Western New York
Lake Ontario: Water levels were continuing to drop in Lake Ontario, to the delight of boaters and landowners. However, the water levels have not had any effect on the fishing in the lake. Salmon fishing continued to be very good out on the Niagara Bar, as well as out of Wilson and Olcott. Salmon action just off the drop on the Bar continued to be excellent. Spin doctors and flies are near the top of the list for preferred baits; a flasher and meat rig with cut bait is another. Some fish were being caught on spoons, too, but they seem to be third on the list. The new A-Tom-Mik stud fly has been mentioned quite a bit by trollers in the lake. Niagara Falls USA waters were still at the top of the Lake Ontario stage for the Summer LOC Derby that is going on through July 30.
Lower Niagara River: Action has been good and the moss has not been as much of a factor as in previous years for some reason. Shoreline casting with 2-inch pearl tubes was working for Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls, catching double-digit numbers of bass and even a 9-pound steelhead. Boaters were still doing well on bass by casting the shoreline with spinnerbaits or working shiners or crayfish off three-way rigs. On July 17, the Devil’s Hole State Park stairs and trail was set to be shut down until the spring of 2018 for reconstruction and repairs. There are still plenty of other access points to get you into the gorge, but this trail is one of the more popular ones. Alternative access can be gained through the New York Power Authority’s South Access Road, where a fishing platform and a stairs to the shoreline is available from April 1 to Dec. 1. Other access points include the stairs at Whirlpool State Park; the Suspension Bridge Stairs (under the Whirlpool Bridge); the Great Gorge Railway Trail (that begins at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center); and the elevator at the Schoellkopf Site (adjacent to the Discovery Center). For a copy of the Niagara Gorge Trail Map, click here.
Upper Niagara River: Action continued to be good for bass, walleye and the occasional muskie. A spinner and a worm produced all three recently for Capt. Chris Cinelli. The muskie was about 46 inches long, probably in the mid-30s as far as weight. It was caught by Jerry Howe of Grand Island.
Lake Erie and harbors: Trollers continued to report a solid walleye bite from Silver Creek to west of Barcelona. Best catches have been between 60-70 feet of water on worm harnesses and stickbaits run 30-50 feet down. During periods when the bite has gone cold, anglers have enticed bites by popping lines. This is done by popping a downrigger line and letting the lure slowly flutter toward the surface (without reeling). Anglers were also picking up walleye along deep edges of shoals in about 50 feet of water by bottom bouncing or jigging. Buffalo area anglers were recording decent walleye catches outside 45 feet of water, with bottom bouncing the top tactic.
Not too much effort for yellow perch lately. However, walleye trollers reported incidental perch catches off Barcelona and Cattaraugus Creek. Smallmouth bass fishing has been slow. Some decent catches have come from depths of 25 to 40 feet of water around rocky structure. A drop-shot rig with tubes, plastics or crayfish works well when fishing deeper waters.
Chautauqua Lake: Walleye catches were on the rise in the deeper, center section of the south basin. The better walleye bite in the north basin is still along weed edges. Muskellunge fishing has been a little slow, with most catches still coming along weedlines on large stickbaits. The largemouth bass fishing has been good inside 10 feet of water around weedbeds and docks. Top-water lures, weedless-rigged power worms and wacky-rigged Senkos work well for bucketmouths. Target smallmouth bass outside deep weed edges and around rocky structure on the bottom. Live minnows, crayfish and plastic creature baits work well.
Orleans County: The launch ramps on the west side of Oak Orchard River has reopened for use and this should take some of the pressure off the east side launch ramps and the parking lot. Another great piece of news is that a 31-pound 10-ounce salmon was weighed at Narby’s, which took over the top spot in the LOC derby.
On Lake Ontario off Orleans County, fishing has gone from good to exceptional. Fishing in the 100 to 250 foot range is where most of the action is taking place and downriggers, copper rigs and lead lines set from 65 to 90 feet down are seeing most of the action. Spoons are back in the mix of lures used but the meat rigs and flasher/fly combos are still seeing most of the action. The derby runs through the end of this month so there’s still time to enter and get in on some of the great cash prizes that are up for grabs.
