Western New York
Lake Ontario and tributaries: Trollers continued to see a good king salmon bite from the Niagara Bar to Oak Orchard, with some mature kings now over 30 pounds. The most consistent trout and salmon action remained in deep water of 300-500 feet, where flasher-fly combos and spoons run 60-90 feet down produced good catches of large steelhead, coho salmon, juvenile king salmon with some mature kings mixed in. Mature king salmon catches were picking up inside 300 feet of water as well, but there was no talk of “staging” just yet. Over the next couple of weeks, look for increasing numbers of mature king salmon to “stage,” or move into 50-150 feet of water near major tributaries in preparation for the spawning run. During this period, look for kings at the shallower end of that depth range at first light, and progressively work deeper as the sun climbs in the sky.
Lake Ontario tributaries, harbors and piers: Anglers have been catching a variety of warmwater species at pier sites. No word yet, but brown trout and then king salmon should start to show for pier casters soon. Brown trout fishing from piers is generally best during low-light periods. Medium-sized spoons are good bets for brown trout. Once king salmon start to show, large, heavy (three-quarter-ounce) glow spoons are good offerings after dark.
Lower Niagara River: Anglers were catching some walleye in the lower drifts and out on the Niagara Bar. Drifting with a 3-way, bottom bouncing rigs and worm harness or yellow sally rigs (with worm) are traditional river walleye tactics. Smallmouth bass dominated angler effort and catches in the river. There were some mature salmon showing along the Niagara Bar drop at times, but there have been no reports of salmon in the river.
Lake Erie and harbors: When weather permitted, Lake Erie anglers continued to see very good walleye fishing. Anglers were catching plenty of short walleye out of all ports, which bodes well for future seasons. This was most evident out of Barcelona, where anglers were throwing back at least a few shorts for every keeper. Walleye were available off Barcelona from 65 feet of water all the way out to 150 feet. The keeper-to-throwback ratio gets a little better to the east. Dunkirk anglers reported good catches in 75-110 feet of water, with the most productive depth changing daily. Out of Cattaraugus Creek, anglers reported solid catches in 70-85 feet of water and off Sturgeon Point anglers were catching ’eyes outside 65 feet of water. Some walleye were suspended higher in the water column, but the most productive depth zone in most areas has been around 70 feet down. Stickbaits and worm harnesses work well. Bottom bouncing or casting weight-forward spinners around rocky reef structure inside 50 feet of water has produced some walleye catches as well.
There have been some modest yellow perch catches off Cattaraugus Creek recently. In addition, walleye trollers have commented on perch schools and incidental perch catches in that area. Depths of 65-70 feet are a good starting point. Some perch have shown off of Dunkirk as well, but no specific information has been available. Use emerald shiners or other small minnows for bait. Some smaller emeralds have been available for dipping from the Niagara River along the City of Buffalo.
Lake trout are an under utilized species in Lake Erie that are available outside 75 feet of water, from Dunkirk to the Pennsylvania line. Downriggers with spoons run near the bottom is a productive method.
Upper Niagara River: Anglers working the drift upriver from Strawberry Island were catching decent numbers of smallmouth bass, with the occasional walleye mixed in. Boaters can target smallmouth bass throughout the river. Drifting and bottom bouncing with crayfish, shiners or tubes works well outside weed edges or on the backside of humps or other bottom structure.
Chautauqua Lake: The walleye bite remained strong in Chautauqua Lake’s north basin. Vertical jigging techniques work very well at depths of 25-35 feet. Blade baits, jigging Rapalas, Swedish pimples and leadhead jigs with a nightcrawler or minnow are good offerings. Trolling outside weed edges with stickbaits or worm harnesses has also produced walleyes. Target largemouth bass around docks, weed edges and open pockets within the weeds. Top-water lures, wacky-rigged senkos, Texas-rigged plastics and live shiners work well. Weedbeds are top spots for a mix of yellow perch, white perch, bluegill and white bass. Small minnows are top bait for perch and white bass. Worms or small jigs with a wax worm work well for bluegill.
Inland trout streams: Most area streams have slightly lower flows, but elevated temperatures have not been a problem. Cooler nights will help keep creek temperatures down. There were some tricos hatching in the morning hours, at which time trico emergers and spinners are good flies to tie on. Stimulator patterns and terrestrials (ants, beetles, grasshoppers) will also draw trout to the surface. Productive offerings for spinning anglers include worms, salted minnows and small in-line spinners.
