Western New York
Lake Ontario and tributaries: After a recent hard east-northeast blow, the lake was settling back down and some of the great salmon and trout action we’ve seen this summer is back. Anglers were still experiencing tackle-busting salmon inside of 150 feet of water, starting in 60 feet of water at first light, according to Wes Walker at The Slippery Sinker. Meat rigs, flasher-fly setups or spoons will all take fish, but some days you do have to work harder than others. Browns have pushed inside of 50 feet of water and the leading youth catch in the LOC Derby was Adam Flachbart of Fairview Park, Ohio, with a 14-pound, 5-ounce brown trout … caught off the pier in Olcott on a Yo-Zuri crankbait. Walker also reported a few jack kings came from the pier after the lake rolled over following the storm. Now it’s back to the normal catch of bass, perch and a few crappies. Ditto for warmwater fish over in Wilson. Out deep, the 23 to the 26 north line continued to be productive on steelhead and teenager kings. It was actually tougher fishing in the 450- to 500-foot depth range due to some cold water upwelling. Niagara County led the charge once again in the Summer Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Trout and Salmon Derby held July 1-31. The grand prize catch came from Olcott and Wilson both – Chad Fenstermaker and Mitch Shipman of Ohio were fishing out of Olcott but ended up north of Wilson in 205 feet of water when a 31-pound, 7-ounce salmon hit their raspberry shadow Moonshine spoon 90 feet back of their Dipsy Diver set on No. 2. Chad reeled the fish in – his first salmon on his first Lake Ontario fishing trip – to take home the $10,000 check. First place in the salmon division was Larry Wills of Lewiston with a 30-pound, 15-ounce king salmon caught out of Wilson on a purple Warrior spoon – 40 feet down over 400 feet of water. First place brown trout was Guy Witkiewitz of Ontario, N.Y., with an 18-pound, 14-ounce fish caught east of Irondequoit Bay. Second place came from Wilson when Thomas Gies of Michigan reeled in a 17-pound, 6-ounce trout while fishing with Capt. Dan Evans of Lone Wolf Charters. It hit a Moonshine Ice Shadow spoon 45 feet down over 220 feet in front of Wilson. In the Lake Trout division, Ephriam Burt of Watertown bested Bob Turton of Sanborn with a 24-pound, 3-ounce fish from Henderson Harbor. Turton’s Niagara Bar laker tipped the scales at 23 pounds, 7 ounces. He was using a green Kwikfish to take his local trout. The top steelhead came from Niagara when Wade Winch of North Tonawanda hauled in a 17-pound, 10-ounce fish from Wilson. He was using a slide diver, back 185 feet on a No. 2.5 setting over 180 feet of water with a purple Dreamweaver spoon as bait. Fish Odyssey registrations are now online at www.fishodyssey.net for the Aug. 20-28 contest.
Lake Erie and tributaries: Closest consistent action for walleye continued to be off Sturgeon Point in 70 feet of water. While trolling worm harnesses or stickbaits are always an option off planer boards, downriggers or diving planes like Dipsy Divers, some anglers prefer to use the very basic approach of a three-way rig, bouncing bottom with a worm harness trailing. Bass action has been a bit tough.
Upper Niagara River: Best fishing has been along the east side of Strawberry Island for smallmouth on crayfish, shiners or tubes. The inside of the Strawberry Island horseshoe has been closed due to nesting bald eagles.
Lower Niagara River: After a lake rollover resulted in some great bass fishing at the mouth of the river, those fish scattered and it was a struggle for anglers fishing in the Lower River Fishing Challenge to benefit Cystic Fibrosis, part of the second annual Charity for Children event. Moss is no longer an issue, but finding bass and walleye during the dog days of summer was definitely a “challenge,” as the tournament’s name suggested. The most bass any one person caught was Tim Kolb with five on Monday; seven for Dean Hale on Tuesday. Only a few walleye were caught and trollers that hit the lake did produce some salmon and trout on the Niagara Bar. Top salmon catcher on Monday was Jim Weber of Newfane; Tuesday it was Adam Thomas of Amherst with Beneficial Soil #2 – who also won the individual title for the overall contest with 1,305 points. He was fishing with Capt. Mark “Sparky” McGranahan. In the end for the team title, it was Capt. Jim Gordon of Appleton leading the Team event for Beneficial Soil #1 (Frank D’Amico, Joe Manz and Rick O’Brien) with a total of 3,320 points. The surprise catch of the contest would have been Gary Hall’s 5-foot sturgeon that he fought for a half-hour before losing it at the side of the boat when the hook came out. Quite a thrill!