On the lower stretches of The Oak, Lake Alice and the Erie Canal, more summer-like conditions have returned. Bass were still the main catch but you never know what that next cast may bring.
Central New York
Lake Ontario: Try for smallmouth bass in 10 to 20 feet of water with crayfish, tube jigs or drop-shot rigs. Chinook salmon fishing continued to be good in 150 to 300 feet of water. Cut bait, spoons and flasher and flies are still working.
Oswego River: Look for smallmouth bass with crayfish or tube jigs; try crayfish for the sheepshead.
Salmon River: A few smallmouth bass were being caught.
Oneida Lake: Walleye were being taken both in deep water by anglers trolling with worm harness or blade baits, and also in the shallow water around isolated weed clumps. Look for bass near shore or around the many shoals with jerkbaits, football jigs, or topwaters.
Sandy Pond: Due to the high water level, the DEC boat launch is closed until further notice.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Use caution when boating as the lake level is running high, and most bays have a 5 mph speed limit.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Keep an eye out for weed mats as they have been an issue for some anglers when trolling. No word on water fleas yet on Cayuga but they are starting to be a nuisance on other lakes. Also, watch out for debris from recent big rain events. Anglers continued to have very good luck catching lake trout, either trolling or vertical jigging, with fish still being found over a variety of depths out to about 150 feet. Look for bass on the north end along the shore or inside weed lines.
Skaneateles Lake: Look for smallmouth bass along the shore with tube baits, topwaters and wacky-rigged Senko style baits. Rock bass should be biting in the same areas and on the same baits. Lake trout were being taken in 60 to 100 feet of water.
Owasco Lake: Lake trout were being taken over a variety of depths on spoons or flasher and flies fished 40 to 60 feet down.
Otisco Lake: Look for bass near shore or around the weedbeds. For walleye, try trolling stickbaits, and for the tiger muskies cast large spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, stickbaits, swim baits or live minnows. Don’t forget wire leaders even if your not targeting tigers; it will help save some of your expensive bass baits from being bitten off.
Seneca Lake: Spiny water fleas are becoming more abundant and can be a nuisance when trolling. Fishing with heavier line (20 pound-test plus) sometimes helps as it collects fewer fleas. Another option is to vertical jig instead of trolling. Trolling spoons or flashers and flies down 50 to 70 feet has been working for lake trout.
Keuka Lake: Water fleas have arrived and were being a headache for trollers. Lake trout were hitting on alewives fished near bottom in 90 to 115 feet of water. Vertical jigging at the same depths with plastics has been working as well. Smallmouth bass were being caught in 30 to 60 feet of water off points.
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.
Chemung, Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna rivers: When conditions are right – the Susquehanna in particular has been running off color – smallmouth action has been great. At last check the Chemung looked good.
Lake Champlain anglers will deal with some recreational boat traffic these days, but it’s worth it – trollers have picked up lake trout and some landlocked salmon. Vertical jigging works for the lakers, too. Bass action has been steady, and topwaters are now a good option early and late.
The Saranac Chain was also yielding some bass and pike.
On the West Branch of the Ausable, keep an eye on water temps. If they’re low enough to fish, it’s trico time.
The black sea bass season opened to excellent fishing. The best fishing was reported on structure and mussel beds in water 40 feet and deeper along the South Shore and off Montauk Point. Anglers and open boats fishing the offshore artificial reefs and the wrecks out to 90 feet of water reported limited out on most trips on humpback sea bass to 4 pounds. The top picks for humpbacks were live killies and large bucktails tipped with clams or squid. Diamond jigs bounced off the bottom were a good choice where schools of sand eels were located over the mussel beds and nearby structure.
On the North Shore from Port Jefferson out to Orient Point, the best fishing occurred in water deeper than 20 feet. Captain Des of the Celtic Quest Fleet reported excellent East End action. In most areas, there were large porgies, many over 3 pounds, mixed in with the sea bass. In all areas, the best sea bass fishing occurred adjacent to structure and on mussel beds. The porgies generally prefer the sand and gravel bottoms located between pieces of structures or off to the sides of the wrecks. So anglers did very well drifting around structure, scoring on sea bass closer to the structure and porgies a little further away. Strips of fresh skimmer clam remained the top bait.
