Report from the Dock
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, summer solstice occurred at 5:44 p.m. on June 20. That means our longest days are upon us. Summer means bass fishing, and across New York, there are endless opportunities for fishing both largemouth and smallmouth bass. The beauty of bass fishing is how simple it can be. Charter boats are seeing action in multiple forms. First, they are safely catering to their clientele. Better yet, they are putting them on fish, especially on the big lakes where they’re running downriggers for salmon and lake trout. Summer is also an opportune time to chase predator fish like muskies, northern pike and tiger muskies. Don’t forget, New York’s free fishing days are June 27-28. This is a perfect time to introduce someone new to fishing. Take someone along with you – young or old – and give them a few pointers. They may be the next license-buying angler.
St. Lawrence River
Water temperatures keep rising and the pike have fully spawned. Coupled with the muskie (and tiger muskie) season now open, the predator fishing season will get a lot of attention on the river. Bass too should be just about out of their spawn, which usually happens 10 days or two weeks following the pike. With no catch-and-release season on the St. Lawrence, bass anglers are happy that the season is now open but some may still find bass on their nests during the early weeks of the season. Perch fishing has been good, at times, as has black crappie fishing.
Now that spawning is over, the crappie continue to be harder to find as the water warms and will continue to be more scattered and in deeper water. Northern pike fishing should be full bore. Like the St. Lawrence River, bass (and pike) have spawned a little later this year, and anglers will be chasing both species as summer kicks in.
Trout fishing is still happening, mostly by anglers who plan to put them in the frying pan. But as the waters warm, many anglers are turning their attention to bass fishing.
Fishing for salmonids has been nothing short of incredible on Lake George, Lake Champlain and Scrhoon Lake. Lake trout and salmon catches have been high on all of these lakes. Salmon fishing got a boost in June with the stocking of 2,500 landlocks from the USFWS hatchery in Vermont.
A decent striper season has wrapped up and bass fishing on the Mohawk River and upper Hudson should be picking up. Ballston Lake is a perennial favorite for bass as well.
Catskills/Southeastern New York
Water levels were solid as recent rains helped many Catskill trout streams. More rain will be needed to maintain healthy stream levels. Hatches have been unpredictable, but stable and should be consistent into the early days of summer.
Central New York
Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna Rivers
With the stable conditions fishing should be improving on the rivers. Look for walleyes in the deeper holes with jigs. Catfishing should also be improving with the warmer weather.
Walleyes are being taken in both shallow and deep water by anglers jigging, casting and trolling. The 20- to 30-foot range has been productive lately. Pickerel are biting in the shallows on pretty much everything.
The river was at 185 cfs as of mid-June. Things are slow on the river which is normal for this time of year.
Try stickbaits or jigs for walleyes and spinnerbaits or large minnows for the northern pike.
Look for northern pike around weed beds with large minnows or spinnerbaits. Bass are biting, which is good for early summer action.
Whitney Point Reservoir
Try worms or cut-bait for bullhead and channel catfish. Look for walleye with stickbaits or worm harnesses in the old river channel.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Trolling in 35 to 50 foot of water is working for lake trout.
Lake trout are spread out and are being taken in both shallow and deep water by anglers trolling or vertical jigging. The 50- to 70-foot depth range has been good for anglers vertical jigging.
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 both working. Trolling 35 to 40 feet down over 100 foot of water with black and silver spoons is also working.
Try large stickbaits, swimbaits or spinnerbaits for tiger muskies. Smallmouth bass are being taken near shore.
Look for yellow perch in 20 to 30 foot of water on small minnows or jigs. Lake trout are being taken in 60 to 80 foot of water by anglers trolling. Brown trout are being taken by anglers trolling in the 30- to 40-foot range.
Look for lake trout in 40 to 100 foot of water. Atlantic salmon are being taken near shore.
Yellow perch, Atlantic salmon and some smallmouth bass are being taken in 10 to 20 foot of water. It’s about that time of year when the brown drake hatch should be starting.
June has been typically the month when the big striped bass, those in the 40- and 50-pound class show up in significant numbers, and this year they are right on time. These big bass are being caught in the ocean between New York Bight and Shinnecock Inlet with the best fishing reported between Fire Island Inlet and Debs Inlet, with a few reported inside of Jamaica Bay and in the South Shore Inlets. The top rigs for these big stripers was live-lining bunker and trolling Mojo Rigs or wire line with bunker spoons or large plastic shad imitations. Inside the inlets, live eel fished at night worked best.
