New York is home to some of the most exciting and diverse fishing opportunities in the United States. You can access the Great Lakes, the Atlantic Ocean, and various diverse fishing locations across NY. However, before you plan your New York fishing trip, you need to know not only where to go but the best NY fishing season.

While you could be lucky to catch certain fish species in New York year-round, others are seasonal. They have peak months during the year we’re their most active, and you have the best chance of catching them. In this NY fishing season guide, we’ll show you which fish are biting when and the best seasons to hit the water in New York.

In the following NY fishing season guide, we’ll be covering:

If this article about New York fishing seasons and New York saltwater fishing regulations piqued your interest, then you may also enjoy Best States for Fishing: A Comprehensive Guide for Anglers!

Even experienced anglers need a little help occasionally, especially if you’re not a New York local or a beginner angler just getting started in the NY fishing world. That’s where the premium Fishing App, Fishbox App, proves invaluable. Thanks to the Fishbox App, you’ll be able to find the best spots to fish in New York when it’s worth going fishing and when you’re better off staying at home cleaning out your tackle box.

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Expert Opinion on New York Fishing Seasons

Pierce Latta

16 years fishing experience

“I don’t know how else to start this commentary other than saying that New York is one banger of a state for fishing. New York provides the best of both worlds of fishing—fresh and salt. Anglers flock from literally all over the world to partake in the action and are met with a world-class fishing environment and angling experience. While New York boasts a very different climate from my home state of North Carolina, I do see a lot of similarities in our fisheries, and this certainly makes my opinion of New York’s fishery very high. But while the fishery may look similar to my home state, New York does have some awesome species that we can’t catch every day down here. For one, New York has a variety of different Salmon species—this is what I am super jealous of. For much of my own life Salmon to me just represented a meal that I didn’t want my mom to cook, but having been to Alaska and seen what a prime Salmon fishery looks like, my views have done a complete 180. New York offers a great Salmon fishery in certain seasons creating a rush of excitement in the angling community leading to miles and miles of river being lined by fisherman of all ages wanting to get their share of the fish. Not only does New York boast a wonderful Salmon fishery, but it also has an incredible ice fishing fishery as well for species like Musky, Lake Trout, Walleye and more. Even if you were to remove the stellar freshwater fishery from New York, you’d still be left with a teeming saltwater fishery loaded with species like Bluefin Tuna, Bluefish, Striped Bass and more. In fact, New York is even known as the Bluefish and Striper capital of the world. All this being said, pay attention to the fishing charts provided in the article as they give a great overview of how you should be targeting fish year-round in New York. And please, if you are from New York or are fishing there temporarily, you have literally no excuse not to be on the water. There is always something biting so take advantage of this. The last thing I would like to mention about New York is that this state is a must for a fishing trip at some point in your life. Although I haven’t yet been there myself, I plan on going in the very near future and indulging in both sides of the fishing provided there. When you do eventually get to fish in this beautiful state, don’t take the locals for granted. Yes, do your research online and read up on different tactics, baits, and locations for maximum success, but also consult the locals. I always try to emphasize this. The locals live there, and they know the ins and outs of the water more than anything the internet can provide so use this to your advantage. Be respectful to the locals and their waters in how you treat them and as always, tight lines!”

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Overview of New York Fishing Seasons 

Below, we’ve prepared a month-by-month calendar highlighting your best fishing opportunities in New York. We’ve also highlighted the closed seasons for different fish species.

New York Freshwater Fish Species (Fishing Calendar)

Chinook SalmonGoodGoodGoodFairFairGoodGoodGreatGreatGreatGoodGood
Coho SalmonGoodGoodGoodFairFairGoodGoodGreatGreatGreatGoodGood
Rainbow Trout/SteelheadGreatGreatGreatGreatGoodGoodFairFairFairGreatGreatGreat
Lake TroutClosedClosedClosedGreatGreatGreatGoodGoodGreatGreatClosedClosed
Brook TroutClosedClosedClosedGreatGreatGreatGoodGoodGreatGreatClosedClosed
Black BassClosedClosedClosedClosedClosedGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatClosed
Yellow PerchGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGoodGoodGoodGreatGreatGreatGreat

