New York Outdoor News Fishing Report – Sept. 21, 2018

Western New York

Lake Erie and harbors: When conditions allow, anglers are still enjoying an excellent walleye bite from Sturgeon Point to the Pennsylvania line. Good numbers of walleye were available, starting in 55 feet of water out of all ports, and extending to 75 feet of water between Sturgeon and Cattaraugus Creek, and out to 85 feet plus between The Catt to west of Dunkirk. Off Barcelona, anglers were catching walleye all the way out to 130 feet of water. Bigger walleye, with some lake trout mixed in, were suspended 40 feet down over 110-130 feet of water. In all locations at depths under 70 feet of water, anglers were catching both suspended and bottom-hugging walleye. At depths over 80 feet, most fish were suspended at varying depths.

Catches of yellow perch have been incidental for most of the summer, with a recent uptick between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point. But there were some boats targeting perch straight off The Catt in 45-48 feet of water. The fishing was pretty good, with boats averaging 50-60 good-sized perch. Best to target lakers below the thermocline, where water temperatures are around 50 degrees. Numbers are generally best in 80-115 feet of water from Dunkirk to the Pa. line. Downriggers with spoons run near the bottom is most productive, but lake trout may also be suspended.

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

With salmon starting to show along the Niagara Bar ledge, the lower river spawning run is not far off and may have even arrived by now. In general, king salmon start to trickle into the river in early September and we’re well into mid-September now. Numbers build through the month, with the run often peaking during the last week of September. Walleye fishing has been decent in the mid- to lower drifts, including some fish pushing 10 pounds. Drifting with a bottom-bouncing rig and worm harness or Yellow Sally rig (with worm) are traditional lower river walleye tactics. Smallmouth bass were still available from Devil’s Hole down to the bar. 

The 42nd Annual Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby has ended and plenty of big fish and last-minute heroics came to the scales by both young and old alike. For the adults, Robert Geiger of Lackawanna won the bass division with a 5.5-pound Lake Erie smallmouth and then proceeded to win the $3,000 Grand Prize in a special drawing of all first-place winners. Chris Taylor, of Grand Island, caught the biggest salmon on the final day of the derby, a 29-pound, 7-ounce Niagara Bar king. It also won a special $700 LOTSA prize for the biggest salmon caught by a member. Tom Milleville, of Sanborn, caught the big steelhead, a 12-pound, 7-ounce fish reeled in off Olcott. Top lake trout came from Lake Erie when Jerry Bielicki, of Akron, hauled in a 22-pound, 14-ounce fish. Jason Henning, of Machias, was first in the carp division with a 23-pound, 4-ounce Lake Alice carp, and Eric Majka, of Niagara Falls, took top honors in the walleye division with an 11-pound, 1-ounce lower river ’eye. He also took a special $500 for the largest walleye caught by a Southtowns Walleye Association member. Grand prize in the Junior Division went to Ethan Bronschidle, of Newfane, earning the right to be in the drawing by catching a 35-pound, 3-ounce carp. The top salmon was caught in the last hour of the derby, a 22-pound, 10-ounce Olcott king weighed in by Alex Heath, of Sanborn. That’s two years in a row. Gabby Hovak, of North Tonawanda, had the big trout at 13 pounds, 7 ounces. Gabriella Geiger, Robert’s daughter, was top bass catcher with a 5-pound, 1-ounce Lake Erie fish, and Abigail McGrath, of Niagara Falls, took top panfish with a 10-ounce rock bass from Lake Erie. The walleye division winner was Ethan Brolinski with a 10-pound, 6-ounce lower Niagara River fish. He was dragging a Berkley Flicker Shad on the bottom when the fish hit. He also won the drawing for a bike from the Primate Sanctuary. 

Lake Ontario and tributaries, harbors and piers: Kings are staging and also entering the tribs now in enough numbers that they are drawing considerable fishing pressure. Boaters can still find staging fish off creek mouths, especially off the stocked tributaries such as the lower Niagara River, Eighteenmile Creek, Oak Orchard Creek, Sandy Creek and the Genesee River. Trollers were catching some mature king salmon inside 100 feet of water during low-light periods. Off Olcott, some have been caught in as shallow as 30 feet of water before sunrise. During the morning hours after daybreak, depths closer to 100 feet are a better bet. Some big steelhead have been mixed in with salmon catches in the nearshore zone off Olcott. Mature kings were also starting to show along the Niagara Bar ledge, where the depth quickly drops from 50 to 150 feet in about a half mile. Trolling with J-Plugs, flasher-fly combos and cut-bait rigs works well for staging salmon. There is still good trout and salmon opportunities at depths over 300 feet of water in the top 75 feet.

Anglers are also fishing the Olcott piers. Casting large glow spoons and spinners is the typical tactic from the piers. The piers at Olcott, Oak Orchard and the Genesee River are good spots to try.