Orleans County: Fishing on Lake Ontario off the shores of Orleans County has been interesting to say the least. Fish were on the move from close to shore and then offshore, depending on the winds of the day. Lure selection seems to be anybody’s guess, but it seems that spoons in the green patterns and flashers in the white patterns are most often mentioned. With the cooler temperatures, salmon are inching closer to shore and preparing for their spawning runs. But warmer temperatures could slow that down a bit. The Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey has concluded, with some great catches posted on the leaderboard. What really makes this event so fantastic is the attention paid to the young ladies and gentlemen who participate in this event.
Perch fishing on the lower stretches of Oak Orchard Creek should start picking up very soon as the water temperature of “The Oak” gets to more favorable levels.
On Lake Alice, bass fishing was still good to very good on the upper reaches and bluegill were still being caught around the Waterport Bridge area.
The Erie Canal is still a good source for all of the warmwater species and a great place to enjoy a sunny afternoon with the family.
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 pages.
Lake Ontario: Strong winds during made getting out difficult at times. Salmon were moving shallower and were being found in 100 to 150 feet of water. Chinook salmon fishing continued to be very good, with flasher and flies producing the most action of late, but cut bait was also working. J-plugs usually become productive as we get into September as well. Green and white continued to be a good colors. Try for smallmouth bass in 20 feet of water with crayfish, tube jigs or drop-shot rigs.
Oswego River: Look for smallmouth bass in the river with crayfish or tube jigs, also try crayfish for the sheepshead. No salmon yet, but it’s still very early.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory personal flotation device (PFD) zones on the river.
Salmon River: Things are quiet on the river this time of year, which is normal, but it shouldn’t be too much longer before a few salmon start trickling in. In fact, we received some late reports that a few salmon were entering the lower river.
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 in advance. You can reach the hatchery at 315-298-5051, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Oneida Lake: Smallmouth bass are starting to feed 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 than 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. If not seeing surface activity keep an eye out for shad dimpling on the surface; that will at least let you know they are in the area and bass should be around. Walleye were being taken in deep water by anglers trolling with worm harness or blade baits. When anglers find them, yellow perch fishing has been good on small minnows.
With round gobies now abundant in the lake, it may require some adjustment in the way anglers fish for walleye. Gobies are very bottom oriented fish so sometimes just getting a foot or two off bottom will help to avoid some of the gobies. Walleye tend to be well fed in goby waters and can be difficult to catch.
Sandy Pond: The DEC launch has reopened. Please use caution and watch your wake while boating in the bay. Vegetation was making fishing more difficult but try weedless baits for the bass.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Use caution when boating as the lake level is running high at this time, and most bays have a 5 mph speed limit. Look for largemouth bass around the weedbeds.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Keep an eye out for weedmats and other debris, as they have been an issue for some anglers when trolling. Water fleas have also been a nuisance for some anglers when trolling. Sometimes using a heavier pound monofilament helps to avoid some of the fleas, as does trolling with lines that don’t run straight “up and down,” as lines fished off downriggers do. Instead try trolling with wire and Dipseys, or copper. Vertical jigging is also another option if fleas get too bad. Anglers continued to have good luck catching lake trout either trolling or vertical jigging. Trolling 60 to 90 feet down over 120 to 240 feet of water has been a good starting point, as has vertical jigging in 85 to 105 feet. You’ll mark fish; you just have to get them to eat.
Seneca Lake: Fleas are becoming more abundant and can be a nuisance when trolling. Trolling spoons or flashers and flies down 50 to 70 feet has been working for lake trout.
Keuka Lake: Water fleas are a problem, as they have been on other lakes. Vertical jig instead of trolling is an option. Lake trout were hitting on alewives fished near bottom in 120 feet of water. Vertical jigging at the same depths with plastics, white paddletails has been working well for lakers, too. 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 productive. Panfish were being taken in 20 to 30 feet of water on worms.
Canandaigua Lake: Trolling 40 feet down with small spoons was producing a few rainbow trout.
Skaneateles Lake: Trolling 40 to 50 feet down over 60 to 80 feet of water with small spoons was working for lake trout and an occasional rainbow trout. Look for smallmouth bass in 15 to 35 feet of water; use 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: Weed mats and fleas were making trolling difficult at times. 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 over the same depths.
