Report from the Dock
The Autumn Equinox occurs at 3:20 p.m. EST on Sept. 22. Can fall come soon enough? As daylight decreases and the days get cooler, changes in brooks, rivers, lakes and ponds transpire, sometimes almost on a daily basis. Fall rains are always a factor. Trout anglers, especially stream/river anglers with fly-rod in hand, should be back on the banks soon. Bass anglers will be keeping an eye on water temperatures and vegetation alike.
1000 Islands Region
Michael Bell, from Chapman’s Bait Shop, reports, as the water drops back into the low 70s the fishing is steadily improving. Crappies and bluegills are pushing towards the mouths of creeks and the Indian River on the lake with live bait on a small jig/hook (spikes, worms, or small minnows) under a float producing best. You can also rig 1- to 2-inch plastics on small jig heads under floats if you enjoy artificial baits. Casting spinnerbaits parallel to weed edges and hollow body frogs over the tops of matted weeds continue to produce catches of largemouth bass.
Joe ,from the 1000 Islands Bait Store, reports anglers using the drop shot rig in 25 to 30 feet are catching consistent 3- to 4-pound smallmouth bass. The overall average size of bass in the river the past 60 days has been very consistent. Walleye anglers are having great success casting Erie Deerie lures across the deeper shoals with weeds. The northern pike bite has slowed considerably but some fish are still being caught.
Excursion Charters reports that thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Ida and hard northeast winds the lake in the Golden Crescent has turned the lake over scattering the salmon all over. The usual hot spots like the trench are void of salmon. Salmon have been incidentally caught by walleye anglers in relatively shallow waters hitting walleye stick baits. Walleye fishing is more consistent right now with fish hitting deep diver stick baits trolled from in-line planner boards. Best baits have been Rapala Husky Jerks, Reef Runners and Berkely Flicker Minnows. The walleye fisherman experiencing good catches fishing areas around the Calf Island spit and both little and big Gallo islands anywhere between 20 and 40 feet of water.
New York Fishing Adventures reports the smallmouth fishing remains consistent with the dropshot out-shining other presentations and the Ned rig coming in the close second for fish holding in the 20- to 30-foot zone. For live bait anglers, soft shell craws remain a steady producer with leeches producing as well. The shallow walleye bite in and around the shoals is almost nonexistent, a few fish were on the shoals, but they seem to have vacated the area. The perch fishing in Henderson Bay is improving with catches of 10- to 12-inch fish being caught using flathead minnows in 16 to 25 feet of water.
Captain Burnie Haney, New York Fishing Adventures, burniehaney.com
Anglers are getting back to trout fishing now that the waters are cooling of a bit. Lake Clear Wabblers with a worm trailer are a perennial favorite. Bass fishing remains productive, as does lake trout fishing in the bigger, deeper lakes.
Capital District/Upper Hudson Valley
The Mohawk River has producing some solid bass, especially smallmouths as of late In fact, bass fishing has been solid everywhere in the region. Trout anglers are hoping waters will cool down soon.
Catskills/Southeastern New York
Conditions for trout are hit or miss at the moment but with the hope that cooler conditions and a bit less monsoon rains will help improve fishing. Anglers who are trying to fish in between the occasional rains have found success in fishing higher water levels but focusing on side channels and shoreline structures. Most streamer patterns are working well when water levels are higher. Stick with terrestrial patterns like hoppers, ant, and beetle patterns in sizes 10 through 14.
David Dirks, dirksoutdoors.com
Central New York
Though there doesn’t seem to be an abundance of gizzard shad at this time, still keep an eye out for bird activity. As bass chase shad to the surface the birds take advantage of the shad being close to the surface. So, if you see birds diving get to the area quickly and try top waters, jerkbaits, or swimbaits. Try for walleyes in the 15- to 30-foot zone with blade baits.
Look for bass in the bay around the vegetation with Texas-rigged worms or spinnerbaits. Try small minnows or jigs for perch.
East Lake Ontario
The king salmon are biting well in 30 to 150 feet of water depending on wind direction and temperature. A few fish have made their way into the harbor and up the river. River anglers are having some luck drifting egg sacks. The lake fishing remains excellent using Spin Doctors and Atomic Flies and Michigan Stinger Spoons along with a few J-Plugs. The brown trout fishing is good most days in 60-degree water at the bottom primarily using Michigan Stinger Spoons.
