New York Outdoor News Fishing Report — May 5, 2017
Western New York
Lake Ontario tributaries, harbors and piers: The first of the season’s king salmon have been caught off Niagara County by trout trollers. If the fishing follows the normal spring progression, look for king salmon action to ramp up in early May. Anglers continue to see a good brown trout bite inside 25 feet of water on stickbaits run behind planer boards. Some coho salmon, steelhead and now a king or two have been mixed with the brown trout catches. Lake trout were biting well in 40 to 100 feet of water. Spoons, stickbaits and flasher-fly combos work well for lakers that are tight to the bottom.
Federal, state and local leaders last month announced a State of Emergency in Niagara County due to rising lake levels along the Lake Ontario shoreline. Boaters are asked to observe a 500-foot “no wake zone” off the Lake Ontario shore. Boaters should also be on the lookout for floating debris that has been carried into the lake by runoff.
Heavy rains had all of the freestone creeks running very high and muddy. Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard Creeks were up and still on the rise. It might be a while before the dammed streams come back down. Prior to the water surge, trout numbers were on the decline. Muddy harbor conditions will also put the yellow perch fishing on hold. However, bullhead should still cooperate despite turbid conditions. The West Branch of Twelvemile Creek at Wilson-Tuscarora State Park is a top spot, but bullhead should be available at many other Lake Ontario shoreline sites such as harbors, stream inlets, slow-moving sections of tributaries and the connected ponds near Rochester. Nightcrawlers, chicken livers, leeches and raw shrimp fished on the bottom work well for bullhead, with better catches often after dark.
Lake Erie: Anxious Lake Erie boaters have been launching out of some sites, while other launches remain closed. There is limited boat launching at Buffalo Boat Harbor. Launch docks are in at the ramp near the restaurant, but the newly constructed launch ramps remain fenced off. Sturgeon Point is closed until a dredging project removes the sand bar at harbor mouth. At Cattaraugus Creek, the town of Hanover launch is open and launch docks are in. The state launch is also open, but launch docks were not in place. Dunkirk and Barcelona boat launches are open with launch docks in.
Anglers reported a good yellow perch bite between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point in 52-62 feet of water, with some limit catches. The hotspot has been off Evangola State Park. In other areas there are reportedly smaller roving perch schools, so being mobile helps. Live emerald shiners are the top perch bait and have been available for dipping around the upper Niagara River.
Cooler water temperatures in Dunkirk Harbor have made for modest catches of smallmouth bass so far. Look for the bass bite to pick up with rising water temps. Some bullhead catches have been reported in Dunkirk Harbor. Yellow perch were still biting well in Buffalo Boat Harbor, but most have been small lately.
Lower Niagara River: Trout action continued to be inconsistent from both boat and shore, although we saw a bit of an uptick from the boat drifters. The smelt have continued running in the Lewiston area and dippers have been going out every night. It hasn’t been a strong run so far but they are still getting a fair number of the tasty baitfish. Go to Artpark or head downriver away from the lights at the sand docks. The Lewiston smelt festival is set for May 5. For more details on that, go to the www.niagarariverregion.com. Getting back to the fishing, shoreline casters were tossing spoons and spinners and picking up a few trout. Boaters were doing a little better because they can move around to look for active fish. Devil’s Hole is your best bet with shiners or egg sacs. But with so much bait in the river right now it’s tough to get the trout to hit. Some boaters have opted to turn the corner at the fort and troll the shoreline for browns, cohos, lakers, steelies and the occasional king salmon. Stickbaits and spoons primarily. Another option has been to cast for bass, cohos or browns with spoons or jerk baits. The LOC Derby opener is May 5-14. Go to www.loc.org for details, including registration points and weigh stations.
Upper Niagara River: Due to muddy creek outflows, waters were turbid along the upper Niagara River’s east shoreline. This may slow the yellow perch bite, which was previously good along city of Buffalo shore sites. Perch have also been biting well in many upper river harbors and marinas. Live emerald shiners are the top perch bait and have been available for dipping in many spots.
Orleans County: Property owners along Lake Ontario were bracing for even higher water and hoping that we don’t get a strong wind from any northerly direction.
