Western New York
Lake Ontario: There was still a state of emergency along the Lake Ontario shoreline for high water levels. That isn’t really going to affect the fishing that much, but the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department is asking that boats creating a wake stay at least 500 feet from shore. This doesn’t include trolling. Caution is advised for floating debris when you are out in the lake moving around.
As for the fishing, it’s been a mixed bag for trollers. Stickbaits or spoons in tight to shore off boards or downriggers in 10 to 25 feet of water for browns, a bit deeper for coho salmon and the occasional king salmon. If there is a mud line, work it for any shoreline trolling. Head out to 50 to 125 feet of water for lake trout on the bottom and cohos up top, too. The Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament is set for May 19-21 out of Wilson and Olcott. The registration link is now live for registering. Go to www.lakeontarioproam.net. Of particular note is the revamped Amateur Open Division, with each day being a separate event. Just bring in your best three fish and win some great prizes.
The piers were questionable because of the high water levels. Don’t take any chances out there. The pier at the foot of Route 425 was underwater at last report. Yes, it’s over 20 inches high out in the lake. The creeks were all high and muddy.
Lower Niagara River: Fishing action slowed down considerably with the muddy water coming down the river. The place with the cleanest water was Devil’s Hole or on either side of the river current in the lake. The high water levels in the river have not had a huge impact on the area fishing so far. Some steelhead, lake trout, smallmouth bass and silver bass have been caught off the platform, which was closed for a time due to high water levels. Those fish can still be caught off the shoreline in Devil’s Hole and along Artpark, too. Some nice bass were also caught downriver on swimbaits and jerkbaits. Another fishing option is the NYPA Reservoir. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught numerous smallmouth bass tossing white and yellow jigs. There is access at Reservoir Park and off Upper Mountain Road at the Fire Company. The Fort Niagara launches should both be open now.
Lake Erie and harbors: All Lake Erie boat launches were open for the season. Launching at Buffalo Boat Harbor may still be limited to the launch closest to the restaurant. There have been some excellent yellow perch catches lately between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point in 45-55 feet of water. Most perch are now post-spawn and spread out. Searching around for schools on the graph may be futile, as fish are scattered and roving. Some reports also indicate light-biting fish, with most perch mouthing bait rather than hitting it. Watch or feel for line tightening rather than rod tip bouncing. Many successful Lake Erie perch anglers employ a fluorocarbon rig with emerald shiners
Walleye season was off to a slow start with heavily stained nearshore waters. The nearshore shoals/shallows are typically productive when the season opens. Shorehaven Reef, Bournes Beach, Green Hills, Van Buren Bay, Evans Bar, off Hamburg and near the mouth of Smokes Creek are good spots to try. There has been good smallmouth bass action in Dunkirk and Buffalo Harbors. Good numbers of 7- and 8-inch bluegill have been biting in Buffalo Harbor and Bell Slip Harbor.
Lake Erie tributaries: Heavy rains again had all Lake Erie tributaries running at very high and muddy levels. Trib anglers saw good smallmouth bass action in the small to medium streams before the latest round of rain. Look for more bass to have moved in on this high water event.
Upper Niagara River: Due to muddy creek outflows, waters are turbid along the upper Niagara River’s east shoreline. Harbors and marinas are the best bet until river waters settle out. These areas warm quicker than the river, attracting both bait and panfish.
Chautauqua Lake: Walleye season is open and new regulations are in effect on Chautauqua Lake. The rules now mirror the statewide regulations, with a minimum length of 15 inches and a daily limit of five fish. Previously it was a minimum length of 18 inches and a daily limit of three. Targeting walleye along shallower shoreline areas at night is a good early-season tactic. Boaters can troll with stickbaits and worm harnesses or drift and work jigs with nightcrawlers or leeches. Shore anglers can connect by casting stickbaits, especially near stream inlets. Yellow perch fishing has been very good seemingly lakewide. The area around the bridge has been a hotspot for larger perch. The crappie bite in the canals has tapered off, as canal anglers now catch mostly bluegill. Anglers were still catching decent numbers of crappie in open lake at depths of 4 to 8 feet. Target areas near structure and weedbeds.
