Escape To Central New York – Part One

Last weekend the family headed up to central New York State to spend a rather agenda-free weekend away from everything.  See, a few months back, K.C. saw a deal on an inexpensive room rate offered by an out of season ski lodge on a “Groupon“-like site called RueLaLa.  Hope Lake Lodge was advertised virtually brand new, and had all of the amenities one could want, including an indoor waterpark for the kids.  However being a fisherman, the one thing I fixated on was the location…Cortland, NY.  You know…like Cortland, New York.  The credit card came out of my wallet…

I took Friday off from work and a three and a half hour drive found us at our destination.  Hope Lake Lodge was as nice as advertised.  Beautiful building, wood beams throughout.  Our room had a rustic theme, but modern amenities sucha as a flat screen TV and fully stocked kitchen even with marble countertops.  Fancy, fancy.

Kinda looks like a Cabela’s, right?
The room…beyond that door is a small patio overlooking Hope Lake
The lake, which was “closed”

However the place was also pretty empty…hence the nice weekend rate.  I have a feeling it isn’t quite as quiet when there’s snow on the slopes.  We took it easy that first night, got a lay of the land, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then went to bed.  I did watch a little baseball on TV before I went to bed that night, however I refuse to acknowledge the result.

Saturday morning was going to be my chance to fish a little bit.  The “deal” was I would go exploring some recommended fishing spots for about 4 or 5 hours in the AM while K.C. took Lilly to the indoor waterpark.  We’d basically just all meet back up at the room at lunch and do a family adventure in the afternoon.

My first stop was Factory Brook, a very small stream, in the neighboring Village of Homer.  Factory Brook is a really beautiful stretch of small water, no more than 15 feet wide, and according to my research, home to wild brown & brook trout.

Note I said “research” in the prior paragraph because I unfortunately didn’t have much luck at Factory Brook.  Limited by time, and wanting to check out another stream, I only fished there for about an hour.  No, I didn’t catch anything, but I want to go back.  The beauty of this pool haunts my dreams.

I’ll be back…

The next stop was the West Branch of the Tioughnioga River.  I think it’s pronounced “Tee-off-knee-oga” for those following along at home.  Compared to Factory Brook, the section I fished was downright urban.  It actually flows right through the city of Cortland, so right behind the trees that give the river a bit of shelter are people’s backyards and businesses.  I dropped in next to an apartment complex and fished downstream to about 3 or 4 city blocks.

I also happened to catch my only fish of the trip here.  This brown, who crushed a small woolly bugger, and overwhelmed my 3-weight and click n’ pawl reel.  What a blast to bring this fish on such light tackle!

Looking at my watch, and totally satisfied that the “skunk” was gone, I realized it was a little after 11:00 AM, so I stopped fishing, & headed back to the car.  I had one more stop to make before heading back to the hotel.  It was a fishing-related stop, but I wouldn’t be getting a line wet where I was going.

To be continued…


  1. What a sweet trip. Nice looking water and Brown too. I bet the 3 wt got a workout. Thank goodness no skunk occurred too. Nice Job. Great PHotos. Tight Lines.


  2. It was only one, but a good one. That is a really sad look on Lilly's face when she couldn't swim in the lake, but I think the water park took care of it. Mark


  3. SpongeBob and Milwaukee's Best – thumbs up. But I like the fish and scenery, too. Thanks for sharing the trip, and I'm looking forward to part deux.


  4. @CaseySomebody clearly had a party there recently. There were about 8 cans of Milwaukee's best, some crumbled up fast food wrappers, and an empty foam tub (presumably for worms). Luckily the plastic shopping bag they also left behind made for a handy trash bag…to clean up that little mess.


  5. That definitely looks like the PA Cabela's store! Surprised you didn't have a little more luck, at least with red eyes or smallmouth. And who knew that The Beast came in “premium?”


  6. You might be pleased to find that there are brown trout in Hope Lake behind the hotel as well as Gridley Creek across from the hotel. Virgil Creek also has some nice trout in it go right out of the hotel take a left at the four way stop follow that road about 2-3 miles and you’ll see the stream on the left. Eventhough Hope Lake is closed for swimming this time of year, fishing is permitted until the lake freezes. Thank you for staying with us! Jeremy WehnkeHope Lake LodgeGeneral Manager607-835-6300 ext. 1230


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