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Central New York Fishing Hotline

February 19 - February 26

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, we ask that you please act safely when fishing. If you arrive at an angler parking area that is congested, consider finding another area that is less crowded. When you're on the water, please make sure there is ample room between you and your fellow anglers. Don't share a boat unless it is large enough so that all persons aboard can always remain at a minimum distance of six feet apart. Providing ample distance helps to reduce the spread of colds, flu and COVID-19 and also contributes to an overall better angling experience. Good Luck Fishing!

For those interested, there are also other fishing hotline/reports available for the region. A few of the web sites are: Wayne County Tourism, Visit Oswego County, Lake Ontario Fishing, and Oneida Lake Fishing Report (all leave DEC website).

The New York State Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide runs from April 1st of the current year to March 30th of the following year. The new guide which started on April 1, 2020, has a cover photo of angler holding walleye. The guide is available to view on our web site at the above link.

Under Brianna's Law, all motor boat operators will need a boating safety certificate. How soon this certificate is required depends on your age, but by January 1, 2025, all operators of motorized vessels regardless of age will need a certificate. For more information on Brianna's Law, classes, and the age breakdown please view Boating Education (leaves DEC website) on the NYS Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation site.

Region 7 and Eastern Region 8

For people visiting the hotline for the first time, and as a reminder to frequent visitors, the hotline is always done the week before. For example, it was done on February 19th this week. Information for the hotline is obtained by talking to employees at bait shops, searching fishing web pages, or directly from anglers. Ice thickness information is obtained the same way; we do not go out and check ice thickness. Remember ice thickness can vary greatly, even on the same water, so use extreme caution and your own good judgment if deciding to venture out. Some safety measures to follow are: use a spud and check ice thickness as you venture out, fish with a buddy, and bring a rope and ice-picks.

See the Introduction to Ice Fishing chapter in the Beginners Guide to Freshwater Fishing for more information on ice fishing.

With recent heavy snows across the region most waters have significant snow on them. With this heavy snow there is also a good possibility of slush under the snow, especially with rain in the forecast. Both of these conditions can make walking and dragging a sled very difficult an most waters for the weekend.

Also, as a word of warning, all of the dock structures at the DEC boat launches have been removed. So, please plan accordingly.

Oswego River

The flow is running at 2,550 cubic feet per second (cfs) as of February 19th. The cold and snow has made fishing difficult with ice forming along shore on some parts of the river. And It looks like the cold temperatures are going to continue for awhile so because of this there is no new information to report. For information on steelhead fishing please see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Ontario tributaries link under the Salmon River report.

Remember there are mandatory personal flotation device (PFD) zones on the river. Visit Oswego County Tourism website (leaves DEC website) for more information on this and also for information on the life jacket loaner programs in the area.

Salmon River

The river flow is 350 cfs as of February 19th. Steelhead are being caught on egg sacs (blue, pink, white mesh), beads, or egg imitating flies. Fishing continues to be slow and anglers covering water are having the best luck at this time. With the cold temperatures slush ice and shelf ice (ice along shore) is making fishing difficult at times. For more information on fishing for steelhead please view Steelhead Fishing in Lake Ontario Tributaries.

Water flow information by Brookfield Renewable Energy for the Salmon River can be found at the Brookfield Renewable website (leaves DEC website).

Sandy Pond

Anglers are getting out with 10+" of ice are being reported and anglers are getting northern pike and yellow perch. See above about snow and slush.

Port Bay

The Port Bay South Boat Launch is currently closed for repairs.

Sodus Bay

Anglers are getting out on the ice with 8+" being reported but use caution as ice thickness can vary a lot on the bay. See above about snow and slush.

Skaneateles Lake

The DEC launch has been closed for the season.

Oneida Lake

Anglers are getting on Big Bay and are also getting out on the main lake with 8+" being reported in places. Use caution as ice thickness varies greatly on this lake and there are pressure cracks out there. This area got a lot of snow over the last week, so deep snow, along with the likely hood of slush, is making walking difficult at this time. If on a trail walking isn't bad but when you get off the trails there is slush to deal with. Yellow perch and walleye are being taken in 20 to 30 foot of water.

Whitney Point Reservoir

Anglers are getting out with 11+" of ice being reported. Remember it's always thinner around the channel. Some white crappie and walleye are being caught. See above about snow and slush.

Otisco Lake

The north end has been receiving significant pressure, especially after yet another big tiger musky was caught. See above about snow and slush.

If you catch a tiger musky that has been tagged, the tag should be located near the dorsal fin and be gray in color, please do not remove the tag if releasing the fish. Write down the tag number, length of fish, and location of the catch and either send an email to fwfish7@dec.ny.gov or call 607-753-3095 ext. 213 to report your catch.

Cayuga Lake

Anglers were getting out on the north end around the State Park with 5-6" of ice being reported in places and anglers are getting chain pickerel and yellow perch. Use caution as ice thickness varies greatly in this area. See above about snow and slush.

Lake Ontario, Owasco, Seneca, Keuka, and Canandaigua lakes, Chenango, Tioughnioga and Susquehanna Rivers

There is no safe ice to report at this time on these waters. All of the dock structures at the DEC boat launches have been removed. So, please plan accordingly.

Warm water (bass, pike, etc.) angler diary cooperators are needed for Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Hemlock, and Canadice Lakes. If interested please contact Region 8 Fisheries at fwfish8@dec.ny.gov or by calling 585-226-5343.

Note: We are always looking for new participants in our Angler Diary Cooperator Program for our program on the Finger Lakes. Our numbers have dropped in recent years, and we need new cooperators now more than ever. If you fish Cayuga Lake, Owasco Lake, Skaneateles Lake, Otisco Lake or any of their tributaries and want to learn more about this program and how to sign up, please contact the Region 7 Fisheries office at (607) 753-3095 ext. 213, or on-line at fwfish7@dec.ny.gov.

If you fish Canadice Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Conesus Lake, Hemlock Lake, Honeoye Lake, Keuka Lake or Seneca Lake and want to learn more about this program and how to sign up, please contact the Region 8 Fisheries office at (585) 226-5343, or on-line at fwfish8@dec.ny.gov.

If you would like to contribute to the fishing report, or need more fishing information, or have any fishing/fishing equipment related questions, you can contact fwfish7@dec.ny.gov. Good luck fishing.

The fishing line can also be heard at (607) 753-1551.