New York Outdoor News Fishing Report – September 16th, 2016
Western New York
Lake Ontario and tributaries: Salmon were stacked up on the Niagara Bar, according to Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown. Flasher-fly, cut bait, plugs and spoons will all catch fish. The same will work for you off Olcott, where you have the option of targeting staging fish in 30 to 120 feet of water or going deep for a mixed back of salmon and trout. Same baits mentioned earlier will work in close; primarily spoons offshore. After recent rains jacked the CFS in Eighteen Mile Creek to 175, we did see a few pier casters hook up with salmon at night by casting Cleos out into the lake. A few browns were being reported, too. The best is yet to come.
Lake Erie and tributaries: Anywhere from Sturgeon Point to the Pennsylvania line in 60-90 feet of water is worth a shot for walleye. However, the better recent action has been from Sturgeon Point to west of Cattaraugus Creek in 68-72 feet of water. In that area, trollers were picking up good numbers of walleye off the bottom with stickbaits and worm harnesses. Expect to catch some yellow perch, white bass and sheepshead on worm harnesses as well. Barcelona anglers covering depths of 60-80 feet have had to work for modest walleye catches recently. Anglers were reporting as many short walleye caught for every keeper.
Typically as the calendar changes from August to September, the yellow perch bite begins to pick back up. So far, however, there have only been a few favorable reports off Dunkirk and Cattaraugus Creek. Waters off Dunkirk Harbor and from Cattaraugus Creek to Sturgeon Point in 60-70 feet of water are traditionally good spots. Live emerald shiners are the best perch bait and emeralds are currently available for dipping at Broderick Park. Smallmouth bass fishing has picked up a bit in the Buffalo area. Some decent catches have come around the harbor gaps and near deeper structure.
Rehabilitation work at the Dunkirk fishing platform has been completed and it is now open for fishing once again.
Upper Niagara River: Bass – both smallmouth and largemouth – were available for boaters and shorecasters. Finding holding areas like flats or deep holes will be key to success. If you do venture into Canadian waters, make sure you call yourself in to notify the Canadian authorities of your intentions. Worms are the only live bait you can use and they cannot be in dirt. It’s a pretty painless process, but they do mean business if you violate the rules over there. Sheepshead seem to be everywhere and are being taken from both boat and shore. Softshell crabs are the best bait for those, but they have also been hitting tubes.
Lower Niagara River: The walleye bite has been pretty consistent for some, but not for others. In the Niagara River Anglers Association’s Lower River Walleye Contest, 25 contestants were vying for some decent cash prizes and in the end it was Steve Majka who had the hot hand with two fish totaling 13.86 pounds. Majka also caught the big walleye in the Fish Odyssey at 12 pounds, 10 ounces, at the mouth of the river, power trolling an orange and gold worm harness to take his biggest walleye ever. Back to the NRAA event, Mike Fox of Lewiston reeled in 12.07 pounds of walleye for second place; third place went to Capt. Steve Drabczyk of Lewiston with 11.87 pounds. Big fish for the contest went to Charlie Hoy with an 8.07-pound ‘eye. More than $1,000 in prizes were doled out to the winning anglers. We should also mention Nick Calandrelli’s 25-pound, 10-ounce carp and that was caught in the lower river, too, while fishing in the NRAA contest with a worm harness. It was caught on the Jackson Drift. Bass fishing on the Bar has been spotty, but the lower river has been pretty good. Kim Stricker of Hook ‘n Look TV Show on The Outdoor Channel was on the water to take some dandy smallies around Lewiston and film a show that will air in February. The cool thing about the show is that it includes underwater footage that takes you into the world of the fish and pinpoints specific holding areas. They will also talk about the importance of current.