Overall the striper fishing continued to improve. The range of the stripers has also expanded with consistent fishing reported from the New Jersey coast to Shinnecock Inlet. Anglers using clam bellies at the inlet bars and bridges reported catching dozen or more stripers per trip, with most fish between 5 and 15 pounds. The best fishing was reported when the outgoing tide coincided with first light and when the boat traffic was low, such as midweek. Anglers fishing the large bunker schools either by live lining or trolling bunker spoons or large plastic shad reported catching up to a half-dozen or so stripers up to 30 pounds with the occasional fish over 40 pounds.
South Shore surfcasters reported that the best striper fishing in the ocean was early in the day or at night. Clams and bunker chunks were productive during the day with live eels the more productive choice at night, especially in and around the inlet mouths. During the day, poppers and tins were the most productive lures.
Anglers targeting stripers in the Long Island Sound reported catching stripers between 5 and 20 pounds drifting fresh bunker chunks on the reefs and high spots from the Throgs Neck Bridge to Hortons Point. A few larger stripers were also reported. Bucktails tipped with Gulp Baits were also productive when cast among the rock piles lining the shore. Stripers between 5 and 15 pounds were reported by anglers tossing swimming plugs at night off the beaches and on poppers and tins during the day. Similar fishing was reported by anglers using 2/0-sized flies imitating small bunker or spearing. The best fishing for fly-rodders was first light and at dusk.
The bluefish fishing was off to a better start than in years past with bluefish between 2 and 3 pounds (aka tailor or bay-blues) being reported throughout the bays and harbors on both shores. Large bluefish, those above 10 pounds, were reported attacking the bunker schools mid-Sound and in the ocean. Surfcasters reported catching an even number of bluefish and stripers during each trip. Tins, bucktails and poppers were productive for blues when cast from the shore or boat, especially when schools of blues could be found pushing bait to the surface. Anglers targeting fluke and porgies also reported catching the occasional bluefish.
The fluke fishing improved significantly in the ocean in 30 to 90 feet of water and on the artificial reefs. The keeper-to-short ratio also improved in the ocean to about one out of five fluke caught. The fishing in South Shore bays showed signs of slowing deep in the back of the bays as the fish moved toward the inlets seeking cooler and cleaner water, thereby making the incoming tide the top tide. The standard spearing and squid combination was the most consistent bait, with whole squid or six-inch strips of bluefish fillets the better choice for fluke over 5 pounds in the ocean. Surfcasters reported fluke caught on bucktails and tins fished close to the bottom.
In the Sound, the fluke fishing improved with fluke to 3 pounds common. The best fishing was reported in 15 to 30 feet of water by anglers bouncing bucktails tipped with squid or spearing off the bottom and by anglers drifting squid and spearing combinations. Similar to the South Shore beaches, along the North Shore beaches fluke were reported caught on bucktails and tins fished close to the bottom. Sea robins and a few clear nosed skate were reported mixed in with the fluke in all locations. A few sundials were reported caught by anglers fishing for fluke off the North Shore beaches.
The porgy fishing was excellent in the Sound, in Gar-diners Bay and in Peconic Bay areas, as well as off Montauk and Orient Points. Limits of porgies were common with fish to 3 pounds reported in many catches. Clam strips and clam chum was the top combination. A few weakfish and bluefish to 5 pounds were mixed in with the porgies in the bays. Blowfish were also reported. Jessup’s Neck and Robins Point were notable hot spots as well as Moriches and Shinnecock Bays. A fair number of porgies were also caught on the ocean artificial reefs and inshore wrecks.
Scott Jeffery from East End Bait and Tackle reported that anglers fishing the Shinnecock Canal caught a mixed bag of porgies, blowfish, bluefish, stripers and weakfish and noted that this is a great spot to take the kids fishing.
At the canyons, anglers reported catching bluefin, yellowfin and bigeye tuna while trolling spreader bars and large plastics. Most of the bluefin were around 40 pounds with the yellowfin to 60 pounds and the bigeye tuna to 250 pounds. Closer inshore, bluefin were reported along the 30-fathom line by anglers trolling spreader bars or by casting large poppers or flat-sided jigs into schools of breaking bluefins. Most of the inshore bluefins ranged between 20 and 40 pounds with the occasional 60-pounder reported.
The freshwater fishing remained very good. Largemouth bass were caught on plastic worms, small swimmers and surface lures throughout the report area with first light and late in the afternoons being the best time. Smallmouth bass were caught in Forge Pond along with largemouth bass and the occasional walleye. 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.
