Enjoying the Upstate New York Scenery
It was November 18, 2009, and I was almost five hours into the drive from southern Pennsylvania to upstate New York to enjoy some Sodus Point New York fishing. After picking up State Route 14 in Watkins Glen, the traffic was non-existent, but the scenery was captivating. The stretch along the west shore of Seneca Lake was especially appealing. With bright blue skies and ample sunshine—and temperatures hovering near 55 degrees—the only hint that shorter days were upon us was the bare-limbed orchards with apples scattered about the ground and golden corn stubble dotting the semi-wooded landscape of Upstate NY.
Sodus Point New York Lodging
Lake Ontario materialized out of nowhere as I entered the village of Sodus Point New York. Driving down the main drag, I was impressed with the quaintness—one firehouse, one gas station, a couple bars/restaurants, and most other establishments long-since “closed for the season.” I was greeted at the Sodus Point Lodge on Greig Street by owner, Tom Lewis and manager, Mary Emerson. Since I had already been corresponding with Tom about accommodations and steelhead trout fishing information, and had checked out the Lodge’s Website, I had no reservations—no pun intended—about my choice of lodging!
The Grand Room at the Lodge was all that outdoor enthusiasts and anglers set to experience Sodus Point New York fishing could ask for—stunning mounts of fish and game, incredible displays of fishing gear and tackle, comfortable couches, a pool table, flat screen televisions, and arcade games; it was spacious and very inviting. Tom and Mary immediately made me feel welcome and totally at home.
Scouting for the Best Sodus Point Fishing
After exchanging pleasantries and stowing away some gear in my room, I headed west on Lake Road. In a few short minutes I pulled into the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) parking lot along Maxwell Creek; my anticipation turned “south” in a hurry as I saw only two cars in the parking lot. Experienced anglers know, hot steelhead spots are usually packed with more cars than the lots can hold, especially at this time of year. Could Tom have been throwing me the old curve ball about the fishing in Sodus Point New York?
My spirits improved greatly as David Rakiecki, my close friend and fishing and hunting buddy since seventh grade, pulled into the parking lot. David lives in Grand Junction, Colorado, and he and I had been planning this trip for over a year. As one of the most accomplished and dedicated hunters I know, he has provided me with enough western hunting experiences to last a lifetime. Now it was my time to be his fishing guide for three days.
I must admit that I had been feeling the pressure. All the fishing reports I had heard said the same thing—a few fish are in, but the water is very low and clear. Anglers had been hoping for a heavy rain to bring more fish in from Lake Ontario, but the three-day forecast was not hopeful for any significant precipitation.
My mother always said, “be happy with what you’ve got,” so I decided to think that fishing in this beautiful weather with a life-long friend would be a treat in itself.
Fly Fishing Supplies
It did not take long for Murphy’s Law to rear its ugly head. As I joined the two sections of my 10 ½ foot custom made noodle rod, I quickly noticed that the graphite on the “female” end of the rod was shattered and split into several uneven lengths. I guess when my cooler shifted a quarter-mile from Sodus Point New York, it did more damage than I had thought; lucky me.
Scampering back to my vehicle, I uncased my eight-weight fly rod and quickly returned to streamside. After sharing leader material, strike indicators, and steelhead flies, we were both in business. Only two other fly fishermen were on the creek and both said that conditions had been okay at daybreak for about an hour, but it had been pretty much dead since that time. A few fish were porpoising, but noontime has never been known as a gangbuster time for steelheading.
David was working a stretch below a large downed tree in the water when I saw his rod pulsating as he set the hook into a large steelhead trout. Having never used my equipment before, he carefully played the fish and did his best to keep it out of the deadfall. After a long battle he eased it into my net. What a first steelhead trout for him—28” and all of 12 pounds! We took a few quick photos of the big fish and then went back to business.
Using a crystal meth fly pattern, I stuck it to a fish after my strike indicator barely nudged. It swam directly into shore and made a small splash; at first I thought it was just a small one, but soon it rocketed downstream, stripping line from my fly reel.
An older gentleman next to me swore it was a big king salmon as it made several desperate attempts to take me into and under the tree in the deeper water. Each time, I gathered line and horsed it upstream and away from getting hung up. Soon I caught a glimpse of the fish, and knew I was into an incredible steelhead trout.
Gaining line and getting it closer and closer to shore, the big buck steelhead repeatedly took off at the sight of the net. Eventually it tired and I was able to hoist it out of the cold water and into the net. Measuring 34” and weighing 17 ½ pounds, it was the biggest steelhead I had ever caught. It was only one-half hour into our trip and we both scored monster steelhead trout.
We fished until dark, landing a few more steelheads, two brown trouts, and a nice coho salmon. A beautiful day, surprisingly good fishing, and great friendship—it doesn’t get any better than that!
Sodus Point New York in November was so peaceful and relaxing. The fall foliage of mid-October had come and gone, taking the leaf peepers of early fall with it. We had our key to the lodge and we were their only guests. The streets were virtually deserted, except during meal times when Captain Jack’s bustled with business. It was evident that the locals comprised a large percentage of the clientele and a lot of the people appeared to know each other.
Even so, the staff and patrons were cordial, accommodating, and very engaging. The food was great and the prices were extremely reasonable. We never felt like outsiders or visitors during our stay.
Lake Ontario Charter
Wanting to cover all bases with our angling efforts, I asked Tom if he knew of any charter boat captains who still had their boats on the lake. After a couple of phone calls, Tom told us that Captain Lee Geibel of Reeltime Fishing Charters was about to pull his boat out of the lake for the winter, but would be glad to accommodate our desire for some Sodus Point fishing.
We booked the trip for a half-day on our second day in Sodus Point New York. Captain Lee was very professional and knowledgeable and we enjoyed sharing archery hunting stories as much as catching fish! His vivid description of gunning for ducks and geese on the lakeshore captivated us between bouts of fishing action on the boat. We had many hookups and landed an incredible northern pike and several brown trout – it was a great day for game fish.
A Trip to Remember
I have fished Lake Ontario tributaries for well over thirty years and many of the waters from Rochester to Pulaski. However, I have never had a trip that compared to the relaxation, hospitality, and just plain fun we had while we tried our hand at Sodus Point fishing.
David and I fished together for a few hours on our last day, then he packed up for his return to Colorado, and I hit the road for the drive back to Everett, Pennsylvania. Before our departure, we both vowed to make the return trip to Maxwell Creek to enjoy the fishing in Sodus Point New York again next year. Fall fishing in NY is an experience that we wouldn’t want to miss!
Original Article By Bill Benigni
About the Author
Bill Benigni is an accomplished salmon, trout, and steelhead fisherman who grew up in Kane, Pennsylvania, and has hunted and fished throughout the United States for over fifty years. He has had articles published in SalmonTroutSteelheader Magazine, Bow & Arrow Hunting Magazine, Real Hunting Magazine, and the PA Game News Magazine. He has also written numerous articles about hunting and fishing for the Altoona Mirror and Bedford Daily Gazette newspapers.