Chautauqua Lake: Anglers continued to see a good walleye bite in both basins. North basin anglers were doing well along the 20- to 25-foot contours, and some have been caught around the rims of the deep holes as well. South basin anglers were catching walleye south of the bridge in 14-18 feet of water. Vertical jigging with blade baits, trolling with worm harnesses or slow trolling with stickbaits have all been effective for walleye. Muskie fishing remained a little slow, but anglers were still catching some along weed edges and over deeper water of 35-40 feet, on gear run 15-20 feet down. Anglers were catching decent numbers of yellow perch in the north basin from weed edges out to 20 feet of water, with better sizes at the deeper end of that zone.
Orleans County: As the hot weather continued the fish occupying those inside waters remained very elusive. Most reports have the salmon diving to the bottom as boats pass by them. With the waters of Lake Alice still registering in the 80s, tributary fishing is still a ways off yet. The offshore fishing seems to be holding up very well beyond the 28 line, with a good mixed bag of fish in all year classes. With the last of the Lake Ontario Derbies and Tournaments over for this year the activity on the big lake starts dwindling. Lake Alice fishing seemed to be focused on bluegill around the Waterport Bridge area and then bass in all of the deep water locations.
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 (fishonondagacounty.com); Oswego County (visitoswegocounty.com); and Wayne County (waynecountytourism.com). Oswego and Wayne counties also have a weekly fishing hotline on their web page as well.
Lake Ontario: Salmon fishing continued to be very good with fish starting to stage off river mouths. Look for fish in 115 to 125 feet of water with cut- bait, J-plugs, spoons and flasher and flies. Shades of green and white have been good colors.
Oneida Lake: Things remained pretty much the same, with walleye fishing continuing to be challenging. Some anglers were still 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 (10-15 feet) on crankbaits or stickbaits. Smallmouth bass were being taken around the shoals on drop-shot rigs, tube jigs 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.
It may be necessary to adjust your fishing style if fishing with worms to avoid the bait stealing gobies. Sometimes just fishing worms a foot or two off bottom, instead of right on bottom, can help avoid the gobies.
Oswego River: Anglers were still getting a few walleye and smallmouth bass. For the walleye try using large stickbaits or jigs, and for the bass try crayfish. No salmon to report yet.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: Things are still slow on the river, which is usual for this time of year. It shouldn’t be too long before the first salmon start trickling in, though. In fact, a few chinooks have been caught, but not enough to signify an actual run yet.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Look for largemouth bass along the weed edges with plastics or crankbaits. A few walleye were being caught in the cut at Sodus early and late in the day.
Sandy Pond: For largemouth bass try flipping or pitching bass 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 80 to 140 feet of water. Both trolling and vertical jigging were working. The water flea situation was improving, 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, brown trout and rainbow trout were being taken by trolling 30 to 50 foot 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, or spoons fished 75 feet down over 100 to 120 feet of water. Weed mats have been an annoyance when trolling, so be prepared to deal with them. Water fleas have also been a continued 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. Trolling with spoons or flashers and flies 90 feet down over 135 feet of water has also been productive.
Canandaigua Lake: Rainbow trout were hitting on spoons fished 60 to 65 feet down over 75 to 95 feet of water. Lake trout were being caught at the same spots but 70 to 85 feet down. Spoons trolled at 2.1 to 2.5 mph has been working. Water fleas and weeds have been bad at times so be prepared to deal with them if trolling.
Owasco Lake: Trolling 70 to 80 feet down with spoons or flasher and flies has been producing some lake trout. Trolling a little higher in the water column, like 40 feet, was producing some browns and rainbows. Water fleas have been bad in some areas. Weed mats have also been a headache, so be prepared to deal with them also.
Otisco Lake: The lake level has been down, so be careful when boating. 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. Anglers trolling 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 in 2 to 10 feet of water.
Skaneateles Lake: Trolling 40 to 50 feet down with small spoons was producing some lake trout and rainbow trout. For smallmouth bass try topwaters, flukes, tube jigs, drop-shot rigs, or a Ned-rig. Rock bass were also being caught by anglers targeting smallmouths.
