New York Fishing
New York is the fourth most populous state in the United States of America. Bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south and Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts to the east, New York State is one of the most well-known states in the US.
With an estimated population of nearly 8.5 million (excluding the New York metropolitan area) New York City is the most populous city in the United States and the heart of New York State. It is also considered by many to be the world’s cultural and financial hub. So it is not surprising that when New York is mentioned, the tendency is to think of the skyscrapers, maybe the Statue of Liberty or even Wall Street. This comes from confusing New York City with the state of New York.
New York, the state, has so much more to offer and maybe one the most underrated regions in the United States for sport fishing. What many people fail to realize is that New York is the only state to border both the Great Lakes (Lake Ontario and Lake Erie) as well as the Atlantic Ocean. It also shares Lake Champlain to the north of the state with Vermont and Quebec and has hundreds of smaller lakes, ponds, and streams scattered throughout the state.
In all, New York boasts a wide range of fishing regions and locations consisting of over 50,000 miles (80,467 km) of rivers and streams, over 7500 lakes and ponds and approximately 127 miles (204 km) of Atlantic Ocean coastline.
It is not surprising then that New York has so much to offer to recreational fishing – so much so that it recently adopted the “I Fish NY” campaign to help increase awareness of the state’s outstanding angling opportunities. New York anglers and visitors to the state will not be disappointed by the variety of fish or by the number of productive fishing holes to be found in this great state.
New York Freshwater and Lake Fishing
If we start with the northern and western parts of the state, Lake Champlain and the Great Lakes (Ontario & Erie) are excellent locations. Lake Champlain, ranked at number 27 in Bassmaster Magazine’s “100 Best Bass Lakes of 2014”, offers the angler a shot at world-class Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass fishing as well as dozens of other fish varieties such as:
- Lake Trout
- Landlocked Salmon
- Northern Pike
The Great Lakes of Ontario and Erie are 2 other prime fishing locations within New York’s borders. On these lakes you can expect to hook up with Lake Trout in the 10 – 20 lbs range, Steelheads, and Coho Salmon as well as giant Chinook King Salmon pushing 25 – 30 lbs. You’ll also have plenty of Brown Trout, Bronzebacks (Smallmouth Bass), Walleye and Largemouth to keep you entertained. Guides and charters are your best bet for fun and productive fishing on the lakes.
Both unique and beautiful, the Finger Lakes, located in west-central Upstate in a region known for its winemaking, consist of 2 glacially formed, finger-shaped lakes (Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake) roughly 40 miles long and no more than 4 miles wide.
Like most lakes in the state, they have an abundance of fish species but are best known for their outstanding Lake Trout fishing in addition to Brown and Rainbow Trout, Atlantic Salmon and some of the states’ best Bass fishing (both Largemouth and Smallmouth). The fish stocking is used to supplement natural reproduction in both lakes. Some other varieties of fish include:
- Tiger Muskie
Oneida Lake, located just 32 miles (51 km) northeast of Syracuse, is the largest lake completely within the State of New York. It is, spans roughly 22 miles long and 5 miles wide and touches 6 counties. The Bass fishing in Oneida Lake is so good that it has become a top bass fishing tournaments location and earned the 41st spot in Bassmaster’s 2014 best bass lakes rankings (#14 in 2012). In addition to world-class Largemouth and Small Bass fishing, the lake is a great spot for Walleye, Northern Pike, Perch.
Tackle and bait on the lake include a variety of lures such as spinnerbaits and jerkbaits as well as nightcrawlers and similar natural baits. Even Lake Sturgeon, introduced as part of a re-population program dating back to 1995, is making a comeback here. They remain a protected species, however, and are strictly catch and release.
Other notable New York freshwater fishing locations include the Hudson River for Largemouth, Smallmouth and the ever-popular Striped Bass; the Delaware River for Walleye, Smallmouth, and American Shad; and the St. Lawrence River fishing for Northern Pike and Black Bass.
