New York Outdoor News Fishing & Hunting Report – April 5, 2019
(Pick up your copy of the 2019-20 Freshwater Fishing Digest at any license sales vendor. The new guide provides some great information for anyone interested in getting more involved in the sport of fishing, particularly women. The online version is also available on the DEC website.)
Western New York
In the lower Niagara River, Ricardo Davila of Wheatfield has been doing well in the Niagara Gorge shore casting with spoons. Water has been very clear there at last look. He’s been taking some nice steelhead from shore. Boaters have more opportunity to move around and steelhead and brown trout were both producing consistently for anglers drifting shiners, egg sacs or plugs like Kwikfish or MagLips off three-way rigs. If you are looking for browns and lakers, try drifting the Niagara Bar with a shiner near the green buoy marker.
The tributaries were opening up nicely and if there’s good flow there will be some fresh trout in there. The most popular spot was Eighteen Mile Creek near Burt Dam. Egg sacs and jigs were working to produce some feisty steelhead, with an occasional brown trout. Don’t forget about the piers in Wilson and Olcott, too. Those should start to turn on soon. And speaking of Wilson, the 7th Annual Wilson Bullhead contest is coming up April 5-7. Make sure that’s on your fishing radar screen.
Speaking of brown trout, it appears a few boats have been trolling the shoreline out near Fort Niagara and picking up some browns in 6 to 8 feet of water. Use small stickbaits, either flatlining off the back or working the shoreline with in-line planers.
With the April 1 statewide trout opener now behind us, keep in mind that DEC does plenty of stocking of its inland waters. Call the Randolph Hatchery stocking hotline at 716-358-2050 for details. Stocking will take place in Niagara Falls at Hyde Park Lake and Gill Creek, as well as Oppenheim Park Pond in Wheatfield on April 11.
The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association will be assembling and floating the net pens for the 2019 project season starting at 9:30 a.m. on April 6. This will take place at the town of Newfane Marina in Olcott. In addition to holding over 67,000 salmon in pens, they will also be holding 7,000 steelhead in pens to improve survival rates and imprint the fish to these waters.
Remember that April 6 is also the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs annual awards banquet starting at 5:30 p.m. at Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara in Lockport. Call Dave Whitt at 716-754-2133 for tickets.
Orleans County: Nice flows in The Oak at last check, still somewhere near slightly high or just less. Good upstream supplies have been keeping these “high-ish” turbine flows going. Any precipitation for maintenance of flows and some stain to the water that would help preserve the nice tributary conditions. Water color was on a slow clear in the Oak, with still some cold nights. Water color was going on 3 feet of visibility at last check.
Fishing pressure seems light during midweek; some guys are still at the dam and some anglers are able to move around – fishing other downstream fast water spots. Action has been good for deep and slow drifters covering the fast-water spots on mostly fresh steelhead that are giving themselves a good account. There was some evidence of spawning from the earlier higher water but most fish seem tight and fresh. Water temperatures were nearing 40 degrees, and with warmer days and especially warmer nights ahead, look for the water temperatures to continue to warm.
Other area smaller tributaries had medium flows and just slightly stained water color. Anglers were spread out on all the waterways, with reports of browns and some steelhead on those smaller tributaries. There are good opportunities now and ahead while cool conditions may hang on for spring, steelhead action and some browns spread over all the different waterways should offer some action.
Central New York
There are several fishing hotline/reports available for the region. A few of the websites are: Wayne County Tourism, Visit Oswego County, and Oneida Lake Fishing Report.
Lake Ontario: Things should be firing up on the big lake soon, if not right now, notably for brown trout along the shoreline.
Oswego River: Anglers continued to get brown trout and steelhead. Remember that walleye season closed March 15.
The bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: Anglers were getting some steelhead, with the mid-to-upper river producing the most action.
There is a new water level flow page provided by Brookfield Renewable Energy for the Salmon River that can be found on the Brookfield Renewable website.
Oneida Lake: Not hearing a lot now with ice fishing over. Remember that walleye and pike season is now closed.
Sandy Pond: Ice fishing is no longer an option, so things have been pretty quiet.
Sodus Bay: Yellow perch fishing was good right up until the ice conditions deteriorated. Not much happening now.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Most of the attention is now focused on early-season trout. Conditions were fairly typical for the April 1 trout opener, with cold water and air temps but decent flows. The Finger Lakes tributaries saw plenty of fishing pressure on opening day, with some anglers scoring on lake-run rainbows. Waters in the region that saw a pre-season stocking of trout also produced for anglers willing to get out there in less-than-ideal conditions.
Waters worth a look include the Cohocton River, Cayuta Creek, Owego Creek and its East and West branches, and Chenango Lake.
Otisco Lake: Not hearing much now that the ice is unsafe.
Cayuga Lake: With the milder conditions, anglers should be able to get out in boats to fish for lake trout, brown trout and salmon. Shore anglers were still picking up lake trout around Taughannock.
