October Salmon Fishing in New York

by Zach Lazzari
King and coho salmon are present in northern New York.

King and coho salmon are present in northern New York.

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New York is a fish-rich state with salmon fishing opportunities centered around Lake Ontario and its associated tributaries. Introduced chinook and coho salmon thrive in the Great Lakes and spawn in the streams and rivers that feed the lakes. October is a prime month for targeting salmon, steelhead and large brown trout in the state of New York.

Lake Ontario

Salmon migrate into New York river systems during September and October to spawn. The numbers in Lake Ontario are not massive during October and some of the bigger fish wait longer to enter the rivers. Steelhead are present at the river mouths so anglers fishing the Lake Ontario area are likely to have success when concentrating on the tributaries. September is the best month for salmon as the majority of the fish are gathering at the river mouths in preparation for the spawn.


The rivers and streams that feed Lake Ontario all have the potential to hold salmon in October. The Salmon River near Pulaski is the most popular and hosts the largest run of salmon in October. The fish are released from a hatchery on the river as juveniles and most return to the same area for spawning. The Salmon River is well known and becomes crowded during the height of the salmon season. Anglers looking for privacy can explore the lesser-known tributaries with smaller salmon runs.

Fishing Techniques

Salmon fishing in Lake Ontario during the spring and summer requires trolling with downriggers. The salmon hold in deep water and follow schools of bait fish. October salmon fishing requires trolling at shallow depths along the river mouth areas. Also, casting spoons and spinners is effective in the river mouth zones. River fishing techniques include casting and retrieving spoons and spinners or swinging flies. The fish are often visible in the river and thus anglers assume an upstream position and swing the lure or fly directly in front of the fish.

Regulations and Limits

Salmon fishing in New York is allowed year-round. Anglers are allowed to keep three salmon over 18 inches long per day in the lake system. River fishing for salmon limits anglers to three salmon over 15 inches each day. Seasons apply to the river systems and anglers must check regulations for the specific destination to know variations on limits. Some rivers require specific angling methods, such as artificial lures and flies only.

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