New York Outdoor News Fishing Report – Oct. 6, 2017
Western New York
Lake Ontario, tributaries, harbors and piers: Trollers reported good mature king salmon catches off major tributary mouths such as Eighteenmile Creek, Oak Orchard Creek, Sandy Creek and the Genesee River. Action was best at dawn for these staging salmon, and the bite picks up again near dusk. Before daybreak, salmon were biting just a short distance off pier heads. After sunrise, depths of 50-100 feet of water were more productive. Flasher-fly combos have worked very well, but meat rigs, J-Plugs, J-13 Rapalas and large spoons can be effective, too. Mature king salmon have reportedly moved back in along the Niagara Bar’s ledge in 50-80 feet of water. From Wilson to Oak Orchard, there is still a consistent trout and salmon bite over deeper waters of 200-400 feet. Working the top 80 feet has produced steelhead and king salmon of mixed ages.
The recent summer-like weather halted fish migrations in the tributaries but that may have changed by now. At last check there were limited numbers of salmon below the dam on Oak Orchard Creek and some steelhead at Burt Dam on Eighteenmile Creek.
During the downright hot weather, the king salmon bite also slowed considerably at pier sites. Anglers were still catching a few brown trout and steelhead at low-light periods by casting spoons and spinners. When salmon return, casting heavy (3/4-ounce plus) Little Cleo, K.O. Wobbler and Moonshine glow spoons at night works well.
Lower Niagara River: Lower river water temperatures crept up during the warm weather, but it didn’t really slow the salmon fishing yet. Drifters working the Devil’s Hole reported excellent king salmon catches, including kings over 30 pounds. A three-way rig with treated egg skein or kwikfish lure produced limit catches of kings along with some walleye, bass and channel catfish mixed in. Keep in mind that conditions are hazardous in the Devil’s Hole drift, and only the most experienced boaters should attempt to fish there. Shore anglers were catching decent numbers of king salmon with the occasional walleye along Devil’s Hole and Whirlpool state parks. Casting large glow spoons and Vibrax spinners works well during low-light periods. Be aware that the Devil’s Hole State Park stairs are closed for repair project. Access to the gorge is by the Whirlpool State Park stairs, and the Devil’s Hole drift shoreline is accessible by the metal stairs at the NYPA fishing platform’s lower parking lot. Anglers at the NYPA platform were catching kings daily as well. The platform is open from dawn to dusk. Boaters targeting smallmouth bass were doing well from Lewiston to the river mouth. Yellow perch were also showing a little north of Lewiston.
Lake Erie: Anglers continued to report excellent walleye catches from Dunkirk to the Pennsylvania border, where limits seemed to be the norm. The walleye bite was best in 80 to 110 feet of water. Stickbaits and worm harnesses run just off the bottom work well at the shallow end of the depth range, while many walleye were suspended 70-80 feet down over the deeper end of the depth range. Walleye trollers were also catching the occasional steelhead west of Dunkirk. Anglers off Cattaraugus Creek reported good walleye action in 74-85 feet of water, where most of the fish were tight to the bottom.
Yellow perch fishing slowed. Between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point there was still the occasional limit catch by seasoned or perhaps lucky anglers, but most boats have had to work hard for between 30-50 perch. Live emerald shiners improve your catch odds, if you can find them. There has not been much smallmouth bass fishing intel available lately. However, some recent positive reports were at depths inside 35 feet of water. Target rocky reef structure with a drop-shot rig with live shiners, crayfish or tubes.
Lake Erie tributaries: The summer-like temperatures had Lake Erie surface temps back up over 70 degrees. That shut down the steelhead fishing in the nearshore areas off tributary mouths. Creek temperatures were even higher at mid day. But cooler weather has returned so fishing may well have improved by now.
Chautauqua Lake: Anglers continued to see a good walleye bite from weed edges out to 40 feet of water. Trolling and vertical jigging programs have both worked well. Fishing has been decent for suspended muskellunge over depths of 25-35 feet. Trolling with large (51/2- to 8-inch) minnow-type stickbaits is a good bet. Weed edges are a perfect place to catch some fish for the dinner table. Small minnows, worms and small jigs tipped with a grub or worm work great for a mix of bluegill, yellow perch, white perch, white bass and the occasional crappie.
Orleans County: Trout and salmon were moving back out into the lake from their near-shore haunts and lake fishing was fantastic during the recent heat wave. Fishing in the 50 to 200 feet of water range was producing some great catches of a mixed bag of fish. When this warm-up started a few salmon scooted to the dam on Oak Orchard, but by far the majority went back to the lake. This was like a bonus season for those who still had their boats in the water, and this is after an already superb season. Tributary fishermen will have to be patient just a little while longer, but not too much longer since cooler weather has returned. That should bring these confused fish back to shore, to the delight of tributary anglers. Some rain would also help.
Don’t forget to register for the St. Mary’s Archers Club Catch and Release Fly Fishing Derby which will take place Oct 18-20. Great food, fantastic fishing and the chance to meet people from all over the states await you.
