Western New York
After a bit of northeast wind, Lake Ontario saw fish scatter. Yes, fishing suddenly became a bit more difficult after a month that was often spectacular. Despite the tougher conditions, the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Charity Fishing Outing went off without a hitch last month and plenty of fish were caught by the 22 boats that participated. The largest fish weighed in was “only” a 17-plus pound salmon hauled in by Bob McManigle of North Tonawanda while fishing with Jonathan Ross of the Tomahawk boat. Second place was a 16-plus pound king reeled in by Bill Santana of Wilson while fishing with Capt. Matt Yablonsky aboard the Wet Net. At least, those were the ones weighed in. Capt. Joe Kyle of Onacona Charters had a Sabres alumni group that decided a fish pushing 18 pounds wouldn’t make the cut so they released it. They lost out on a $550 cash prize! Many of the fish were found up higher in the water column and the winning fish came 37 feet down on a slider. The winners were using a homemade green magnum spoon. When the wind moves the water around, those fish can be almost anywhere and many boats opted to head out deep to search out pods of salmon and trout.
In the Lower Niagara River, there were still steelhead and lake trout hanging around if you want to fish a minnow or run a Kwikfish off of a three-way rig. Of course, you will also catch other fish species like bass, walleye, silver bass or just about anything that swims in those waters. You can fish from shore in the gorge, too, such as off of the NYPA fishing platform. Along Artpark, there has been good action on silver bass with small jigs and spinners.
Upper Niagara River action for bass. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls is still doing well on northern pike in the upper river tossing jigs and plugs at those fish.
Lake Erie and harbors: Best walleye action remains at night, where trollers focus on spawning shoals in 8-15 feet of water. In areas where walleye are more heavily congregated there will likely be a pack of boats to deal with. Anglers also have good chances to catch walleye away from the pack by trolling medium to large stickbaits at around 2 mph. During the day, anglers were picking up walleye in deeper areas of 20-35 feet of water off of spawning shoals. Bottom bouncing with worm harnesses works well. Yellow perch catches have been good for anglers who find and stay on a school. Some full buckets of perch have come from waters off Cattaraugus Creek in 50-57 feet of water, off Evangola in 56-60 feet of water and some have shown off Hamburg in around 40 feet of water. Live emerald shiners can’t be beat. Emeralds are showing a little better in the typical dipping spots along the upper Niagara River, harbors and Lake Erie tributaries, but be prepared to work for them.
The harbors at Barcelona, Dunkirk and Buffalo are currently hot spots for smallmouth bass. A recent DEC electrofishing survey along the inner and outer breakwalls and shorelines in Buffalo Harbor showed lots of smallmouth bass all over. There were also decent numbers of northern pike along the outside of Buffalo Harbor State Park breakwall (especially at the southwest corner). Decent numbers of walleye were observed on the lake side of the outer breakwall gaps at night.
Lake Erie tributaries: It is prime time for smallmouth bass fishing in the Lake Erie tributaries. Woolly Buggers and minnow imitations are good bets for fly anglers, and spinning anglers generally do well with stickbaits, minnows and jigs with grubs or plastics fished under a float. The lower section of Cattaraugus Creek is a good spot to target channel catfish. Nightcrawlers, chicken livers or raw shrimp fished on the bottom works well, especially at night. The deeper holes in the other creeks may hold catfish, as well. Anglers can also catch catfish along the Lake Erie shoreline on calm nights, especially near stream inlets.
Chautauqua Lake: From dusk until dawn, the shallows in 3-10 feet of water have been walleye hot spots. Areas along emerging weedbeds have been especially good. Casting stickbaits, or trolling with worm harnesses and stickbaits has been productive. The shallows are also a good bet for daytime bass fishing around docks. Anglers were seeing good yellow perch catches around the north basin on small minnows.
Inland trout fishing: Area trout streams were in prime shape with good flows and increasing bug activity. Look for hatches of caddisflies and March Browns, with better surface action later in the day. Green Drakes may not be far off on those waters that produce that hatch. Productive offerings for spinning anglers include worms, salted minnows and small in-line spinners.
