Report from the Dock
Fishing will come to the forefront especially with Memorial Day weekend coming up, which tends to also kick off the boating season. This time period is generally the heart of the back-country brook trout frenzy in the Adirondacks and also when walleye waters start to really kick into high gear. Bass anglers, meanwhile, are watching the spawn and it won’t be long before bass fishing comes to the forefront, if it hasn’t already.
1000 Islands Region
Michael Bell from Chapman’s Sports Shop, reports water temps are varying from 47 to 54 degrees around the lake. Water is still a little higher than normal and some people catching crappies back in the bays. Best bet is to find some flooded wood structure, whatever it may be and work a bobber and small 1⁄64-ounce or a 1⁄16-ounce jig paired with either a minnow or small plastic. Some walleyes are active around the Edwardsville Bridge, target those fish with jigs dressed with a mister twister or a paddle tail minnow casting towards the drop offs in either side. Head into Lonesome Bay or behind Bowman and Hogback Island to the shallows and target bullheads with hook-sinker and worms.
Brad Paradis, from Gajo Baits, reports that the walleyes are chewing to start the season. Most of the fish can be found in that 20-foot range making their way into the spawning creeks and rivers coming into the St. Lawrence River. Working bucktail jigs to the bottom were working best. Perch are biting in the bays as they start to peak their annual spawning runs. They can be in the 15- to 20-foot range roaming in large groups on the sandy bottom. Minnows on a jig head and dropshot presentations with a small minnow style bait will get you a limit in no time. Northern pike remain active near the points and last season’s weed beds. Slow jerkbait presentation and slow rolling a swimbait will entice those toothy critters.
Captain Mike Howard, of Hook’d for Life Fishing Adventures, reports walleye fishing remains a tough bite with 90% of the local catch coming in 20- to 40-foot with a surface temp of 50-degrees or better. The fish are very sluggish and lethargic hanging tight to the bottom and almost all catches are male fish right now. Brown trout action remains steady on the Sands, specifically good from Southwick to Sandy Pond.
New York Fishing Adventures reports that pickerel and pike are very active in the back bay areas with swimbait, jerk baits and rattle baits producing the best results. Best colors are shad and alewives followed by a perch pattern or black and gold. Target these fish in the 6- to 11-foot zone with a long cast and employ a steady retrieve keeping those horizontal baits in the middle of the water column.
Captain Burnie Haney, New York Fishing Adventures, burniehaney.com
Trout stocking has intensified since the start of May and anglers are hitting both streams and backcountry ponds. Northern pike are also being targeted in waters where they’re present. Most lakes are high following April rains. Trails to backcountry ponds are wet too, while the ground around them is dry. It’s also just about now when the black flies make their presence known.
Capital District/Upper Hudson Valley
Like the Adirondacks, trout stocking is drawing anglers to stream-banks and pond but pike and perch anglers are getting out there too. Round Lake has been busy as has been the Hudson River near the Troy Dam, which beckons to striped bass anglers.
Dette Flies, in Roscoe, reports that multiple hatches throughout: Paraleps, some Hendrickson/Red Quills, though they are on their last legs, Blue Winged Olives, Apple caddis, Tan caddis. It will be a few more weeks until March Browns will appear. Fish streamers in the morning along with swinging soft hackles, wet flies and nymphs from mid morning to early afternoon. Fish the riffles and pocket water with caddis pupa, nymphs, and wets. Hatches will be predominant in the afternoon. Look for rising fish to present dry flies. Spinners have been appearing in the late evening.
Central New York
East Lake Ontario
The brown trout bite is very good in 12 to 40 feet of water. The best bait is spoons and stick baits. The lake trout bite remains steady in 120 to 160 feet of water using cow bells and spin and glow peanuts. A good number of king salmon recently showed up in 60 feet of water and are steadily biting on spoons.
The brown trout fishing should remain good through mid-June and the lake trout and salmon should be getting better and better as the season goes on.
Clarence Chamberlain, firstname.lastname@example.org
Walleye fishing has been slow so far but some fish are being taken on the river mouths and in 10 to 20 foot of water.
The flow was down. For walleyes try jigs or large stickbaits.