Susquehanna, Chenango, Tioughnioga and Unadilla rivers: Water levels remained generally low so launching at many of the launch sites has been difficult or impossible. That said, smallmouth bass action has been solid for many anglers, and should continue to improve as fall approaches.
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 anglers continued to score at various depths on the bottom, while bass fishing is picking up as waters cool. Some of the season’s biggest smallmouths will be taken now into October, usually by dragging tubes.
West Branch of the Ausable River: During the morning hours starting at daybreak anglers have had best luck with BWOs, caddis, large pheasant tail nymphs and parachute Adams/isonychias. A Zug Bug or ISO nymph imitation is an ideal dropper. Fish were still keying onto BWOs and Isonychias so have them ready. Size 12 orange stimulators have been good in the mornings as well. Stonefly nymphs in tandem with hatch-specific nymphs is the best subsurface scenario.
The fishing was excellent for most of this report period. Tropical storm Hermine kept most anglers off the water for Labor Day weekend as both the waves and surf were very high. Instead, many took advantage of the excellent snapper fishing and blue crab fishing from the safety of the canals and inshore beaches. The snappers were between 7 and 9 inches long and were caught using all the traditional methods, including snapper poppers, small tins and spearing fished under a bobber. A few blowfish and northern kingfish were reported by anglers fishing a small piece of sandworm on the bottom while snapper fishing.
The blue crabs are loving the warm water and remain very active. Anglers reported catching them in traps at all the docks and also at night netting them under spotlights.
Despite the very warm temperatures, the fish were showing signs of moving into their fall patterns, which is likely due to the shorter daylight. This has expanded the opportunities for surf anglers in particular as stripers in between 5 and 10 pounds, with the occasional 15-pound plus fish, have moved closer to the beaches and jetties and are feeding on spearing, bay anchovies and juvenile bunker.
Cocktail blues are mixed in with the stripers. Tins, such as Hopkins and Kastmasters, accounted for most of the bluefish and schoolie stripers, while the largest stripers and bluefish were caught on live eels at night or live bunker during the day. Flyrodders were taking advantage of the bay anchovies and spearing schools by fishing epoxy flies and other 1/0 spearing patterns around the jetties and beaches. A few false albacores were reported off the South Shore jetties on thin tins as well as epoxy and Crease flies, with most of the action at first light.
All the inshore waters are loaded with small bunker and baitfish. They will likely remain inshore until the first the first significant drop in water temperature, often the result of a nor’easter which moves the bait in mass out of the creeks, harbors and bays, setting up for a true fall run with stripers and blues blitzing the beaches.
There was a pretty good summer weakfish bite in the Great South Bay around Ocean Beach, in West and Range channels and off the Heckscher flats. Most of the fish are between 12 and 16 inches, but a few approaching 4 pounds were reported. Small bucktails, plastic baits and Clouser Minnows were all productive.
The large schools of bunker and mackerel are keeping the shark bite alive, but in general it was slow. Makos, blues and brown sharks dominated the catches, with a few hammerheads and threshers reported. Some of the threshers reported were caught by fluke anglers fishing in 80 or so feet of water and by striper anglers fishing under the schools of bunker. Most of these threshers were around 40 pounds.
Further offshore, bigeye tuna were trolled and chunked in The Canyons, with most fish between 160 and 220 pounds. Yellowfin tuna were caught at The Bacardi, Texas Tower and in the canyons. The tunas are moving around looking for clean water and bait. Anglers did well casting large poppers to breaking schools, using heavy jigs fished in the deeper schools and by trolling plastics during the day and chunking at night. A few wahoo were reported caught on the troll at The Canyons. A few white marlin were spotted, but there were no reports as of late.