Otisco Lake: Look for largemouth bass in and around the weedbeds with creature baits, rubber worms or tube baits. For tiger muskies, try casting or trolling with large spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, stickbaits, or swim baits. Don’t forget the wire leaders even if you’re not targeting tigers; they will help save some of your expensive bass baits from being bitten off.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Try along shore for smallmouth bass using crankbaits, spinnerbaits or tube jigs. Look for walleye along the old river channel with jigs or worm harnesses.
Chenango, Tioughnioga, Susquehanna and Chemung rivers: the rivers have been in great shape for a while now and smallmouth bass fishing has ranged from simply pretty good to epic. White marabou jigs were working for smallmouth bass, walleye and rock bass around Rock Bottom Dam and Goudy Station. Small silver blade spinners are also working for smallmouths in the riffle areas. Fishing around hard structure (rocks, logs, etc.) with minnows or nightcrawlers is producing smallmouth bass and also catfish. Use as light a weight as you can get away with; it seems to be improving the bite. Top-water action has been good at times also.
While some sportsmen have been targeting early-season Canada geese, Lake Champlain fishing remained very good, notably for smallmouth bass. And some of the biggest lake trout in recent years have been taken by trollers as well as those using the increasingly popular vertical jigging technique. We haven’t heard much lately on landlocked salmon.
On the West Branch of the Ausable River, things are setting up for some fine fall fishing. It’s a time when Isonychia nymphs are very effective, and stripping streamers can produce some of the biggest brown trout of the season.
Anglers reported catching brown sharks between 30 and 100 pounds, double-digit hammerheads, makos and blues sharks to 150 pounds in 40 feet of water out to the 20-fathom line between Jones Inlet and Shinnecock Inlet. The sharks close to the beach were feeding on the large schools of adult bunker, giving small-boat anglers the opportunity to shark fish close to the inlets by snagging and live-lining bunker.
Along the South Shore out to Montauk Point there were a fair number of thresher sharks reported. Nearshore they tended to be less than 100 pounds, but closer to the 20-fathom line and out to the 30-fathom line, especially off Montauk Point, thresher sharks over 400 pounds were reported. Mixed in with the sharks are mahi into the low teens, which are large for our area, as well as some chub mackerel.
Overall, the tuna bite has been slow, but Scott Jeffery at East End Bait and Tackle reported that bluefin were still in range at the Coimbra area and the Butterfish Hole. Not much of a pattern to the bite but worth a trip if the weather is right, and bring a can of chum along to target a shark or two. Pretty hit-and-miss out at the edge, with a few yellowfins along with some mahi on the pots.
The snapper fishing continued to be excellent off the local docks, canals, jetties, and beaches, with moving water providing the best action. The snappers are around 6 inches long, with a few larger ones mixed in the catch. All the typical methods, including casting small tins and plastic baits, snapper poppers, and spearing or live killies fished under a bobber were productive. The canals that are fed by freshwater creeks were holding a lot of juvenile bunker, which in turn has yielded some of the largest snappers for anglers cast-netting the bunker then fishing them under a bobber.
Bob Rose at Bob’s Bait and Tackle reported that the blue crab fishing remained excellent, with plenty of large blueclaws being caught from the South Shore docks, off boats using killie rings and by boaters using lights at nights. I did a quick tour of the local docks to check out both the snapper and crabbing action and was pleasantly surprised by the number of kids and families fishing for these two species. This is a great way to introduce young anglers to saltwater fishing.
The fluke fishing has been hit and miss depending on the day and tides. In general, the incoming tide was more productive on both shores as the water was a bit cooler and cleaner than during the outgoing tide. This is typical for this time of the year. Most of the fluke caught in the South Shore bays and inlets, and the North Shore harbors were shorts. In the Peconics and Gardiner’s Bay, the keeper ratio was better. The ocean fluke fishing was good for anglers finding schools of squid or for those fishing the edges of the artificial reefs as well as off Montauk Point and at Cholera Banks. Some of the largest fluke were reported by anglers fishing live snappers, spot, or peanut bunker in the South Shore inlet mouths, where fluke to 8 pounds were frequently reported. There were a lot of sea robins caught with the fluke.
This is the season where there is an excellent mixed bag of fish being caught in the bays and harbors. Snappers, porgies, triggers, sea bass, kingfish, blowfish and sea robins were caught on small squid strips and sandworms fished on a flounder or porgy hook just off the bottom above a 1- or 2-ounce sinker in 10 to 20 feet of water. A few summer weakfish as well as cocktail blues were reported in the mix. This is a fun fishery, but most of the fish were released as they were undersized.
