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Skaneateles Lake

Skaneateles Lake is the fifth largest of the Finger Lakes. It is located in Onondaga, Cortland and Cayuga counties. Skaneateles means "long lake" in the Iroquois language. Skaneateles Lake is one of the cleaner Finger Lakes. Local communities draw their drinking water straight from the lake.

Physical Features

Elevation: 863 feet
Area: 8,960 acres
Length: 16 miles
Maximum Width: 1.5 miles
Maximum Depth: 300 feet
Thermocline: about 35 feet

Plant Life

Skaneateles has limited weed growth. The south end has some weed growth and to a lesser extent so does the north end.

Public Access Sites

DEC Launch Site - Two miles south of village of Skaneateles on west shore off route 41 A. Concrete ramp, and parking for 30 cars and trailers.

Skaneateles Park- Village of Skaneateles (Shore)

Grout Brook Public Fishing Rights Map and Brochure (PDF) (348 kB)

General Fishing Information

Smallmouth bass fishing is good throughout the lake. The south end is noted for good bullhead, panfish and pickerel fishing. Lake trout fishing is excellent, though fish are smaller than in other Finger Lakes. Many rainbow trout and landlocked salmon are caught by trolling on the surface during spring and fall. There is also excellent fall rainbow trout shore fishing. Marshmallow and worm rigs are popular with local anglers. Ice fishing is good for lake trout and yellow perch. For current fishing information a fishing hotline is available at Central New York Fishing Hotline or by calling (607) 753- 1551.

Fishing Regulations

Special fishing regulations apply.

Fisheries Management

Gamefish present include lake trout, rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, smallmouth bass and chain pickerel. Panfish include bluegill, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, rock bass and bullhead. Main forage fish are yellow perch. Skaneateles Lake is stocked yearly with 20,000 rainbow trout and 9,000 landlocked salmon. Natural reproduction accounts for all of the lake trout in the lake. For fishing regulations refer to the Finger Lakes and Tributary regulations in the fishing guide. An ongoing angler diary cooperator program for gamefish provides DEC fisheries staff with useful data on population trends. Information on the angler diary program and recent reports can be viewed at Angler Diary Cooperator Program. We are always looking for new cooperators, so if you are interested please contact the Region 7 office at (607) 753-3095 ext. 213 or online at Info.R7@dec.ny.gov

2015 Skaneateles Lake Angler Diary Report (PDF) (293 KB)

Skaneateles Lake Contour Map (PDF) (227 KB)

Fish Survey Report (2012)

Abstract

During early August 2012, the regional fisheries unit surveyed the coldwater fish community of Skaneateles Lake using standard Finger Lakes gang gill nets 21 standard netting sites around the lake. Comparable surveys were carried out in 1977, 1980, 1983, 1989, and 2008. The main objectives of this survey were to determine the densities of lake trout and cisco (lake herring) and to obtain information on species composition and forage base. A total of 130 fish were collected including 86 lake trout, 25 white suckers, 12 yellow perch, three smallmouth bass, three rainbow trout and one Atlantic salmon. Lake trout have not been stocked in Skaneateles Lake for many years therefore all the lake trout collected were considered wild. A sample of fifteen lake trout and ten yellow perch collected were sent to the Hale Creek Field Station for routine contaminant analysis. The 4.1 lake trout/net average in 2012 was slightly lower than the long term average of 5.0 per net but within the range observed (3.5, 3.7, 4.4, 6.8 and 6.4, for the respective years above). Overall, the lake trout catch in the Skaneateles Lake standard gang surveys has been indicative of a stable, light to medium density population maintained entirely by natural reproduction. The 2012 survey was the first standard gang survey where ciscoes were not collected. The average number of ciscoes caught per net in past surveys was 3.7, 4.0, 5.2, 7.2 and 0.4, respectively. The results of the standard gang surveys show that at some time after the 1989 survey, the cisco population experienced a precipitous decline. The reason for this decline is unknown but could be related to the Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus (VHSv) outbreak that killed thousands of Skaneateles Lake smallmouth bass and rock bass in 2007.