Lake Alice hasn’t totally cleared of muddy water yet but is offering some great opportunities for bluegill, crappie, perch, rock bass, white bass, bullhead and channel cats.
The tributaries still have some steelhead and an occasional brown trout, along with suckers, perch, bass, pike and bullhead.
On Lake Ontario, great catches of brown trout, cohos and some steelhead were being reported, along with lake trout that are out deeper. There’s even a few reports of chinook salmon being caught. Those fishing the big lake should be ever mindful of the great amount of debris that the higher water conditions have deposited in the lake, some of which you can see and some which is just below the surface.
DEC late last month stocked 7,000 steelhead up by Captain’s Cove and then 133,160 chinook salmon at Lake Breeze Marina. The salmon were supposed to be held in pens but the decision was made to direct-stock them due to the high water temperature in Oak Orchard Creek and the protection provided by the muddy water conditions.
The Spring LOC Derby runs through May 14 and with the fishing conditions being what they are we should see some great weights on the leaderboard.
Central New York
Lake Ontario: When anglers have been able to get out on the lake, they have been getting some brown trout with stickbaits or small spoons. Using planer boards to get the baits away from the boat has also been helping. Lake levels are high so use caution and watch for floating debris.
Oswego River: At last look high water made for impossible fishing.
Salmon River: A few anglers have been out fishing in the high water and have been getting some steelhead. Typically, this time of year you are dealing with “dropback” steelhead that have spawned and are now working their way back out to Lake Ontario. Often these dropback fish are very hungry from the rigors of spawning and can offer some exciting action when they hit a bait. Try salmon egg sacs with blue, pink or chartreuse mesh, pink trout worms, single egg pattern flies, or a good old night crawler often works well this time of year. Try fishing the above baits either on bottom or under a float.
The Salmon River Fish Hatchery building continued to be closed due to construction. The grounds, including picnic area and fish ladder, are still open dawn to dusk. DEC officials anticipate construction to be finished by early summer. If you are planning a visit, call the Salmon River Fish Hatchery in advance. You can reach the hatchery at 315-298-5051, Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Oneida Lake: Anglers were getting yellow perch on small minnows and a few bullheads were starting to be caught. Anglers taking advantage of the catch and release bass season were also starting to have some action. Use caution when boating as there is still debris floating around.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Yellow perch were being taken in the bays on small minnows and a few bullhead were also starting to be caught in the bays.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Trout stockings: DEC fisheries personnel have been out in full force stocking area waters. Among those that have received fish are:
Broome County: Patterson Pond, Palmers Pond, Nanticoke Lake, Nanticoke 7a, Finch Hollow Site 1, Arctic Lake, Oquaga Creek, Chenango Lake, Dudley Creek, East Branch Nanticoke Creek, and Nanticoke Creek.
Cayuga County: North Brook, Owasco Inlet, Salmon Creek and Fall Creek.
Chemung County: Eldridge Lake, Park Station Pond, Cayuta Creek, Wyncoop Creek, Post Creek, Sing Sing Creek, and Newtown Creek.
Chenango County: Bowman Lake, Jeffrey Pond, Mill Brook Reservoir, Pharsalia Y Pond, Genegantslet Creek and Otselic River.
Schuyler County: Cayuta Creek.
Seneca County: Canoga Creek.
Steuben County: Canisteo River, Canaseraga Creek, Post Creek, Meads Creek and Cohocton River.
Tioga County: Catatonk Creek, Cayuta Creek, East Branch of Owego Creek, Owego Creek and West Branch of Owego Creek.
Tompkins County: Sixmile Creek, Virgil Creek, Enfield Creek, Buttermilk Creek, Fall Creek, Salmon Creek and Sixmile Creek.
Yates County: Keuka Lake Outlet.
Seneca Lake: It’s brown trout and landlocked salmon time, and anglers trolling near the surface have been picking up fish despite high water conditions and floating debris. Shore anglers were also scoring in the traditional spots.
Cayuga Lake: Though conditions are improving, lake levels remain very high and keep an eye out for debris. Anglers were catching Atlantic salmon and brown trout by trolling on or near the surface with stickbaits or small spoons. The bite has been good at times but also very slow at other times. Some lake trout were being taken by anglers trolling or vertical jigging over a variety depths out to about 140 feet. Look for yellow perch on the north end with small minnows. Tributaries have come down but no word if anglers are still getting trout.