Seneca Lake: The Sampson State Park boat launch remained closed for repair work at last check.
Keuka Lake: Nothing to report.
Skaneateles Lake: The DEC launch was opened on March 20, but no docks were in at last look.
Chenango, Tioughnioga, Chemung and Susquehanna rivers: Not hearing much right now.
We’re firmly entrenched now between the hard-water and open water seasons, so we’re not hearing much and it will likely remain that way until waters warm, snow melts and conditions become more favorable for some early-season trout fishing, including the backcountry brook trout option.
The big news this report period is the excellent brown and rainbow trout fishing resulting from the March stocking program. The rivers and lakes that received stocked trout are listed on the NYSDEP website. Many of the waterways will also receive April and May stockings.
Anglers caught the trout using a verity of methods, including casting small spinners and spoons, fishing trout worms or mealworms, and by fishing small streamers on a fly rod. The trout were cooperative throughout the day, with overcast days having a nudge over sunny days. The best fishing in the lakes was near the creeks and streams entering the lake.
Largemouth bass, crappie, yellow perch and sunfish action improved. The warmer waters have put these fish on the feed, with a few largemouths in the 3-pound class reported. The best largemouth fishing was reported in the Peconic River and the lakes in Brookhaven.
The codfish, pollock, ling, haddock and hake continued to cooperate. The best fishing was on the offshore wrecks off east of Moriches Inlet. A few boats reported good action when the schools of sand eels were found over open bottom, but this fishing was less consistent than the wreck fishing. Overall, the groundfish action was better during the first half of the report period as the full moon during the second half created faster currents, making holding the bottom more challenging. Also, a few weather fronts blew through during the end of the report period, bringing high winds and rougher conditions.
Overall, anglers were coming home with a few mixed fish each trip. Most of the codfish and pollock were between 8 and 12 pounds, with the haddock running closer to 6 to 8 pounds. Pool winners were typically a codfish approaching 20 pounds, with a few in the high 20s. The number of ling caught out of Jones and Fire Island inlets increased, with some of the best ling fishing in the past few seasons reported. The standards – fresh skimmer clams and Viking jigs fished with a curly tail teaser – were the top producers for a mixed bag of groundfish. There were no reports of mackerel.
The striped bass fishing along the South Shore surf around the Rockaways improved, with a few fish also reported toward Jones Inlet, indicating that stripers are moving up the coast and moving toward eastern Long Island. Some of the fish caught were around the 30-inch mark, which are migrating fish, not the holdover stripers that hang around during the winter and average less than 5 pounds.
A few of the Connecticut estuaries were holding stripers, indicating that the fish are working their way down the Hudson River and into the Long Island Sound. Tins or plastic baits fished just off the bottom during the day accounted for most fish, with a few taking sandworms fished on the bottom behind a cork float. There were reports of spearing in the South Shore back bays, as well as a few alewives. The opening day for stripers in the marine district is April 15.
Don’t forget to sign up for the free Marine Registry on the NYSDEC website before you head out to do some saltwater fishing.
A reminder that until May 1, all persons aboard a pleasure vessel less than 21 feet must wear a PFD while in motion.
A few trout waters in the region have been stocked by the DEC, notably Kayaderosseras Creek. This month will seen many more waters receive their plantings of trout.
Southeastern New York
DEC announced that numerous waters in the region were scheduled to be stocked ahead of the April 1 opener, and conditions should only improve this month. Trout options now are:
Westchester County: Stone Hill River, Mianus River, Amawalk Inlet, Peekskill Hollow Brook, Waccabuc River, Titicus River, Croton River, Amawalk Outlet.
Putnam County: East Branch Croton River, West Branch Croton River, Croton Falls Reservoir.
Orange County: Ramapo River, Moodna Creek, Shawangunk Kill, Neversink River, Shingle Kill.
Rockland County: Ramapo River, Minisceongo Creek, North Branch Minisceongo Creek, Mahwah River, Stony Brook, Pascack Brook, Cedar Pond Brook, Sparkill Creek.
Dutchess County: Fishkill Creek, Sprout Creek, Ten Mile River, Webatuck Creek, Swamp River, Roeliff Jansen Kill, Crum Elbow Creek, Sawkill
Water temps for the April 1 trout opener were ice cold, but many anglers made at least a few ceremonial casts on the Beaverkill and other waters and a few fish were even caught.
A memorial service for Catskill Flies founder Dennis Skarka has been set for Sunday, April 14, an noon at the Colonial-Bryant Funeral Home, 29 Pearl St., Livingston Manor. Attendees will celebrate Dennis’s devotion to fly-fishing and to the fishing community.
St. Lawrence River: At this stage of the game we can’t believe there are any legitimate (as in safe) ice fishing options by now.
Black Lake: Kind of between ice and open-water seasons now.