There were a lot of fluke reported, but the majority are shorts. The fluke season closes on Sept. 21, so anglers are taking their last shot fishing for keepers. The best bet for these keepers was in 80 to 90 feet of water off the South Shore, off the south side of Montauk and Orient Point, and in the eastern sound. Spearing and squid strips, whole squid, strip baits and tipped bucktails were all productive. Flyrodders reported fluke and sea robins attacking 1/0 Clouser Minnows fished off the beaches and in the shallows. Scott Jeffery at East End Bait and Tackle reported keeper fluke at The Basket and Rampasture Point in Shinnecock Bay during the incoming tide on Gulp! or spearing, with snagged squid working best.
The sea bass bite has picked up, with some larger sea bass moving onto the artificial reefs, rock piles and wrecks in less than 90 feet of water. Block Island Sound was excellent. Clams were the top bait, with sandworms a good second choice. There are a lot of short sea bass and porgies in the South Shore bays and inlets and off the North Shore beaches. Blackfish were mixed in with the sea bass, but with the season opening on Oct. 5 they must be released.
The freshwater fishing was good. Yellow perch, sunfish and largemouth bass, along with a few chain pickerel and crappie were reported from nearly all the ponds and lakes. With the very warm weather, the best fishing was early in the morning and late afternoons. Worms, PowerBaits and small spoons and spinners accounted for most of the panfish. The largemouths took spinnerbaits and small plugs fished close to structures. The trout fishing remained predictably slow given the warm water.
Lake George: Dragging tubes or fishing live crayfish or crayfish imitations on the bottom at 25-35 feet should yield some good smallmouths.
Saratoga Lake: Saratoga Tackle’s Tournament of Champions season-ending bass tourney yielded some fine largemouths during its three hours, including a 5.66-pound lunker taken by winners PJ Peculis and Trevor Stay.
Area trout streams: Waters remained low at last check but are starting to cool down to acceptable temps. The Battenkill and Kayaderosseras may be worth a look, although stealth will be required with the low water conditions.
Southeastern New York
Fishing licenses are now good for 365 days, 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 online at Freshwater Fishing Guide.
Croton Falls and Cross River reservoirs continued to yield brown trout, including several double-digit fish. Most of the east of Hudson reservoirs were offering up decent bass fishing of late, as well as white and yellow perch in those waters that hold both.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Both rivers are now very low once again. Hatches were spotty, probably due to river conditions. In the morning there were some tricos and midges but none in any significant numbers. Ants and beetles have been effective. There is little evening activity.
Delaware East Branch: Was at a stable summer flow with decent water temps to East Branch. It was fishing well, with decent Tricos and Olives. There were also a few Isos, light Cahills and Caddis. Terrestrials are a good choice during non-hatch situations.
Delaware West Branch: Floatable with limited wading recently. Recent water releases also had some impact on turbidity. In high water look to the banks. With these conditions, streamers are good choices. There were some olives in the late afternoon as well as some Isonychias and some spinners. Ants fished along the banks work very well for bank sippers.
Esopus: A limited portal release. Surface activity is late day. Hatches have been spotty, with some Isonychias, small Olives and some Caddis. This can be a great river for nymph fishing.
Neversink: Was wadeable and at a normal flow. Small Olives are present most days but generally later in the day. There were some Tricos in the late morning, In the evening there are some Olives and Olive spinners. A few Caddis were starting to show. This river usually have some decent fall Caddis activity. Small nymphs and terrestrials are both good daytime choices. The gorge is too warm to fish during the summer but is cooling down. This river is a great terrestrial stream.
Delaware Main Stem: Was up and cooler due to the cooler weather and increased release on the West Branch. These are usually good conditions for fishing. Hatches have been spotty – mostly small Olives, some Caddis and Isonychias.
St. Lawrence River: The big news coming out of the river was the 8-pound, 4-ounce smallmouth bass that stands to be certified as state catch and release record and ties the existing state mark. Waters are starting to cool and muskie hunters will soon be out in full force.
Black Lake: The lake’s bluegill fishery continues to shine, and bass action remains solid as well. Remember, if you plan on keeping any bass there is a 15-inch size minimum for Black Lake.