Western New York
Lake Ontario and tributaries: One of the hottest spots for king salmon has been the Niagara Bar at the drop-off. Salmon were stacked up there like you wouldn’t believe. Capt. Mike Johannes of On the Rocks Charters out of Wilson went 15 for 18 on mature kings on the Niagara Bar before the wind picked up and cut the day short. Fish were in 80 to 200 feet of water down 50 to 80 feet on wire divers set on 3 out 160 to 180 feet. Out of the 15 boated, 14 were caught on meat behind large flashers and Twinkie rigs. His best flasher was a white King’s Flasher. He also caught some on white/green Bechhold flashers. When running the larger flashers, a speed of 2.2 to 2.4 mph is best. They were marking a lot of fish and quite a bit of bait when they were there. Olcott also had a fair number of fish hanging inside of 80 feet of water, according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. Plugs, cut bait and flasher-fly are working there for matures. They are starting to pick up a few off the piers and some browns, too. Browns off the piers in Wilson as well, with spoons. Both harbors have a mix of warmwater fish. A few trout and salmon have been caught at the dam, but mostly warmwater fish have been hanging around.
Lake Erie and tributaries: Anglers continued to report good walleye fishing west of Sturgeon Point in 65-75 feet of water. Worm harnesses and stickbaits run near the bottom have worked well in the morning hours, producing some early limits. Off Cattaraugus Creek, trollers were catching walleye in 65-70 feet of water on gear run within 10 feet of bottom. Dunkirk anglers were picking up some suspended walleye, 50-60 feet down over 80-90 feet of water. Yellow perch reports went cold again, although walleye trollers between Cattaraugus and Sturgeon Point were catching some on each outing. Smallmouth bass fishing continued to improve in the Buffalo area. Anglers were catching bass around harbor gaps and around small reefs, rock piles and humps between the breakwalls and international line. The deep edges of larger reefs such as Seneca Shoal, Myers Reef and Evans Bar are also good bass options. A drop-shot rig with crayfish, tube jigs or plastics will produce fish. Rehabilitation of the Dunkirk Fishing Platform has been completed and it is now open for fishing.
Upper Niagara River: Bass are still the best option with tubes, spinnerbaits or live bait like crayfish and shiners fished off three-way rigs. Know where you are at all times in the river because there are severe restrictions in Canadian waters – on bait and on calling in before you venture across the line … or is it as you cross the line … or is it when you are in Canadian waters? Not quite sure because we’ve been getting different answers from different people.
Lower Niagara River: Salmon numbers were slowly starting to increase for the shore guys. A few have been caught on spoons; some have been caught on spinners. Rattlebaits will also work. NYPA Platform casters were out-producing the boaters right now as far as salmon in the river. That said, the boaters were still doing well on bass and walleye – especially downriver and on the bar. Worm harnesses for the walleye; tubes and live bait for the bass. Capt. Randy Lingenfelter reported that fishing has been good with soft baits and crayfish if you still can find them. B.A.S.S. pro Ray Van Horn fished on his boat recently, throwing Strike King Soft Baits and doing very well, notably with a three-inch Baby Rage Craw. They were catching 25 to 30 fish a day. One of his charters caught a 6.5-pound smallie. Several local media were in town for the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers and New York State Outdoor Writers Association conferences and managed to get some decent smallmouth bass, including Leo Maloney’s 5-pound, 7-ounce bronzeback.
Chautauqua Lake: The south basin walleye bite is still going strong in 14-18 feet of water. Trolling with worm harnesses or stickbaits has worked well. North basin anglers were also catching some walleyes along the 20-30 foot contours by trolling or vertical jigging with blade baits. Muskellunge fishing remained a little slow, but anglers were still catching some along weed edges and over deeper water of 35-40 feet, on gear run 15-20 feet down. Anglers were catching a mix of nice-sized bluegill and yellow perch around weedbeds. Small jigs with grubs work well for bluegill and small minnows are preferred by perch.
