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New York Fishing Report – April 9, 2020

Report from the Dock

Social distancing is the norm as trout fishing picks up this month, and the youth turkey hunt takes place April 25-26. The status of trout stocking depends on where you are. In northern New York, and especially in the Adirondacks, waters remain cooler and some ponds may even still have ice on them. Otherwise, DEC’s stocking trucks are out in an effort to distribute trout to their normal locations, with some exceptions due to zebra mussels being discovered at the Rome Fish Hatchery. Meanwhile, striped bass will continue to migrate north in the Hudson and Delaware rivers, where anglers need to be aware of recently updated  slot limits. These affect marine anglers too. And on the big lakes that contain lake trout and salmon, anglers will be targeting these salmonids. Charter boats are currently on hold due to their being deemed non-essential businesses. 


In the northern Adirondacks, anglers were still ice fishing some waters, mainly targeting perch in the shallows, earlier this month. Many waters above 1,000 feet in elevation still had ice for the April 1 trout opener. Still, ice-out will eventually transpire on Adirondack ponds and a warm-up should take care of even the northern-most waters by month’s end, if not sooner. 


On the bigger lakes, including Schroon Lake and Lake George in the eastern Adirondacks, anglers will be targeting lake trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon during the later part of April both by boat and from shore, especially at Million Dollar Beach where anglers can wade. Lake George particularly sees action when water temps reach around 42 degrees and rainbow smelt begin to run in the tributaries.

Capital District

Striped bass anglers fishing the Hudson River up to the Troy Dam need to be aware of regulations implemented for 2020. The slot size limit is 18-28 inches total length with a  limit of one fish per day. There is no “trophy” class this year for stripers.


Kaaterskill Falls, including the viewing platform and connecting trails, was closed by DEC on April 6. The Kaaterskill Wild Forest will remain open to the public. The closure of the Kaaterskill Falls site is part of DEC’s statewide efforts to reduce the community spread of COVID-19, DEC is temporarily closing public access to the falls due to its unique features that do not provide for appropriate social distancing during the ongoing COVID-19 response.

Central New York

Lake Ontario: Brown trout are being taken by anglers trolling near shore with stickbaits or spoons. Steelhead are being found in the tributaries. Try egg sacs, beads and egg imitating flies either bottom bounced or fished under a float.


Oswego River: The flow is running at 5,560 cubic feet per second (cfs) as of April 3. Steelhead, and some brown trout, are being taken on beads, jigs, and egg sacs either fished under a float or bottom bouncing. The bridge to Leto Island remains closed. 


Salmon River: The river was way down being at 350 cfs as of April 3. Anglers are spread out through the river. Steelhead are being taken on egg sacs, beads, pink worms, jigs, or egg imitating flies either bottom bounced or fished under a float.

Finger Lakes/Southern Tier

Cayuga Lake: Lake trout are being taken in shallow water by anglers casting or trolling. Brown trout and Atlantic salmon fishing should start to pick up on the south end. Trolling in this area with stickbaits can often be good this time of year. The lake level is currently low so plan accordingly for launching.


Oneida Lake: The Cleveland Dock Fishing Access Site is closed until further notice due to site improvement construction. No new fishing activity to report.


Seneca, Canandaigua, Keuka, and Owasco Lakes: Rainbows are still being found in the streams, but there is also a lot of pressure.


Skaneateles Lake: The DEC launch was opened on Monday, March 9. As of April 3 the docks were not in yet. Anglers have been getting some perch and also some Atlantic salmon near shore.


Sodus Bay: Yellow perch are being taken in the bays with both small minnows or jigs working and they are being found in 10 to 20 foot of water.

Long Island

The big news was the April 1 opening day of the trout season. While most local waters are subject to special trout regulations permitting year-round trout fishing, the state-wide opening day still holds a special place in angler’s memories and fishing plans. 


While the current crisis has closed access to many of the lakes and ponds stocked in March, there was still plenty of opportunities for anglers to catch 1- and 2-year-old stocked trout. Anglers did well fishing trout worms, casting small spinners and swimming plugs, or casting streamers and woolly bugger patterns. The trout stocking season extends through April providing plenty of opportunities through next few months to land a few trout.


A few preseason stripers were reported by anglers catch-and-release fishing in Little Neck Bay, the North Shore Beaches and the ocean beaches west Jones Inlet. Most fish were caught on tins or thin swimmers. The majority of the stripers were between 12 inches and 18 inches long with a few fish approaching 24 inches. 


The offshore bottom fishing season for cod, haddock, pollock and ling has been difficult at best as most open and charter boats canceled all trips until later in April. Many private boaters have been hampered by the closing of many marinas and boat yards, keeping their boats in dry dock. Anglers who did make the trip offshore were rewarded with good fishing with most cod between 5 and 8 pounds. The best haddock fishing was on the East End with fish to 10 pounds reported. Similar-sized pollock were reported east of Shinneock Inlet.