Western New York
Anglers continue to report a good walleye bite along weed edges in 10 to 15 feet of water, in both basins. Trolling with stickbaits has worked well, however jigging along edges or in pockets within the weeds is also productive. Yellow perch are also available along weed edges and readily hit small minnows. Look for largemouth bass around docks and weed beds.
Lake Erie and tributaries
The walleye night bite is tapering off as daytime anglers are seeing more consistent walleye catches. Anglers out of Buffalo are doing well by bottom bouncing in 30 to 40 feet of water off the windmills, including some limit catches. Out of Cattaraugus Creek and to the west, trollers are catching walleyes in 50 to 55 feet of water. Off Barcelona, anglers are marking lots of fish in 30 to 60 feet of water, but fishing has been slow with boats averaging two or three walleyes. Sturgeon Point Marina has been dredged and is now open for launching.
Yellow perch fishing has been decent to good off Cattaraugus Creek, with some limit catches reported. Live emerald shiners, fathead minnows and salted emeralds fished at the bottom has worked well in 52 to 55 feet of water. There are still smallmouth bass in all of the Lake Erie tributaries, with better numbers in the larger streams. Cattaraugus Creek is the best option when in fishable condition.
Fishing is picking up out of Olcott according to Capt. Joe Oakes of Salmonboy Sportfishing as there is a lot of bait gathering between 180 and 350 feet of water. Recent winds have been pushing the fish around either to the west or east of Olcott, but keep searching until you start marking bait. Once you find the bait you will find the salmon and steelhead. The bite has been between 40 and 100 feet down with a mix of spoons and flasher-fly combos. Also, this year the mature salmon are big. Oakes has been getting several kings in that 23- to 25-pound range every week. This is great news with the Summer Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby set to start on June 27. The month-long derby will be held with over $32,000 in cash prizes up for grabs. Check out www.loc.org for details, including special safety precautions.
Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors reports good action for pike and bass in the creeks this week. Nightcrawlers have been good baits to entice fish to hit, in Wilson or Olcott harbors. She also reports that fishing is tough but 200 to 280 feet of water right out in front of Olcott has been producing a few big kings over 20 pounds. Depth varies. Mag spoons in green, white, black, and lemons. Chartreuse and glow flies or meat rigs are working, too. Some perch have been coming from 12 Mile Creek and Tuscarora over in Wilson. She also had a report that orange-colored spoons were working well on steelhead in the lake. Capt. Mike Johannes, of Ransomville, has been doing good about 6 miles west of Wilson in about 150 to 300 feet of water. Mostly dark spoons such as Carbon 14 and Seasick Waddler patterns have been best in the magnum size. Some fish have come on divers 150 feet back with 8-inch e-chip flashers and flies, too.
Whether you are fishing above or below Niagara Falls in the Niagara River, pay attention to the border. Canada has once again shifted its policy to keep anglers and boaters from entering Canadian water space, announcing huge fines and possible boat confiscation for violators. The change took place June 1, and it will be revisited and could be extended again.
Lower river action has been hampered by the arrival of the moss, according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Fishing has been a bit slow. There are still a few steelheads up in Devil’s Hole believe it or not with water temperatures into the mid-60s. Bass action has been tough. Best spots have been at Joe Davis and the Coast Guard drift for boats. Tubes work best. From shore, Mike Rzucidlo, of Niagara Falls, has been using jigs. Bass action has been tough. About the only fish really cooperating has been sheepshead, and he has caught some bruisers recently. On the Bar near the green buoy, Capt. Frank Campbell, of Lewiston, reports some decent coho action on MagLips off three-way rigs. Upper river bass action has been tough according to Capt. Ryan Shea. Fish are on the beds. Ned rigs have been producing a few fish, but you must work for them. There are some walleyes around, too.
Fishing could be a bit tougher for the early Great Lakes muskellunge and tiger muskie seasons due to the dreaded Niagara River moss that is flowing down through the system. One thing that could help is that live bait will once again be an option in places like the lower Niagara River for bass. Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston sends word that it has been more of a mixed bag of fish in the river including white bass, rock bass, smallmouth bass and sheepshead leading the way. A few straggler trout have been caught but most of those cold-water fish have left the system and returned to Lake Ontario. Remember to stay out of Canadian waters, especially in the upper Niagara River where most of the west river falls across the international line.