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Harlem Meer

Panoramic view of Harlem Meer

Overshadowed by its larger cousin, the Lake, the Harlem Meer is nevertheless very popular with anglers. Located at the northeastern corner of Central Park, next to the Conservatory Garden, this shallow lake offers diverse fishing opportunities, as a large variety of sunfish and small to medium sized bass are abundant throughout. For the patient angler, some large carp are often seen cruising farther from the bank.

Physical Features

Area: 9.98 acres
Maximum depth: 5-7 feet


The Harlem Meer is located in the northeast corner of Central Park. It is readily accessible by train lines 2, 3, 6, B and C as well as many bus lines. There is shoreline access around most of the lake. The Harlem Meer is very popular, so take care when casting your line to avoid interfering with other anglers and pedestrians.

Fishing Information

To catch a good-sized largemouth bass, try a soft plastic bait like a plastic worm Texas or wacky rigged. In summer try reaction baits such as topwater lures, crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, or swimbaits. Bluegill, crappie and pumpkinseed can be caught using a bobber and live worms. Remember to tamp down all barbs on hooks as New York City regulations require the use of barbless hooks.

Species Present

Black crappie
Brown bullhead
Common carp
Golden shiner
Green sunfish
Largemouth bass

Special Regulations

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.

Fisheries Survey Summary

Largemouth Bass Catch/Hour for Eight New York Water Bodies (Table updated 2016)
Waterbody 8" and over 12" and over 15" and over
Baisley Pond 23 19 10
Central Park Lake 18 15 9
Harlem Meer 106 54 9
Indian Lake 20 20 1
Kissena Lake 12 6 4
Oakland Lake 14 4 0
Prospect Park Lake 53 53 13
Van Cortlandt Lake 47 19 6
Willowbrook Lake 108 15 6

Harlem Meer Fisheries Report

The Harlem Meer was surveyed by boat electrofishing four times between 2008 and 2013. Fish species collected were largemouth bass, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, green sunfish, yellow perch, black crappie, common carp and golden shiners. Harlem Meer is the only body of water in NYC where green sunfish have been caught. A single northern snakehead was captured in 2008. Catch per hour (CPUE) of all fish increased from 2008 to 2013 with a maximum 810 fish/hour in 2013.

CPUE of largemouth bass was excessively high compared to other warm water lakes and ponds in both New York State and New York City. Only a small percentage of these bass were greater than 12 inches in length. Largemouth bass proportional stock density (% of 8 inch and larger bass that are greater than 12 inches) ranged from 8.8 to 20.41. Relative stock density (% of 8 inch and larger bass that are greater than 15 inches) ranged from 0 to 2.2. These population structure measures indicate the bass population is dominated by smaller-sized bass (under 12 inches). Catch rates and size distribution data indicate unstable recruitment of bass whereas the same data indicate sunfish are ecologically balanced. The suggested management strategy to bring the largemouth bass population back into balance is to remove smaller-sized bass.

Printable Report (PDF, 200 KB)

Harlem Meer Angler Creel Survey 2015

A creel survey of anglers at the Harlem Meer 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. A majority of anglers at the Harlem Meer fish for any species that will bite, while 36% of anglers fish specifically for largemouth bass. The catch rate (fish per hour) at the Meer is 2.11 with a catch rate of .61 for largemouth bass. The most common comment from Harlem Meer anglers concerned overgrowth of aquatic plants. Findings from this survey suggest the Harlem Meer is New York City's most popular freshwater fishing location. Conclusions and management recommendations are included in the full Angler Creel Survey Report (PDF, 742 KB).