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Statewide Walleye Fishing Opportunities

The walleye, the largest member of the perch family, is one of New York's most highly sought after and valued sportfish. Historically, walleye inhabited waters only in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, and Allegheny River watersheds in New York. Today, primarily due to stocking and other DEC management efforts, walleye are found in over 140 waters from all of the major watersheds of the State. For advice on catching walleye see Fishing for Walleye.

Anglers are reminded that the general statewide regulation for walleye is a 15-inch minimum length and a daily limit of 5 fish. However, many waters have special regulations where length and daily limits vary. Be sure the check the special regulations by county (leaving DEC website to official Fishing Regulations Guide vendor website).

Walleye in Lake Erie and Oneida Lake
Processing a walleye for management purposes.

While New York boasts many highly productive walleye waters throughout the State, Lake Erie and Oneida Lake have long been recognized as the premier walleye fisheries. Lake Erie is considered the top walleye destination in western New York. Walleye angler catch rates in Lake Erie have remained above average for 13 of the last 14 years. The highest catch and harvest rates recorded in the 30-year angler survey occurred in 2018. Lake Erie has been in a period of above average walleye hatching success for over a decade. It saw exceptional walleye hatches in 2003, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2017. Due to this extended period of spawning success, the outlook remains excellent for Lake Erie walleye anglers in 2019 and for several years to come. Walleye from the exceptional 2003 year class are also still hanging around. This gives anglers a chance to catch trophy size walleye, with some exceeding 30 inches.

The walleye population in Oneida Lake has been monitored for over 50 years and has experienced significant fluctuations over that period of time. The current population has expanded and stabilized at around 500,000 adult fish in recent years, from relatively low levels in the mid to late 1990s. Round goby were first observed in Oneida Lake in 2013 and are now abundant throughout the lake. Angler catch rates of walleye can be impacted by round gobies, both because of their availability as a forage item and their habit of interfering with baits rigged for walleye. The traditional worm harness or worm-tipped jigs are becoming less effective presentations because of this. Anglers are adjusting by using un-baited artificial lures more often.

For further information on ongoing monitoring programs in these waters, go to DEC's Fisheries Management and Reports webpage.

Walleye on Long Island
A nice Long Island walleye being released back into the water.

On Long Island two excellent walleye fisheries have been established in Lake Ronkonkoma and Fort Pond as a result of successful DEC stocking programs. Recent surveys of these waters showed strong populations in both waters with good angling opportunities.

Walleye in Southeastern New York

In Southeastern New York, try Swinging Bridge Reservoir and Rio Reservoir in Sullivan County. Walleye may also be found in nearby White Lake and Toronto Reservoir, as well as Greenwood Lake (Orange County) and throughout the Delaware River (see Border Water Regulations - leaving DEC website to official Fishing Regulations Guide vendor website). Walleye can also be found in East Branch, Bog Brook, Diverting, and Boyd Corners reservoirs in Putnam County. All four of these waters are New York City water supply reservoirs and require a free New York City Public Access Permit (see link to the right).

Walleye in East-Central New York

In Otsego County, Canadarago and Otsego lakes are good bets for walleye. Otsego has not been stocked since 2014 and now supports a wild self-sustaining population. Although adult walleye remain abundant in Canadarago Lake, recruitment problems continue as limited survival of year classes produced from 2008 – 2017 have been documented. Fingerling walleye were stocked from 2011 - 2018, and will continue to be stocked to help maintain the fishery in this lake. The recruitment failure is likely caused by a persistent invasive population of alewife in the lake. They feed extensively on newly hatched walleye (and yellow perch) fry that suspend in the water column for 6-8 weeks before swimming to the bottom. East Sidney Reservoir has also been stocked with walleye since 2015. Success of this new fisheries is unknown, but some juvenile walleye have been caught in the past two summers.

Walleye in Northern and Central New York
A very nice walleye from the Black River.

DEC Regions 5, 6, and 7 (northern and central New York) contain about 80 percent of the state's walleye waters. These Regions support some of the most productive walleye fisheries in the state, including Tupper Lake, Union Falls Flow, Harris Lake, Black Lake, Saratoga Lake, Great Sacandaga Lake, Delta Lake, Whitney Point Reservoir, and Otisco Lake. Otisco Lake's walleye population continues to expand following several years of excellent survival of stocked walleye fingerlings, along with some unexpected natural reproduction during several years when walleye were not stocked. Angler diary cooperators on Otisco reported decent walleye catch rates in 2018. Owasco Lake no longer has an abundant walleye population, but it still harbors a catchable population of fish approaching trophy size. Regional managers expect as good or better fishing in 2018. Lake Ontario also provides good walleye fishing in its eastern basin, particularly Henderson Harbor, Black River, and Chaumont and Mud bays. Good walleye populations can also be found in Irondequoit Bay, Sodus Bay, Braddocks Bay, Oswego Harbor, North Sandy Pond and Port Bay.

Walleye in Western New York

In western New York, (DEC regions 8 and 9), anglers will find good walleye fishing in Chautauqua Lake, Silver Lake, Cuba Lake, Rushford Lake, Conesus Lake, and Honeoye Lake. The Chautauqua Lake walleye population has increased over the last 10 years, which has coincided with a stocking program that was conducted from 2003-2015. The status of the Chautauqua Lake walleye population was fully assessed in 2018 and shows promising signs for the future. Extremely abundant year classes in 2014 and 2015 boosted the population. Those fish are now legal size (15 inches), which should result in excellent fishing opportunities over the next several years. Good numbers of trophy size walleye also still exist in Chautauqua Lake, and the opportunity to catch one should only increase over the next decade.

Walleye in New York's Large Rivers

Walleye populations are also thriving in a number of large river systems including the Allegheny, Black, Oswego, Chemung, Susquehanna, Tioga, Chenango, Tioughnioga, Oswegatchie, the Hudson River estuary below the Troy Dam, and most of the main stem of the Mohawk/Barge Canal. There have been good numbers of young of the year walleye captured during several Susquehanna River surveys conducted since 2012, and 2016 abundance was particularly high at the single site sampled. This should translate into continued good walleye fishing in the Susquehanna and other southern tier rivers, like the Tioughnioga and Chenango, for the foreseeable future. Two lower Hudson River tributaries in Ulster County - the Wallkill River and Rondout Creek - were part of previous DEC stocking efforts and angler reports indicate the successful establishment of walleye fisheries in these waters. The Delaware River is considered a productive walleye fishery, particularly the 50-mile section between Callicoon and Port Jervis. The St. Lawrence and lower Niagara rivers also both support high quality walleye fisheries.