Things are winding down, which is normal for this time of year though there are a few steelhead around and some smallmouth bass are being caught.
Finger Lakes/Souther Tier
Look for yellow perch on the north end using small jigs and minnows. Trolling stickbaits on the south end of the lake can work well for brown trout and Atlantic salmon this time of year. Lake trout are being caught in 120 to 150 feet of water by anglers vertical jigging.
Look for yellow perch in 10 to 20 foot of water with small minnows and jigs.
Look for walleyes around the mouth of Shotwell Brook. There is now a special walleye regulation on Skaneateles Lake: Walleye-all year, minimum length of 12-inches, daily limit-any number.
Otisco Lake is one of the Big Panfish Initiative (BPI) waters and now has a special regulation for sunfish (bluegill and pumpkinseed). The daily limit is 15, with a minimum length of 8 inches.
The spring king bite is on. Salmon are coming from 100 to 300 feet of water. Steelhead are also in the mix hitting black and silver spoons and red stick baits. The Brown trout action has slowed, however different wind action will push warm water to shore where the browns still hang-out.
The Coast Guard Station launch is open at Sodus Point. The Bear Creek launch will not be opened until Memorial Day.
The perch are still in the bays. Most have spawned and now are on the bite. They are scattered so moving around is the basic procedure. Bullheads are hitting in the warmer water, especially near Bay Bridge. Crappies are also being caught in 10 feet of water suspended off the bottom. Pike are still being caught between LeRoy Island and the east shoreline using bright spoons or live bait (pike minnows). Some walleyes are hitting between Newark and Eagle Island in Sodus Bay. Fish on the south side using Sonar blades or purple buck-tail jigs.
The Erie Canal should be flooded and opened. Widewaters has crappie, bluegill, and sunfish action. In a boat fish the south side of the canal. From the shore fish the north side along the trail or next to the Port Gibson Bridge.Also, fish near the locks. When they open and close the water is stirred-up and the bite is on!
Chris Kenyon, waynecountytourism.com
The spring fishing season is in full swing with the numbers of striped bass, bluefish, and weakfish reported increasing daily. All three species have worked their eastward to Shinnecock Bay and into Peconic Bay. The most consistent action was reported in the eastern bays and harbors, including Jamaica Bay, Oyster Bay, eastern Great South Bay along the South Shore, as well as Little Neck Bay and the beaches out to Port Jefferson along the North Shore. Further east the fishing is spotty but improving weekly. There are many open boats running late afternoon and evening trips for stripers and blues on both the North and South Shores that are reporting very good action.
Anglers fishing the ocean for stripers and blues caught fish casting under the birds. There were a few reports of fish up to 40-pounds but the most fish are around 28-inches or so. The stripers seem to be running relevantly close to the beach with the best action reported in 25-feet of water out to 40-feet of water. The larger stripers may be following schools of shad and herring, making large plastic shad bodies a good choice either trolled as part of a Mojo Rig or jigged when fish were marked on the sonar. Anglers fishing the ocean beaches reported catching a lot of short stripers using thin plastic lures or small bucktails, along with the occasional keeper. The best beach action was after sunset.
Light tackle and fly-rodders did well fishing the South Shore bays for stripers, blueish, and weakfish with Jamaica and Oyster Bays the most productive. Lures and flies mimicking spearing or baby bunker were the most productive choices. Bucktails and poppers were also productive. In general, the best fishing was in less than 10-feet of water along the marsh banks. When the sun was shining and the tide rising anglers reported catching fish over the sand bar flats, with large poppers the best choice for some terrific topwater action. Most of the stripers were less than 24 -inches long with a few keepers mixed in. The bluefish were typically 2- to 3-pounds. A few weakfish between 1- and 5-pounds were mixed in with the stripers and bluefish.
Anglers reported that the best fishing for weakfish was during the night through first light. At night, sandworms cast on the ocean beaches was also productive. In the bays and harbors, the better weakfish fishing was in the deeper channels along the marsh banks, sandbars, and in the coves. The weakfish fishing will improve throughout May.
