New York Outdoor News Fishing Report – Oct. 20, 2017
Western New York
Lake Ontario: Recent weather patterns scattered mature king salmon in Lake Ontario’s nearshore zone. The bulk of the salmon have yet to run the creeks, so expect them to again congregate off tributary mouths. Fishing for staging salmon is typically best in 50-100 feet of water off the Niagara Bar, Eighteenmile Creek, Oak Orchard Creek, Sandy Creek and the Genesee River. Action is usually best at dawn and the bite picks up again near dusk. Flasher-fly combos, meat rigs, J-Plugs, J-13 Rapalas and large spoons are good lures.
Lake Ontario tributaries, harbors and piers: Oak Orchard Creek was in good shape with moderate flow and a slight stain. There were only modest numbers of king salmon holding in the section below the dam, along with a few trout. With the warmer water temperatures there was no real upstream movement of fresh fish. Salmon were sparse below Burt Dam and in some of the other smaller streams. Look for an influx of king salmon over the next couple of weeks in all creeks with adequate conditions. Egg sacs, salmon skein, egg pattern flies and streamers are good offerings for migrating salmon.
The harbors and lower, slow-moving sections of Eighteenmile Creek, Oak Orchard Creek, Sandy Creek and Genesee River are decent options for trout and salmon. The majority of these sections are only accessible by boat. Trolling with large stickbaits (where possible) or casting stickbaits, spoons and spinners are good bets. If you are fishing a section of a Lake Ontario tributary (except Niagara River and Salmon River) upstream of the bridge closest to the mouth, be aware that only one hook with a single hook point is permitted, except for floating lures and artificial flies. See the Great Lakes and Tributary Regulations for more information.
Fishing has been slow at pier sites, with some brief productive periods mixed in. During low-light periods, casting heavy glow spoons is a top tactic for pier kings, but skein fished under a float can be productive under calm conditions. Steelhead and brown trout were also showing at pier sites and can also cooperate during daylight hours, especially when water has a bit of color. Watch the wind forecast if you plan to fish the piers. When winds are over 15 mph out of the north, expect waves to be crashing onto the piers.
Lower Niagara River: The king salmon run in the lower river had been off to a fantastic start, arguably the best in recent years. Rising water temperatures have slowed things down a little bit. However, the Devil’s Hole drift was still producing some limit catches, especially if there are good “sticks” in the boat. Anglers report some coho salmon mixed in, as well. A three-way rig with treated salmon skein has accounted for most catches. Plenty of king and coho salmon were reportedly stacked along the Niagara Bar, so another slug of fish should move up river as soon as typical fall weather returns.
Shore anglers were catching some salmon in the gorge during low-light periods. Soon after daybreak, the bite starts to drop off. Glow spoons, Vibrax spinners, rattle baits or salmon skein fished under a float are typical salmon offerings. Trout and smallmouth bass were also available from shore and can be caught during daylight hours. Lake trout season is now closed, so inadvertently caught lakers should be promptly released. Be aware that the Devil’s Hole State Park stairs are closed for a repair project. Access to the gorge is by the Whirlpool State Park stairs, and the Devil’s Hole drift shoreline is accessible by the metal stairs at the NYPA fishing platform’s lower parking lot. The NYPA fishing platform is open from dawn to dusk.
(Surplus broodstock trout stocking)
DEC’s Randolph Fish Hatchery staff started its fall stocking of broodstock trout on Oct. 6 with the stocking of Quaker Lake. Quaker Lake received 175 brown trout (21-24 inches) and 50 rainbow trout (21 inches). Additional waters were be stocked later this month. Call the Randolph Hatchery Stocking Hotline at (716) 358-4950 for updates.
Lake Erie: The open-lake fishing season was winding down, but walleye were still readily available. Barcelona and Dunkirk trollers have seen good walleye action in 80 to 100 feet of water, with the occasional steelhead mixed in. Out of Cattaraugus Creek, the walleye bite was best in 70-85 feet of water. Yellow perch catches have tapered off and there was very little effort lately. Recent perch catches have been off Cattaraugus Creek in 50-80 feet of water. The smallmouth bass bite has been picking up. Target hungry bass around rocky areas in 30-40 feet of water. Live golden shiners work well.
Lake Erie tributaries: With the warmer temperatures, the fishing slowed a bit on Cattaraugus Creek. Anglers were catching steelhead on The Catt up through Gowanda. All of the other tributaries were low, clear and had limited numbers of steelhead. That should change with the first significant rainfall, as there is reportedly a pile of fish off Chautauqua and Canadaway creeks waiting to run. Targeting steelhead off creek mouths with spoons, spinners and stickbaits is a good bet. Boaters can target steelhead off tributary mouths by trolling with spoons between 2-2.5 mph.
