NY: Deer season on center stage; ‘regular’ bass season ends Issue: 24
Western New York
Lake Ontario and tributaries: Places like Eighteen Mile Creek and Burt Dam are still loaded with trout and the occasional salmon. In fact, Dawn Wilson, who supervises Fisherman's Park for the Town of Newfane, reports that this year's run of brown trout is one of the best she's ever seen. Using egg sacs, egg imitations or single egg presentations is one of the more effective means for taking trout right now. Some streams like Four Mile and Twelve Mile creeks will also hold fish when the waters are flowing enough for the fish to swim up them. We could use a bit more of the wet stuff. Some pier casters are picking up trout, too, by casting spoons or stick baits. Good numbers of trout are still being reported at Johnson and Oak Orchard to the east. For perch, the best spot is still Irondequoit Bay.
Lake Erie and tributaries: There have been plenty of fish around throughout the entire system - from the dam to the mouth. Anglers will have to focus on the small- to medium-sized streams for the time being with egg sacs, egg imitations or single eggs. Perch fishermen looking for ringbacks are still concentrating their efforts in the 50- to 70-foot range with shiners off Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point. Both spots still have the launch ramp open, but the docks have been removed from the Catt.
Upper Niagara River: Muskie anglers have taken their final shots since the season closed Nov. 30. This is a good time for doing some trout casting off Squaw Island and Bird Island Pier with spoons, spinners or egg sacs.
Lower Niagara River: Trout are cooperating on Kwikfish and egg sacs - for a mix of steelhead and browns. There are also quite a few lake trout being reported; they're in the river to perform their spawning rituals. That season is closed until the end of the year. U.S. Fish and Wildlife personnel are tagging lake trout to better understand these fish and their habits. There are some bass still hitting live bait, tubes and jerks baits for anyone willing to give them a try.
Chautauqua Lake: Muskie trollers were doing well from the Prendergast launch to the Bell Tower in the final days of the season, according to Craig Robbins. Bass have been hitting tubes and grubs in Burtis Bay and around Ashville bar in Ashville Bay; it's now catch-and-release, artificials-only.
Orleans County: There were two good reports on the waters of Lake Alice. Good catches of bluegills were being reported at the Kenyonville Bridge. At the Waterport Bridge, walleye and bass were showing up in fairly good numbers. Remember that the open season for bass closed at the end of November and is now a catch and immediately release season until next June.
Fishing the tributaries of Orleans County for the cold water species is good to very good. The predominant species right now is brown trout in all tributaries. Steelhead/rainbow trout are starting to make their presence known and should increase over the next month. Water flows are average to slightly low but that should all change now that the Erie Canal System has begun its de-watering and we should be getting precipitation in either liquid or solid form. These two items should provide good water flow and slightly stained water color for several weeks. Add to this the fact the hunting season is in full swing, which means you should be able to find a quiet section of tributary to enjoy all alone, or at least with greatly reduced pressure.
Central New York
Lake Ontario tributaries: Maxwell Creek continued to have good runs of brown trout and steelhead. Steelhead and brown trout are also being taken by anglers casting from piers with spoons at tributary mouths.
Oneida Lake: The nighttime shore walleye bite has slowed down. Casting from shore just before and after dark with stick baits in black and silver and blue and silver works well. It may pay to use smaller baits because young of the year gizzard shad are numerous this fall, but are smaller than usual at 2½ to 3 inches. Yellow perch fishing has picked up some. A good starting point for the perch has been in 10 to 20 feet of water around weedbeds. The docks have been removed from the South Shore launch.
Oswego River: The salmon are just about gone, but the browns and steelhead are in. Estaz eggs, egg sacs, trout beads, wooly buggers and crazy eggs are all working for the browns and steelhead.
Salmon River: There are fresh steelhead being caught throughout the river and more brown trout have been showing up. With the low flow the action on sunny days has been better in the early morning and late afternoon. Good baits continue to be trout beads, egg sacs (blue, pink and chartreuse mesh), streamers and egg-imitating flies. This is the time of year when the area is capable of receiving major snowfalls, so it may pay to check the weather report before heading up.
Sandy Pond: Nothing to report, which isn't unusual this time of year.
Sodus Bay: Perch fishing continues to be good. Larger perch are coming from the deeper water, 20 to 30 feet for anglers using spikes and jigs.
Irondequoit Bay: Yellow perch fishing has been very good on the north end of the bay. Try jigs tipped with fathead minnows.
Genesee River: There are steelhead and a few salmon in the river being taken with egg sacs and egg-imitating plastics and flies when flows are not too high to fish.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Lake trout and Atlantic salmon are being taken around Taughannock by anglers trolling with spoons, or flashers and flies using downriggers or Dipsey Divers. Try fishing 40 to 100 feet down over 100 to 250 feet of water. Lake trout are also hitting vertically jigged chartreuse plastics in 75 to 150 feet of water. Perch are being taken in the north end in 10 to 15 feet of water on fathead and larger minnows. One of the better perch spots is around Union Springs.
The boat launch at Allen Treman State Park has been closed for the season in an effort to help prevent the spread of Hydrilla (an invasive aquatic plant).
Seneca Lake: Yellow perch fishing continues to be good in 20 to 40 feet of water throughout the lake. Lake trout are being taken in depths over 100 feet on spoons and flashers/flies. Brown trout and salmon are being taken 40 to 80 feet down on flashers/flies and spoons. Anglers fishing large minnows under bobbers, or casting large crankbaits are catching some northern pike.
