Western New York
Lake Ontario tributaries, harbors and piers: Heavy rains hindered fishing and made it difficult to generate any fishing info since streams were blown out. That said, there were still plenty of king salmon in Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard creeks, where anglers reported a mix of green and weathered kings. Brown trout catches were on the rise in both creeks along, with the occasional steelhead. Johnson, Sandy and Marsh creeks had trout and salmon scattered throughout. Look for improved conditions and catches on the smaller streams. 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 were decent options for trout and salmon before heavy rains. It’s difficult to say how conditions are right now. 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.
Yellow perch have been showing in Wilson Harbor and the lower stretches of Oak Orchard Creek.
Lower Niagara River: The king salmon bite has tapered off. Recent catches in the Devil’s Hole drift – before the rains came – have been a light mix of king salmon, coho salmon and steelhead. Shore anglers in the gorge were seeing the same mix. Boaters and shore anglers at Lewiston Landing were catching some coho salmon. When trout show in earnest, the Artpark drift is also a great spot to fish. Bottom-bouncing rigs with egg sacs, live shiners or Kwikfish lures work well for trout. The top target is generally steelhead, but anglers inadvertently catch lake trout, as well. Be aware that lake trout season is closed until Jan. 1, so all caught lakers should be promptly released.
The Devil’s Hole State Park stairs are closed for 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.
Lake Erie: Windy days and rough waters continued to limit outings on the lake. Anglers reported modest yellow perch catches off Cattaraugus Creek to Evangola State Park in 55-65 feet of water. Perch schools are small, scattered and finicky, so expect to work for them. Some walleye have recently been caught by trollers working depths inside 60 feet of water. Another option is to cast, troll or jig around the nearshore reefs in 20-40 feet of water. Try the same spots where walleye are typically found in spring.
Lake Erie tributaries: Steelhead anglers were doing very well on Cattaraugus Creek before it blew out after heavy rains last week. Fish were spread throughout, with the best catches between Gowanda and the mouth. There were decent numbers of steelhead in the deeper holes. Tributary steelhead commonly take flies such as egg imitations, nymphs, streamers and woolly buggers. Drift anglers do well with egg sacs, beads and jigs with grubs fished under a float.
There are new resources available for anglers looking for stream conditions. There are now water-stage recorders on Chautauqua, Canadaway, Silver, Walnut, Big Sister and Eighteenmile creeks. At present, these recorders only measure gauge height, which is height of the water in the stream above a reference point. There will be a bit of a learning curve here, to figure out how gauge height translates to actual stream flow or condition. See the USGS Water Data for New York website for this information.
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. Muskellunge fishing peaks on the river in fall as well. Drifting with large (8- to 10-inch) tube jigs or casting large stickbaits are the top tactics.
Chautauqua Lake: Walleye fishing in the north basin has been best around weedlines. Casting stickbaits from shore has also produced some walleye. In the south basin, anglers were catching walleye in 10-18 feet of water by trolling or jigging. Muskie fishing is best along weedlines, as well. Casting large stickbaits and bucktail spinners is a good tactic. Anglers can search for fall concentrations of crappie in the same locations they are found in spring, such as in canals, off canal mouths and around shallow structure. Small minnows or tube jigs work well for crappie.
(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, which 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.
Orleans County: On the lower stretches of Oak Orchard Creek, perch fishing has been good to very good, Bass were active and northern pike were being caught occasionally.
On the upper stretches of “The Oak,” it’s brown trout time. Brown trout in the upper teens are being caught and numbers are very good, as well. These fish are extremely colorful this time of year and make for great “hero shots” as well as replica mounts. “Fresh” salmon were still entering the system, along with the very start of the steelhead/rainbow trout run.
Water levels on all of the tributaries within Orleans County were slightly high to high, and with all of the rain of late could go higher and go from stained to muddy for a day or two.
On Lake Alice, some crappie were starting to show up and bass fishing remains as good as ever.
Winners of the St. Mary’s Archer Club’s Catch and Release Derby were:
• In the Adult Division, Mia Stone had a 26.555-pound salmon; Nat Smith had an 11.115-pound brown trout and Paul Davidson had a 6.12-pound steelhead.
• In the Youth Division, Ben Smith won with a 16.63-pound salmon.
Next year’s Archer Club Catch and Release Fly Fishing Derby will be held on Oct. 17-19.
Central New York
We have hit that time of year again, though there is still plenty of good fishing left, many anglers have pulled their boats for the season and are starting to focus on hunting more than fishing. Reports will be harder to come by because of this, so there will likely be few changes to the report in coming weeks.
