Western New York
Lake Erie and tributaries: Anglers were still catching good numbers of walleye off Cattaraugus Creek and to the west. Target walleye in 70-90 feet of water with worm harnesses or stickbaits run between 60 feet down and the bottom. There have been some decent yellow perch catches off Cattaraugus Creek and slightly to the west in 50-60 feet of water. Emerald shiners or other small to medium sized minnows fished just off the bottom work well.
Rainstorms earlier this month bumped up flows on the Lake Erie tributaries to higher levels. These flow surges should have triggered the first significant influx of steelhead into the streams.
Niagara River: The upper river is a good smallmouth bass fishing option in the fall as waters cool and bass go on the feed. Also, conditions on the river are often more manageable than the open lake in the fall, and boat launches remain open late into the fall. Target feeding bass outside weed edges by drifting bottom bouncing rigs with live shiners, crayfish or plastics.
The lower river was in great fishing shape at last check. Charter boats fishing the Devil’s Hole drift were doing well, with some catching limits of king salmon. Controlled drifting with a three-way rig and cured skein or a Kwikfish lure is the standard technique. Anglers at the NYPA fishing platform and shore anglers at Devil’s Hole and Whirlpool state parks were catching fair numbers of kings. Casting large glow spoons and spinners works well along the state park shorelines during low-light periods. The NYPA platform is open from dawn until dusk.
Lake Ontario and tributaries, harbors and piers: Tributary fishing was picking up, primarily on Oak Orchard and Eighteenmile creeks. Conditions were good at The Oak, with upper moderate flow and good color at last look. Decent numbers of king salmon were showing at the dam, and fair numbers of kings, brown trout and steelhead are spread out in the walkable section. Eighteenmile Creek had kings, brown trout and steelhead showing at Fisherman’s Park. The small to medium streams from Johnson Creek to Rochester got a little bump in flow and range from moderate to low.
Chautauqua Lake: Fall is a great time to target muskellunge on Chautauqua Lake. Key on areas from the weedline out to 20 feet of water by trolling with large stickbaits or by casting stickbaits and large muskie spinners. Walleye were still biting well in the north basin in 15-30 feet of water. Trolling and vertical jigging programs have both recently worked well.
Surplus broodstock trout stocking
DEC’s Randolph Fish Hatchery was set to begin the fall stocking of broodstock trout the week of Oct. 15.
Orleans County: Ron Bierstine of Oak Orchard Tackle and Lodge reports solid runs of salmon and steelhead. Reports have anglers into salmon hookups still at the river’s mouth and all the way to the dam. Concentrations of fish were good at the dam and fishing pressure should ease some through the weekdays. Lower river action was fair and frog water skein drifters were into a good bite, especially during low-light periods when the fish are active. In the fast water stretches below the dam, the action can still be on and off, with probably the greatest concentrations of fish nearer the dam.
Other area smaller tributaries reports were spotty, with flows getting better and perking up after any precipitation event. Look for more consistent action in the smaller tributaries with the next consistent cool down as long as reasonable flows hang in. Hookups include kings, of course, good numbers of steelhead, decent Atlantic numbers, a coho here and there and a few browns. Better brown trout action is likely for mid to late October and beyond.
Central New York
Lake Ontario: The lake fishing is pretty much done for the season as salmon are staging off river mouths, or have already entered the rivers.
Oswego River: More salmon, and a few brown trout and steelhead, have made their way into the river and are being taken on skein or egg-imitating baits off the wall and by the dam. More fall-like was helping to cool the water temperatures down.
Salmon River: Plenty of action on the river for the salmon chasers. Good baits have been egg-imitating flies and plastics, or streamers.
Oneida Lake: Water temperatures were starting to cool down. No word on the fall walleye bite but it shouldn’t be too long before the activity starts to pick up, if it hasn’t already. Look for bass around the shoals and deep weed edges.
Sodus Bay and Irondequoit bays: Bass fishing remained good in the bays with plastics, spinnerbaits or topwaters over or in the weedbeds.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Cayuga Lake: Lake trout were being taken in 75 to 120 feet of water by anglers vertical jigging. Anglers trolling are getting fish 60 to 90 feet down. We are getting closer to the lake trout spawning time, which generally makes the lakers a little more difficult to catch.
The Mud Lock boat launch was closed due to construction as improvements are being made. This work will likely continue into late October.
Owasco Lake: Lake trout were being taken in 75 to 90 feet of water by anglers vertical jigging. Some smallmouths were hitting near shore in 10 to 20 feet of water.
Otisco Lake: Look for largemouth bass in the weedbeds on the north end and around Lader Point. Good baits have been Texas-rigged creature baits and tube baits. Also on the north end, try chatterbaits, spinnerbaits or large topwaters for tiger muskie in 10 to 15 feet of water.
Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna rivers: Rivers were still pretty much unfishable at presstime so we’re not hearing anything. Fall walleye anglers are getting antsy but the rivers remained high and way off color.
The Cannonhole launch on the Susquehanna River is now back open.
It is clearly hunting season up north, although anglers taking their last shots on Lake Champlain have been doing well on smallmouth bass, lakers and northern pike. But with the Northern Zone firearms deer and bear seasons opening Oct. 20, hunting is the clear focus and it will stay that way until safe ice arrives.