Spring trout stocking
Regular stockings for all of western New York’s trout stocking waters has been completed. Among the waters stocked late last month were:
Allegany County: Genesee River (Wellsville, Willing).
Erie County: Cattaraugus Creek (Sardinia).
Wyoming County: Cattaraugus Creek (Arcade), East Koy Creek (Gainesville).
Central New York
A reminder that there several fishing hotline/reports available for the area. A few of the websites are: Wayne County Tourism, Visit Oswego County, and Oneida Lake Fishing Report.
Spring trout stocking: Onondaga County trout waters are stocked by the Carpenter’s Brook Fish Hatchery. The stocking hotline is (315) 689-0003 and a stocking list can also be viewed online at www.fishonondagacounty.com. Among the waters receiving fish late last month were: Butternut Creek, Carpenter’s Brook, Fabius Brook, Furnace Brook, Geddes Brook, Green Lake, Limestone Creek, Ninemile Creek, Onondaga Creek, West Branch Onondaga Creek, Otisco Lake, Pools Brook, Skaneateles Creek, Spafford Brook, Spruce Pond and Tannery Creek.
Lake Ontario: Brown trout fishing continued to be good on the big lake, with browns being taken by trolling with stickbaits or small spoons in 20 to 40 feet of water. On bright, clear days sometimes fishing early or late in the day can be better for the browns. Some spring kings and a few cohos were also being taken in deeper water than the browns, like 100 to 150 feet. Lake trout were being found in around 120 feet of water.
Oswego River: Depending on fishable water levels, look for walleye in the river with large stickbaits. There are likely still some steelhead around, and some nice smallmouth bass were being caught.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river. Visit Oswego County Tourism website for more information and also for information on the life jacket loaner programs in the area.
Salmon River: Fishing activity has slowed down, which is normal for this time of year.
Oneida Lake: Walleye season continued to be good, with anglers getting fish in 10 to 35 feet of water. Blade-style baits and bucktail jigs have been working well. Shallow water seems to be better early then the deeper water action picks up as the day progresses. Pickerel fishing has also been good with stickbaits and crankbaits. Look for bass in shallow water as well, with jigs or crankbaits working. Bullhead were being caught after dark around the lake in all the typical spots.
Sandy Pond: Northern pike were being taken on spinnerbaits or stickbaits. Walleye and yellow perch are also being caught.
Sodus Bay and Irondequoit bays: Bullhead fishing has been better, and look for northern pike with spinnerbaits, stickbaits or large minnows.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Lake Ontario: Anglers were getting brown trout in 10 to 20 feet of water with stickbaits and small spoons. Some spring chinooks and an occasional coho were being taken in slightly deeper, like 80 to 100 feet. Lake trout were also being found in 100 feet of water.
Cayuga Lake: Lake trout were being taken in 120 to 140 feet of water by trolling or vertical jigging in the midlake area.
Skaneateles Lake: Anglers getting out on the lake were catching yellow perch on small minnows.
Owasco Lake: Not hearing much lately.
Keuka Lake: Fishing alewives near bottom in 70 to 80 feet of water was producing lake trout. Lakers were also being caught on small spoons trolling 60 feet down over 70 feet of water. The fish aren’t really hefty, but there are plenty of them.
Seneca Lake: Some lake trout were being taken in 100 to 150 feet of water. A lot of anglers, however, have been grumbling about the Seneca fishery and have been heading over to Cayuga Lake instead.
Canandaigua Lake: Nothing to report.
Otisco Lake: Bass were being taken in shallow water on plastics and stickbaits. Look for tiger muskies with stickbaits or large spinnerbaits.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Slow trolling with worms around the islands was producing some nice-sized walleye.
Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna and Chemung rivers: The rivers have been running chocolaty at times following heavy rains, but when conditions improve catch-and-release smallmouth action (ahead of the June 16 opener) has been good. Look for walleye in the deeper holes with a jig and worm. With the warmer weather, and more stable flows, channel catfish should be starting to bite.
