2014 Coldwater Fishing Forecast
Long Island (DEC Region 1)
Fishing before April 1
The trout season on Long Island is open year round and even after harsh winters like this past one, anglers can expect to enjoy open water angling well before April 1st. Most Long Island waters will be stocked by March 21st this year. In addition to these fish, anglers should also find some nice trout that have held over from Fall 2013 stockings in waters such as Deep Pond, Kahlers Pond, Upper Lake and West Lake in Suffolk County and in Massapequa Reservoir and Upper Twin Pond in Nassau County. Other recommended lakes and ponds include Laurel Lake, East Lake, Southards Pond and Argyle Lake in Suffolk County. In Nassau County, Oyster Bay Mill Pond is also a good bet. Many of these waters also hold over a good number of fish from one year to the next, increasing the opportunity to catch large trout.
Long Island's Trout Rivers
The Carmans, Nissequogue and Connetquot Rivers in Suffolk County are some of the best locations in New York State for early season fly fishing. The Connetquot is open for fly fishing on a catch and release basis through the winter, while the Carmans in Southaven County Park and the Nissequogue in Caleb Smith State Park open for fly fishing on April 1st. Unlike other areas of the state, Long Island's more temperate climate usually provides for some early hatches. Tidal sections of these waters are open year round and also provide excellent fishing opportunities and hold trophy-size fish.
Anglers interested in catching wild trout on Long Island should check out the Carmans River in Southaven County Park. All of the brook trout in the Carmans River are wild fish. Angler Diary Cooperators have reported that nearly a quarter of the trout caught in Southaven County Park over the past five years were wild brook trout, and they ranged up over 15 inches. Please note that brook trout are catch-and-release only in all freshwater and tidal streams on Long Island except in the State Parks on the Connetquot and Nissequogue Rivers. For the stocked rainbows and browns, there is a three fish daily limit.
DEC will also continue to stock the Connetquot River State Park this spring in addition to the trout that State Parks stocks to offset the loss of fish from the Connetquot Hatchery.
Spring Fishing Festival
The annual I FISH NY Spring Fishing Festival at Belmont Lake State Park will be on Saturday, April 5 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. This event, cosponsored by the DEC and State Parks, is a special "Free Fishing Event". The requirement for a fishing license is waived for the event. The Regional Fisheries Unit will be loaning out fishing rods and State Parks will provide free bait for the event. There will also be a children's casting contest, fly casting demonstrations and other programs of interest to the whole family. DEC and State Parks will stock nearly 2,500 trout into Belmont Lake in advance of the event.
For a complete list of Long Island trout stocked waters, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Trout Stocking List, Bureau of Fisheries, 50 Circle Road, SUNY, Stony Brook, NY, 11790 or e-mail us.
Hudson Valley/Catskills (DEC Region 3)
The extreme cold temperatures will make for difficult early season angling throughout the region. The southeastern portion of the regional traditionally warms the earliest and DEC's trout hatcheries will start stocking catchable-size trout in late March and early April. Stocking of other waters may be delayed until conditions improve. Check the Region 3 Fishing Hotline for up to date stocking information.
Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester Counties
Anglers looking for good early season trout fishing east of the Hudson River should consider Wappinger Creek, Ten Mile River, and Fishkill Creek, all located in Dutchess County. These fairly large streams will be well stocked prior to opening day, and all support holdover trout from previous years' stockings, as well as some wild brown trout. In Putnam County, good early season bets are the East Branch and West Branches of the Croton River. These streams are located on New York Watershed Property, and a free NYC Public Access Permit is required. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has updated and improved the permit issuing system. Permits can now be obtained online (see link to right). Information and permit applications can also be obtained by calling 1-800-575-LAND. In Westchester County, the Croton River, below New Croton Dam, and Stone Hill River are well stocked early season favorites that do not require a city permit.
Remote stream fishing
Although most of the Catskill trout streams are readily accessible by road, people looking for a more remote fishing experience have many options. There are thousands of acres of state lands in Sullivan and Ulster counties, and most have small wild trout streams. Some much larger waters also exist in remote settings, like the Neversink River Unique Area below Bridgeville and above Oakland Valley, and the Mongaup River below Rio Dam in the Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area.
