Fishing in New York

Are you in a “New York state of mind?” If you are, get ready to catch some fish! The Empire State has some of the finest fishing in the country.
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About New York

New York’s diverse geography makes it a great place to find a variety of both saltwater and freshwater fish species. Where else can you fish both the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean without leaving the state? Around New York City, there is great offshore and coastal fishing. The rest of the state, collectively called “Upstate” New York, has the Hudson River running north to south and the Mohawk River cutting across the central part of the state. The Saint Lawrence River runs along the border with Canada, and New York shares the river’s Thousand Islands archipelago with the province of Ontario. In the western part of the state are two Great Lakes, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, while central New York boasts the beautiful Finger Lakes region, a popular vacation destination. New York has more than 7,500 lakes and ponds, 70,000 miles of rivers and streams, and is home to four of Bassmaster's top 50 bass lakes.With all this water, it’s no surprise that New York has world-class fishing for bass, trout, northern pike, muskies, walleyes, and many other freshwater fish. Serious saltwater anglers find the ocean waters around New York City every bit as exciting as the lights of Broadway. One of the premier ocean fishing destinations is Long Island. It is justifiably famous for its excellent surf fishing, especially for bluefish. Sharks, marlin, and bluefin tuna cruise through the deep ocean canyons offshore.

Fishing Types

Whatever your favorite type of fishing is, you can find it in New York. Hire a charter out of Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn to try your hand at deep-sea fishing, or cast from the beach at Montauk, the “Surf Fishing Capital of the World.” The beautiful backcountry areas of Adirondack and Catskill parks have some of the best fly-fishing east of the Rockies. If you’re into lake fishing, you can trailer a boat or hire a charter to fish the big waters of Lake Ontario, or head to hundreds of small lakes throughout the state where you can fish from a kayak or stand-up paddleboard.

Targeted Fish Species

Most rivers and lakes in New York hold some combination of smallmouth or largemouth bass, trout, northern pike, muskies, and walleyes. The Salmon River hosts big runs of steelhead and Chinook salmon, and Lakes Ontario and Erie have excellent populations of smallmouths, walleyes, and perch. New York is famous for its trout waters, especially for big brown trout; the Delaware River is considered one of the best. Along New York’s coast, you’ll find striped bass, bluefish, mackerel, Atlantic cod, winter and summer flounder, and fluke.

Fishing Techniques

With such diverse fishing throughout the state, fishing techniques are equally diverse. The usual method for salmon and steelhead is drift fishing or “dead drifting,” which involves casting the bait or fly upstream and across, then letting the line drift down naturally with the bait close to the bottom. A classic Long Island surf-fishing method is to use bucktails, retrieving them at a fast pace to entice bluefish or stripers. And if you’re a fly-fishing purist, you will want to make a pilgrimage to the famous Beaver Kill River to do some dry fly fishing—it was on this river that the technique of dry-fly fishing was perfected in the early twentieth century.