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Cast a Line for World-Class Fishing along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail

As the name implies, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail is blessed with an abundance of water. Nearly every freshwater species of fish is there for the catching. Bring your own boat, charter a captain, hire a fishing guide, or fish from shore off a bank or pier – you won’t be disappointed in the abundant fishing opportunities available along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.

Fishing
A Brown Trout caught in the Oak Orchard River. Photo by George Fischer.

Fishing
A Chinook Salmon caught in Lake Ontario. Photo courtesy Eric Marcinkowski.

Fishing
Fishing near Wellesley Island in the Thousand Islands. Photo from OPRHP/John Rozell.

Fishing
A monster muskie caught in the St. Lawrence River. Photo courtesy Capt. Rich Clarke.

World-class fishing opportunities exist in the open lake waters as well as large rivers and innumerable smaller tributaries offering an incredible diversity of fishing options. The waters along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail yield big fish! A total of 15 New York State and 8 Pennsylvania State record fish were caught along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.

Lake Erie
Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, is a haven for warm water species, the two most popular being walleye and smallmouth bass. Excellent bass fishing can be found from May through November. As the water warms up, deep-water action for suspended walleye from June to September is some of the finest in the Northeast. The best time for trout (especially steelhead) is from fall to spring when the tributaries swell with these fish.

Niagara River
The Niagara River actually offers two distinctly different fisheries: one above Niagara Falls, and the other below. Above the Falls, the waters are shallower and therefore warmer. Walleye, smallmouth and largemouth bass, as well as muskellunge abound. The area below the Falls tends to receive the most attention from anglers as both cold and warm water fish species are available. Year-round opportunities for salmon, trout, bass, or walleye are plentiful.

Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario, with its many bays and tributaries, offers a wide range of rewarding fishing options. To the west, the action can be outstanding for trout and salmon – particularly deepwater trolling for steelhead trout and early season Chinook fishing. Eastern Lake Ontario is the place to be for trophy brown trout. Don’t overlook bays such as Irondequoit, Sodus, Henderson, and Chaumont that offer tremendous fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, perch and panfish.

Oak Orchard River
Oak Orchard River (in Orleans County) offers excellent cold water fishing with opportunities to catch brown trout, rainbow trout, Chinook and Coho salmon. Runs of these fish offer some of the most exciting cold water fishing in the Northeast.

Salmon River
When the salmon start getting their urge to spawn, one of the best spots to be is the Salmon River (in Oswego County) thanks in large part to the Salmon River Fish Hatchery. Best fishing runs are typically from mid-September through November and mid-March through mid-May.

St. Lawrence River
With a diversity of aquatic habitats, the St. Lawrence River is home to a wide variety of warm water species and offers exciting fishing adventures. Smallmouth and largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, muskellunge, yellow perch and various types of panfish are all common to the river. Smallmouth bass are often taken around islands, off points, and in bays. Largemouth bass and northern pike can be found in shallow weedy bays and along edges of shoals. Spring walleye fishing is typically best where major tributaries enter the river, whereas summer and fall hot spots are often found below the Moses Saunders Power Dam and around Carleton Island. In late summer and fall, great effort is put into bringing home one of the most challenging game fish – the muskellunge. Catching a musky is so demanding and specialized that using a guide service is recommended. Carp fishing has also become popular in the St. Lawrence, as the river hosts the St. Lawrence International Junior Carp Tournament each year.

No matter where you fish along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, or what you’re fishing for, check in at local bait shops for up-to-date information on best techniques, hot spots, and lures. Good luck – you might just land the next record fish in the waters along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail!











State Freshwater Fishing Records Caught along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail


New York State Records

Species

Weight

Water

Location

Atlantic Salmon

24 lb. 15 oz.

Lake Ontario

Wayne County

Black Crappie

3 lb. 12 oz.

Duck Lake

Cayuga County

Brown Trout

33 lb. 2 oz.

Lake Ontario

Oswego County

Burbot

16 lb. 12 oz.

Lake Ontario

Jefferson County

Chinook Salmon

47 lb. 13 oz.

Salmon River

Oswego County

Coho Salmon

33 lb. 7 oz.

Lake Ontario

Oswego County

Freshwater Drum

24 lb. 8 oz.

Lake Ontario

Jefferson County

Lake Trout

41 lb. 8 oz.

Lake Erie

Chautauqua County

Muskellunge

69 lb. 15 oz.

St. Lawrence River

Jefferson County

Pink Salmon

4 lb. 15 oz.

Lake Erie

Erie County

Rainbow Trout

31 lb. 3 oz.

Lake Ontario

Niagara County

Sauger

4 lb. 8 oz.

Niagara River

Niagara County

Shorthead Redhorse

11 lb. 11 oz.

Salmon River

Oswego County

Smallmouth Bass

8 lb. 4 oz.

Lake Erie

Chautauqua County

Yellow Perch

3 lb. 8 oz.

Lake Erie

Erie County

 

 

 

 

Pennsylvania State Records

Species

Weight

Water

Location

Rock Bass

3 lb. 2 oz.

Elk Creek

Erie County

Yellow Perch

2 lb. 11 oz.

Presque Isle Bay

Erie County

Chinook Salmon

28 lb. 15 oz.

Lake Erie

Erie County

Coho Salmon

15 lb. 5 oz.

Lake Erie

Erie County

Pink Salmon

4 lb. 8 oz.

Elk Creek

Erie County

Brown Trout

19 lb. 10 oz.

Walnut Creek

Erie County

Lake Trout

27 lb. 13 oz.

Lake Erie

Erie County

Steelhead Trout

20 lb. 3 oz.

Walnut Creek

Erie County