New York Outdoor News Fishing Report – Sept. 22, 2017
Western New York
Lake Ontario: Good news in the shore fishing department. First, the east pier at Olcott was set to open. In the lower Niagara River, the NYPA fishing platform has re-opened just in time for some salmon action. Fish were being caught in the lower river and many salmon were seen porpoising. If you are casting the piers or the shoreline, use glow cleo spoons, rattlebaits, stickbaits and crankbaits. Skein under a float will also work. Try some different things.
Out in Lake Ontario, Capt. Bob Cinelli of Olcott reports that there was a good offshore bite from the 24 line to the 28 line, offering up a mix of steelhead and salmon. Spoons and flasher-flies were working there. The inside bite for mature kings was also going on, too, out to 140 feet of water. Spoons, plugs and flasher-fly or flasher-meat rigs were the baits of choice. Stay away from the other boats to limit pressure on the fish. A few trout were being caught inside, too, according to Cinelli.
Lower Niagara River: Capt. Frank Campbell of Niagara Falls did catch his first salmon of the river season earlier this month from his boat in Devil’s Hole using a K-11 Kwikfish. Bass fishing continued to be good in the river. According to Capt. Arnie Jonathan of Lockport, leeches and shiners have been working the best for him, fished off three-way rigs.
Upper Niagara River: In the upper Niagara River and around Buffalo there were still plenty of walleyes around. Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island reported that he had eight fish by 10 a.m. one morning, dragging a spinner and worm rig. That same general area was also working for Capt. Jim Rores on smallmouth bass.
Orleans County: The cool down in the temperatures at night has started to move pre-spawn trout and salmon even closer to the tributaries. Early morning and late evening fishermen working the waters around the jetties on Point Breeze have had some success catching brown trout, rainbow/steelhead trout and chinook salmon. Those trolling around the point have had their best luck in that early-morning period.
There were still some “fresh” fish in the 80 to 200 feet of water range, but with the changing winds it’s hard to pin down an area any closer than that.
On the inland waters of Orleans County, perch fishing has slowed a bit on the lower stretches of Oak Orchard River, but some decent catches were still being reported.
Fishermen on Lake Alice were still reporting bluegill catches, but still smaller sizes. Bass fishing on the upper stretches of Lake Alice was good to very good, as was fishing on the Erie Canal.
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: Salmon were being found in 50 to 100 feet of water. Chinook salmon fishing continued to be very good, with flasher and flies or cut bait producing the most action, and some fish being taken on J-plugs. Try for smallmouth bass in 20 to 30 feet of water with crayfish, tube jigs or drop-shot rigs.
Oswego River: A few salmon and brown trout have been reported in the river, and those numbers should continue to increase, especially if we get a shot of rain and water temperatures drop.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: Some salmon were being taken in the lower sections of river. This early-season salmon fishing can be really hit or miss, so if you are not seeing fish keep covering water. But early reports have been good and things are already starting to heat up.
Oneida Lake: Smallmouth bass are feeding on young-of-year gizzard shad, so keep an eye out for surface feeding activity while you’re out there. Bird activity is often easier to see at a distance than fish breaking. If you see it, get to the area quickly and try surface lures, swimbaits, chatterbaits or lipless crankbaits. If not seeing surface activity keep an eye out for shad dimpling on the surface; that will at least let you know they are in the area and bass should be around, too. Walleye were being taken in deep water by anglers trolling with worm harness or blade baits. When anglers find them, yellow perch fishing has been good on small minnows.
Sandy Pond: Thick vegetation was making fishing more difficult, but try weedless baits for the bass.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Look for largemouth bass around the weedbeds.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Seneca Lake: Trolling spoons or flashers and flies down 50 to 70 feet has been working for lake trout.
Keuka Lake: Lake trout were hitting on alewives fished near bottom in 120 feet of water. Vertical jigging at the same depths with plastics has been working well for lakers, too. Smallmouth bass were being caught 15 to 20 feet down over 30 to 60 feet of water, and also at shallower depths. Live minnows or a jig and Twister Tail have been working. Panfish were being taken in 20 to 30 feet of water on worms.
Canandaigua Lake: Trolling 40 feet down with small spoons was producing a few rainbow trout.
Cayuga Lake: Spiny water fleas and weedmats have been less of an issue lately. but still be prepared to deal with them. Sometimes using a heavier monofilament helps to avoid some of the fleas, as does trolling with lines that don’t run straight up and down like lines fished off downriggers do. Instead, try trolling with wire and Dipseys, or copper. Vertical jigging is also another option if fleas get too bad. Anglers continued to have good luck catching lake trout both by trolling and vertical jigging. Trolling with flasher and flies or spoons, 60 to 90 feet down has been a good starting point, as has vertical jigging with plastics in 85 to 100 feet of water.
