New York Outdoor News Fishing Report – May 18, 2018
Western New York
Lake Erie and harbors: Most Lake Erie boat launches are now open for the season. There may still be some dredging occurring at Sturgeon Point Marina, so it’s best to call ahead. Anglers were targeting yellow perch between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point in 50-60 feet of water. Perch catches have been modest at best so far. Walleye season may have gotten off to a slow start due to cooler-than-normal water temperatures. The nearshore shoals/shallows are typically productive when the season opens, with better action at night. Shorehaven Reef, Bournes Beach, Green Hills, Van Buren Bay, Evans Bar, off Hamburg and near the mouth of Smokes Creek are good spots to try. Trolling minnow-type stickbaits at around 2 mph over rocky areas in 6-15 feet of water is a typical program.
With cool lake and harbor temperatures, there has been no sign of a smallmouth bass influx into harbors yet. That could pick up any day.
Lake Erie tributaries: Steelhead numbers were dwindling on the smallest streams, while catches remained decent to good on streams like Chautauqua, Eighteenmile and Buffalo creeks. Cattaraugus Creek was back in fishable shape and provided a few days of excellent fishing, with some anglers reporting double digit catches. Anglers have reported the occasional smallmouth bass hook-up in the tributaries. Bass numbers are set to jump with warming water temperatures.
Niagara River: Water temperature has crept up to the mid-40s on the upper river. Look for an improved bass and panfish bite along river shorelines. Harbor, bay and slack areas are also a good bet for a mix of bass, sunfish and perch. Bass fishing is by catch and release only, artificial lures only in the Niagara River north of the Peace Bridge until the regular season opens on third Saturday of June.
Steelhead fishing on the lower river has been excellent lately, with plenty of double digit catches. Steelhead drifters were also catching lake trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass and walleye. Walleye season is open but we haven’t heard much yet. Anglers targeting smallmouth bass have done well, with bass over 6 pounds. Smelt still had not shown along shorelines at night. Charters have commented on marking tons of bait in the river, but weren’t not sure if it’s smelt they were marking.
Lake Ontario and tributaries, harbors and piers: When weather has permitted, nearshore trollers have enjoyed great brown trout fishing inside 30 feet of water. Coho salmon catches have also been ramping up in the nearshore zone. Trolling with small to medium sized stickbaits or spoons run 75-100 feet behind planer boards works well. A mix of trout and salmon were available in 30-100 feet of water. Charter boats were starting to pick up the occasional king salmon.
Chautauqua Lake: Walleye season is now open and Chautauqua Lake walleye regulations are now the same as the statewide regulations, with a minimum length of 15 inches and daily limit of five fish. Targeting walleye in shallower areas near weedlines at night is a productive early-season tactic. Boaters can troll with stickbaits or worm harnesses, or drift and work jigs with nightcrawlers. Shore anglers can connect by casting stickbaits, especially near stream inlets. The recent crappie bite has been best in the canals, however the open lake bite was starting to pick up as well. In the open lake, target crappie near structure and weedbeds at depths of 4-8 feet of water.
Inland trout fishing: The region’s trout streams were in good shape at last check. There were hatches of stoneflies, BWOs and Hendricksons happening and fly anglers were starting to see some surface action on dry flies late in the day. Sub-surface nymphs were a better bet most of the day. Productive offerings for spinning anglers included worms, salted minnows and small in-line spinners.
Spring trout stocking
All of western New York’s trout stocking waters have been stocked at least one time. Call the Randolph Fish Hatchery at 716-358-2050 for stocking updates.
Among the most recently stocked waters are:
Allegany County: Dodge Creek (Clarksville), Dyke Creek (Andover), Cryder Creek (Independence).
Cattaraugus Creek: Forks Creek (Great Valley), Great Valley Creek (Great Valley), Quaker Lake (Cold Spring), Elton Creek (Freedom).
Wyoming County: Buffalo Creek (Java), Tonawanda Creek (Orangeville).
Genesee County: Oatka Creek (Le Roy).
Monroe County: Oatka Creek (Wheatland)
Central New York
Lake Ontario: Trollers were picking up brown trouts in all the usual spots, and some of the first king salmon of the season were also reported.
Oneida Lake: The walleye season kicked off with the big Chittenango Lions Club derby, which was won with a 27-inch fish.
Oswego River: Not hearing a lot lately, even on the walleye front. Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: A few steelhead, but things are pretty quiet right now as attention turns to the big lake.
Sodus and Irondequoit bays: Perch and crappie fishing can be good at times. Bullhead action seems to have slowed.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
A lot of the focus has been on spring gobbler hunting, with a surprising number of early season successes reported as hunters seemed to have some luck pulling a longbeard away from a spring flock.
Cayuga Lake: The lake has been yielding some good numbers of brown trout and landlocked salmon, highlights by Tom Testa’s big brown that topped 17 pounds.
Skaneateles Lake: At least one dock is in, but we haven’t heard much from anglers.
Susquehanna, Chenango, Tioughnioga and Unadilla rivers: A few anglers have been picking up walleye and also doing some catch-and-release bass fishing.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Not hearing a lot from the walleye or crappie anglers.
Spring gobbler hunting has been good across much of the North Country; birds are located in pockets and can be receptive to calling.
The region’s trout waters have been stocked and are starting to warm up, and as a result the fish are becoming more active.
West Branch of the Ausable: Insect activity is increasing. Look for Hendricksons, BWOs and golden stones and wade with caution when waters are high.
Lake Champlain: Some pre-spawn bass fishing (catch-and-release only) opportunities exist now and will only get better when waters warm.
