Report from the Dock
Hard water anglers are hoping for some cold weather, which should be the case with winter now officially here. Smaller, shallower lakes and ponds and/or those at higher elevations are usually the first to button up. Of course, caution and safety should be at the forefront not just with early ice, but for any ice.
1000 Islands Region
Black Lake/St. Lawrence River
Things are quiet around Black Lake and the St. Lawrence River. Reminder: muskie season is now closed.
New York Fishing Adventures reports the boat traffic on Lake Ontario is all but done for the season. However, Henderson Harbor and Sackets Harbor are providing some decent pickerel action using 3- to 4-inch swimbaits fished in nine to sixteen foot zone around any remaining vertical vegetation. Another option for these fish is a suspending spoonbill jerkbait. Cast it out, crank it down to depth and work the bait with short twitches followed by a 15- to 20-second pause before you move the bait again. Chaumont Bay is still producing quality perch using Caty Jigs or flathead minnows with anglers targeting 17 to 25 feet of water
Captain Burnie Haney, New York Fishing Adventures, burniehaney.com
Adirondacks, Capital District/Upper Hudson Valley
With deer season now over in the Northern Zone, the focus turns to ice fishing and small game hunting. There have been social media reports of anglers ice fishing, but no locations have been given. The good news is that for much of the North Country, the holiday week long-term forecast is for cooler weather with both day and nighttime temperatures expected to be below freezing, which is good for making ice if the winds hold off.
Further south, hunting remains in the crosshairs with the Southern Zone holiday hunt. Considering the recent warm temperatures, ice could be hard to come by and anglers may want to take advantage of some C&R trout stream fishing.
Catskills/Southeastern New York
The holiday hunt week could be interesting if the warmer, fall-like weather pattern holds. A second, late whitetail rut could also make that season eventful.
Central New York
For steelhead and brown trout try egg sacs, beads, or pink worms, either bottom bounced or fished under a float.
Steelhead are still being caught throughout the river but with the recent higher water a lot of the activity has been in the upper river. Try egg sacs, beads, or pink worms fished under a float or bottom bounced, if fly fishing try egg imitating fly patterns..
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
The Route 34B bridge over Salmon Creek remains under construction. No access is allowed.
Skaneateles Lake, Otisco Lake, Owasco Lake, Sandy Pond, Seneca Lake, Keuka Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Sandy Pond, Sodus Bay, Whitney Point Reservoir, Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna Rivers
Very little new information. Most waters are still running high at this time from recent rain events. Use caution if boating as there is likely debris floating around.
DEC is looking for new participants in the Angler Diary Cooperator Program for the Finger Lakes. If you fish Cayuga Lake, Owasco Lake, Skaneateles Lake, Otisco Lake or any of their tributaries and want to learn more about this program and how to sign up, please contact the Region 7 Fisheries office at 607-753-3095 ext. 213, or on-line at email@example.com.
If you fish Canadice Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Conesus Lake, Hemlock Lake, Honeoye Lake, Keuka Lake or Seneca Lake, please contact the Region 8 Fisheries office at (585) 226-5343, or on-line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the striped bass season winds down anglers reported that the striper fishing from both the beaches as well as from boats was overall good. Surf anglers reported that the stripers and bluefish have largely moved west of Fire Island inlet with the best fishing west of Jones Inlet. Most of the stripers caught were less than 10-pounds, with the occasional bluefish in the mix. Along the North Shore the best surf fishing was around the Throngs Neck Bridge area and into the East River. Tins, plastic baits, and poppers were all top producers.
Boat anglers reported stripers into the 15- to 20-pound class along with some bluefish caught on bunker spoons, Mojo Rigs with large shad body lures or bunker spoons, and live bunker, but with less frequency then than last report period. This can be attributed to their normal migration to the west and south, which has resulted in the best striper fishing in the New York Bight area. These fish are feeding on feeding on bunker, herring, and shad.