Other notable trout resources in the area include 17 New York City reservoirs totaling more than 23,000 acres. Large brown trout, including some weighing more than 20 pounds, may be found in many of these waters. Rondout and Kenisco Reservoirs have thriving natural reproducing populations of lake trout. Lake trout fishing in Kensico, a 2,218-acre reservoir in Westchester County, has improved greatly in recent years and now is supported primarily through natural reproduction. Neversink and West Branch Croton Reservoirs have modest populations of landlocked salmon that supplement the more traditional brown trout experience. An experimental rainbow trout stocking on Muscoot Reservoir (Westchester County) has resulted in some nice sized rainbows being caught. As noted previously, all New York City watershed lands require a free permit for recreational access. Anglers are reminded that the NYCDEP has expanded recreational boating on Neversink Reservoir. Kayaks, canoes and certain other watercraft that are properly steam-cleaned are now permitted to be used on the reservoir from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. More information can be found at NYCDEP recreation website (see link to right).
During the spring and early summer, DEC hatchery staff will deliver over 300,000 trout to 85 streams and 30 lakes and ponds within Region 3. Included in this total will be nearly 16,000 of the larger (12-15") two-year-old brown trout, which will be distributed to about 40 of the larger and more accessible streams. Notable stocking changes for this year include stocking brook trout in the Neversink River between Hasbrouck and South Fallsburg. Also the Rondout Creek from the Route 44/55 bridge in Kerhonkson to the confluence of Sandburg Creek will be stocked with over 3,000 rainbow trout. This year's stocking information can be obtained by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Fisheries Office, DEC Region 3, 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY, 12561 or by reviewing the 2014 spring trout stocking lists online. The Fishing Hotline will also have updated stocking information.
Region 3 anglers are reminded that Didymo was found in Esopus Creek and Rondout Creek below Rondout Reservoir. To avoid spreading this invasive species of algae, anglers are encouraged to not use felt soled waders and to disinfect their equipment before entering another waterbody. For more information about Didymo, see the link to the right.
Angler Diary Program
The Region 3 Fisheries Unit will be looking for anglers to participate in an angler diary program for Kensico Reservoir. Information gathered through the angler diary is extremely useful for helping to better manage the fishery. For more information please contact Ryan Coulter at 845-256-2204 or email at email@example.com.
Public fishing rights (PFR) maps
Public fishing rights (PFR) maps for Region 3 are now available on the DEC website. These maps are designed to provide anglers with location information for public fishing easements in the Region. PFR easements are also marked with yellow signs to help anglers find these locations on the stream. Please contact the regional office if you have any questions or believe that a section of PFR is posted incorrectly.
The Region 3 Fishing Hotline will provide information on how and where to catch fish throughout the region. Also up to date trout stocking information will be provided. Please call: 845-256-3101 or check the hotline for timely updates.
Northern Catskills/Capital Region (Region 4)
As is the case for the entire state, a long, cold winter will prolong the Spring fishing season in East-Central NY. Patience is the name of the game- anglers will most likely have better success if they hold off until late April/early May. As water temperatures warm up, trout will feed more actively, making fishing conditions more favorable. Stocking numbers will not change from 2013. The anticipated trout stocking summary for Spring 2014 is available.
Delaware River Basin
Although the Delaware River basin was spared of major flooding by Superstorms Irene and Lee in 2011, this basin is still recovering from a major storm that occurred in 2006. Fisheries surveys conducted in the damaged feeder streams to the East Branch, West Branch, and main stem Delaware River revealed that post-flood trout recruitment continues to be successful. Having the ability to swim up tributaries to spawn in suitable habitat is vital for the survival of trout populations.
Two new in-stream habitat improvement structures were installed in the East Branch tailwaters near Shinhopple (across from Tomannex State Forest. The additional rock and wood structures are intended to provide cover where trout habitat has historically been marginal.
Reports from anglers fishing the Delaware River system in 2013 revealed many successful trips made for brown trout and rainbow trout. The tailwaters of the West Branch continue to be one of the most productive fisheries for trophy trout in the northeast. Although not stocked directly, both wild and stocked trout do move about the system for anglers to encounter. Interestingly, more small trout were caught in the East Branch tailwaters in 2013 than in previous years, indicating a strong year class and great fishing to come in the future.
Note that trout season on the border reach where New York and Pennsylvania share the Delaware River & West Branch Delaware River does not open until April 12 this year. Until then, fishing on this border water reach is "catch and release" only.
Schoharie Creek Basin
Recovery of stream trout in Greene County from the effects of Hurricane Irene was assessed in 2013. Tributaries to upper Schoharie Creek were hit the hardest and survey efforts in 2013 found wild trout populations at similar levels to those seen pre-Irene for both the East Kill and the West Kill. The trout population on the upper Batavia Kill near Maplecrest has not recovered as well. The survey site on the Batavia Kill below Windham, however, did show a good wild trout population. The remainder of the Greene county streams have trout populations at or near their pre-Irene levels.
