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Chittenango Creek

Chittenango Creek, located in Madison and Onondaga counties, runs from Nelson Swamp (north of the village of Cazenovia) to Oneida Lake. Chittenango Creek is one of the more popular trout fishing streams in Central New York. There are 4.8 miles of Public Fishing Rights (PFR) along this medium sized, partially open and swift flowing stream. Besides being a prime trout stream, it is also a very scenic waterway with a large 167 foot waterfall located in Chittenango Falls State Park. No fishing allowed on a small section of stream directly above the falls for safety reasons (park regulation). Downstream of the falls fishing is permitted in the Park, so you can catch trout and view this spectacular falls at the same time.

Public Access

There are 4.8 miles of PFR along Chittenango Creek. There are four PFR parking areas along the stream and numerous unofficial pulloff's as the stream borders Route 13 from Cazenovia to Chittenango.

Parking Areas

  • Route 13 parking area. 2.25 miles south of Cazenovia on Route 13. Parking for 4 cars.
  • Route 13 parking area. 3.5 miles north of Cazenovia on Route 13. Parking for 10 cars.
  • Emhoff Road parking area. 4.5 miles north of Cazenovia on Route 13 to Carey Hill Road, turn right onto Emhoff Road. Parking for 4 cars.
  • Olmstead Road parking area. 2.5 miles south of Chittenango on Route 13 take right onto Olmstead Road. Parking for 3 cars.

There is a universally assessable fishing platform in the Village of Chittenango that was created in 2009 by the Madison County Trout Unlimited Chapter. A trail head kiosk and parking area are located in the village of Chittenango just west of the junction of Route 5 and 13.

Chittenango Creek Public Fishing Rights Brochure and Maps (PDF)

Fish Species

Brown trout, brook trout, white sucker, walleye, and smallmouth bass.

General Fishing Information

The main gamefish found in the upper section of stream are stocked and wild brown trout and the occasional wild brook trout. As you get closer to Oneida Lake, the lower section begins to have some warm water species like walleye, smallmouth bass and panfish. Most of the fishing pressure takes place on the stream during early spring shortly after the trout are stocked. Much of the stream is open to fishing year-round, so anglers have the option of fishing during the winter and early spring. When fishing during these cold water periods, concentrate on the deeper holes, fish slowly, and keep baits near bottom. Sometimes fishing during the mid-day period when things have had a chance to warm up also helps. Please view Fishing for Stream Trout for more advice on trout fishing.

Regulations

Madison County Special Fishing Regulations
Onondaga County Special Fishing Regulations

Fisheries Management

Chittenango Creek is stocked annually with around 14,300 one year-old brown trout (8-9") and 1,900 two year-old brown trout (12-15").

Fish Survey Report 2018

A 2.2 mile section of Chittenango Creek, Madison County, is managed under a special trout fishing regulation of an all year season, Catch-and-Release (C&R) only, and artificial lures only. This special regulation has been in effect since October 2010. On September 7, 2018, a single pass electrofishing survey, following CROTS protocols, was conducted at two standard sites within the "No-Kill" section. The purpose of the survey was to assess whether the C&R regulation has increased the overall density and improved the size structure of the trout population within the reach. These two sites had been previously surveyed in August 2009 (before the C&R regulation), August 2013, and August 2016.

A total of 55 brown trout were collected in 2018, which was an improvement over the 48 collected in 2016 but fewer than were collected in 2009 and 2013. However, when looking at catch per unit effort (CPUE), the CPUE of 81 trout/hour was the highest of the four survey years, but the third lowest when looking at # of fish/acre. Start and end points within each site varied somewhat between years but differing crew members likely accounts for the shorter "on-times" in recent years. Estimated survey efficiencies (percentage of fish caught) were similar in all years so the calculated trout densities are reliable for comparison purposes.

The 2018 brown trout mean length of 7.5 in was an improvement over the 2016 mean of 6.0 in, but below the 2013 mean of 9.4 in. The number of young-of-year (YOY) wild brown trout ultimately influences this mean length, with few collected in 2013. With the minor exception of the 2013 survey, the percentage of wild trout collected has remained fairly stable and has averaged around 73% in the two sites. Wild trout also seem to be the big player in overall trout numbers within the two sites, with stocked trout only averaging 27% of the trout collected. It should be noted here that none of the stocked trout have been marked and estimates of trout origin (wild or stocked) were made using field inspection for deformed or eroded fins. In all four years the surveys were conducted more than three months after the spring stockings and the low numbers of hatchery brown trout seemingly mirrors a trend of poor survival of stocked brown trout across the state in recent years. In a statewide trout study from 2011 through 2013, covering eight different trout streams around NY, Alexiades et al. (2014) observed a steep decline in stocked trout densities shortly after stocking. This lack of stocked trout, whether recently stocked or holdover, is likely one of the contributing factors to no major changes in mean length and fish/acre in these C&R sites. There are likely other possible factors as well.

Currently, it does not appear that the C&R regulation has had any impact on the trout population within the two standard sample sites. Though the regulation doesn't seem to be benefitting the trout population, it does provide a unique and popular angling opportunity and should be continued. A 2014 angler survey of Chittenango Creek estimated fishing effort in the C&R section at 455 hours/acre, the highest anywhere on the stream (Everard 2016). Also, one of the questions anglers were asked was if they had ever fished within the C&R section, 57% of respondents had fished there (Everard 2016).

The two standard sites, along with a new third site at the upstream section of the C&R section, and a fourth site outside and upstream of the C&R section will be surveyed in 2020 to continue monitoring of the C&R regulation.

Number of Brown Trout Collected per Year and Length Group
Length Group (Inches) Brown Trout 2009 Brown Trout 2013 Brown Trout 2016 Brown Trout 2018
2 0 0 0 1
3 22 1 21 12
4 13 4 12 5
5 0 1 0 2
6 3 4 0 3
7 16 16 2 6
8 7 15 4 11
9 5 8 2 4
10 2 8 2 3
11 0 10 0 2
12 2 5 2 4
13 2 5 0 0
14 4 2 0 0
15 2 0 1 0
16 0 2 1 1
17 2 0 0 0
18 0 0 1 1

Chittenango Creek Angler Survey 2014

An angler survey was conducted from April 1 through October 15, 2014, on the brown trout (Salmo trutta) stocked sections of Chittenango Creek, Madison County. The stocked section was broken into four reaches based on the stocking policy and management type. The four reaches were named upper, lower-1, catch and release and lower-2. The purpose of the survey was to estimate the amount of fishing effort expended in the stocked sections of Chittenango Creek. This information will be used to help refine stocking policies for the four stocked sections by updating and improving the estimates of angler effort. Fishing pressure for the 19.3 miles of stream was estimated to be 13,893 angler hours, or 171 hours/acre during the survey period. The catch and release section had the highest overall effort with 455 hours/acre. The overall trout catch rate for Chittenango Creek anglers was 1.18 trout/hour. The catch and release section had the highest average catch rate with 1.42 trout/hour. The estimated total brown trout catch ranged from 15,492 when summing the catches by stream section, to 16,214 when adding up the monthly totals. These values are 0.98 and 1.03 times the 15,700 trout that were stocked in the stream in 2014. The estimated brown trout harvest rate was 12%. Total brown trout harvest ranged from 1,211 when estimating harvest by stream section to 1,362 when summing the monthly values. Read the full report (PDF)