New York Outdoor News Fishing & Hunting Report – May 31, 2019
Western New York
Lake Erie: The walleye night bite has been decent to good, with some limits reported. Popular nighttime spots included Shorehaven Reef, Bournes Beach, Green Hills, Van Buren Bay, Evans Bar and the area off Hamburg and Smokes Creek. Trolling minnow-type stickbaits at around 2 mph over rocky areas of 8-15 feet of water is the typical program. Walleye are available during the daytime, too. Target depths of 20-35 feet of water off or near the popular nighttime spots and off the windmills. Try trolling, bottom bouncing or vertical jigging. There were some vague reports of yellow perch closer to Buffalo, however the area east of Cattaraugus Creek in 50-60 feet of water remained the best bet for solid take of perch. Perch schools were moving around, and with it the bite. Anglers who have been able to stay on an active school have been rewarded.
Dunkirk and Barcelona harbors are good bets for smallmouth bass and some big bronzebacks have been reported. Water temperatures were still relatively cool, so look for the bass action to really take off as the temps come up. Water temperatures were even colder in the outer Buffalo Harbor and bass have not started to show in numbers yet. That can change at any time. There were good numbers of bass around the inner Buffalo Harbor, including lots of hefty largemouths. Keep in mind that the there is no fishing from the docks or from the shoreline immediately adjacent to the boat slips in Buffalo Harbor.
Lake Erie tributaries: With the exception of Cattaraugus Creek, all Lake Erie tributaries were in good fishing shape with moderate flows at last check. There were still some steelhead hanging around, but smallmouth bass now provide the best action, with all streams fishing well for bass. Woolly Buggers and streamers are good bets for fly anglers, and spinning anglers do well with stickbaits, minnows and jigs with grubs or plastics fished under a float. The lower section of Cattaraugus Creek is a good spot to target channel catfish. Nightcrawlers, chicken livers or raw shrimp fished on the bottom work well, especially at night. The deeper holes down low in the other creeks may hold catfish as well. Anglers can also catch catfish along the Lake Erie shoreline on calm nights, especially near stream inlets.
Niagara River: There were still trout hanging around the lower river, with a decent number of steelhead and a few lakers in the upper drifts. Some walleye continue to show in the upper drifts and from the Lewiston Sand Docks at night. Smallmouth bass and white bass numbers were on the upswing as fish migrate upriver. A mix of smallmouth bass and lake trout were hitting on the Niagara Bar. Once lake ice completely moved through the system, water temperatures shot past favorable smelt dipping temps of 39-40 degrees rather quickly, with no real sign of smelt near shore. Maybe next year. The NYPA fishing platform may be closed at times due to high water. Call ahead for status if you plan to fish there, at (716) 796-0135, extension 45.
Lake Ontario and tributaries, harbors and piers: Golden Hill State Park launch was closed due to high water levels at last check. At Wilson-Tuscarora, the floating docks were removed due to water levels. The launch at last look was still open for “center launching,” which requires two people, one in boat and one to back it in. Town of Newfane and lower Niagara River launches remained open. Trollers reported good catches for a mix of king salmon and lake trout off Niagara County, especially near Olcott. Spoons and flasher/fly combos have worked well in 40-100 feet of water, with some kings weighing around 20 pounds. 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.
The Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament is May 31 and June 1. Check out www.lakeontarioproam.net for details.
DEC requests angler assistance with recovering heads from coho salmon harvested from Lake Ontario in 2019. Through marking and tagging of stocked coho salmon, DEC is comparing coho stocking strategies and wild vs. stocked coho in Lake Ontario. For more information on data to include with coho heads and freezer locations to drop off samples see Coho Salmon Head Collection page on the DEC website.
Chautauqua Lake: Anglers were catching walleye along weedlines both night and day. 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.
Inland trout fishing: Streams were running a bit high at last check but may have settled down by now. Better conditions can be found by seeking out smaller streams and spring-fed streams. Fly hatches have been relatively sporadic with the consistently cool temperatures. Depending on the stream, look for hatches of midges, Blue-Winged Olives, Hendricksons, caddisflies and stoneflies during the warmest part of the day.
All of western New York’s trout stocking waters have now been stocked at least once. Call the Randolph Hatchery Stocking Hotline at (716) 358-2050 for stocking updates. Among the waters stocked late last month were:
Allegany County: Genesee River (Wellsville), Rushford Lake (Caneadea).
Cattaraugus County: Red House Lake (Red House), Red House Brook (Red House), Quaker Lake (Cold Spring).
Wyoming County: Letchworth Park Pond (Genesee Falls).
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.
