New York’s Fishiest 50
New York Fishing
New York is truly a state of angling opportunity. From Montauk to Buffalo, quality fishing is right around the corner for a variety of sport and panfish species. Here are some waters that you might want to add to your fishing bucket list.
Lake Ontario is New York’s top fishery, producing world-class trophy fishing for Chinook, coho, steelhead, brown trout and lake trout. It produces the largest Chinooks in the Great Lakes, with fish over 35 pounds taken every year. The numerous bays and inshore areas provide outstanding fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow perch and panfish.
At more than 51,000 acres, Oneida Lake is the largest freshwater lake wholly within New York borders. The lake is one of the best walleye and yellow perch fisheries in the state. It is also renowned nationally for the quality of its largemouth and smallmouth fisheries and is a common stopping point for major bass tournaments. It is the second most heavily fished waterbody in the state and a very popular ice fishery.
Lake Erie contains the state’s most prominent walleye fishery, and the population is thriving due in part to good spawning years in 2010 and 2012. In addition, Lake Erie supports New York’s, and perhaps the country’s, finest smallmouth bass fishery, both in terms of size of fish and catch rate. Lake Erie tributaries provide excellent steelhead fishing autumn through spring. These tributaries are a destination for serious trout anglers from across the country.
St. Lawrence River
The St. Lawrence is the only natural outlet of the Great Lakes, the largest freshwater system in the world. The 110-mile stretch between New York State and Ontario has for decades hosted one of the largest and most varied fisheries in the state. The St. Lawrence River is a famed muskellunge fishery and home of the 69 lb. 15 oz. state record. The river’s largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing consistently rates among the best in the country. It also has an excellent population of northern pike, walleye and panfish.
Often called the “Sixth Great Lake”, Lake Champlain is shared with Vermont and the province of Quebec and extends for 120 miles from Whitehall to the Canadian border. Best known for its fantastic largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing, Lake Champlain also provides quality fishing for northern pike, lake trout, Atlantic salmon, channel catfish, yellow perch and a variety of panfish species.
Serving as part of the international border between Canada and the U.S., the Niagara River flows northward from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario for 36 miles. The river is comprised of two sections, the Upper Niagara and the Lower Niagara, separated at Niagara Falls. The Lower Niagara River is well known for its Chinook salmon, steelhead (rainbow trout) and walleye fishing, which supports a significant number of charter fishing boat trips each year. In addition, there are great opportunities to catch lake trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, muskellunge, yellow perch and smelt at different times of year. The Upper Niagara River provides one of the finest muskellunge fisheries in the country. Smallmouth bass are also abundant.
Honeoye Lake is the second smallest and the shallowest of the 11 Finger Lakes in central New York. The lake is known for its large panfish, bass, and walleye. Over 8 million walleye fry are stocked annually to augment the lake’s walleye population. Walleye fishing is best in the winter, late spring and early summer, before the aquatic vegetation becomes overly abundant.
The Salmon River in Oswego County offers some of the finest sportfishing in the country and anglers come from around the world to fish it. It’s best known for its fall run of Chinook and coho salmon and the winter and spring run of steelhead. Chinook salmon range in size from 15–30 lbs., averaging around 18 lbs. There are ample access opportunities, with 12 miles of public fishing rights along the river. The Salmon River Fish Hatchery produces all the Pacific salmon for stocking in New York and is a great place to visit during the fall egg take.
Cayuga Lake is the second largest of the Finger Lakes, exceeded only by Seneca Lake. Cayuga Lake offers a diverse fishery for both coldwater and warmwater species. The lake’s shallow weedy north end extends south for approximately six miles and is a prime location for largemouth bass. The remainder of the lake is deep and supports a coldwater trout and salmon fishery, with lake trout fishing being very popular. Look for a newly updated DEC boat launch at the north end of the lake in 2018.
Located in the southeast corner of Chautauqua County in western New York, Chautauqua Lake is about 17.5 miles long and covers more than 13,000 acres. At over 1,300 feet above sea level, it is one of the highest navigable waters in North America. Chautauqua Lake offers exceptional fishing for walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass, muskellunge and several species of panfish. The lake has been one of the hottest warmwater fisheries in the state for the past few years.
