Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

May 17 to May 24, 2019

Lake Erie

Sturgeon Point Marina was still closed at mid-week, but all other Lake Erie launches are open. The walleye night bite has been decent to good, with some limits reported. Popular nighttime spots include Shorehaven Reef, Bournes Beach, Green Hills, Van Buren Bay, Evans Bar and the area off Hamburg and Smokes Creek. Trolling minnow-type stickbaits at around 2 mph over rocky areas of 8-15 feet of water is the typical program. Walleye area available during the daytime too. Target depths of 20-35 feet of water off/near the popular nighttime spots and off the windmills. Try trolling, bottom bouncing or vertical jigging. There were some vague reports of yellow perch closer to Buffalo, however the area east of Cattaraugus Creek in 50-60 feet of water remains the best bet for a bucket full of perch. Perch schools are moving around, and with it the bite. Anglers who have been able to stay on an active school have been rewarded.

Dunkirk and Barcelona Harbors are good bets for smallmouth bass. Water temperatures are still relatively cool, so look for the bass action to really take off as the temps come up. Water temperatures are even colder in the outer Buffalo Harbor, and bass have not started to show in numbers yet. There are good numbers of bass around the inner Buffalo Harbor, including lots of hefty largemouth bass. Keep in mind that the there is no fishing from the docks, or from the shoreline immediately adjacent to the boat slips in Buffalo Harbor.

Lake Erie Tributaries

With the exception of Cattaraugus Creek, all Lake Erie tributaries are currently in good fishing shape with moderate flows. There are still some steelhead hanging around, but smallmouth bass now provide the best action with all streams fishing well for bass. Woolly buggers and streamers are good bets for fly anglers, and spinning anglers do well with stickbaits, minnows and jigs with grubs or plastics fished under a float. The lower section of Cattaraugus Creek is a good spot to target channel catfish. Nightcrawlers, chicken livers or raw shrimp fished on the bottom works well, especially at night. The deeper holes down low in the other creeks may hold catfish as well. Anglers can also catch catfish along the Lake Erie shoreline on calm nights, especially near stream inlets.

Niagara River

There are still trout hanging around the lower river, with decent number of steelhead and a few lakers in the upper drifts. Some walleye continue to show in the upper drifts and from the Lewiston Sand Docks at night. Smallmouth bass and white bass numbers are on the upswing as fish migrate upriver. A mix of smallmouth bass and lake trout are hitting on the Niagara Bar. Once lake ice completely moved through the system, water temperatures shot past favorable smelt dipping temps of 39-40 degrees rather quickly, with no real sign of smelt near shore. Maybe next year. The NYPA fishing platform may be closed at times due to high water. Call ahead for status if you plan to fish there, at 716-796-0135, extension 45. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River page.

Lake Ontario & Tributaries, Harbors & Piers

Golden Hill State Park launch is closed due to high water levels. At Wilson-Tuscarora, the floating docks have been removed due to water level. The launch is still open for "center launching", which requires two people, one in boat and one to back it in. Town of Newfane and lower Niagara River launches remain open. Trollers report good catches for a mix of king salmon and lake trout off Niagara County, especially near Olcott. Spoons and flasher fly combos have worked well in 40-100 feet of water, with some caught kings weighing around 20 pounds. Brown trout and the occasional coho or steelhead are still available inside 30 feet of water. Stickbaits and medium-sized spoons run behind planer boards is the typical program.

DEC requests angler's help with recovering heads from Coho Salmon harvested from Lake Ontario in 2019. Through marking and tagging of stocked coho salmon, DEC is comparing Coho Salmon stocking strategies and wild vs. stocked coho in Lake Ontario. For more information on data to include with coho heads and freezer locations to drop off samples see Coho Salmon Head Collection page.

Chautauqua Lake

Anglers are catching walleye along weed lines both night and day. Boaters can troll with stickbaits or worm harnesses, or drift and work jigs with nightcrawlers. Shore anglers can connect by casting stickbaits, especially near stream inlets. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Inland Trout Fishing

Most of the inland trout streams are currently running a bit high. Better conditions can be found by seeking out smaller streams and spring fed streams. Fly hatches have been relatively sporadic with the consistent cool temperatures. Depending on the stream, look for hatches of midges, blue-winged olives, hendricksons, caddisflies and stoneflies during the warmest part of the day. Western New York anglers have a variety of Wild Trout Streams, Stocked Streams and Stocked Lakes to choose from. Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for many of the region's best streams. Check out the Fishing for Stream Trout page for introductory information on trout baits, lures, fishing equipment and techniques.

Spring Trout Stocking

All of western New York's trout stocking waters have been stocked with at least one stocking increment. For County lists of stocked waters and numbers of trout to be stocked, see the Spring Trout Stocking 2019 page. Call the Randolph Hatchery Stocking Hotline at 716-358-2050 for stocking updates. Hatchery staff are now delivering additional stocking increments for the larger or more popular waters. The following waters are scheduled for an additional stocking between 5/20 and 5/24:

Allegany County: Genesee River (Wellsville), Rushford Lake (Caneadea).

Cattaraugus County: Red House Lake (Red House), Red House Brook (Red House), Quaker Lake (Cold Spring).

Wyoming County: Letchworth Park Pond (Genesee Falls).

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; fwfish9@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.