Spring trout stocking: DEC has completed the stocking of trout in the region’s waters. One of the best locations to target might be the Cohocton River in the Cohocton and Avoca areas.
This is also the time to keep a close eye on water temperatures, especially if the overnight air temps remain high. Carry a stream thermometer with you and if the water temp pushes toward 70 degrees, give the trout a break. Fishing early in the morning when waters are at their coolest is often the best option, and some streams – notably those in the mountains – may hold trout-friendly water temps through the summer.
Lake Champlain: The big lake’s bass season opens a week ahead of the general statewide kickoff, so anglers have been focusing on pre-spawn smallmouths with good success. Lake trout action has also been decent for both trollers and vertical jig fishermen.
West Branch Ausable River: When water levels are tame, stonefly patterns are typically the way to go, either up top or with nymphs in the film. When waters are up a bit, streamers (Zonkers olive and black, Woolly Buggers, Black Ghost, Gray Ghost, CH Crystal Bugger) are the way to go.
The region’s trout waters are offering fine fishing with warmer water temps.
The striped bass season is in full swing, with good to excellent fishing reported throughout the area. June is traditionally the month that trophy stripers arrive in big numbers and recent reports are indicating that June will be a hot month. Anglers are reporting limits of stripers between 30 and 40 pounds, with a few fish above the 40-pound mark reported. The majority of these trophy stripers were caught on live bunker fished under the bunker schools in located in 30 to 50 feet of water between New York Bight and Shinnecock Inlet. A 40.5-pound striper was weighed in at Bergen Point Bait and Tackle, caught on live-lined bunker just outside of Fire Island Inlet.
In general, the largest stripers have been caught west of Moriches Inlet. Not all schools of bunker held stripers, so the key to success was to fish each school until the fish were found. When the bunker schools were not visible on the surface, anglers did well trolling mojo rigs or wireline until the schools were located on their sonar, then trolling around them searching out productive schools.
Large bluefish were mixed in with the stripers in all locations. Surfcasters did well fishing first light and late afternoons for bluefish off the South Shore surf when casting tins and poppers. The best action occurred on both sides of the inlet mouths as well as off the inlet jetties as these large bluefish, often 10 pounds plus, have been running in and out of the inlets chasing bunker and schools of spearing.
On the North Shore, the bluefish have invaded the harbors, with the best action west of Port Jefferson. In the western Sound, excellent fishing was reported by anglers targeting bluefish and stripers using diamond jigs or bunker chunks in the open water fishing both the day or nighttime tides. Bluefish and larger bass have been chasing bunker around Shelter Island, with anglers reporting good fishing.
The fluke fishing was very good, with the best action reported inside the South Shore bays and the North Shore harbors, with outgoing tide being the most productive. The keeper-to-short ratio is very high, with about one in three fluke being a keeper. Anglers were successful using squid and spearing combos, and bucktails and plastic baits tipped with squid. Flyrodders did very well fishing the sandy flats in the Great South Bay and Shinnecock Bay using Clouser Minnows and spearing imitations. Many of the fluke reported were caught in less than 5 feet of water. Anglers fishing the shore did well bouncing plastic baits or bucktails off the bottom for fluke.
As expected, the largest fluke continued to be caught in the ocean on large strip baits, bucktails and fluke balls both tipped with squid strips or Gulp! baits. Another hotspot for large fluke was off Orient Point and around Fishers Island, where anglers limited out on fluke over 5 pounds, with pool fish being closer to 10 pounds. Off Montauk Point, the best fluke fishing was off the south side of the point. Large fluke, up to 7 pounds, were caught in Huntington Harbor.
Scott Jeffery from East End Bait and Tackle reported that the Shinnecock Canal has had a good bite on porgies when the locks were closed. Mixed in with the porgies are a few blowfish and the occasional striper and bluefish. Also, the porgy bite around Rogers Rock, Jessups Neck and off Shelter Island remains solid, with a bit more larger fish back in the mix. Weakfish are in the deeper holes near Jessups and were being taken on squid.