Skaneateles Lake: The launch is now open and the docks are in. Yellow perch were hitting on the north end using small minnows. Tributaries were improving but no word if any trout are still being taken.
Owasco Lake: Use caution when boating as there is likely to be debris floating around and the tributaries are high and turbid.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Not hearing much lately but that should change when walleye season opens May 6.
Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna rivers: The rivers remained blown-out, and anglers were hoping things improve in time for the walleye opener.
Lake Champlain: The big lake’s bass season opens a week ahead of the statewide kickoff, and the June 10 opener on Champlain typically draws some of the heaviest fishing pressure of the spring, depending on weather conditions and water temps.
West Branch of the Ausable River: The river was running high and off color at last look, but the folks at the Hungry Trout remind anglers that things can change quickly. Nymphs fished tight to the bank are a great option now. Several of the region’s waters have now been stocked with trout, including the Ausable’s West and East branches.
Backcountry brook trout pond anglers are picking up some quality fish, but as usual not doling out much information as to where they are catching them.
The striped bass season in the marine waters south of the George Washington Bridge is open and stripers were right where anglers expected them to be biting. The best action along the North Shore was reported in the extreme western Long Island Sound. Flushing Bay, the waters off Rye and in the East River all yielded a good number of stripers in the single-digit weight class to a few above the 28-inch size limit. A couple of larger stripers were also reported, signaling the beginning of the migration of the post spawning Hudson River stripers working their way down river and into the Sound and ocean. Over the next few weeks the number of large stripers caught will rise exponentially through June. Most of the stripers were caught on blood worms fished over dark bottom in water less than 10 feet deep, as these areas warm quickly, putting the stripers on the feed.
Further east in the Sound, stripers were reported in the back of the western bays to about Huntington Harbor. The best areas have been close to the beaches and docks along the southern edges of the harbors. The top lures were thin plastic baits less than 4 inches long, as well as Clouser Minnows and spearing imitations, as these stripers were targeting spearing in the shallows.
On the South Shore and in the Peconics, small stripers and the occasional keeper were caught on plastic baits and sandworms. The stripers are in the back of the bays and creeks targeting grass shrimp and spearing. There have been reports of adult bunker in these areas, as well as in the oceans. Once the larger stripers arrive over the next few weeks the action should be outstanding.
Scott Jeffery from East End Bait and Tackle was the first to report that weakfish have been caught near the Peconic River and nearby small inlets. Scott also reported that while there have been few reports from the Shinnecock Canal, the locks have been fixed and the fishing should be starting to heat up with weakfish and schoolie stripers shortly.
The winter flounder fishing has improved with the moderating weather and the slight rise in water temperatures. The best action was found in the warmer, shallower waters in the Quoque Canal, West and Dickerson’s Channels in the Great South Bay and in Jamaica Bay. The action was better than reported over the last few years. The best reports came from anglers using plenty of mussel and clam chum. Clam strips, mussels, and sandworms and bloodworms were all consistent producers.
A few reports of bluefish came in from the Ambrose Channel area. These blues are likely following the schools of ocean bunker and now that they’ve made their initial showing the bluefish action should improve quickly.
There are still a few boats running out the South Shore ports for codfish, but most have switched over to targeting stripers and flounder. Some of these boats are also running long-range extended trips in search of blueline and golden tilefish, monster codfish and barrelfish. These fish are targeted in 300 and more feet of water near the continental shelf and canyons. If interested you must reserve your spot as the boats limit the number of anglers for comfort and fishability.
The freshwater fishing has been steadily improving and this report period it came alive. Trout have been stocked in many lakes and streams and are providing plenty of action for fly-fishers as well as anglers fishing trout worms, PowerBaits or casting small spinners, spoons and stickbaits. Flyrodders reported large trout in the Conetquout River and good action in the Carmens and Nissequogue rivers.