Skaneateles Lake: Trolling 40 to 60 feet down over 60 to 150 feet of water with small spoons was still working very well for lake trout and an occasional rainbow trout. Look for smallmouth bass in 15 to 35 feet of water with perch-colored Rapalas, tube baits, drop-shot rigs, topwaters, and wacky-rigged Senkos. Rock bass should be biting in the same areas and on the same baits.
Owasco Lake: Like Cayuga, weedmats and fleas have become less of an issue lately. Lake trout were being taken 80 to 100 feet down on spoons or flasher and flies. A few rainbow trout were also being caught 40 to 60 feet down on small spoons fished over the same depths.
Otisco Lake: For tiger muskies, try casting or trolling with large spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, stickbaits, or swimbaits. Don’t forget the wire leaders even if you’re not targeting tigers; they’ll help save some of your expensive bass baits from being bitten off. If a tiger follows but doesn’t hit try that same area a little later in the day. Look for largemouth bass in and around the weedbeds with rubber worms or tube baits. If that’s not working, try fishing on the deep weed edges with drop-shot rigs.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Look for walleye along the old river channel by trolling with a worm harness or jigging with a bucktail jig tipped with a half a nightcrawler.
Chenango, Tioughnioga, Chemung and Susquehanna rivers: Try tube baits in the deeper holes for the smallmouth bass and walleye. Natural colors tend to work better. For muskies, try large spinnerbaits or live minnows. The rivers are very fishable and waters are starting to cool, thanks to overnight temps dipping into the 40s at times.
With the early bear season now open and the archery deer season looming, much of the attention is focused on the hunting seasons. Waterfowlers, too, continued to take advantage of the early Canada goose season.
That said, some great fall fishing opportunities exist on the West Branch of the Ausable River, which remains in superb condition and is yielding some fine brown trout on Isonychia patterns – both dries and nymphs.
Bass fishing remained solid on Lake Champlain as well as in the Saranac chain. Schroon Lake was producing some landlocked salmon and lake trout.
The typical fall fluke fishing pattern is under way, with anglers and open boats targeting the fluke at the mouths of the inlets and into the ocean when conditions permit. Anglers reported catching fluke between 5 and 8 pounds on live snappers, small bunker, and large strip baits. Some of the best fluke fishing was reported on the ocean artificial reefs as well as on the Cholera Banks and on the south side of Montauk Point.
Inside the bays and harbors anglers reported a good mixed bag fishing for sea bass, blowfish, snappers, porgies and fluke. Most of these fish were shorts, but it makes a fun day of fishing for kids and adults alike. The best fishing was reported by anglers fishing 10 to 20 feet of water on both shores of the island using sandworms fished on a porgy hook on the bottom.
The sea bass possession limit increased from 3 to 8 fish per day at the beginning of this report period, prompting more anglers to hit the artificial reefs, rock piles and wrecks in search for large sea bass. Anglers reported outstanding sea bass fishing on the wrecks in 80 to 120 feet of water. Hot wrecks included the Hilton Castle, the Dodger, the San Diego, and the Walcott. Outstanding sea bass fishing was also reported in Block Island Sound, off the north side of Montauk Point and off Orient Point. Sea bass to 5 pounds were regularly reported. Inshore, most of the sea bass were shorts, but there were enough keepers to make the trips worthwhile. Many of these trips were taken as a mixed bag trip targeting fluke, then sea bass and a mix of porgies, resulting is some excellent ground fishing.
The snapper fishing was beginning to show a slowdown, but the snappers are now about 8 to 10 inches long. All the traditional snapper locations were productive; the best baits for the largest snappers were small bunker and killies.
The blue crab fishing remained excellent, but was also beginning to show signs of slowing down off the docks as the crabs are working their way into the bays where they will bury themselves in a few months for the winter. Traps baited with bunker or mackerel were the top producers.
Scott Jeffery at East End Bait and Tackle reported that the Shinnecock Canal continued to offer a mixed bag of action including snappers, porgies, blowfish, and sea bass. The jetties at the Shinnecock Inlet have yielded, fluke, blues, a few bass, false albacore and bonito. If you like the beaches now is the time to start scouting out the structure; blues and bass have been around but not in any huge numbers, with the best action reported during the overnight, dawn or dusk hours for anglers fishing poppers or fresh bunker chunks. Scott also reported that The Peconics yielded porgies, weakfish, blowfish, blues and even a few fluke and schoolie bass.
