Western New York
Lake Ontario: The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association held its annual club tournaments last month and some impressive fish were caught. At the top of the list was the current leader in the Lake Ontario Counties trout and salmon derby, a 32-pound, 4-ounce king caught by Sandra Brown of Clearfield, Pa. She was fishing on the Niagara Bar with her husband Ed and Joe Yaeger of Amherst. The fish came on a Dreamweaver Spin Doctor and Mirage A-Tom-Mik fly, 60 feet down over 160 feet of water a mile east of the red can. For the LOTSA Curt Meddaugh Memorial Tournament, it was the best three fish for Friday. The Streaker team, consisting of Matt Dunn of Newfane with his dad Marc (also of Newfane), Doug Parker of Lockport and Doug Parker II of Wilson (another father-son duo), won the event. Their three fish total for the day was 66.48 pounds, narrowly defeating 4 Poles led by Marty Polovick of Lockport. Yaeger’s Salmonella team finished in fourth despite having the 32-pound kicker. However, there was another aspect to the two-day LOTSA contests. A 3-2-3 contest (best three fish over two days with three winners) was in place, and Yaeger’s Salmonella crew won the top prize with a total of 72.46 pounds. Second place was Matt Dunn’s Streaker team with 70.99 pounds. The Saturday club contest was for big fish and Capt. Adam Gearich and the Diversion II team led the way when Tim Bromund of Colden reeled in a 26-pound, 4-ounce king in 100 feet of water between Wilson and Olcott. LOTSA details can be found at www.lotsa1.org. Check out the LOC Derby leaderboard at www.loc.org.
Lower Niagara River: Fishing action has been consistent. A few more walleye were starting to show up and smallmouth bass fishing continued to be good. Live bait like crayfish and shiners was working for bass; worm harnesses for walleye. A rowdy crew from Texas fished with Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston recently and the highlight of the trip was a 6-pound smallmouth reeled in by Evan Scanlon – a personal best, caught along the Coast Guard Station.
Upper Niagara River: Action has leveled off but some bass and walleye were still showing up consistently. The big news was Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island guiding Sawyer Dolce of Orchard Park. Fishing the humps around Strawberry Island, Dolce was drifting a crayfish when a nice bass hit. Affixed to the back of the fish was another tag from the Canadian Tire bass tournament from two years ago. Cinelli had caught two tagged fish previously in the lower Niagara River. This was his first in the upper river, where the tagged fish were released.
It was a packed house at the Gasport Fire Hall last month for the final grand prize drawing in the 27th annual Erie Canal Fishing Derby. All the first place winners were put into a hat in one of the final orders of business. Lynn Harrington reached into the hat and pulled out an Ace of Clubs – and that corresponded with a card being held by 13-year old Keegan Walczak of Amherst. He won a new boat, motor and trailer from Brobeil Marine in Buffalo – a new PolarKraft. He ended up giving a high five immediately to his dad Chris, who was also standing up front as one of the divisional winners. In the youth division, James Benzinger won the new fishing kayak in the grand prize drawing for the kids. He’s from North Carolina and comes up every year to fish with his grandparents in the derby. For a complete list of all of the winners go to www.eriecanalderby.com.
Lake Erie and harbors: The recent walleye bite has been very good, with anglers catching fish out of all ports. Out of Buffalo, anglers were starting to pick up walleye along the 50-foot contour near the international line. Further west off Sturgeon Point, 60 feet of water was a good starting point. Some walleye were also holding around Seneca Shoal in as shallow as 30 feet of water. Walleye at the east end were tight to the bottom. From Evangola to west of Cattaraugus Creek, anglers report a good bite in 65-70 feet of water. A recent walleye hot spot has been off Van Buren and extending two miles east and west. Gear run within 15 feet of bottom was a good bet. Anglers have been working the 65- to 75-foot zone off Barcelona for a while, and have seen decent to good catches that have included plenty of short walleye. Barcelona trollers have located schools of bigger walleye in 100-110 feet of water. Run worm harnesses or stickbaits 65 feet down or deeper. During periods when the bite has gone cold, trollers 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).
The smallmouth bass bite has been slow, but there have been some productive spots. Barcelona anglers are reportedly catching good numbers of bass in 20-30 feet of water off the red roof. Quality catches have also been reported in 25-40 feet of water at Myers Reef and Seneca Shoal. A drop-shot rig with tubes, plastics or crayfish works well when fishing deeper waters.
Chautauqua Lake: Anglers continued to report good walleye fishing in both basins. Concentrate efforts in the deeper, center section of the south basin. The better walleye catches in the north basin were still coming along weed edges. Largemouth bass were holding in shallower areas along weedlines, in pockets within the weeds and around docks. Live shiners, weedless-rigged Power Worms, wacky-rigged Senkos and top-water lures are good bass offerings. Look for the muskie bite to pick back up this month.
Cuba Lake: Walleye have been biting well along weedlines. Anglers produced good catches by jigging with nightcrawlers.