Kinderhook Creek in Rensselaer County was also surveyed in 2013 and numbers of wild trout were up compared to 2012.
Throughout the region, wild trout stream populations went into the winter in better shape in 2013 than 2012. If they were able to able to survive through the harsh winter, anglers should see plentiful wild trout this coming season.
Region 4 Access
In the coming year, a new fishing access site (FAS) is anticipated for the West Branch Delaware River in Walton.
Adirondacks/Northeastern NY (DEC Region 5)
This winter was very cold, and the eastern Adirondacks received relatively little snow. That scenario resulted in the larger trout streams building an exceptional abundance of ice, including "anchor ice." Anchor ice forms on the bed of streams, especially in riffles, and builds up from the stream bottom. In contrast to this winter, abundant snow can form an insulating surface layer, minimizing anchor ice formation.
The abundance of ice in the rivers this year could affect trout fishing in three ways. First, extensive anchor ice formation during winter can increase the mortality of fish and invertebrates. Secondly, as the ice is breaking up, ice jams can form and "grind" their way down sections of the river. That massive movement of ice can be very detrimental to fish and invertebrates in the areas where the ice jams form. Lastly, anglers may not even be able to get into the rivers until later in April. Even when the main channel opens, the buildup of ice along the banks can make accessing the channel difficult and dangerous.
The good news is that some fish always survive these difficult conditions, and stocking later this spring will restore trout abundances in even the severely impacted stream sections.
An extended warm spell can change conditions quickly, but anglers interested in Adirondack trout streams may want to wait until May before venturing up north.
Remote ponds in the Adirondacks are rarely ice-free until mid-April, and this cold winter means that there is plenty of ice to melt before we'll be on the ponds. Once waters are ice-free and temperatures rise, surface trolling for salmon and lake trout is a good bet on the larger lakes. Brook trout pond fishing is good from ice-out through May. Anglers are reminded that in many Adirondack ponds, the use of fish as bait is prohibited. For a list of these waters check the "Special Regulations by County" section in the Fishing Regulations Guide, or contact the DEC's Region 5 Fisheries Office in Ray Brook at (518) 897-1333 or Warrensburg at (518) 623-1240.
In recent years, we've had a shortage of brook trout for stocking in the backcountry ponds. As a result, some of the stocked ponds received a reduced number of trout, and limited number of ponds that are normally stocked received no trout. Most of the stocked ponds received good numbers of trout, but if you are headed into an old favorite pond you may want to double check on its recent stocking:
A variety of leaflets are also available including stocking lists for Region 5, top fishing waters, a list of reclaimed trout ponds, and others. While browsing the Region 5 Fisheries website, be sure to check out the public fishing rights maps for many area rivers. These maps can be downloaded and printed out to provide detailed locations for stream sections with purchased and deeded public rights for angling. Maps are also available from the fisheries offices.
Western Adirondacks/North Central New York (DEC Region 6)
Region 6 includes the Western Adirondacks, Tug Hill, and the Black, Mohawk and St. Lawrence River valleys. The region's wide diversity of water types provide habitat for everything from small headwater brook trout to large deepwater lake trout. This region was hit heavily by the snow and cold this winter and it will likely take some time for the flows and temperatures of many streams to reach fishable levels and the ice to depart off of the Region's trout lakes and ponds.
Stocking typically proceeds from the Mohawk Valley in mid-April north to St. Lawrence County throughout the month of May. If conditions allow, the Oswegatchie River below Cranberry Lake is the only river in the region that is stocked prior to April 1. The popular two-year-old brown trout stocking occurs in early May on some of the region's larger, more accessible streams such as Crystal and Otter Creeks (Lewis County), Sauquoit Creek (Oneida County) and the West Canada Creek (Oneida & Herkimer Counties), just to name a few.
Suggested fishing techniques
Worms usually produce the best catches this time of year when the water temperatures are colder and the fish are more sluggish. Spinners and salted minnows also are popular baits. For best results, fish the pools and slow, deep riffles. Fishing in the late afternoon after the water has been warmed by the sun is also productive.
Lake Ontario tributaries
Lake Ontario tributaries should also offer good fishing conditions for steelhead. Try Stony Creek, North and South Sandy Creeks, Lindsey Creek, Skinner Creek and the Black River in Watertown, from the Mill Street dam down to the Village of Dexter. Use egg sacs, single hook spinners, wet flies and streamers. Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for Region 6 Lake Ontario tributary streams and other inland trout streams.