Oswego and Wayne Counties have weekly fishing hotlines on their websites as well and would be another good option for fishing reports: Oswego County (visitoswegocounty.com); and Wayne County (waynecountytourism.com). Though Onondaga County doesn’t have a weekly fishing report, their website is another good source of fishing information in the region (fishonondagacounty.com).
Also, as a word of warning, many of the dock structures at the DEC boat launches will be removed shortly, or may have been removed already. So please plan accordingly.
Lake Ontario: The lake fishing is done for the season, most of the activity was taking place in the tributaries.
Oswego River: Rains had the river way up at last check. Before the rain there were still chinook salmon being taken in the river on beads, egg-imitating plastics and skein. Steelhead were also to be caught in the river on the same baits.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: Before the rain, salmon were still being caught in the river, but a lot of the effort is now being focused on steelhead. Most of the salmon activity was taking place in the middle and upper sections of river, while the lower and midsection is seeing most of the steelhead action.
Oneida Lake: A few walleye were starting to be taken by anglers casting stickbaits from shore. Some cooler temperatures have helped get the fall walleye bite really going. Often, casting stickbaits (minnow-imitating lures) from shore just before and after dark is a great way to catch walleye this time of year. The walleye come in close to shore as they follow the gizzard shad. Yellow perch, when found, are biting in 10 to 15 feet of water on small minnows or crayfish.
Sandy Pond: No new fishing information and there will likely not be any until ice fishing season arrives.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Largemouth bass fishing continued to be good and the yellow perch bite has picked up A variety of lures are working for the bass, while small minnows or minnow-imitating plastics are yielding perch.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Significant rainfall likely drew spawning brown trout and Atlantic salmon into the tributaries. With the number of large salmon caught in the lake this summer it may be a very interesting fall salmon run. Lake trout fishing has slowed down in the last few weeks but some were still being taken by vertical jigging in 85 to 90 feet of water or trolling 40 to 50 feet down over 100 to 150 feet of water. Not a lot of fishing taking place right now, because, hey, it’s deer season.
Skaneateles Lake: The lake trout fishing has slowed down; fish were being marked – they’ve just been hard to catch. That’s not uncommon during spawning time. No word on the yellow perch bite or the shore rainbow trout bite. It’s tough to get a fishing report with as little angling activity we’re seeing right now.
Owasco Lake: Vertical jigging has been working on the north end, but it’s been very sporadic, with one day being hot and the next cold.
Otisco Lake: Cooler temperatures may get the shoreline 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. Not a lot of fishing taking place right now.
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: Smallmouth bass and walleye were being taken on crankbaits in the deeper holes before rains blew out the rivers. Not much happening now.
Seneca Lake: Trolling spoons or flashers and flies down 50 to 70 feet has been working for lake trout.
Keuka and Canandaigua lakes: Not hearing anything right now.
Not much happening now on the fishing front, and it will likely remain that way until the first ice fishing opportunities of the season arrive. The focus now is clearly on whitetails in the big woods. Keep an eye on the popular website adkhunter.com for up-to-date info on conditions and big-game harvests.
Anglers who were able to make the long runs to the Hudson Canyon and The Dip were rewarded with excellent fishing for tuna, swordfish and big makos. The best action was during the overnight, with anglers using chunks and the jigs for yellowfin tuna. Anglers fishing squid either deep or on both sides of the thermocline were rewarded with swordfish. One boat reported catching four on a single trip. Most of the swordfish were under 100 pounds.
During both the day and night at The Canyons, makos in the 300- to 500-pound range were caught on chunks meant for tuna, as well as on shark rigs. Trolling during the day resulted in mahi and yellowfin tuna.
The fall striper season was in full swing, with numerous stripers in the 40-pound class caught between Montauk Point and New York Bight. These stripers were feeding on the schools of bunker in the ocean as well as on sand eels. Off Montauk Point, most stripers caught on the boats ranged from the mid-teens to about 25 pounds, with the occasional striper of 30 pounds caught. The boats reported that tubes or parachute jigs trolled on wire line as the most productive setup, with boats limiting out quickly. The larger stripers were more consistently caught on live spot or porgies. Diamond jigs were also productive when schools of sand eels were found. A good number of bluefish between 8 and 12 pounds were mixed in with the stripers.
From Shinnecock Inlet east to New York Bight, the largest stripers were caught on live bunker fished under the schools of bunker, with fresh bunker chunks a close second. When the bunker were hard to find, anglers trolling large plugs, such as a Mann Stretch 25, or bunker spoons were rewarded with consistent striper fishing. Large numbers of bluefish in the 8- to 12-pound size were mixed in with the stripers when the bunker were thick.