Orleans County: High water conditions still exist but when boats do get out on Lake Ontario they are picking up a good mixed bag of fish.Brown trout and lake trout catches are spread out across the lake and walleye catches remain mainly on the east end of the lake.
On Lake Alice, water levels have dropped somewhat and water clarity is slowly improving. Bullhead, bass, crappie and bluegill are all being caught but not in any great numbers yet.
On the lower stretches of “The Oak,” steelhead and an occasional brown trout are being taken, and this trend should continue.
Watering of the Erie Canal seems to be on hold awaiting some repairs on a section just west of Albion.
Inland trout streams: Inland trout fishing was on hold due to high water conditions, with muddy conditions on all creeks. That said, several waters in the region were stocked with trout earlier this month. Among them:
Allegany County: Dodge Creek (Clarksville), Dyke Creek (Andover), Cryder Creek (Independence), California Hollow Brook (Bolivar), Little Genesee Creek (Bolivar).
Cattaraugus County: Elton Creek (Freedom).
Wyoming County: Tonawanda Creek (Orangeville), Buffalo Creek (Java).
Central New York
A number of county web sites offer good information on fishing in the region, including bait shops, guides, etc. A few examples are: Onondaga County (fishonondagacounty.com); Oswego County (visitoswegocounty.com); and Wayne County (waynecountytourism.com). Oswego and Wayne counties also have a weekly fishing hotline on their web page as well.
Lake Ontario: When anglers have been able to get out on the big lake, they were still getting brown trout on stickbaits or small spoons. Some nice-sized browns have been taken so far, and a few bonus coho salmon have also been caught. Trolling these baits along the mudline has been working; if fishing clear water, try using planer boards to get the baits away from the boat. Use caution – the lake level is very high and there is floating debris about.
Oneida Lake: While walleye season has opened, bass anglers have been enjoying fantastic fishing of the catch and release variety on the lake and we’re hearing more about the great bass action than walleye fishing.
Capt. Dave Wilson has had anglers out on Oneida when the weather cooperated. One group boated nine walleye, lost a bunch more and also picked up some nice perch.
Oswego River: River levels were way up at last check, making shore fishing difficult if not impossible.
Salmon River: The river was running high at last check making for tough fishing. 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 dropbacks 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, beads, or a night crawler. Fish those baits either on bottom or under a float.
The Salmon River Fish Hatchery building continues to be closed due to construction. The grounds, including picnic area and fish ladder, are still open dawn to dusk. If you are planning a visit, call the hatchery in advance at 315-298-5051, Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Try fishing spinnerbaits, large stickbaits, spoons or live minnows around any vegetation you find for pike. Yellow perch were being taken in the bays on small minnows and a few bullhead were also starting to be caught.
Sandy Pond: There has been a little action on the pond with anglers getting some yellow perch, crappies and a few bullhead.
Spring trout stocking
DEC fisheries personnel continued to stock the region’s trout streams. Among the waters receiving fish were:
Cortland County: East Branch of Tioughnioga, Merrill Creek, West Branch of Tioughnioga River, Casterline Pond, Little York Lake, Durkee Pond, Otselic River.
Madison County: Beaver Creek, Chenango River, Limestone Creek, Stone Mill Brook, T32 of East Branch of the Tioughnioga, Canaseraga Creek, Canastota Creek, Chittenango Creek, Cowaselon Creek, Old Chenango Canal, Oneida Creek, Payne Brook, Otselic River, and Sangerfield River.
Onondaga County: The county’s trout waters are stocked by Carpenter’s Brook Fish Hatchery. Their stocking hotline is (315) 689-0003 and the stocking list can be viewed at fishonondagacounty.com.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: More rain events raised the lake level again, so use caution when boating since there is likely to be a lot of debris floating around. 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 very slow at others. Some lake trout are 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.
Keuka, Canandaigua, and Seneca lakes: Use caution as the water levels are up from recent rains and there may be some debris floating around on the lakes still. Try trolling near the surface with stickbaits or small spoons for Atlantic salmon and brown trout.
Skaneateles Lake: Yellow perch were hitting on the north end for anglers using small minnows; check both shallow and deep until you find fish.
Owasco Lake: Use caution when boating as there is likely to be debris floating around with the recent rain and high water events. The Emerson Park boat launch was still being worked on so launching may require some patience if it’s a busy day.