Inland trout fishing: DEC’s frenzied pace of trout stocking is now winding down, with the region’s trout waters all receiving fish through the end of the month. Among the waters stocked are:
Cayuga County: Owasco Outlet, North Brook, Salmon Creek, Owasco Inlet, and Fall Creek.
Cortland County: East Branch Tioughnioga River, West Branch Tioughnioga River), Casterline Pond, Pharsalia Y Pond, Little York Lake, Durkee Park Pond, and the Otselic River.
Madison County: Upper Lelands Pond, Beaver Creek, Canaseraga Creek, Canastota Creek, Cowaselon Creek, Eaton Brook Reservoir, Lebanon Reservoir, Old Chenango Canal, Payne Brook, Stone Mill Brook, T32 of East Branch Tioughnioga River, Chenango River, Chittenango Creek, Oneida Creek, Otselic River and the Sangerfield River.
Onondaga County is stocked by Carpenter’s Brook Fish Hatchery. Their stocking hotline is (315) 689-0003 and the stocking list can also be viewed at fishonondagacounty.com under the Stocking Report link.
Oswego County: North Branch Salmon River, Salmon River, Black Creek, Rice Creek and West Branch Fish Creek.
(Note: With the high-water conditions across the region, use caution if venturing out as there is debris floating around on most waters, and be mindful of your boat wake as to not cause property damage. There were boating advisories for the bays and shoreline of Lake Ontario. For information on these view the county sheriff’s office web pages for Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego counties.
Lake Ontario and bays: With the high water levels there are no-wake zones for many Lake Ontario shorelines and bays. That said, fishing has been generally good for trout and salmon for anglers venturing out.
Oneida Lake: Not hearing a lot on the walleye front, but things should be popping now. Weather conditions have limited info of late, but perch were hitting in 15 feet of water. Crappie and bullhead should also be options.
Sodus Bay: Perch, crappie and still some bullhead.
Oswego River: Not hearing much given the high flows.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: High flows and not much happening.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Cayuga remained the hottest of the Finger Lakes, with anglers scoring consistently on brown trout, rainbows and lakers as well as landlocked salmon. Some hefty smallmouth bass were also in the mix.
Keuka Lake: Perch at 15-25 feet were still available, and lake trout anglers were scoring by trolling or vertical jigging at depths of 50 to 100 feet.
Canandaigua Lake: Yellow perch remained the best option, but don’t overlook some catch-and-release bass fishing now.
Seneca Lake: Not hearing much lately.
Chemung River: Mike Deming of Lowman reports that even when water levels were high and clarity stained, walleye action was solid. Jigging with 3/8-ounce with chartreuse, white or black shad Twister Tails worked well. Fish them with a slow stop-and-go retrieve downstream of islands or any slack water along the faster currents in 1-6 feet of water.
Susquehanna, Chenango and Tioughnioga rivers: High water levels were receding nicely, but not enough that we are able to glean any info on the fishing. That should change with better conditions.
Water temps for the region’s trout streams, notably the West Branch of the Ausable River, are slowly rising and have trout more active and even “looking up” as insect activity increases. That said, streamer patterns are still effective, as well as caddis nymphs. Dry fly options include caddis and stoneflies.
On Lake Champlain, some early anglers are scoring well on smallmouths and largemouths as a catch-and-release option. Lake trout action remained solid, and bass anglers were encountering the occasional northern pike.
The spring fishing season is in full swing, with this week’s big news being the arrival of big bluefish. During the last few seasons the bluefish have been absent or minimal in most areas. This season is starting off much differently, with 8- to 10-pound bluefish being caught consistently in New York Bight, and enough action for boats to make dedicated trips targeting blues using diamond jigs or fresh bunker chunks.
In all areas sand eels, bay anchovies and adult bunker are prevalent. In the eastern Sound, there were large schools of bluefish being reported and caught by anglers fishing squid jigs at night under lighted areas. A few winter flounder were reported, but mostly by anglers targeting porgies.
Large bluefish were reported as far east as the Peconics, where they were caught by anglers targeting porgies. Anglers fishing the ocean surf around all the South Shore inlets reported bluefish taking tins and poppers meant for stripers, with most blues between 2 and 8 pounds. Two- to 3-pound cocktail blues are being reported in Shinnecock Bay consistently and sporadically in the other South Shore bays, with the best fishing during in the early mornings. Anglers are finding the cocktail blues under schools of birds or pushing small baits to the surface. Small tins or poppers were the top lures, with flyrodders also scoring well on spearing imitations or poppers.
The porgy season is red hot in the Peconics, with 3-pound porgies common. The area around Gardiners Island and Jessup’s Neck was excellent, with keeper weakfish and bluefish reported in the mix. Excellent porgy fishing was reported from boats fishing the western Sound, where a few stripers were also caught on porgy baits like clam strips and sand worms.
