CNY Hot Spots

This page is dedicated to all the hot spots to fish in Central New York. Please email James or Al with any “hot spot” ideas.

Butternut Creek

  • Open year round, this small creek is located east of Syracuse near Routes 91 & 173 near Jamesville. Butternut is primarlily habited by Brown Trout. Bring a short rod for this one!

Chittenango Creek

  • Located southeast of Syracuse in the Hamlet of Chittenango near Route 13 and open year round from Route 20 north to the Conrail RR bridge. This freestone stream is loaded with Browns and Rainbows. There is good access to Chittenango Creek and it is best fished during the months of May and June.

Fish Creek System

  • The west branch of this system is located north of Syracuse. Running along Route 13 north to Camden it’s only a 35 minute drive from the city. Back in the 1950’s, this water was reputed to rival any western US river. That’s not to say the present day fishing is lackluster though. A vast expanse of running water, Fish Creek offers Brown, Brook and Rainbow Trout to anyone willing to explore. The east branch of Fish Creek near Route 69 in Taburg is more freestone in structure than it’s sandy counterpart. The season opens April 1st and closes November 30th. Both waters offer a good variety of insect activity and are best fished from May through September.

Limestone Creek

  • Located in the Fayetteville/Manlius near Routes 92 & 173, this stream is open year round. Best fishing occurs in April and May during a typical year weather wise. Sometimes these local streams fish great all Spring, Summer and Fall. Typically though, once things heat up in July and August, it’s better to look for cooler water.

Nine Mile Creek

  • Season opens April 1st and closes October 15th. Located west of Syracuse, this cool spring fed stream almost limestone in composition, offers the angler prolific insect activity during the Summer months and an eager supply of mainly Brown and Brook Trout.

Oneida Lake

  • Oneida Lake sits in Central New York about 10 miles northeast of the city of Syracuse. Nestled in at 75-76 degrees longitude and just south of 43 degrees latitude, Oneida lake covers 79.8 square miles making it the largest inland lake in New York State with a maximum depth of approximately 55 feet. Oneida Lake’s bottom structure consists mainly of rocky bars and mid-lake reefs and shoals. Since the introduction of Zebra Mussels in Oneida Lake, its water clarity has increased dramatically. This has also had a dramatic impact on vegetation, which grows abundantly in the shallows due to increased sunlight exposure.
  • Although Oneida lake harbors a great number of different species of fish, it’s reputation and history is based on the much sought after Walleye and Yellow Perch. I was quite young the first time I fished Oneida Lake and remember catching Walleye with my brother on sunny summer afternoons. We would troll a Rapala in the shallows or drift bottom with a silver Dixie Spinner that had a fat night crawler attached. Occasionally we would tie on a bucktail jig and either drift or cast it. Not that I was ever good at jigging, but if I had my choice of one lure to catch Walleye on Oneida Lake it would be a bucktail jig. Jigging has been the most popular fish producing technique and still is today. It’s an art of sorts that, requires a strong sense of feel and finesse.
  • During the spring and fall, Walleye concentrate near the shoreline especially at night when the action can be fast and furious. Walleye are nocturnal feeders by nature and in my opinion the most productive time to fish Walleye is at night during the fall up until ice forms. Walleye are gorging themselves for the winter, chasing schools of baitfish through the shallows. Casting Rapala’s, Thundersticks and other type stick baits from shore can be extremely productive. During the hot summer months, many Walleye find refuge in the weeds and deep water. The most effective way to handle Walleye in the weeds is light line jigging in the open pockets. Another effective tactic is slow trolling a plain night crawler above the weed tops. Deeper water during this time will require the use of heavier jigs or trolling with Rapala’s and Thundersticks. Popular Walleye spots include Shackleton Shoals, the Dumping Ground west of The Grass Beds, deep-water areas including The Barge Canal Channel and the deeper waters at the eastern end of the lake from Lakeport to Sylvan Beach.
  • During the spring and fall, Crappie and Perch concentrate in shallow still waters such as marinas. A 1/32 oz or smaller jig tipped with a spike (larvae) fished on light line under a bobber is the main technique. Around August, Perch will school in 8-15 ft of water around large grassy shoals. Live minnows, crabs and jigs are the preferred bait.
  • Oneida’s Smallmouth Bass fishery should not be ignored and the lake is well under-rated as a “Smallie” hotspot. There are days when all you may catch is Smallmouth Bass. Oneida’s Smallmouth can be very aggressive and will take almost anything you can throw. It is not uncommon to take a stringer full of 20 plus inch 3 lb or more Smallmouth.
  • Shoreline access to Oneida Lake is relatively limited. Aside from a few public areas such as Oneida Shores State Park (Brewerton) and the pier at Sylvan Beach, most of Oneida Lakes shoreline is private including cottages, marinas and businesses. To fish Oneida lake effectively, the use of a boat is recommended. Always be aware of the weather on Oneida Lake as wind direction and speed can change rapidly. Because the lake is realtively shallow there are many areas hazardous to boats. They are usually marked but caution is advised.
  • A lot has changed with the lake over the last 20 years including decreased stocking, increased harvesting, water control methods, weather patterns, the introduction of zebra mussels and the lakes ever changing eco-system. Trying to catch Walleye in clear shallow water on a sunny day today can be likened to down rigging for Crappie with a J-plug. It just ain’t gonna happen. The same methods of pursuit from the past apply today but the tackle and tactics have changed.

Onondaga Lake

  • Ask any Syracusan’ if Onondaga Lake is a good place to fish and they might look at you in bewilderment. It’s reputation as one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States has tainted its potential as a fishing spot for most. However, ask a select group of local anglers the same question, and if they are forthcoming enough, they will tell you that the fishing on Onondaga Lake is a best kept secret. If you are a devout bass fisherman, the smallmouth action will wear your arm out. Look for them with jigs, spinnerbaits and live golden shiners. A good area for smallies is Willow Bay near the mouth of the Seneca River. If carp fishing is your bag you’ve found Shangri La! One local expert, Mike McGrath, has likened it to carp fishing in England 100 years ago. In fact, it is astonishing how under fished this lake is for carp. Access from shore is plentiful and the season is year round. European style tackle is starting to catch on in pursuit of these behemoths.

2 thoughts on “CNY Hot Spots

  1. Pingback: Summer Catch | NCC News

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