The artificial reefs and wrecks off the South Shore and the rock piles on the North Shore and off Orient and Montauk points, including the Cartwright grounds, yielded a lot of sea bass and porgies. Most of the sea bass were shorts, with a few keepers to 4 pounds. Many of the porgies were keepers, with the larger ones reported by North Shore anglers as well as those fishing Peconic and Gardiner’s Bay in spots such as Jessup’s Neck. Fresh clam strips were the best choice for the porgies, while jigs, clams and squid worked well for the sea bass. Good summer cod fishing was reported by the boats running out of Montauk Point.
The striped bass action is predictably slow as the water temperatures are high for high concentrations of stripers. But they continue to be caught by anglers fishing clam chum under the bridges and inlet bars and by anglers live-lining bunker under the schools on both the North and South shores. A few schoolie bass were reported by anglers fishing at dusk and dawn on the ocean beaches. Boat anglers fishing Montauk Point reported the best striper fishing, with fish to 20 pounds caught trolling parachute jigs as well as live-lining spot and porgies.
The freshwater ponds and lakes continued to provide anglers with panfish, largemouth bass and pickerel. The best fishing continued to be in the later afternoons and at daybreak. Spinnerbaits, plastic worms and plugs yielded largemouths, while worms and grubs produced panfish throughout the area. There were no reports of trout as of late.
April 1 was the start of the new Freshwater Fishing Regulation Guide:, which covers April 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018. You can obtain a copy from a licensing agent or view it online at Summary of Freshwater Fishing Regulations on the DEC website.
Lake George: Anglers continue to connect on smallmouth bass in both quality and quantity, but the biggest fish are coming in deeper water, even 35 feet or more. Trollers with knowledge of the lake are picking up lakers and landlocks.
Saratoga Lake: Saratoga Tackle and Archery’s popular Tuesday night bass tourneys have ended, and angling attention may turn to walleye and crappie as the waters cool, although largemouths will still be a legitimate option.
Trout anglers would be wise to visit the Mettawee, Battenkill and Kayaderosseras as water temperature cool. Some big browns are taken on these waters each fall.
Southeastern New York
The east of Hudson reservoirs are offering up some solid fishing, including Kensico Reservoir for lake trout, Rondout Reservoir for brown trout, and Muscoot and Croton Falls reservoirs for bass.
The summer, all in all, has been decent for fishing. The trout haven’t gone through much stress (if any) from high water temps so far this summer. Air temps have been fairly comfortable, now cool, and will likely remain so.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Both rivers were getting low but had decent water temps. Mornings have tricos, BWOs and midges. There are some Olives, Caddis and Isonychias later in the day. Small nymphs and terrestrials are a good choice. The Horton section of the Beaverkill reopened Sept. 1.
Delaware East Branch: Wadeable and at a good fishing level. It is fishing much like the West Branch. Tricos are a possibility any morning. Late day there are some Caddis, Hebes mayflies and Olives. Hatches are not consistent this time of year. There is no one hatch that stands out. Nymph fishing can be productive.
Delaware West Branch: Clear at last look, with some spotty hatches – a mix of some Light Cahills, Hebes, Caddis, Isonychias and Olives, mostly later in the day. Spinners can be important in the late morning. The slop can be a problem in the upper reaches. Hatch intensity can change from day to day.
Esopus: Still had some color but was slowly clearing below the portal. Things look better above the portal. Hatches are spotty, with some Isonychias and small Olives. This is a better nymph fishing stream.
Neversink: At a normal summer flow and in decent condition. There are some Tricos in the late morning and Caddis and Olives close to dark. It’s a good terrestrial river. Beetles fished along the banks work very well. Olive Woolly Buggers fished deep and slow are often effective.
Delaware Main Stem: At a decent fishing level with good water temps throughout the trout zone. There are still some Tricos in midmorning. Late afternoon has been Hebes and Isonychias as well as some spinners. Small nymphs have been effective.
St. Lawrence River: Look for the biggest smallmouth bass in 25-35 feet of water. Muskie hunters are beginning to ramp up their efforts heading into the fall but we haven’t heard of any big fish yet.
Black Lake: The big lake is offering up some outstanding panfish action, notably for bluegill and crappie, and it should only get better heading into the fall. The lake’s bass fishing is also superb, with numerous fish topping the 15-inch size minimum. Not hearing much on the walleye front; anglers fishing for bass are encountering a couple of northern pike whether they want to or not.