Otisco Lake: Trolling stickbaits is generally a good early-season tactic for walleye, as is casting stickbaits from the causeway. Try large spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, stickbaits, swim baits or live minnows for the tiger muskies; don’t forget the wire leaders.
Whitney Point Reservoir: The reservoir was at a high level when walleye season opened May 6 and we haven’t heard many reports.
Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna rivers: Rivers were blown out for the walleye opener and haven’t improved much since. It will take some time.
Among the region’s trout waters recently receiving stockings are:
Broome County: Patterson Pond, Palmers Pond, Nanticoke Lake, Nanticoke 7a, Finch Hollow Site 1 (also called Overbrook, Arctic Lake, Oquaga Creek, Chenango Lake, Dudley Creek, East Branch Nanticoke Creek and Nanticoke Creek.
Cayuga County: Owasco Outlet, 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: Potomac Pond, Foster Pond, Ballard Pond, Cayuta Creek.
Tioga County: Tri-County Pond, 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.
Schuyler County: Potomac Pond, Foster Pond, Ballard Pond, Cayuta Creek.
Steuben County: Canisteo River, Canaseraga Creek, Post Creek, Meads Creek and Cohocton River.
Yates County: Keuka Lake Outlet .
Lake Champlain: Fishing pressure has been fairly light but trollers have been picking up plenty of lakers, and the bass crowd has been playing catch and release with plenty of smallmouths.
West Branch of the Ausable: Fishing quite slow, as usual for this time of year, although some anglers have had success on holdover trout dead drifting nymphs and streamers. Conditions are starting to improve, however. Rivers were still full but manageable. There has been some stocking on River Road as well as well as several other waters in the region
Backcountry brook trout ponds remain a great option, although those anglers generally keep quiet about any superb fishing.
The big news this report period are the large bluefish that have invaded the back of the South Shore bays. These blues are targeting the adult bunker that have been in the bays for several weeks. Jerry at Bernie’s Bait and Tackle reported that the shop weighed in blues to 21 pounds. He said the best fishing has been by shore anglers fishing Jamaica Bay inside of Canarsie Pier.
Jerry also reported very good flounder fishing on the flats in Jamaica Bay as well as a few stripers around the Verrazano Bridge. The stripers are targeting bunker. The porgy season opened during this report period with a few reports of good fishing reported at Rockaway Reef. A few weakfish fell to flounder anglers, but the better fishing has been off the New Jersey coast. Expect these weakfish to continue moving into New York waters during the coming weeks.
Mike at Saltwaters Bait and Tackle reported that 12- to 14-pound bluefish are roaming the north side of the Great South Bay feeding on bunker. Anglers fishing off the Patchogue Dock did well, as did anglers fishing bunker chunks and plugs from boats and docks. There are a lot of bluefish in the bay and it was not necessary to find and fish under schools of bunker to do well. Mike reported there were a few stripers and weakfish mixed in with the blues and improved flounder fishing at Sore Thumb and off the OBI pier. Vincent Radziul reported catching teen-sized bluefish in the coves along the back of Oyster Bay casting large plugs.
Scott Jeffery at East End Bait and Tackle reported that the Shinnecock Canal has been producing a good number of fluke, with many of them over the 19-inch limit but were being safely released. This was a good sign for the May 17 opening of the fluke season. A few weakfish have been caught in the canal.
Scott also reported that the Quogue Canal has produced good numbers of schoolie bass, with an occasional keeper in the mix. Plastic baits fished on light leadheads or small bucktails between 3/8 and 5/8 ounces were consistent producers. A few fluke were mixed in with the stripers.
Captain Chris of the Island Current Fleet out of City Island reported good flounder fishing in 12 feet of water in the back of the North Shore bays on the incoming tide. Some of the best flounder fishing was reported in the western Sound with flounder up to 16 inches reported. Captain Chris reported that the night trips have yielded stripers to 25 or so pounds on fresh bunker.
Surfcasters fishing the ocean beaches were being rewarded with teen-sized stripers. The fishing has been steadily improving from west to east as the stripers work their way from the Chesapeake Bay toward New York and New England. The first reports of stripers caught while clam chumming the inlet bars and bridges came in. The stripers were typically in the low teens, with a few fish per boat caught during the outgoing tide. Expect clam chumming to become more effective as June approaches. Overall, the best striper fishing occurred in New York Bight for anglers fishing bunker chunks as well as live bunker.