Inshore, in the inlets and around the bridges and jetties, there was a good pick of smaller sea bass with a few keepers mixed-in. But based on the past several seasons, there was less action reported. Clams were the best inshore bait.
There were a lot of fluke reported in the South Shore bays and North Shore harbors, with the majority being shorts. The typical baits, including squid, spearing, live killies, Gulp! baits and tipped bucktails were all productive. There were fewer fluke reported in the ocean, but there were more keepers. Ocean pool fish were typically between 5 and 6 pounds. On the South Shore, the top of the incoming tide into the turn of the outgoing tide was the best tide. On the North Shore, both tides were productive. In The Peconics, there was a good fluke bite near Sag Harbor.
Scott Jeffery of East End Bait and Tackle reported that the porgy bite remained good by Rogers Rock and near Jessups Neck. He noted that chum was necessary to get them under the boat. The porgy bite off the western Sound beaches remained good; the key to the best action was to keep moving to find the fish. Scott also reported that the Shinnecock Canal has fluke, porgies, triggers and on occasion some cocktail blues. The back-bay areas of The Peconics has seen striped bass caught in the dark on plugs and live baits. These same areas have produced porgies, too.
The striped bass bite remained good, with stripers continuing to feed on the schools of bunker located outside the South Shore Inlets, around Shelter Island and in the western Sound. Live bunker snagged and fished under the schools accounted for stripers in the 30-pound class, as well as teen sized bluefish. When the bunker schools were not easy to locate, anglers did well trolling bunker spoons. Anglers using clam bellies under the bridges and inlet bars reported catching single-digit to teen-sized stripers, along with a few bluefish.
Off Montauk Point, the striper action was good, with most fish in the teens. Most of the stripers were caught trolling parachute jigs or tubes in the rips around the point. Larger stripers were caught live lining porgies. Surfcasters reported hit or miss fishing around the point on plugs and bucktails. The better surf action occurred between Shinnecock and Fire Island inlets. The best fishing was reported by anglers fishing at night using bunker chunks. Anglers also reported good action at sunrise casting poppers and tins once the sun was up. Schoolie stripers were reported by anglers casting small swimmers or fly casting spearing pattern streamers off the North Shore beaches. The streamers also accounted for a fair number of sea robins as well as fluke and windowpanes.
Bluefin tuna continued to be caught around the Coimbra wreck and the 30-fathom fingers south of Shinnecock Inlet. The bluefins were caught both on the troll as well as casting top-water plugs. Most of the bluefins were between 20 and 60 pounds. A few bigeye and yellowfin tuna were reported caught in The Dip. The warming waters has improved the mako action, with makos between 125 and 225 pounds caught between the 20- and 30-fathom lines. The blue shark action was slow.
The trout fishing was reported good in the Connetquot and Carmen’s fivers but slow elsewhere.
On Lake George, smallmouth bass have been hitting in 25-35 feet for the tube-dragging crowd. But in shallower you’ll also pick off some fish.
Saratoga Tackle and Archery has seen some solid largemouths taken during its Tuesday night challenge tourneys on Saratoga Lake.
Southeastern New York
Hudson River: Largemouth bass are reported being caught any place were vegetation meets rock; popular baits include Senko-style baits and weedless jigs. Anglers are also reporting having success with carp and channel catfish in all sections of the river.
The freestones are now too warm to fish. The tailwaters have some Olives, Sulphurs and sporadic Caddis and Isonychia hatches. The freestones are warm and low, making for poor conditions. A long leader and good presentation are important for success wherever you fish this time of year.
St. Lawrence River: Bass and pike, but we’re not hearing much on the walleye.
Black Lake: Richard at Chapman’s Sports reports walleye action has been surprisingly good for midsummer. Bass anglers were connecting on good numbers of quality fish, and also encountering pike at times.