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New York Outdoor News Fishing Report – December 8, 2022

Report from the Dock

Hard-water anglers are starting to get excited, but safety is always the priority, especially on early ice. The further north in New York you go, say up into the Adirondacks, the more likely an angler is to find fishable waters in terms of ice. Anglers should also note that other than the Adirondack region, where special fishing regulations dictate if ice fishing is allowed – or not – most New York waters are now open to ice fishing.

1000 Islands Region

St. Lawrence River 

Brad Paradis, of GAJO Baits, reports the water temperatures are in the low 40s. Bass season is now over but the walleye bite continues to be good with the colder water temperatures. Anglers are catching them on the shelves before main channel drop offs, with minnow presentations, bottom bouncers and blade baits all working well. The perch bite has picked up again with the cold temperatures. They are moving in large schools, so once you land on a group of them, they can be feeding for a while. Small minnow baits on a drop-shot rig are producing the best right now.

Eastern Basin of Lake Ontario 

The water levels along the Eastern basin have fallen and launching can be a challenge. Long Point State Park provides access to Chaumont Bay, Fox and Grenadier Islands as does Henderson Harbor. The Dexter town ramp provides access to the Black River but use extreme caution when attempting to reach Lake Ontario because the low water levels make negotiating the channel to the lake very difficult. Water temperatures are running 39-40 degrees and trollers continue to catch northern pike, pickerel, and walleyes using in-line boards to present stickbaits. Best sets continue at 45- to 60-foot back while targeting the 25- to 50-foot zone. A few trollers report catching lake trout; however, the good numbers of trout have yet to show up in the shallower areas like they did last fall and winter. Recent high winds have hampered the perch bite with some anglers continuing to catch fish, targeting 30- to 45-foot in Chaumont Bay and Henderson Bay. Look for the perch bite to improve as the weather changes and allows for better access just prior to ice up. Walleye fishing in Chaumont Bay is picking up with casters scoring well using ½- to ¾ – ounce bucktail jigs tipped with medium size minnows or half a crawler and ½ -ounce blade baits (in gold) vertically jigged off the bottom are starting to produce consistent numbers of fish. Best areas are open water humps and shoals that top out at 19- to 25-foot and drop into the 35- to 40-foot basin. Concentrate your efforts on the inside turns of the shoals or any cluster of larger rocks on or adjacent to these areas. 

Captain Burnie Haney, New York Fishing Adventures, burniehaney.com

Adirondacks

The big game hunting season is over in the North Country and so the attention turns to ice fishing. Adirondack lakes and ponds are typically the first to button up. Shallow bays on the bigger lakes like Schroon, Raquette, the Tupper Lake area or even South Bay of Lake Champlain might be good early season bet – weather pending. Be safe!

Capital District/Upper Hudson Valley

Deer season continues through Dec. 20 and then with the holiday week hunt for muzzleloader/archery hunters (including crossbow). Otherwise, anglers looking for first ice should eye smaller waters at higher elevations, such as Grafton Lakes. Safety first, however. 

Catskills/Southeastern N.Y.

Flows are up following recent rains but Trout Town Flies, in Roscoe, said rivers were fishable. Meanwhile, it’s still deer season in the Catskills. 

Central New York

Oswego River

DEC reports steelhead are biting on egg sacs, beads and egg imitating flies. With high waters from recent rain, proceed with extreme caution when fishing “The Highwall,” which can be nearly impossible at high flows. Try off the stairs above the powerhouse and off the wall at the base of the damn. Bright colored baits are getting the job done, in a variety of sizes. Egg sacs haven’t been great but might turn on as the water cools. And don’t forget to toss in the color white, since the fish have been feeding heavily on shad coming down the river.

Salmon River

DEC says steelhead are being caught throughout the river on egg sacs, beads and egg imitating flies. Meanwhile, due to recent rain the flows will stay high for quite some time. Focus on the slowest edges and some of the original offshoots and side channels. The water is a little bit dirtier with the added rain runoff so don’t be afraid to run brighter colored baits with eggs. Having the added scent and larger profile will increase your chances.

www.visitoswegocounty.com

Other waters

For now, there are no reports from DEC for other fisheries in this region. Things should pick up during the ice fishing season.

