By Carmelo “Mel” Russo
Seneca lake is located in the geographic center of the eleven Finger Lakes and it is the deepest of the group. Moreover, it is exceedingly deep throughout much of its 70 square mile expanse. The depth goes beyond the 400 foot mark in many locations. In addition, there is more than 500 feet of sediment below the deepest mark (650′) which puts the original bottom more than 1200 feet below the present surface around 10,000 years ago.
Reports that the bottom of Seneca Lake has never been found are not valid. Furthermore, there is no evidence of the alleged underground passageways that supposedly allow drowning victims of Seneca to mysteriously appear in Cayuga.
Seneca Lake has nearly double the volume of water found in Cayuga Lake even though each has approximately the same surface area. Because of this dilution factor and the lack of significant urban populations around its shores, the water quality of Seneca lake is among the best in the world.
Seneca Lake is famous for its support of a copious lake trout population. A record New York State lunker caught in the 1950’s as reported in the old Genesee Fishing Contest, was more than 32 pounds! Furthermore, the lake and its tributaries carry significant populations of rainbow trout and other salmonids. These species reflect the high quality water that is characteristic of this lake.
Besides a good spectrum of commonly known fish – bass, pike, perch, and sunnies, Seneca Lake has its own special variety or subspecies of whitefish called the Seneca Lake Cisco. This is the result of many thousands of years of isolation from the main, continuous population of ciscoes in Lakes Ontario and Erie.
Another interesting tidbit about Seneca Lake is that the rainbow smelt was not found in this lake until the 1970’s. Formerly, smelt were found only in Cayuga Lake. However, the existence of significant populations of the species in both lakes is questionable at this time.
Regardless, for some of the best swimming, sailing, boating of all types, fishing, and just plain old lookin’ at the lake, you can’t beat the magnificent grandeur of Seneca Lake.