Western New York
Lake Erie and harbors: Lake Erie showed its ugly side during last month’s FLW Costa Series bass tourney, allowing competitors just one day of fishing before kicking up for forcing the cancellation of the next two days of the event.
The walleye bite was a bit spotty, as well. There have been some good catches here or there, but many have struggled to find fish. Depths of 45-50 feet of water near the international line is still the best bet near Buffalo. Some of the better catches at were out of Cattaraugus Creek in around 65 feet of water. From Dunkirk to the Pennsylvania line, depths of 65-85 feet have produced some decent catches. Depending on where you’re fishing, walleye can be scattered throughout the water column. Stagger lines at multiple depths and adjust according to hits.
Smallmouth bass are available on deeper shoals in 25 to 40 feet of water. A drop-shot rig with tubes, plastics, crayfish or shiners works well.
Niagara River: Moss has been clearing in the lower river, so anglers can now get more moss-free drifts or casts. Smallmouth bass were available from Devil’s Hole to the mouth of the river. Boaters can drift with a 3-way rig with shiners, crayfish or tube jigs, or can cast toward shore with jerkbaits and stickbaits. Walleye usually start to show in the lower river by midsummer, so be on the lookout for those, as well.
Lake Ontario and tributaries, harbors and piers: East winds caused some upwelling events and water temperature changes, along with some tougher fishing. But things quickly picked back up again and fishing was generally good – and sometimes great, as it has been for much of the season. Anglers near Point Breeze were catching mature king salmon at points closer to shore, while trollers off Niagara County saw good action in 150-200 feet of water and in 350-plus feet of water. Trout and salmon are generally available from 150-400 feet of water. Fish will likely be high in the water column. Large spoons, flasher-fly combos and meat rigs work well.
The Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association held its club tournaments last month. According to Kyle Hovak, one of the coordinators for the event, “Fishing was lights out for a lot of teams. Mag spoons tended to be what the bigger fish hit – with downriggers down 40-50-60 feet. Long lines – copper/10 color lead cores with spoons – pulled a lot of fish. We fished more flasher-fly and Dreamweaver Bigfoot paddles with meat deep. Caught a ton of fish but they tended to be in the 15-pound range. Most guys trolled north-south until they found a good class of fish.”
Winner of the LOTSA 323 contest was Reel Therapy and the Wills brothers Larry of Lewiston and Tim of Niagara Falls. The contest involves catching three big salmon and weighing them in over two days of fishing, but you only get to weigh in three. Figuring out which three is tough. Playing Hookey and Jeff Smith caught three nice kings on Friday and weighed them in for a weight of 65.67 pounds. The weather didn’t look good Saturday and they rolled the dice. Meanwhile, the Wills brothers hit the Niagara Bar on Friday and hit a 22-pound king on a magnum glow Warrior spoon 65 feet down over 120 feet of water. They caught a bunch of other fish, but they were all smaller. With the east wind on Saturday, they ran east and fished east of Olcott in 100 to 200 feet of water. Right away Tim hit a 26-pound king (his biggest ever) on a Spin Doctor and a homemade fly that Larry put together. During the last hour of the fishing contest they threw down another magnum glow Warrior spoon 75 feet down over 150 feet of water and they hit another 20-pounder to overtake the Playing Hookey squad with a three-fish total of 68.83 pounds.
DEC requests your help with recovering heads from coho salmon caught in Lake Ontario this season. They are comparing coho salmon stocking strategies by mass marking and/or tagging all stocked cohos in 2016-2018, and wild versus stocked coho salmon by clipping adipose fins in 2016-2018. For more information on data to include with coho heads and freezer locations for drop-off, see Coho Salmon Head Collection page on the DEC website.
