Upstate New York Fishing Report – June 18, 2020

Greater Niagara Region

Bill Hilts, Jr.

We are finally getting into some more normal situations, with a touch of social distancing and mask wearing to help keep us safe. The regular bass season opens on Saturday, June 20. Great Lakes muskellunge and tiger musky are legal to target as of Saturday, too. Remember to stay out of Canadian waters due to increased enforcement of new rules banning U.S. vessels from entering their waters, whether you have a fishing license or not. Next weekend is the Free Fishing Weekend for New York, June 27 and 28. No license is needed to fish, but you must abide by the regulations for the body of water you intend to fish in.

Liam Becker
Liam Becker of Buffalo with one of 75 yellow perch he caught off Buffalo on Tuesday fishing with his dad Greg.

Paul Miller
This 25.73-pound salmon was the big fish in the Orleans County Open Tournament held June 13-14 out of Point Breeze. It was caught by Paul Miller of Wheatfield on the Intimidator team led by Capt. Mike Lavender.

Fishing will be a bit tougher for the Saturday opening of the regular bass season and the Great Lakes muskellunge and tiger muskie seasons due to the dreaded Niagara River moss that is flowing down through the system. One thing that could help is that live bait will once again be an option in places like the lower Niagara River for bass. Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston sends word that it has been more of a mixed bag of fish in the river including white bass, rock bass, smallmouth bass and sheepshead leading the way. A few straggler trout have been caught but most of those cold-water fish have left the system and returned to Lake Ontario. Remember to stay out of Canadian waters, especially in the upper Niagara River where most of the west river falls across the international line.

Brian Hess gar pike
Brian Hess from Tonawanda caught this epic gar pike in the Niagara River this week. He was casting a clown husky jerk bait.
Brian Hess walleye
Brian Hess of Tonawanda with an upper river walleye he caught on a clown husky jerk bait.
Dan Flanigan
Dan Flanigan and Greg Braun were fishing in the upper Niagara River when they caught and quickly released this musky over the weekend. Musky season opens in the Great Lakes (which includes the Niagara River) on Saturday, June 20.

Fishing is picking up out of Olcott according to Capt. Joe Oakes of Salmonboy Sportfishing as there is a lot of bait gathering between 180 and 350 feet of water. All the wind the last few days has been pushing the fish around either to the west or east of Olcott but keep searching until you start marking bait. Once you find the bait you will find the salmon and steelhead. The bite has been between 40 and 100 feet down with a mix of spoons and flasher-fly combos. Also, this year the mature salmon are big. Oakes has been getting several kings in that 23 to 25-pound range every week. This is great news with the Summer Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby set to start on June 27. The month-long derby will be held with over $32,000 in cash prizes up for grabs. Check out for details. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors reports good action for pike and bass in the creeks this week. Nightcrawlers have been good baits to entice fish to hit, in Wilson or Olcott harbors. She also had a late report in that orange colored spoons were working well on steelhead in the lake.

Shaun Hynes
Shaun Hynes of South Plainfield, NJ reeled in this hefty king salmon while fishing out of Olcott with Capt. Joe Oakes of Salmonboy Charters.

We mentioned the Free Fishing Weekend coming up. We should point out that the kids fishing derby that is normally held that Saturday at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott has been cancelled for this year. However, you can still take the kids out fishing! Stay safe out there!

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Lake Ontario

A slow-go over the weekend. Temperatures were 60 degrees top to bottom in 100 feet.

Spoons were taking some cohos and steelhead straight-out from Sodus Bay. Glow-green works for salmon. Red for steelhead.

A few lakers hit in 200 feet of water.

Bait was being marked in 70 to 100, however it was a tough weekend to get anything to bite.

The Sodus Pro-Am is a go. The long-running Pro-Am will be July 18-19th with the IK a Day July15-19, 2020. The Pro-Am web page has been updated for current information.


