New York Outdoor News Fishing and Hunting Report – Dec. 28, 2018
Western New York
Brown trout and steelhead were dominating the fishing report, with walleye not far behind. Buffy Frank of Lockport caught a monster brown trout while fishing a favorite Niagara County Lake Ontario tributary. Using a black marabou jig tipped with wax worms, she hauled in a 34-inch brownie that tipped the scales at better than 15 pounds. She didn’t get an actual weight because she wanted to get it back into the water and release it as quickly as possible. She did get a quick photo, though. Tributaries seem to be offering moderate to medium flows. Egg sacs, single eggs, egg imitations and a variety of flies were all working to take fish. Surprisingly, there hasn’t been a lot of fishing pressure.
In the lower Niagara River, fishing was good from both boat and shore. Brown trout, steelhead and walleye have all been caught with consistency. Boaters were using three-way rigs to entice fish to hit with MagLips, Kwikfish, beads, egg sacs and minnows. A minnow is what worked for Matt Gerhart of Spring Mills, Pennsylvania, when he was fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island. He reeled in an 11-pound walleye fishing the lower river. Some nice browns and steelies into the double digits have also been caught by drifters. Shoreline casters in the gorge were using spinners, jigs and egg sacs to take trout and the occasional walleye, too. Even a few late salmon are hanging around. Muskie season opened on Dec. 15.
In the upper Niagara River, Rich Pisa of Kenmore grabbed his boat and hit some favorite spots with his dad, Richard, of Tonawanda. Using jigs, they managed to catch three lake trout up to 16 pounds, 10 walleye and some silver bass. Water conditions were near-perfect.
Chautauqua Lake: Much of the south basin was covered with skim ice, while the north basin remained open. Walleye were available close to shore during low-light periods in the north basin. Casting small stickbaits is the typical method.
Central New York
Some popular websites where you can get updated fishing information include: Wayne County Tourism, Visit Oswego County, and Oneida Lake Fishing Report.
Also, as a word of warning, all of the dock structures at the DEC boat launches have been removed. So plan accordingly if you’re heading out.
A reminder, too, that from Nov. 1 to May 1, all persons aboard a pleasure vessel less than 21 feet must wear a PFD while in motion.
Oswego River: The river was running high at last check, which makes shore fishing very difficult, with the exception of the area behind the hotels. There were still some steelhead, brown trout and an occasional walleye being taken by anglers.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: This river was running and fishing has been slower with the high water and colder temperatures. Steelhead were still being taken by anglers putting in their time; they were hitting on egg sacs (blue or pink mesh) and egg-imitating flies and plastics.
Skaneateles Lake: The DEC launch is closed for the season. Some anglers are fishing from shore in the customary spots for rainbow trout, using the time-tested marshmallow and worm setup.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Lake Ontario: There were some steelhead, brown trout being taken in the tributaries.
Seneca Lake: The Sampson State Park boat launch is closed and it will be worked on over the winter.
Canandaigua and Keuka lakes: No new information. If anyone would like to contribute to the hotline or if they have a good recommendation for a contact (bait shop, etc.), contact the Region 7 Fisheries office at (607) 753-3095, ext. 213, or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ice anglers were taking their first shots of the season on a few waters offering safe hard water. There hasn’t been a lot of fishing activity yet so it’s difficult to get a read on the fishing; most of the news has focused on ice thickness. But we do know Schroon Lake has been offering safe ice in some spots and anglers have scored on lake trout and a few perch. Indian Lake, too, has been producing some fish, and Lake Eaton has been yielding some rainbow trout. Haven’t heard anything yet on Lake Colby, one of the earliest of the early-ice hot spots since it’s located in the ice box known as Saranac Lake. Reports should become more readily available in the coming weeks, unless a warmup swings through.
The fall season has wound down, coinciding with the closing of the striped bass season. At the beginning of the report period there were several days of unseasonably cold weather, which largely moved the keeper stripers down the New Jersey coast.
There was some good, but sporadic, striper fishing reported during the first half of the report period, but by the end of the report period, nearly all the stripers were less than 10 pounds. Most of the stripers were taken jigging diamond jigs from boats or casting them from the ocean beaches around Breezy Point, with a few caught on Mojo shad rigs. Some of these small stripers will winter over, especially in the mid-Sound, providing catch-and-release opportunities for those willing to fish the winter beaches. Expect some herring to be mixed in with the stripers, especially if you are casting tins.
The blackfish season closed in the Sound and in the ocean. The porgy and sea bass seasons close on Dec. 31. Anglers that targeted these bottom fish reported very good sea bass and blackfish action on the deeper ocean wrecks, where the water temperatures did not drop as quickly as the inshore wrecks and reefs. Some of the best blackfish fishing was reported in New York Bight, especially in 17 fathoms. But overall, the numbers of these fish caught per trip dropped toward the end of the report period.
There were some jumbo porgies and ling mixed in with the sea bass and blackfish, as well as some cod. The ling fishing was best in New York Bight, and the best codfish action was reported off Montauk Point and in Block Island Sound.
The boats running out of Montauk Point reported some of the best haddock fishing they have seen in years. Most of the haddock were between 18 and 24 inches long. These haddock are on the same grounds as the codfish and sea bass, and make a welcome addition to codfish, as did the mackerel that were caught on a few trips. Most of the cod caught were just on either side of the keeper size of 19 inches, with the occasional cod above 10 pounds taking the pool. Clams, and when the currents permitted diamond jigs, both produced a mixed bag of fish.
The charter boats running out Freeport and Sheepshead Bay on the extended day trips reported good to excellent catches of sea bass, pollock, codfish, ling and hake. These trips will run until the close of the sea bass season. Some of these boats will then switch over to extended cod and pollock trips or tilefish trips after Jan. 1.
There were no freshwater reports as of late.
With deer seasons in the rear view mirror, we’re not hearing much.
Southeastern New York
Ice anglers have been grappling with enough weather warm-ups to stall their first outings of the season, so we’re not hearing much lately on the fishing front.
Not a lot of action on the region’s trout waters (a few remain open to fishing), and ice conditions haven’t allowed for much hard-water activity yet.
Black Lake: Right now it’s a walking-only game, but anglers have been out in some spots, notably Rollaway Bay (make sure you park legally) and in front of Chapman’s Sport Shop in Hammond. Crappie action has reportedly been good above Edwardsville. Use caution if you head out and always be aware of current and pressure ridges.
St. Lawrence River: Early ice attracted some anglers in the traditional bays, with some perch and a few pike reported.