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Central Park Lake

Without a doubt, Central Park Lake offers the most diverse freshwater fishing experience in Manhattan. The meandering shoreline of this 18-acre water body varies from rocky to grassy to treelined and creates a variety of aquatic habitats for at least nine different species of freshwater fish. And that's not all: if you're looking to catch big fish, Central Park Lake is the place for you.

Physical Features:

Area: 18 acres
Approximate average depth: 4 - 6 feet


Shoreline access is available at many locations around the lake. Central Park Lake is very popular, so take care when casting your line to avoid interfering with other anglers and pedestrians.

Fish Species:

Largemouth bass, Black crappie, Yellow perch, Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Carp, Brown bullhead, Golden shiner, Common shiner. For more information on these fish species, visit the page on Freshwater Fishes.


To catch a good-sized largemouth bass, try a soft plastic bait like a plastic worm or a hard plastic bait such as stickbait (plastic fish with treble hooks). Panfish, including the top-sized yellow perch of this lake, can be caught using a bobber and worm. Remember to tamp down all barbs on hooks as New York City regulations require the use of barbless hooks.

Central Park Lake offers an opportunity to experience nature within NYC


Special fishing regulations apply (leaving DEC website to official Fishing Regulations Guide vendor website).

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation rules require the use of non-lead weights and barbless hooks.

Central Park Lake Angler Creel Survey 2015

A creel survey of anglers at Central Park Lake was performed from May 5 - October 31, 2015. The survey was used to characterize both angler activity and those who fish. Information collected included fish species targeted and caught, types of gear used, and anglers' perceptions about fishery-related issues. Over 70% of anglers at Central Park Lake fish for carp. The catch rate (fish per hour) at the lake is 0.43 with a catch rate of .36 for carp. The most common comment from Central Park Lake anglers concerned stocking fish. Conclusions and management recommendations are included in the full Angler Creel Survey Report (PDF).

Fisheries Survey:

The electrofishing catch per hour for largemouth bass 15 inches and larger, as determined during a May 2009 fisheries survey, was found to be one of the best for NYC waters (see table below). Bass were not the only large fish found. Central Park Lake has yielded the largest-sized yellow perch of any New York City waterbody during DEC Fisheries surveys performed within the last decade. While yellow perch are known to be tasty as well as fun to catch, be aware state and city regulations require all freshwater fish to be returned, unharmed, to the waterbody in which they were caught.

Largemouth Bass Catch/Hour for Eight New York City Water Bodies (table updated 2019)
Waterbody 8" and over 12" and over 15" and over
Baisley Pond 17 10 10
Central Park Lake 18 15 9
Harlem Meer 47 35 14
Indian Lake 20 20 1
Kissena Lake 12 6 4
Oakland Lake 27 12 0
Prospect Park Lake 76 41 30
Van Cortlandt Lake 22 5 0
Willowbrook Lake 10 10 10