New York Outdoor News Fishing & Hunting Report – Jan. 11, 2019
Western New York
Now that the ball has dropped on 2019, area fishermen should be aware of some changes in regulations. Lake trout season is now open below Niagara Falls in the Niagara River and on the Niagara Bar in Lake Ontario. Also, walleye fishermen must note that the daily limit drops from three fish to one fish per person from Jan. 1 to March 15 in the lower river. If you fish the Canadian side of the river, in either the upper or lower stretches, the new license year also started Jan. 1. Be aware of these changes if you take advantage of the mild winter conditions we have been experiencing. As far as Niagara River fishing conditions, it was a little spotty before the last wind and rain storm New Year’s Eve. Fortunately, water conditions weren’t destroyed. Action should be good going if mild conditions persist. Lisa Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston says there were steelhead, brown trout and walleye all being caught. Anglers seem to be using more pinks and oranges when using egg sacs, beads and spinners. Kwikfish and MagLips are also hot lures off three-way setups at times. Minnows were working to take fish, too. In the Upper Niagara River, lake trout and walleye were being caught around the Thompson’s Hole area on jigs.
In the Lake Ontario tributaries, Gianni Etopio of Youngstown caught a dozen trout to start off the New Year using jigs, egg sacs and beads in Eighteen Mile Creek. His biggest brown was 28 inches and his biggest steelhead was 29 1/2 inches. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott reported that wax worms were also producing a few trout – on a single hook or on a jig and fished under a float.
The Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo is Jan. 18-20 at the Conference Center in Niagara Falls. Check out www.niagarafishingexpo.com for details. Mark your calendar, too, for the new “Birds on the Niagara” Festival set for Jan. 25 and 26.
Central New York
Oneida Lake: It’s a waiting game for ice anglers.
Oswego River: Running high at last look, which can make shore fishing difficult, with the exception of the area behind the hotels. There were still some steelhead and brown trout being taken.
Salmon River: Steelhead were still being taken, with the most activity in the mid-to-upper section. Steelhead were being taken on egg sacs (blue or pink mesh), pink trout worms, beads and egg-imitating flies.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Lake Ontario: There were some steelhead, brown trout still being taken in the popular tributaries.
Seneca Lake: The Sampson State Park boat launch is closed for repair work over the winter
Canandaigua and Keuka lakes: Nothing to report. 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 via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skaneateles Lake: The DEC launch is closed for the season.
It hasn’t been a great start to the hard-water season, with ice conditions ranging from decent to downright nonexistent. Some of the waters that have offered some hole drilling have been Brant Lake, Piseco Lake, the north end of Schroon Lake, and Lake Colby. But keep an eye on the weather and changing conditions.
This report closes out the sea bass and porgy seasons. The fishing for both species was very good when the winds calmed down enough to allow for a run to the deep-water wrecks and hard spots fished by the boats running out of Rockaway Inlet east to Shinnecock Inlet, or for those making the trip from Montauk Point to Block Island Sound. On most days these boats were rewarded with an excellent mix of sea bass to 4 pounds, codfish between 5 and 10 pounds as well as porgies to 3 pounds. Clams and diamond jigs fished with a white or pink teaser were the top producers.
Boats fishing west of Jones Inlet added good numbers of ling to the mix, while boats fishing out of Montauk Point added a significant number of haddock to 10 pounds to the mix, as well as a few pollock. A few of these haddock were caught on boats running out of Fire Island Inlet from Captree State Park, which have been relatively rare in season’s past.
Anglers and captains have reported better haddock fishing this year than they have experienced during the past several seasons. There are large schools of sand eels offshore, which in the past has resulted in very good and consistent codfish action throughout January and February and again in late March and April.
Most of the open boats have been filling up over the past several seasons during the weekends, and often even during the week, especially for the extended wreck trips where passengers are often limited to provide more rail space. So if you want to get in on the codfish, pollock, ling and haddock action in the New Year, be sure to call the boats in advance to reserve your spot. The captains can also give you a recommendation on tackle to bring aboard if you choose to use your own equipment.
Anglers fishing the beaches and the inlets along the South Shore reported catching herring on small diamond jigs and Sabiki rigs during the day. At night, anglers reported catching herring fishing from the Captree Pier, and the Canarsie and 69th Street piers. Overall, the fishing was spotty, but there were enough good days to make the effort worthwhile. The better herring fishing was when the tide was running strong. There seemed to be no preference on rising or dropping tides.
White perch have shown up in Santapogue Creek in West Babylon. Anglers did well using earthworms and grass shrimp. The grass shrimp were consistently the better choice. Small spinners or spoons were also productive when the perch were formed up in small schools. The best fishing was reported an hour on both sides of high tide.
I would expect that the white perch will settle into their regular winter areas, such as the Nissaquogue River and the brackish creeks in the Peconics over the next few days or weeks. It’s worth a call to the local tackle shops to get some intel on if the white perch arrived and the best tide, then planning a trip to fish various spots at their best tide. Expect a few small striped bass to be caught on occasion, as some will winter over. This is especially true in the Nissaquogue River system.
Now is the best time to drop off your rods and reels for tune-ups or repairs at your local tackle shop before they get busy in the spring.
The region’s popular ice fishing waters have yet to lock up, so keep an eye on changing weather patterns. Colder weather late last week may have helped.
Southeastern New York
The region’s ice anglers continued to play a waiting game, thanks to some warm-ups that have stalled the hard-water kickoff. When and if conditions do permit, always use caution and sound judgment. Here are a few options during a typical ice fishing season:
Ulster County: Chodikee Lake, Onteora Lake, Louisa Pond
Sullivan County: Morningside Lake, Mongaup Pond, Lake Superior
Orange County: Glenmere Lake, Round Lake, some Herriman State Park lakes
Dutchess County: Stissing Pond, Morgan Pond
Putnam County: White Pond, coves of East Branch Reservoir
Westchester County: Coves of Muscoot Reservoir
Most of the region’s fishing attention isn’t focused on the water these days, as anglers look forward to the 2019 edition of the huge Fly Fishing Show, set for Jan. 25-27 at the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center in Edison, N.J.
St. Lawrence River: Keep an eye on ice conditions, but several spots have been offering safe ice and yielding a mix of perch, pike and an occasional walleye.
Black Lake: Ice conditions were less than ideal at last look, with snow cover making for tough traveling.