New York Saltwater Fish Species (Fishing Calendar)

Striped BassClosedClosedClosedGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGoodGood
Black Sea BassClosedClosedClosedClosedClosedGoodGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreat
Mahi MahiPoorPoorPoorPoorPoorGoodGreatGreatGreatGoodPoorPoor
Bluefin TunaPoorPoorPoorPoorPoorGoodGreatGreatGreatGreatGoodFair

Month-by-Month Guide to New York Fishing Seasons

  • January – It may be the middle of winter, but that doesn’t mean the fishing action is finished. Chinook and Coho Salmon enjoy the cooler water and will be on the bite in places like the lower Niagara River, Salmon River, and many small streams and Lake Ontario tributaries. If you’re not scared of the cold, ice fishing presents some great opportunities for species such as Yellow Perch, Walleye, Pike, and Trout.
  • February – Ice fishing is still an option on heavily iced lakes and rivers, but you’ll need to carefully check the ice before venturing out. Steelhead will be biting in some rivers, but in the Beaver Kill, Connetquot River, and Willowemoc Creek, the trout fishing is heating up for the year. Most of your saltwater fishing options are either out of season and closed or not worth venturing out for.
  • March – The waters around New York are starting to come alive in March. The Niagara River is firing with active Steelhead, along with the Salmon River, Pulaski, Canadaway, and Chautauqua rivers. Oneida Lake opens around mid-March, but check local regulations before hitting the water.
  • April – Most NY fish waters start to open in April, so it’s time to get that fishing tackle cleaned and ready. The Finger Lakes offer prime freshwater angling for Bass, Trout, Salmon, and Walleye. If you’re a saltwater fishing enthusiast, Winter Flounder opens at the start of April, and the Striper season opens on the Hudson River.
  • May – Freshwater fishing action is hitting full swing in New York in May, with Walleye, Bass, Trout, and Salmon on the bite. If you love fly fishing, May in NY offers some excellent site casting for trout, including on the West Branch of the Ausable and Croton River. Fluke and Porgy are biting in the saltwater, along with Striped Bass, Bluefish, and many other coastal saltwater species.
  • June – Lake Ontario and Lake Erie are at their peak fishing and offer both Salmon and Trout, along with Walleye. Flounder and Porgy are still biting in the saltwater around NY, and Mako and Thresher Sharks are starting to put in an appearance close to Montauk. If you’re in the mood for Tuna, a lot of charter operations will start now.
  • July – Freshwater species start to avoid the July heat, so you’ll need to target them early morning or late evening. Saltwater game fish favorites such as Mahi Mahi, Marlin, and Tuna are all at their peak during July, along with Mako Sharks. Close to shore, you’ll be chasing Black Sea Bass, Fluke, Striped Bass, and Kingfish.
  • August – August is pretty similar to July, but if you haven’t managed to get out of the water yet, either fresh or salt, then make time before it’s too late! If you haven’t got a large boat for offshore trips, then consider booking a fishing charter with one of the many saltwater fishing charter operations based in New York.
  • September – Steelhead and Salmon are moving closer to shore, getting ready for their fall runs, which presents an excellent opportunity to shore-based anglers while Bass and Muskies are on the bite. September also means it’s time to say goodbye to Mahi Mahi and Marlin. However, the occasional Tuna is still on the cards for lucky anglers.
  • October – October, or ‘Rocktober’ as local New York anglers call it, is the perfect opportunity to land yourself some rockfish such as Striper. It’s important to note that the trout season typically closes on the 15th of October, so get your NY trout fishing in before it’s too late.
  • November – Most of the offshore fishing charters have closed up shop by the time November rolls around. However, closer to shore, the Black Sea Bass and Striped Bass fishing is still decent. Steelhead fishing in the Great Lakes is an option, along with Walleye, Perch, and Pike in the Finger Lakes.
  • December – A large part of the NY saltwater fishery is closed in December. Flounder and Striped Bass both close, along with Tautog. Winter ice fishing is getting closer, but you’ll need to check ice depth before you go.