Along the North Shore stripers and bluefish were caught in the bays out to Port Jefferson Harbor and in the Nissequogue River. Swimming plugs, poppers, and both shad bodied, and thin plastic baits were consistent producers for the stripers. Anglers tossing tins did well with bluefish. The schools of fish are small and generally spreading out to the east, so the key to a successful day was to keep moving and covering a lot of water.
The fluke season opened on May 1 with fluke with reports of good to excellent fishing, with anglers reporting catching their limits on most trips, with numerous fish to 6-pounds reported. The action is both inshore and offshore, with the nod going to those fishing inshore as the water is a few degrees warmer than offshore putting the fish on the feed during the recent cold weather stretch. Both bucktails and the typical squid/spearing combo were productive.
A few flounder were reported by anglers fishing the bays and harbors using blood worms, clams, mussels, with lots of clam chum improving the catch. A keeper flounder or two per tirp seems to be typical.
A few open boats continue to run to the edges of the offshore canyons targeting golden tilefish and jumbo cod with very good results. Wrecks closer inshore have yielded cod, a mix of other species.
The porgy fishing in the Peconics have been good, with the area around Jessup’s Neck very good. Clams and worms, combined with of clam chum was the productive. The Shinnecock Canal was very productive with lots of fish moving through it, including stripers, bluefish, weakfish, fluke, and sea robins.
The freshwater fishing remained very good with anglers reporting largemouth bass to 3-pounds in the larger ponds and lakes, pickerel, and panfish. The bass and pickerel are taking plugs, large streamers, and spinner baits. The best panfish action was reported by anglers fishing worms or casting small spinners.
Guy Zummo, email@example.com
Western New York
Lake Erie and tributaries
DEC said parking at the Cattaraugus Creek launches is at a premium with the high launching demand and the closure at Sturgeon Point. Best bet is to show up before sunup, or perhaps try the afternoon.
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Niagara Bar action was consistent at the drop off for a mix of salmon and trout. During the recent Lake Ontario Counties Trout, Salmon and Walleye Derby there was a 25-plus pound king salmon reeled in by “Tiny,” of Kentucky, longtime customer of Capt. Bob Stevens, of Sunrise II. They were fishing out of Wilson when the big guy hit – no, not in the derby. Capt. Van Hoff had a banner day recently and caught over 25 king salmon on a Niagara Bar trip. The best bite was earlier in the day, during the first two hours after sunrise, but they managed to catch fish all day. It was primarily a magnum spoon bite and mostly ladderbacks in greens, blues, and glows. Their best depth was 50 to 65 feet down. Karen Evarts, at The Boat Doctors, in Olcott, reports that other fishing action is taking off, too, and there are good reports of perch at Golden Hill, and in Olcott Harbor. Bass are hitting. Remember you must use artificial baits for bass until June 15.
In the lower river, smallmouth bass was the target for many during the LOC Derby, but lake trout, steelhead and white bass were all caught. Mike Rzucidlo, of Niagara Falls ,hit the gorge recently and did well on bass, steelhead and lake trout using his homemade jigs. The hottest bite for anglers has been at the mouth of the Niagara River near Fort Niagara. It has been a mix of salmon, trout, bass, and walleye. Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston drifted three -way rigs tipped with emerald shiners to catch brown trout, lake trout, Coho salmon and a bonus king salmon on Monday. Mike was targeting 20 to 60 feet of water and did not catch a single sheepshead. Capt. Frank Campbell used his bow mount trolling motor to tool around that same area with three-way rigs outfitted with a Maglip plug and he boated 5 king salmon for the morning along with other fish species. Upper Niagara walleye action has been decent at night at the foot of Ferry Street reports Josh Dunkelberger, of Olcott. Best lure has been using 3⁄4 – 5⁄8-ounce stock jig heads with swimbaits. Capt. Frank Campbell also reported some super bass action with James Hall of Bassmaster Magazine. They were tossing Strike King jerkbaits under difficult conditions. They reeled in over 50 smallmouth bass and Hall had at least five fish over 5 pounds. Fishing was outstanding so don’t be surprised if you see the area listed in the Bassmaster Top 100 once again.
Frank Campbell, firstname.lastname@example.org