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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 (leaves DEC website). There is 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 and you can catch trout and view the 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 pulloffs 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.

DECinfo Locator - Interactive Trout Stream Fishing Map (Decinfo Locator is best viewed on a desktop computer).

Trout Stream Fishing Map User Guide ("How to" instructions for using the fishing map on Decinfo Locator.)

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. When fishing during the cold water periods of early-spring and winter, 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.


Special regulations apply. See the Freshwater Fishing Regulation Guide (PDF).

Fisheries Management

There are multiple management categories on Chittenango Creek. From Russell Street in Chittenango upstream
to the mile marker 1237 south of the Village of Chittenango Line is a Stocked-Extended reach and is stocked with around 1,170 one year-old (9") and 130 two year-old brown trout (14"). From the mile marker 1237 south of the Village of Chittenango Line upstream to theTown of Fenner/Town of Sullivan Town line at mile marker 1219 Stocked-Extended-Catch and Release reach and is stocked with around 1,600 one year-old and 170 two year-old brown trout. From the Town of Fenner/Town of Sullivan Town Line at mile marker 1219 upstream to Route 20 in Cazenovia is a Stocked-Extended reach is stocked with around 8,030 one year-old and 890 two year-old brown trout. From Route 20 in Cazenovia upstream to Ballina Road is a Stocked reach is stocked with around 1,520 one year-old brown trout and 170 two year-old brown trout.

Fish Survey Report 2020

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 August 26, 2020, a single pass electrofishing survey, following CROTS protocols, was conducted at two standard sites within the C&R section along with an additional new third site (2020a in Table). 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. The two standard sites had been previously surveyed in August 2009 (before the C&R regulation), August 2013, August 2016, and September 2018.

A total of 24 brown trout were collected in 2020 from the two standard sites, which was the lowest number caught of the five surveys. The catch per unit effort (CPUE) of 41 trout/h and 33 trout/acre was also the lowest of the five surveys. Start and end points within each site varied somewhat between years, this along with differing crew members likely accounts for the variation of "on-times" over the years. Estimated survey efficiencies (percentage of fish caught) were similar in all years so the calculated trout densities are reliable for comparison purposes.

The 2020 brown trout mean length of 5.9 in for the two standard sites was the shortest mean length of the five surveys. The number of young-of-year (YOY) wild brown trout ultimately influences this mean length. YOY brown trout are typically in the 2 to 4-inch range. With the minor exception of the 2013 survey, the percentage of wild trout collected has remained fairly stable and has averaged around 72% 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 28% 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 five 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).

This was the first year a third site was added which proved to be interesting. Catch rates at this site of 169 trout/h and 214/acre were greater than any of the previous catch rates at the two standard sites. Lengths ranged from 3.5 to a whopping 21.7 inches with a mean length of 10.5 in; longer than any of the previous mean lengths in the two standard sites. Few YOY were collected in the third site and the rate of stocked fish (35%) was higher than the two standard sites. Some stream improvement work had been done in that section beginning in 2010. As no previous survey had been done at this site there is no data to compare to at this time.

The two standard sites, along with the new third site at the upstream section of the C&R section, will be surveyed in 2022 to continue monitoring of the C&R regulation.

Number of Brown Trout Collected per Year and Length Group
Length Group (Inches) BT 2009 BT 2013 BT 2016 BT 2018 BT 2020 BT 2020a
2 0 0 0 1 2 0
3 22 1 21 12 11 3
4 13 4 12 5 3 2
5 0 1 0 2 1 0
6 3 4 0 3 0 8
7 16 16 2 6 0 6
8 7 15 4 11 1 5
9 5 8 2 4 0 1
10 2 8 2 3 0 2
11 0 10 0 2 2 5
12 2 5 2 4 4 6
13 2 5 0 0 0 4
14 4 2 0 0 0 3
15 2 0 1 0 0 2
16 0 2 1 1 0 1
17 2 0 0 0 0 0
18 0 0 1 1 0 0
19 0 0 0 0 0 0
20 0 0 0 0 0 0
21 0 0 0 0 0 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)