Saturday is the opening for bass season. Both Sodus and Port Bays have a great population of largemouths. Fish the weedlines and throw-out rubber and plastic. The big bass will always be in thick weed cover so make sure you use some heavy braided line.

You can keep five fish 12-inch minimum length. If you are looking for live bait, try Bay Bridge Sport Shop and Davenports at the south end of Sodus Bay.

The pike are still hitting on the east side of Sodus near the islands. Pike must be 18 inches with a five fish limit. Most pike anglers usually fish and release.

Erie Canal

The open sections of canal waters are listed on the web page below. The Widewaters section has a county launch site just west of Newark. The largemouth bass in that section will easily weigh five to seven pounds. Again…fish the weeds.

Keep informed from the NYS Canal web for changes and restrictions with canal waters.

Charters in Wayne County are Opened for Business

Wayne County Charters are now opened for business. The Finger Lakes region has currently met all the necessary requirements during Phase One to operate their business. All steps and guidelines to ensure safety are listed HERE.

Charters in Wayne County are Opened for Business

Wayne County Charters are now opened for business. The Finger Lakes region has currently met all the necessary requirements during Phase One to operate their business. All steps and guidelines to ensure safety are listed HERE.

Boat Launches Opened

Privately-owned marinas, boat launches, and many other recreational marine locations are now opened.

The official statement from New York State is made in conjunction with similar ones from the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, is the latest change to the guidance from Empire State Development on what is and isn’t affected by the governor’s Executive Order 202, which ordered employers to reduce the number of employees working at individual locations to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidance regarding privately-owned marinas, boatyards and recreational marine manufacturers allows for operations and boat repair/maintenance so long as the facilities ‘adhere to strict social distancing and sanitization protocols.’ However, watercraft cannot be used for charters or rentals, and any restaurant facilities there must remain take-out or delivery only.

Safety Precautions from DEC

While enjoying the outdoors, please continue to follow the CDC/New York State Department of Health guidelines (leaves DEC’s website) for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19:

  • Try to keep at least six (6) feet of distance between you and others.
  • Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, and kissing.
  • Wash hands often or use a hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, handrails, and playground equipment.

When fishing, DEC recommends avoiding busy waters and following the guidelines on DEC’s website about fishing responsibly in New York State. If an angler arrives at a parking lot and there are several cars, they should consider going to another parking lot. If an angler is fishing upstream, they should fish downstream of the other angler or consider fishing another day. Anglers fishing from boats should be able to maintain at least six feet of distance between one another. For more information about the benefits of being outdoors safely and responsibly, go to DEC’s website.

New York State is open for fishing and DEC encourages anglers to recreate locally at a nearby waterbody. New York’s lakes and streams offer great opportunities for fishing in a wide array of settings across the state. Even during the current COVID-19 public health crisis, getting outdoors and connecting with nature while angling in New York’s waters is a great way to help maintain mental and physical health.

Charters and Guides

The “New York State on PAUSE” Executive Order, a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone during the COVID-19 response, includes a directive that all non-essential businesses statewide must close effective at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, and temporarily bans all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason.

At this time, fishing guides or charters of any size have been determined to be not essential and are subject to workforce reduction requirements of the Executive Order. The full and updated guidance on which types of businesses are determined essential and other designations associated with the order can be found online. For more info

Orleans County

Fish on! Lake Ontario, off Point Breeze in the Orleans County waters, is offering visiting anglers exciting mixed bag action in 150 to 300 ft. of water! Most of the “silvers” are hitting a spoon downrigger program, frogs and eyepopper colors early AM then switch to black gold or purple/silver patterns. Your hot rigging is a 6′ slider rig so each rigger has 2 spoons. 75% of the steelhead hits are on the sliders – so much fun! If you need help with sliders, myself or any captain will show you. Area tackle shops like Captains Cove, Oak Orchard Tackle and Narby’s stock the components and spoons. The big Lakers are feeding on the bottom 3 to 6 miles east of the “Oak” near Bald Eagle Marina.

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