Orleans County: The end of summer was signaled by much cooler temperatures. Rain may entice some salmon to make their way at least partway up the tributaries within Orleans County. Those with smaller boats were having some luck close to the tributary mouths, as were the casters from the piers. Partway up Oak Orchard River some perch were being taken, but reports have a good number of smaller fish in the mix. On Lake Alice, the bluegills have become very active around the Waterport Bridge area, and bass were still being taken throughout Lake Alice and other small ponds and lakes, including the Erie Canal.
With hunting season just around the corner, fishing pressure was down slightly ahead of the arrival of good numbers of salmon in the tribs. As the tributary season starts to ramp up, it’s good to review those good safety practices and check your gear again, including your waders to ensure another great season.
Central New York
Tip of the week: As action cameras have become more popular and affordable, it can be very “eye opening” to record yourself fishing. I know I was shocked when I recorded myself fishing a stickbait in the early spring. I really felt like I was fishing it nice and slow, and boy was I surprised when I replayed it and how fast I was actually working it.
A number of county web sites offer good information on fishing in the area, 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: Salmon fishing continued to be good, with fish staging around river mouths. Look for fish in 60 to 90 feet of water with cut bait, J-plugs, spoons and flasher and flies. Shades of green and white have been good colors.
Oneida Lake: Walleye fishing has improved a little, though it continued to be challenging. Anglers using blade baits in 20 to 25 feet of water, or trolling with stickbaits in 25 to 30 feet of water were getting some fish. A few walleye were also being taken shallow, in 10 to 15 feet of water, on crankbaits or stickbaits. Bass fishing has also been challenging over the last few weeks. Young of the year gizzard shad are now large enough for bass to start feeding on them, so keep an eye out for surface feeding activity. If you see some, cast into the area with top-water baits, lipless crankbaits, chatterbaits or swimbaits. It can provide for some exciting fishing.
Oswego River: Water temperatures were starting to cool so we should be getting more salmon reports at any time. Anglers were still getting a few walleye, catfish, carp and smallmouth bass.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: A few salmon have been spotted in the lower river area and estuary. The Lower Fly section opened on Sept. 15. Things should really start to pop on the river at any time, with more kings moving into the river and water temps cooling.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Look for largemouth bass along the weed edges with plastics or crankbaits.
Sandy Pond: For largemouth bass, try flipping or pitching bass jigs or plastics into the vegetation. Try weedless top-water baits over the vegetation.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Lake trout fishing continued to be good in 80 to 140 feet of water. Both trolling and vertical jigging are productive, but we’re seeing more and more anglers going vertical instead of trolling. Some Atlantic salmon were being taken 40 to 50 feet down over the same depths. For largemouth bass, look along the outside weed edges with plastics or crankbaits.
Seneca Lake: Lake trout were being taken by anglers trolling with flashers and flies, or spoons fished 75 feet down over 100 to 120 feet of water.
Keuka Lake: Some lake trout were being taken by anglers jigging in 60 to 100 feet of water around The Bluff. Trolling with spoons or flashers and flies 90 feet down over 135 feet of water has also been working.
Canandaigua Lake: Rainbows were hitting on spoons fished 60 to 65 feet down over 75 to 95 feet of water. Lake trout were being caught at the same depths but 70 to 85 feet down. Spoons trolled at 2.1 to 2.5 mph have been working.
Owasco Lake: Trolling with spoons or flasher and flies 50 to 90 feet down over 120 to 150 feet of water has been producing some lake trout and a few rainbows.
Otisco Lake: The lake level is way down, so be extra careful when boating. Tiger muskie fishing continued to be good for anglers casting swimbaits, chatterbaits, swim jigs and spinnerbaits. If a tiger muskie follows but doesn’t hit, try that area again a little later in the trip. Also, don’t forget to use a wire leader even if you’re just fishing for bass. It really ruins your day when a nice tiger hits a bass bait and then bites you off. Largemouth bass were still hitting on tubes or creature baits fished around the vegetation in 2 to 10 feet of water. A swim jig fished in the same depths will also produce some bass.
Skaneateles Lake: Trolling small spoons down 35 to 70 feet over 100 to 150 feet of water was producing some lake trout and rainbow trout. For smallmouth bass, try drop-shot rigs, tubes or flukes from near shore out to 30 feet of water.
