Region’s fishing is best in decades, expected to draw visitors from across country this summer
Boaters reminded to follow no wake zone requirements & be safe
As summer officially gets underway, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos encouraged residents and visitors to explore the fishing available on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
The past few years have provided record-breaking fishing for several popular species; they said the 2019 season is providing excellent opportunities along New York’s scenic northern coastline. In its 2019 rankings, and for the first time ever, Bassmaster Magazine named the St. Lawrence River as the top bass fishing destination in the nation.
“Our lakes and rivers are vitally important ecological and economic assets, providing opportunities for fishing and recreation and supporting many communities along the shoreline,” said Hochul, who visited Clayton. “In New York, we take pride in the fact that Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River continue to be recognized as premier destinations for anglers. Once again this summer, we encourage residents and visitors to make their way to our shores across the state for the best fishing experience around.”
“Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are world-class destination fisheries, offering some of the best fishing sportsmen and women will find anywhere for several sought-after species,” Seggos said. “The area’s charter boat captains, tackle shops operators and marinas are well equipped and prepared to help anglers of all skill levels and abilities catch fish, and shoreline communities are ready for anglers and their families to stay to enjoy all that the region has to offer. I encourage anglers to be smart, stay safe, and get out onto the open water soon.”
Lake Ontario is New York’s most heavily fished waterbody, offering the potential to catch trophy-sized fish from a wide variety of species, including Chinook and coho salmon, steelhead, brown trout, lake trout, Atlantic salmon, bass, walleye and panfish. Lake Ontario is consistently ranked among the top fishing destinations in the country by national publications.
With the diversity of its aquatic habitats, the St. Lawrence is home to a wide variety of warm water fish species. From plentiful panfish to acrobatic smallmouth bass to elusive trophy musky, the river provides fishing opportunities for the inexperienced and professional angler alike.
While lake levels are expected to remain high in the foreseeable future, recent history has proven that fishing in these waters will remain first-rate. In 2017, when lake levels were also at record highs, DEC’s angler assessment surveys reported fishing quality for trout and salmon ranged from good to excellent. Chinook and coho salmon fishing quality was among the highest in decades and rainbow trout fishing quality was also high – Increasing nearly 50% from a dip the two years before.
Chinook salmon are often the most sought-after gamefish, while angling success reached record levels in 2018, and outstanding fishing has continued in 2019. Fishing for brown trout and Coho salmon was excellent in 2018, with catch rates 38 and 21% higher than their respective, previous five-year averages. Atlantic salmon represent a relatively small portion of the Lake Ontario fishery, but catch rates for Atlantic salmon last year were 73% above the previous five-year average. In 2018, the newest state record walleye was caught in the St. Lawrence River and joined 10 other state record fish species caught in the region over the years.
Anglers can expect continued good fishing this summer and fall.
Boosting Local Economies
A recent statewide angler survey estimated more than 3 million angler days were spent on Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence, and major tributaries. The estimated value of these fisheries exceeded $112 million annually to local economies. People come from dozens of states and even other countries to fish, and the region hosts many fishing tournaments each year, including the following scheduled for 2019:
Remember to Stay Safe
DEC reminds boaters to be safe. High water levels may change the characteristics of people’s usual boating grounds. Boaters are encouraged to stay aware of their surroundings, be cognizant of fast-moving water, and to wear a personal floatation device. For more information about public safety around dams, go to https://damsafety.org/public-safety.
Boaters should also be aware that Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently extended the 5-mile-per-hour speed limit within 1,000 feet of the Lake Ontario shoreline to help continue reducing impacts caused by wave action to shoreline residences and infrastructure.
There are 37 municipal and state-owned boat launches that are open throughout the region, as well as many private launch sites. DEC’s website is maintaining a list of public launches along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence and encourages boaters to check for any operations updates before they head out: https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/117169.html.
To learn more about fishing Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence and New York state fishing regulations, DEC’s Guide to Great Lakes Fishing (http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/glfishing.pdf) contains valuable information about the area’s waters and tips for increasing success. For more regional news, fishing reports and local information related to Lake Ontario fishing, visit the “I Love NY” website at https://ilovenyfishing.com/.