The larger bodies of water, including Forge Pond, Lake Ronkonkoma, Laurel Lake, the Upper and Lower Yaphank Lakes as well as the Massapequa Reservoir have been yielding plenty of good sized largemouth bass. The best bass bite was during the early mornings and late afternoons. Many anglers were also rewarded with a pickerel or two.
The fishing for yellow perch, crappie and bluegills has been hot anywhere you want to fish. Trout worms and PowerBaits worked well. Anglers did well casting small spinners and spoons as well as Trout Magnets and other small plastic baits.
Tip of the Week: Conditions have been good for picking night crawlers and now is a good time to stock up them while they are easy to get. This can be a fun activity to do with your children, some kids even like it better than fishing.
Spring gobbler season has opened, but we haven’t heard any reports beyond the two-day youth season of April 22-23, during which several kids scored – some on jakes and others on some fine longbeards.
Southeastern New York
Trout waters stocked: DEC regional fisheries personnel have been busy stocking trout waters. Among those that have received fish are:
Dutchess County: Fishkill Creek, Sprout Creek, Ten Mile River, Webatuck Creek, Swamp River, Wappingers Creek, Roeliff Jansen Kill, Crum Elbow Creek, Sawkill.
Putnam County: East Branch Croton River, West Branch Croton River, Croton Falls Reservoir, West Branch Reservoir, Peekskill Hollow Brook, Shrub Oak Brook, Pelton Pond, Stillwater Pond, Foundry Brook.
Orange County: Neversink River, Shingle Kill, Shawangunk Kill, Walton Lake, Round Lake, Wawayanda Creek, Rutgers Creek, Ramapo River, Moodna Creek, Hessian Lake, Askoti Lake, Skanatati Lake, Island Pond.
Rockland County: Ramapo River, Minisceongo Creek, North Branch Minisceongo Creek, Mahwah River, Stony Brook, Pascack Brook, Cedar Pond Brook, Sparkill Creek
Sullivan County: Callicoon Creek, East Branch Callicoon Creek, North Branch Callicoon Creek, Neversink Reservoir, Beaver Kill, Little Beaverkill, Willowemoc Creek, Fir Brook, Mongaup Creek
Ulster County: Rondout Creek, Verkeeder Kill, Holliday Creek, Black Creek, Ashokan Reservoir, Rondout Reservoir, Plattekill Creek, Sawkill Creek, Yager Stream, Sandburg Creek, Beer Kill, West Branch Beer Kill, Mill Brook, Rochester Creek
Westchester County: Stone Hill River, Mianus River, Amawalk Inlet, Peekskill Hollow Brook, Waccabuc River, Titicus River, Croton River, Amawalk Outlet, Cross River Reservoir Outlet, Cross River Reservoir, Kensico Reservoir, Titicus Reservoir
The tailwaters were slowly receding. This looks like the start of serious fly-fishing in the Catskills. While dry fly fishing can be productive, nymph fishing can be equally effective. At times it’s important to fish the nymph off the bottom without weight. This suggests the nymph is rising to the surface. Often a pheasant-tail or Hendrickson treated with floatant fished in the film does very well.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Both rivers were in decent shape at last look. Hendricksons and Quills have started showing in the afternoon, and there are some Caddis in the late morning. Wading was OK at last report. Look for the fish in the slower water.
Delaware East Branch: Some wading was available. There were a few Quills and Hendricksons. As the water drops we should see some decent hatches.
Delaware West Branch: Has cleared but was only floatable as of last week. There was still water coming over the dam. There was little surface activity at the high water level. Hendricksons start a little later but last longer, often into mid-May.
Esopus: Was in decent shape. For those looking for spawning rainbows, the tribs and trib mouths are a good choice.
Neversink: Was wadeable in most areas. Some Quill Gordons were around in fishable numbers mostly in the afternoons as well as some Hendricksons.
Delaware Main Stem: High and at a floatable level only at last check. Hatches have been sparse. Conditions were poor with almost zero surface activity.
St. Lawrence River: Should be hearing more from the big river when walleye season opens.
Black Lake: Panfish action, notably for bluegill, has been outstanding. Bullhead anglers have been scoring well.
Chaumont Bay: Bullhead and perch – and some big perch – in the back bays, Three Mile Bay and Chaumont River.