Chautauqua Lake: Walleye fishing has slowed a bit lately in spots, but the bite was still pretty good along the west side of the north basin. Most walleye were caught by trollers along weedlines, but vertical presentations were catching some along steep sides of the deeper holes. Anglers can target muskellunge by trolling or casting large stickbaits along weedlines, or by trolling stickbaits over deeper water for suspended muskie. There were plenty of largemouth bass around weedbeds and docks. Wacky-, Texas- and Carolina-rigged plastics work well when fishing the weeds.
Inland trout fishing: Streams received some much needed rain last month, but warm water temps remained on many streams. Keep in mind that hooking and playing trout in warm waters can be lethal to trout. It’s best to fish spring-fed streams or concentrate efforts during early hours of the day. No significant fly hatches are happening now, except, perhaps, Tricos on some waters. Fly anglers can see surface action on terrestrial patterns such as ants, foam beetles and grasshoppers. Fish terrestrial patterns on a dead drift, giving a slight twitch every now and again to imitate a struggling insect.
Orleans County: There was a steady traffic of fishing boats, and for good reason. The king salmon fishing continued to be incredible – the best seen in the past 20 years, according to charter captains. Boats were pouring into the docks from Vermont, Ohio, New Jersey, Michigan, Indiana, Connecticut, Maine and Pennsylvania.
The stable wind pattern late last month created a broad pattern of fishing depths which let anglers catch fish anywhere from 160 to 350 feet of water – AKA the mid “28 line.” The salmon and now bonus steelhead were lying 60 to 80 feet down. Remember that when trolling in deep-water currents, wily trollers add extra cable footage to consistently reach feeding fish. Consider releasing the steelhead and smaller salmon; those immature fish are the future seasons’ fish population.
Always keep an eye on changing weather systems and bring rain gear. And be ready to pull your lines and head back to home port at any sign of thunderstorm activity.
Central New York
A reminder that there other fishing hotline/reports available for the area. A few of the websites are: Wayne County Tourism, Visit Oswego County, and Oneida Lake Fishing Report.
Lake Ontario: Capt. Dave Wilson of Oswego reports fishing continues to be unreal. Big kings were starting to move into the area to get their last heavy feeding in before the run. He has been fishing 150 to 400 feet most of the time. Spoons and Atomik meat rigs have been the ticket and he has been running a seven-rod program – two coppers, three downriggers and two wire rods. “On most trips every application works,” he said.
Cut bait, flashers and flies, and spoons have all been working, with green being a good color choice. Fleas weren’t as bad but still be prepared to deal with them if trolling.
Oswego River: Bass should be hitting on tubebaits or crayfish. Sheepshead should also be hitting on crayfish or night crawlers, and some channel catfish were also being caught.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: Nothing to report.
Oneida Lake: Walleye action was both deep (30 feet) and shallow (10 feet). Fish early or late – or both. Good baits have been worm harnesses, jigs and blade baits. Look for bass around the shoals and deep weed edges.
Sodus Bay and Irondequoit bays: Bass fishing remained good in both bays. Try fishing with plastics, spinnerbaits or topwaters around shore or over the weedbeds.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Lake trout fishing was excellent, with lakers being taken in 75 to 90 feet of water by anglers vertical jigging. Trollers were doing better fishing in the 150- to 200-foot range, 50 to 80 feet down. Water fleas have been an issue so be prepared to deal with them if trolling. Weed mats were also making trolling difficult at times. There was an algal bloom still going on around the lake, so water clarity was low in some areas. Look for largemouth bass on the north end with spinnerbaits, bass jigs or top-water lures.
Keuka Lake: Fishing alewives near bottom in 115 to 125 feet of water was producing lake trout. Jigging with plastics at those same depths was also working.
Seneca Lake: Lake trout and a few Atlantic salmon were being taken by trolling small flatfish 60 to 70 feet down over 70 to 100 feet of water at 2.5 mph.
Skaneateles Lake: Trolling 50 feet down over 100 feet of water was producing some trout action. Fishing tube baits or drop-shot rigs along shore should produce some smallmouth bass, rock bass and maybe some perch.