The Salmon fishing remains good in front of the Smoke Stack in 80 to 150 feet of water using Paddle and Flies or cut bait rigs mixed with a few Spoons. A few salmon have been reported in the lower part of the river, but the water temperature is holding them back from making their way farther up.
A fair number of salmon have made their way into the river from the estuary as far north as Town Pool with a few being caught each day. Many are staged just out in front of the river in 30 to 100 feet of water, and are being caught with a steady J-Plug. Also a fair number of salmon are hitting Spin Doctor Paddles with Atomic Flies. A few brown trout are mixed in the staging water with the salmon and are biting occasionally on a Paddle with Fly or Spoon. The lake trout fishing remains good north of the river in 140 feet of water using cow bells.
Clarence G. Chamberlain, Carogabait@gmail.com
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Look for lake trout in 60 to 150 feet of water vertical jigging, or trolling over 100 foot of water and out.
There may still be a “no wake” rule in place to halt the spread of harmful algal blooms.
Onondaga County had ordered a “no wake zone” and for all watercraft on Skaneateles Lake to keep speeds under 5 mph due to risk of algal blooms and erosions. This may or may not be in effect at press time and anglers should contact the county to confirm.
The offshore fishing was hampered a bit by the large waves generated by the recent tropical storms and hurricanes. That said, the big news continues to be the outstanding bluefin tuna bite occurring off the Rockaways and west into New York Bight. Anglers are reporting bluefins 300-pounds and larger caught on live bunker. This is reminiscent of the 1970s when the giant bluefin tuna was a major fishery in the New York Bight area. Anglers fishing further to the east reported catching a few bluefins of similar size on free-fall jigs and trolled plastic baits, as well as live bunker. Bluefins to 90-pounds, skipjacks, false albacore and mahi were reported by anglers trolling plastics and casting plugs to schools of breaking fish along the 20- and 30-fathom lines. A mix of yellowfin and bluefin tuna were reported by anglers fishing the canyons, but many anglers are taking advantage of the inshore fishery.
Anglers targeting sharks reported catching makos to 150 pounds, threshers to 450 pounds, brown sharks to 100 pounds, along with a few hammerheads. The most consistent fishing has been along the 20-fathom line. During the last few years, threshers, browns and small makos have been caught well inside the 20-fathom line, and at times right off the ocean beaches. This year the inshore sharking has been better than in recent memory. This has opened a new fishery for anglers fishing the near-shore ocean waters, giving anglers big-game opportunities.
Spanish mackerel and false albacore continued to be reported by anglers fishing of the jetties at first light. These fish were typically caught on thin tins retrieved very fast. A few bluefish to 5 pounds were also reported, with the fishing best at first light and at dusk. Trigger fish, small sea bass, porgies and bergalls were also reported caught off the jetties and surrounding beaches on small pieces of squid, clams, and sandworms.
The fluke fishing remained inconsistent, with some days washouts while other days good. The keeper to short ratio is typically around 1 in 10 Inside the bays and in the Long Island Sound. Offshore the best action was on the around the artificial reefs, around the wrecks, and structure. Inshore the best action was reported on squid and spearing combos, and on bucktails tipped with squid, spearing, or sand eels with fluke in the 4- to 5-pound class common.
The porgy fishing in the Peconics, in the Sound and off Montauk and Orient Points remained very good, with many anglers limiting out on each trip. Porgies were reported caught from most of the beaches, jetties, and artificial reefs throughout the report area, with fresh clams the top bait.
The snapper fishing remained excellent with anglers reporting snappers off all local docks and beaches. The snappers are around 7- to 8-inches long and were caught on spearing fished under a bobber, snapper poppers, and small tins. Anglers fishing off the beaches reported snappers in the surf line taking small tins and bucktails. The blue claw crab fishing remained very good with anglers netting them off dock piles, using crab traps, or scooping them off the surface after dark.
A few striped bass were reported, mostly shorts off the ocean and North Shore beaches. The water temperatures are in the 70s, but are beginning to cool. As September comes to a close, large stripers will work their way down from Cape Cod area and fall run for stripers will start in earnest. The best striper and bluefish fishing were reported off Montauk Point by anglers diamond jigging or trolling parachute jigs or tubes over hard spots and reefs, and through the rips. Stripers to 20 pounds were typical along with 10-pound bluefish.