Boats running to the offshore wrecks located in 90 and more feet of water continued to be rewarded with codfish, pollock and ling. A few blackfish were caught and released. Fresh skimmer clams were the top bait. Decent ling fishing was reported in New York Bight. A few open boats were running extended offshore groundfish trips and were catching cod, link, pollack and hake. The windy weather during this report period has made these trips tough.
The walleye and pickerel season opened but were no reports of catches as of late. The trout fishing was very good in all the areas where the DEC stocked trout. Check out the DEC website for these locations. The trout were taking small swimmers, spinners, spoons and trout worms as well as streamers. The panfish and largemouth bass fishing remained excellent for anglers fishing both artificial as well as nightcrawlers and PowerBaits.
April 1 was the start of the new Freshwater Fishing Regulation Guide, in effect until March 31, 2018. You can obtain a copy from a licensing agent or view it at Summary of Freshwater Fishing Regulations on the DEC website.
Lake George: A few trollers have been out and were picking up some lake trout on either side of the 23-inch size minimum.
Great Sacandaga Lake: The lake level is very high but some anglers were picking up a few walleye.
Tim Blodgett at Saratoga Tackle and Archery reports some good fishing to be had despite the weather. Several anglers have reported good days on the Battenkill River. There were also reports of a mixed bag of species being caught on the Hudson River – stripers below Troy, but upriver pike, bass, crappie have all been caught. On Saratoga Lake and Lake Lonely they were getting crappie and bass. Bass have been very active in the shallows. Pike should be active as well.
Southeastern New York
Hudson River: Water temperatures are currently around 54-56 degrees. Herring have been spotted in all sections of the river. With water temperatures rising, anglers should start to have success jigging herring with sabiki rigs. Anglers have been catching stripers in the 30- to 40-inch range in all sections of the river. Remember the regulation for stripers north of the GW Bridge: one fish between 18 and 28 inches or one fish larger than 40 inches, with a daily limit of one fish per day.
DEC has stocked numerous waters in the region with trout, including:
Dutchess County: Fishkill Creek, Sprout Creek, Ten Mile River, Webatuck Creek, Swamp River, Wappingers Creek, Roeliff Jansen Kill, Crum Elbow Creek, Sawkill, Mill Pond Brook, Iron Mine Pond, Whaley Lake Brook, Sylvan Lake, Upton Lake.
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, Bog Brook Reservoir, Diverting Reservoir, Lake Gleneida, Lake Gilead.
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, Ringwood River, Woodbury Creek, Blue Lake.
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, Neversink River, Sandburg Creek, Chestnut Creek, Loch Sheldrake, Mongaup River East Branch, Mongaup River, Mongaup River West Branch, Mongaup River Middle Branch, White Lake, Lake Huntington, Mongaup Falls Reservoir, Halfway Brook, Beaver Brook, Ten Mile River, East Branch Ten Mile River.
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, Vernooy Kill, Esopus Creek, Woodland Valley Stream, Pine Hill Lake.
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, Pocantico River, Muscoot Reservoir.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Both rivers are high and wading is limited. There have been a variety of bugs, more in the afternoons. There was a mix of Blue Quills, Olives, Caddis and still a few Hendricksons. At the current water levels nymphs and streamers would be a good choice.
Delaware East Branch: Still too high to wade; it is better floated. This can be a good river for Caddis. Hatches were sparse, probably due to weather and high water flows.
Delaware West Branch: Floatable only at last check but conditions may have improved. Hatches were spotty but fish were still hitting streamers.
Esopus: Not wadeable. The portal is closed. Fishing the river above the portal would be a good bet. At times it can be a decent river but usually better with nymphs than dries. Early season is often good above the portal.
Neversink: It was wadeable. There are a few March Browns but more Caddis, Quills and small Olives.
Delaware Main Stem: Was very high and best floated. At this level fish are generally tight against the bank. Shad Caddis have been seen.
St. Lawrence River: Walleye and pike, but more pike lately. Not hearing a lot of reports, which could be a product of the weather.
Black Lake: The walleye season is open but most of the attention has been on panfish.