Central New York/Eastern Finger Lakes (DEC Region 7)
Lake Ontario and tributaries
Steelhead anglers heading to tributaries of Lake Ontario do not have to wait until April 1 to begin fishing because there is no closed season for trout and salmon in these waters up to the first barrier impassable to fish. The peak of the spring steelhead run generally occurs in mid-to late March with fish averaging eight to ten pounds. The long cold winter made fishing conditions difficult for winter tributary anglers. When spring arrives and conditions improve, the Salmon River and Oswego River should once again provide exceptional spring steelhead action. For more information on steelhead fishing, check out Steelhead Fishing in Lake Ontario Tributaries. Near shore brown trout fishing can also be very productive during the spring. The peak of this fishery generally occurs in mid-April with the best areas being Fair Haven, Oswego Harbor, and Mexico Bay. It's a great opportunity for anglers to catch five to fifteen pound brown trout in the shallow near shore waters. For more information on fishing Lake Ontario, check out Trolling for Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon.
Finger Lakes and tributaries
The Region 7 Finger Lakes are also early season favorites. Good fishing typically carries through to mid-June on Cayuga, Skaneateles, and Owasco Lakes. Cayuga Lake is well known for rainbow trout, and along with Owasco Lake, offers excellent fishing for lake trout. Skaneateles Lake offers good fishing for lake trout, rainbow trout, and, along with Cayuga, provides an exceptional opportunity for landlocked salmon. Otisco Lake also offers good brown trout fishing during early April.
For the best opportunities to catch lake-run rainbow trout in the Finger Lake tributaries (which open to trout fishing on April 1), try Salmon Creek, Cayuga Inlet and Fall Creek on Cayuga Lake; Grout Brook on Skaneateles Lake; and 2013 angler diary data looks encouraging, with a few rainbow trout being caught in Owasco Inlet.
Weather permitting, we anticipate excellent early trout fishing opportunities in all of our stocked waters with the most notable being Nine Mile, Limestone and Butternut Creeks in Onondaga County; Oquaga and Nanticoke Creeks in Broome County; the Otselic River in Chenango and Cortland counties; Genegantslet Creek in Chenango County; Chittenango Creek and the Otselic River in Madison County; the west and east branches of Tioughnioga River in Cortland County; Fall and Virgil Creeks in Tompkins County; and Owego Creek, the east and west branches of Owego Creek, and Cayuta Creek in Tioga County. Stream Trout Fishing Methods is available online for people wishing to know more about fishing for trout in streams.
Anglers are reminded that most waters in Region 7 are managed under a five-trout-daily-creel limit, with no more than two fish being greater than 12 inches. Check the "Special Regulations by County" section of your Freshwater Fishing guide.
Weekly fishing reports can be viewed on the Central New York Fishing Hotline web page or can be heard at 607-753-1551. Public fishing rights maps can also be viewed and downloaded from the DEC website.
West-Central New York/Western Finger Lakes (DEC Region 8)
Finger Lake Tributaries
Numerous trout fishing opportunities abound in Region 8. Beginning April 1, Finger Lake tributaries such as Naples Creek (Ontario County), Catharine Creek (Schuyler and Chemung Counties), Cold Brook (Steuben County) and Springwater Creek (Livingston County) offer anglers excellent opportunities to pursue beautiful, quality rainbow trout in excess of five pounds, while catches of fish two to three pounds are common. If the current weather pattern holds, it is likely that rainbows will spawn later providing excellent fishing opportunities this spring. The mild weather this winter may cause the rainbows to run early this spring. The Region will have a better handle on the runs in Naples Creeks and Cold Brook after its traditional spring sampling in March.
Brown Trout Streams
In addition to wild, stream run rainbow trout, numerous streams throughout the region are full of stocked and wild brown trout. Year-round, quality fishing can be found in Oatka Creek near Caledonia (Livingston and Monroe counties), throughout the Cohocton River from Cohocton to Bath (Steuben County), and Cayuta Creek near Odessa (Schuyler and Chemung counties). Additional opportunities beginning April 1 for stocked trout can be found in Post Creek (Steuben and Chemung Counties), Meads Creek (Steuben County), and Canandaigua Outlet (Ontario County). This year, Region 8 will again provide stocking that is intended to provide better access for kids on Canandaigua Outlet in the Villages of Phelps and Shortsville.
Good trout (brown and rainbow) fishing may be found from shore along many of the western Finger Lakes. Possibilities exist at the Keuka Lake State Park and from the piers at the southern tip of Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen. Pristine shore fishing can also be found along the shores of Hemlock Lake and Canadice Lake. Note that the trout fishing in the Finger Lakes is open year-round.
