New York Outdoor News Fishing & Hunting Report – May 17, 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
Lake Erie and tributaries: Most of the Lake Erie boat launches are now open for the season. Dredging at the mouth of Sturgeon Point Marina may still be closed, so it’s best to call ahead if planning to launch there. Buffalo Boat Harbor is open. The spring yellow perch bite is off to a good start, with quality catches of big perch reported between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point. Productive spots and time of day seems to change almost daily. However, catches have generally been best at depths of 48-55 feet of water. Look for smaller roving schools of perch and small schools that are tight to the bottom, sometimes near structure. Live emerald shiners are the top bait for perch.
Perch anglers also report catching a fair number of walleye at those same depths. Jigging or bottom bouncing may be worth a try. The nearshore shoals and shallows are typically productive when the season opens, with better action at night. That bite may be off to a slow start considering the colder-than-normal water temperatures. When the shoal bite starts in earnest, Shorehaven Reef, Bournes Beach, Green Hills, Van Buren Bay, Evans Bar, off Hamburg and near the mouth of Smokes Creek are good spots. Trolling minnow-type stickbaits at around 2 mph over rocky areas in 6-15 feet of water is a typical program.
The Erie tributaries were running slightly high and stained at last check. Thanks to the persistent cooler weather, there were still some steelhead in the creeks. Smallmouth bass numbers were growing in the lower sections.
Niagara River: Around the upper river, harbor, bay and inlet areas are currently good spots to target yellow perch and sunfish. These areas warm quicker than the main river, attracting both bait and panfish. Emerald shiners are available for dipping at many harbor and inlet sites and work great for perch bait.
In the lower river, boaters should still watch out for larger chunks. There were still lots of trout around and some walleye, too. Smelt should now be showing up along shorelines at night. The window for smelt dipping could be brief.
Lake Ontario and tributaries, harbors and piers: Lake Ontario charters were picking up decent numbers of king salmon off Niagara County at depths of 75-100 feet of water on gear run between 50 and 80 feet down. A decent number of lake trout have been mixed in with the kings. Brown trout and the occasional coho or steelhead were still available inside 30 feet of water. Stickbaits and medium-sized spoons run behind planer boards is the typical program. All of the Lake Ontario tributaries had dwindling numbers of steelhead.
Don’t forget about the Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament May 31-June 1. Check out www.lakeontarioproam.net for details.
Chautauqua Lake: Crappie anglers have done well in canals and the open lake. Small jigs tipped with a small minnow, one-inch tube or other small plastic and fished under a pencil float work well for crappie. Anglers fishing for crappie at night reported catching some walleye, as well. Nearshore shallows are a good bet for walleye at night. Boaters can troll with stickbaits or worm harnesses, or drift and work jigs with nightcrawlers. Shore anglers can connect by casting stickbaits, especially near stream inlets. Bullhead were hitting well both day and night.
Inland trout fishing
Waters are warming now and fly-fishers are seeing more and more trout “looking up” as insect activity increases. It’s a great time to be on the water. Among the streams stocked recently are:
Allegany County: Dodge Creek (Clarksville), Dyke Creek (Andover), Cryder Creek (Independence).
Cattaraugus County: Forks Creek (Great Valley), Great Valley Creek (Great Valley), Elton Creek (Freedom).
Erie County: Springville Field and Stream Creek (Concord).
Wyoming County: Buffalo Creek (Java), Tonawanda Creek (Orangeville).
Orleans County: The Lake Ontario waters off the Orleans County coastline were setting up with good stained water in 8 to 15 feet of water. The combination of warmer water temperature, baitfish and the cover of the “mudline” was drawing quality trout and salmon.
Sons of the American Legion Post 204 had a great day of fishing with Capt. Bob and Sunrise II off Point Breeze April 30, catching over 21 fish before noon. Guy Eaton boated an 18-pound king. Several charter boats, including “Get Hooked” and “Bucaroo” have been finding brown trout, the odd coho and kings using traditional planer board tactics with shallow-running stickbaits.
Here’s a tip as for lure color: bright orange, firetiger chartreuse work great in various water colors from green to yucky mud. But don’t forget black and silver or black and gold!
Central New York
There are also other 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: The brown trout fishing has been good when weather permits. Stickbaits and spoons have both been working. Some spring chinook salmon are also being taken.
Oswego River: Anglers were still getting some steelhead and brown trout.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river. Wade safely.
Salmon River: A few dropback steelhead were being caught throughout the river.
Oneida Lake: Walleye anglers have been hitting the big lake with some success, from both boat and shore. Also, look for yellow perch in 10 to 15 feet of water. Bullhead fishing should be picking up, as should crappie fishing with the warmer conditions.
Sodus Bay: Fishing has been good for yellow perch, black crappie and bullhead.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Brown trout fishing has been good on the south end for anglers trolling with stickbaits in the off-colored water. Lake trout were being taken by vertical jigging or trolling in 120 to 150 feet of water.
Skaneateles Lake: The DEC launch is open and one dock is in. Anglers were getting some yellow perch.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Not hearing much, which is surprising now that walleye season is open.
Susquehanna, Chemung, Chenango and Tioughnioga rivers: The walleye season kickoff was muddied by high water conditions.
Keuka Lake: Yellow perch were being caught on small jigs fished in 15 to 25 feet of water. Lake trout were being taken in 50 to 100 feet of water vertical jigging.
Canandaigua Lake: Perch action has been good in the 15- to 25-foot zone.
Inland trout fishing
Several of the region’s trout streams have received a stocking from DEC, including:
Broome County: Nanticoke Creek (Union, Maine); East Branch Nanticoke Creek (Maine).
Steuben County: Canisteo River (Hornellsville).
Tioga County: Cayuta Creek (Barton); East Branch Owego Creek (Berkshire, Richford, Newark Valley, Owego); West Branch Owego Creek (Richford), Owego Creek (Tioga, Owego).
Tompkins County: Salmon Creek (Lansing).
Plenty of options now in the North Country, including some fine spring gobbler hunting in some areas – notably the farm country in St. Lawrence County and along Lake Champlain.
Too, the backcountry brook trout angling crowd is now plying their favorite ponds, although info on the fishing is difficult to glean.
Water levels and temps have been a challenge on the West Branch of the Ausable River, which will eventually – and likely soon – be offering some fine fly-fishing. The region’s many trout waters have also received stockings from DEC and have drawn plenty of angling interest.
On Lake Champlain, lake trout and pike action has been good for those taking to the water. Pre-spawn bass fishing will increase in popularity ahead of the June 8 regular-season kickoff.
The scup (aka porgy) season opened May 1, with the open boats reporting good action in the Western Sound and in New York Bight over the gravel bottoms. Excellent porgy fishing was reported in the Peconics, with a few weakfish also caught. Clam strips and sandworms were the top baits. Chumming with clams provided more consistent action. A pleasant surprise was the addition of a few winter flounder mixed in with the porgies in the Sound – no doubt due to the warming water temperatures.
The summer flounder (aka fluke) season opened at the end of the report period to a rainy weekend, but plenty of anglers fished through the rain and were rewarded with good fluke action. The best fishing was reported by anglers fishing the in the South Shore bays. The State Boat Channel between Lindenhurst Cut and Zacks Bay produced an even mix of keeper and short fluke, as well as sea robins. Similar action was reported in Jamaica Bay and in the channels leading to Jones Inlet. The tried and true spearing and squid strip combination, as well as bucktails tipped with squid, and plastic baits were all productive. Scott Jeffrey at East End Bait & Tackle reported that reported fluke to 20 inches were caught in the Shinnecock Canal and Shinnecock Bay.
Fluke become most active when the water temperatures are above 60 degrees. On opening day Great South Bay had a surface water temperature of 58 degrees, with the inlets and oceans a few degrees colder, which is why the fluke will remain in the back bays for a few more weeks. These back-bay fluke are perfect candidates for anglers fishing light tackle from a kayak or those using a fly rod with spearing imitation Clouser Minnow or a similar sinking/jigging action fly.
The blackfish season closed during this report period, with only a few reports. The best blackfish action was reported on the wrecks in New York Bight, where there was also a good mix of ling, and among the rocks in the Sound where a few porgies rounded out the catch.