Surfcasters did well fishing bunker chunks or casting large swimming plug, such as the Atom 40, bottle plugs and darters during the night tides. Most stripers caught along the ocean beaches were in the high teens, with consistent reports of 40-pound plus stripers. During the day, large poppers, pencil poppers and tins all produced stripers between 12 and 20 pounds, with a few stripers in the 30-pound class.
Anglers drifting the South Shore inlets caught stripers to 40 pounds on eels during the night tides. During the daylight hours, most anglers target stripers at the bridges and inlet bars using clam bellies and reported limits of stripers between 8 and 20 pounds.
Along the North Shore beaches, anglers casting thin swimming plugs after dark and fly-rodders casting sand eel patterns caught stripers between 5 and 12 pounds, along with a few bluefish. Anglers fishing from kayaks reported similar fishing, with some of the best fishing coming from the marsh areas and rock piles in the North Shore Harbors as well as in Jamaica Bay. Off Orient Point, the striper and bluefish fishing remained solid in The Gut and on the north side of The Point. Most anglers used pork rind or Twister Tail-tipped bucktails drifted using a three-way rig. Diamond jigging the western Sound resulted in a mixed bag of stripers and bluefish, with the number of stripers caught greater than the number of blues caught. Some of the best fishing was during the night tides, but the daytime fishing showed significant improvement.
The snappers have largely moved out of the harbors and bays. The blue crab fishing has slowed, but the crabs are larger. Blowfish and northern kingfish were caught from the docks and canals, along with short sea bass and the occasional small blackfish. Sandworms or bloodworms were the bait of choice.
The blackfish and sea bass fishing remained excellent in all areas. Anglers working the offshore wrecks in 90 feet of water and deeper, off Block Island and Fishers Island were rewarded with blackfish to 8 pounds,with pool fish often 12 pounds. Anglers limited out on sea bass to 5 pounds. Crabs were the best bait for the blackfish and fresh clams the top bait for the sea bass. Some jumbo porgies approaching 4 pounds were caught with the sea bass. The best porgy fishing was reported from the mid-Sound, where anglers often limited out.
Closer to shore, there was excellent mixed bag fishing for blackfish, sea bass and porgies. Some locations favored one species over the other, but pretty much anywhere that anglers fished over gravel or mussel covered bottoms they scored with porgies. Sea bass were caught over the mussel beds as well as the same rock piles that the blackfish prefer. Most of the fish were on both sides of their respective keeper sizes. Similar fishing, but with generally smaller fish, was reported by anglers fishing off the rock jetties on both shores as well as around the bridge piles and rocky shorelines.
Similar to last few reports, the freshwater fishing for bluegills, yellow perch and crappie remained strong throughout the report area. Worms, small spinners and fly rod poppers all produced quality fishing. There were no reports of trout as of late.
Fishing is on hold right now as the deer seasons occupy the attention of most sportsmen/women. Good spots to keep an eye on deer and bear harvests in both Northern and Southern zones are adkhunter.com and www.nyantler-outdoors.com.
Southeastern New York
A reminder that from Nov. 1 to May 1, all persons aboard a pleasure vessel less than 21 feet must wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) while in motion.
Not hearing a lot right now as far as fishing. And with the Southern Zone firearms deer season opening Nov. 18, that’s where the focus is now.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Both rivers were high but clear at last look. Wading was limited for anglers who absolutely had to extend their season. There were small Olives around in the afternoon. Small nymphs are a good choice.
Delaware East Branch: The stretch above Shinhopple is now closed. There are mostly small Olives seen, and small nymphs are a good choice. This river was up but at a good fishing level.
Delaware West Branch: Water clarity can be a problem. The New York section of this river is closed.
Esopus: Was up a bit and off color at last check. Those looking for spawners should concentrate on the deeper slots, much like steelhead. At this time of year some spawning fish may have moved out of the reservoir.
Neversink: Closed. Reopens to fishing on April 1.
Delaware Main Stem: Olives and a few Caddis are about in the afternoons.
St. Lawrence River: It’s time for the muskie hunters to patrol the water for the elusive 50-inch fish. Each year some topping that mark are boated and released. And we’ve already heard of one approaching 50 pounds.
Black Lake: Deer hunting is on the minds of most sportsmen right now, but panfish anglers in the know continue to ply the waters for bluegill, and some walleye are being taken as well by anglers who know the lake and the fish. The crappie bite is also heating up now that cold weather has kicked in.