Owasco Inlet, located in Tompkins and Cayuga counties, is a major tributary to Owasco Lake. The Inlet begins in Tompkins County southeast of the hamlet of Peruville, and then flows northward for roughly 24 miles through the villages of Groton, Locke and Moravia. Below Moravia, the Inlet flows through the Owasco Flats, a large and interesting wetland, before entering into Owasco Lake.
There are 13.3 miles of Public Fishing Rights (PFR's) along the Inlet. There is one official PFR parking area and one trail head. Anglers also use unofficial pull-offs along the stream. Four of the tributaries to Owasco Inlet also have PFR, they are Hemlock, Dresserville, Decker and Sayles Creeks.
Cayuga County Parks and Trails have a canoe launch, fishing platform and hiking trail near the mouth of the Inlet. For more information on Cayuga County Parks and Trails, visit their web site under Links Leaving the DEC's website in the right hand column.
Parking area. From Locke take State Route 38 south for approximately 1.75 miles to parking area.
Trail head. The trail head is located in Fillmore Glen State Park. State Route 38, Moravia.
Public Fishing Rights Maps
General Fishing Information
Smallmouth and largemouth bass, bullhead, white sucker and panfish can be caught in the lower Inlet. Brown and rainbow trout are the main gamefish found throughout the Inlet. This is an interesting fishery as there is an opportunity for an angler to catch this year's stocked trout, holdover trout (trout stocked the previous year), wild trout and lake run fish. Lake run fish are brown or rainbow trout that have spent time in Owasco Lake feeding on baitfish, like alewives, and then return to the Inlet to spawn. The number of brown and rainbow trout being caught in the lake and tributaries has unfortunately dropped in recent years. For information on this please view the Owasco Lake 2010 Angler Diary Report (165 KB PDF)
In the spring, rainbow trout enter Owasco Inlet on their annual spawning run. The timing of the run varies from year to year, with water temperature often influencing how long fish remain in the stream. A cold spring usually slows spawning and more fish remain in the stream through April 1st, the opening day of trout season. If it's an early or warm spring, many of the rainbow trout may have finished spawning and left the stream before opening day.
Good baits for the rainbow trout are egg sacs (trout or salmon eggs), egg imitating flies and plastics, trout beads, streamers, and night-crawlers. Depending on the state of the spawning run, fish may be holding in the deeper pools, actively spawning in shallow riffle areas, or both. When fishing pools, the most active fish are usually found at the head or tail of the pool, with less active fish in the middle. Use just enough weight so that your bait just ticks bottom and drifts through the pool or riffle naturally. For more information, view Fishing for Stream Trout. Like many Finger Lakes tributaries, Owasco Inlet is often crowded with anglers on opening day, and stream etiquette can go a long way in making everyone's day a pleasurable one. Some good tips to follow are:
Elbow room to fish is a common courtesy.
The stationary or slow moving angler should be given room by over taking them noiselessly out of the water and re-entering as far away as practical.
Wading right up to another angler could disturb a pod of feeding fish, and no one appreciates this type of conduct.
Pleasant conversations are okay, so long as you don't disturb other anglers.
Unlike rainbow trout, brown trout spawn in the fall, usually from mid-October to mid-November. The same baits mentioned for rainbow trout will also work for the brown trout. Stream level during this time of year can often affect when, and if, trout enter the stream. High water events often trigger fish to run, while low stream levels often prevent or delay fish from moving into the streams. Water levels are often low this time of year which can make the fish spooky. When fishing during low water levels, try some of these tips to improve your luck:
- Work your way upstream (against the current) whenever possible because trout will usually face into the current and are less likely to see you approaching from behind.
- Wear camouflage clothing and hats or "natural colors" rather than bright colors.
- Move slowly and disturb the water as little as possible.
- Polarized glasses will aid you when wading, and in seeing fish and fish holding areas.
Owasco Inlet receives a yearly stocking of around 2,600 brown trout (8-9") and 20,000 fingerling rainbow trout (3-5"). Finger Lakes Tributary Regulations apply when fishing Owasco Inlet.
Angler Diary Cooperator Program
An ongoing angler diary cooperator program on Cayuga, Owasco, Skaneateles and Otisco Lakes, and their tributaries provides DEC fisheries staff with useful data on gamefish population trends. We are always looking for new cooperators, so if you are interested please contact the Region 7 office at (607) 753-3095 ext. 213 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org. Past years angler diary results can be viewed at Angler Diary Cooperator Program.