Owasco Lake: Lake trout were being taken in 80 to 90 feet of water by anglers vertical jigging. Water fleas are becoming a nuisance here as well for anglers trolling, so be prepared to deal with them. Or simply go the vertical jigging route, which is popular and effective.
Otisco Lake: Look for bass on the deep weed edges. For tiger muskies either cast or troll stickbaits or large spinnerbaits along the weed edges.
Whitney Point Reservoir: Slow-trolling with worms around the islands was producing some nice walleye.
Sandy Pond: Fishing has slowed on the pond but look for bass around the weedbeds.
Chenango, Tioughnioga, Chemung and Susquehanna rivers: The Cannonhole Launch on the Susquehanna River is closed until further notice as a new concrete launch ramp is being installed. Try for smallmouth bass with topwaters or tube baits and look for walleye in the deeper holes with jigs or crankbaits. Fishing activity slowed late last month during heavy rains that had the rivers pretty much blown out, but things have since settled down a bit.
The West Branch of the Ausable River saw water levels rise late last month during some steady rainfalls, but should be fishable now. And the oft-overlooked Trico hatch offers a great option for big fish on small flies – size 22 usually does the trick.
On Lake Champlain, there was plenty of summer recreational boat traffic but also some good fishing for bass, which are now slipping deeper into the water column, and lake trout and landlocked salmon for the trollers.
In the Saranac Chain of Lakes there’s also plenty of boat traffic but some good fishing for bass and northern pike.
There was a lot of wind and unsettled weather during the second half of this report period keeping most of the offshore boats inshore. When conditions allowed, anglers reported good to excellent shark fishing along the 20-fathom line between New York Bight and Shinnecock Inlet.
Threshers to 400 pounds, makos between 75 and 125 pounds, and brown sharks between 40 and 60 pounds dominated the catches, with hammerheads and blue sharks mixed in. Most anglers ran to the 20-fathom line between Debs and Shinnecock inlets. The areas with the largest change in bottom depth provided the best action. Small makos, brown sharks and threshers, all typically 50 pounds and less, were reported attacking schools bunker in as little as 30 feet of water along the South Shore. There were a lot of chub mackerel and squid out to 20 fathoms, which kept the sharks within an hour run from most inlets.
Further offshore at the Canyons, there were reports of yellowfin tuna to 60 pounds caught on trolled spreader bars at first light. Bluefin tuna continued to be caught around the Coimbra and Bacardi wrecks on trolled plastics, cedar jigs, feathers and on jigs, with most fish between 30 and 60 pounds, with a few larger ones reported. There were no reports of bigeye tuna or swordfish as of late.
The inshore fishing has settled into its summer pattern where the fish have largely settled in to their typical summer grounds and are spread out, feeding opportunistically on the scattered bait. This set up an inshore fishery where many anglers were targeting a mixed bag of fluke, porgies, red hake, sea robins and sea bass on the ocean artificial reefs, inshore wrecks, and inlet mouths along the South Shore. Most of the fish were shorts, but there were enough keepers in the mix to keep the day interesting. Toward the west, red hake were more common in the mix, as well as jumbo porgies. There were a few triggerfish and the occasional bluefish mixed in the catch. Squid and spearing combos, squid strips, clam strips, tipped diamond jigs and bucktails were all productive. The best fishing in the inlets was during the incoming tide where the water is clearer and cooler than during the outgoing tide.
On the North Shore, this mixed bag fishing tended to be dominated by porgies from Port Jefferson to Orient Point. Anglers tossing bucktails in the harbor mouths improved their odds of catching a keeper fluke. In the Peconics and Gardiners Bay, porgies dominated the catch, with a few weakfish reported. Some of the best fishing was reported by anglers fishing off Jessups Neck, Rodgers Rock and around Shelter Island. Sandworms, clam strips and squid strips were all productive baits. There was also an excellent porgy bite in the western Sound, both from both the beach and from the boat. Clam strips remained the top porgy bait.