Chautauqua Lake: The muskie trolling bite has really picked up in the northern basin of the lake, according to Craig Robbins. Trolling from Long Point to the Bell Tower at Chautauqua Institution in 18 to 30 feet of water has been working well with black and silver deep-diving crankbaits. Best trolling speed has been 2.1 to 2.7 miles per hour. The bass bite was still good around the docks in the northern basin like Dewittville Bay, as well as the southern basin around Ashville and Bemus bays.
Orleans County: Storms of earlier this month had the lake and the fish all mixed up again. You can find fish anywhere from 60 feet of water all the way out to the 32 line; the trick is getting them to bite. Calm, hot weather was making fishing a bit more uncomfortable, but those are the conditions that could settle the lake and really turn the fishing on. Even as adverse as conditions were, there were still some great fish being entered into the Orleans County Rotary Club Derby, which runs through Aug. 21.
Fishing on Lake Alice has also slowed for all of the species, including carp. Anglers were still catching some bluegill, crappie and perch from the bridges, and the bass were still fairly active.
The 40th Annual Fish Odyssey runs from Aug. 20-28 and the Fall LOC Derby runs from Aug. 19 through Sept. 5 this year.
Central New York
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; Oswego County; and Wayne County. Oswego and Wayne counties also have a weekly fishing hotline on their web page as well.
Lake Ontario: Fishing was a little harder with an upwelling of cold water changing things around. Activity was taking place over deeper water than it has been. Salmon were being caught in 150 to 200 feet of water but now 250 to 450 feet has been a better starting point. Depending on wind direction strength, etc., it will most likely be changing again, so if not marking fish keep searching. Depending on the day, cut bait, spoons and flasher and flies are all working. Brown trout were being taken on spoons fished in 25 to 50 feet of water. Lake trout were being taken near bottom in 160 feet of water. Smallmouth bass were being caught on crayfish in the Mexico Bay area.
Oneida Lake: Walleye fishing continued to be challenging, but some anglers were getting them on blade baits fished in 20 to 25 feet of water, or trolling with stickbaits in 25 to 30 feet of water. Some walleye were also being taken shallow, 10 to 15 feet of water, on crankbaits or stickbaits. Smallmouth bass were being taken around the shoals on drop-shot rigs, tubes or live crayfish. Young of the year gizzard shad should be getting large enough for the 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 some exciting fishing.
Also, may be necessary to adjust your fishing style if fishing with worms to avoid the bait-stealing gobies. Sometimes just fishing worms 1.5-2 feet off bottom, instead of right on bottom, can help avoid some of the gobies.
Oswego River: Anglers are getting a few walleye, channel catfish and smallmouth bass. For the walleye, try using large stickbaits after dark; that’s often a great way to catch walleye in the river. For the catfish, try cut bait or nightcrawlers.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Look for largemouth bass along the weed edges with plastics or crankbaits. A few walleye were also being caught in Sodus.
Sandy Pond: For largemouth bass, try flipping or pitching 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 85 to 120 feet of water. Both trolling and vertical jigging are working. Water fleas weren’t as bad earlier this month, but still be prepared to deal with them if trolling. Sometimes going to a higher pound test monofilament, like 25-pound test, helps to avoid the fleas accumulating on the line. Vertical jigging is also a good alternative, as is trolling with other gear like wire, copper, or lead core. A few Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout were being taken by trolling 25 to 50 feet down with small spoons. 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 in 100 feet of water. Weed mats have been an annoyance when trolling, so be prepared to deal with them. Fleas have also been a problem in spots.
Keuka Lake: Some lake trout were being taken by anglers jigging in 60 to 100 feet of water around The Bluff area.
Canandaigua Lake: Lake trout were being taken in 60 to 75 feet of water on flashers and flies trolled at 1.5-2.1 mph. Trolling spoons off lead core is also working. If not catching fish keep changing sizes and colors of spoons.
Owasco Lake: The thermocline has been at about 55 to 60 feet over the last week. Trolling 70 to 80 feet down with spoons or flasher and flies has been producing some lake trout.