Lake Flower: Parking for vehicles with boat trailers using the Lake Flower Boat Launch will be available in the parking lot across the road from the boat launch. The off-site parking lot is located at the former Nonna Fina’s restaurant. A limited number of parking spots have been designated for vehicles with boat trailers. Only vehicles with boat trailers will be allowed to use the parking lot. Vehicles must travel through the parking lot in one direction and park in designate parking spots. Parking will be available from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and overnight parking is prohibited.
Paddlers and others with car top boats are encouraged to use the nearby DEC Ampersand Bay hand launch on Lower Saranac Lake or DEC’s Lake Colby hand launch.
After launching a boat, boaters should tie off their boat at the bulkhead to the left of the launch ramp and then drive across River Street (State Route 86) to the parking lot. When driving from the parking lot to the boat launch, drivers should utilize the middle turning lane.
When walking between the boat launch and the parking lot, pedestrians should use the crosswalk and traffic light at the intersection of Church and River streets. The crosswalk is approximately 560 feet from the boat launch and parking lot entrances. A gravel footpath will be built between River Street and the boat ramp to give pedestrians access to the boat ramp.
The saltwater fishing season is in full swing with the opening of the porgy and fluke seasons during this report period. Tackle shops have switched to their spring schedule, with extended hours and early morning openings. The recent stretch of warm weather has helped to warm up the bays and harbors, increasing the presence of baitfish. The forecast for above-average air temperatures should help bring the water temperature closer to normal for this time year, which will really improve the fishing. There were large schools of squid and bunker reported off the North Fork.
Scott Jeffery at East End Bait and Tackle reported that the boats in the Peconics loaded up with large porgies. Anglers also reported excellent porgy fishing on the North Fork and central Long Island Sound, with anglers limiting out on porgies to 3.5 pounds. The key was to change your bait, typically clam strips, every time you reel your bait to the surface. Mixed in with the porgies were black sea bass to 4 pounds, but they must be released until the opening day on June 27. Scott also reported that weakfish have been showing up in the creeks and canals. A few weakfish were also reported in the Sheepshead Bay area.
The striped bass fishing along the South Shore beaches was improving every day, with more and more keepers being caught. Jeffery recommended fishing the back bays and creeks with small plastic baits on light jigheads where the water is the warmest and the stripers are the most active. These back bays and creeks are ideal for flyrodders casting 1/0-sized Clouser Minnows or spearing imitations for stripers as well as weakfish.
The best striper fishing was reported in New York Bight and in Jamaica Bay, where anglers limited out on keepers fishing bunker chunks in the Bight or casting swimming plugs and poppers in the bay near Floyd Bennett Field and JFK Airport. A few large bluefish have been reported by anglers targeting both striped bass and fluke in all areas.
The fluke season opened on May 4, with excellent reports of fish over 6 pounds being caught in New York Bight. These big ocean fluke want large baits, so anglers did best using Peruvian squid or large bucktails tipped with strip baits or large Gulp! type baits. Eastward toward Jones Inlet, the fluke fishing was slower with a keeper or two per anglers, with fish up to 4 pounds.
Anglers reported slower fluke fishing with a few shorts and a mix of keepers to 5 pounds being caught from central Long Island to Montauk Point. The slower fluke fishing can be attributed to the water temperature was a few degrees colder than toward the west. Similar action was reported on the North Fork. The better fluke fishing in these areas was reported by anglers fishing inside the South Shore inlets and in the bays. Fluke were reported at Greenlawns off Shelter Island and in the Shinnecock Canal as well.
A few open and charter boats continued to run offshore wreck trips for cod, ling, hake and pollock. The bottom fishing remained strong, with limits of cod caught by most anglers, with pool fish usually cod around 20 pounds.
The trout fishing slowed a bit as the stocked fish were fished hard earlier in the season. Anglers did best when they fish the less fished lakes on the East End. Spinners, worms, small swimming plugs and streamers were all productive. Largemouth bass fishing remained good, as did panfish and pickerel in all the usual spots.
Spring gobbler pursuits continue, but the region’s trout waters are warming up and offering some better fishing every day, with insect activity picking up.
Striper anglers are now out in full force as the run picks up and bigger fish are being seen on the Hudson River.
Southeastern New York
Striper anglers on the Hudson River are plying the waters all the way up to the Troy dam. Some 30-pounders have been reported and the best fishing of the spring is likely happening right now.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Both rivers were in decent shape and wadeable. Fishing was described as decent. There was a mixed bag of Caddis, Hendricksons, Blue Quills and Quill Gordons. Some spinners were also around.
Delaware East Branch: Was slowly dropping and some wading was possible but was still higher than normal at last look. It could be just fine now. There were some Caddos mixed with Hendricksons, Blue Quills and Olives, especially on cloudy days.
Delaware West Branch: At last check was still high and clear but floatable only. There was a fair amount of bugs around. Hatches have been fairly consistent – mostly Hendricksons. On this river Hendricksons last longer than on other rivers.
Esopus: Was getting to a wadeable level. Try the tribs for spawning rainbows. The portal is closed.
Neversink: Was wadeable and in good condition at last check, with a fair amount of Hendricksons as well as Caddis and spinners late day.
Delaware Main Stem: Was still high but slowly dropping. Some wading was possible in some sections. There was a fair amount of Caddis activity; some shad Caddis mixed with smaller species. There are also decent Hendrickson hatches as well as some Blue Quills.
St. Lawrence River: Perch action remained very good pretty much throughout the river. Not hearing a lot on the walleye front.
Black Lake: Crappie now lead the way, with bluegill also around and some perch still possible.