Anglers fishing the South Shore bays and the North Shore harbors were rewarded with blowfish, snappers around 4 inches long, and blue claw crabs. The fishing was consistently good from the docks, beaches and boats, with the best action occurring during moving water. This is the perfect fishery to introduce kids to fishing as snappers are always hungry, will readily take a spearing fished 18 inches under a bobber and can be caught on the lightest of outfits, including the traditional bamboo pole. Blue claw crabs were caught using all the traditional methods, including traps tossed off docks, killies rings from boats, scoop netting while drifting over the flats during the day and spotting during the nights. The best night crabbing was on calm, clear nights with a bright moon.
The best striper fishing was reported from Montauk Point. Boats trolling tubes, parachute jigs, diamond jigging and using live baits reported stripers the 20-pound class, with some to 40 pounds. Most boats limiting out within a few hours. The bite has been consistent both day and night. Elsewhere, there were a few reports of stripers.
Jeffery at East End Bait and Tackle reported that the Shinnecock Canal was still producing a lot of porgies up to 16 inches, along with a few fluke. The ocean beaches were seeing a few schoolie bass taking lures and bait in the mornings and evenings. Jeffery recommended using Sabiki rigs for the snappers as they have proven to be consistent producers.
Catching bluefish remained tough. There were reports of fish scattered around the Island, but no large schools or definite pattern. Most blues were in the 3- to 6-pound class.
The freshwater fishing for largemouth bass and pickerel remained good, with the best bite occurring at dusk and after dark and at first light. As expected, the panfish continued to be cooperative with bluegills, yellow perch, and crappies all caught on small jigs, spinners, and trout worms. The action was consistent throughout the Island and in the New York City freshwater ponds. Anglers who went freshwater fishing all caught fish.
Lake George continued to yield some fine smallmouth bass in 25-35 feet of water, while fishing on Saratoga Lake has been good for largemouths but just so-so for walleye and panfish.
The region’s trout streams weren’t seeing much action, a product of warm water temperatures which prompted anglers to give the fish a break.
Southeastern New York
Not hearing a lot these days, which could be a product of the rainy weather of late. Too, some sportsmen are turning their attention to planning for the upcoming archery deer – and bear – seasons, which are fast approaching, especially in the Catskills units where there’s a September bear offering (with firearms).
Rivers were in good shape at last check. Sulphurs remain an important hatch, as well as Olives, Caddis and various spinners.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Water temps were warming and by afternoon there were some Tricos, midges and small Olives. The Horton section of the river is closed to fishing. Both rivers were wadeable.
Delaware East Branch: Fishable and in good condition. There were some morning Tricos and late day there were Sulphurs, midges, Olives and spinners.
Delaware West Branch: Water levels were wadeable at last report. The river has fished well this summer. Hatches have been in the afternoon, with some decent Sulphur activity in the afternoon. Olives, Light Cahills and spinners in the late morning. The upper reaches had the better hatches. Flies are mostly small – size 16 and smaller.
Esopus: Fishable. The portal is closed. There were some Caddis and spinners about.
Neversink: Was at a fishable level at last check. Hatches were mostly Olives and Caddis, but with some Tricos about late morning. There are mostly Caddis or Olives right at dark
Delaware Main: Most dry fly fishing was close to dark. Bugs were mostly spinners, Sulphurs and a few Light Cahills. Terrestrials are important.
St. Lawrence River: Bass are sliding into deeper water, and the region is anxiously awaiting the return of the best bass anglers in the world when the FLW Elite Series tournament returns to Waddington Aug. 23-26. Perch fishing has been incredible this year and remains a good option.
Black Lake: Smallmouth bass action remains a great option, especially early and late in the day, with top-water action always a great time. Remember, there’s a 15-inch size minimum if you plan on keeping any bass. Not hearing a lot on walleye and it will probably stay that way until the waters cool in the fall.