Oak Orchard Creek was producing a fair number of largemouth bass, pike, and perch.
On Lake Alice, the warmer temperatures moved the fish to deeper waters, but that may be very short-lived with the cool down.
The Erie Canal is scheduled to close on Oct. 11 this year but dewatering may not begin immediately.
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 still being found in 50 to 100 foot of water. Chinook salmon fishing continued to be good on the lake, with flasher and flies or cut-bait producing the most action. Some fish were also 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: There are Chinook salmon being reported in the river, but keep in mind that it’s still early in the season and the water temperature was still warm. Still, fishing was good even during the warm weather and should only get better this month.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: Salmon fishing continues to be good, with fish being taken throughout the river, although the most pressure and best fishing was still in the lower section of river. Both coho and chinook salmon were being caught. Fishing early or late in the day was more productive during the warm weather but cooler weather has returned and fishing will likely get even better for the kings. The Lower Fly section opened on Sept. 15.
Oneida Lake: Smallmouth bass are feeding on young-of-year gizzard shad. Keep an eye out for surface feeding activity while you’re out there. Bird activity is often easier to see at a distance then fish breaking. If you see it, get to the area quickly and try surface lures, swimbaits, chatterbaits, or lipless crankbaits.
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. Temperatures need to cool down to get the fall walleye bite started.
Sandy Pond: 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 the lakers. Smallmouth bass were being caught 15 to 20 feet down over 30 to 60 feet of water. Live minnows or a jig and Twister Tail have been working. Panfish were being taken in 20 to 30 feet of water on worms.
Cayuga Lake: Spiny water fleas have been a little more of a nuisance lately, so be prepared to deal with them. Try trolling with wire and Dipsey’s or copper. Vertical jigging is also another option if fleas get too bad. Anglers continued to have good luck catching lake trout either trolling or vertical jigging. Trolling with flasher and flies or spoons, 70 to 90 feet down over 150 to 200 feet of water 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. 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 active in the same areas and on the same baits.
Owasco Lake: Like Cayuga, fleas have been a nuisance at times. 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 over the same depths.
Canandaigua Lake: Trolling 75 feet down with flashers and flies was working for lake trout, along with an occasional rainbow.
Otisco Lake: For tiger muskies, try casting or trolling with large spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, stickbaits, or swimbaits. If a tiger follows but doesn’t hit try that same area a little latter in the day. Look for largemouth bass in and around the weedbeds with creature baits, rubber worms or tubes. If that’s not working try fishing on the deep weed edges with drop-shot setups or bass jigs.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Look for walleye along the old river channel trolling with a worm harness or by jigging with a bucktail jig tipped with a half a nightcrawler.
Chenango, Tioughnioga, Chemung and Susquehanna rivers: Fishing pressure was down during the heat wave that ended last week. Conditions are slowly coming around and fall fishing should be red hot soon. 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.
Summer water conditions slowed fishing on the West Branch of the Ausable, but that has now changed and it’s a great time to strip streamers for big browns. Fishing pressure has subsided, although some anglers are now plying the waters of the Lake Champlain tributaries for landlocked salmon. Lake anglers are also taking their final shots at bass, salmon and trout. And backcountry brook trout anglers are likely scoring well, although they simply don’t reveal where.
Most of the attention is now focused on the big-game hunting seasons, and that will intensify when the popular weeklong muzzleloader deer and bear season opens Oct. 14.
The fluke fishing season was open during the first half of this report period. The best fishing along the South shore remained from the mouths of the inlets into the ocean, with a definite trend of the fluke moving further offshore to between 60 and 80 feet of water. In the inlets, the best bait was baby bunker as well as live snappers. Large bucktails tipped with either strip baits or squid, and whole-rigged squid also did well offshore. Most of the fluke were on just on either side of the keeper size, but the percentage of fish from 3- to 10-pounds increased.
On the North Shore, the fluke fishing remained consistent, with fluke caught in 20 feet of water and deeper just outside the harbor mouths. Bucktails tipped with spearing or squid provided the best action.
There were a lot of sharks reported offshore from 60 feet of water and deeper, with fluke anglers fishing as close as 40 feet of water tangling with sharks that picked up their fluke baits. Most of the sharks reported were brown sharks from 30 to 75 pounds and thresher sharks from less than 100 pounds to well over 200 pounds.
The sea bass season is fully under way, with non-stop action reported on the ocean artificial reefs, off Cholera Banks, in Block Island Sound, in the Peconics and Gardiner’s Bays, off the North Shore beaches, as well as all around Montauk and Orient points. In nearly all the areas, porgies were mixed in with the sea bass. Anglers were reporting 100-fish plus days in all these areas. As expected, most of the sea bass and porgies were shorts, but the sheer volume of fish resulted in limits of both fish. In Block Island Sound and around Montauk Point, there was a good number of codfish mixed in with the sea bass. Most of the cod were shorts, but there were a fair number of keepers. Some of the best fishing for jumbo porgies was reported in the western Sound. This was truly fall bottom fishing at its best.
