Here's where to find the best March fishing in New York.
As is the case in most northern states, New York's March fishing opportunities can vary from ice-fishing in the coldest portions of the state to almost balmy open-water conditions in the southern tier. During average winters this will be the case and anglers will schedule their March weekends accordingly, but things could change depending on the length and severity of winter.
For the sake of consistency we'll go with what's considered "normal" in New York as we discuss some of the best places to wet a line in March. Should icy conditions linger longer anglers should certainly take advantage of the opportunity to continue ice-fishing where it is safe to do so. However, if 2018 begins with a warm spring it only makes sense to start fishing as soon as the law allows.
With all this in mind, here's a sampling of best bets for March fishing in New York in 2018.
WESTERN NEW YORK
New York's Department of Environmental Conservation Region 9 offers steelhead anglers an abundance of opportunities from the mighty lower Niagara River to Cattaraugus Creek, one of the premier streams in the state, plus an abundance of smaller streams. Small tributary streams can provide good steelhead fishing but many are located on private lands and anglers are reminded that they must have landowner permission to fish them. These streams offer high quality lake-run steelhead fishing through April.
The majority of the steelhead in these streams are the result of smolt stockings by the DEC. There is some natural reproduction of steelhead that adds to the fishery, particularly in the Cattaraugus Creek system.
Recommended hotspots in March include Cattaraugus Creek, Canadaway Creek and Chautauqua Creek. Eighteenmile Creek, Twelvemile Creek and the Niagara River are also proven hotspots in March, along with Silver Creek, Twentymile Creek and Walnut Creek. All of these offer public access fishing at various points.
For Region 9 anglers who are more interested in sit-and-jig fishing for warmwater species such as northern pike, bass, pickerel, perch and bluegills, there are a multitude of lakes and ponds that offer excellent late-winter ice-fishing when conditions allow. In Allegany County, for example, the DEC recommends Allen Lake, Cuba Lake and Alma Pond. In Wyoming County, Silver Lake comes highly recommended for standard warmwater species as well as for walleyes, which are legal game in Silver Lake during the ice-fishing season.
For a complete listing of top-rated March steelhead waters in Region 9 plus current regulations, season dates and other pertinent angling opportunities, log onto www.dec.ny.gov.
WEST-CENTRAL NEW YORK
The DEC Region 8 Fisheries Unit is responsible for fisheries management in west central New York. Region 8 has an ongoing Angler Diary Program that includes Canadice, Canandaigua, Conesus, Hemlock, Honeoye, Keuka and Seneca lakes plus East, Port, Sodus and Irondequoit bays. The information contained in the diaries is compiled at the end of the season and an annual summary is composed for each lake and angler. Anglers who would like to participate as Angler Diary Cooperators should call (585) 226-5343.
In addition to the waters listed above, anglers can focus their ice-fishing efforts on a wide variety of waters in Region 8 including Park Station Pond in Chemung County, where trout are the main attraction during ice-fishing season.
For perch and bluegills through the ice in Monroe County, try Cranberry Pond, Long Pond and Buck Pond. Or, try Glenwood Lake and Waterford Reservoir in Orleans County.
In Schuyler County the focus is on bass, perch and bluegills in Waneta, Lamoka and Cayuta lakes. In Seneca County, trout fishermen will want to drop a line into Seneca Lake for lake trout, browns and rainbows, or hit the shallows for bass, bluegills and yellow perch.
More multi-species action may be had in Steuben County's Keuka Lake, where trout, bass and panfish may be found in good numbers during March.
CENTRAL NEW YORK
Central New York (Region 7) encompasses a nine-county area and offers a very diverse fishery from Lake Ontario in the north to the Susquehanna River in the south. There are a variety of rivers, streams, lakes and ponds spread throughout central New York. Four of New York's Finger Lakes (Cayuga, Owasco, Skaneateles and Otisco) lie within the region.
Some other popular water bodies include Oneida Lake, Whitney Point Reservoir, the world-famous Salmon River, Oswego River, Tioughnioga River and Chittenango Creek. These are just a few of the many water bodies found within central New York that offer March fishing. This habitat diversity provides anglers with a wide selection of fish species to choose from. Central New York waters have produced eight New York State fishing records and two world records.
Angling options include fishing the open water in the Finger Lakes year-round, ice-fishing, streams with year-round trout seasons and tributaries to Lake Ontario that are open to fishing throughout the winter. Additionally there is a catch-and-release bass season providing a year-round fishery as well.
For more information about fishing opportunities in Region 7 log onto www.dec.ny.gov or call (607) 753-3095.
NORTH-CENTRAL NEW YORK
The DEC Region 6 includes an 8,000 square-mile region of the state that extends from the Mohawk Valley in the south to the St. Lawrence River in the north and from the Adirondack Mountains west to the Tug Hill Plateau and Lake Ontario. Region 6 opportunities range from Adirondack wilderness brook trout to trophy Great Lakes salmon and walleyes. There are highly productive warmwater fisheries in the Indian River Lakes system, urban trout streams in the Mohawk Valley and world class muskellunge fishing in the St. Lawrence River.