Otisco Lake: Tiger muskies have been hitting for anglers casting stickbaits, swimbaits, and spinnerbaits. If a tiger muskie follows but doesn’t hit, try that area again a little later in the trip. Trollers were also getting a few tigers on spoons or stickbaits. Largemouth bass were still hitting on tube baits or creature baits fished around the vegetation on the north end of the lake.
Skaneateles Lake: Trolling 30 to 40 feet down with small spoons often works well this time of year for trout. Look for pods of bait, typically young of the year perch, with your electronics and adjust down depth depending on the depth your marking them. For smallmouth bass try topwaters, flukes, tube jigs, drop-shot rigs, or a Ned-rig.
Susquehanna, Chenango, Tioughnioga and Unadilla rivers: A word of caution for anglers headed to the Susquehanna River: with the current low water levels, launching and retrieving boats at many of the launch sites has been difficult, or impossible in some cases.
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: Lake trout action has been red hot, notably for those using the increasingly popular vertical jigging technique. Bryce Collins of Eastern View Outfitters in Plattsburgh has been regularly putting his clients into multiple double-digit lakers daily. Smallmouth action has been solid, and this is the time of year when you can do more than drag tubes. Top-water action can be very good for both bronzebacks and bucketmouths.
West Branch of the Ausable River: Evan at The Hungry Trout Fly Shop reports some good morning fishing during the limited window of opportunity due to rising water temps. The river was very low and warm and he does not recommend fishing for trout past 10 or 11 a.m. Watch the temps and call it quits when the water is near 70. The trico spinner fall was right at daybreak, with many trout rising for spinners at 5:30 a.m. Hoppers, Bombers, Parachute Adams, and BWOs were the best attractor dries in the morning. Stonefly nymphs and tiny Copper Johns, tiny pheasant tails, Zug Bugs, and Scooters Soft Serve have been good droppers. Also, early in the morning sparse, classic streamer patterns have been a good option if trout are not moving to your dries or nymphs. Definitely pay attention to water temps in the afternoon.
Schroon Lake: Landlocked salmon fishing has been good through the summer.
The snapper fishing continued to improve, with snappers approaching the 5-inch mark. These hungry little fish are being caught from nearly every canal, dock, jetty and beach. The key is moving water, with both the incoming and outgoing tides productive. The tried and true Johnson Sprite, spearing fished under a bobber and snapper poppers were all top producers. Small blowfish were reported by snapper anglers fishing sandworms or bloodworms near the bottom.
Crabbers reported excellent blueclaw crab fishing from the docks and from boats. Traps, killie rings and spotlighting them at night were effective techniques. There are a lot of egg-laden female crabs that need to be released unharmed being caught.
The fluke fishing was good, but the number of keepers to shorts varied depending on areas fished between one or two keepers per every 10 shorts. As expected, the larger percentage of keepers and fish over 3 pounds were caught in the ocean between 40 and 70 feet of water and off Montauk and Orient points. Pool fish have generally ranged from 5 to 8 pounds. Anglers fishing the bays and inlets reported an equal number of sea robins being caught. Also, a lot of small sea bass were reported caught by fluke anglers fishing near structure or over mussel beds. On the North Shore the best fluking was in water less than 30 feet deep, with the best action reported by anglers using spearing tipped white bucktails. There was also a good number of fluke caught by flyrodders casting Clouser minnows or spearing imitation flies off the North Shore beaches and in The Peconics.
Larger sea bass were reported caught on the offshore artificial reefs where they are mixed with porgies and triggerfish, but the best sea bass fishing continued to be from the wrecks located in 90 feet of water and deeper as well as off Fishers and Block islands. Triggerfish were also reported caught from the South Shore inlet jetties.
The porgy fishing off the eastern North Fork, in The Peconics and Gardiners Bay and off Montauk Point was excellent. Clams were the top bait and most anglers were reported catching their limit with a few porgies up to 4 pounds in each limit. Excellent porgy fishing was also reported in the eastern Sound and in New York Bight.
With the surface water temperatures in the 80s, the striped bass and bluefish action was generally slow, with the exception being off Montauk Point where the water is cooler. A few bluefish were reported in the slightly cooler ocean waters, but not in significant numbers, with the best fishing reported after dark from anglers fishing bunker chunks and diamond jigs. Most stripers were in the low teens, but a few 30- to 40-pound fish were reported.
