New York Outdoor News Fishing Report – Aug. 24, 2018

Western New York

Lake Erie and harbors: The walleye bite has been quite good from Sturgeon Point to the Pennsylvania line. Out of those ports, most walleye seemed to be suspended between 15-35 feet below the surface. Sturgeon Point trollers reported good walleye numbers to the west in 55-62 feet of water. Off Cattaraugus Creek, depths of 50-75 feet have been productive, with better numbers at the deeper end of that depth range. You don’t have to travel far to get into fish off Barcelona at present, where anglers reported a good bite starting in 45 feet of water. You’ll find walleye between 45-80 feet of water, with fish suspended about 15 feet down at the shallow end and around 30-35 feet down at the deeper end. The bite off Buffalo has slowed a bit, but there were still decent numbers of fish along the international line in 45-55 feet of water. Unlike the other locations, walleye were closer to the bottom off Buffalo.

Lake trout are an underrated species in Lake Erie, but August is a great time to target them. Fish below the thermocline, where water temperatures are around 50 degrees. Numbers are generally best in 80-115 feet of water from Dunkirk to the Pennsylvania line. Downriggers with spoons run near the bottom are most productive.

Niagara River: Smallmouth bass were available throughout the upper river. Good spots to try include the head of the river, the head of Strawberry Island, the east side of Strawberry and Motor islands and in the west river along Beaver Island State Park and Staley’s Reef. A 3-way rig with softshell crayfish works well. Anglers can target muskellunge along weed edges and bottom structure with large tube jigs or stickbaits.

In the lower river, boaters were picking up a few walleye in the vicinity of the Stella drift. Walleye generally show from mid-river down to the Niagara Bar in late summer. Drifting with a bottom-bouncing rig and worm harness or yellow sally rig (with worm) are traditional lower river walleye tactics. Smallmouth bass fishing slowed a bit, but bass were still available from Devil’s Hole down to the bar.

Lake Ontario and tributaries, harbors and piers: It has been a banner year for king salmon fishing on Lake Ontario, and the bite remained hot off Niagara and Orleans counties. Mature kings were starting to show in near-shore areas of 60-150 feet at dawn, and as the sun climbs in the sky consistent salmon action slides out to depths over 200 feet. Large spoons, flasher-fly combos and meat rigs were all working well for king salmon right now. Fishing in the deep-water zone of 400 feet plus has also been very good. Lures run 40-70 feet down were producing a mix of large steelhead, and king salmon of mixed sizes.

Chautauqua Lake: Anglers were catching decent numbers of muskellunge along weedlines, as well as some suspended muskies over depths of 25-39 feet. The walleye bite has been good in the north basin from weedlines out to 40 feet. Trolling worm harnesses or stickbaits is a standard approach at all depths, but vertical jigging techniques are productive at depths over 20 feet. Blade baits, jigging Rapalas, Swedish Pimples and jigs with a nightcrawler or minnow are good offerings. Weedbeds are a good bet for a mix of yellow perch, white perch, bluegill and white bass.

Central New York

A reminder that there other fishing hotline/reports available for the area. A few of the websites are: Wayne County Tourism, Visit Oswego County, and Oneida Lake Fishing Report (links leave DEC’s website).

Lake Ontario: Salmon have become more scattered and are spread out from 100 to 500 feet of water. When found they are hitting on cut-bait, flashers and flies, and spoons, with green being a good color choice. Anglers have been fishing those baits off downriggers, wire and divers, and copper line. Brown trout were being taken in 50 feet of water on spoons. Smallmouth bass were being taken around Mexico Point on crayfish.

Oswego River: Bass should be hitting on tube baits or crayfish if water levels permit fishing. Sheepshead should also be hitting on crayfish or night crawlers, and some channel catfish were also being caught.

Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.

Salmon River: Nothing to report, but that will change next month when salmon begin their movement.

Oneida Lake: Walleye fishing has slowed down but some were still being taken in both deep (30 feet) and shallow (10 feet). Early and late in the day seems to be best of late and good baits have been worm harnesses, jigs and blade baits. Look for bass around the shoals and deep weed edges. We are probably reaching that point when the young-of-the-year gizzard shad have become large enough for both bass and walleye to start feeding on them. Keep a top-water bait ready and watch for bird activity. If you see it get to the area quickly, it can often provide some very exciting smallmouth bass fishing.

Sandy Pond: Fishing has slowed but look for bass around the weedbeds.

Sodus Bay and Irondequoit bays: Bass fishing remained good in the bays. Try fishing with plastics, spinnerbaits or topwaters around shore or over the weedbeds.

Finger Lakes/Southern Tier

Keuka Lake: Fishing alewives near bottom in 115 to 125 feet of water was producing lake trout. Jigging at those same depths was also effective.

