Fishing along the “100 Must See Miles”

Fishing along the “100 Must See Miles”

Perhaps underrated and sometimes underutilized, fishing on the Erie Canal is fun and productive right up to de-watering.  At no time is the fishing abundance on the Erie Canal more apparent than the Fall.  The 100 Must See Miles on the Erie Canal in Orleans, Monroe and Wayne Counties offer up fine angling chances with fish as well distributed through the waterway as they’ll be anytime of the season.

The list of fish species calling the Erie Canal home is long and sure to appeal to many different fishermen.  Large and smallmouth bass.  Panfish of all persuasion – sunfish, crappie, rock bass.  Rough fish like sheepshead, carp and catfish slowly cruise the depths.  Pike and walleyes are lurking too and the occasional wild card like muskie are possible – so be ready!

Where do you target that kind of variety of fish?  There’s plenty of structure along that length of the Canal where fish hold.  Even if above the water looks straight, narrow and not too fishy, you’ll find underwater riprap, bridge abutments and lock structures.  Don’t forget shade, docks, boat ramps and quiet vessel tie up locations as fish holding spots.  Pilings and various remnants give fish the chance for a current break and ambush spot.  Ever popular and routine along that length of the Canal are widewater spots.  At the Canal and slough junction is a good bet and then farther back in the calm water you can find good concentrations of fish.

The nature of the waterway and so many put in spots and ramps find anglers casting from all manner of small boats like bass boats, john boats, canoes and kayaks.  Shore anglers take no backseat as access along trails and tow paths is exceptional and casting chances are limited only by how far you want to walk or pedal.  Be creative like walking and trolling a side planer along the long stretches and where your hits come will give away the fish holding cover.  Savvy anglers recognize the Canal’s current and make their casts and presentations accordingly.

Anglers of all skill levels pitch crankbaits, jigs, drop-shots or swimbaits.  All manner of live bait bottom fished or on bobbers will draw strikes from a wide range of species looking to feed up during the Fall.  Somehow the bass, pike/walleye, panfish and carp/catfish know the leaner Winter is coming which means improved hook-up chances for you.  Don’t tell the fish along the 100 Must See Miles on the Erie Canal that they’re underrated or underutilized!

Ron Bierstine
Orleans County Sportfishing