In all, there are some 2,700 lakes and ponds with a total area of 110,000 acres plus 8,000 permanent streams and rivers totaling 11,700 miles, 3,000 of which support trout populations. Also included are 110 miles (76,000 acres) of the St. Lawrence River and over 800 square miles of eastern Lake Ontario. The North Central region contains at least part of three of the four most fished waters in the state: Lake Ontario, Oneida Lake and the St. Lawrence River (Lake Erie is No. 3).
In March the focus is still on ice-fishing in most of Region 6. From small ponds, some rivers and the barge canal, to shallow bays on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, the variety of fish species and locations can keep the most avid of ice-fisherman busy all winter.
In a typical North Country winter the ice fishing season is a long one. Ice conditions permit December fishing and in most years the season continues well beyond the end of northern pike and walleye season on March 15.
Always test the ice before setting forth. It is also a good idea to talk to local authorities about areas that traditionally have thin ice conditions.
The mainstays of ice-fishing in Region 6 are panfish, yellow perch, walleyes and northern pike. There are also a few waters where anglers are allowed to take trout and salmon through the ice. Be sure to check the fishing regulations guide and the special regulations section before wetting a line in Region 6 waters in March.
There are literally dozens of top-rated Region 6 March fisheries targeting muskellunge, northern pike, walleyes and crappies plus various trout species in Region 6. Many of these may be found on the DEC's Web site under the ice-fishing link for Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida and St. Lawrence counties.
For additional information on March fishing opportunities in Region 6, call (315) 785-2263.
NORTHEAST NEW YORK
New York's Region 5 is best known for its wide variety of trout and salmon waters although many of these are closed to fishing in March. However, there are many angling possibilities other than brook trout. Additional options include brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, splake, kokanee salmon, landlocked salmon, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, tiger muskellunge, muskellunge, northern pike, pickerel and walleyes.
In Region 5 some top-rated waters include Clinton County's Chateauguay and Chazy lakes, where March targets vary from lake trout, rainbow trout and landlocked salmon to yellow perch and northern pike.
In Essex County, winter anglers focus on muskies, northern pike and panfish. There are dozens of excellent winter fishing destinations in the county where a wide variety of warmwater species await anglers in March.
In Franklin County, northern pike are the dominant species in most of the public-access lakes and ponds listed on the DEC's Web site. Baker and Black ponds head the list, along with Lake Colby and Meacham Lake. Raquette Pond and Rock Pond in the town of Tupper Lake also offer good March pike fishing.
Saratoga County ice-fishermen will find good action for a variety of species on Ballston and Moreau lakes, Round and Saratoga lakes, where trout and tiger muskies may also be found.
For more information on winter fishing opportunities in Region 5, call (518) 897-1333.
EAST-CENTRAL NEW YORK
As we head south into DEC Region 4 there is still a good likelihood that lakes and ponds will still be covered with safe ice heading into March. Winter severity will ultimately determine which waters are still safe for ice-fishing, so anglers are advised to consult with local authorities (sheriff's department, DEC environmental conservation officers, etc.) for updates on current conditions.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options for Region 4 anglers to consider in March. In Albany County Ann Lee Pond and Thompsons Lake head the list of DEC recommendations. Both contain good numbers of panfish plus Thompsons Lake contains stocked rainbow and brown trout.
More great warmwater action may be had in Columbia County's Copake Lake, Kinderhook Lake and Lake Taghkanic. Rainbow and brown trout fishing is also good in Queechy Lake, where there are also a productive bass, pickerel and perch fisheries.
In Otsego County, good March fishing for trout can be enjoyed in Arnold, Otsego and Canadarago lakes, while bass and panfish fans can gear up for a day on Crumhorn, Wilber or Goodyear lakes.
In Schenectady County bass, perch and other panfish dominate in Collins and Iroquois lakes as well as in Steinmetz and Mariaville lakes. Featherstonhaugh Lake is also a good multi-species warmwater destination this month.
In Schoharie County, Looking Glass Pond and Mallet Pond offer good bass fishing. Mallet Pond is also on the least for some productive March trout angling.
For additional information on New York's Region 4 March fishing opportunities, call (607) 652-7366.
SOUTHEASTERN NEW YORK
By the time March arrives in Region 3 most open-water venues will be fishable. A good example is a section of the East Branch Croton River that is open to fishing year-round with artificial lures only. There is a minimum length limit on trout of 14 inches and a daily bag limit of one fish.
This section of the East Branch Croton River flows 2.4 miles from East Branch Reservoir to Diverting Reservoir in the Putnam County town of Southeast. Access is available from state Route 22 as well as several side roads.
Some 1,170 brown trout and 600 rainbow trout yearlings are scheduled to be stocked in April. Trout stocked in this stream survive and grow very well. Wild trout, mostly browns, are present but not common.
For more information on where to fish for trout, bass and other species in Region 3 in March, call the DEC's regional office at (518) 402-8013.
SOUTHERN NEW YORK
Regions 1 and 2 (Long Island)
Often recognized for its excellent saltwater fishing, Long Island also provides the angler with outstanding freshwater fishing opportunities in more than 500 lakes and ponds and over 30 miles of streams. Even in New York City, an angler can find good fishing close to home in numerous small ponds and lakes, including those within world-renowned Central and Prospect parks. For more information on March fishing opportunities in and around Long Island, call (631) 444-0280.