The freshwater fishing is as good as it gets, with largemouth bass, white and yellow perch, bluegills, crappies, and pickerel active and aggressive throughout the report area. The larger lakes, including Blydenburgh Lake and Fort Pond, have had a very good bite of largemouths to 3 pounds, with plastic worms fished slow a top pick.
Guy Zummo, email@example.com
Western New York
Walleye fishing remains slow. Anglers are scraping up some catches along weed-lines in the early morning hours, and around the deeper holes during the day. Vertical jigging has worked best for walleyes that are tight to the bottom. Weed beds are a good bet for a mix of yellow perch, white perch, bluegill and white bass.
Lake Erie and tributaries
The waters off Cattaraugus Creek have been very productive. Anglers report very good walleye action over a wide area in 65 to 80 feet of water, including many limit catches. Most walleyes are suspended between 50 to 65 feet down. Anglers out of Dunkirk are seeing decent catches at similar depths. Depths of 50 to 70 feet of water are a good bet out of Sturgeon Point, where anglers are catching both suspended walleyes and some off the bottom with bottom-bouncing techniques.
Yellow perch fishing has been a bit spotty off Cattaraugus Creek. Searching around for favorable marks on the bottom can pay off. There have also been numerous reports of suspended yellow perch mixed in with walleye catches. Depths of 100- to 125 feet of water west of Dunkirk has been productive for lake trout. Trolling spoons or flasher-fly combos between an established thermocline and the bottom is a good bet.
Larry Wills, of Lewiston, was fishing the Niagara Bar and slid off the drop into 185 feet of water when he hit a big salmon using the 450-foot copper and an e-chip paddle teaser program. His secret “bait” was a MC Rocket, an artificial herring strip in a frog pattern. The fish weighed 31 pounds, 11 ounces.
DEC reports some mature king salmon are starting to show inside of 150 feet of water and along the Niagara Bar ledge. Trolling with flasher-fly combos, meat rigs and J-Plugs within 50 feet of bottom has produced some king salmon catches during low light periods. The offshore zone continues to produce good and consistent catches of king salmon of mixed ages and steelhead on gear run 70-100 feet down.
Smallmouth bass are starting to go into their fall feeding frenzy reports Capt. Arnie Jonathan, of AJ’s Guide Service. Crabs are the best live bait to use if you can find them. For artificials, tubes and Ned rigs are the best options. Some bass are also being caught on drop shot rigs with Strike King dreams shots a good alternative. Some bass are also being caught off the Power Authority fishing platform in the gorge area according to Lisa Drabczyk, at Creek Road Bait and Tackle, in Lewiston. A few walleyes are being caught in the gorge but the better fishing for ‘eyes as been on the Bar at the mouth of the river. Worm harnesses fished off three-way rigs is the way to go. The first reports of salmon being seen in the Devil’s Hole area and off the platform for September have also come in. If any of the cooler water from Lake Erie makes it into the river system, it will be game-on for an early salmon run. Capt. Ned Librock, with Chasing Dreams Charters, reports that smallmouth bass fishing has been decent in many of the traditional drifts around Strawberry Island and the east river. Crabs fished off three-way rigs are the way to go, bouncing bottom along the way. Weeds have been a bit of a problem the past week. Worm harnesses fished off three-way rigs will also work.
Frank Campbell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lou Borrelli, of Get the Net Fishing Charters, said out of Bald Eagle Marina they have been fishing offshore as there has been some good steelhead action with a few teenage kings in the mix. Fishing out deep has been hit and miss and there’s no real pattern of lures to speak of. Fish have been taking mostly spoons with a few meat and flasher/fly mixed in. Saturday was a brief morning trip. With the lake conditions ideal for offshore fishing, we headed out to the 27 line and trolled north. Recently, a beautiful 15-pound steelhead hit the deck.
The Orleans County Boat Launch at the end of Ontario Street (east side of the river) will be closed for reconstruction. Anglers can use the Oak Orchard Boat Launch on Archbald Road where access fees will be waived until Spring, 2022.
The Oak Orchard Harbor is in the process of being dredged which started last week and is expected to be finished in mid-September. The last time it was dredged was in 2014.