Top Fishing Spots In New York State

New York is well known for its urban atmosphere, but just as impressive as its Manhattan skyscrapers are the vast amounts of lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds found throughout the state. Upstate New York has a wide variety of game species to target, and enough trophy-sized fish to please any angler. Even in New York City itself there's some great fishing to be had. Next time you find yourself wondering where to fish in New York, try out one of the locations below.

Oneida Lake

Mike Iaconelli catches 2 smallmouth bass at Oneida Lake
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mike Iaconelli holds up two smallmouth bass in a tournament on Oneida Lake.

For big-time bass fishing tournaments in New York, look no further than Oneida Lake. The Bassmaster Elite Series ? the most highly-regarded tournament series in North America ? will be making its last stop of the regular season here in late August, with nearby Syracuse as the home base. Numerous other high-profile Bassmaster and FLW tournaments have been held here over the years. Thanks to the watchful eye of the New York State Department of Conservation, trophy-sized largemouth and smallmouth bass have flourished despite the vast fishing pressure this lake sees. Aside from bass, walleye and perch are also popular targets. At 79.8 square miles it is the largest lake entirely within the state of New York.

Hudson River

new york fishing
A couple of anglers hold up a striper on the Hudson River.

The historic Hudson River flows from north to south, down the eastern part of the state before forming the New York City/New Jersey border. Despite its reputation as an urban river system, this 315-mile long river has some of the best striped bass fishing in the country. April through July is the prime time for stripers, but anytime from spring to fall is good fishing. Both large and smallmouth bass are popular targets, as are trout around the Catskill mountains area. Fly fishing is popular on the river: higher elevations are better for rainbow trout, while brown trout is more common in warmer waters closer to sea level. The best part about fishing the Hudson is that there are dozens of towns and cities along the river that truly embrace their fishing heritage.

Lake Champlain

new york fishing
Sunset on Lake Champlain.
Ahodges7/Wikipedia Commons

Lake Champlain, which lies on the New York-Vermont border in the northern part of the state, is a dream for anglers who enjoy catching a variety of different fish species. Dozens of different species are found in this 490 square-mile lake, including many of the most popular gamefish out there, like bass, trout, walleye, panfish, and sturgeon. Not only that, but numerous state records have been set here, so it?s even a paradise for trophy-hunting specialists. There are many lodges, charters, and guides available in towns like Plattsburgh and Port Kent. From trolling for lake trout and landlocked salmon or flipping weedbeds for bass in the summer, to fly fishing along the shoreline for brookies and rainbow or ice fishing for walleye and pike, there?s sure to be a fishing style that suits you on Lake Champlain.

The Great Lakes

new york fishing
Lake Ontario has some world-class steelhead and salmon fishing.

As great as some of the smaller lakes and rivers can be, there?s just something special about hitting the open water of the Great Lakes. Both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario offer their own unique brand of trophy species, so it?s just a matter of picking what you want to go after. Typically, Lake Ontario?s the place to go if you want to troll for salmon or trout, while Lake Erie?s well known for its huge smallmouth bass and walleye. Of course both lakes share the same species, so even if you want to fish near Rochester for bass, for example, Lake Ontario still holds a good population. Unlike some smaller lakes across the state, you shouldn?t have too much of a problem finding a fishing charter or guide if you?re visiting or don?t have a boat yourself, especially in some of the larger communities.

Delaware River and Tributaries

new york fishing
New York streams can hold some nice-sized brown trout.

When it comes to the best fishing towns in the United States, the state of New holds the best of them all. Why? Because Roscoe, a town of just 600 in the Catskill mountain area, won WFN's 2011 Ultimate Fishing Town contest over bigger cities like Destin, Florida. For a voting-based contest, that?s impressive. Roscoe is one of many fish-crazed towns that rest along the Delaware River and its tributaries near the Pennsylvania border. Fly fishing for rainbow and brown trout is the most popular style for anglers, socially in the tributaries. Downstream of Lordville is great for smallmouth bass and walleye.

Ultimate Fishing Town

Think you know of a great fishing town in New York? Or any other state for that matter? Then head on over to and nominate your town now! The winning town gets a $25,000 community donation for fishing-related causes. If Roscoe can do it, so can your town!


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