Susquehanna, Chenango, Tioughnioga and Unadilla rivers: Low water levels continue to make launching a boat a challenge, especially on the Susquehanna at some launch sites. Fishing with tube jigs in the deeper holes was producing some nice smallmouth bass, with natural colors working best. Water temps are starting to cool and fishing has picked up lately.
A number of muskies were tagged on the Chenango and Susquehanna with gray Floy tags (which look like a piece of spaghetti) placed by the dorsal fin. If you catch one of these tagged fish, please Do Not remove the tag if releasing the muskie. Instead, write down the tag number and report the tag number, date of catch, location, and length to 607-753-3095; or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If keeping the muskie report the same information.
Whitney Point Reservoir: For walleye, try trolling with worm harnesses or jigging with a bucktail jig tipped with nightcrawler in the old river channel.
Lake Champlain: Some lake anglers have turned their attention to the Canada goose season, with Bryce Collins of Eastern View Outfitters scoring big on geese during the September offering. Weather has allowed anglers to take their last shots of the season at big smallmouth bass, as well as vertical jigging for lake trout and trolling for lakers and landlocked salmon. No reports of success during the Northern Zone’s early bear season, but that could change.
West Branch Ausable River: Conditions were ideal – finally –at last check, with water temperatures in the 60s and dropping thanks to cool nights. Flying Ant (black and cinnamon) patterns, Isonychias, October Caddis (northern casemaker), Stoneflies, BWO and Tricos should produce fish, and this is a great time of year to strip streamers for a shot at a big brown trout.
Elsewhere, bass and pike action was good on the Saranac Chain of Lakes, Schroon Lake was yielding lakers and salmon, and the backcountry brook trout ponds were offering good action for those willing to trek into those waters.
The first half of the report period for saltwater anglers was largely washed out by nearly a week of the rough seas and surf resulting from tropical storm Hermine. The storm’s lack of heavy rain allowed freshwater anglers to the extended summer patterns due to the warm water. The predominant catch remained largemouth bass, which were caught on small swim jigs, plastic baits, spinners and spoons. Flyrodders did well working poppers among the weeds and lily pads, which continued to be thick in the shallower lakes and ponds. Anglers rounded out their catch with yellow perch, bluegills and sunfish, along with the occasional pickerel and carp. Trout remained largely absent from the catches.
Anglers were reporting large schools of both peanut and adult bunker throughout the region. The reports indicate an increase in both the size and number of bunker schools that have largely been present most of the season. This is a terrific indicator for a strong fall striper and bluefish run. Offshore anglers were using cast nets to catch these small bunker for nighttime tuna chunking at The Canyons.
Anglers were reporting that many of the peanut bunker schools living in the canals and creeks are being harassed by large snappers. The adult bunker schools were occasionally harassed by large stripers and bluefish in the western Sound and at the South Shore inlet mouths. The striper and bluefish action should continue to improve as the water gets cooler. A few thresher sharks in the 40-pound class were reported feeding on adult bunker in as little as 40 feet of water.
Surfcasters reported improved fishing. Along the South Shore beaches, the striper and bluefish fishing improved, especially at the inlet mouths where the stripers and blues were ambushing bunker and bay anchovies migrating out of the inlets. Most of the stripers were in the 6- to 12-pound class, with a few topping 30 pounds, mostly around Montauk Point. The blues were generally between 3 and 8 pounds. There were no reports of mullet as of late.
On the North Shore, flyrodders did well fishing from shore and in kayaks for blues and schoolie stripers in the back of the harbors, in the Nissaquogue River and from the beaches. The best fly-fishing on the South Shore was reported by anglers working Moriches and Shinnecock inlets during the early morning and night tides. A few albacore tuna have were mixed in with the blues and stripers. Small spearing patterns, poppers and sliders, as well as bunker imitations were top performers.
The Montauk boats were reporting excellent fishing for stripers in the 20- to 30-pound class with a few approaching 40 pounds. Trolling parachute jigs or tubes, live-lining porgies and diamond jigging all produced limits of stripers. Blues from 5 to 12 pounds were mixed in with the stripers.
