Stickworms on Cayuga

The last regular season event coming up on Cayuga Lake should be a fun one. Unlike the Delaware River —which is known to be a tough fishery —Cayuga Lake is supposedly full of fish. This will be my first trip there (a recurring theme this year) but from what I hear and from what internet reports say, 50-fish days are not all that uncommon on this body of water.

Cayuga is the longest of the eleven Finger Lakes at nearly 40 miles long. The key each day will be to get a couple of big bites to set you apart from the rest of the field. One technique I think will play a huge role this week is pitching a soft stickbait, like a Senko, by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits.

The Senko is one of the most versatile soft plastic baits in fishing. I have personally caught bass on a Senko from inches of water, out to 20 plus feet deep and everywhere in between. The place where the Senko really shines in my eyes though is around grass.

Cayuga Lake has many different types of grass from what my research tells me, and that usually means a healthy population of bass. It also indicates that the lake’s bass will be found in the grass. The key will be to find some kind of a unique feature within the grass for fish to key on. That will be where I start getting some bites. Then I will do my best to expand on the areas I get bites in and narrow things down each day of practice and the event.

I throw the original Yamamoto Senko. As for colors, I tend to keep them simple. I like something approximating green pumpkin or watermelon red in clear water. For dirty water, I throw something like Junebug or black and blue. (The 5-inch Senko comes in over 100 colors.) I like to Texas-rig my Senko, varying the weight from weightless in thick grass or shallow water to 1/4 or even 3/8 ounce if I'm pitching it to targets. I rig it with a 4/0 Mustad Grip Pin hook and throw it on 12- to 20-pound Vicious fluorocarbon depending, on cover and water clarity.

The right gear is a key to success. Brandon Lester builds his rods to suit the conditions he'll face on the water.

The rod I built for the Senko is a MHX-MH-MB844C. It's a 7-foot heavy action rod that I use for a lot of different techniques. It has the perfect action for throwing a Senko and has plenty of power to get fish out of cover. It is sensitive yet sturdy and helps get big fish out of the grass. For sparse grass, I'll switch to the MHX-MH-MB843, which has a medium-heavy action and will increase my lure presentation options.

Like every event this season I will go in with an open mind and listen to what the fish are telling me. Even though this is new water for me, I have a good hunch those fish will tell me they like a Senko —like every other bass I have come across.

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