New York Outdoor News Fishing Report – Nov. 30, 2018

Western New York

Lake Erie and tributaries: There has been no shortage of water in the Erie tributaries this fall, bringing in more fish with each high water day. Steelhead numbers and catches were good on all streams. Cattaraugus Creek was the only unknown; it has been too high to fish for the past month. The small- to medium-sized streams have bumped up to slightly high levels. The smallest streams were the best bet at last check. Be aware that fall fingerling rainbow trout were recently stocked in Eighteenmile, Cattaraugus, Canadaway and Chautauqua creeks. Handle them with care if you catch them.

With water temperatures now in the 30s, expect steelhead to be more lethargic. They tend not to move far to grab bait and will generally strike less aggressively. Keep drifted offerings slow and low along slower moving “seams.” Downsize your float to detect light biters. Egg flies, nymphs, egg sacs, trout beads and jigs with feathers or Mister Twister work well. 

Niagara River: Muskie season has closed. Lower river waters have cleared up and conditions were prime at last look. Trout fishing started to pick back up and then really turned on. Steelhead are now the dominant catch, with some brown trout and lake trout mixed in. Be aware that lake trout season is closed in the lower river until Jan. 1. Incidentally caught lake trout should be quickly returned to the water. Devil’s Hole and Artpark were the top spots for steelhead catches for both boaters and shore anglers, but some lower drifts were starting to produce trout catches, too. There were less specific reports of decent walleye and smallmouth bass catches around the lower river as well. Egg sacs, egg pattern flies, shiners or jigs with plastics fished under a float or casting medium-sized spoons and spinners are good steelhead offerings. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) fishing platform typically closes for season by Dec. 1, but may close earlier under icy conditions. 

Lake Ontario and tributaries, harbors and piers: Most of the Lake Ontario tributaries were in good fishing shape, giving anglers plenty of options. There were still king salmon around Eighteenmile, but the majority are a bit “old.” Good numbers of brown trout and fair amount of steelhead as well. Oak Orchard had slightly high and slightly stained flow. Oak anglers reported good catches of brown trout with some steelhead, king salmon and coho salmon mixed in. Oak Orchard Creek is also the top regional spot for a chance at an Atlantic salmon, although they are less numerous than the other salmonids. 

Chautauqua Lake: Not much fishing activity lately. However, some anglers are catching some walleye around the deeper holes. Vertical jigging techniques work well. Muskie season closed Nov. 30.

Surplus broodstock trout stocking: DEC Randolph Fish Hatchery has completed the annual fall stocking of broodstock trout in select Allegany and Cattaraugus county waters. All breeder trout are over two years old and are stocked in waters where trout fishing is permitted all year. Each water was stocked with hundreds of rainbow trout, brown trout and/or brook trout ranging between 14-28 inches. The following waters were stocked in mid to late-October: Redhouse Lake, Quaker Lake, New Albion Lake, Case Lake, Harwood Lake, Allen Lake and the Genesee River (between Wellsville and the Pennsylvania line).

Central New York

Oswego River: The river has been running high with recent rain and snow events. This flow makes shore fishing difficult, but there were still some steelhead and brown trout being taken.

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

Salmon River: Fishing has been more difficult with the higher water and from all the leaves coming down. Steelhead were still being taken by anglers putting in their time; they’re hitting on egg sacs and egg-imitating flies and plastics.

Oneida Lake: Anglers casting stickbaits from shore just before and after dark were still doing well on the walleye.

Sodus Bay and Irondequoit bays: Yellow perch were being taken on small minnows in 10 to 20 feet of water.

Finger Lakes/Southern Tier

Cayuga Lake: Lake trout were being taken in deep water from 120 feet and out by anglers vertical jigging. Some Atlantic salmon and brown trout were being caught in the tributaries. This bite is often dependent on rain events occurring to raise the water level in the streams.

The Mud Lock boat launch is closed due to construction as improvements.

Skaneateles Lake: The docks are now out.

Owasco Lake, Otisco Lake, Whitney Point Reservoir, and Sandy Pond: No new information and there will likely not be any until ice fishing starts.

Chenango, Chemung, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna rivers: No new information but fall can often be a good time for smallmouth bass on the rivers. Remember the “regular” season ends Nov. 30 and the catch-and-release, artificials only season kicks off Dec. 1.

Seneca Lake: The Sampson State Park boat launch is scheduled to be worked on over the winter.

Canandaigua and Keuka lakes: No new information. 

Angler cooperators needed

DEC is always looking for new participants in its Angler Diary Cooperator Program for the Finger Lakes. Numbers have dropped in recent years and it needs new cooperators now more than ever. If you fish Cayuga Lake, Owasco Lake, Skaneateles Lake, Otisco Lake or any of their tributaries and want to learn more about the program and how to sign up, contact the Region 7 fisheries office at (607) 753-3095 ext. 213, or on-line at

If you fish Canadice Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Conesus Lake, Hemlock Lake, Honeoye Lake, Keuka Lake or Seneca Lake and want to learn more about this program and how to sign up, please contact the Region 8 Fisheries office at (585) 226-5343, or on-line at


Deer hunters are taking to the big woods for the final days of the regular firearms season, but some wildlife management units in the Northern Zone offer a late muzzleloader-archery season that will continue to draw hunters to take up the track.