The South Shore water temperatures dropped into the high 60s, which is still too warm for the fall striper and bluefish run to start, but the striped bass fishing continued to improve during this report period. Anglers fishing clam bellies under the bridges leading to Jones Inlet, and the adjacent marsh banks reported catching several stripers per trip, with most fish just below the keeper size. Similar action was reported by anglers fishing the inlet bars using clam bellies or drifting skimmer clams on all the South Shore inlets, but there were a few more keepers in the mix, especially for anglers fishing live bunker or eels.
Anglers reported excellent striper fishing in the western Sound fishing jigs and bunker chunks during the day and night tides. Anglers snagging or cast-netting bunker also reported excellent striper action, with most fish in around 12 pounds, but there were enough 20-pound class stripers as well as a few bluefish over 10 pounds to keep the trips interesting.
Surf anglers also saw improved striper fishing, with the best fishing around the South Shore inlet mouths as there are still large numbers of peanut bunker and spearing in the bays that are slowly migrating out of the inlets. The action has also showed signs of the stripers moving along the beaches away from the inlet mouths. The best action was on poppers and tins during dusk and dawn. At night, better action was reported by anglers fishing swimming plugs. Anglers who used sandworms reported good action with the bonus of a few 2- to-5-pound weakfish caught. Anglers casting live eels off the jetties at night reported good striper fishing, with fish in the 20-pound class being landed.
Sea bass, porgies, triggerfish and the occasional bluefish were caught on the South Shore artificial reefs. Clam strips were the top bait, with squid strips also effective. Diamond jigs tipped with squid or Gulp baits allowed anglers to avoid the smaller porgies, sea bass and bergalls, resulting in smaller catches but improved keeper ratios of sea bass.
There were reports of good weakfish fishing in the Great South Bay. Most of the action was reported by anglers fishing Ocean Beach, Range and West channels. Typical weakfish were 2 to 4 pounds, with the occasional 5-pounder reported. Weakfish continued to be caught in the Peconics, often by anglers targeting sea bass and porgies.
The fishing at Montauk Point was hot, with anglers reporting limits of stripers being caught on boats trolling parachute jigs, diamond jigging and fishing live baits in the rips and over the bars. Most stripers were in the mid-teens, with fish in the 40-pound class reported. The sea bass and porgy fishing was also excellent, with many anglers making split trips where they fish for stripers during moving water and targeting sea bass and porgies during slack tides. Anglers targeting sea bass and porgies specifically reported outstanding action off Shagwong, Napeague and in Block Island Sound. The striper fishing along the beach was hit or miss, with the best action reported at night by anglers working darters and bottle plugs.
The offshore conditions overall were rougher than the last few weeks. Those who did fish offshore reported that there are still a lot of 100-pound class and smaller thresher sharks harassing the schools of ocean bunkers a few miles off the South Shore beaches and off Montauk Point. Anglers working the 20-fathom line reported the typical mix of makos to 125 pounds and brown sharks to 75 pounds, along with the occasional thresher shark.
There were reports of bluefin and yellowfin tuna at the Coimbra and Coimbra wrecks, as well at the canyons. Mahi were reported at the lobster pots and around floating debris. Skipjack and false albacore and the occasional green bonito were trolled-up along between the 20- and 30-fathom lines on small plastic baits and feather jigs. Some of the best false albacore fishing was reported in New York Bight by anglers casting tins into the schools of these fast-moving fish.
The blue claw crab fishing action has continued to slow but there were still a fair number being caught at the off the local docks and on boats, with most of the crabs large. The snappers have moved away from the docks and into the deeper water near the inlets and channels. They are about a foot long now and are largely feeding on peanut bunker. Tins and snapper poppers were also productive.
The freshwater fishing was good for largemouth bass, sunfish and yellow perch. The weeds that have clogged out some lakes were beginning to thin out, opening more water for anglers. These lakes have yielded some of the best action as they were lightly fished over the last few months.
Southeastern New York
Not hearing a lot from anglers lately, which isn’t surprising. Trout season has ended (under general regulations) and the archery season is in full swing, as are small-game hunting seasons.
Trout season officially ended Oct. 15, but some rivers remain open in the region. Isonychias are now winding down, but Caddis and Olives can last though November. If conditions allow it can be a good time to fish.
Beaverkill and Willowemoc: Both rivers had wading possible at last look, but not in every stretch. Olives, Caddis and Isos are hatching mostly in the late afternoon. Nymph fishing has been effective. Rainbows were starting to show. Caddis are important most days as well as some Isonychias and BWOs. Streamers are a good choice at this time of year.
Delaware West Branch: Too high to wade but floatable as of last week. There were Olives and some Isonychias about in the afternoons. Caddis can be important. Streamers fished along the banks are effective.
St. Lawrence River: Muskie hunters are putting on some fishing pressure as the waters cool. We haven’t heard any reports of big fish yet.
Black Lake: Richard at Chapman’s Sport Shop and Marina in Hammond reports bluegill and crappie action continues to be good, but fish are more of quantity than quality –that is, the bigger fish are hard to find right now. Bass fishing remains consistent and should continue to be rock solid. Not hearing much about walleye, but those anglers are notoriously tight-lipped.