Finger Lakes/Souther Tier

DEC is always looking for new participants in the Angler Diary Cooperator Program 

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 fwfish7@dec.ny.gov.

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 fwfish8@dec.ny.gov.

Wayne County

Both Port Bay and Sodus have 10-to-12-inch perch. Fish the drop -offs in 20 to 30 feet of water. The Port Bay thumpers are off the two points in the bay. Graves Point is just south off the channel and Tompkins is the point directly across from the Bayside Restaurant. Use white, 2-inch rubber because the perch are full of shad. Put fresh spikes on the end of your bait. Charlie Brewer sliders is another great rubber bait. You can launch at the north or south end of the bay at the DEC sites but the docks have been pulled for the winter. On Sodus Bay, Bay Bridge Sport Shop located at the south end, has a good launch. The Margaretta Road launch is closed.

In the streams, some pools in Maxwell Creek are holding browns. These are on the south side of Lake Road. Use bright green glow beads, egg sacs, or small jig. Pier fishing works at the Sodus channel, however if it’s ice coated stay away. You do not want to slip into the water. Cast out heavy spoons like Kastmasters, Cleo’s and Suttons. Nothing really happening at the Erie Canal. Temperatures have varied from the 50’s down to the 30’s so the skim of ice comes and goes.

Chris Kenyon, waynecountytourism.com

Other waters

For now, there are no reports from DEC for other fisheries in this region. Things should pick up during the ice fishing season.

Long Island 

Despite a lackluster November to wrap up the fall run, it was a strong finish right around Thanksgiving on the beach east of Shinnecock to Bridgehampton. I was lucky enough to get on the bite with my son at sunset on Thanksgiving eve and it was a slice of heaven. Mild temps, a whisper of wind, peanut bunker exploding and bass every few casts from schoolies to mid slot size. We kept our offering simple with a bucktail and teaser, with my son getting a double header on his first cast as the birds frantically picked away and stripers were busting on the surface. After catching about 20 fish and the sun dropped below the horizon, the gear wasn’t getting packed away for the winter, but I was fishing with house money from there on in. 

The bite continued through the weekend but with deteriorating conditions, I only got into a few small fish and expanded the area I was trying to include the stretch from Quogue to Westhampton. The beach went quiet even on some nicer days to follow with the last holdouts of boats not pulled for the season saw steady action of lower end slots working sandbars outside of Moriches Inlet.

To the west from Jones Inlet to Raritan the surf bite was solid with some larger bass taken at night, and plenty of smaller fish blitzing off the beach, in Jamaica Bay and out front. That bite has continued with swim shads and poppers being the most effective. 

With the ushering in of December, so too is ghost hunting season. Rockfish Charters out of Sheepshead Bay had a unique December catch of a 200-pound thresher while drifting bunker for giant bluefin. A few guys connected with some nice bluefin, and others that came up empty were happy with a consolation prize of 20-30 pound stripers in deeper water feeding on adult bunker.

Bottom fishing for delicious cold-water critters is going strong from Montauk to Breezy Point and Orient to New Rochelle on the North Fork. Porgies and blackfish in the Sound has been solid with occasional blitzes of small bass popping up. On the south fork, the deep-water wrecks have not disappointed with jumbo porgies, sea bass, cod, hake, and tog. Hampton Lady in Shinnecock has had some slammer trips and is still sailing along with a handful of head boats in Montauk. Quite a few head boats and private charters are still sailing out of Captree, Oceanside and Sheepshead Bay as well. 

It’s a joyous time of year, to an extent, with the holidays approaching. It’s a tough time of year thinking of the dark days of the off-season approaching as well! I plan on still throwing small bucktails and soft plastics on light tackle on nice days off the beach for small resident bass. I asked Santa for my first white perch catch, and think he’s going to come through for me. Most likely I’ve caught my last striper of the year, but you never know! 