Upper Niagara River: The upper river is a great smallmouth bass option in fall as waters cool and bass go on the feed. Also, conditions on the river are often more manageable than the open lake in fall, and boat launches remain open late into the fall. Target feeding bass outside weed edges by drifting with bottom bouncing rigs with live shiners, crayfish or plastics. Muskie fishing peaks on the river in fall, as well. Drifting with large (8-10 inch) tube jigs or casting large stickbaits are top methods.
Chautauqua Lake: Fall is generally the top time to target muskellunge on Chautauqua Lake. Key on weedlines by trolling with large stickbaits (especially perch pattern) or by casting large bucktail spinners. Walleye were still available from weed edges out to 40 feet of water. Trolling and vertical jigging have both recently worked well.
Orleans County: Rains last week had flows high on all of the tributaries within Orleans County, and they were slightly stained.
Salmon are being reported in all of the county’s tributaries and the water flows were keeping them on the move and spread out. Brown trout were also starting to enter the tribs. When the weather cooperates, fish were still being taken in Lake Ontario, especially in those close-to-shore waters.
On the lower stretches of Oak Orchard Creek perch were starting to show up in some decent numbers, from the County Marine Park to the bridges area.
The upper stretches of Lake Alice were still producing some nice bass (mostly smallmouth), but bluegill and crappie fishing has dropped off a bit.
Central New York
Lake Ontario: There were still salmon being taken in the lake, look in 50 to 100 feet of water. Most of the activity was taking place in the rivers, though, with both chinook salmon and cohos being caught. Try for smallmouth bass in 20 to 30 feet of water with crayfish, tube jigs or drop-shot rigs.
Oswego River: Chinook salmon were being taken in the river on beads, egg-imitating plastics and skein.
Salmon River: Salmon action continued to be good, with fish being taken throughout the river. Both coho and chinook salmon were being caught and a few trout were also starting to show up.
Oneida Lake: Some cooler temperatures were needed to get the fall walleye bite going. Casting stickbaits (minnow-imitating lures) from shore just before and after dark is a great way to catch walleye this time of year. Yellow perch, when found, were biting in 10 to 15 feet of water on small minnows. Smallmouth bass are feeding on young-of-year gizzard shad. So, keep an eye out for surface feeding activity while you’re out there. Bird activity is often easier to see at a distance then fish breaking. If you see it, get to the area quickly and try surface lures, swimbaits, chatterbaits or lipless crankbaits. It can make for some exciting action when it takes place.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Largemouth bass fishing continued to be good, and the yellow perch bite has started to pick up. A variety of lures were working for the bass, while small minnows or minnow-imitating have yielded perch.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Seneca Lake: Trolling with spoons or flashers and flies down 50 to 70 feet has been producing lake trout.
Keuka Lake: Lake trout were hitting on alewives fished near bottom in 120 feet of water. Vertical jigging at the same depths with plastics has been working as well for lakers. Smallmouth bass were being caught 15 to 20 feet down over 30 to 60 feet of water. Live minnows or a jig and Twister Tail have been working. Panfish were being taken in 20 to 30 feet of water on worms.
Cayuga Lake: Lake trout fishing has slowed down but some fish were still being taken by vertical jigging in 85 to 90 feet of water. Trolling 70 to 90 feet down over 150 to 200 feet of water has also been yielding lakers.
Skaneateles Lake: Trolling 40 to 60 feet down over 60 to 150 feet of water with small spoons was still working very well for lake trout and an occasional rainbow trout. Look for smallmouth bass in 15 to 35 feet of water with perch-colored Rapalas, tube baits, drop-shots, topwaters, and wacky rigged Senko-style baits. Rock bass should be biting in the same areas and on the same baits.
Owasco Lake: Like Cayuga, spiny water fleas have been a nuisance at times for trollers. Lake trout were being taken 80 to 100 feet down on spoons or flasher and flies. A few rainbow trout were also being caught 40 to 60 feet down on small spoons over the same depths.
Otisco Lake: Like Oneida Lake, some cooler temperatures are needed to get the shore fall walleye bite going. Look for largemouth bass in and around the weedbeds. Keep covering water until you catch one, then work that area thoroughly. For tiger muskies try casting or trolling with large spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, stickbaits, or swimbaits. Wire leaders will save some lures. If a tiger follows but doesn’t hit try that same area a little later in the day.
Canandaigua Lake: Trolling 75 feet down with flashers and flies was working for lake trout, along with an occasional rainbow.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Look for walleye along the old river channel by trolling with a worm harness or by jigging with a bucktail jig tipped with a half a nightcrawler.
Chenango, Chemung, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna rivers: Try tube baits in the deeper holes for the smallmouth bass and walleye.
We won’t likely hear much on the fishing front now that the popular Northern Zone hunting seasons are in full swing, with the muzzleloader offering coming to a close and the firearms kickoff Oct. 21.
The best striper fishing was reported off Montauk Point. Anglers fishing the rips and rock piles using live spot, bunker and porgies reported on limiting out on keeper stripers, many in the 40-pound class. Large bluefish rounded out the catch, with the best fishing during the night tides. During the day, teen-sized bluefish and stripers were reported by anglers trolling parachute jigs and tubes in the same areas off Montauk Point.
