Report from the Dock
Trout anglers across New York will be taking their last shots in the next few weeks as the season comes to a close on Oct. 15. For some, these are the best days of the entire year and come highly anticipated after a hot, dry summer. Salmon anglers who enjoy fishing on Lake Ontario tributaries are looking to the skies for rain, as drought conditions are having a negative affect. Bass fishing has slowed for many, but not in the 1000 Islands.
The smallmouth bass fishing continues to be excellent in the St. Lawrence River. Anglers are also catching their share of northern pike.
The first two weeks of October are tough on Adirondackers who both hunt and fish. With both big and small game seasons open and trout season winding down, many will have some decisions to make. There may no better time than now to catch some colorful Adirondack brook trout.
Creeks like the Kayaderosseras and the Batten Kill will see plenty of action from now until Oct. 15 when trout season closes. Anglers should research all stocked waters, including for fall stockings, for some late-season action. Another good bet is Grafton Lakes State Park’s trout ponds.
Catskills/Southeastern New York
Cooler early fall temperatures are making a positive difference now on most Catskill rivers for trout anglers. While most water flows are well within their historical ranges for this time of year, anglers are reporting active fishing with trout looking up for consistent dry fly action. This author has fished several rivers including the Esopus, Neversink, and Beaverkill rivers – all with temperatures coming down into the low sixties. Fly anglers using blue winged olives in sizes 18-22 will find receptive trout. On the other side, anglers using larger streamers in sizes 2-8 are finding steady action – especially for larger browns and rainbow trout.
Spin fishing anglers are also finding consistent action using the usual shallow diver hard baits and working deeper pools and seams in any Catskill river now. One solid bet for spin anglers now is river fishing for fall trout and smallmouth on the West Branch and upper main stem of the Delaware river. This is especially true as these river sections see a bit less fly angler action this time of year with mid-week excursions providing best opportunities to find good water with less pressure.
As brown trout start their fall migration to spawn and bass start to feed up for the winter, anglers should consider using the largest patterns they can find in their boxes. That means big streamer patterns for fly anglers and hard baits for spinning anglers that are 4 inches or larger. As the saying goes for this time of year, “go big or go home.”
David Dirks, dirksoutdoors.com
Central New York
Look for walleye in the 20 to 40 foot range by trolling or using blade baits. Bass fishing has been challenging so basically just cover water and try different baits. Keep an eye out for surface activity as young of year gizzard shad should be big enough for bass to start targeting. When you see this surface activity get there quickly and try lures like topwaters, stickbaits, or swimbaits.
The Onondaga Lake boat launch dedicated to Kenneth P. Lynch is now open. It’s located just off 690 by the entrance to the State Fair Orange Parking Lot. Bass fishing remains slow, so like for Oneida keep searching and trying different baits.
A few more salmon have been spotted in the river, but conditions are dry.
A few salmon have entered the river and are being taken in the lower river (Route 81 downstream). Due to the current low water level, and to ensure enough salmon make it to the hatchery for egg collection, The Lower Fly Section will remain closed until further notice.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Water fleas have been bad at times 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 70 to 90 foot of water by anglers vertical jigging. Trolling in 90 to 150 foot of water is also working. Look for bass on the f end with spinnerbaits, stickworms or jigs.
Trolling down 90 feet is producing some lake trout.
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 same 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.
Look for bass along the outside weed beds with spinnerbaits, rubber worms and stickworms.
Look for lake trout down 70 to 100 foot over 150 or more feet of water.
Try trolling 60 feet down with small spoons for the trout. Look for smallmouth bass and rock bass in 15 to 25 foot of water with tube jigs, drop-shot, and Ned-rigs.
Look for bass along the outside edge of weed beds with rubber worms and stickworms.
Water fleas have been a nuisance at times here as well. Lake trout are being taken in 70 to 90 foot of water by anglers trolling or vertical jigging.
Whitney Point Reservoir
Look for walleye with stickbaits, jigs or worm harnesses in the old river channel.
Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna Rivers
The Grippen Park boat launch is back open, construction has been completed. Try tube jigs or topwaters along shore for the smallmouth bass. Look for walleye in the deeper holes with hair jigs.
The striped bass fishing show significant signs of improvement with the best boat fishing reported on the east end including Montauk Point, where anglers reported that trolled parachute jigs and tubes in the rips and among the rock piles resulted in limits of stripers. Similar action was reported off Orient Point in the Gut.
The surf fishing for striped bass along the ocean beaches improved with some areas experiencing blitzes as there is a lot of bait, including mullet, bay anchovies and juvenile bunker tight to the beaches. There were a few keepers reported, but most of the stripers are shorts. Surfcasters also reported catching Spanish mackerel and false albacore off the South Shore jetties using thin tins and small poppers. Anglers fly rodding around the inlets either off the jetties, in kayaks or boats reported Spanish mackerel, a few false albacore, small stripers and bluefish on poppers, crease flies and spearing imitations.
There were a good number of bluefish between 2 and 5 pounds mixed in with the stripers both in the surf, and out to about 90-feet of water. Overall the bluefish fishing this season has been very good with some anglers reporting catching their first bluefish in several seasons.
Weakfish are showing signs of leaving as this seasons very good action has begun slowing with anglers reporting less weakfish in the Peconic Bays and in Gardiners Bay, as well as in the North Shore Harbors. There was a very good weakfish bite in the Great South Bay with 4- to 6-pound weakfish reported as well as good fishing in Shinneock Bay. Anglers also reported catching weakfish while targeting porgies, fluke and striped bass. The best weakfish action was on small plastics fished on a light jig head or small bucktail.
Overall the porgy fishing has improved with very good action reported off Port Jefferson, in the Peconics and off the North Shore beaches. Jumbo porgies were also reported in Block Island Sound and the offshore wrecks.
The sea bass fishing was very good, especially in Block Island Sound, on the wrecks in 90 feet of water and deeper, and off Orient Point, with numerous sea bass to 4.5 pounds reported. Mixed in with the sea bass were jumbo porgies, mackerel, ling, cunners and the occasional bluefish and false albacore. Inshore there were a lot of sea bass reported, put keepers were difficult to find. Fresh clams were the top bait inshore and offshore.
The fluke fishing action improved this report period, especially offshore where larger fish have moved close to the inlet mouths to take advantage of the juvenile bunker, bay anchovies, spearing and mullet exiting the inlets as the water temperatures in the inshore water temperature drop.
The offshore fishing has been hampered by heavy seas as a result of multiple offshore storm systems. Anglers that did find a favorable weather window reported yellowfin and bluefin tuna between 20 and 60 pounds along the 20- and 30-fathom lines while trolling spreader bars and plastic lures, and casting poppers and jigs fish attaching bait on the surface. Similar sized yellowfins and bluefin tuna were chunked at the Hudson Canyon. Mahi were caught in the same areas as the tuna, with some fish around the 10-pound mark. There was a good tilefish bite at the canyons.
Surprisingly, king mackerel have made an appearance and were caught between the 15- and 20-fathom lines and were caught while trolling deep diving plugs and Drone style spoons as well as jigging diamond jigs. This is the first-time reporting king mackerel in over 10-years of writing this column. A few cobia and jacks were reported as well both inshore and on the ocean artificial reefs.
There were few shark reports, likely due to the sea conditions and the good inshore tuna bite, but a few makos, brown and thresher sharks were reported along the 20-fathom line as well as a dusky caught while chunking at the Hudson Canyon. There is a lot of bait on the sharking grounds, so the sharks should be around for a few more weeks.
The snapper fishing was excellent, with snappers to 8 inches caught in nearly every canal, cove, and off most beaches and docks. These small bluefish are feeding heavily on spearing and juvenile bunker. Small tins, snapper poppers and spearing under a bobber resulted in non-stop action. The blue crab fishing remained strong in all the same locations as the snappers. Traps, killie rings and scooping crabs off the docks and pilings were all productive.