Overall, the best fluke fishing has been inshore in the South Shore bays and North Shore harbors, where the water is a bit warmer than the ocean or mid-Sound. The keeper ratio ranges from 1 in 5- to 1 in 10 caught, with pool fish between 3 and 5 pounds. The keeper ratio seems to vary more day to day than from location to location. The standard spearing and squid strip combo, or fluke balls or bucktails tipped with squid strips all produced well. Gulp! baits fished as either the primary bait or as a teaser also scored well. A few ocean-caught fluke were reported, but the water was still a bit cold for consistent action. Sea robins were caught wherever anglers fished for fluke.
The spring weakfish season is upon us, with 2- to 6-pound weakfish reported being caught consistently on plastic baits, small diamond jigs and sandworms in the Great South Bay from Ocean Beach to Democrat Point, and also in West Channel. With the boat traffic remaining fairly low, these weakfish remained active throughout the day. A few weakfish were reported being caught in the State Boat Channel between Babylon Cut and Zack’s Bay.
The striped bass fishing was excellent in New York Bight to Jones Inlet, and improving east of Jones Inlet. In New York Bight and in Jamaica Bay anglers reported consistent striper fishing, with fish to 30 pounds common. Fresh bunker chunks or live bunker accounted for the largest fish, with bucktails, large swimming plugs and big shad-style plastic baits the top producers for anglers casting lures. The action in the ocean was better from the beaches than fishing in boats off the beach east of Jones Inlet as the stripers, mostly under 15 pounds, are moving eastward, tight to the beaches, and are not yet consistently concentrated under the schools of bunker. But this could change any minute as more and more large stripers are being reported and they tend to hold where the schools of offshore bunker are located. On the North Shore the best striper fishing was reported in the western Sound. Anglers fishing blood or sandworms from the beaches reported schoolie stripers as well as a few porgies.
Scott Jeffery at East End Bait and Tackle reported that anglers fishing the Ponquogue Bridge during the night tides caught schoolie bass, with a few keepers. Scott also reported that anglers fishing Shinnecock Canal have reported fluke, blowfish, cocktail blues, weakfish, kingfish and the occasional porgy. This was the first report of blowfish and kingfish and is evident that the warming waters have put the fish on the move and on the feed.
A few boats continued to run for cod, pollock, ling and haddock on the deeper offshore wrecks. These ground fish continued to be caught on fresh skimmer clams and jigs, both fished with teasers, typically 6-inch pink or white plastic curlytail jigs. Most of the cod ranged from just keeper size to the occasional 20-pounder.
The freshwater fishing is excellent, with an uptick in largemouth bass being caught, especially from the East End lakes and the Peconic River. Plastic worms, swimming plugs and spinner baits were consistent producers. The trout fishing continued to be slow as the stocked fish numbers are dwindling, but bait and lure anglers fishing the deeper areas of Massapequa Reservoir and fly-fishing the Nissaquogue River and the Connetquot River all reported good fishing for rainbow and brown trout.
Lake George: Anglers were scoring on lake trout but landlocked salmon reports were few and far between. Some good catch-and-release bass action is available for both smallmouths and largemouths, according to the folks at FISH307.
Saratoga Lake: Crappie were still getting the most angling attention.
The region’s trout streams were settling down and warming up. The Battenkill and Mettawee rivers were in excellent condition at last check and should be warming up as well.
Southeastern New York
Anglers were hitting the NYC reservoir system with some solid results, notably at Ashokan Reservoir and Pepacton Reservoir, where brown trout were cooperating. Rio Reservoir was also yielding browns.
The Hudson River striper scene has been excellent, notably in the Kingston area, where anglers were connecting on some big fish.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Seeing March Browns, large (size 14) sulphurs, Olives in a mix of sizes, a few Blue Quills, Yellow Sallies, spinners and Caddis.
Delaware East Branch: Still seeing Hendricksons, Blue Quills, Olives in a mix of sizes. The lower stretch of the East Branch still had some March Browns and big sulphurs.
Delaware West Branch: Hendricksons, Olives, Caddis, Blue Quills, spinners, and a few March Browns in the lower end.
Delaware Main Stem: Still a few Hendricksons around, as well as Caddis, Olives of mixed sizes, Blue Quills and spinners. There were now March Browns on the lower main stem, as well as large sulphurs.
Neversink: Caddis, March Browns, large sulphurs, Olives, Blue Quills and Yellow Sallies, as well as spinners.
Esopus: Blue Quills, Olives, Yellow Sallies and Caddis,