Most of the surf-caught stripers were in the single digits, with a few keepers reported. Tins and poppers accounted for most of the fish during the day on the ocean beaches, with bucktails the top nighttime lure. A few false albacore and bluefish were reported from the South Shore inlet jetties at first light.
The surf action off Montauk showed signs of improvement from Shagwong to under The Light, with stripers moving into casting range on a more frequent basis. Bucktails, poppers and large plugs were all productive, with the best fishing occurring at first light.
Scott Jeffery at East End Bait and Tackle reported that there was a good striper bite for anglers drifting live baits in the eastern parts of Shinnecock Bay. Anglers clam chumming the bridges and inlet bars reported spotty striper fishing. A few stripers in the 30-pound class were caught under the scattered bunker pods in 30 to 50 feet of water in the eastern Sound and ocean.
With the sea bass season in federal waters currently closed, anglers targeted sea bass on the inshore reefs, bridge abutments and jetties. Most of the sea bass were shorts, with a few keepers reported. Mixed in with the sea bass were porgies, blowfish, kingfish and snappers. Fresh clams were the top bait for this mixed bag fishing. When the federal season opens on Oct. 22, the offshore wrecks will be rested, which should result in a great late-fall season.
The blackfish season opened at the end of this report period, with most action reported from the bridges, jetties and inshore rock piles as the offshore sea conditions were too rough for most boats. Some of the best blackfish action was reported by anglers fishing in New York Bight. Most of the blackfish were shorts, but anglers who fished the ocean reefs and mid-Sound rock piles and wrecks reported keeper blackfish, with green crabs the top bait.
Anglers who fished the Hudson Canyon reported good fishing for longfin albacore and mahi while trolling during the day. Chunking butterfish at night yielded both longfin albacore and a few yellowfin tuna, as well as a few small swordfish for anglers deep-dropping whole squid. The shark bite was good, with several large makos in the 200-pound class reported. Brown and blue sharks rounded out the catches.
The porgy bite remained excellent in Peconic and Gardiners bays. Mixed in with the porgies were weakfish, blowfish and kingfish. Clam baits and clam chum were the best combination. The porgy bite off Orient and Montauk points was excellent. The porgy bite in the Shinnecock Canal remained good.
The snapper season was winding down, with fewer snappers being caught, but those caught were between 8 and 10 inches long. Mixed in with snappers were weakfish from 12 to 18 inches. A few weakfish to 24 inches were reported in the eastern bays on the North Fork as well as in the Great South Bay. Sandworms and plastic baits accounted for the larger weakfish, with some of the best reports coming from the waters off Floyd Bennett Field in Jamaica Bay and off Port Jefferson and into the western Sound. The blue crab fishing remained excellent, especially for anglers using baited traps. The smaller crabs have grown to keeper size.
The freshwater fishing improved with the cooler water temperatures, especially for largemouth bass. With the cooler water, the fishing has been easier as the surface weeds have been steadily disappearing, making plugging for bass easier.
Hunters are taking advantage of the Northern and Southern zone seasons, toting muzzleloaders up north and archery gear in the south. Some youth hunters scored on whitetails during a blistering hot Columbus Day weekend that slowed deer movement.
Southeastern New York
Fishing pressure has dropped off dramatically as attention has turned to the archery deer – and bear – seasons. We’re not hearing enough to generate a report, and archers were welcoming some cooler weather and seeing better deer movement.
(Note: The statewide trout season ended Oct. 15 under general regulations, but some fishing opportunities still exist. Check the regs before you head out.)
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Both rivers are clear and up somewhat. There were some midges and Caddis in the morning. Late day there are mostly Olives. Terrestrials are a good choice.
Delaware East Branch: Hatches are spotty and late in the day. Bugs are a mix of Olives and Caddis late day, but not too much of any one bug. Due to the low flows there had been some very selective fish.
Delaware West Branch: There are mostly Caddis, some Isos and spinners. Like other rivers, hatches tend to be sparse and spotty, mostly scattered and close to dark. Small streamers are a good choice. “The slop” can be a problem in the upper reaches. Hatch intensity can change from day to day.
Esopus: Had some color at last check. The recreational release is over and flows are more normal. Olives and Caddis and some Isonychias are about close to dark.
Neversink: Has some Caddis and Olives, generally in the late afternoon. It was at a more normal flow. It usually fishes well in the fall. Hatches are not as intense as on the other tailwaters but Olives are a daily hatch as well as Caddis and some midges.
Delaware Main Stem: Floatable at last look. Hatches are late day, with either Olives, Caddis, egg-laying Caddis and a few Isos. Fish, at times, have been indifferent and hatches have been unpredictable.
St. Lawrence River: A few muskies have been taken as waters begin to cool, but we haven’t yet heard of any 50-inch plus fish.
Black Lake: Some great panfish action remains available for anglers who aren’t interested in pursuing whitetails.