Western New York
Mark Plennert of Niagara Falls had some success off the NYPA Fishing Platformin the gorge when waters finally cleared, but take note it was scheduled to close Nov. 30. Call 716-286-6662 to check first. The stairs leading down to the shoreline are already closed due to erosion. Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston and Gary Hall of Niagara Falls timed things just right to catch some nice steelheadto 12 pounds, using MagLipsoff three-way rigs. Egg sacs will also work. Mike Marisa of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, shares that he caught quite a few steelheadusing a mix of beadsand egg sacsin pink – along Artpark and up in the gorge around the whirlpool. When the water starts to clear, the shore guys will start catching fish first.
For the Lake Ontario tributaries, Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reported catching some brown troutand steelhead. The water has been high and lightly stained due to snowmelt. This is perfect for big fish to move throughout the creek systems and feed in a post-spawn manner, according to Feltrinelli. Bug streamershave been working well for fly-fishermen targeting browns. Other baits that are working are beads, egg sacsand jigs. Steelheadare moving into the creeks in better numbers, as well. You still must move around to seek out active fish. Fishing pressure continues to be down due to hunting seasons.
Remember that Nov. 30 was the final day for muskellunge in the upper Niagara River. However, the Lower Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River season is open through Dec. 15.
For the most part, bass fishing turns into a catch and release season on Dec. 1 throughout most of the state. One exception is Lake Erie, where a special season begins Dec. 1 allowing for one basswith a minimum size of 20 inches in length. You can also fish with live bait. If you have any questions, consult the regulations at www.dec.ny.gov. One final note is that lake trout season opened on Dec. 1 in the lower Niagara River on the Canadian side only. This was one of the reasons that an extended lake trout season was proposed in the lower river in New York. The comment period for that regs proposal ends Dec. 14. Lake trout season opens Jan. 1 in New York waters of the lower Niagara and Lake Ontario. If you do catch a lake trout incidentally, please release it quickly and unharmed.
Orleans County: Ron Bierstine of Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge reports that it looks like the Erie Canal winter time drainage slug of water has pretty well run its course. Flows in the Oak and other area smaller tributaries were on the retreat, but that was before a recent shot of snowfall. The system will respond to rain and snow and runoff, going higher and off color with any significant precipitation.
Anglers were scratching out a few bites on browns, steelhead, Atlanticsand kings. The smaller area tributaries had moderate to medium flows with slightly stained water color going toward clear. Haven’t heard much lately from action to the west except for the same kind of reports from Burt Dam like at the Oak. To the east lately, it definitely sounds more encouraging, with some good brown troutaction reported – enough that makes you think there’s a legitimate run of late fish. Considering that, we might see a late run of brownsin The Oak, too.
Central New York
Not hearing much from the angling community now, given the recent weather and the ongoing hunting seasons. Whitetail hunters welcomed, and in some cases cursed the recent snowfall, depending on how much snow fell in your hunting spot.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
A reminder that until May 1, all persons aboard a boat or watercraft of any kind less than 21 feet in length must wear a PFD while in motion.
The Southern Zone deer seasons are now in their late stages, and based on reports we’ve received it has been a pretty good one.
Big-woods deer hunters are making their final push of the season, now with muzzleloader in hand. Some good bucks were taken in the final days of the firearms season, with hunters aided by tracking snow.
A few lucky ice anglers were able to get out on some of the region’s smaller waters, but we’re not sure of the current conditions and don’t feel comfortable at this stage of the game in directing hard-water anglers to a specific water.
With the ocean water temperatures in the mid- to low-50s, the bulk of the stripers over 20 pounds have made their way into New York Bightand along the New Jersey shore. There were still plenty of schoolie-sized stripers caught from both the shore and by boat out to Shinnecock Inlet along the South Shoreand Sunken Meadow State Park on the North Shore.
Along the North and South Shore beaches, sand eels and small bunker were the prominent bait that the stripers were feeding on. Along both shores, the schoolie striper fishing was good to excellent for anglers fly casting sand eel and bunker imitations or casting using small diamond jigs with green or white tubes, along with other thin tins. Anglers reported anywhere from two- to three-fish days to a dozen or more caught when the fish were concentrated.
Anglers targeting stripers from boats reported catching schoolie stripers on diamond jigs between Shinnecock Inlet and New York Bight, with the better fishing reported west of Deb’s Inlet. From both the shore or boat, a bucktail or Twister Tail teaser tied 18 inches above the main lure resulted in improved catches as well as the occasional doubleheader.
The blackfish action in the Long Island Soundremained excellent, with anglers fishing both the New York and Connecticut/Rhode Island sides of Sound. In most areas, anglers reported limits of blackfish to 6 pounds, with pool fish around the 10-pound mark. In all areas, green or white crabs were the go-to bait.
Boats fishing the offshore wrecksfor groundfish reported excellent fishing for sea bass, porgies, codfish and ling. Sea bass between 2 and 4.5 pounds make up most of the catch. There was also an uptick in the number of keeper codfish caught each trip. The porgy catch is showing signs of slowing, while the ling catches remain steady.
Expect to see haddock and pollock to be caught regularlyeast of Shinnecock Inlet in the upcoming weeks then further west as the season progresses.
Off Montauk Point, boats running toBlock Island Soundreported excellent fishing for jumbo porgies, those approaching 3 pounds, blackfish to 8 pounds and sea bass to 5 pounds. Depending on location, a few codfish were added to the mix, along with the occasional bluefish.
Excellent porgy and sea bass fishing was reported off Orient Pointas well as very good blackfish fishing. Depending on the species, green and white crabs or fresh clams were the top baits.
There have been no freshwater reports as of late.
The region’s deer hunters got a little more than they bargained for in the way of snow, with up to 20 inches in some areas hampering their late-season efforts.
Anglers have been staying home instead of trying to fish what waters are still open to troutfishing. It’s a good time to tie flies, take equipment inventory, make your Christmas wish list and plan to attend the big Fly Fishing Show next month in Edison, N.J.
St. Lawrence River: Not hearing a lot right now, even from the musky hunters.
Black Lake: Hard-water anglers awaiting first ice will have to wait a little longer.