Best Places to Fish Freshwater Fish in New York State

Dave Hebeda New York

When thinking about the best freshwater fishing, New York is rarely part of the conversation.
David Hebeda feels that should change.

Often regarded as having the best freshwater fishing east of the Rocky Mountains, New York offers a wide range of freshwater fishing experiences unmatched across the country. More than 165 species call New York home. The state contains around 70,000 miles of streams and rivers as well as about 7,500 lakes.

Here are just a few of the New York freshwater fishing hotspots to consider for an outdoor adventurer’s next trip.

Lake Ontario and Lake Erie

One of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario is considered New York’s best spot for fishing, since it also features multiple in-shore and bay areas to consider. Here, one will find huge Chinooks, as well as brown trout, walleye, coho salmon, bass, and lake trout.

Nearby Lake Erie is the state’s second-largest source of fresh water, spread over 373,000 acres. Walleye is particularly prominent, but Lake Erie is also well known for its smallmouth bass and the trout found in its numerous tributaries.

St. Lawrence River

Long and wide, this picturesque river rivals Lake Erie for the best smallmouth bass, and it’s home to many yearly fishing tournaments centered around huge smallmouths. Largemouth bass are here, too, in both deep and shallow water.

Black Lake

St. Lawrence County’s Black Lake is huge, around 8,350 acres, and very shallow, making it an excellent place for bass, black crappie, and northern pike. Big fish are easily found here, too, especially seen in yellow fish and panfish.

Lake Champlain

It’s not one of the Great Lakes, but Lake Champlain is similarly regarded and extends for over 100 miles into Canada. Smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing is fantastic at Lake Champlain, but it also offers everything from northern pike and channel catfish to yellow pike and Atlantic salmon.

Dave Hebeda New York

Oswego River

Looking to fish year-round? Head to Oswego where one can nab bass in the summer followed by Chinook salmon in the fall.

A lake round can be found in its lower section, where trout, walleye, and salmon are migrating from Lake Ontario. Heading north, the warmer waters offer channel catfish and smallmouth bass.

Cayuga Lake

Part of New York’s distinctive Finger Lakes region, Cayuga is the area’s second-largest lake (No.1. is Seneca) and is known for both warm- and cold-water fish species.

Its shallow weeds are great for largemouth bass and its deeper spots are home to salmon and cold-water trout, the latter of which is New York’s state fish.

Saranac Lakes

The Saranac Chain is a fishing spot unlike any other; it got a huge showcase as the setting for the “Great Outdoor Games” for several years on ESPN.

Nestled within the state’s gorgeous Adirondack Mountains, Saranac is well known for its yellow perch, bass, and northern pike. But the real prize here is trout, which are more commonly found in the chain’s upper region.

Just don’t forget to take the time to soak in the beauty of it all.

David Hebeda
David Hebeda