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Central Park Lake

Without a doubt, Central Park Lake offers the most diverse freshwater fishing experience in Manhattan. The meandering shoreline of this 18-acre water body varies from rocky to grassy to treelined and creates a variety of aquatic habitats for at least nine different species of freshwater fish. And that's not all: if you're looking to catch big fish, Central Park Lake is the place for you.

Physical Features:

Area: 18 acres
Approximate average depth: 4 - 6 feet

Access:

Shoreline access is available at many locations around the lake. Central Park Lake is very popular, so take care when casting your line to avoid interfering with other anglers and pedestrians.

Fish Species:

Largemouth bass, Black crappie, Yellow perch, Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Carp, Brown bullhead, Golden shiner, Common shiner. For more information on these fish species, visit the page on Freshwater Fishes.

Fishing:

To catch a good-sized largemouth bass, try a soft plastic bait like a plastic worm or a hard plastic bait such as stickbait (plastic fish with treble hooks). Panfish, including the top-sized yellow perch of this lake, can be caught using a bobber and worm. Remember to tamp down all barbs on hooks as New York City regulations require the use of barbless hooks.

Central Park Lake offers an opportunity to experience nature within NYC

Regulations:

Special fishing regulations apply

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation rules require the use of non-lead weights and barbless hooks.

Central Park Lake Angler Creel Survey 2015

A creel survey of anglers at Central Park Lake 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. Over 70% of anglers at Central Park Lake fish for carp. The catch rate (fish per hour) at the lake is 0.43 with a catch rate of .36 for carp. The most common comment from Central Park Lake anglers concerned stocking fish. Conclusions and management recommendations are included in the full Angler Creel Survey Report (PDF).

Fisheries Survey:

Largemouth bass catch per hour as determined during an April 2019 boat electrofishing survey, was found to have decreased since a 2010 survey. The common carp population, however, has increased significantly. More findings can be found in the Central Park Lake Technical Brief (PDF).

Largemouth Bass Catch/Hour for Eight New York City Water Bodies (table updated 2019)
Waterbody 8" and over 12" and over 15" and over
Baisley Pond 17 10 10
Central Park Lake 9 5 0
Harlem Meer 111 63 29
Indian Lake 20 20 1
Kissena Lake 35 2 2
Oakland Lake 27 12 0
Prospect Park Lake 85 33 12
Van Cortlandt Lake 22 5 0
Willowbrook Lake 10 10 10