Lake George, located in the southeast corner of the Adirondack Park, is stocked annually with landlocked salmon and has an excellent naturally reproducing population of lake trout. Brook trout can also be found at the mouth of many of the lake’s tributaries. Lake George also ranks among the top five bass fishing destinations in New York State. Many ice anglers target the abundant schools of yellow perch and black crappie that can be found in many small shoreline bays.
The Hudson River is New York’s longest river flowing over 300 miles from its source deep in the Adirondacks to its mouth in New York City. This historic river provides a variety of fishing opportunities from trout in its headwaters to smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish and northern pike in the freshwater section north of Poughkeepsie. The tidal section of the river below Troy is a popular striped bass fishery in the spring when this marine species moves up into freshwater to spawn.
The Mohawk River provides outstanding fishing for bass, walleye, carp and tiger muskellunge from Rome to its confluence with the Hudson River just north of Albany, NY. Portions of the Mohawk River are part of the New York State Canal System and are connected via locks. Most sections can be accessed via public boat launches. Shoreline fishing is also available at most locks.
Black Lake is a large (8,352 acres), shallow lake in St. Lawrence County. It provides excellent fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike and black crappie. The lake is also popular for panfish, with bluegills and yellow perch in the 10- to 12-inch size range not uncommon.
Located in the heart of central New York wine country, Keuka Lake lies 17 miles southwest of the city of Geneva. Keuka Lake provides excellent fishing for smallmouth bass and has a naturally reproducing wild lake trout population. The relatively shallow, weedy areas at the north and south end also produce great fishing for largemouth bass, northern pike, chain pickerel and panfish such as yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed, rock bass and black crappie.
From its origin at Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York, the Susquehanna River flows for over 440 miles, making it the longest river on the U.S. east coast. It eventually empties into the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. In New York, the Susquehanna flows through a mix of rural and urban environments and supports a diverse warmwater sportfish community, with walleye and smallmouth bass the most popular gamefish.
Saranac Chain of Lakes
Located in the scenic Adirondack Mountain region of New York State, the Saranac Chain of Lakes provides outstanding fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch, and lake trout. Trout are most common in Upper Saranac Lake. Except for Upper Saranac Lake, which is accessed via the state boat launch in Saranac Inn, the chain is connected via two sets of locks. The Saranac Chain is one of the most scenic fishing locations in New York State and hosted the ESPN Great Outdoor Games bass fishing competition from 2000–2002.
The Oswego River in Oswego County offers a year-round diverse fishery, from Chinook salmon in the fall to smallmouth bass in the summer. The river has a mixed fishery with the lower 1.5 mile section having a “lake run” fishery with trout, salmon, walleye and smallmouth bass moving in from Lake Ontario. The upper 20 miles of river provides a warmwater fishery for walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass and channel catfish.
Located just north of the NYS capital of Albany, 3,764-acre Saratoga Lake is a very popular fishery for largemouth and smallmouth bass. The lake is also stocked annually with walleye, which can be elusive during the open-water season but are often successfully targeted through the ice. The abundant, quality-sized panfish in the lake, including black crappie, pumpkinseed and bluegill, always make for great fishing.
From its mouth at Lake Erie upstream 34 miles to the Springville Dam, Cattaraugus Creek supports an outstanding run of Lake Erie steelhead. The Cattaraugus averages more than 100 feet wide and varies from slow water near Lake Erie to boulder-filled rapids in the scenic Zoar Valley area. Cattaraugus Creek offers anglers one of the best steelhead fisheries in the eastern United States. Each year from October through April, thousands of steelhead swim upstream to spawn on the gravel shoals of the main stream and its tributaries. A fair number of brown trout also run the stream in fall.
Beginning in Pennsylvania, the Genesee River flows north, entering New York in Allegany County. For over 40 miles, it flows through the county, passing through the villages of Wellsville and Belmont. There is plenty of access, with nearly 18 miles of public fishing rights easements. The upper Genesee River is a popular trout destination that is stocked extensively from the Belmont Dam upstream to the Pennsylvania border. The river flows into Lake Ontario and the lower section is a popular fishery for steelhead, Chinook salmon and coho salmon.
