Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Lake Erie Fishing Hotline

May 26 to June 9, 2017

Attention Anglers: Muskellunge season opens on Saturday, May 27 on the inland waters of New York State. Muskellunge fishing remains closed on Lake Erie, Niagara River and Lake Ontario until the third Saturday in June.

Lake Erie and Harbors

The walleye night bite is slowing off Hamburg, likely due to a combination of rising water temperatures and heavy boat traffic. Water temps are a little cooler to the west and anglers continue to catch decent numbers of walleye at night over rocky shoals near Dunkirk and further west. A few anglers are starting to catch some walleye by trolling in deeper water off the nearshore reefs. Look for the daytime walleye bite to improve in deeper areas with rising water temperatures. There have been some modest yellow perch catches off Cattaraugus Creek with the better catches topping out at about 20 fish.

The smallmouth bass action slowed with east winds this week, but bass should still be holding in the previously productive spots. Depths of 20-30 feet of water over rocky shoals are good bets for bass pushing 6 pounds. Good spots to try include Myers Reef, Seneca Shoal, Evans Bar and Van Buren Reef. Many smaller reefs, rock piles and humps will hold bass as well. Tube jigs, jigs with twister tails, deep diving stickbaits, live minnows and crayfish are good bass baits. For more information see the Smallmouth Bass Fishing on Lake Erie page.

Dunkirk and Buffalo Harbor anglers continue to see good smallmouth bass catches around the breakwalls. In addition, Buffalo Harbor anglers can also catch largemouth bass and northern pike along the inner breakwall and shorelines.

Lake Erie Tributaries

Rain brought all creek levels up overnight. Flows are already dropping and the small to medium sized streams should be options this weekend. Target smallmouth bass in the mid to lower sections of the tributaries. Wooly buggers and minnow imitations are good smallmouth bass bets for fly anglers, and spinning anglers generally do well with stickbaits, minnows and jigs with grubs fished under a float. The lower section of Cattaraugus Creek is a top spot for channel catfish. Nightcrawlers, chicken livers, raw shrimp or cut bait fished on the bottom works well, especially at night.

Upper Niagara River

Smallmouth bass catches are on the rise around Grand Island. Bass fishing is by catch and release only, artificial lures only in the Niagara River north of the Peace Bridge, until the regular season opens on third Saturday in June.

Chautauqua Lake

Muskellunge season opens on Chautauqua Lake on Saturday, May 27th. The recent DEC musky netting for egg-take showed good numbers of big musky in the nearshore zone. Post-spawn musky should still be holding in shallower nearshore areas. Trolling or casting large stickbaits is a good bet along weed lines. Cassadaga Lakes are also good places to target musky this weekend. The better walleye catches have come along weedlines at night, with stickbaits working well in 5-15 feet of water. During the day, target walleye in deeper waters with vertical jigging programs. See the Fishing for Walleye page for more information. Yellow perch and sunfish seem to biting well lake-wide inside of 10 feet of water. Perch catches are also good in deeper areas.

Inland Trout Streams

Most stream levels are up, but there should still be options this weekend. Be sure to have some smaller streams or upper stretches in mind for back-up spots. Depending on the stream, look for hatches of hendricksons, sulphurs, caddisflies or March browns. Productive offerings for spinning anglers include worms, salted minnows and small inline spinners. Western New York anglers have a variety of Wild Trout Streams and Stocked Trout Streams to choose from. In addition, Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for many of the region's best trout streams. Check out the Fishing For Stream Trout page for introductory information on trout baits, lures, equipment and fishing techniques.

Spring Trout Stocking

All of Region 9's trout stocking waters have been stocked with all of designated stocking increments. For County lists of stocked waters check the Spring Trout Stocking 2017 page. Hatchery staff stocked some surplus two-year-old brown trout in the following waters this past week: Genesee River - 400 brown trout from Wellsville to PA border; Cattaraugus Creek - 400 brown trout in Erie and Wyoming Counties; Cohocton River - 275 brown trout; Oatka Creek - 275 brown trout.

Genesee River Angler Diary Program

DEC Region 9 Fisheries Unit will be running an angler diary program for the Genesee River during 2017, and is currently looking for anglers to keep diaries. The diarist program aims to record data for trout and bass fishing trips on the Genesee River from the Pennsylvania line downstream through Letchworth State Park from March 1st through October 31st, 2017. If you fish the Genesee River (even once) and would like to contribute your observations by keeping a diary, please call DEC Fisheries at (716) 379-6372 or email

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; Good Luck Fishing!

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