The fishing for porgies, sea bass, and blackfish on the offshore reefs and wrecks was excellent. Porgies to 3 pounds, sea bass to 5 pounds, and double-digit blackfish were common. A few codfish are showing up in the reports on the wrecks in 120-feet of water and deeper. The occasional weakfish and bluefish were reported on the inshore wrecks. Rounding out the catches were red hake, and conger eels.
There was a good bluefin tuna bite for anglers fishing just from about 60-feet of water out to 25 or so miles offshore. Some fish were caught on the troll, but live-lining bunker inshore, and when casting poppers to breaking fish feeding under gannets, seagulls, and terns further offshore was the most productive way to fish. The key was to keep moving to intercept these fast-moving fish. Many of the bluefin topped 100-pounds and could be found feeding under birds or around whales and porpoises. Most of the reports came from anglers fishing between Jones and Debs inlets. A fair number of reports came in from striper anglers being spooled when a bluefin grabbed their rig meant for stripers. Those targeting these bluefin need to have their vessel permit for Highly Migratory Species from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
There have been no reports of white perch as of late, but that should change soon as the brackish water continues to cool. A few shad have been caught from the North Shore beaches on teasers and 1/0-sized flies.
The freshwater bite for trout has been good, with the best fishing reported in the Connetquot River. Which for those anglers who have yet to give it a try is one of the most beautiful stretches of water to fish. Don’t forget to renew your freshwater license before you head out.
Guy Zummo, email@example.com
Western New York
Muskellunge season is closed as of Dec 1. During the transition period between open water and ice fishing seasons, there is typically not much fishing activity. Walleye may be available near shorelines at night. Vertical jigging around the deeper holes in the north basin for walleye is also worth a shot. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information..
Lake Erie and tributaries
Some anglers have reported better steelhead action recently despite the colder weather, with most anglers catching a fish or more per outing. There are lots of larger-sized fish around in the 26- to 30-inch, 8- to 10-pound range. All tributary streams have steelhead spread throughout and there has been heavy fishing pressure on most streams. There have also been reports of the odd coho or chinook catch in some streams. The Erie County streams and the smaller streams in Chautauqua County are fishable options today. Without additional precipitation, all streams except Cattaraugus Creek will be an option this weekend. The Catt remains high and muddy. In colder water conditions, drifting techniques with egg sacs, trout beads, egg flies and nymphs fished at the bottom is a dependable approach. Slow down the drift and target tailouts, seams and current breaks. .
The tributaries off Lake Ontario have seen limited fishing pressure. Some steelhead and brown trout are around, but you do have to work for them. Eggs or egg imitations are popular right now, but jigs fished under a float are also effective. DEC says the bite has been decent at Sandy Creek and and angler traffic has been high at times. On Oak Orchard and Eighteenmile Creeks, fish numbers have been better just below the dams. On streams with more access, covering more ground increases catch odds.
Another recent high-wind event has messed things up. It takes a little bit longer to clear up this time of year because the water temperature has been hovering around the 40-degree mark, when the water is the densest. When things do start to clear, it will be the shoreline casters that have first crack at the trout. Prior to this last storm, steelhead, lake trout and the occasional brown trout were all being caught. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls stayed away from the high-pressure area along Artpark and focused on the gorge upstream from the NYPA facility. His lure of choice is a No. 5 homemade spinner, chartreuse and orange and he caught all steelhead – including a few nice ones. Egg sacs, beads and other egg imitations will all catch fish, too, when presented properly.
Boat fishermen were also catching trout by drifting the river current with MagLips, Kwikfish, beads and sacs while using three-way rigs. You want to make sure your lure is working and if there is any kind of a north wind that will slow you down, you may need to engage your trolling motor to pick up your speed until you can feel the wobble of your hard bait. Conversely, if you have a southwest wind and you are fishing eggs or beads, you may have to slow the boat down. When the waters do finally start to clear, they will be hungry. Dec. 1 was the opening of lake trout season. The muskie season is now closed here and throughout New York.
Frank Campbell, firstname.lastname@example.org