Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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New York Fishing Report – March 26, 2020

Western New York

Since the mid-1990s the DEC has held public annual State of Lake Ontario meetings in Oswego, Monroe and Niagara counties in the spring to inform the public of the results of fisheries assessment/research programs conducted during the previous year’s field season. In 2016 DEC began conducting meetings each fall to present and receive feedback on results of the lake-wide preyfish survey conducted in April/May. To be more efficient, DEC will now combine the content of those meetings into a single venue that will be held in the fall. That means no State of the Lake meetings this spring. DEC will continue to offer additional information through updates and annual reports posted on the DEC’s Lake Ontario Unit web page and through an email newsletter.


Fishing the waters in Niagara Falls USA has been one of the few constants in this time of uncertainty in the world. Fishing in the lower Niagara River was on fire late last month as double-digit catch days were the norm for boaters drifting a mix of minnows, egg sacs and Pautske fire dye minnows. Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown and Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston reported banner days on the water, on nearly all steelhead. Three-way rigs bouncing the bottom was the way to go, especially upriver as far as Devil’s Hole. If the winds are switching to the southwest, throw on a MagLip or Kwikfish. Some severe winds blowing in could mess things up again. Shoreline casters were picking up some fish, too. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls hit some steelhead on spinners in the gorge. 


Some bullheads were hitting in Wilson and Olcott and Lake Ontario was hitting the magical 40-degree mark. Trolling the shoreline for brown trout and other fish is an option, as is casting the piers with spoons, spinners or stickbaits. The Wilson Conservation Club announced this week that its was canceling its Bullhead Contest set for April 3-5 due to the coronavirus. Not because of the fishing, but because of the weigh-in and after party. There have been good numbers of steelhead and brown trout in some of the main streams like at Eighteen Mile Creek and Burt Dam. Best baits have been egg sacs, wax worms and beads tipped with waxies or run clean, according to Ken Jackson of Sanborn. 


April 1 was the opening of the inland trout and salmon season. Hyde Park Lake, Gill Creek and Oppenheim Park Pond are to be stocked on April 8 starting at 10 a.m. For other stockings call the hotline at 716-358-2050.


There were a few cancellations or postponements due to health concerns. The next Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association (LOTSA) meeting set for April 2 in Amherst, complete with a new flea market option, was canceled. The LOTSA folks have even canceled public involvement with the pen rearing project installation on April 4 in Olcott. That said, LOTSA board members will be doing all the work to get the job done in preparation for receiving the salmon and trout.


The Niagara Musky Association announced it will be postponing its popular awards banquet set for April 4 at the Pearl Street Grill in Buffalo. The group has also canceled its April 7 monthly meeting that was scheduled at the Eldredge Club in Tonawanda.


The Antique Fishing Tackle Show set for April 4 in Lockport has also been canceled for the time being. It may be rescheduled in the future. We will do our best to keep everyone updated on events such as derbies and tournaments. And, of course, the fishing. Stay safe out there!


Chautauqua Lake: The canals are producing catches of mostly small yellow perch. There are some crappie around the canals too, but no significant concentrations yet. Bullhead are just starting to show in the nearshore shallows. Look for bullhead fishing to improve as the lake warms.


Spring trout stocking: DEC Hatchery staff were stocking area waterways in preparation for the traditional April 1 trout opener. However, some streams and lakes are open to trout fishing all year. Check the special regulations by county to see what streams are open to trout fishing now. Thousands of yearling brown, brook and rainbow trout will be stocked in regional waterways. In addition, many of the popular trout waters will also receive stockings of two-year-old brown trout that are between 12-15 inches long. For stocking updates, call the Randolph Fish Hatchery Stocking Hotline at 716-358-2050. 


Orleans County: Might as well go fishing! More rain would be welcome to keep tributary flows up or make for another high-water event for fresh fish migrations. Upstream swamp headwater supplies for The Oak were lowering.  Flows in Oak Orchard Creek were about medium and mostly clear at last look. Easily driftable conditions through the whole rive and the clearer water will call for lighter leaders and tippets. Of course, that clearing water makes for spookier fish and that usually means an on-and-off bite. Anglers were getting a few hook ups on a mix of fresh and darker fish through half-day efforts or so. Still fairly consistent action at the dam and along with no great amount of suckers evidenced yet – that’s a good sign of action hanging on. Another spate of water with warming temps afterward should quickly fire up some spring action.  


