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Onondaga Lake

Onondaga Lake is a large lake located in Onondaga County in the city of Syracuse. Onondaga Lake has a checkered past as one of the most polluted lakes in the country, but in recent years, as the lake has become cleaner and fish habitat has improved, it has also become a very popular fishing location for black bass and carp anglers.

Physical Features:

Elevation: 400 feet
Area: 2,944 acres
Shoreline Length: 12 miles
Length: 4.7 miles
Maximum Depth: 60 feet
County & Town: Onondaga County, Towns of Salina, Geddes and Syracuse

Aquatic Plant Life:

Abundant rooted aquatic vegetation can be found around the entire lake from shore out to about 10 feet of water.


Kenneth P. Lynch Launch. 280 Restoration Way (just off Route 690), Syracuse. Concrete Ramp. Parking for 30 cars and trailers. Fishing platform.

Seneca River Hayes Road. 3664 Hayes Road, Lysander. Parking for 9 cars and trailers. Fishing platform.

Onondaga Lake Park Launch. Concrete ramp. Parking for 40 cars and trailers. Fee.
Good shore access around much of the lake through Onondaga Lake Park.

For more information on these launches including Google Maps driving directions, visit the Boat Launch Sites for Onondaga County page.

Photo of 21.5 inch Largemouth Bass
21.5" Largemouth Bass caught and
released from Onondaga Lake

Fish Species:

Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, tiger musky, northern pike, walleye, pumpkinseed sunfish, bluegill, black crappie, rock bass, yellow perch, white perch, channel catfish, brown bullhead, bowfin, freshwater drum, longnose gar, common carp, round goby, and gizzard shad.


Onondaga Lake has a surprising number of fish species present, and you never know what species you may end up catching next. The most popular gamefish are largemouth and smallmouth bass. Largemouth bass grow large in the lake with fish commonly caught in the 17 to 19-inch range. One thing to keep in mind when fishing this lake is that largemouth bass can be found very shallow throughout much of the year. Smallmouth bass prefer the deeper water and often congregate around the mouth of Nine Mile and Onondaga Creeks when gizzard shad schools form there in mid-summer. Fishing the lake outlet in late summer can often produce good catches of both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Common carp are numerous, grow large, and can be found throughout the lake.


Statewide Fishing Regulations Apply.

Fisheries Management:

Onondaga Lake is not typically stocked, but it received surplus tiger musky stockings in 2011, 2013 and 2014. Onondaga Lake is a highly studied water body. The State University of New York's Environmental Science and Forestry School (ESF) does numerous research projects on the lake, and it's not uncommon to catch a fish that has been tagged. If you catch a tagged fish, write down the tag number, species, length of the fish, location where it was caught, and call the contact phone number on the tag to report it.

Photo of Tagged Largemouth Bass
Tagged largemouth bass

More about Onondaga Lake:

Map of navigational buoys (PDF) -- A printable map of hazards and navigational buoys on Onondaga Lake regulations apply.