There were a good number of sharks were reported well inside the 20-fathom line, including small thresher sharks, those under 100 pounds, a few small hammerheads as well as brown sharks. Between the 20 and 30 fathom lines, anglers reported catching a mix of makos, threshers and brown sharks. Most fish were less than 125 pounds, but a few threshers in the 400-pound class and 250-pound class makos were reported. The fishing has been consistent from New York Bight to Montauk Point. Beyond the 30-fathom line, despite the warm surface temperatures, there were still a good number of blue sharks caught. This is likely due to the fact that the bottom temperatures still remained in the 50s.
Codfish and ling were still being caught on the offshore wrecks in 120 feet of water and deeper. Clams and Viking jigs were the top producers. A few jumbo sea bass and out-of-season blackfish were reported mixed in with the codfish. The average cod was just over keeper size, with pool fish typically around 20 pounds.
There were a lot of bluefin tuna in the 30- to 100-pound range caught from 90 feet of water and out to The Canyons, where yellowfin tuna and mahi were both caught while trolling plastics and feathers, casting poppers to surface fish or dropping jigs into the schools marked on fish finders. Yellowfins, skipjacks and false albacore were reported around the Coimbra and Bacardi wrecks. There were no bigeyes reported as of late.
The freshwater fishing remained surprisingly good given the warm temperatures. Yellow perch, sunfish and largemouth bass, along with a few chain pickerel and crappie were reported from nearly all the ponds and lakes. The warm water has really kicked off the weed growth, so the weed-prone lakes and ponds have been difficult to fish.
Lake George: Jeff at FISH307 reports smallmouth action was outstanding, with the better fish found at around 25 feet and falling to crayfish, Keitech baits and Senkos. Lake trout were, somewhat surprisingly, suspended 20 feet down over 100-120 feet at last check. Some landlocked salmon were reported as well.
Great Sacandaga Lake: Bass were hitting pretty well around the docks. Not hearing a lot on walleye.
Saratoga Lake: It’s pretty much a largemouth game in the salad these days. Saratoga Tackle and Archery has its final two Tuesday night bass tournaments Aug. 23 and 30.
Southeastern New York
Fishing licenses are now good for 365 days, so check to make sure your license is still valid before heading out on the water. April 1 was also the start of the new regulations guide, effective April 1, 2016-March 31, 2017. You can obtain a copy from a licensing agent or it can be viewed on DEC’s website (www.dec.ny.gov) at Freshwater Fishing Guide.
Action on the east of Hudson reservoirs has been decent for bass for those taking to the water during the hot weather. And Kensico and Glenida reservoirs continue to yield trout despite the heat wave.
Beaverkill/Willowemoc: Both rivers were very low and getting very warm. There is little evening activity. the Horton section of the Beaverkill remains closed, serving as a thermal refuge for trout.
Delaware East Branch: Was at a normal fishing level with decent water temps to East Branch. There were some scattered tricos in the morning as well as some midges and BWOs close to dark. Midges can be an important hatch on this river. Isos have been a no-show this summer.
Delaware West Branch: Remained at a consistent level. There were still some Sulphurs in the upper reaches but will probably fade. Fishing pressure, has, at times been intense in the upper stretches. Fish have been selective so be prepared to make fly changes. In general, insect activity has been spotty. Water temps were good to at least Hancock. Ants fished along the banks work very well for bank sippers.
Esopus: It gets pretty warm as you get to Boiceville. Most surface activity is late day. Hatches have been spotty with some Isonychias, some small Olives and small Caddis. This can be a great river for nymph fishing. Water temps are fine to about Cold Brook.
Neversink: At a normal summer flow. Small Olives are present most days but generally later in the day. There were some Tricos mixed with a few Caddis. In general, hatches have been sporadic. Below Bridgeville it gets too warm.
Delaware Main Stem: Fishing has been slow. Conditions were better above Stockport but below Stockport water temps need to be watched. Nymphs in the riffles have been effective.
St. Lawrence River: Northern pike were active around the weeds. Bass may be found in a bit deeper water. Not hearing much on muskies.
Black Lake: Richard at Chapman’s Sports and Marina reports both largemouth and smallmouth have been active despite hot weather and low water conditions, with top-water action best in the evening. The bluegill bite remained strong, and a few walleye were being caught by anglers who know the lake well and target those fish.