Chautauqua Lake: Walleye fishing along weedlines has been good during low-light periods. Trolling or jigging over deeper water are good daytime walleye tactics. Anglers are catching muskellunge tight to weedlines and suspended muskies in 20-30 feet of water, 10-15 feet down. Weedbeds are a good bet for a mix of yellow perch, white perch, bluegill and white bass.

Inland trout fishing: Waters are beginning to cool and offering some fine late-season fishing. Stimulator patterns and terrestrials should draw trout to the surface.

Central New York

A reminder that there are other fishing hotline/reports available for the area, including Wayne County Tourism, Visit Oswego County, and Oneida Lake Fishing Report.

Lake Ontario: Salmon were still spread out and were being found in 200 to 500 feet of water. But many fish are now staging off the tribs, as well as beginning their run. When found, they are hitting on cut-bait, flashers and flies, and spoons with green still 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 40 to 100 feet of water on spoons. Smallmouth bass are being taken around Mexico Point on crayfish.

Oswego River: Salmon should now be available in decent numbers and maybe more than that.

Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river. Fish with caution and respect other anglers this season.

Salmon River: The salmon run is now picking up, as is, not surprisingly, fishing pressure. It’s safe to say it’s on.

Oneida Lake: Walleye fishing has slowed down, which probably suggest that they have started feeding on young-of-the-year gizzard shad. But some walleye are still being taken in both deep (30 feet) and shallow (10 feet) water. Early and late in the day seems to be best at the moment and good baits have been worm harnesses, jigs and blade baits. Look for bass around the shoals and deep weed edges. Now that the young of the year shad are big enough for predators to target, 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 as they chase shad to the surface.

Sandy Pond: Look for bass around the weedbeds.

Sodus Bay and Irondequoit bays: Bass fishing remained good for anglers using plastics, spinnerbaits or topwaters around shore or over the weedbeds.

Finger Lakes/Southern Tier

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

Seneca Lake: Watch out for debris on the lake. 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: Continue to watch out for debris on the lake after the heavy rains from last month. Little has changed fishing-wise and lake trout were being taken in 80 to 110 feet of water by anglers vertical jigging. Trollers were doing better fishing in the 150- to 200-foot range and fishing 70 to 90 feet down. Water fleas have been an issue at times so be prepared to deal with them if trolling. Weedmats are also making trolling difficult at times. Look for largemouth bass on the north end with spinnerbaits, bass jigs or topwaters.

The Mud Lock boat launch remains closed and will likely continue to be closed until late October. Site improvements to be completed include a new concrete launch ramp, floating boarding docks and a paved launch access and parking area. Boaters looking to access the north end of the lake during this period can use the boat launch at Cayuga Lake State Park, 2678 Lower Lake Road, Seneca Falls.

Skaneateles Lake: Trolling 60 feet down with small spoons is producing some trout action. Trout are feeding on young-of-the-year yellow perch, which have spread out, so keep covering water until you find them. On the south end of the lake, the thermocline was reported to be at about 75 feet at last check. Fishing tube baits or drop-shot rigs in 15 to 30 feet of water was working for smallmouth and rock bass.

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

Otisco Lake: Look for walleye in 15 to 20 feet of water. Get them to react with lures like stickbaits or crankbaits. Look for bass in the weedbeds with creature-style baits in natural colors.

Whitney Point Reservoir: Not hearing anything lately.

Chenango, Chemung, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna rivers: The Cannon Hole Launch on the Susquehanna River is closed until further notice as a new concrete launch ramp is being installed. The rivers were in good shape at last check and bass anglers were doing well.


While bass fishing should be heating up as waters cool, what we’ve been hearing most lately is the fantastic lake trout action on Lake Champlain, notably for those vertical jigging with large plastics or spoons. Jigging up lakers has become an increasingly popular technique on Champlain and some Finger Lakes waters, and lakers were being taken in both quantity and quality of late.

The West Branch of the Ausable River should be offering up some superb streamer fishing for brown trout as fall conditions take shape. It’s all dependent on water levels; water temps should be just fine by now.

Long Island/NYC

The offshore fishing is excellent. September is typically a good month for inshore mahi and tuna. Anglers trolling plastic baits, spreader bars and feathers along the 20- to 25-fathom line were reporting mahi to 10 pounds and false albacore around 10 pounds. The hot spots were the area around the Linda Wreck and around the Mud Hole. Mahi and blue runners were reported by anglers casting tins, bucktails and plastic baits around the offshore buoys and flotsam. Most of these mahi were a few pounds, with a few larger ones reported. The blue runners were 3 to 5 pounds.

Anglers fishing around the Bacardi and Coimbra wrecks reported that bluefin to 150 pounds and yellowfin to 60 pounds were caught casting popping plugs into breaking schools of fish, or by jigging in the tuna schools marked on fish finders. These tuna have been reported in this area throughout most of the summer and should continue into the fall. Further offshore at The Canyons, both bluefin and yellowfin tuna were reported to be caught both trolling during the day or chunking at night.