The fourth largest of the Finger Lakes, Canandaigua Lake is located 29 miles southeast of the city of Rochester. Canandaigua Lake supports important fisheries for lake trout, brown trout and rainbow trout. “Lakers” and “browns” are maintained by annual stocking, but the rainbow trout fishery is sustained entirely by natural reproduction, mostly in Naples Creek and its tributaries.
In addition to its popular trout fisheries, Canandaigua produces some excellent angling for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel and panfish, including yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed, rock bass, black crappie and bullheads.
Delaware River and Tributaries
Located in southeastern NYS, the main branch of the Delaware River provides excellent fishing for smallmouth bass and walleye and has an outstanding wild trout population including some large rainbow trout. Its major tributaries — the West Branch and East Branch — are renowned rainbow trout and brown trout fisheries and have sizeable populations of wild trout.
One of New York’s historic fly fishing waters, the Beaver Kill is divided into the upper and lower sections at the confluence with the Willowemoc Creek in Roscoe, NY. Both sections support wild brown trout. The upper section of the river supports a wild brook trout population that increases as you move upstream towards the headwaters. Rainbow trout are also scattered throughout the watershed as a result of both natural reproduction and private stockings.
The Peconic River is the longest river on Long Island and a popular paddling location coursing through the Pine Barrens region. The river is consistently one of the best largemouth bass and chain pickerel waters in southeastern NY, despite its close proximity to the heavily populated New York metropolitan area. The river also provides outstanding fishing for black crappie and a variety of panfish. The boat launch on Forge Pond was recently upgraded to allow the launching of trailered boats. Gas-operated outboard motors are not permitted on the Peconic River.
Want more information on fishing these and other waters in New York, go to the DEC’s Places to Fish web pages at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7749.html. The DEC office in the region you desire to fish can also be a great resource. Contact information can be found at the beginning of the special regulations tables for each DEC region.
|Prospect Park Lake|| |
Largemouth Bass, Panfish
|Canadarago Lake|| |
Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Yellow Perch, Tiger Muskellunge, Chain Pickerel, Panfish
|Otsego Lake|| |
Lake Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Walleye, Chain Pickerel, Panfish
|Connetquot River|| |
Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout
|Blydenburgh Lake|| |
Largemouth Bass, Panfish
|Pepacton Reservoir|| |
Smallmouth Bass, Brown Trout, Walleye
|Schroon Lake|| |
Lake Trout, Atlantic Salmon, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike
|East/West Branch Ausable River|| |
Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout
|West Canada Creek|| |
Brook Trout, Brown Trout
|Silver Lake|| |
Walleye, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Yellow Perch
|Wiscoy Creek|| |
|Skaneateles Lake|| |
Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout, Atlantic Salmon, Smallmouth Bass, Yellow Perch
|Onondaga Lake|| |
Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Tiger Muskellunge, Channel Catfish, Common Carp
|Whitney Point Reservoir|| |
Walleye, White Crappie, Smallmouth Bass, Channel Catfish, Common Carp
|Otisco Lake|| |
Largemouth bass, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Tiger Muskellunge, Brown Trout, Panfish
|Tupper Lake|| |
Smallmouth bass, Walleye, Northern Pike, Panfish
|Waneta/Lamoka Lakes|| |
Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Muskellunge, Panfish
|Conesus Lake|| |
Walleye, Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass
|Delta Lake|| |
Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Panfish
|West Branch Croton River|| |
|Esopus Creek|| |
Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye
|Willowemoc Creek|| |
Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout
|Owasco Lake|| |
Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike
|Ashokan Reservoir|| |
Smallmouth Bass, Brown Trout
|New Croton Reservoir|| |
Largemouth Bass, Crappie, Yellow Perch, White Perch, Largemouth Bass
Want the latest information on fishing in your area? Connect with one of these DEC Fishing Hotlines:
Central New York (607) 753-1551
Orleans County (585) 589-3220
Lake Erie (Dunkirk) (716) 679-ERIE
Lake Erie (Buffalo) (716) 855-FISH
Niagara County (877) FALLS US
Southeastern New York (845) 256-3101
Wayne County (315) 946-5466
DEC Web Hotlines