Western New York
Lake Erie tributaries and harbors: Cattaraugus Creek was seeing some steelhead action for those anglers still chasing chrome. Target steelhead in the deeper holes and drift offerings slow and low for best results. Conditions can change rapidly in the spring; sometimes a shot of rain can really trigger some fine fishing.
Niagara River: Trout fishing has recently been tough on the lower river due to very clear water conditions. Better success has been during morning hours or on days with light fishing pressure. Egg sacs and live minnows have worked best.
Lake Ontario and tributaries, harbors and piers: There has been a decent steelhead bite at Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard creeks, including a few fresh fish. Eighteenmile had slightly low and clear flow, and Oak Orchard had moderate and clear conditions. Fishing pressure has been light on the smaller streams and not much fishing information has been available.
When conditions have permitted, trollers have seen a good brown trout bite along the shoreline in 8-20 feet of water. Key on areas near stream/harbor mouths, in murky waters or in areas with a slightly higher water temps. Trolling with small- to medium-sized stickbaits or spoons run behind planer boards was the top tactic. Lures run directly behind the boat get less trout attention.
Spring casting at pier sites is often productive for trout. Spoons and spinners are a good bet. Yellow perch were showing at Olcott Harbor and in the lower end of Oak Orchard Creek. Bullhead should start to show at harbor and stream sites soon, if they haven’t already.
Chautauqua Lake: The lake was showing more open water, and that could lead to some crappie fishing soon.
(Spring trout stocking)
DEC fish hatchery staff were busy stocking area waters ahead of the traditional April 1 trout opener. For county lists of stocked waters and numbers of trout to be stocked, see the Spring Trout Stocking 2018 page on the DEC website. Public Fishing Rights Maps showing public access on many trout streams are also available for printing. The following waters were scheduled to be stocked prior to April 1:
Allegany County: Dodge Creek (Clarksville), Clarksville Town Pond (Clarksville), Little Genesee Creek (Bolivar), Genesee River (Wellsville, Amity).
Cattaraugus Creek: Forks Creek (Great Valley), Great Valley Creek (Great Valley, Ellicottville), Wrights Creek (Humphrey), Mansfield Creek (Mansfield), South Branch Cattaraugus Creek (East Otto), Beaver Meadow Creek (Ellicottville), Connoisarauley Creek (Ashford), Bone Run (South Valley), Guernsey Run (South Valley), North Branch Sawmill Run (South Valley), Little Conewango Creek (Conewango), Paisley Park Pond (Randolph), County Ponds A & B (Randolph), Quaker Run (Cold Spring), Bay State Brook (Red House), Red House Brook (Red House), Science Lake (Red House).
Chautauqua County: Goose Creek (Harmony, North Harmony).
Erie County: Cattaraugus Creek (Yorkshire), East Branch Cazenovia Creek (Aurora, Holland), Little Buffalo Creek (Lancaster, Marilla), Eighteenmile Creek (Boston Town Park).
Wyoming County: Buffalo Creek (Java), Beaver Meadow Creek (Java), Cattaraugus Creek (Arcade), Little Tonawanda Creek (Middlebury), Tonawanda Creek (Orangeville), East Koy Creek (Gainesville).
Orleans County: Flows were fluctuating due to rains and hydro operations. Anglers were actually hoping for some stained water. Fishing pressure was light, with most anglers into some hook-ups on spawning or staged or post-spawn steelhead. With any warmup in water temps, look for more earnest spawning action of the staged fish and some fresh fish migrations, as well. The other area smaller tributaries could benefit from a rise in flow and some off-color water. Warming water temps could bring on some more fresh fish migrations and a chance for some lake-run browns. Casters have reported some hookups on hard-fighting browns at Point Breeze. There’s also a good chance for hookups within casting range with small boat trollers into all the fish they want in as close as only six feet of water.
Central New York
Trout are now the focus, with anglers hitting traditional spots that receive trout stockings in April.
Oswego River: The flow was fishable from shore, and anglers were getting brown trout and steelhead from the walkways.
Salmon River: Some steelhead were being taken on egg sacs and egg-imitating flies.
