Expect bags in the mid-20s on Cayuga

UNION SPRINGS, N.Y. — First off, welcome to my home lake.

Having lived on the Eastern Shore in Aurora for two years, it’s no wonder I call Cayuga my home lake. It’s unique and can be incredibly challenging if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

This vast body of water will fish small to some, and endless to others. It will offer the opportunity for anglers to fish their strengths, whether they are deep or shallow, and could set up to be one of the favorite lakes on the Elite Series in 2014 for a few.

I’m sure by now many people are tired of hearing about how cold last winter was. However, many lakes in New York were still frozen over (at least partially) on April 1. These late cold temps caused a serious delay in the growth of the hydrilla and milfoil grasses.

While much of the lake has recovered for the most part, it’s still behind in terms of where it would have been under milder circumstances. It has condensed the fish into tighter groups and made for some unbelievable weights thus far for the anglers who can find them.

What traditionally has required fairly modest weights to win or do well won’t cut it this week. Every week, winners are bringing in 24 pounds, and the New York B.A.S.S. Nation big bass record of almost 8 pounds was caught less than a month ago.

Factor in that the Elite Series pros are the best in the world and are hungry following the stingier Delaware River, and you have yourself the makings of a slug fest.

Cayuga sets up a lot like California lakes, which should give Chris Zaldain a big advantage this week. It’s roughly 500 feet deep and offers crystal clear visibility of nearly 20 feet in some places. Stocked with brown trout, lake trout and landlocked salmon, there’s really no shortage of forage for bass to feast on.

And while the tournaments here are dominated by largemouth bass, it’s not because the smallmouth don’t exist. Expect to see them this week. While those who flip grass will find it really congested from time to time, anyone targeting smallmouth or schooling fish and finding the larger of those will be alone. Cliff Pace would love this lake.

What will be the biggest factor this week will be a forecast that could be rougher than what most people find ideal, but that sets up really nicely for big swimbait guys. When winds blow in double digits from the north or sout, it can get nautical in a hurry, and four days this week are showing potential for that.

If the winds blow that hard, it’ll force many guys off the main lake and into the channel at the north end or smaller bays where the reprieve will be minimal. To some, this might sound impossible, but with the recently passing supermoon and moderate temps, I really think that the winner will break 100 pounds this week.

Many anglers have compared this lake to Oneida. There are some similarities, and the people who have done well there should do well here also.

For Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing, I like Randall Tharp, Hank Cherry, Brandon Palaniuk, Chris Zaldain, and New York native Joe Sancho, who probably knows this lake better than anyone else this week.

See the 10-day forecast below, and click here for up-to-the-minute weather this week, provided by Weather Underground.