Sullivan, NY Fishing: Scenic Central New York Fishing

Bass and trout fishing in the small town of Sullivan, NY can be a year round affair for anglers while getting to enjoy scenic and soothing views.

Sullivan, NY Fishing: Scenic Central New York Fishing
Sullivan, NY Fishing: Scenic Central New York Fishing
Team Guidesly

December 16, 2021, 7 min read

Updated on December 14, 2021

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Found around the middle of the state of New York is the town of Sullivan. It is located in the northwest corner of Madison County and is made up of several hamlets and villages. Its area was first settled around 1790 by veterans of the Revolutionary War and was distinguished as a town on February 2, 1803. The development of the Erie Canal around the same period can be closely tied to the development of Sullivan and its largest village, Chittenango. The place is named after General John Sullivan, who rose to prominence during the Revolutionary War.

With breathtaking scenery all around, Sullivan boasts a quiet, unique, and environmentally intrinsic respite from the hustle and bustle of what one might perceive when they think about New York. Along with the rest of Madison County, Sullivan showcases excellent art, culture, history scene, fun outdoor activities, and even a haunted history dating back to the 19th century. Whichever season one might decide to visit the humble town, they will never run out of things to do as it claims to offer wonderful stuff even during the autumn and winter seasons. Fishing in Sullivan provides many opportunities to catch a variety of games whilst enjoying the tranquil yet spirited vibe the town embodies. Being bordered by a lake and creek in the north and west, anglers will find the small town of Sullivan a delightful surprise for their next fishing trip.

Sullivan Fishing

Anglers who have found themselves in Sullivan can drop their lines, whether onshore or offshore, and reel in various species all year round while enjoying the beautiful and soothing Central New York scenery. 

Starting in the north, one will find the Oneida Lake that acts as its border. It is relatively shallow with a depth of 22 feet and is the largest lake that lies entirely within the state. The lake was named after the Oneida Nation, whose people call it' Tsioqui,' which means white water. Its waters are clear and aquatic vegetation is abundant due to the presence of zebra mussels. Oneida Lake is a popular spot for anglers targeting walleye and yellow perch but is also fantastic for bass fishing with largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and rock bass as possible targets. Other fish like chain pickerel, northern pike, tiger muskellunge, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, black crappie, freshwater drum, common carp, bowfin, burbot, longnose gar, lake sturgeon, gizzard shad, and round goby can also be found in its waters. It is also annually stocked with millions of walleye fry. Many towns and counties have access to the lake because of the lake's massive size. Through Sullivan, it can be accessed from the hamlet of Bridgeport off Route 31. Anglers will find a concrete ramp on the South Shore where they can launch their watercraft and park their trailers and cars. One can also fish from its numerous shoreline access sites and docks, where some offer ice fishing access. The nearest one can be found at Lewis Point in the hamlet of South Bay to the northeast. Furthermore, Oneida Lake is a popular bass fishing tournament location, with annual events held by the Bassmaster and FLW professional bass fishing organizations. Targeting walleye should be done in deeper waters when the climate is warm and shallow water when the weather begins to cool. Yellow perch are popular targets for ice fishing, especially in deeper flats. Around the many shoals, one can find smallmouth bass, while in bigger bays and anywhere where there is vegetation growth is a great place to find largemouth bass. Throughout its waters, there is an abundance of panfish. The lake and its tributaries are home to lake sturgeon, which aren't allowed to be fished for and kept because it is on New York's list of threatened species. Using live bait is an excellent method to reel in-game because there are a lot of forage species in the lake. Shore anglers can also see good results when using stick baits and blade baits when angling after dark during the cooler months.

To the west, linked to Oneida Lake, is another body of water that acts as Chittenango Creek boundary. The small river flows through many marinas, from Nelson Swamp to the lake, where anglers can launch their boats or fish from its banks. In New York, it is one of the most popular streams to catch trout. Species found in its waters include brown trout, brook trout, white sucker, northern pike, walleye, and smallmouth bass. Brown trout found along the swift-flowing waters are either stocked or wild. Along the banks, there are numerous public fishing access areas for anglers who opt to go on foot. Anglers who reach the part of the creek where the Chittenango Falls are at Chittenango Falls State Park to the south of the town are not allowed to fish directly above the falls. Downstream fishing is permitted, so one can fish and enjoy the view of the waterfall. From Sullivan's mile marker 1219 on Route 13 to Chittenango’s mile marker, 1237 is a catch and release area only. Bottom fishing is the best way to catch game from the creek as most fish tend to concentrate in deeper holes, especially in colder periods. The lower section near Oneida Lake is good for targeting warm-water fish like panfish, walleye, and bass. 

Canaseraga Creek flows throughout Sullivan like a vein, is another excellent trout fishing area where anglers can catch rainbow trout, skamania trout, brown trout, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, and walleye. It is easily navigable by foot because of its narrowness that isn't Chittenango's required for a boat. It can be accessed from the many roads in the middle of town, especially from Route 5. Pools Brook is another accessible spot as it runs through much of Sullivan horizontally. In its clear spring waters, there are fish like largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rock bass, chain pickerel, bluegill, northern pike, and pumpkinseed. Brook and brown trout are also stocked in its waters. The spring creek runs through the Chittenango Boat Landing Museum and Old Erie Canal State Park Canalway. 


Top 10 Fish Species in Sullivan, NY

The top 10 fish species found in Sullivan, NY are walleye, yellow perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, brown trout, brook trout, chain pickerel, northern pike, and bluegill, rock bass.

Seasonal Fishing

During the spring, walleye can be found in spawning areas and tributaries. In the summer, they can be found in deeper water, but in the cooler months, they return to shallower areas. They can be caught through the ice around shoals, drop-offs, and deep flats. Yellow perch can be seen all year and are excellent ice fishing targets, especially deep flats. Chain pickerel and northern pike, which thrive in cold water, are perfect winter targets. Trout are best caught in early spring when they are newly stocked, but they can also be seen in deeper holes in the winter. Trout are also best-caught mid-day during the colder months due to it being warmer around that time. Sunfish like bluegill and pumpkinseed can also be caught anytime because local waters have a good mix of warm and cool temperatures, making fishing in Sullivan productive all year round. 

Experience More of Sullivan

There are so many other things to do in Sullivan that will satisfy any adventure one is looking for. From learning more about the town through its history and heritage to exploring its scenic landscapes.

1. Book a Fishing Charter

With so many areas to fish in Sullivan, including the largest lake within the state, anglers can book a fishing charter to help guide them through local waterways and make them able to see a productive day out in the water. Boat rental services and bait and tackle shops can also be found near and around numerous waterways that surround and weave through the town.

2. Beauty and Fun in Nature

From the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park to the Chittenango Falls State Park, outdoor enthusiasts will be able to do a ton of activities surrounded by nature all year round. There are miles of trails for hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, and cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing during the winter. Aside from fishing, people can also go boating, canoeing, or kayaking along the scenic waterways or even go hunting, trapping, and viewing in wildlife areas.

3. Learn More About Erie Canal’s History

People can visit the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum, found within the Old Erie Canal Historic Park and on the Erie Canalway Trail. The historic boat building and repairing site offers a chance to see and visit a rare three-bay dry dock, a blacksmith shop, boat shop, sawmill, walk-on canal boat, and mule stable. Picnic tables, a canalside shop, and a visitor center are also there. People can rent bikes to use to tour the scenic trail, or they can also opt for a nature walk.

Fish in Sullivan and beyond.