nontypical that nets 218 6/8.

Ryan is following in his father’s footsteps. He tagged his first Pope & Young buck with he was 12 years old, and he has killed one with a bow every year since. The biggest of his seven trophy bucks was a nontypical that scored 181 5/8.

Before I came to Cayuga, I’d heard that it was similar to Lake Oneida. I beg to differ.

Oneida is loaded with smallmouth bass. I’ve caught three brown ones over the past two days. The big one measured about 8 inches.

Oneida has an abundance of humps and offshore structure. All the structure here comes off the bank. There are long flats, oodles of grass out to 20 feet or more and an ocean of deep, clear water. At one point my graph was reading 325 feet deep. I thought it was broken.

This tournament will be dominated by largemouth bass caught out of the grass. I don’t believe there will be nearly as many bass brought to the scales as there was during last year’s Northern Open at Oneida.

Things started out on a sour note for Ryan and I. After fishing for a few hours on Sunday, a bracket on my trolling motor broke. I must have cracked it during a rough boat ride during the second Northern Open at St. Clair.

We headed in for repairs, but found we couldn’t get parts or service until the next day, Monday. We drove back to the lake figuring we could at least drive around and graph potential fishing spots.

My guardian angel, Michael Murphy, repairs my electric motor at the launch ramp. What a guy!

It was at the ramp that I ran into my new guardian angel, Michael Murphy. He’s one of the nicest guys on the Bassmaster Open circuit.

Not only did Murphy have a spare mount for my trolling motor, he spent 45 minutes of his practice time to install it. What a guy! Ryan and I were back in business by noon.

I thanked Murphy and told him, sincerely, that I hoped he finished second in the tournament—-behind me, of course. He said he’d be happy with that.

   If you ever want to meet new friends, park your bass boat at McDonalds in Auburn, New York. After you get your Big Mac and fries, go sit in the boat and have a picnic.

That’s what Ryan and I did after we came off the water yesterday. All our rods were still out on the deck, and we wanted to make sure they stayed put.

     As we sat in the boat chomping our burgers, one car after another drove past with the passenger window down. One of the occupants would flash a friendly smile followed by a wise crank.

“Catching anything?” was a big hit.

“Where’s the water? Was also popular.

I stopped at a gas station on the way to the ramp this morning to buy a cup of coffee. The cashier asked me why there were so many bass boats in town. I told him about the Northern Open at Cayuga, which I pronounced Kayuga.

     Oh, he said with a friendly smile, you’re having a tournament a Cayuga, which he pronounced Keyuga. It was his way of correcting my pronunciation without being overbearing.

     Then again, I haven’t heard any other locals say the word Cayuga. I’m not sure if they all say Keyuga of if this guy had a speech impediment.

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