There was an impressive number of adult bunker in the ocean. Some of these large schools were being attacked by inshore sharks, including mako, brown and thresher sharks around the 50-pound mark. It’s important to note that once the water cools and the large stripers work their way south from Cape Cod and points north, these large schools of bunker will hold these stripers well into the fall.
Flyrodders and casters scored with false albacore, chub mackerel and bonita using spearing imitation flies or thin tins, such as Deadly Dicks, at first light at the inlet mouths on both shores of the Island and off Montauk Point. A few small stripers and bluefish were mixed in with the tuna.
A fair number of thresher sharks around 400 pounds and large makos over the 250-pound mark were reported off Montauk Point. Further west most of the sharking has been around the 20-fathom line for makos and brown sharks between 50 and 100 pounds. Overall, the shark fishing has been very good.
The tuna bite has remained slow, but many anglers were staying closer inshore than The Canyons and deep wrecks due to the windy conditions during this report period. But a few bluefin between 20 and 40 pounds have been reported by shark anglers from anglers fishing the Coimbra and Butterfish Hole areas. Mahi have also been reported by both shark and tuna anglers.
The freshwater ponds and lakes continued to provide anglers with panfish, largemouth bass and pickerel. The best fishing continued to be in the later afternoons and at daybreak. Spinnerbaits, plastic worms and plugs were producing largemouth, while worms and grubs yielded panfish throughout the area. There were no reports of trout as of late.
Walleye trollers have been picking up some fish on Great Sacandaga Lake, primarily in the 30-foot range.
On Lake George, lake trout continued to be caught by trollers set up for success; if you don’t know that game it might be best to hire one of the lake’s knowledgeable guides. Smallmouth bass are available anywhere from up top down to 30-35 feet.
Southeastern New York
April 1 was the start of the new Freshwater Fishing Regulation Guide, which applies from April 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018. You can obtain a copy from a licensing agent or view it at Summary of Freshwater Fishing Regulations on the DEC website.
The early bear season has begun (and is actually winding down) in some wildlife management units in the region.
We’re not hearing much on the fishing front, but the east of Hudson reservoirs should be offering up some fine fall fishing for bass. Fall brown trout action typically picks up, too, on waters like Croton Falls, Rondout and Cross River reservoirs.
Much of the attention is now focused on the upcoming Oct. 1 archery deer and bear kickoff.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Both rivers were clear, albeit a bit low, but in good shape. Hatches have been mostly later day with Olives, Isonychias and Caddis along with a few orange Sulphurs. A dropper rig with a soft hackle has worked well for Caddis. With the cooler weather spinner activity is later in the morning. The Horton section of the Beaverkill is now open once again.
Delaware East Branch: Wadeable and at a normal flow. There have been some morning Tricos, depending on weather. Hatches are fairly dependable late day, with mostly Olives, Caddis, Hebes and Isonychias and mostly below East Branch. Nymph fishing can be productive.
Delaware West Branch: Clear and at an easy wading level at last check. It has fished well of late. Levels were kind of thin for a drift boat. Olives are a major hatch but Caddis, Hebes and Isonychias are also present. Spinner falls have been difficult to predict. “The slop” can be a problem in the upper reaches. Hatch intensity can change from day to day. There were some Light Cahills about as well.
Esopus: Mostly clear. Try fishing above the portal. When conditions allow, the river has fished well this year. Nymphs are the best choice for success, although there are hatches of Olives, Caddis and Isos.
Neversink: The river was in good shape at last look. It usually fishes well in the fall. Hatches on this river are not as intense as on the other tailwaters but Olives appear daily, as well as Caddis and some midges. Water temps were good throughout the trout zone. There were some Isonychias below Bridgeville Olives are a major hatch, usually in the afternoon. It’s also a good terrestrial river. Spinners can occur at any time.
Delaware Main Stem: In general, the river has fished well this fall. The current level makes for easy wading. Both nymphs and dry flies have worked. Bugs are mostly Olives, Hebes and Isonychias. Caddis can be important at times. The intensity of the hatches varies, with cloudy conditions a plus. Caddis nymphs are effective in the faster water, along with attractor dry flies.
St. Lawrence River: Bass fishing has been good, and muskie hunters are awaiting colder water temps.
Black Lake: Crappie and bluegill action has been superb, and bass anglers are connecting on topwater offerings. Not hearing a lot on the walleye front, but diehard anglers are often pretty quiet about their successes.