Western New York
Muskie season is now closed, with the exception of the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario, where the season closes Dec. 15. The upper Niagara River produced a few nice late-season fish like the 50-inch trophy reeled in by Rebecca Gaulteri of Hamilton, Ontario. She was fishing with Capt. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island and managed to catch a fish of a lifetime. Joining her was her husband, Francesco, and her dad Chris Mills (who also caught a 45-inch fish the same morning). John Anthone of Sanborn hit a 30-pound-plus, 49-incher on Nov. 29, also fishing with Cinelli. The lower river had been hot the past week as waters cleared and trout fishing took off. Lisa Drabczyk at Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston reported that beads, egg sacs and Kwikfish/MagLips lures fished off three-way rigs from boats has been good to very good for a mixed bag of trout. Just ask 87-year-old George Gregory of Lewiston, who was fishing with his son Kurt and Capt. Joe Marra of Lewiston. They caught double-digit trout using primarily egg sacs, catching steelhead up to 13 pounds and some nice browns. What had them talking, though, was a lake trout that both father and son caught at the same time. Remember that lake trout season is closed on the New York side until Dec. 31. However, on the Canadian side of the river, the lake trout season opened on Dec. 1. The NYPA fishing platform is now closed.
Fishing has been a bit slow in some of the Lake Ontario tributaries for steelhead and browns. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctor in Olcott says there are fish (mostly browns) around, but not much pressure from anglers. Hot baits in the tributaries have been spikes, egg sacs and beads. Gianni Etopio of Youngstown has been using his own hand-tied marabou jigs to take a mix of salmon, steelhead and browns.
Dec. 1 began the catch and release season for bass. The only exception is Lake Erie, where anglers can keep one fish if they so desire, but the minimum size is 20 inches in length. Consult the DEC regulations at www.dec.ny.gov.
Chautauqua Lake: It’s a transition period on Chautauqua Lake, with very little fishing activity until safe ice arrives. Walleye were available close to shore during low-light periods. Casting small stickbaits works well. Muskellunge season closed Nov. 30.
Surplus broodstock trout stocking: DEC’s Randolph Fish Hatchery has completed its annual fall stocking of broodstock trout in select Allegany and Cattaraugus county waters. All breeder trout are over 2 years old and are stocked in waters where trout fishing is permitted all year. Each water was stocked with hundreds of rainbow trout, brown trout and/or brook trout ranging between 14-28 inches. The following waters were stocked in mid to late October: Redhouse Lake, Quaker Lake, New Albion Lake, Case Lake, Harwood Lake, Allen Lake and the Genesee River (between Wellsville and the Pennsylvania line).
Central New York
Not much happening right now on the fishing front, and it will likely remain that way until safe ice arrives on popular waters like Oneida Lake.
For those interested, there are also fishing hotline/reports available for the region. A few of the websites are: Wayne County Tourism, Visit Oswego County, and Oneida Lake Fishing Report.
Also, all of the dock structures at the DEC boat launches have been removed. So plan accordingly if you do decide to head out.
Oswego River: High flows making shore fishing tough, but there are still some steelhead and brown trout being taken by anglers fishing from shore and drift boats.
Remember, the bridge to Leto Island is closed, and there are mandatory PFD zones on the river.
Salmon River: Steelhead were still being taken by anglers putting in their time and they are hitting on egg sacs (blue or pink mesh) and egg imitating flies and plastics. The centerpin crowd has been scoring best.
Oneida Lake: Anglers casting stickbaits from shore just before and after dark were still getting into a few walleye.
Sodus Bay and Irondequoit Bay: Yellow perch were being taken on small minnows in 10 to 20 feet of water.
Finger Lakes/Southern Tier
Seneca Lake: The Sampson State Park boat launch is closed as it will be worked on over the winter. Not hearing much from the perch crowd of late.
Cayuga Lake: Some Atlantic salmon and brown trout were being caught in the tributaries. This bite is often dependent on rain (or snow) events occurring to raise the water level in some of the streams. Not a lot of fishing pressure right now, which makes it tough to get much of a report.
The Mud Lock boat launch was closed as improvements are being made.
Skaneateles Lake: The DEC launch is closed for the season. Some anglers are connecting on rainbows from the typical shoreline spots using the time-tested marshmallow and worm setup.
Chenango, Chemung, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna rivers: High water and not much happening.
