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New York Fishing Report – September 22, 2023

Lake Erie, Harbors & Tributaries

The open lake season is starting to wind down, but excellent walleye prospects remain from Cattaraugus Creek to west of Barcelona. Anglers are catching walleye over a very wide range of depths, with best catches and average size coming in 60-90 feet of water, on gear run within 15 feet of the bottom. Anglers are also seeing decent walleye catches in 45-60 feet of water. Casting around shallower weed beds and structure is also a good option. Yellow perch catches are typically ramping up about now, but reports have been few. Some decent perch catches have been reported off Sturgeon Point in around 50 feet of water, and walleye anglers out of the Catt have had some jumbo perch mixed in. Lake trout are an underutilized species in Lake Erie, however late summer is an excellent time to fish for them. Target lake trout below the thermocline in cooler water. Catches are typically best in 80-120 feet of water from Dunkirk to the PA line. Downriggers with spoons run between an established thermocline and the bottom is a good tactic.

The first of the early steelhead have been reported in the lower section of Cattaraugus Creek. However, water temps need to continue to drop before there is any significant influx of fish. All other tributaries are low, warm and likely void of fish. Once Lake Erie surface temperatures have dropped below 70 degrees, look for steelhead to start showing in the lake near creek mouths.

Niagara River

Walleye are still cooperating in the lower Niagara River and anglers report decent catches from Devils Hole down to the mouth. Controlled drifting with bottom bouncing rigs and worm harnesses works well for walleye. Smallmouth bass fishing has slowed, but they are still available from the gorge to the mouth. King salmon should start showing at the NYPA platform and in the Devils Hole drift any day now. The salmon run typically builds during the second half of September with peak fishing happening in early October.

Lake Ontario, Tributaries, Harbors & Piers

Mature king salmon are staging in the nearshore zone in preparation for their spawning run into the tributaries. Catches are typically best off the mouths of the salmon stocked streams including Niagara River, Eighteenmile Creek, Oak Orchard Creek and the Genesee River. Depths of 60-150 feet of water have been productive in the early morning hours and again in late afternoon. Flasher fly combos have gotten most mention, but meat rigs, large spoons, J-Plugs and J-13 Rapalas also draw strikes. Anglers are also catching decent numbers of brown trout in the nearshore zone. Offshore waters are an option for a mix of steelhead and king salmon in the top 100 feet.

There have been a few anglers throwing spoons out on the piers lately, but there has been no action to speak of yet. Won’t be long though. With water temperatures hovering around 70 degrees in the tributaries, the salmon run has yet to get started. However, planned Erie Canal water releases specifically to improve angling conditions combined with cooling water temperatures should have salmon on the move soon. Increased flow releases are scheduled to start on 9/15 on Oak Orchard and Sandy Creeks, and on 9/21 on Eighteenmile Creek.

Chautauqua Lake

In the south basin, the deeper middle flats remains productive for walleye. In the north basin, walleye catches have been a bit more scattered. Slow trolling or jigging along outside weed edges, vertical jigging around the rims of deeper holes or casting from shore at night are options. Muskellunge fishing has generally been slow, but muskie fishing quality typically ramps up as waters cool in late summer into fall. Target muskie along weed edges by casting or trolling large stickbaits and crankbaits.

Inland Trout Streams

The area trout streams are in good shape with moderate to slightly lower flows and cooling temperatures. Look for a bump in trout activity and feeding with cooling temps. Anglers may see lighter hatches of caddisfly, stonefly, isonychia or tricos. Terrestrial patterns will also draw trout to the surface. Nymphs, streamers and buggers work well fished near the bottom

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