The shark fishing at the 20-mile line has been very good, with a mix of makos and brown sharks, typically under 100 pounds, with the occasional mako approaching 150 pounds. A few hammerheads were reported, all about 70 pounds. Further offshore at The Canyons, makos to 300 pounds were reported by anglers chunking for tuna. There were no reports of threshers as of late, but they are still around as they have been seen attacking schools of bunker just off the South Shore beaches.

Blue and golden tilefish were caught at the Hudson and Tom’s canyons and in the Dip. This is a very deep-water fishery that is either fished by boats waiting for a tuna bite or by charter or open boats making the extended trips to the edges. 

The inshore weakfish action has steadily improved, with keeper weakfish reported in the Peconic Bays, Gardiners Bay and in the Great South Bay. Hot spots included Jessups Neck, Rodger’s Rock and Ocean Beach. Most of the weakfish were caught at night or at first light before the boat traffic put them off the feed. Bucktails, plastic baits and sandworms all produced weakfish to 3 pounds or so. Also, there were reports of weakfish caught off the ocean beaches by anglers fishing sandworms. I expect that the weakfish action will remain strong through September as the water temperatures are very warm. 

The snapper fishing was excellent, with most snappers ranging from 9 to 12 inches long. The snappers continued to be caught at all the usual spots, including docks along both the North and South shores, and in the Shinnecock Canal. The standard rigs all produced, including spearing or small killies fished under a bobber, small tins and snapper poppers, which seem to be the lure of choice.

The fluke fishing on both the North and South shores was showing signs of improving, with fluke being caught in increasingly large numbers. The keeper ratio remained about 1 in 10 fish. The ocean fluke fishing action is slower, but the keeper ratio is about 1 in 3 fish. The largest ocean fluke were caught on strip baits of mackerel or fluke belly. The best spot for fluke was at Montauk Point, followed by Ambrose Channel. Fluke were also reported by anglers bouncing bucktails off the bottom along the ocean beaches and on the North Shore, at the harbor mouths. These fluke were getting ready for their fall migration and have begun moving toward the inlet and harbor mouths. Peanut bunker was the top bait for big fluke in the inlets.

The blue claw crab fishing remained excellent, with all forms of crabbing resulting in numerous keeper crabs. Triggerfish continued to be caught during the high, incoming tide in the South Shore inlet jetties and bridge pilings on small squid pieces or on sandworms. A few blowfish were mixed in with the triggerfish. 

The porgy fishing off the North Shore beaches remained good, with porgies to 2 pounds reported on sandworms and clam strips. Excellent porgy fishing was reported in the Long Island Sound east of Port Jefferson to Orient Point, and off City Island, by anglers fishing sandworms and clams. Quite a few short sea bass were also reported by the porgy anglers, with the occasional 3-pounder reported by anglers fishing the offshore artificial reefs and the inshore wrecks. Anglers fishing Montauk Point and the western Sound reported limiting out on jumbo porgies and sea bass to 5 pounds.

The best striped bass fishing was reported by anglers fishing off Montauk Point. Surfcasters fishing North and False bars reported striped bass on both sides of the keeper mark on darters and bottle plugs at night. The daytime surf bite was slow. Boaters did well diamond jigging or fishing live baits in the reefs and rips. The striper action elsewhere was generally slow due to the high water temperatures. There was a large number of peanut bunker on both the North and South shores, so when the water cools, the striper fishing should heat up quickly.

The freshwater fishing was good. Panfish, largemouth bass and yellow perch were caught at most of the ponds and lakes on Long Island as well as in New York City.

Guy Zummo

Capital District

Lake George: The folks at FISH307 report landlocked salmon and lake trout are still solid and smallmouth action very good, with the bigger bronzebacks being taken at depths of 20-25 feet and deeper.

Saratoga Lake: Plenty of largemouths but we haven’t heard much lately on walleye. That should change as fall approaches.

The area’s trout streams, such as the Battenkill and Mettawee, should be offering better fishing now that water temps have dipped.

Southeastern New York

Bass action should be good and getting better at the New York City DEP reservoirs like Cross River, Muscoot, Croton Falls, Titicus, West Branch, Rondout and Neversink reservoirs.


This month can offer some superb fishing on the region’s trout waters, and aptly named September Caddis is an important hatch, along with Isonychias. Peak fall colors in the Catskills typically don’t arrive until October, but if conditions allow, that can be a good time to fish.

Thousand Islands

St. Lawrence River: Smallmouth action should be good again post-Elite Series tourney, and walleye fishing should pick up as waters cool. Be prepared to be surprised by a northern pike if you’re tossing lures for bass.

Black Lake: Panfish action, notably bluegill, has been solid. And this is always a good time of the year to toss top-water lures for bass. Remember, there’s a 15-inch size minimum to keep any bass, although we encourage catch-and-release fishing.

There has been a fair amount of early Canada goose hunting activity, but that’s almost exclusively taking place in nearby fields and not on the lake itself.

Categories: New York Fishing Reports, News

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