The inshore ground fish, those in water less than 100 feet, have largely moved off to the deeper water wrecks as is typical for this point of the season. Anglers targeting cod, pollock and ling reported good fishing using fresh skimmer clams and Viking-style jigs on the East End deep-water wrecks. The predominant catch was cod, with a few pollock and ling mixed in. Pool fish were typically cod between 12 and 20 pounds.
The striped bass fishing continues to improve each day. Excellent striped bass fishing was reported from New York Bight to Jones Inlet, and good fishing reported further east to Shinnecock Inlet. Schoolie stripers and cocktail blues were also reported in the adjoining bays. The open boats from Debs Inlet to Captree State Park have begun running evening striper trips to target these eastward migrating stripers. There are a lot of bunker in the South Shore bays and inlets to support the striped bass fishery. Most of the bunker are laying in the deeper canals and channels within the bays. Stripers to 30 pounds were reported in Lower New York Bay, caught on fresh bunker chunks. In the nearby ocean east and to Jones Inlet, Mojo rigs with bunker spoon and shad jigs produced stripers from 15 to 30 pounds, with an even number of shorts. The most consistent action was reported in 20 to 40 feet of water.
The surf fishing for striped bass has significantly improved, with consistent fishing reported from all beaches and jetties east to Shinnecock Inlet. Anglers using sandworms reported catching several stripers each tide, with most fish under 10 pounds. Anglers intercepting schools of migrating stripers by casting swimming plugs, tins and bucktails reported up to 20-fish days. Scott Jeffery also reported that bluefish to 17 pounds were caught from the beaches on the east and west sides of Shinnecock Inlet.
Similar reports came from anglers fishing Jamaica Bay and Little Neck Bay in kayaks or casting light tackle from boats. The striper fishing in the western Sound was mostly schoolie stripers caught on swimmers and poppers fished in the harbors and among the rocks on the north side of the Sound.
The trout fishing has slowed down considerably as many of the stocked trout have been caught or settled into the deeper and cooler sections in their stocked waters, making them a bit harder to catch. The rainy cycle has muddied up some of the rivers and creeks, but savvy anglers fishing nymphs or streamers slow and deep were rewarded with a few brown and rainbows.
Panfish and largemouth bass are active, with the best action reported in the afternoons in the shallower sections of the ponds where the water is a bit warmer than the surrounding area. Trout worms fished under a bobber were productive as were small spoons and spinners on the panfish. The largemouth bass fishing was better overall than the bluegill or perch fishing, with plastic worms and small swimmers the top producers. A consistent mixed bag of panfish and largemouth bass catches was reported from Argyle and Belmont lakes as well as Southard’s Pond.
It has been a spring gobbler hunting and trout fishing game of late, with hunters connecting on longbeards and jakes despite some wet and cool weather, and the region’s stocked trout waters offering up some fine fishing.
Saratoga Lake has seen some good crappie fishing in recent weeks; we haven’t heard much on the walleye.
Striped bass action has been good at the Troy Dam.
Southeastern New York
Striped bass anglers have been hitting the Hudson River, notably in the Kingston area. But things can change quickly as the fish migrate up river to the Troy Dam.
The region’s trout waters have been stocked during DEC’s spring blitz and are offering good fishing as water temps increase.
When driving up Route 17 along the rivers make sure your vehicle has plenty of windshield wash! The Caddis are heavy over the bridges. Rivers continue to recede and are running clear.
Willowemoc: Has had a lot of anglers pressure of late since it was the best river to wade.
Beaverkill: Like the Willowemoc, Hendricksons, Blue Quills, a mix of Olives, lots of Caddis in 14-18, and Yellow Sallies.
Delaware East Branch: At last check was best floated and limited in wading, with Quill Gordons, Hendricksons, Blue Quills, Olives, and Caddis.
Delaware West Branch: Hendricksons, Blue Quills, Olives, lots of Caddis from #18s to 14s.
Neversink: Olives, Blue Quills, some Hendricksons, lots of Caddis, some Yellow Sallies.
Esopus: Hendricksons, Blue Quills, Olives, Yellow Sallies and Caddis.
On all rivers you should carry your spinner patterns.
St. Lawrence River: Perch fishing continues to be rock solid, and walleye anglers were on the river and connecting on some big fish early in the season.
Black Lake: Bluegill and crappie are the main targets these days, although walleye anglers who know the lake well are taking their early-season shots.