Seneca Lake: Access may be an issue in some areas on the heels of recent localized heavy flooding. And watch out for floating debris leftover from those raging waters. Prior to the heavy rains, lake trout and a few Atlantic salmon were being taken by trolling small flatfish 60 to 70 feet down over 70 to 100 feet of water at 2.5 mph.

Cayuga Lake: Lake trout were being taken in 75 to 90 feet of water by anglers vertical jigging. Anglers trolling were doing better fishing in the 150- to 200-foot range, fishing 50 to 80 feet down. Water fleas have been an issue at times so be prepared to deal with them if trolling. And keep an eye on debris on the heels of the heavy rains. Look for largemouth bass on the north end with spinnerbaits, jigs or topwaters.

Skaneateles Lake: Trolling 60 feet down with small spoons was producing some trout action. Fishing tube baits or drop-shot rigs along shore should entice some smallmouth bass, rock bass and maybe some perch.

Owasco Lake: Lake trout were being taken in 80 to 90 feet of water by anglers vertical jigging. Trolling 70 feet down over 100 to 120 feet of water is also working for lake trout and also a few rainbows are being taken. Water fleas are a nuisance at times for anglers trolling, so be prepared to deal with them.

Otisco Lake: Look for walleye in 15 to 20 foot of water; they appear to be very well fed so you may need to use a reaction-type baits to get them to hit (stickbaits, crankbaits, etc.). Look for bass on the deep weed edges and for tiger muskies either cast or troll stickbaits or large spinnerbaits along the weed edges, as well.

Whitney Point Reservoir: Slow-trolling with worms around the islands was producing some nice sized walleye. Not sure how the heavy rains will affect access and fishing, but keep an eye out for floating debris.

Chenango, Tioughnioga, Chemung and Susquehanna rivers: Rivers were generally blown out by floodwaters and it may be a while before they settle back in to fishable levels. And with the flood damage some areas received fishing might be the last thing on the minds of some who were in the path of the raging waters.


Sporting licenses and deer management permits for the 2018-19 season are on sale now. Licenses and permits can be purchased at any one of DEC’s license-issuing agents, by telephone (866-933-2257) or online. The new year hunting and trapping licenses are valid from Sept. 1, 2018 through Aug. 31, 2019, and annual fishing licenses are valid 365 days from date of purchase.

DEC has extended its call center hours to provide assistance on evenings and weekends. The DEC call center will be accessible from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays through Oct. 1. 

Individuals should have the following items ready when buying a license:

• Complete contact information (name, address, e-mail address, telephone number

• DEC customer ID number (if applicable)

• Proof of residency (driver’s license or non-driver’s ID with a valid New York state address)

• If purchasing by phone or internet, a valid credit card.

• If not already entered in DEC’s automated licensing system, individuals are required to provide proof of hunter or trapper education certification or a copy of a previous license for all hunting and trapping license purchases. For additional information, visit the General Sporting License Information web page on DEC’s website.


West Branch Ausable River: Fish early with Tricos right off the bat then switch to a hopper or an ant pattern for the terrestrial side of things. Strip some streamers, as well. Olive, black are the hot streamer colors. Swing the streamer through the pockets or jerk it back to shore, either with an upstream or downstream jerk. Water temps were OK in the early morning and fish were in the big pools and deep water at last check.

Other waters: Lake Champlain should be yielding good numbers of bass, as always, but don’t be afraid to drag a tube in deeper water, up to 25-35 feet. The Saranac Chain of Lakes sees plenty of boat traffic, but you can fish early or late in the day and score on bass and pike.

Long Island/NYC

Anglers fishing Montauk Point from both the boat and surf reported very good striper fishing. Anglers trolling parachute jigs and tubes on wireline, or diamond jigging reported stripers in the 15- to 20-pound class. The largest striper, with several reported in the 40-pound class, were taken by anglers drifting live baits in the rips and reefs, including Great Eastern and Phelps Ledge. Anglers fishing the surf reported stripers up to 20 pounds on darters and bottle plugs at night and on poppers and tins during the daylight. Anglers fishing from kayaks just outside the breaker lines reported similar action, but also scored well fly rodding 3/0-sized Deceivers or similar patterns in the rock. The striper fishing in the western Sound has been excellent, with the night bight just edging out the day bite. Both diamond jigs and drifter bunker chunks were excellent producers.

On the South Shore ocean beaches, there were reports of schoolie stripers around the inlet mouths taken at night on sandworms and bunker chunks. Mike at Saltwaters Bait and Tackle reported that anglers fishing chunks were catching a sandbar, aka brown sharks, off the beaches. These sharks are typically under 50 pounds and were also reported by anglers fishing live bunker or drifting bunker chunks in the ocean between 30 and 50 feet of water. Anglers putting a can of bunker chum over the side and drifting mackerel in the chum slick anywhere from 50 feet of water out to 100 feet of water were also catching quite a few brown sharks as well as a few makos and threshers around 50 pounds or a bit smaller.