Long Island/NYC

A colder weather has settled in dropping the ocean surface temperatures to the lower 50s as recorded by the 44025 buoy off Patchogue. The cooling water has continued the westward movement of stripers from the East End and has improved the blackfish fishing.

The best fishing for stripers in the 30-pound class and above was reported from Jones Inlet to New York Bight. These stripers have largely been feeding on sand eels, making diamond jigging the method of choice when schools of stripers were recorded on fish finders. Silver, gold, tubed or tubeless diamond jigs all resulted in good fishing, depending on the day. Anglers carrying an assortment of diamond jigs to match the sand eel size out fished those sticking to a single type of diamond jig. Anglers fishing east of Fire Island inlet caught mostly short stripers. The striper bite off Montauk Point was essentially over, with only the occasional striper reported by anglers casting tins from the beach behind the town.

Trolling Mojo Rigs with large plastic shad or bunker spoons, as well as bunker spoons on wireline produced keeper stripers when the schools were spread out. Generally, the best action found between 30  and 60 feet of water, with some days the better striper action was found as deep as 80 feet. When schools of bunker were found tight to the beaches, snagged bunker live-lined produced stripers above the 40-pound mark. The striper fishing between the Verrazano Bridge and the United Nations, especially between lower Manhattan Island and Governor’s Island was very good, with anglers reporting limits of 20- to 40-pound stripers drifting eels and fresh bunker chunks.

Stripers continued to be caught by anglers fishing the South Shore inlet bars and bridges using clam bellies and whole skimmer clams, but the action has slowed. Most of the stripers were shorts, with the occasional keeper. Anglers working the South Shore beaches reported catching stripers between 5 and 12 pounds, with a few keepers. Diamond jigs were the top producer, especially when fished slow and tight to the sand. The night fishing from the surf has slowed with the stripers feeding better during late morning. The best surf action was reported between Shinnecock and Fire Island inlets. The striper fishing in the South Shore back bays is largely over, except for a few stripers caught on live eels in the deeper holes on the north side of the Great South Bay around and in Massapequa Cove.

A few stripers were reported from the beaches along the North Shore on cast diamond jigs. Most stripers were usually less than 5 pounds. The best striper fishing in the Sound was in the western reaches, with anglers limiting out on fish to 20 pounds.  These fish are migrating westward and down the East River as the water cools. Diamond jigs, bunker chunks and live eels were the 

Off Montauk Point, anglers reported excellent sea bass fishing in Block Island Sound, with pool sea bass typically between 3.5 and 4 pounds. Mixed in with the sea bass were the occasional codfish and pollock, both of which are commonly below 10 pounds, but they have been steadily increasing in size as the water cools. A few bluefish were also reported. As the water continues to cool, the catches of cod and pollock will increase. There have been fewer and fewer porgies mixed in with the sea bass. The open boats running the deep-water extended trips reported limits of humpback sea bass, with pool fish often over 6 pounds on many trips. Skimmer clam strips were the top sea bass bait in all areas, with green crabs producing in areas where blackfish were mixed in the catch.

In all areas the blackfish fishing improved with the cooling water.  Expect the peak of the blackfish season to start off Montauk Point around Dec. 1 and peak in New York Bight around the first of the year. Green and white crabs were the top baits in all areas. Most of the Montauk boats ran to either Fisher’s Island or Block Island Sound for the best blackfish fishing.

Excellent blackfish action was reported by anglers fishing wrecks and the rock piles located in New York Bright, with anglers reporting limits of blackfish to 8 pounds.  Similar was reported in by anglers fishing both sides of the Western Sound. The blackfish reports were good on the South Shore artificial reefs, and excellent on the wrecks between 90 and 120 feet of water. A few codfish and pollock were caught on the deeper wrecks. 

There were no freshwater reports as of late.

Guy Zummo

Capital District

Hunters are heading to both the Northern and Southern zones and have benefited from good snow conditions this year. No hard water to report, which isn’t unusual for later November and early December.

Southeastern New York

While most trout streams closed Oct. 15, there are some that have an extended or all year season:

• Wappingers Creek (downstream of dam in Pleasant Valley), open all year.

• Ramapo River, open all year.

• East Branch Croton River (from Diverting Reservoir to East Branch Reservoir), open all year.

• Esopus Creek, open through Nov. 30.

(Check the regulations guide for creel limits and method of take restrictions.)


Fishing has taken a back seat to hunting in the region as the Southern Zone firearms season enters its final days.

Thousand Islands

St. Lawrence River: Muskie season runs through Dec. 15, and this is the time when the biggest fish are boated. Remember, there’s a 54-inch size minimum if you plan on keeping one – which isn’t encouraged.

Black Lake: Not hearing much now until the hard water arrives.

Categories: New York Fishing Reports, News

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