Fishing in the Western Finger Lakes

Great Fishing in Conesus, Hemlock, Canadice, Honeoye and Canandaigua Lakes

The Western half of New York’s Finger Lakes – Conesus, Hemlock, Canadice, Honeoye and Canandaigua lakes – actually include the smallest lakes of the chain. But it would be a mistake to expect smaller lakes to produce smaller fish. My own personal record largemouth, an 8-pound, 23-inch brute, fell for a Yum Dinger at the north end of Conesus Lake. These lakes contain ample big bass, pike and trout, making them more than able to compete with their larger eastern neighbors.

Conesus Lake

The westernmost Finger Lake, Conesus covers just over 3,400 acres with a maximum depth of 66 feet. The best fishing in Conesus Lake is for warmwater species. The northern end of the lake is dominated by largemouth bass, which can be caught from shore in Lakeville’s Vitale Park or by boat near weed edges and drop-offs. Smallmouth bass are less abundant, but can be found in rocky areas. Pike and walleye can be caught in spring, particularly at the southern end. Panfish species include bluegill, pumpkinseed and black crappie. Bullhead are also abundant, and attract fishermen to both ends of the lake in early April.

Hemlock Lake

Hemlock Lake is second from the left when you look at a map of the Finger Lakes. Used as a water source by the city of Rochester, Hemlock Lake is deep and clear, and its shoreline is virtually undeveloped. The 1,800-acre lake is 91 feet deep and supports healthy populations of lake, brown and rainbow trout, smallmouth bass and pickerel. Boats are limited to 16 feet and 10 HP or less, making Hemlock Lake a great place to get away from the crowds and fish from a kayak or canoe.

Canadice Lake

The smallest Finger Lake at just 649 acres, Canadice Lake nevertheless reaches a depth of 95 feet. Like its neighbor, Hemlock Lake, Canadice is used as a city water supply. Its shoreline is undeveloped and boats greater than 16 feet in length or with motors above 10 hp are not allowed. Largemouth bass thrive in and around Canadice’s shallow weed beds, especially at the southern end of the lake. Smallmouth bass prefer to hang around rocky drop-offs near deep water. Several trout species are at home in the deep, clear offshore waters of Canadice Lake.

Honeoye Lake

Just shy of 1,800 acres, Honeyoye is the second-smallest Finger Lake after Canadice. But unlike Canadice Lake, Honeyoye is a popular recreational lake and its shoreline is almost entirely surrounded with cottages and summer homes. Docks all around the lake harbor largemouth bass and bluegill starting in April. You can catch bass all through spring and summer by tossing jerkbaits, Senkos and plastic worms around boat docks, weed lines and drop-offs. Crappie, rock bass and pickerel are also available, and the DEC stocks the lake with walleye. Access and boat ramps are located at both the northern and southern tips of the lake.

Canandaigua Lake

Canandaigua is the largest of the western Finger Lakes at 10,550 acres. The lake’s deepest point plunges down to 276 feet. Warmwater game fish including largemouth and smallmouth bass, rock bass, bluegill and pickerel draw many anglers to this lake, but coldwater species are not to be forgotten: Canandaigua is known for producing big brown and rainbow trout. A number of access points around the lake, including parks in the towns of Canandaigua and Woodville, offer boat launching facilities and shore fishing.

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