Trolling the river for big, ferocious Muskie (Muskellunge) in the 40 -50 lbs range using big plugs and spoons can be exciting. Another well-known Upstate New York fishing hole is Black Lake, one of the most popular vacations and fishing destinations in the state with its 60 plus miles of shoreline and numerous small islands.
This location is a sweet spot for panfish, especially Black Crappie; but you’ll also encounter many other species like Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike and even the predatory and elusive Muskie.
Fishing Long Island and Montauk
Though Long Island is New York’s most popular coastal fishing destination, there are still other options for the New York saltwater fisherman. As stated previously, New York’s Atlantic coastline is about 127 but with over 500 miles of shoreline running through New York City’s 5 boroughs, there are plenty of good saltwater fishing holes available.
Fishing inshore here as well as from piers, jetties, parks and beaches will produce a great variety of saltwater fish – everything from Bluefish, Winter Flounder and Summer Flounder (Fluke), Scup (Porgy), Weakfish, Tautog and Black Sea Bass to the highly prized Striped Bass which begins its seasonal run in April.
The lower Hudson River and New York Harbor are also some of the most popular and productive fishing grounds in the state. The Hudson, once one of the most polluted waters in the United States, has made a dramatic comeback in the last 35 yrs and is now a prime area for trophy Striped Bass fishing with catches in the 20 – 30 lbs class common.
New York Harbor is a busy area with boaters and recreational fishing – with many fishing parties coming out of the New Jersey side of the Hudson to fish the harbor as well. Weakfish, Flounder, Tautog, Porgy and Bluefish and “schoolie” Stripers round out the offering here, but big Striped Bass fishing remains the target in the harbor.
Long Island is truly New York’s saltwater destination of choice. This is where serious saltwater fishermen come to make a statement, even when considerable travel is required. You’ll enjoy outstanding fishing and just about every type of fishing accommodation available to you throughout Long Island – everything from rental boats, large party boats, private fishing charters, guided fishing services and marinas. Great fishing locations litter Long Island along its stretch from west to east.
On its northern end along Long Island Sound, you have perennial productive spots like Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson and Orient Point at the northeast tip. On the south shore of Freeport, Jones Inlet, Fire Island and, of course, Montauk, present some of the best fisheries on Long Island.
The abundance and size of the fish caught make any trip here well worth it. From May until November, you’ll be able to target trophy Stripers on a variety of live bait such as bunker, hickory shad and eel (referred to as “Striper candy”).
There will also be big “chopper” Bluefish ranging from 10-20 pounds from late Spring through October and in the Late July/early Fall False Albacore or “Little Tunny”, pound for pound one of the most amazing fighters for a fish that rarely grows over 25 lbs. Other big game fish caught on Long Island include Atlantic Bonito, Spanish Mackerel, and Skipjack Tuna.
No conversation on New York or Long Island fishing, however, would be complete without a mention of Montauk, considered by many the “capital” of New York sport fishing. Located in the southeast tip of Long Island, Montauk is the stuff of legends when it comes to sport fishing. In fact, many have called it the top surf fishing location in the United States.
Here a 40 lb Striper is nothing to brag about and surf fishermen from all over the Northeast and the country brave the elements during the Spring and Fall Striped Bass migrations for a chance at a true Montauk monster. In fact, the New York Striped Bass record of 76 lbs (34 kg) was set in Montauk in 1981.
For those who want to get offshore for even bigger catches, Montauk has many good fishing charters to get you out deep for huge Porgy and Black Sea Bass, Striped Bass consistently in the 30 – 40 class, jumbo Bluefish, Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Fluke as big as doormats and even the occasional Blue Marlin and Swordfish. Yes, Montauk is a truly special place.
If you live in New York then you may already be aware of the fantastic angling opportunities; and If you don’t, maybe now is the time to start thinking about visiting this great state – after all the fishing possibilities here are almost endless. You may even return home with one of those “I Fish NY” bumper stickers.
NY Fishing Resources: