Top 23 New York Game Fish Species

Top 23 New York Game Fish Species

New Yourk game fish

This article will list the top 23 New York game fish species. The state of New York offers anglers an incredible variety of both freshwater and saltwater game fish species that they can catch. The combination of inland freshwater rivers and lakes, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and the Atlantic Ocean and bays give anglers the chance to pursue just about every game fish that swims in North America.

The top 23 New York game fish species

New York game fish species

This list of the top 23 New York game fish species will be broke down into two categories; freshwater and saltwater species. Obviously, some cross over, such as salmon and striped bass. Pictures of each species featuring some terrific female anglers will be included, along with the state record fish.This is not a complete list of all New York game fish, just the most popular and available fish.

New York freshwater game fish species

New York is blessed with some outstanding freshwater fishing for a wide variety of both warm water and cold water species. They are listed below, in no particular order.

1)  New York largemouth bass

best soft plastic lure

Largemouth bass are arguable the most popular freshwater game fish in North America, and New York is no exception. The state offers anglers some terrific fishing in lakes, ponds, and rivers. Anglers can even go ice fishing for bass as well. The state record is 11 pounds 4 ounces. Just about every technique can be used.

Read Capt Jim’s article on largemouth bass fishing

2)  New York smallmouth bass

New York game fish

New York is one of the top smallmouth bass locations in North America. The western portion, particularly the Thousand Islands region of the St Lawrence River, offers anglers world class fishing for smallmouth bass. Many other cool lakes and river are productive as well, along with the two Great Lakes. The state record is 8 pounds 4 ounces.

Check out the best smallmouth bass fishing lures

3)  New York walleye

Minnesota game fish

Walleye are a much sought after game fish in New York. While they put up a decent little tussle, most anglers target them for their fillets; walleye are terrific to eat! Most walleye are caught by anglers drifting and trolling in larger lakes and river systems. Both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario offer excellent fishing. The New York state record walleye is 18 pounds 2 ounces.Ice fishing for walleye is very popular and productive as well.

Read about trolling for walleye

4)  New York northern pike

pike fishing

New York has some excellent habitat for northern pike. They prefer cool, clean water and are often found in shallow bays with weeds. They feed on fairly large fish such as panfish and suckers. Most pike are caught by anglers casting larger lures. Ice fishing for pike is productive as well. The state record pike is 46 pounds 2 ounces.

5)  New York muskellunge (musky)

topwater plugs freshwater fishing

Musky are considered by may anglers to be the ultimate freshwater game fish species. They grow large and are challenging, earning the nickname “fish of ten thousand casts”. New York offers anglers some excellent musky fishing opportunities, particularly in the western portion of the state. The record fish is a whopping 69 pounds 15 ounces. Tiger musky are available as well.

6)  New York salmon

Great Lakes salmon fishing

Chinook (king) salmon

New York offers anglers the opportunity to catch several species of salmon. These are chinook salmon, coho salmon, Atlantic salmon, pink salmon, and kokanee salmon. These species will all be covered in one section as they are similar in habit and location. Most salmon are caught in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie and their tributaries, though there are certainly other lakes and rivers where they can be found.

Minnesota salmon fishing

Coho (silver) salmon

Trolling in the Great Lakes produces the vast majority of salmon for anglers in New York as well as the rest of the region. Specialized tackle and equipment is used. As fish move into the rivers, fly fishing and casting makes them accessible to anglers without boats.

pink salmon

Pink salmon

The state records are ad follows; pink salmon 4 pounds 15 ounces, chinook salmon 47 pounds 13 ounces, coho salmon 33 pounds 7 ounces, Atlantic salmon 24 pounds 15 ounces, and kokanee salmon 3 pounds 6 ounces.

7)  New York rainbow trout

fishing for rainbow trout

Rainbow trout are one of the most recognizable fish species, with it’s long red stripe. New York offers anglers excellent rainbow trout fishing in it’s streams, rivers, and lakes. Some very large fish are caught in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Anglers can fly fish, cast, or troll for them. The state record is 31 pounds 3 ounces.

8)  New York brown trout

best 13 brown trout fishing lures

Brown trout are another popular and widely dispersed trout species. They can tolerate warmer water than some other trout. They are found in lakes, streams, and rivers. As with rainbow trout, the Great Lakes has some very large fish. The state record is 33 pounds 2 ounces.

9)  New York brook trout

brook trout fishing

Brook trout are the smallest of the major trout species, the New York state record is 6 pounds. These are the only true native trout species. Anglers hike into remote regions to catch small, but colorful, “native brookies”. Most anglers target them in small streams using fly tackle, but they can be caught using all of the other trout fishing techniques.

10)  New York lake trout

lake trout fishing tips

Lake trout are found in large cold, clear, deep lakes and their river systems. Most New York lake trout are caught in the Great Lakes, but other large lakes offer good fishing. Most fish are caught by anglers trolling large spoons and plugs. The state record is 41 pounds 8 ounces.

11)  New York crappie

fishing for crappie bluegill and panfish

Crappie are a very popular, and the largest member of, the panfish family. They grow larger in the South, but New York has decent crappie fishing. There are two members; black crappie and white crappie, though they are very similar is looks and habits. Crappie feed on minnows and most crappie are caught by anglers fishing with live minnows or jigs. The record white crappie is 3 pounds 13 ounces and the black crappie record is 4 pounds 1 ounce.

12)  New York bluegill and panfish.


While bass and trout might be considered the glamour species, bluegill and panfish may just be the most popular freshwater New York game fish species. They are prolific, available, cooperative, and great to eat! Pursued using ultra light tackle, they are indeed game fish. The record bluegill is 2 pounds 8 ounces. Anglers also catch pumkinseed, rock bass, and white perch.

13)  New York channel catfish

fishing for river catfish

Channel catfish are another extremely widespread and popular freshwater game fish species. They are hard-fighting and excellent eating. Anglers catch them bottom fishing with a variety of live and cut baits, however they do take artificial lures as well. Slow moving rivers are the top spots to find them. The state record is 38 pounds 4 ounces.

14)  New York carp

fishing for carp

Carp have had a bad reputation in the past, but are becoming recognized as true game fish. They grow large, fight hard, and can be challenging to hook. Most are caught by bottom fishing with a variety of baits, including corn and worms. They are not considered good to eat. The state record carp is 50 pounds 6 ounces.

15)  New York chain pickerel

top freshwater fish list

Chain pickerel are smaller cousins to pike and musky, with similar habits. They are plentiful in warmer, shallow ponds with a lot of aquatic vegetation. Pickerel are aggressive with some interesting markings. They are not good to eat. The state record is 8 pounds 1 ounce.

 16)  New York yellow perch

Michigan yellow perch

Yellow perch are smaller cousins to walleye, and just as good to eat. They do put up a better fight for their size. Yellow perch school up and once located, the action can be fast. Live minnows and jigs are the top baits. Ice fishing for yellow perch is very popular. The Great Lakes is the top spot, with many other lake and river systems having good populations. The state record is 3 pounds 8 ounces.

New York saltwater game fish species

New York offers anglers some very good saltwater fishing opportunities as well, though the coat line is not all that long. Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean are home to a good variety of species. In this list, only inshore species will be included.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

17)  New York striped bass

striped bass fishing tackle

Striped bass are without a doubt the number one saltwater game fish in New York. They are also caught by freshwater anglers in the Hudson River and lakes where they were stocked. They grow large, the New York record is 76 pounds. Anglers catch them bottom fishing, casting, trolling, and surf fishing. They truly are a game fish that has it all!

18)  Fluke (summer flounder)

fluke and flounder fishing

Fluke, also known as summer flounder, are a very popular inshore species in New York. They put up a good battle but are prized for having some of the tastiest fillets of any fish. Fluke feed right on the bottom, ambushing prey as it goes by. Bottom fishing with cut bait catches most fluke, but jigs will also produce. The record is 22 pounds 7 ounces.

19)  New York bluefish

New York game fish

Bluefish and New York go hand in hand. These saltwater brawlers are one of the toughest, vicious, hard-fighting game fish found anywhere. Anglers catch them casting lures when seen feeding on the surface, which is great sport. Trolling and bottom fishing will produce as well. Anglers surf fishing catch plenty. The state record is 25 pounds.

20)  New York black sea bass

black sea bass fishing

Black sea bass are a feisty bottom fish that anglers catch on the structure just offshore. They only grow to 10 pounds or so, the state record is 9 pounds. They are caught bottom fishing with cut bait, but will also take a jig. Black sea bass are fantastic eating!

Read Capt Jim’s article on Black Sea Bass Fishing

21)  New York false albacore and bonito

Florida saltwater fishing in fall

These two members of the tuna family invade the inshore Atlantic Ocean waters in the fall, providing terrific surface action as they terrorize bait fish. This is great sport as anglers cast lures and flies into them. They are different species, but look similar and behave alike. The record false albacore is 18 pounds 1 ounce and the record Atlantic bonito is 13 pounds 8 ounces.

22)  New York winter flounder

New York game fish

Winter flounder are similar looking to fluke, but have a much smaller mouth and are less aggressive. They also do not grow as large, the state record is 7 pounds 4 ounces. Anglers catch them slowly drifting cut bait in the cooler months.

23)  New York tautog (blackfish)

inshore saltwater fishing

Tautog, also known as blackfish, are a very popular structure dwelling bottom fish found in the inshore waters. They are caught by anglers fishing with green crabs and other crustaceans. Tautog are notorious for their ability to steal the bait! They are fantastic to eat.

In conclusion, this article on the top 23 New York game fish species will help anglers identify, and more importantly catch, more fish in the state!




Jim Klopfer

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay waters. Capt Jim has been creating an writing articles about fishing for decades, contributing to many regional and national publications. He also lives part time in the North Carolina mountains where he fishes for trout and other species. Capt Jim Klopfer is a wel rounded angler with 50 years fishing experience, and he loves to share what he has learned with other anglers!

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