Lake Ontario and Tributaries
Reports from Lake Ontario tributaries in Region 8 such as Oak Orchard Creek (Orleans County), Sandy Creek, Genesee River, Irondequoit Creek (Monroe County), and Maxwell Creek (Wayne County) indicate that fishing has been good and should provide good steelhead fishing prior to April 1. Most Lake Ontario tributaries are open for fishing year-round.
Early April should offer opportunities for near-shore fishing on Lake Ontario. Brown trout, rainbow trout, coho salmon and a few chinooks should be available near shore. Pier fishing and shallow water trolling in mid- to late-April should be very productive. Look for trout and salmon "hot spots" in warm water pockets from Rochester to Sodus and vicinity. Even small reaches having only two or three-degree warmer surface temperatures attract these fish.
Weekly fishing reports can be viewed on the Central New York Fishing Hotline web page or can be heard at 607-753-1551. To assist anglers in finding public fishing rights (PFR) areas on regional trout streams, color brochures of those streams can be found and downloaded from the DEC website. A list of boating access sites may be found by visiting the DEC website.
Western New York (DEC Region 9)
Great Lakes and tributaries
Since trout fishing on the Great Lakes tributaries is permitted all year (up to first impassible barrier), anglers can fish for spring run steelhead (rainbow trout) before April 1st. The spring tributary run of spawning steelhead peaks in mid to late March, however catches are good and steady through April. Top Lake Erie Tributaries for both catches and public access include Chautauqua, Canadaway, Cattaraugus and Eighteenmile Creeks. Near the City of Buffalo; Cayuga, Buffalo and Cazenovia Creeks also receive decent spring steelhead runs. Popular Lake Ontario Tributaries in Niagara County such as Fourmile, Twelvemile, East Branch Twelvemile, Eighteenmile and Keg Creeks also provide quality fishing for steelhead. During March and April, anglers on the Lower Niagara River have good opportunity to catch steelhead, brown trout and lake trout from boat or shore. April is also a great time to troll in shallower Lake Ontario waters on the Niagara Bar and along the Niagara County shoreline for brown trout, lake trout, steelhead and Coho salmon. Shore anglers can target the same species from the piers at Wilson and Olcott Harbors.
Wild Trout Streams
Western New York has much to offer the wild trout angler, with a number of streams supporting high-quality wild trout populations. Wiscoy Creek is thought by many as the top wild brown trout stream in the region, although Clear Creek (Ellington) and Elm Creek are also good bets for wild browns. Clear Creek (Arcade), Lime Lake Outlet, Elton Creek, McKinstry Creek and Mansfield Creek sustain excellent populations of wild rainbow and wild brown trout. For wild trout in a truly wild setting, anglers can try many streams in Allegany State Park. A list of region 9 Wild Trout Streams is available online. Anglers can also view summaries of Fish Population Surveys conducted on many of the region's wild trout streams.
From late March through May, the DEC stocks thousands of yearling brown, brook and rainbow trout into over 80 different streams, lakes or ponds in region 9. In addition, nearly 30 of these waters receive plantings of larger 12-15 inch, two-year-old brown trout. While some waters receive between 100-300 two-year-olds, the more popular and heavily fished streams such as Genesee River, Cattaraugus, Ischua, East Koy and Goose Creeks receive more substantial stockings of two-year-old trout. Inland trout lakes in Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties offer good access for shore and car-top boat angling. Allen, Case, Harwood, New Albion, Rushford, Quaker and Red House Lakes are generously stocked after ice thaws. Stocked waters near the Buffalo/Niagara metropolitan area include East Branch Cazenovia Creek (Towns of Holland and Wales), Little Buffalo Creek (Towns of Lancaster and Elma), Ellicott Creek in Amherst State Park (Amherst), Sprague Brook Park Ponds (Concord), Oppenheim Park Pond (Wheatfield) and Hyde Park Lake (Niagara Falls). For a complete list of trout stocking waters and number of trout stocked see the 2014 Spring Trout Stocking lists. Maps showing Public Fishing Rights easements on streams or Contour Maps for inland lakes are also available online.
Genesee River Angler Diarists Needed
The New York State DEC Region 9 Fisheries Office will be running an angler diary program on the Genesee River in Allegany and Wyoming Counties. The program will run from March 1st through October 31st, 2014. This program will cover the river from the PA line downstream through Letchworth State Park and will record data for both trout and bass fishing trips.
If you fish the Genesee River (even once) and would like to keep a diary for DEC please call the Region 9 Fisheries Office at (716) 372-0645 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. This diary program will be used to evaluate the quality of the fishery and determine future management actions.