Anglers fishing the 20-fathom line were rewarded with makos to 150 pounds, threshers in 200- to 400-pound class, as well as a few brown, blue and hammerhead sharks, all typically under a 100 pounds. Makos 250 pounds and larger have been caught at Hudson Canyon on baits meant for swordfish, and have also grabbed trolled plastics. Mike at Saltwaters Bait and Tackle also reported that bluefin tuna were caught trolling plastics or jigging around the Coimbra Wreck, and yellowfin tuna were caught trolling and chunking at 100 square.

The sea bass and porgy fishing on the north side of Montauk Point and in Block Island Sound remained excellent, with anglers fishing aboard open, charter or private boats limiting out on porgies to 3 pounds and sea bass to 5 pounds. This month the fishing really turned on and has been outstanding. Fresh skimmer clams were the top bait. Jerry at Bernie’s Bait and Tackle reported that the porgy fishing in Jamaica and Sheepshead bays, and on the Rockaway and Atlantic Beach artificial reefs has been outstanding. He also reported that triggerfish, schoolie stripers, and northern kingfish were caught off the Breezy Point Jetty. Triggerfish and blowfish were also reported all around the Island by anglers fishing jetties or bridge abutments. On the North Shore beaches and in Peconic and Gardiners bays, the porgy fishing was excellent, with limits of porgies to 3 pounds reported.

The fluke fishing remained hit or miss, depending on tide and the presence of bait. In general, the ocean has produced fewer but larger fluke than in the bays, but there were reports of fluke over 5 pounds caught in all the bays, which means there is plenty of bait in the bays and harbor that continue to hold these large fluke despite the warm water temperatures. The fluke fishing off Orient Point, off the south side of Montauk Point and in Ambrose Channel was very good, with pool fish typically around 5 pounds. Elsewhere, there were more than 10 shorts for each keeper fluke caught. Along the South Shore, squid and spearing combinations were the best producer, while on the North Shore bucktails tipped with squid or Gulp! were the top producers.

Catching bluefish remained tough, but there were snappers everywhere. Snappers to 6 inches were caught in canals, off beaches, in the bays and harbors. These fish are very hungry and are falling to the traditional spearing-and-bobber combo, snapper poppers and small tins. Blue claw crabs were caught in all the same spots as the snappers. They are big and numerous and are being caught via traps, dip netting off the canal walls and at night by spotlights.

The freshwater fishing for largemouth bass remained good, with the best bight occurring at dusk and after dark and at first light. Panfish, including pumpkinseed, bluegill, crappie and yellow perch continued to be cooperative. The panfish were caught on small jigs, spinners, and trout worms. The action was consistent throughout the Island and in the New York City freshwater ponds. 

Guy Zummo

Capital District

Deer Management Permits (DMPs) are now available at all license-issuing outlets, by phone, or online through Oct. 1. DMPs, which are used to ensure proper management of the deer herd, are issued through an instant random selection process at the point of sale. The chances of obtaining a DMP remain the same throughout the entire application period; hunters do not need to rush to apply. The 2018 chances of selection for a permit in each Wildlife Management Unit are available online, through License Issuing Agents, or by calling the DMP Hotline at 1-866-472-4332. Detailed information on Deer Management Permits is available on DEC’s website.

Southeastern New York

DEC reminds migratory game bird hunters (waterfowl, woodcock) that in addition to obtaining a hunting license, they must also register online for the Harvest Information Program (HIP), or call 1-888-427-5447 to register.

Not hearing a lot on the fishing front, perhaps a product of the wet weather of late and, when it wasn’t raining, very warm temperatures.


Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Too high to wade at last check, but things can change quickly. There are some Caddis and Olives around late. 

Delaware East Branch: Still too high to wade but floatable. Hatches are Sulphurs and Olives. 

Delaware West Branch: Remained high but was floatable. Sulphurs are pretty much over. Olives and Caddis are more important now. Some on and off Isonychias as well. 

Esopus: Too high to wade. 

Delaware Main Stem: Too high to wade. Close to dark there were some Caddis and Olives around.

Thousand Islands

St. Lawrence River: Not hearing a lot lately, other than bass, pike and perch are being caught. Weather has been impacting fishing of late.

Black Lake: It’s that time of year when top-water bass action is a great option early and late in the day. Keep in mind there’s a 15-inch size minimum on the bass if you plan to keep any.


New York’s habitat serves a vital role in maintaining healthy and sustainable fish and wildlife resources for all to enjoy. DEC encourages all outdoor enthusiasts to consider purchasing a voluntary Habitat & Access Stamp each year. Funds from the $5 Habitat & Access Stamp help fund projects aimed at conserving habitat and improving public access for fish and wildlife-related activities. 

Categories: New York Fishing Reports, News

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