The fall bluefish season is improving, with bluefish as large as 15 pounds moving their way from east to west. Off Montauk Point, the bluefish action was very good for anglers fishing diamond jigs or trolling parachute jigs or bucktails. In the Sound from Port Jefferson to Orient Point, bluefish between 7 and 10 pounds were reported from top to bottom being caught on jigs, bucktails and bunker chunks. There were stripers mixed in with the bluefish, but the fall striper run was not yet under way.
The dominant factor during the second half of this report period was Hurricane Jose, whose slow-moving track placed it offshore the New York coast, creating extremely rough waters in the ocean and eastern Long Island Sound. The bands of wind created rough inshore conditions along the South Shore and into the western Sound. The combination of rough seas and wind resulted in probably the quietest week of saltwater fishing this season as most boats stayed tied to their docks.
Anglers fishing the beaches looked for spots behind the inlets and in the back of harbors where the water was calmer as the oceans were unfishable, as were any waters with a long fetch to the south or southeast. These anglers reportedly did well with snappers and porgies.
The snappers have grown to greater than 6 inches and continued to provide plenty of action on all the docks and beaches. When anglers found juvenile bunker and fished them live, they caught the largest snappers. All the traditional methods, such as casting tins and snapper poppers, as well as spearing fished under a bobber caught snappers. The key was to fish the moving water. Inshore anglers also reported excellent blue crab fishing, as well as a good number of blowfish.
The freshwater ponds and lakes continued to provide anglers with panfish and largemouth bass. These fish showed signs of getting more active as the water cooled down a few degrees, helped by an earlier sunset these days. Spinners, spoons, and small swimmers caught their fair share of yellow perch and small largemouth bass and the occasional pickerel. Bigger largemouths were caught on spinnerbaits and plastics. The always-cooperative sunfish and bluegill were caught using live worms, as well as panfish poppers fished with a fly rod.
April 1 was the start of the new Freshwater Fishing Regulation Guide, which is effective 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 (www.dec.ny.gov).
Not hearing much from the Northern Zone bear hunters, which is no surprise. The warm weather kept most hunters home. But temps are returning to normal and, with the archery deer and bear season now open, things should start happening any time now.
Most of the attention is swinging toward the hunting season these days, so we’re not hearing much on the fishing front. But there’s still some good bass fishing to be had on Lake George, and Saratoga Lake will start yielding walleye when the waters cool.
Southeastern New York
Fishing pressure slowed during the heat wave late last month, but fall fishing can be superb on the east of Hudson reservoirs. Lake Gleneida continued to produce solid brown trout, including a 14-pound, 11.5-ouce brown caught by Tony Monteiro of Mahopac. Kensico Reservoir and Lake Gilead anglers have picked up some lake trout of late, and Bog Brook Reservoir has been yielding both smallmouth and largemouth bass.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Both rivers were clear but very low and were warming quickly by the afternoon during the heat wave last month. Early mornings have seen some Caddis activity. Terrestrials work well at this time of year. There were also some midges and olives. The Horton section of the Beaverkill is now open once again.
Delaware East Branch: Was in decent shape but low and clear at last look. There are some Caddis, midges and various spinners around. Small nymphs fished in the film have been effective. Scattered tricos were about in the morning. There were mostly Caddis and Hebes late in the day, as well as olives. Spinners can be important at times. Grasshopper patterns are also a good choice on this river, and nymph fishing can be productive.
Delaware West Branch: Clear and fishable. Water temps are not a problem here. Like other rivers, hatches tend to be sparse. Hatches were mostly scattered and close to dark. There are mostly Hebes, Olives and spinners as well as Caddis. Caddis can be important, usually late in the day. 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.
Esopus: was at about its normal clarity. Olives and Caddis and some Isonychias are about close to dark. Try fishing above the portal. When conditions allow, the Esopus has fished well this year. Nymphs are the best choice for success although there are hatches of Olives, Caddis and Isos.
Neversink: Was in decent shape but low at last report. It usually fishes well in the fall. Hatches are not as intense as on the other tailwaters, but Olives are around daily, as well as Caddis and some midges. There were some Isonychias below Bridgeville Hatches generally show close to dark. It is a good terrestrial river. Spinners can occur at any time.
Delaware Main Stem: The release into the West branch was up and so the flow on this river has increased. It was floatable at last check. There are spinners, Caddis and orange Sulphurs around close to dark. There are also some “White Flies” close to dark as well as spotty Olives and some Caddis activity. The intensity of the hatches varies, with cloudy conditions a plus.
So far it has been a very warm and dry fall. Fall bugs require cooler water temps to hatch. Be prepared for low water and selective fish.
St. Lawrence River: Not hearing much from the muskie hunters, but that should change with cooler weather.
Black Lake: Panfish action (notably bluegill and crappie) has been superb, and fall bass fishing is also available for those who haven’t turned their attention to hunting.