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Statewide Walleye Fishing Opportunities

The walleye, the largest member of the perch family, is one of New York's most highly sought after and valued sportfish. Historically, walleye inhabited waters only in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, and Allegheny River watersheds in New York. Today, primarily due to stocking and other DEC management efforts, walleye are found in over 140 waters from all of the major watersheds of the State. For advice on catching walleye see Fishing for Walleye.

Anglers are reminded that the general statewide regulation for walleye is a 15-inch minimum length and a daily limit of 5 fish. However, many waters have special regulations where length and daily limits vary. Be sure the check the special regulations by county.

Walleye in Lake Erie and Oneida Lake
Processing a walleye for management purposes.

While New York boasts many highly productive walleye waters throughout the State, Lake Erie and Oneida Lake have long been recognized as the premier walleye fisheries. Lake Erie is considered the top walleye destination in western New York. Walleye angler catch rates in Lake Erie have remained above average for 14 of the last 15 years and were at record levels in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Lake Erie has been in a period of above average walleye hatching success for over a decade, with exceptional walleye hatches in 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Due to this extended period of spawning success, the outlook remains excellent for Lake Erie walleye anglers in 2020 and for several years to come. There are even walleye from an exceptional 2003 year-class still hanging around, giving anglers a chance to catch trophy size walleye, with some exceeding 30 inches.

The walleye population in Oneida Lake has been monitored for over 60 years and has experienced significant fluctuations over that period of time. The current population has expanded to around one million adult fish, the highest it's been since the 1980s due to strong year-classes in 2010 and 2014. Indications are that another strong year class from 2016 will enter the fishery in 2020, increasing the adult population even more. The abundant population has supported excellent fishing in recent years, with angler catch rates indicative of a high-quality fishery.

For further information on ongoing monitoring programs in these waters, go to DEC's Fisheries Management and Reports webpage.

Walleye on Long Island
A nice Long Island walleye being released back into the water.

On Long Island two excellent walleye fisheries have been established in Lake Ronkonkoma and Fort Pond as a result of successful DEC stocking programs. Recent surveys of these waters showed strong populations in both waters with good angling opportunities.

Walleye in Southeastern New York

In Southeastern New York, try Swinging Bridge Reservoir and Rio Reservoir in Sullivan County. Walleye may also be found in nearby White Lake and Toronto Reservoir, as well as Greenwood Lake (Orange County) and throughout the Delaware River (see Border Water Regulations). Walleye can also be found in East Branch, Bog Brook, Diverting, and Boyd Corners reservoirs in Putnam County. All four of these waters are New York City water supply reservoirs and require a free New York City Public Access Permit (see link to the right).

Walleye in East-Central New York

In Otsego County, Canadarago and Otsego lakes are good bets for walleye. Otsego has not been stocked since 2014 and now supports a wild self-sustaining population. Although adult walleye remain abundant in Canadarago Lake, recruitment problems continue as limited survival of year classes produced from 2008 - 2017 have been documented. . Fingerling walleye were stocked from 2011 - 2019, and will continue to be stocked to help maintain the fishery in this lake. The recruitment failure is likely caused by a persistent invasive population of alewife in the lake. They feed extensively on newly hatched walleye (and yellow perch) fry that suspend in the water column for 6-8 weeks before swimming to the bottom. East Sidney Reservoir has also been stocked with walleye since 2015. Success of this new fishery is unknown, but some juvenile walleye have recently been caught.

Walleye in Northern and Central New York
A very nice walleye from the Black River.

DEC Regions 5, 6, and 7 (northern and central New York) contain about 80 percent of the state's walleye waters. These Regions support some of the most productive walleye fisheries in the state, including Tupper Lake, Union Falls Flow, Harris Lake, Black Lake, Saratoga Lake, Great Sacandaga Lake, Delta Lake, Whitney Point Reservoir, and Otisco Lake. Otisco Lake's walleye population continues to expand following several years of excellent survival of stocked walleye fingerlings, along with some unexpected natural reproduction during several years when walleye were not stocked. Angler diary cooperators on Otisco reported decent walleye catch rates in 2018. Owasco Lake no longer has an abundant walleye population, but it still harbors a catchable population of fish approaching trophy size. Lake Ontario also provides good walleye fishing in its eastern basin, particularly Henderson Harbor, Black River, and Chaumont and Mud bays. Good walleye populations can also be found in Irondequoit Bay, Sodus Bay, Braddocks Bay, Oswego Harbor, North Sandy Pond and Port Bay.

Walleye in Western New York

In western New York, (DEC regions 8 and 9), anglers will find good walleye fishing in Chautauqua Lake, Silver Lake, Cuba Lake, Rushford Lake, Conesus Lake, and Honeoye Lake. The Chautauqua Lake walleye population has increased over the last 10 years, which has coincided with a stocking program that was conducted from 2003-2015. Strong year classes in 2014 and 2015 have resulted in a highly abundant population with an average size of18 inches. There is another very strong year class from 2018, suggesting that Chautauqua Lake should provide a high quality walleye fishery for at least the next 7 to 10 years. In addition, good numbers of trophy size walleye exist in Chautauqua Lake, and the opportunity to catch one should only increase over the next decade.

Walleye in New York's Large Rivers

Walleye populations are also thriving in a number of large river systems including the Allegheny, Black, Oswego, Chemung, Susquehanna, Tioga, Chenango, Tioughnioga, Oswegatchie, the Hudson River estuary below the Troy Dam, and most of the main stem of the Mohawk/Barge Canal. There have been good numbers of young of the year walleye captured during several Susquehanna River surveys conducted since 2012, and 2016 abundance was particularly high at the single site sampled. This should translate into continued good walleye fishing in the Susquehanna and other southern tier rivers, like the Tioughnioga and Chenango, for the foreseeable future. Two lower Hudson River tributaries in Ulster County - the Wallkill River and Rondout Creek - were part of previous DEC stocking efforts and angler reports indicate the successful establishment of walleye fisheries in these waters. The Delaware River is considered a productive walleye fishery, particularly the 50-mile section between Callicoon and Port Jervis. The St. Lawrence and lower Niagara rivers also both support high quality walleye fisheries.