New York Salmon Fishing

New York Salmon Fishing

Photo by: Bill Blevins

A Guide to NY Salmon Fishing

Do you live in the state of New York (or travel there frequently) and enjoy fishing? If you’re looking to save some money on a delicious meal or two, you might want to consider salmon fishing! Here’s some basic information to get you started.

New York Salmon Fishing Locations

The best spots will be found in Lake Ontario tributaries. Each year, New York State stocks the water with about 1.7 million Chinook salmon and 250,000 coho salmon, vastly increasing your chances of getting a bite. Any one of these tributaries will be perfect for your fishing trip: South Sandy Creek, Black River, Oswego River, Salmon River, Sterling Creek, Genesee River, Sodus Bay, Oak Orchard Creek, Sandy Creek, Eighteen Mile Creek, and the Lower Niagara River.

Learn about the rules and regulations for New York fishing here at the official website.


Salmon can start spawning as early as July or August. The peak of the salmon’s spawning run generally hits in late September/early October. “Winter run” salmon continue until the spring.


You can choose fly fishing or spin fishing. For either type, your rod should be 8-10 feet long and rated for 15-30 pound line. Make sure to invest in sturdy fishing line, as salmon can get quite big and you don’t want your line to snap as you’re reeling it in. The three best flies for catching the salmon are egg imitations, wet fly/streamers, and stonefly/nymphs. Ensure that they are flashy and colorful to catch the salmon’s interest.

Strategy — Catching

Since these types of salmon tend to stay near the river bottom, your bait or lure should hover 6-18 inches above the bottom, at the fish’s eye level. You should add weight to your line to guarantee that it stays in the right place.
To get the fish to bite, you should use one of the two methods that Pacific salmon best respond to: dead drift and wet-fly swing. For the first, let your fly drift as naturally as possible and stay alert for a salmon bite. For the second, cast upstream from where the salmon are, then swing your line so it passes directly in front of the fish. The salmon will think it is a smaller fish intruding into its territory and respond aggressively.

Strategy – Landing Salmon

Ideally, the fish will be swimming upstream as you catch it. If it’s swimming downstream, you’ll have to move until you’re farther downstream than the fish so you don’t have to fight the current. Once you’re in the right spot, the reel’s drag should do the rest.

Safety Tips

Salmon fishing can be hazardous, so be prepared. Your footwear should have a good grip so you don’t slip on wet rocks, and you should always wear a life vest. A long stick can serve as a wading staff to help you regain your footing if you fall in the water. Most importantly, if you think the current might be too fast, don’t wade in the river. Use caution when fishing for these large fish!

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