While anglers await first ice in the typical North Country locations like Lake Colby, the region’s deer hunters have seen their season come to a close. And by all accounts it was a pretty good one, with snow cover early allowing trackers to pursue big bucks.
At the beginning of this report period, stripers in the 20-pound class were reported from Jones Inlet to New York Bight. These stripers were caught by anglers jigging diamond jigs, trolling bunker spoons on wireline, or by fishing plastic shad and bunker spoons on Mojo rigs. East of Jones Inlet to Shinnecock Inlet, most of the stripers were 8 pounds or less and were caught on diamond jigs. These smaller fish are much more tolerant of the cold water and while they will be caught less frequently during the remaining part of the season, which ends on Dec. 15, they can be caught sporadically throughout the winter from the beaches. There were no reports of striped bass caught off Montauk Point.
At the end of this report period, the offshore water temperatures at the 44025 buoy off Patchogue dropped to 50 degrees. The larger striped bass have responded by moving further to the west, with very few fish above 10 pounds being reported east of Debs Inlet. Most of these fish were caught on diamond jigs as there are a lot of sand eels from the beach to 60 or so feet of water. Surfcasters also caught short stripers by casting diamond jigs and dragging them through the sand or bumping them off the bottom from Fire Island Inlet to East Rockaway Inlet. Herring to 15 inches as well as a few mackerel were caught on diamond jigs by anglers targeting stripers.
Some of the best action was reported by anglers fishing for sea bass and blackfish. Off Montauk Point the blackfish action was excellent, with 8- to 10-pound blackfish the typical pool winners and many boats limiting out on keepers. The usual areas were off Fishers Island, the rocks on the south side of the point and off Block Island. The same spots resulted in anglers limiting out on sea bass to 4.5 pounds. Most days found boats running to get out of the high winds, looking for fishable conditions. White and green crabs were the top bait for the blackfish, with skimmer clams the top bait for sea bass. A few codfish to 24 inches were mixed in with the blackfish and sea bass.
Some of the Montauk Point boats targeted haddock, codfish and sea bass on the deeper reefs and rock piles and were rewarded with several haddock per angler, with a few codfish and sea bass mixed in. The haddock and cod were typically around 24 inches and the sea bass in the 3- to 4-pound range. A few haddock and codfish in the teens were reported. Also, a few porgies and ling to 3 pounds were in the mix. The haddock season is off to a great start, with some boats reporting more haddock caught this report period than in past seasons.
Decent blackfish fishing was reported off Orient Point, but the fishing has been spotty around the point, so boats often ran to the Connecticut side when conditions were favorable. There were quite a few shorts reported, with limits achievable on good days. Most pool fish were in the 5-pound class.
The blackfish and sea bass fishing along the South Shore was excellent for anglers fishing the reefs and wrecks between 60 and 120 feet of water. The deeper wrecks yielded a few codfish, and ling were reported in all areas. Some of the most consistent blackfish action was reported in New York Bight.
In the Long Island Sound, the best bottom fishing was found along the Connecticut rock piles. Here anglers reported a mix of blackfish, sea bass and few porgies. The blackfish were typically 3 to 5 pounds, with sea bass and porgies to 3 pounds. Green and white crabs were the top bait for the blackfish, with clams the top bait for the sea bass and porgies. Anglers fishing the coast of Rhode Island reported similar fishing, with a few blackfish hitting the 10-pound mark as well as a few codfish to 10-pounds.
In all areas, the number and size of the codfish has been increasing. This is a good sign as there are a lot of very large sand eels from Block Island Sound to New York Bight. During past seasons when the sand eels were prevalent the codfish fishing was excellent throughout the winter.
The was a skim of ice on the shallow lakes and ponds during the Thanksgiving weekend, but once that cleared anglers caught some panfish while trying for winter trout using trout worms and by casting small spinners. There were no reports of trout as of late.
Not much happening as the Southern Zone deer seasons wind down.
Southeastern New York
A reminder that from Nov. 1 to May 1, all persons aboard a pleasure vessel less than 21 feet must wear a PFD while in motion.
Anglers haven’t really been spending much time on the region’s trout streams still open to fishing
St. Lawrence River: With muskie season winding down (it closes Dec. 15) we won’t likely hear anything until the hard water crowd takes to the ice.
Black Lake: Anglers are awaiting the first safe ice of the season.