Mike Dean, @mnhtn2mtk, www.mnhtn2mtk.com/blog

Western New York

Chautauqua Lake

Muskellunge season is closed as of Dec. 1. During the transition period between open water and ice season, there is typically not much fishing activity. Walleyes may be available near shorelines at night. Vertical jigging around the deeper holes in north basin for walleyes is also worth a shot during the day.

Lake Erie and tributaries

For anglers fishing Cattaraugus Creek, DEC is interested to know if you catch a lake trout. Several experimental stockings of lake trout have occurred in recent years and biologists need to know if any of these fish are returning to the stream. Take a photo of any caught lake trout and contact Jim Markham at the Lake Erie Fisheries Unit at 716-366-0228.

It has been a great fall for steelhead fishing on the Lake Erie tributaries, with lots of larger fish around. All of the popular streams have been fishing well when conditions are favorable. At report time the Chautauqua County streams are in good fishing shape with medium to slightly high flows. Cattaraugus Creek is running high and stained, and likely won’t be an option for some time. The recent lake effect snowstorm had fishing shut down within the most persistent bands. With a warm-up, look for snow-melt to blow out some streams and sustain favorable flows on others. When the streams are in good shape, they should provide excellent steelhead opportunity through the end of the month. Creek temperatures have now dropped below 40 degrees. In colder water, techniques such as swinging flies and casting lures become less effective as steelhead are more lethargic and not willing to move as much to take the “bait”. Drifting techniques with egg sacs, trout beads, egg flies, nymphs, stonefly patterns, buggers and jigs fished near the bottom is a dependable approach during the colder months.

Lake Ontario and tributaries

DEC says fishing on the Lake Ontario tributaries has been slower to decent lately. Catches have primarily been of brown trout with the occasional steelhead mixed in. Most activity has been on the creeks. Niagara USA reports that Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek are holding some trout, too, according to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott. Evarts reports that browns and steelhead are cooperating, and the best baits have been eggs, flies, and jigs. If the bigger tributaries are high and muddy, seek out some of the smaller ones for quick-clearing waters. The Great Lakes muskellunge season ends in New York waters on Dec. 15.

Niagara River 

Area fishing action ground to a halt due to recent rains, and high winds. . In the Niagara River, remember that the shoreline – such as in the Niagara Gorge – clears first and could offer some great trout opportunities. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls did some exploring and he found 2 feet of visibility above the power plant and 1-foot below the power plant. Casting No. 4 white and green spinners, as well as white and pink colors, he was rewarded with 5 or 6 colorful steelheads. By the end of the day, Ziehm was reporting 3 feet of visibility. Conditions should slowly improve as things progress this week unless we receive some more serious winds.

If you still have your boat ready to go, don’t forget the Lower Niagara River is still wide open for trout action. When the waters start to clear in the main current, expect to see more steelhead along with brown trout and lake trout according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle, in Lewiston. Top baits include egg sacs, egg imitations like beads, minnows, Kwikfish and MagLips. Spoons, spinners, egg sacs or egg imitations, and jigs will work from shore. 

Frank Campbell, www.niagarafallsusa.com

Orleans County

Ron Bierstine, from Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge reports Flows are plenty high enough to hide fish and encourage fresh fish migrations. Hook ups may come a little harder for guys used to lower flows. Looking out across the water and spotting fish def not as easy as it would be if flows were lower and clearer. Anglers report a few brown trout hook ups with steelhead hook ups possibly coming on stronger, and still a coho here and there. That may be a result of the good flows bringing in those steelhead. Look for flows to stay similar as the Canal feed is scheduled to continue through mid-December. Any significant precipitation could cause flows to go higher.

Other area smaller tribs like Sandy also hanging in with flows about as they’ve been, chance for a little more color to the water thanks to the last rain. By most accounts if you’re moving around and trying different drifts and spots, guys are hooking up.

www.orleanscountytourism.com

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