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Harlem Meer

Panoramic view of Harlem Meer

Overshadowed by its larger cousin, the Lake, the Harlem Meer is nevertheless very popular with anglers. Located at the northeastern corner of Central Park, next to the Conservatory Garden, this shallow lake offers diverse fishing opportunities, as a large variety of sunfish and small to medium sized bass are abundant throughout. For the patient angler, some large carp are often seen cruising farther from the bank.

Physical Features

Area: 9.98 acres
Maximum depth: 5-7 feet

Access

The Harlem Meer is located in the northeast corner of Central Park. It is readily accessible by train lines 2, 3, 6, B and C as well as many bus lines. There is shoreline access around most of the lake. The Harlem Meer is very popular, so take care when casting your line to avoid interfering with other anglers and pedestrians.

Fishing Information

To catch a good-sized largemouth bass, try a soft plastic bait like a plastic worm Texas or wacky rigged. In summer try reaction baits such as topwater lures, crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, or swimbaits. Bluegill, crappie and pumpkinseed can be caught using a bobber and live worms. Remember to tamp down all barbs on hooks as New York City regulations require the use of barbless hooks.

Species Present

Black crappie
Bluegill
Brown bullhead
Common carp
Golden shiner
Green sunfish
Largemouth bass
Pumpkinseed

Special Regulations

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

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

Fisheries Survey Summary

Largemouth Bass Catch/Hour for Eight New York Water Bodies (Table updated 2018)
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

Harlem Meer Fisheries Survey and Technical Brief

Boat electrofishing surveys of the Harlem Meer have been performed bi-annually since 2009 with the most recent executed in October, 2019. Fish species captured during this survey were bluegill, pumpkinseed and green sunfish, largemouth bass, and black crappie. No yellow perch or brown bullhead catfish were captured as in previous surveys. Largemouth bass catch rates were high relative to other New York State waters of similar size, particularly for fish of lengths 12 inches and greater. Bluegill sunfish catch rates were also high. While catch rates for green sunfish were low, this is consistent with previous surveys of the Meer, the only location in NYC where DEC staff has found this species. More findings are in the full Harlem Meer Technical Brief (PDF).

Harlem Meer Angler Creel Survey 2015

A creel survey of anglers at the Harlem Meer 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. A majority of anglers at the Harlem Meer fish for any species that will bite, while 36% of anglers fish specifically for largemouth bass. The catch rate (fish per hour) at the Meer is 2.11 with a catch rate of .61 for largemouth bass. The most common comment from Harlem Meer anglers concerned overgrowth of aquatic plants. Findings from this survey suggest the Harlem Meer is New York City's most popular freshwater fishing location. Conclusions and management recommendations are included in the full Angler Creel Survey Report (PDF).