Read also: Unlocking the Secrets of Perfect Fishing Weather: Best Conditions for a Great Catch

Freshwater Fishing Seasons in New York

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has a detailed species-by-species breakdown of seasons with information on specific fish in different bodies of water. It’s essential to not only check that your target species season is open but also that it’s open where you plan on fishing and for which method of take it’s open for.

If you’re planning on going freshwater fishing in New York, it pays to double-check before you drop a line to avoid breaching any regulations. 

Anywhere from May through to October are going to be your best opportunity to catch most freshwater fish species in New York, including Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Rainbow Trout/Steelhead, Lake Trout, Brook Trout, Black Bass, Walleye, Muskellunge, and Yellow Perch.

Below are the top three freshwater fishing locations in New York and what you can expect to catch.

The Top 3 Freshwater Fishing Lakes In New York 

  1. Lake Ontario 

Lake Ontario offers over 726 miles of shoreline, which presents a lot of freshwater angling opportunities. While trolling from a boat is the preferred method, many shorelines are available to enthusiastic anglers.

Some of the fish species on offer in the lake include Coho and Chinook Salmon, Brown Trout, Walleye, and Bass. 

Check out the Lake Ontario and Great Lakes fishing regulations here.

  1. Lake Champlain

Lake Champion spans over 271,000 acres and is situated on the border of New York State. Over 80 species of fish are found in Lake Champion, and thanks to its bays, weed beds, and rocky outcrops, it presents many unique freshwater fishing opportunities.

While a large boat will give you the greatest access to fish, smaller craft such as kayaks and canoes can still mix it up with some great fish. Lake Champlain is renowned for its Bass fishing, with several famous tournaments held here, but you can also catch Catfish, Trout, Walleye, Pike, Sturgeon, Sauger, Crappie, and many more.

Check out the Lake Champlain fishing regulations here.

  1. Oneida Lake

If you love Walleye fishing, and who doesn’t, then Oneida Lake is the place in New York to do it. Entirely situated in New York and spanning over 50,000 acres, this lake is home to a massive population of Walleye and Perch. 

Lake Oneida offers both boat angling and shore-based angling, so it really caters to all anglers. There are various public access points, including Toad Harbor, which features a large fishing pier.

Some of the fish species you’ll encounter at Oneida Lake include Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill, Rock Bass, Walleye, Sunfish, Yellow Perch, Lake Sturgeon, Northern Pike, Muskie, Largemouth Bass, and many more.

Check out the complete Oneida Lake fishing regulations here.

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Saltwater Fishing Regulations in New York

If you visit the New York State Department of Environment and Conservation, you can get a detailed species by species breakdown of all saltwater fish in New York.

Below, we’ll cover some of the more notable saltwater fish species: (The table below is a guide only; please carefully check the complete regulations before fishing in New York).

SpeciesMinimum Size (Inches)Possession LimitOpen Season
Winter Flounder12”2April 1 – May 30
Striped Bass18-28”1April 1 – Nov 30
Summer Flounder18.5”4May 1 – Oct 9
Cobia37”1All Year
Atlantic cod21”10All Year
BluefishNo Size Limit3-5All Year
Red drumUnder 27”No LimitAll Year

Notable Fish Species in New York

With so many fresh and saltwater fish species on offer in New York, it was hard to not talk about them all. However, for this article, we’ll be focusing on the Top 3 Fish to Catch in New York, why they’re so popular, and a few tips on how to catch them!