Guy Zummo

Southeastern New York

Striped bass anglers fishing the Hudson River need to be aware of regulations implemented for 2020. The slot size limit is 18 to 28 inches total length with a creel limit of one fish per angler. 


In the Delaware River and its West Branch bordering Pennsylvania, the slot size limit is 28 to 35 inches total length with a creel limit of one fish per angler. 

Thousand Islands

Anglers were having some early-April luck with black crappies and yellow perch, which should continue to be targeted species until pike and walleye seasons open in May. The same should be expected for nearby Black Lake, including some solid bluegill action. 

Western New York

We hope everyone is always staying safe out there and practicing social distancing. April 1 was the traditional inland trout and salmon opener throughout New York State. This has very little impact on the Niagara Falls USA fishery because the waters of the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and its tributaries all fall under special Great Lakes regulations. Yes, you can fish all year for trout and salmon there. 


As we turned the page into April, there were some new developments you should be aware of. First, it was announced in late March that charter captains and guides have been deemed non-essential. They will have to wait until this horrible pandemic subsides before they can operate again. We’ll keep you posted. 


April 1 also kicked in some new fishing regulations for Lake Ontario and the tributaries. For Lake Ontario, the daily limit for steelhead drops from three to two as part of your fish totals per person. In the tributaries, the daily limit for brown trout drops from three to one fish per person. Steelhead will remain at one fish per person, but the minimum size for that fish (should you decide to keep one), must be at least 25 inches long now. The Niagara River is currently exempt from all these new regulations for the time being.


As far as some other fishing facts, the Town of Newfane Marina will not open for now. However, the launch ramp will remain open. In addition, the gas pumps are being converted to pay-at-the-pump and that project should be completed by next week.


Roy Letcher, of Newfane, reports that the pier action has been good in Wilson and Olcott. Cast Little Cleo spoons and stickbaits for primarily brown trout. You can also drift a float with an egg sac or a minnow to pick up a fish or two. Bullhead are also being caught in Wilson, Olcott and Golden Hill, but the water was muddy in some areas. When you can get on the lake for some trolling action, some brown trout are being caught with regularity using stickbaits along the shoreline inside of 20 feet. Some salmon are also being reported by trollers from the Niagara Bar to 30-mile Point. Recent rains gave the creeks a good shot of water flow and some are muddy for right now. It should improve quickly with mild weather in the forecast. All the launch ramps are open in the state parks here, as well as the town launch in Wilson. Streams are still holding trout, but they are on the way out. Suckers and bass are moving in.


Niagara River fishing has been good to very good. It will take a few days for the action to return after the severe storms blew through over the weekend. From shore, casting spoons, jigs or spinners will work. Drifting egg sacs or egg imitations will also produce a trout or two. 


Remember social distancing. If someone is fishing a spot, say in the lower Niagara River from shore, pay attention to how they are fishing the area, too. If the river current takes their lure downriver and they are working the shoreline back up, make sure you are giving adequate distancing from that individual for more than just the virus. Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle reported that she will be opening her doors for customers but using social distancing practices with one customer at a time at her Lewiston shop. 


From a boat, Kwikfish and MagLips will work well when the water is stained, and you have a southwest wind to help. Egg sacs and minnows will both work again as the waters start to clear and they are forecasting some decent weather at the end of the week. Lake trout are on the Niagara Bar.


Genesee River: DEC’s Region 9 Fisheries Office will be running an angler diary program on the Genesee River in Allegany and Wyoming counties from March 1 through Oct. 31, 2020. If you fish the Genesee River (even once) and would like to keep a diary for DEC, please call 716-379-6379. 


Orleans County: Late March precipitation brought the tributary flows back up. Flows in the Oak were medium and slightly stained with approximately two feet of visibility consisting of turbine water. They could yet go higher or dirtier with any flow changes at the Waterport Hydro Power Plant. 


Fishing pressure has been generally light, especially in downstream areas below the dam. The smallest tributaries, like Marsh Creek, are probably offering up the best last chance at steelhead before flows drop back down again and steelhead drop back to the lake after spawning.


Chautauqua Lake: Crappie catches are improving in the open lake, while the canals are producing mostly catches of smaller crappies and yellow perch with some keeper-sized crappies mixed in. Small jigs tipped with a small minnow, one-inch tube (or other small plastic) and fished under a float, works well for crappies. Look for bullhead along the shorelines, especially during low light periods.


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 lakewide 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 updates and annual reports that are posted on the DEC’s Lake Ontario Unit web page and through an email newsletter.

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