Report from the Dock
It will be a holiday of sorts when New York’s bass fishing season opens on June 20 (a week earlier on Lake Champlain). Although a catch-and-release season is in place for much of the state, many anglers still consider the opener, which is during Father’s Day weekend, to be of significance. In fact, there are legions of bass anglers who will not target them during the spawn and intentionally wait for the season to open. Meanwhile, the cooler water temperatures are contributing to some trout fishing action in places like the Adirondacks, where such conditions could prolong the season for anglers who typically back off when the waters warm. And, with charter boats now running across the state, the big, deep, cold-water lakes should begin to see lots of angling action for lake trout and salmon, of which New York has some real trophies. Get those down-riggers running!
St. Lawrence River
Fishing guides have been OK’d to commence operations and most report their phones ringing off the hook. With the water temperature just moving into the 50s, the pike have spawned but it looks like a delayed bass spawn, as has been the case for the past few years. There is always a 10-day to two-week lull in pike fishing right after the spawn, so they should are coming out of it right about now. In all probability, bass will still be on the beds on opening day and a bass removed from the nest spells disaster for the either the unhatched eggs or fry, as gobies quickly move in and devour them. Concerned anglers find themselves torn between the state telling them it’s legal to catch bass and their conscience’s reminding them of the benefits of leaving them alone until they move off the nests.
Fishing activity is picking up nicely, according to Rich Chapman, of Chapman’s Sport Shop, in Hammond. The crappie have spawned and have scattered around the lake in deeper water, making them a bit more challenging. Bluegills are biting well and should continue to throughout the balance of the warm weather season. Pike fishing has been more active and seems to be improving every week. Walleye are also on the bite if you know where to go and what to use, but walleye anglers are very tight lipped. With the warming waters bass are in the early stages of spawning and should be done by opening day. Anglers are reminded that it is illegal to pre-season fish for bass in this section of NYS.
Capt. Allen Benas, 1000 Islands Fishing Charters. 1000-islands.com
Although there was a warm spell in the final days of May, water temperatures remain cool in many Adirondack trout ponds; good news for anglers as the cooler water could extend their season well into June. Bass season opens on Lake Champlain on June 13, a week earlier than most of New York. Water temps are also likely impacting bass spawning, which could also happen later than normal. There is no catch-and-release bass season in Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties.
It’s getting late in the striped bass season, but it is not over. Anglers near the Troy dam expect a few days of top-water action before things wind down. With the trout streams stocked, anglers are enjoying trout fishing on waters like the Kayaderosseras Creek, where they’re catching some fine two-year-old brown trout that were stocked this spring.
Catskills/Southeastern New York
Fly-fishers should be getting excited on the Castkill trout streams with good fishing conditions expected. Sulphers and March Browns should emerge in a timely pattern. Meanwhile, on the Hudson, striper season is winding down.
Central New York
The flow was down some, running at 7,300 cubic feet per second (cfs). Try large stickbaits or jigs for walleye in the river. No word on the bullhead bite but with the warmer weather it should be picking up.
The river was at 750 cfs. Things are slow on the river which is normal for this time of year. The Lower Fly area closed on May 15th.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Walleye were being taken in 10 to 40 foot of water by anglers jigging or trolling. There are also some walleye being taken by anglers casting stickbaits from shore after dark. Pickerel are biting in the shallows on pretty much everything. Bullhead fishing should be getting better with the warmer weather.
Lake trout are spread out and are being taken in both shallow and deep water by anglers trolling or vertical jigging. Atlantic salmon are being taken near the surface.
Look for lake trout in 40 to 100 foot of water. Atlantic salmon are being taken near shore.
Lake trout are being taken near bottom in 60 to 80 foot of water. Jigging with white fluke style baits or spoons, or fishing with alewives are working.
Try trolling in 40 to 80 foot of water for lake trout.
Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna Rivers
With the stable conditions fishing should improve on the rivers. Look for walleye in the deeper holes. Catfishing should improve with the warmer weather.
The summer flounder (aka fluke) fishing improved with the warming of the South Shore inlets and North Shore harbors water temperatures causing the fish to become more active. Along the South Shore the standard go-to was spearing and squid strip combinations while along the North Shore, anglers reported that bucktails tipped with squid or Gulp Baits was the top producer. Anglers targeting fluke off the ocean beaches did well bouncing bucktails and plastic baits off the bottom.
The striped bass fishing along the South Shore has significantly improved with anglers reporting catching schoolie stripers and the occasional keeper using fresh skimmer clams and clam bellies at the inlet bridges from Shinneock Inlet west to Debs Inlet. Bluefish up to 10 pounds were mixed in with the stripers. Anglers reported that the best fishing was during the outgoing tides, with more than a dozen stripers and bluefish caught during many trips.
The amount of inshore bluefish reported is better this season than during the last few seasons with cocktail blues reported throughout the area by anglers targeting other species and by targeting bluefish themselves.
Stripers in the 20- to 30-pound class have worked their way to Shinneock Inlet and were feeding on the large schools of adult bunker schooling in 30 to 60 feet of water. Anglers reported catching these stripers live-lining bunker, trolling wire line or Mojo Rigs with bunker spoons or large shad bodies and by trolling Mann Stretch or similar plugs in the lower one-third of the water column.