The porgy fishing remained excellent all along the North Shore and off Shagwong at Montauk Point. Boat anglers are reporting non-stop action, with surfcasters reporting steady action. The key for the shore anglers was to keep moving until the fish were located as they tend to be more scattered along the shore than concentrated as the boaters often found. Clam strips remained the top bait.
Most anglers have shifted their focus on saltwater fishing, but the freshwater fishing remains excellent. Largemouth bass were caught in Stump Pond, the Peconic River, Lower and Upper Yaphank lakes as well as in most of the other large lakes and ponds on plastic worms, swimming plugs as spinnerbaits. The pickerel bite remained strong in the Peconic River and Southards Pond. Panfish are always cooperative, with yellow perch, sunnies and crappies being very cooperative for anglers fishing grubs, trout worms and small marabou or plastic jigs. A few trout were reported, but their numbers are significantly down.
There were no reports of shark or tuna as of late, but expect that to change during the next report period.
Mohawk River: Seeing some decent walleye action below Crescent Dam, with a fair number of keepers and plenty of shorts.
Lake George: The folks at FISH307 haven’t heard a lot from anglers lately, but some good lakers have been caught, as well as a few landlocked salmon. Expect bass to be the focus when the season kicks off tomorrow; fish are likely in spawning mode.
Trout fishing: Kayaderosseras Creek has been yielding plenty of stocked trout, and to the north the Schroon River has been fishing well when water levels allow. Water temps have improved and have the trout more active now.
Southeastern New York
We’re starting to see a lot more fishing pressure on the NYC reservoirs now that spring gobbler season has closed and the weather has improved. That said, we’re short of specifics right now as far as what’s being caught where. Reports have been vague of late.
The region’s trout waters have been offering good action. The Croton River and Amawalk Outlet are worth a look.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Both rivers were clear and in good shape. There were some March Browns in the morning but more Gray Fox. Most surface activity has been early or late day, with a mix of different insects – Caddis, spinners, Gray Fox and a few Sulphurs. Fishing was decent. Small Olives and Caddis are on the water. Evenings have been the best dry fly time.
Delaware East Branch: Wadeable at last look but too low to float. Like other rivers, the best dry fly fishing has been late day. Some Sulphurs as well as March Browns and Gray Fox were around. There are spinners in various sizes as well as Caddis, and small Olives (especially on cloudy days). There are some spinner falls as well. Caddis are present most days, with most activity early and late. At this time of year fishing is decent all the way to Hancock. There are some late-day spinners.
Delaware West Branch: Floatable and has some wading available as well. The river has fished well, with some Sulphurs and spinners. Caddis are important later in the day. A few Sulphurs were starting to emerge. There were also small Olives around.
Esopus: Was at a wadeable level. Try the tribs for spawning rainbows. The portal is closed. There are some Caddis and spinners as well as some March Browns about.
Neversink: Was in good condition and fishing well. There were some Sulphurs late day as well as small Olives and spinners. Small Olives are important late in the day. This river does not have the Drake hatches but does have good Sulphur activity and small Olives. Cloudy days bring out the Olives. Late day seems to be most productive. There were reports of a few March Browns below Bridgeville.
Delaware Main Stem: At last check was floatable with some limited wading. River levels have dropped and fishing has improved. This river fishes best below 3,000 cfs. It has probably the best hatches but is a moody river. Fishing had been slow but with the lower flows it has improved. This is a Caddis river, with a good number of Caddis species. They are a major source of food for the trout. Hatches have been decent, with a good number of Caddis close to dark. There are also egg-laying Caddis and spinners late day. A few March Browns were around. The Main Steam is also the first river to see a Drake emergence.
St. Lawrence River: Northern pike action has somewhat surprisingly slowed, but anglers were still scoring on plenty of perch and bass.
Black Lake: While the crappie bite has, as expected, tapered off until September, bluegill action continues to be superb. Northern pike were very cooperative, and the bass opener will boost fishing activity as well. Remember, on this lake there’s a 15-inch size minimum if you plan on keeping a bass.