New York Outdoor News Fishing Report – Dec. 29, 2017
Western New York
Niagara River: High winds earlier this month led to terrible conditions. But soon after, shore casters were using egg sacs to take some nice steelhead in the gorge area with three feet of visibility. Other baits worthy of consideration are spinners, trout beads and even wobble baits like Kwikfish or MagLips. Boaters should be able to get out when the weather cooperates. Egg sacs, those same wobbling baits and beads will all work from a three-way rig as you drift from Devil’s Hole down to the Niagara Bar – not one big drift but a series of smaller drifts. Before the water muddied up, they were doing pretty good on brown trout around the Coast Guard drift and out on the Niagara Bar. Lake trout season is open on the Canadian side of the river. It opens in New York on Jan. 1. Muskie season in the lower river and Lake Ontario closed Dec. 15 so essentially that is over for the year until the season reopens the third Saturday in June.
Lake Ontario tributaries: A late run of coho salmon have been surprising anglers with black marabou jigs tipped with a wax worm working well. Egg sacs or egg imitations have been working on steelhead and browns in places like Eighteen Mile Creek at Burt Dam, as well as some of the streams to the east. At Burt, the flow has been low and slow with stained conditions. It’s more of a waiting game, but you can do well if you put your time in. Jigs fished under a float are effective.
The Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo has a weekend pass for $20 at www.niagarafishingexpo.com. There are also pay-to-play clinics and special schools like the LOTSA Salmon School set for Jan. 20 at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls. Sign up online at www.lotsa1.org.
Orleans County: The Erie Canal was in the process of being dewatered again, which is providing good water flows in many of the tributaries within Orleans County. On Oak Orchard Creek there were still some salmon available for the right offering, mainly at the dam. Brown trout and steelhead/rainbow trout were on the move with good water flows. The warmer temperatures helped clear some of the snow and shore ice, providing some extra water flow, as well.
This is the time of year that taking a few extra minutes to review safety precautions and paying more attention to your surrounding conditions is of the utmost importance. Conditions can change quickly this time of year.
Central New York
Ice anglers are playing the not-so-patient waiting game, encouraged by cold weather in mid-December but then having their hopes dashed by a pre-Christmas warming trend.
Lake Ontario: Steelhead and brown trout were being taken in the tributaries on egg sacs, beads or egg-imitating plastics.
Oswego River: The area has been right in the middle of the lake-effect snow band, so be prepared to deal with snow. Anglers getting out in drift boats were catching mainly steelhead and just a few brown trout.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: Heavy snows have limited fishing activity. Steelhead fishing continued to be good, with fish being taken on egg-imitating flies, plastics or real egg sacs with blue, chartreuse or pink mesh. Fish were being taken mainly in the upper river.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Waiting for ice to form so nothing to report right now.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Atlantic salmon and brown trout fishing has been good in the tributaries. Keep in mind Finger Lakes tributary fishing is open from sunrise to sunset this time of year; angling is prohibited between sunset and sunrise.
Skaneateles Lake: The DEC launch is closed for the season.
Hard-water season is approaching, and anglers have already been out on some smaller waters. That said, at this stage of the game, we can’t point the hard-water crowd to any particular water; things are just too sketchy at this time and conditions can change rapidly. We’ve already had one tragic death on the ice; an angler fell through on Edgecomb Pond in Warren County and drowned. We can’t stress this enough: use caution any time you head out on the ice, but especially this time of the year.
There were two snowstorms and some wind to contend with this report period, but in general the fishing remained very good. The bottom fishing was excellent, while the striped bass fishing slowed toward its season close on the 15th. Nearly all the ground fish reports came from open and charter boats since most anglers have put their boats away for the winter. The striped bass reports were split between anglers fishing from either boats or the surf.
The bottom fishing during this report period was outstanding when the fish were on the feed. When they weren’t, fishing was spotty. Most anglers targeted sea bass, blackfish and codfish. Some large porgies and a few bluefish mixed-in the catches. The best fishing was reported on the offshore wrecks, reefs and hard spots. Most anglers fished between 90 to 120 feet of water, with a few boats fishing as deep 200 feet. In general, the deeper the water the larger the fish, as these areas get fished less often. A plus on the deeper wrecks was the increased catches of pollock and hake.
The best sea bass fishing was reported from Moriches Inlet and east to Block Island Sound. The best codfish was off Montauk Point. The top spots for blackfish were off Orient Point, Fisher’s Island, and the wrecks in New York Bight. The blackfish season closed on the 14th.
Most anglers came back with a mixed bag, with pool winning sea bass tipping the scales at 6 pounds plus, blackfish weighed in between 5 and 10 pounds, and codfish between 6 and 15 pounds with the occasional 20-pounder taking the pool. When porgies were landed, they were typically around 3 pounds.
Fresh skimmer clams were the top bait for all but blackfish, which preferred green or hermit crabs but were not shy about attacking a well-presented clam bait. When schools of sand eels were in the area, the cod and sea bass also attacked diamond jigs. When schools of herring invaded the codfish grounds, anglers did very well using cut herring chunks, especially for the larger codfish.
The striped bass season is now closed. The best fishing as the season wound down was reported between Fire Island and Debs inlets. The stripers were very spotty, with some boats limiting out on keepers, while others went home empty handed. Those who did find the stripers reported good action on both diamond jigs as well as mojo rigs. The latter were more effective when trolled around the large schools of herring located in 30 to 60 feet of water. In all areas, the number of stripers caught over 20 pounds significantly dropped. The striper catch was pretty much split evenly between keepers and shorts.
The bulk of the stripers caught from the beaches were shorts, with some as small as 12 inches long. During the day, tins and small poppers worked well, with small swimmers working best after dark along both the North Shore and South Shore beaches. Fly-rodders did well casting 2/0 sized spearing or sand eel patterns along the North Shore beaches. There were no herring reports except for a few taken by fly-rodders.
There were no freshwater reports as of late.
Hunters reported good pheasant hunting at Rocky Point, with most hunters returning with a bird or two.
DEC and the city of Troy today announced that ice anglers will now be allowed to use battery-powered ice augers on the Tomhannock Reservoir in the town of Pittstown. The use of gasoline and propane powered ice augers is still prohibited on the reservoir.
Anglers must obtain a New York state fishing license and a separate permit from the city of Troy to fish at the reservoir. The Troy city clerk’s office issues fishing permits for the Tomhannock Reservoir.
For information about obtaining a permit from the city of Troy see: www.troyny.gov/forms-permits/fishing-permit/.
Ice fishing is permitted from Jan. 1 through March 15 during daylight hours only. Ice fishing shelters of any kind are not permitted on the reservoir; this includes pop-ups on sleds.
The Tomhannock Reservoir is a 1,700-acre public water supply that provides drinking water to the city of Troy and surrounding communities. DEC and Troy cooperatively manage public fishing on the reservoir. For information about fishing at the Tomhannock reservoir see: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/84865.html
Ice conditions permitting, DEC will hold a free ice fishing clinic on the Tomhannock Reservoir on Saturday, Jan. 20, where no fishing license or city permit will be required to fish during the program. However, all other fishing regulations will remain in effect.
Southeastern New York
A reminder that from Nov 1 to May 1, everyone aboard a pleasure vessel less than 21 feet must wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) while underway. For more information on boating regulations please view the NYS Boater’s Guide. A link can be found in the right hand column under Links Leaving the DEC Website.
Not hearing much now that colder weather has arrived and fishing options are limited. It will likely remain that way until the region sees some safe ice.
St. Lawrence River: Anglers have been hitting the ice in some spots, including Lake of the Isles. Use caution and be aware of changing conditions.