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Hemlock Lake

Located in southeast Livingston County, Hemlock Lake lies 25 miles south of Rochester. Hemlock is one of the two Finger Lakes whose shorelines are virtually undeveloped.

Physical Features

Elevation: 905 feet
Area: 1,800 acres
Length: 7 miles
Maximum width: 0.5 miles
Maximum depth: 91 feet
Thermocline: about 30 feet

Water Quality

Hemlock Lake is one of the sources of water for the City of Rochester. It is typically clear, but suffers moderate, deep-water oxygen depletion in summer. This condition does not seriously threaten trout and salmon but does, temporarily, confine them to a narrow layer of the water column.

Plant Life

The largest weedbed is located at the lake's southern extremity. There are other isolated weedbeds located in small coves along the lake's east and west sides. While the north end of the lake also has a weedbed, this area is off limits to fishermen. Milfoil is the primary vegetation.

Special Regulations

DEC acquired most of the watershed from the City of Rochester in the summer of 2010 as the Hemlock Canadice State Forest. DEC continues the City's high level of stewardship and protection of the lands and waters, while maintaining public access for fishing, hiking, nature study, boating and hunting. Activities on Hemlock Lake and Hemlock-Canadice State Forest are now subject to DEC's Rules and Regulations for the Use of State Lands, 6 NYCRR Part 190, as well as any other applicable state statutes, rules and regulations.

In addition, specific regulations (link leaves DEC's website) - 6 NYCRR 190.26 - have been developed by DEC, mirroring those established by the City of Rochester, allow many recreational activities on Hemlock-Canadice State Forest, but prohibit uses that could threaten water quality.

Boats may not exceed 17 feet in length and motors may not exceed 10 h.p. Do not transport or introduce any aquatic plants or animals into the water. See Hemlock-Canadice State Forest for further details.

Fishing Regulations

Special fishing regulations apply.

Public Access Sites

Public boat access is available only at the northeast corner of the lake, off Rix Road, and at the southeast corner off Route 15A. Both unimproved access points have gravel ramps.

Fish Management

Lake trout historically provided the most significant sport-fishery on Hemlock Lake. In 1957, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation conducted the first biological survey of Hemlock Lake. DEC records show that stocking of lake trout, landlocked salmon and cisco(lake herring) into Hemlock Lake began more then one hundred years ago. Later stocking efforts included rainbow trout, brown trout, smelt, walleye, and lake whitefish.

Currently, Hemlock's salmonid fishery consists of lake trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and landlocked salmon. All these fish may be taken year-round-check your Fishing Regulations Guide for size and bag limits.

Good populations of smelt and alewives provide excellent trout and salmon growth. Annual stocking by DEC sustains the lake trout, brown trout, and landlocked salmon populations. The rainbow trout fishery is supported by natural reproduction from Springwater Creek.

Hemlock's warm water sportfishery includes smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and chain pickerel. The latter are noted for their large size. Significant opportunities are also available for panfish including bullhead(especially in spring), yellow perch, rock bass, bluegill and pumpkinseed.

Angler Diary Cooperator Program

An ongoing angler diary cooperator program for sportfish provides DEC fisheries staff with useful data on population trends. Information on the angler diary program and recent reports can be viewed at Angler Diary Cooperator Program. We are always looking for new cooperators, so if you are interested please contact the Region 8 office at (585) 226-5343 or online at fwfish8@dec.ny.gov

2013 Hemlock and Canadice Lakes Angler Diary Report (PDF) (91kB)


Fishing Hemlock Lake offers a unique experience in western New York where most lakeshores are heavily developed. The beautifully wooded shorelines and hillsides of Hemlock and smaller Sister lake, Canadice, provide an atmosphere experienced only in relatively remote areas like the Adirondacks and Canadian provinces. The boat size/horsepower limitation contributes importantly to the "unspoiled" atmosphere.

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