Report from the Dock
Tropical Storm Fay brought some much needed rain to southern and eastern New York, but it was only temporary relief from the warm temperatures that continue to be factor on streams throughout the state. Fishing for warm-water species like bass and northern pike remains solid, as does the action for deep-water trout and salmon in the Finger Lakes, Lake Ontario and the deeper lakes in the Adirondacks. Walleye fishing in Oneida Lake continues to be productive.
Bass and pike continue to be the rage. The status of a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament scheduled for Waddington July 23-26 could come into question given that a recent tournament on Cayuga Lake was canceled.
Lake trout and salmon fishing continue to be productive on the bigger lakes and salmon especially have been the highlight of the summer. Fly-fishers, especially those who practice catch-and-release, are taking a break amid low water levels and high water temperatures on many streams and rivers. Typical of summer, bass and pike fishing remain the go-to fishing activities. A Bassmaster Elite Series tournament remains scheduled for Plattsburgh July 30 Aug. 2.
Anglers should try Grafton Lakes State Park in Rensselaer County now. At an elevation of 1,5000 feet, waters tend to be cooler. The combination of three ponds – Long, Shaver, Mill and Second Ponds offer anglers looking for variety of fish to target will find action there now. Shaver and Long Ponds offers the deepest water of the three and is stocked with brown and rainbow trout but the main effort this time of year will be on largemouth bass, pickerel, and yellow perch. All ponds have good boat launch facilities. No boat rentals are currently available – so bring your own non-motorized boat. With New York’s canals now open to boaters, anglers are targeting bass on the Mohawk. There have been no reports on the walleye fishing.
Catskills/Southeastern New York
In the rivers, stick to the larger waters when the heat remains consistently high and fish early morning or later in the day into evening hours. As the trout action slows down on most Catskill rivers right about now – look for consistent action on the main stem of the Delaware river – and concentrate your efforts on the faster sections – riffles, pocket water, boulders – of the river where oxygen levels remain higher. Walleye action is found in the deeper Delaware holes and in areas where feeder streams provide slightly cooler water into the Delaware. Hudson river anglers targeting largemouth bass are reporting consistent hatches along just about any shoreline structure. White mouse (topwater) patterns run on lily pads and other weedy areas are producing well now.
For trout, reservoir release waters like the East Branch of the Delaware remain viable for trout with some consistent caddis, sulfur and blue wing olive hatches. Anglers are reporting that water below the Harvard area is warming up the low 70’s and not productive. Fishing closer to the water releases is the only logical option right now. West Branch of the Delaware has fishable flows and provides slightly better water temperatures than most other rivers in the area. Some reasonable shower activity can help reactivate the trout when fishing slows so watch the weather patterns and look for those overcast and steady rain days to fish. Most anglers are finding success fishing variations of sulfur hatch patterns in sizes 16-18. No matter what river you fish have a water thermometer handy at all times and check water temperature regularly.
On the ponds, the New York City reservoirs are fishing well now with the Cannonsville, Schoharie, Neversink, and Pepacton reservoirs producing good deep-water trout action and some consistent topwater action in the evenings for smallmouth bass. All four of these reservoirs allow recreational boating so access is really excellent on the large impoundments. Smallies can be found in various depths depending on the time of day and weather. Start with a 4-6 inch soft plastics of your choice with 3/8-ounce leadhead – pumpkin, tan, and purple sparkle patterns are consistent producers when nothing else seems to be working. Trout can be found now in depths between 30 and 40+ feet and anglers who are willing to physically troll these reservoirs (no motorboats allowed) deep running hard baits will find the key to catching outsized trout now. All NYC reservoirs have special fishing and boating regulations and require permits to fish them. Go to nyc.gov/dep/recreation for more information.
David Diks, dirksoutdoors.com
Central New York
The rebuilt Cleveland Dock is now open. Walleye are still being taken in both shallow and deep water by anglers jigging, casting and trolling. The 20- to 40-foot range has been productive lately for anglers trolling with worm harnesses or jigging with blade baits. The afternoon bite seems to be better at the moment. Pickerel are biting in the shallows on pretty much everything. Look for bass in shallow water and around the shoals and try stickworms, stickbaits, and jigs. Remember there are a lot of pickerel out there so you may want to use a wire leader if using an expensive or one of your favorite lures.
The flow is up following early July storms and is running at 716cfs as of July 10. Try large stickbaits or jigs for walleye. For bass try crayfish or tube jigs. The bridge to Leto Island remains closed, and there are mandatory personal flotation device (PFD) zones on the river.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Trolling 30 to 50 feet down over 100 foot of water is producing some lake trout.
Lake trout are spread out and are being taken in both shallow and deep water by anglers trolling or vertical jigging. The 60 to 150 foot depth range has been good for anglers vertical jigging. No word on water fleas yet but be prepared to deal with them just in case.Look for bass on the north end with spinnerbaits, stickworms or jigs. There are a lot of pickerel here as well so you may want to use a wire leader as suggested under Oneida Lake.
Water fleas have been making trolling difficult at times. Lake trout are being taken near bottom in 115 to 120 foot of water by anglers fishing alewives near bottom. Jigging at those some depths with white paddle tail plastics is also working. Trolling 65 to 70 feet down over 100 to 120 foot of water with rainbow colored spoons is also working for lake trout.
Try large stickbaits, swimbaits or spinnerbaits for tiger musky in the north end. Smallmouth and largemouth bass are being taken near shore on stickworms and jigs.
If you catch a tiger musky that has been tagged, the tag should be located near the dorsal fin and be gray in color, please do not remove the tag if releasing the fish. Write down the tag number, length of fish, and location of the catch and either send an email to email@example.com or call 607-753-3095 ext. 213 to report your catch.
Water fleas have been a nuisance over the last few weeks so be prepared to deal with them if trolling. Sometimes using a heaver pound test line helps avoid some of the fleas. Vertical jigging is also an option if they get too bad. Lake trout are being taken in 60 to 80 foot of water by anglers trolling.
Look for lake trout in 60 to 80 foot of water with spoons.
Look for smallmouth bass and rock bass near shore with stickworms, tube jigs and Ned-rigs.
Look for bass along the inside and outside weed beds with topwaters, spinnerbaits, rubber worms and stickworms. For northern pike try around weed beds with large minnows or spinnerbaits.
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. Try crankbaits and spinnerbaits near shore for smallmouth bass.
Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna Rivers
Try tube jigs or topwaters along shore for the smallmouth bass. Look for walleye in the deeper holes with hair jigs.
The saltwater fishing has been outstanding, both inshore and offshore, with the offshore action taking a bit of a hit due to the large seas created by Tropical Storm Fay. The large schools of bunker have attracted thresher sharks of 150 pounds as well as a few brown sharks of 75 pounds within a few miles of the South Shore inlets. These sharks are attacking the bunker schools located between 60 and 80 feet of water along the South Shore. Anglers reported catching these sharks while targeting stripers and bluefish, or by drifting live bunker on a wire leader and circle hook around the schools of bunker.
Further offshore, along the 20-fathom, line makos to 150 pounds, brown sharks to 100 pounds and a few blacktip sharks around 75 pounds have been reported. Also, threshers 350 pounds and larger have been reported. Along the 30-fathom line there are some blue sharks up to 125 pounds added to the mix of sharks.
The striped bass fishing was very good with stripers in the 20- to 30-pound class attacking the schools of bunker along the South Shore from New York Bight to Montauk Point, and in the Eastern Sound. The larger fish, those over 30 pounds, are moving toward the East where the water is a few degrees cooler than west of Moriches Inlet. The gut and race were top producers of stripers for anglers using bucktails, jigs and live eels, with the outgoing tide the better choice. A few 50-pound stripers were reported.
Anglers reported good striper action in the South Shore inlets drifting live bunker and eels at night, and clam bellying during the day. But this action has begun to slow down with the warmer water temperatures. There were very consistent reports of schools of stripers being caught from both the North and South Shore beaches on sandworms, clams and bunker chunks, with tins, swimming plugs and flies slightly less productive. The best action was early morning and late in the early evenings.
Bluefish were caught wherever the stripers were found. Bluefish in the 10-pound class were found under the schools of bunker. Smaller blues, those typically less than 3 pounds, were caught by anglers targeting fluke in the South Shore inlets, on the artificial reefs, and in Peconic and Gardiners Bays by anglers targeting porgies and fluke.
The blue claw crabs have been cooperating with large crabs being caught in traps from the docks on both shores and by boat anglers targeting them at night.
There is a very good mix-bag inshore bite with triggerfish, porgies, kingfish, sea bass, fluke and blowfish eating squid strips and clam baits fished on the bottom. The best action was reported by anglers fishing the jetty rocks and nearby sand, and by boaters fishing deeper holes within the harbors and bays. The porgy bite in the Peconics remained very good with a few weakfish being caught in the deeper holes. Triggerfish were also caught on the buoy chains in and around the inlets.
The fluke fishing is generally good, with a lot of shorts caught for each keeper. Fluke of 5 pounds were caught in the ocean between 60 and 80 feet of water, around Cholera Banks, off the south side of Montauk Point and off Orient Point. Along the North Shore, the best fluke fishing was found at the mouths of the harbors in 15 to 30 feet of water, with bucktails tipped with squid or spearing the top producers. In all areas the standard squid and spearing combo was a reliable producer.
The offshore wrecks in 60 feet of water and deeper have been producing limits of keeper sea bass with some jumbo porgies and ling mixed in. Excellent sea bass fishing was reported off Montauk and Orient Points. Jigs as well clams were the top producers for the larger sea bass. Smaller sea bass are being caught in the bays and inshore artificial reefs, mostly on clams. The porgy bite in the East End bays and off the North Shore beaches remained strong on fresh clam strips. An occasional codfish was reported on the deeper wrecks.