Orleans County: Orleans County was well represented in the Summer LOC derby, with the top catch in the salmon division, a 31.1-pound king caught by Kristin Wilson. Victor Rowcliffe had the fourth place salmon (29.05 pounds). In the lake trout division, the fourth place fish weighed 21.1 pounds and was caught by James Irene and the seventh place fish of 20.04 pounds caught by Michael Wichtowski. In the rainbow/steelhead division, Darwin Snow caught the sixth place fish, which weighed 12.15 pounds; in 10th place was Tiffany Keicher’s 11.15-pound fish.
Fishing on Lake Ontario seems to have moved offshore and was taking place around the 30 line and beyond. Good catches of both salmon and steelhead were being reported for anglers using a mix of spoons and flasher/fly combinations in a multitude of color patterns. On the Erie Canal around the wide-water area some great catfish catches were reported. Lake Alice still has some great bass fishing in the upper stretches where the boat traffic is much lighter, and the lower stretches of Oak Orchard Creek were still producing northern pike and bass.
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: 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, with fish being found in 150 to 300 feet of water. If you’re not marking bait or fish, keep covering water to you find them. Cut bait, spoons and flasher and flies were still working and green continued to be a good color.
Oswego River: Look for smallmouth bass in the river with crayfish or tube jigs; also try crayfish for the sheepshead.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: A few smallmouth bass were being caught.
Oneida Lake: An algal bloom had the water really colored. Sometimes during these algal blooms largemouth bass will move into very shallow water near shore. So, if not catching them deeper you may want to move shallower. Walleye were being taken both in deep water by anglers trolling with worm harnesses or blade baits, and also in the shallow water around isolated weed clumps.
Sandy Pond: The DEC launch was reopened last month. Use caution and watch your wake while boating in the bay.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Use caution when boating as the lake level is still high and most bays have a 5 mph speed limit.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Lake Ontario: Chinook salmon were hitting on flashers and flies, spoons or cut bait in 200 to 500 feet of water. Lake trout were being taken near bottom on spoons are flashers and small plugs or flies.
Cayuga Lake: Keep an eye out for weed mats and other debris, as they have been an issue for some anglers when trolling. Water fleas are starting to be a nuisance for some anglers when trolling. Sometimes using a heavier-test monofilament helps to avoid some of the fleas, as does trolling with lines that don’t run as straight “up and down” like lines fished off downriggers. Try trolling with wire and Dipseys, or copper. Vertical jigging is also another option. Anglers continued to have good luck catching lake trout either trolling or vertical jigging. Trolling 30 to 60 feet down over 80 to 120 feet of water has been a good starting point, as has vertical jigging in 80-95 feet.
Skaneateles Lake: Trolling 25 to 30 feet down over 50 to 60 feet of water with small spoons was working for lake trout and rainbow trout. Look for smallmouth bass in 10 to 20 feet of water with perch-colored Rapalas, tube baits, 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 50 to 60 feet down on spoons or flasher and flies. A few rainbow trout were also being caught.
Seneca Lake: Water fleas are becoming more abundant and can be a nuisance when trolling. Fishing with heavier line (20-pound test or greater) 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: Spiny water fleas have been a headache for trollers. One option is to vertical jig instead of trolling. 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 well for lakers. Smallmouth bass were being caught in 30 to 60 feet of water off points.
Otisco Lake: Look for bass near shore or around the weedbeds. For tiger muskies, try casting or trolling with large spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, stickbaits or swimbaits.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Try along shore for smallmouth bass using crankbaits, spinnerbaits or tube jigs. Look for walleye along the old river channel
Canandaigua Lake: Nothing to report.
Chenango, Tioughnioga, Chemung and Susquehanna rivers: The rivers were up from the recent rain events at last check. When they settle down, look for smallmouth action to return to its red-hot state. Top-water action may be great right now, and look for smallies to stack up in riffle areas as well.
Lake Champlain: The big lake showed both sides of itself during the recent Bassmaster Elite Series event. The first day of competition was wiped out by high winds and rough water, but after that the lake yielded limit after limit of big smallmouths and largemouths. Anglers are still having luck jigging for lake trout and trolling for lakers and salmon.
West Branch Ausable River: Cooler nights helped water temps, but with water levels low it’s still best to fish in the morning to avoid stressing the trout. Attractors, terrestrials and caddis should work.
The snapper season is under way. They have reached about four inches in length, making them catchable, and they are hungry. They were caught throughout the report area from the beaches, docks, piers and jetties; anywhere that there was moving water there were snappers. These small bluefish were caught using the typical methods of casting small tins, such as Kastmasters and Johnson Sprites, casting snapper poppers or fishing spearing under a bobber. These are the perfect fish to introduce young anglers to fishing as they are easy to catch and just plain fun to catch for anyone.
The South Shore inshore water temperatures ranged from the lower 70s to about 70 degrees at the ocean beaches. This is on the cooler side, which has kept the inshore fluke fishing very good, with some of the largest fluke caught in the bays and inlets. As expected, most of the fluke caught were shorts, but there was a good number of 3- to 5-pounders caught inside the inlets, as evidenced by Brian McGowan’s 4.75-pound fluke caught in Fire Island Inlet, which won the Marine Max Charity Fluke Tournament. Not to be outdone by his dad, Conor McGowan won the pool on the Island Princess out of Captree State Park with a 5.5-pound fluke before the tournament. There has been an improvement in the ocean fluke bite, with the best fishing in waters around 90 feet deep.
