Fishing at Letchworth State Park sounds like a great day out! Given that 17 miles of the Genesee River flow through the park, when considering where to go fishing in New York, Letchworth Park is bound to jump to mind, and if fishing there is possible, it’s going to be a great day’s trip.
With that being said, can you fish at Letchworth State Park?
Fishing is permitted in Letchworth State Park at designated areas, including points at the Genesee River, and the Trout pond, which is freshly stocked each Spring. Once you have parked your car, fishing spots along the river often require lengthy hikes to reach, so make sure there is enough daylight to make it there and back safely.
The Genesee River
The Genesee River is 157 miles long, running from Potter County in Pennsylvania, all the way to Lake Ontario in Rochester. The section of the river running through Letchworth Park is 17 miles long and features the upper, mid, and lower waterfalls.
Along the river, you’ll find many Suckers and Smallmouth Bass, which are the ruling fish species. If you’re looking for other fish, such as Trout, you won’t find much in the river, as they prefer deeper waters and resist falling over the waterfalls further into the park.
Fishing areas in the park
On road signs throughout the park, fish symbols are shown for locations where fishing is permitted, and they will direct you to these areas. Let’s take a look at two fishing locations along the Genesee River, and also a Trout Pond area.
Note: It’s not permitted to swim, climb walls, or stay at the riverside overnight.
St. Helena Trail
A known fishing area in the park running along the riverbank is on the 2.6-mile out-and-back St. Helena Trail. The spot is best accessed by the Castile entrance, with a 7-minute drive via Park Road.
You’ll find a large parking area near the start of the trail, and from there, you’ll hike down the hill to the bottom where the fishing area is located.
The St. Helena area takes 20 minutes to hike down and 30-40 minutes to hike back up, and if you try to do that in the dark, it’s going to be hard. The park is open from 6 am to 11 pm, but make sure you arrive at and leave the riverside in daylight to avoid problems.
You’ll find good-sized fish, such as large smallmouths, carp, and suckers. It’s also a great spot for some alone time, as due to the length of time it takes to hike to, it’s not as popular as other fishing locations in the park.
Additionally, if you visit the trail in the Spring, you’ll encounter many toads along the bank area, as it’s mating season, and sometimes they can cover the entire bank!
Lee’s Landing Trail
Accessing the Genesee River from the 1.4-mile out-and-back Lee’s Landing Trail is another great fishing spot in the park. The entrance to the trail is 6 minutes from the Castile entrance to the park, driven to via Park Road.
It’s located near the Adventure Calls Outfitters in the Lower Falls area, and nearby you can park opposite the CC Memorial Statue, where you’ll see the entrance to Lee’s Landing.
Then, once you’ve made the hike down to the river area, you can fish from scenic spots along the river, which is heaving with Smallmouth Bass.
You also have the option to mix things up a bit, as some sections of the river flow faster here, but there are also calmer areas to cast and make catches. This means that if you choose to rent a kayak from the Adventure Calls Outfitters, you can enjoy shooting through the rapid sections of the river, and also practice some kayak fishing in the calmer waters!
The Trout Pond Trail
A well-known fishing spot in Letchworth Park is the Trout Pond, located along the Trout Pond Trail, a 0.9-mile trail loop. The trail is best accessed from the Castile or Portageville entrance, with a 6-minute drive time via Park Road to the parking area, located near the start of the trail.
The Trout Pond is freshly stocked with fish in the Spring time, and you’ll see much surface activity, but they are usually fished out by the middle of the Summer. Fish species you’ll find here include Brook trout, Rainbow Trout, Largemouth Bass, Panfish, Bluegill, and Sunfish.
One thing to note about this area is that the pond isn’t overly large, and a few weeks after the pond has been stocked, the fish are used to being caught and, as a result, have grown aware of this and can be difficult to catch.
To combat this, bring an assortment of different fishing flies with you, such as Streamers, Trout flies, and so on, to have a better chance of winning on the day.
To fish anywhere in New York, you’ll need to acquire a New York State fishing license. Licenses can be purchased for a day, a week, or the entire year. You can obtain the fishing license by visiting an official issuing agent, making a phone call and ordering one, or ordering one online.
It’s also important to read up on the New York State Freshwater Fishing Regulations before your trip. This provides fishing regulations, including catch and release data, the legal fish length, the daily fishing limit, and so on.
When you’re fishing in the park, you’ll often find that the average size of a Smallmouth Bass and other fish is less than the legal catch size, so for catch and release fishing, it can prove a fun-filled day, but if you intend on taking fish home, it’s best to be aware that you’ll be putting a fair few fishes back in the water!
Fishing advice at the park
Accessing the fishing areas in the park can take a long time, often involving walking down and up steep terrain, so it’s best to leave plenty of time to climb back up the trail and get back to your car.
In many instances, if you’re still at the river fishing in Letchworth Park when the sun starts going down, due to the sheer height of the gorge and the surrounding trees, it’s similar to turning on and off a light switch, and you’ll be left in the dark, finding it hard to navigate your way back up the trail.
On another note, if you want to catch as many fish as possible, find a spot along the river where the gorge is high enough to produce shade on the water, as that is where the fish will be camping.
Finally, if you arrive after a storm at the Trout Pond, fish are disturbed and much easier to catch, but on the flip side, after a storm at some sections of the river, waters can get murky and muddy, making it difficult to catch anything.
You can fish at Letchworth Park in designated fishing areas only. These include points at the Genesee River and a Trout Pond freshly stocked in the Spring time.
Designated fishing areas will appear as small fish symbols on road signs. Before your travels, make sure to read up on fishing regulation guidelines and acquire a New York State fishing license.