The snapper fishing was excellent from nearly all the beaches, docks, jetties and canals. The snappers are now 6 to 10 inches long and attacking small tins, snapper poppers, spearing fished under a bobber and live-lined peanut bunker. Blowfish and blue crabs were caught at the same locations as the snappers. The blue crabs are very large due to the extended warm water growing season. These crabs continued to be caught using all traditional methods of traps, killie rings and under a spotlight a night. Many of females have eggs and must be immediately released unharmed.
The South Shore bays, the North Shore harbors and The Peconics continued to provide anglers with very good mixed bag fishing for porgies, small sea bass, snappers, blowfish, the occasional northern kingfish and some triggerfish, from both shore and boat. The top bait was sandworms, with clams and squid strips also catching their fair share when fished on a porgy hook close to the bottom. Boat anglers improved their catch by using clam chum. Notable North Shore spots include Crescent, Pryblis and Matinecock beaches in the western Sound and the beaches around Horton’s Point to the east. On the South Shore the better action came fishing from boats in the State Boat, Reynold’s, Dickerson’s and West channels, and the Shinnecock and Quogue canals.
The summer weakfish action improved, with some of the best action reported from the areas in the back of Jamaica Bay. Anglers also reported weakfish action in the vicinity of Ocean Beach and in the Peconics. Small bucktails, plastics and Gulp! baits were all productive.
Offshore, there were few reports due to the rough water, but anglers who did reach The Canyons reported big eye and yellowfin tuna. A few small makos and brown sharks were reported around the 20-fathom line.
The porgy fishing continued to be excellent in The Peconics, off Montauk Point and in the Sound. The porgy fishing elsewhere was good. All the usual spots, including Jessups, Rodger’s Rock, Shagwong and off Port Jefferson were producing fish.
The best fluke action has been in the ocean, but the majority of the fish were in the 13 to 14-inch range. The exception has been off Montauk Point, where pool fish were in the 8- to 10-pound range and numerous 5-pound plus fluke were caught.
Attention is starting to turn to hunting season, with the Northern Zone bear season open and the archery deer season also launched. As a result, fishing reports are harder to come by. Small-game and waterfowl hunters are out as well.
Lake George: It’s a great time to target smallmouth bass as they go on their fall feeding binge. Drag tubes in 35 feet of water, but don’t overlook the top-water possibilities.
Great Sacandaga Lake: Walleye action should be picking up as waters cool.
Southeastern New York
Fishing licenses are now good for 365 days, check to make sure your license is still valid before heading out on the water. April 1 was also the start of the new regulation guide, effective April 1, 2016 – March 31, 2017. You can obtain a copy from a licensing agent or it can be viewed online at Freshwater Fishing Guide on the DEC website (www.dec.ny.gov).
Not hearing a lot on the east-of-Hudson reservoir scene, but cooler water temps should boost action for trout – browns on the Croton Falls and Cross River reservoirs, and lake trout on Kensico Reservoir and Glenida Lake.
Fishing pressure will likely decline as the archery season opens Oct. 1.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Both rivers were low at last check, but water temps were fine. Fishing has been poor due to low water conditions. There are some Olives and Caddis close to dark. Terrestrials are a good choice.
Delaware East Branch: Fishable but lower than normal. Hatches are spotty and a mix of tricos, BWOs and a few Caddis. The river below East Branch has decent water temps but is low.
Delaware West Branch: Had an increase in flow earlier this month that made for limited wading. Hatches are mostly in the afternoon with some spinners, Olives and Isonychias, as well as some Caddis. Streamers are a good choice during high water flows.
Esopus: Clear at last check. Surface activity is late day with some Isonychias. This can be a great river for nymph fishing.
Neversink: Wadeable and at a normal flow. Water temps were fine. Most hatches are late day with mostly small Olives and a few Caddis. There are some tricos late in the morning. Small nymphs and terrestrials are both good daytime choices. Terrestrial patterns are a great option.
Delaware Main Stem: Was up due to the increase in release on the West Branch. Nymphs are good choices in the non-hatch situations. Water temps are not a problem. Hatches are mostly Caddis, Olives and Isonychias.
St. Lawrence River: Muskie fishermen will begin to pick up the pace as their fall fishing frenzy approaches. Not hearing much of late, however, with water temps still above normal for the early fall.
Black Lake: Bass and bluegills are attracting the most angling attention, but the walleye fishing fraternity is also on the water.