Anglers fishing the South Shore artificial reefs were rewarded with a mixed bag of fluke, large porgies, and sea bass. The standard hi-low rig with a spearing/squid strip combo on the bottom hook and a small squid strip or clam strip on the top hook provided maximum action. Anglers targeting the larger sea bass, those over 2 pounds, did well using live killies or 2- to 3-ounce diamond jigs tipped with squid and bounced around the reef structure and further out on the ocean wrecks to 120 feet of water. The largest fluke were caught on whole squid, on 3-ounce bucktails tipped with squid, and by anglers fishing live snappers. A few bluefish were also caught on the reefs and wrecks.
On the North Shore, the fluke fishing remained good, with the best fishing in the Western Sound and off Orient Point. Bucktails tipped with squid strips or Gulp! baits fished in 15 to 30 feet of water provided the best action. Anglers also did well fishing the beaches around the harbor mouths, such as at Mount Sinai. There was a great mixed bag of porgies, sea bass and fluke in the western sound as well as within New York Bight. A few bluefish were also reported.
Bernie’s Bait and Tackle in Sheepshead Bay reported a good mix of porgies, sea bass, fluke and bluefish caught on the Rockaway Reef. Also, shore anglers did well on the same species off the Coney Island Pier and the beaches around Floyd Bennett Field. The fluke fishing for boaters was good throughout Jamaica Bay.
Anglers fishing the Robert Moses ocean beaches caught brown (aka sandbar) and dusky sharks, according to Saltwaters Bait and Tackle. These sharks took fresh bunker intended for bluefish and striped bass and must be released as they are prohibited from being kept. Anglers fishing poppers and tins off these beaches at first light were rewarded with a few small stripers and bluefish, but the better striper fishing from both the beach and boat was on the East End and off Montauk Point, where the water temperatures were a few degrees cooler. Most anglers fishing off either Montauk Point or Orient Point reported targeting a mixed bag of porgies, sea bass and fluke. Many of the porgies and sea bass were over 3 pounds, with a few 4-pound sea bass reported, as well as a good number of fluke between 5 and 8 pounds.
Further offshore in 140 to 180 feet of water south of Shinnecock Inlet, mako, blue, hammerhead, brown and thresher sharks were caught, according to Scott Jeffery at East End Bait and Tackle. A few makos and threshers were caught in water as shallow as 85 feet. The makos averaged between 75 and 100 pounds, with a few in the low 200-pound class reported. Most of the threshers were between 200 and 300 pounds. The blue sharks favored the cooler water areas and averaged around 100 pounds. Similar shark fishing was reported off Montauk Point in around 240 feet of water. Bluefin and yellowfin tuna from 20 to 40 pounds were caught on trolled Green Machine bars and daisy chains as well as other green plastic lures. When these tuna were are on the surface they were also caught on diamond jigs and large poppers.
The freshwater action remained largely unchanged as the fish have settled into their summer patterns where the best action occurs at first light or late in the afternoon. Many anglers have switched over to snappers or are taking advantage of the good surf fishing for porgies and fluke. But anglers continue to use spinnerbaits, plastic worms and plugs for largemouths, as well as worms and grubs for panfish throughout the area. There have been no reports of trout as of late.
April 1 was the start of the new Freshwater Fishing Regulation Guide: April 1, 2017-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.
You’ll likely have to deal with some recreational boat traffic if you stay on the water into midmorning or head out in late afternoon, but Lake George has been producing bass in 30-35 feet of water. Likewise, Saratoga Lake’s largemouth fishery continues to shine in the summer.
Southeastern New York
Croton Falls Reservoir continues to yield some good largemouths, while Bog Brook Reservoir has been the smallmouth hotspot. Kensico Reservoir and Lake Gilead continue to produce lake trout for anglers who know where to find them in the dead of summer.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Both rivers were clear and wadeable but warm by afternoon; try a different river. The Horton section of the Beaverkill closed to fishing in July.
Delaware East Branch: Wadeable, with a mix of Sulphurs, Olives and some scattered Tricos. Most surface activity is early or late. Terrestrials fished along the banks can be very effective.
Delaware West Branch: At a decent level at last check. Sulphurs are the main hatch, mostly from late afternoon on. Olives can be important more so on cloudy days. Fish can be very selective.
Esopus: Fishable and mostly clear. Hatches are spotty, with a mix of Sulphurs and small Olives. This is a better nymph fishing stream.
Neversink: Normal flows. A good terrestrial river; beetles fished along the banks work very well. There are some Tricos early afternoon and small Olives close to dark. Olive Woolly Buggers fished deep and slow is effective.
Delaware Main Stem: Starting to get warm below Lordsville. Hatches are spotty and a mix of Sulphurs, Olives and a few Light Cahills.
St. Lawrence River: Bass and pike have been available; target the weeds and weed edges.
Black Lake: It’s a great time to fish for bass in the mornings and evenings with top-water offerings.