Top 3 Saltwater Fish to Catch in New York

  1. Summer Flounder – Summer Flounder offers anglers a sweet taste with delicate flesh. They’re not overly oily or watery and don’t have a strong fishy taste. Summer is the time to target Summer Flounder, and the best way to catch them is with live bait. Fish like sardines, mullet, minnows, crabs, and shrimp all work well. Look for areas with reefs or wrecks. Summer Flounder are especially active at night when they can move around more easily with less threat from predators.
  2. Yellow Perch – Throughout New York and across the country, Yellow Perch is considered by many to be an excellent panfish. Pan-fried is the best method, but Yellow Perch can be used in many different recipes, including grilled, poached, baked, and chowder. Perch respond well to baits like lobworms, prawns, and maggots, and a little burley in your area will help but don’t overdo it.
  3. Bluefish – While Bluefish has a strong fishy flavor, it’s still a favorite with sports fishing enthusiasts, but be careful of their razor-sharp teeth! They are fast swimmers with tenacious predatory feeding habits. Long Island is a hot spot for Bluefish in mid-July. Because of their aggressive feeding habits, your arms will probably get sore before you run out of Bluefish to catch. Bait is the best way, and try fighting towards dusk or night for the hot bite.

NYS Fishing Seasons and Regulations

New York State and the Department of Environmental Conservation go above and beyond when it comes to both their saltwater and freshwater fishing regulations. 

The most notable recent change to New York’s fishing regulations was the change to the Black Sea Bass fishery. On June 23rd, 2023, they changed both the size limit and the daily limit. The minimum size was increased from 16 inches to 16.5 inches. The catch limit was three per day between June 23rd and August 31st and six per day from September 1st to December 31st.

The New York fishing regulations are strongly focused on ensuring that not only fish stocks will survive but that future generations of anglers will also have access to the state’s natural resources, which include freshwater and saltwater fish.

Planning a Fishing Trip in New York

There is no denying that planning a fishing trip to New York is well worth it with its abundance of both fresh and saltwater fishing opportunities.

If you refer to the saltwater and freshwater seasonal fishing calendar above, you’ll be able to choose the best month to suit your target species and perhaps be able to target multiple species if you choose the right NY Trout, Fluke, Pike, or Striped Bass season. The diversity of the NY fishing seasons means that you’re really spoiled for choice regarding what your target species is, be it freshwater or saltwater.

Tips for Planning Your New York Fishing Trip

  1. Use the calendar above to choose the best NY fishing season.
  2. If you’re planning on fishing during the Walleye season in NY or the Striped Bass season in New York, then look for accommodation as soon as possible close to your chosen fishing area.
  3. Check with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation about the New York saltwater fishing regulations or the NY State fishing season to ensure that you can catch your target species, where you can catch them, and what NY fishing license you must purchase.
  4. Download the HuntFishNY mobile app and utilize their TackleBox Section. The mobile app will give you instant access to what fishing license you need, the ability to search waterbodies via an interactive map, fishing regulations for every NY body of water, NY fish species information, New York State fish stocking information, public access points including boat launches and parking areas and even directions.

New York Fishing Seasons: Your Comprehensive Guide – Conclusion

NY fishing seasons truly offer both local and visiting anglers a wide variety of choices when it comes to saltwater fishing and freshwater fishing opportunities. You’re really spoiled for choice when it comes to catching fish in New York State.

If you have been trying to plan your next destination fishing trip, then New York is considered by many to be an angling paradise thanks to its diverse range of fresh and saltwater fishing opportunities.

While the summer fishing season in New York is undeniably the most popular time to fish, winter also allows you to take advantage of frozen lakes and rivers, targeting fish through the ice.

Before casting a line, check the local NY fishing regulations to ensure you have the correct license or permit and that your target fish species is in season. While some New York waters will offer anglers year-round fishing, others have closed seasons to allow fish the best opportunity during spawning. This ensures we have plenty of fish for future generations of anglers.

If you’re only planning one fishing trip this year, New York is a great fishing state to visit, and its broad and diverse range of fishing seasons offers fishing opportunities for anglers of all ages and skill levels.

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Taking advantage of the Fishbox App will allow you to track weather conditions accurately, and it works by combining predictive fish behavior with weather, lunar, and tidal conditions to deliver optimal fishing opportunities in New York.

The Fishbox App was developed in collaboration with accurate weather data and expert fish behavioral analysis. These advanced forecasts will significantly increase your catch rate while reducing your time on the water. Take your fishing to the next level with expert advice from the Fishbox App team.

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