Bluefin tuna over 400 pounds continued to be caught offshore along the 30-fathom line by anglers jigging. Bluefin up to 90 pounds were caught on poppers and by trolling plastics and spreader bars in the same areas, with the general trend of the fish moving east of Moriches Inlet. Bluefin and a few bigeye tunas were trolled at the canyons during the day and chunked at night. Typical bluefins were up to 90 pounds and bigeyes to 250 pounds. The yellowfin tuna bite was very slow.
The freshwater fishing remained good, with the best fishing occurring during low light conditions. Largemouth bass responded to plastic worms, small swimmers and surface lures. 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 see good walleye action on the outside of weed edges in the north basin. Trolling or bottom bouncing with worm harnesses, and casting jigs has been productive. Anglers are catching walleye both night and day, but the bite can turn off at times of higher boat traffic. Muskellunge are also showing along weedlines. Target musky by casting large 6 to 8-inch stickbaits and jerkbaits along weedlines or casting and retrieving over the top edges of weed beds.
Lake Erie and tributaries
In a nutshell, west is currently a better bet for walleye. Although there have still been some slower days in the more productive areas. Walleye fishing has recently been quite tough for most anglers out of Buffalo. Anglers drifting or slow trolling (0.8-1.2 mph) and bottom bouncing with worm harnesses in 40-55 feet of water have done best, averaging about 2-3 walleye per boat. At those depths, you will need 4 to 6-ounce sinkers to effectively stay near/at the bottom. From Sturgeon Point to west of Cattaraugus Creek, anglers are catching fair numbers in 50-60 feet of water on lures run around mid-column. West of Dunkirk has been a bright spot with trollers doing well in 55-65 feet of water. Renosky stickbaits have been productive when run between 30 feet down and the bottom. Trollers out of Barcelona are picking up modest numbers of walleye in 50-60 feet of water on gear run between 20 feet down and the bottom.
Smallmouth bass fishing has been relatively slow, but there have been some better reports in 25-35 feet of water. The key is to find rocky bottom structure such as reefs, rock piles and drop-offs. Ned rigs, jigs with swimbaits, tube jigs, live minnows and crayfish are good bass offerings.
Lake Erie Ontario
Super-hot temperatures in the 90s continue to plague outdoor activities. However, the fishing action on Lake Ontario has been just as hot for the Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Summer Derby continuing through July 26. Fishing has actually been very good up and down the lake. Ed Dlugozima of Mercer, Penna. took the holiday weekend to fish out of Olcott in Lake Ontario. Following the advice of the report, he headed out into the lake looking for bait. When they found a pod, they focused their attention around it using spoons and meat rigs in 220 to 240 feet of water slightly west of Wilson. They couldn’t believe how many steelhead were hanging around grabbing spoons, so they eventually switched over to a meat program at a slower speed and they were rewarded with some beautiful mature kings. Their biggest was over 24 pounds, reeled in by Mike Altman of New Castle, PA. Capt. Mike Johannes of On The Rocks reported a great trip on the 4th holiday in 300 to 360 feet of water straight north of Wilson with Brad and Kelsi Poeller of Lockport (Brad was on leave from the Army, stationed in Colorado), with brothers Parker and Landon Costello and their dad Kyle, also of Lockport. They had 20 fish on and boated 11, including the biggest of the day at over 21 pounds by Kelsi. The hot flasher-fly combo was 220 feet back on a diver, using a UV paddle and a Pro-Am fly. There were a few spoons that caught fish consistently, such as the Road Toad, the Carbon 14 and the Sea Sick Waddler to name but a few. Several steelhead were caught on sliders in the upper part of the water column. Riggers were 50 to 70 feet down
Moss is getting better in the Niagara River according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. The NYPA Fishing Platform has been a good spot for bass when it is open. Call 286-6662 for updates. From shore in the gorge, Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls reports 7-8 feet of visibility and bait is more spread out which has slowed fishing there. White bass and smallmouth are showing up. Some bass success around Lewiston and Youngstown from boats, drop-shotting plastics. Ned rigs were working on the Niagara Bar for bass. Walleye have been caught on the Stella Drift using worm harnesses off 3-way rigs. Upper river bass action has also been good on Neds. There was a lot of sheepshead around as well. If you catch a musky, try not to take that fish out of the water. They will already be stressed enough after a fight. Lake Erie was 74 degrees today, just 1 degree away from a record for the summer.
Water temps off the Orleans County coast of Lake Ontario are setting up for terrific downrigger action on kings, coho and especially steelhead rainbow trout. And, some anglers have reported hitting the high flying Atlantic salmon. Best catch zone has become around 120 to 220 feet and anywhere from Bald Eagle, past Point Breeze, to Green Harbor