The other area smaller tributaries have moderate flows and slightly stained water color going toward clear. Better action was on previous higher water and guys should be able to still get into some fish. There’s still the chance for holdover or fresh-run browns in the tributaries and casting chances on the lakeshore.

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.


A reminder that until May 1, all persons aboard a pleasure vessel less than 21 feet must wear a PFD while in motion.


Lake Ontario: Steelhead were being found in the tributaries but flows are bouncing around from recent rain events, making them difficult to fish at times. When fishable, try egg sacs, beads and egg-imitating flies either bottom bounced or fished under a float.


Oswego River: Steelhead and a few brown trout were being taken on beads, jigs, and egg sacs, either fished under a float or bottom bouncing.


Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river. 


Salmon River: Steelhead were being taken on egg sacs, beads, pink worms, jigs, or egg imitating flies either bottom bounced or fished under a float. Activity was spread out from top to bottom, with some fresh fish being taken.

Finger Lakes/Southern Tier

We weren’t hearing a lot, largely due to inactivity brought about by the COVID-19 situation but also because we’re in that in-between season heading into the April 1 trout opener. The good news is that conditions at last look were good on the region’s trout waters, which may have set the stage for a solid season kickoff, depending on weather. DEC fisheries staff were busy stocking trout waters and had numerous creeks and ponds well stocked ahead of April 1.


This issue went to press just ahead of the April 1 trout opener, so we won’t have any opening-day and early-season reports until our April 17 issue, which will also include some trout stocking information.


Cayuga Lake: A few anglers were getting out and scoring on some fine landlocked salmon and brown trout.


Warm water (bass, pike, etc.) angler diary cooperators are needed for Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Hemlock, and Canadice lakes. If interested contact DEC’s Region 8 fisheries office at or by calling (585) 226-5343.


Also, DEC Region 7 fisheries staff are always looking for new participants in its Angler Diary Cooperator Program for the Finger Lakes. The numbers of participating anglers have dropped in recent years, and they need new cooperators now more than ever. If you fish Cayuga Lake, Owasco Lake, Skaneateles Lake, Otisco Lake or any of their tributaries and want to learn more about the program and how to sign up, contact the Region 7 Fisheries office at (607) 753-3095, ext. 213, or by email at


Not a lot happening now even with the April 1 trout opener, which is normal in the North Country. When waters warm, the stocked trout streams should provide some action, while the backcountry brook trout fraternity awaits ice-out.

Long Island/NYC

The number of anglers fishing is noticeably diminished due to coronavirus. Many tackle shops remained closed. Charter and open boats postponed their launch dates or suspended sailing generally until at least April 1.   


A few anglers have been targeting winter trout with marginal results as the water temperatures dropped an average of 2 degrees this report period as more seasonable and colder weather settled into the region.  Anglers fishing Bubble Falls and Rattlesnake Creek reported a few brown and rainbow trout caught on trout worms or PowerBaits. Most of the trout were about 12 inches long.


A few striped bass and herring were reported by anglers casting the South Shore open beaches or jigging diamond jigs in the South Shore inlets. Most of the stripers ranged between 12 and 18 inches long.  


Guy Zummo

Capital District

A reminder that until May 1, all persons aboard a pleasure vessel less than 21 feet must wear a PFD while in motion.


The April 1 trout opener should have provided some options in the stocked trout waters like the Kayaderosseras, as well as the Batten Kill and Mettawee rivers.

Southeastern New York

Under a new law, known as Brianna’s Law, all motorboat operators will need a boating safety certificate. How soon the certificate is required depends on your age, but by Jan. 1, 2025 all operators of motorized vessels will need a certificate. For more information on Brianna’s Law, classes, and the age breakdown go to the Boating Education link on the New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation website.


Several of the region’s trout waters received stockings from DEC ahead of the April 1 season opener.


The April 1 trout opener again drew anglers to the famed trout waters of the region, notably the Beaverkill, where fly-fishers made at least a few ceremonial casts and some trout were caught.

Thousand Islands

St. Lawrence River: Not hearing a lot right now with ice still on some spots and the coronavirus a distraction from fishing.


Black Lake: Things have been quiet, but crappie action should pick up soon and bullhead anglers also plying the waters.

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