Along the North Shore, the best striper fishing was reported during the early mornings along the harbor jetties and nearby beaches, including Mount Saini and Port Jefferson Harbors. Anglers reported that tins and poppers during first light and swimmers at night were the top baits. When the tide was running strong, anglers reported that bucktails were effective on the stripers. Stripers were also taken by fishing bunker chunks either by drifting or anchoring around the rock piles.
The porgy fishing was excellent in the Peconic Bays, in the Sound east of Port Jefferson and off Montauk and Orient Points. Many anglers reported catching limits of porgies, with 3-pounders common. Clam baits fished in conjunction with clam chum was the top choice for most anglers. Porgies were also caught on the beaches in the same areas on clam strips.
The weakfish fishing remained good with fish between 2 and 3 pounds reported throughout the Peconics and Gardiners Bays, the Quogue Canal and in many of the deeper canals along the South Shore. Small bucktails or plastic baits accounted for many of the weakfish. Some of the best weakfish action was reported by anglers either drifting around or casting sandworms from the beaches around Shelter Island. A few weakfish were reported in the Great South Bay by anglers targeting fluke fishing around Ocean Beach, West Channel and Dickerson’s Channel.
Anglers fly-rodding the back bays and shorelines reported a mix of stripers, bluefish, and fluke, along with the occasional weakfish. Spearing or sand eel imitations were productive as were juvenile bunker flies.
The giant bluefin tuna season reports a few tuna topping 300 pounds. Most of these tuna were caught between Debs and Jones Inlets in water as shallow as 50 feet deep. There were no reports of medium and school bluefins as of late.
Anglers targeting the offshore wrecks in 120 feet of water and deeper reported catching a mix of codfish, ling, bluefish and pollock. There were no reports of sharks as of late. The winter flounder season closed with no reports of fish taken.
The freshwater fishing was very good. Largemouth bass were caught on plastic worms, small swimmers and surface lures throughout the report area. Smallmouth bass were caught in Forge Pond along with largemouth bass. Anglers fishing the Peconic river reported a mix of largemouth bass, pickerel, crappies and other panfish. Bluegills, sunfish and yellow perch were caught by anglers using trout worms, grubs and small files in most ponds and lakes, with the occasional brown or rainbow trout.
Western New York
Lake Erie and tributaries
Anglers continue to see best walleye catches in the nearshore shallows at night. Trolling with shallow-diving stickbaits at speeds around 1.5 mph near rocky structure works well. Good spots to try include Shorehaven Reef, Bournes Beach, Green Hills, Van Buren Bay, Evans Bar, off Hamburg and near the mouth of Smokes Creek. However, any nearshore structure has potential. Daytime anglers report decent to good walleye catches by vertical jigging and trolling the deeper ledges outside of the traditional night grounds in 20-30 feet of water. Smallmouth bass are showing in decent numbers around nearshore structure and marina breakwalls. Sturgeon Point boat launch is closed due to sandbar at mouth.
In Lake Erie tributaries smallmouth bass are available. 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 works well, especially at night. The deeper holes in other creeks may hold catfish as well. Anglers can also catch catfish along the Lake Erie shoreline on calm nights, especially near stream inlets.
Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle is back operating again and she reports that the steelhead action has been especially good in the morning in Devil’s Hole before the water comes up. According to her husband, Capt. Steve Drabczyk, run an emerald shiner off a three-way rig to take your fish. Smallmouth bass have been chomping on tubes, swim baits and Ned rigs downriver around Peggy’s Eddy and Joe Davis State Park. Only artificial lures can be used during this catch and release season. The Niagara Bar at the mouth of the river off Fort Niagara around the green can continues to be a productive spot for king salmon and lake trout. Throw on a MagLip or a Kwikfish and use a three-way rig to bottom bounce, moving just fast enough to get the action out of your lure. There are some Coho salmon hanging out in the upper parts of the water column. If you see feeding birds on the surface, you will know that bait is around and that means the Coho salmon will be nearby. If you do catch any Coho salmon, save the head for a DEC study on these fish. Bags and forms can be found at Fort Niagara at the fish cleaning station, Bootleggers Cove Marina in Wilson, and the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott near the fish cleaning station. There is a freezer at all three locations for you to deposit your catch.
Walleye anglers are doing well at night by trolling and jigging along emerging weedlines and rocky shores in 5-15 feet of water. Shore anglers can also catch walleye during low-light periods by casting stickbaits. During the day, target depths of 30 feet of water and around the rims of the deeper holes in the north basin. Trolling with stickbaits and vertical jigging have both been productive.
The action has been fast and furious according to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott. Some of the best salmon fishing has been in 60 to 100 feet of water out front, as well as both east and west of the harbor. It has been primarily a spoon bite. Capt. Joe Oakes of Salmonboy Charters reports that the fishing was red hot with kings and lake trout being caught in 60 to 170 feet of water from Wilson to the power plant east of Olcott. He has been running stickbaits, spoons and flasher-fly combos in the top 100 feet of water depending on where he is. Capt. Bob Songin of Reel Excitement Charters reports that fishing is as good as it gets from out in front of Wilson to a couple miles west. There are plenty of kings anywhere from 80 to 140 foot of water. Magnum spoons have been the best, such as DW Carbon-14 super glow, white two face and a new one, a UV green skirt. Fish are coming anywhere from 30 to 70 feet down on the downriggers; ten color lead core lines on the boards, and divers at a number 2 setting out anywhere from 80 to 120 feet back behind the boat.
— Bill Hilts Jr., niagarafallsusa.com