Lake Ontario: Steelhead are being taken in many of the tributaries on egg sacs or beads.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Trout anglers are plying the waters of Cayuta Creek in Chemung and Schuyler counties; the Canisteo River in Steuben County; and Eldridge Lake and Park Station in Chemung County. All were scheduled to receive fish, while upcoming stockings were set for the Tioga County stretch of Cayuta Creek and Owego Creek (including its East Branch) in Tioga County.
Cayuga Lake: A few anglers are getting out and connecting on salmon and the occasional brown. Most, however, are waiting for warmer air and water temps.
Chenango, Tioughnioga, Chemung and Susquehanna rivers: Not hearing much now, and it will probably remain that way until walleye season opens in May. The exception to that may be the East and West branches of the Tioughnioga, which receive trout stockings this month.
The region’s trout waters are typically slow to warm, and this year is no exception. Many waters don’t receive stockings of trout by the DEC until conditions improve, so we’re not hearing too much right now on the fishing front.
The first half of this report period was dominated by March’s third nor’easter, dumping upwards of a foot of snow throughout area, resulting in the lakes and streams, and the saltwater bays being colder than normal for this time of year. I expect the spring action to start up a few weeks later than normal, but once the water warms and the bait becomes active the fishing should be heat-up quickly.
During the second half of this report period, white perch returned to the brackish water areas, including Santapogue Creek, Bubbles Falls, Carlls River south of Argyle Lake, and the Nissequogue River. I would also expect that the brackish water areas surrounding Shelter Island are holding white perch, but I did not receive any reports from there as of late. Mike from Saltwaters Bait and Tackle in West Islip recommended grass shrimp as the top bait, followed by worms and the usual assortment of lures and flies, such as spinners and streamers.
The DEC has begun the spring trout stocking program in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Many of the lakes and rivers have received their first batch of brown and rainbow trout, both 8- to 9-inch trout and 12- to 15-inch trout have been stocked. Most waters will receive a second stocking in April, and some will receive an additional stocking in May. Don’t forget to check out the DEC website for the body of water you intend to fish, as special fishing regulations may apply.
When the weather permitted, offshore fishing the Montauk Point boats largely made the run to Block Island Sound and found fair to good cod fishing. Typical catches were a keeper or two per person, along with a few throwbacks. The Viking Fleet reported that typical pool fish were cod about 10 pounds. Using past seasons as an indicator, as the offshore waters warm in April the groundfish fishing will improve into May.
A few open and charter boats in Freeport and Sheepshead Bay have run offshore wreck specials, where they run to wrecks further offshore and less fished than inshore wrecks. Anglers aboard these trips were rewarded with pollack, cod, ling, and a few white hake. Pool fish were typically cod in the 20-pound class. These trips are typically by reservation only.
The marine striped bass season and the winter flounder season both open on April 1. I’d expect the first stripers to come from the Western Sound in Little Neck Bay, and the flounder to be caught on the muddy bottoms in less than 10 feet of water also in the Western Sound as well as in the South Shore bays. Bloodworms are a good opening day bait for both species.
A few trollers have hit Lake George for lake trout and salmon, but most of the focus is on trout streams such as the Kayaderosseras, Mettawee and Battenkill. DEC is busy stocking the region’s trout waters, including Six Mile Waterworks in the city of Albany, and Thompson’s Lake in Berne.
Southeastern New York
Numerous trout waters are being hit by anglers looking to take advantage of early-season trout stockings. Among the hotspots are Amawalk Outlet and the Croton River in Westchester County, the West Branch of the Croton River in Putnam County, and the Ramapo River in Orange County.
We haven’t heard too much from the opening day activity, assuming most of the fishing was ceremonial in nature. Conditions will only improve, however, and it won’t be long before the Hendricksons have the trout “looking up.”
St. Lawrence River: Not hearing a lot lately, but bullhead action could be on the horizon, and perch fishing also picks up in the spring. The problem right now has been spring’s slow arrival on the scene.
Black Lake: Ice has been slow to depart. When it does, the crappie brigade will take to the lake, as well as the perch pursuers. The lake also offers a fine spring bullhead fishery.