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Steuben County, NY Fishing: Year-Round Wonderland South of Finger Lakes

Steuben County, NY Fishing: Year-Round Wonderland South of Finger Lakes
Published: Wednesday, December 8th, 2021
Updated on: Friday, January 14th, 2022

In the Southern Tier region of New York State, Steuben County is a vast and beautiful county filled with year-round outdoor wonders, rich arts, crafts, and culture scenes, and some of the best wineries and wine trails in Finger Lakes. Aside from its recreational attractions, Steuben County is home to a thriving materials science industry, attracting more residents who can enjoy the best of both worlds that the county can offer.

Before the American Revolutionary War, the land on which Steuben County now stands was mainly under the territory of the Seneca Indians. The Senecas supported the English during the war but were abandoned by them when the colonies wonindependence. The lands they formerly occupied were then put up for sale. Parts of these lands would become  part of what is now Steuben County. The county itself came from the name of a Prussian general who fought on the American side during the war but physically had nothing to do with the county itself.

Today, Steuben County is the largest of all the counties south of the Adirondacks. Within its territories, it has the Corning, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area. Corning, a city on the county’s southeast, is considered one of the best Christmas towns in the country and is known as Crystal City in honor of its glass industry which is still thriving. Apart from glass, the county supports a rich agricultural industry focused on dairy, field crop, and potato. 

While Steuben County is not a top-of-mind destination for many outside New York State, it deserves a spot on your itinerary as part of the Finger Lakes region. The verdant rolling hills and majestic valleys of the county offer some of the most scenic hiking trails in the state. And running through these landscapes, anglers will find some of the most productive rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds that you can fish in the region all year round.

Steuben County Fishing

Exploring Steuben County, anglers will find a wide array of bodies of water that offer great fishing.  Thanks to Public Fishing Rights or PRFs secured by the New York State DEC, most of them are open to the public. 

A classic Steuben County fishing destination, Keuka Lake is home to rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, landlocked salmon, and smallmouth bass. Depending on the season and which part of the lake you fish, you might also find black crappie, northern pike, yellow perch, rock bass, pumpkinseed, bluegill, alewife, and smelt. Shaped like a Y and the third biggest of all the Finger Lakes, Keuka Lake is unique in that it flows both north and south, the only one of its kind in the country and one of the very rare few in the whole world. It has 22 miles of shorelines, with plenty of coves and spots that attract fish. From the village of Hammondsport, you can fish the shallow inlet of the lake, also known as Cold Brook. You will find wild rainbow trout during spring and brown trout during fall.

There are other more wild trout streams in the county. Mill Creek, for example, has wild brook trout and brown trout populations that are productive all year round. Neil Creek is another great spot for wild brown trout, while Cohocton River has both stocked brown trout and wild brown and brook trout. The upper section of Cryder Creek, known as Marsh Creek, likewise has wild brook and brown trout  populations. 

Steuben County has two man-made water bodies that offer great fishing opportunities. The first one is Almond Reservoir, which anglers can easily access from the shores or on a boat in Kanacadea County Park. Surrounded by forest and some developed lands, this reservoir is home to largemouth bass, brown bullhead, black crappie, pumpkinseed, white sucker, yellow perch, and common carp. The best spots to fish in the reservoir are near structures or vegetation.

Birdseye Hollow Pond, another artificial  body of water, is located in Birdseye Hollow State Forest. It is home to pumpkinseed, yellow perch, chain pickerel, brown bullhead, bluegill, black crappie, golden shiner, largemouth bass, and banded killfish. Largemouth bass are best targeted along the weed edges in the pond, which you can reach on a canoe or kayak, while brown bullhead and black crappie are best caught from the shore during spring.

Also, within Birdseye Hollow State Forest, you will find a part of Sanford Lake. Its waters are known for their rich aquatic plant life. It is home to bluegill, brown bullhead, black crappie, pumpkinseed, and largemouth bass. Anglers can also access the lake on the Sanford Lake Recreation Area off Round Lake Road, offering  shore access and boat launch.

Several rivers flow through Steuben County, providing even more opportunities for fishing. Chemung River, for instance, is a great river to target warm-water fish species such as smallmouth bass and walleye. It is also home to several panfish species such as rock bass, yellow perch, bluegill, and pumpkinseed. There are also reports of trophy-size muskellunge in the river. From within the county, particularly in Corning, anglers will find New York State DEC-maintained boat launches.

A nice fly fishing spot, the Canisteo River is stocked with brown trout and is home to brown bullhead, sunfish, walleye, and largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass. There are boat launches all over Steuben County, particularly in Canisteo, Cameron, Rathbone, and Addison.

Top 10 Fish Species in Steuben County, NY

The top 10 fish species in Steuben County are brown trout, brook trout, lake trout, rainbow trout, yellow perch, northern pike, walleye, pumpkinseed, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass.

Steuben County, NY Fishing: Year-Round Wonderland South of Finger Lakes Fish species
Brown Bullhead 
Brown Bullhead  fish

Habitat: Lake, River, Backwater

Weight: 1 - 5 Pounds

Length: 8" - 22"

Common Carp
Common Carp fish

Habitat: River, Lake, Backcountry

Weight: 5 - 100 Pounds

Length: 16" - 47"

Northern Pike
Northern Pike fish

Habitat: Onshore

Weight: 2 - 34 Pounds

Length: 16" - 29"

Bluegill  fish

Habitat: Lake, Pond, River

Weight: 1 - 2 Pounds

Length: 6" - 16"

Rainbow Trout 
Rainbow Trout  fish

Habitat: River, Lake

Weight: 1 - 8 Pounds

Length: 16" - 34"

American Yellow Perch
American Yellow Perch fish

Habitat: River, Lake, Backcountry

Weight: 1 - 4 Pounds

Length: 1" - 10"

Brook Trout 
Brook Trout  fish

Habitat: Lake, River

Weight: 1 - 10 Pounds

Length: 10" - 34"