There was a very good inshore fishing for blowfish and northern kingfish in the coves adjacent to the inlets and in the deeper holes within the bays and harbors and off the docks along in the South Shore bays. Sandworms or clam strips were the top bait. Snappers, and small sea bass and porgies were often reported in the mix. The triggerfish fishing was very good along the South Shore inlet and North Shore harbor jetties on pieces of clams and squid.
The freshwater fishing remained strong with the cooler waters making the largemouth bass and panfish more active. Anglers fishing the Peconic River and East End lakes reported excellent action for largemouth bass, bluegills, yellow perch as well as a few pickerel. The panfish were cooperative throughout the report area, with trout worms, small spinners and fly-cast streamers were all productive.
Guy Zummo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Western New York
Catches have slowed, but weedlines in the north basin remain the best bet for walleye. Target walleye with bouncing rigs with wormharnesses and with stickbaits run near the bottom. Vertical jigging with jigging Rapala-style lures is also productive, especially tight to the weedline. Vertical jigging has also produced some catches around the rims of deeper holes. Look for that to improve as water temps drop. Anglers can target muskellunge along weedlines, or suspended 10-15 feet down over 20-35 feet of water. Fishing along weed edges and in pockets with live minnows and worms is a good bet for a mix of yellow perch, white perch, white bass and bluegill. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.
Lake Erie and tributaries
Unfavorable Lake Erie conditions have kept most anglers away this week. Those that did get out report decent to good walleye action between Cattaraugus Creek and Dunkirk. Depths of 75-90 feet off Cattaraugus Creek and to the west have produced the best and most consistent catches on gear run close to the bottom. Walleye are coming from similar depths off Dunkirk, but anglers have had to work harder for them. Walleye have seemingly not been favoring a particular lure type, color or presentation lately. If good marks are not translating into catches, change it up. For more information see the Walleye Fishing on Lake Erie page.
Lake trout are an underutilized species in Lake Erie, however late summer is a great time to fish for them. Target lakers below the thermocline where water temperatures are cooler, typically between 70 feet down and the bottom. Catches are generally best in 80-115 feet of water west of Dunkirk. Running spoons off downriggers works well.
Pier action is fair as king salmon, brown trout and northern pike are all being caught off Olcott according to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors. Blue has been the hot color this week, spoons and stickbaits. The water is still way too warm and water temperatures were around 64 degrees. J13 Rapalas are hitting a few fish. Boat traffic has slowed a bit and staging fish in the lake have had lock jaw. Better success is being reported out deep in 500-plus feet of water for steelhead and a mix of salmon year classes. Spoons and flasher-flies are working out deep; in close it is cut bait, j-plugs, flasher-fly, and magnum spoons. If you do head into the lake for steelhead, remember that the new daily limit is no more than 2 fish per person as part of your 3-fish aggregate for salmon and trout. Minimum size on steelhead in the lake is 21 inches. No salmon or trout have been reported at Burt Dam yet. When they do start showing up, minimum size is now 25 inches on steelhead. The daily limit is still one fish. Brown trout daily limit has also dropped from 3 to 1 fish, so be aware of the new change.
Mike Ziehm and Mike Rzucidlo, both of Niagara Falls, report decent success on king salmon migrating up into the Devil’s Hole area and beyond. No. 4 spinners were working their magic from shore. The NYPA fishing platform is still producing a few salmon in the corner near the tailrace. Off the other end of the platform it is bass, sheepshead, and a few other species according to Lisa Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Bass and walleye are being caught downriver, from the launch all the way down to the lake. Crabs and shiners will work off three-way rigs for bass. Worm harnesses for shiners. Remember to stay out of Canadian waters. A lake roll-over recently created an outstanding situation for bass action around the Coast Guard station and along Fort Niagara. When the lake flips, the bass will all congregate in the warmer river water coming down from Lake Erie. Watch the weather and the next time that happens, you know where to go.
— Bill Hilts Jr., niagarafallsusa.com