Keuka Lake: Jigging for lake trout off points in 90 to 110 feet of water with chartreuse plastics has been working for the lake trout. Yellow perch fishing can also be very good this time of year. Try jigging fatheads or plastics in 20 to 50 feet.
Waneta and Lamoka lakes: Not hearing anything now that muskie season ended Nov. 30.
Owasco Lake: Lake trout fishing has been slow but some fish are being taken vertically jigging with plastics in 70 feet of water. Northern pike are hitting spoons on the south end and yellow perch are hitting fathead minnows.
Otisco Lake: No new fishing activity to report. Casting stick baits off the causeway after dark usually produces some walleye this time of year.
Canandaigua Lake: Rainbow trout and a few brown trout are hitting spoons and flashers and flies fished down 45 to 60 feet over 90 to 150 feet of water. A few lake trout are being caught near bottom in 90 to 120 feet of water. Yellow perch and smallmouth bass fishing is starting to pick up in 10 to 30 feet of water using small tube baits, grubs, or fathead minnows.
Skaneateles Lake: Yellow perch are being taken on small minnows. Shore fishing with marshmallow and worm rigs usually works well this time of year for rainbow trout, as does trolling streamers on the surface for Atlantic salmon. But there have been no reports of any recent activity for either method. One dock has been removed; the launch will remain open as weather permits.
Susquehanna, Chenango, Tioughnioga and Unadilla rivers: Still not hearing much from anglers in this flood-ravaged region, even though water levels are now acceptable. Hunting season obviously is the focus right now.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Drifting with bucktail jigs tipped with minnows or worms is producing some walleye and smallmouth bass. Fishing the spillway with jigs or stick baits is also working for walleye.
The region's deer hunters were taking their final shots in the big woods of the Adirondacks, and welcomed some colder weather and snow that improved hunting conditions. Some big bucks were being taken after some slow hunting in unseasonably warm weather. Some units will have a weeklong late muzzleloader season as well.
The striped bass fishing opened up during the second half of this report period for both boat and surf anglers along the South Shore. Stripers were feeding on squid, not typical fall bait, reports Mike at Saltwaters Bait and Tackle, who weighed in a 39-pound striper caught on a diamond jig and a 32-pounder caught on a bunker chunk. Both fish were caught from the surf at Robert Moses State Park. Mike also reported that gannets have been working the South Shore beaches; this usually indicated the presence of large baits such as herring.
A large body of stripers has moved into the South Shore inlets from Shinnecock Inlet westward to the Breezy Point at Rockaway Inlet. Eel drifted at night, and clam bellies and whole skimmer clams fished on the inlet outer bars, at the inlet bridges and rips, all produced stripers from 8- to 15-pound schoolies to 30-pound class fish, with a few fish in the 40-pound class. The outgoing tides out-produced the incoming tide and the stripers being caught while clam chumming were larger than typically expected.
Jim at Bernie's Bait and Tackle reported that the stripers were pushing the bait from just offshore into the surf zone, creating excellent striper fishing for both boaters using diamond jigs and surf anglers tossing tins and bunker chunks. The area around Fort Tilden was very good. Large bluefish were occasionally mixed in the stripers at all locations.
The blackfishing was excellent on the North Shore for boaters working the rock piles and reefs, reports Captain Des of the Celtic Quest fleet. Anglers working the beaches did well between Matinecock and Peacock points, reports John at Glen Cove Sports Shop. On the South Shore the blackfishing was better further offshore as the inshore reefs and wrecks have been worked over hard, with only a few keeper sized blackfish mixed in with numerous smaller fish. On the East End the best blackfishing has been around Plum Island. Clams and crabs were the top baits from the beach with crabs the better bait from the boat.
The freshwater panfishing has been excellent in all the local ponds and lakes, and trout have responded to the cooler water temperatures with improved fishing in the local streams.
The pheasant season and archery deer season both remained very good on the east end of the island.
Sportsmen and women are heading into both the northern and southern zones as the deer season hits high gear. Not hearing much on the fishing front, but some decent bucks are being taken now that the weather has improved for hunters.
Southeastern New York
Mike at Bob's Sport and Tackle in Katonah reports deer hunters had a fairly slow start to the season, but plenty of does and some smallish bucks were taken. One Westchester County brute scored 155-160, he said. On the fishing front, most of the attention was focused on Kensico and Cross River reservoirs, where some good smallmouth action was reported and some brown trout were being taken as well. Bass season is now a catch-and-release, artificials-only option on most waters since the traditional season closed Nov. 30.
Fishing on the Beaverkill and Willowemoc is now limited to the no-kill stretches, which are open all year long. Small olives and midges are now the main hatches while small nymphs have also proven effective. The East Branch of the Delaware is now closed above Shinnopple. On the West Branch of the Delaware, the stretches above the state game lands are also closed. Streamers have proven to be effective and there are some small olives about. The Neversink is now closed. Some good fish have been caught on the Delaware's main stem on streamers. The Esopus is also now closed, but it was off-color anyway.
St. Lawrence River: Muskie anglers are continuing to ply the waters, since the season remains open on the river. Not hearing much, however, in terms of big fish.
Black Lake: Chapman's Sports (315-324-5265) in Hammond reports most of the attention is focused on hunting, with whitetail pursuers offering up mixed reviews on the season to this point. Most were lamenting the lack of any snowfall, although that may have changed by now. Not hearing much from anglers.