Upstate New York Fishing Report – July 23, 2020

Greater Niagara Region

Bill Hilts, Jr.

It was a busy weekend on the local fishing front … after the storms and high winds blew through the tail end of last week. Brian Gregson of Gasport with the Totally Hooked team won both LOTSA big-fish contests with a 25.46-pound king salmon, but they caught plenty of other fish in the process for the one day event. Also on the team were his wife Jill, his brother Adam, and the team anchor, 77-year-old Father-in-Law Don Tranter of Grand Island. The team ran west of Wilson from Olcott and worked their way east with the wind. Staying in 200 to 220 feet of water, they caught the top fish on a Mountain Dew Spin Doctor with a meat rig outfitted with N & D meat. It was set on a dipsy 180 feet back on a No. 1 setting. However, flasher-fly took most of the fish they caught on Saturday. Another hot program was using fixed sliders 10 feet above the downrigger ball set at 80 and 90 feet. The best spoon was a green gator. Steve O’Lay of Ransomville and the Copper Steel team (Calvin Dufour of Gasport and his son Jason from Virginia) won the LOTSA 223 contest and the secret to their success was staying in 275 to 300 feet of water and fishing deep, 80 to 125 feet down. They trolled with the wind from west of Wilson to east of Olcott. Most of the fish were caught using spin doctor and fly combos (the best one was a Pro-Am A-Tom-Mik fly with a 10-inch UV DW spin doc) off one of two 400-foot copper rods that they had set out. Their biggest fish was caught on a RV Flounder Pounder Moonshine spoon on the 400 copper. The second biggest fish came on a KingFisher meat rig set 125 feet down on the rigger. They caught 26 salmon during the day, not counting shaker salmon (small ones). Dick Schrantz of the Fredonia area fished with his son Brian and grandson Luke, concentrating on the Niagara Bar. Not much boat traffic, but they did catch fish up to 22.5 pounds and lost a few other big ones. Spoons seemed to work best with a magnum fire tiger and a magnum NK antifreeze spoon off divers set back 180 to 205. There were numerous smaller shaker salmon that were caught and released. The countdown is starting for the Summer Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) that ends Sunday at 1 p.m. There were two new Grand Prize leaders caught over the weekend. First it was a 29-pound, 9-ounce king caught by Brandon Weiland of Pine City while fishing out of the Oak. Then it was Don Stacknick of Dalton, PA with a 30-pound, 6-ounce king caught out of Fair Haven. In the Brown Trout Division, the first-place fish is still a 20-pound, 1-ounce Rochester fish reeled in by Mark Skirvin of Henrietta. The lake trout leader is new as of Tuesday with a 23-pound, 3-ounce fish was caught off Oswego by Richard DuBois of Pulaski. Top walleye is still an 11-pound, 15-ounce Henderson harbor fish caught by Matt Plumpton of Watertown.

Copper Steel team
The Copper Steel team won the LOTSA with 2 fish totaling 46.13 pounds.
Dick Schrantz
Dick Schrantz caught this 22.5 pound salmon on the Niagara Bar during the LOTSA contest.
Totally Hooked
Totally Hooked won the Curt Meddaugh Memorial Contest and the LOTSA King Salmon Club Tournament with a 25.46 pound king salmon.

Not too much has changed with the Niagara River fishing action according to Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle. The NYPA fishing platform is still producing a mixed bag of fish including smallmouth bass, white bass, and sheepshead when the water levels do not shut the fishing area down. Call NYPA at 286-6662 to check status before heading down. Bass and gar pike are available from shore in the gorge area along Artpark. Boaters have been picking up some bass and walleye along Stella Niagara and at the Coast Guard station. For bass, use crayfish or minnows, but be prepared to catch some sheepshead, too. Ned rigs, tubes and drop shot set-ups are also taking some fish, but action was a bit slower this past week. Above Niagara Falls in the upper river, some bass and walleye are being caught along with some big sheepshead. Ned rigs for bass and worm harnesses for walleye. Remember, no matter where you are fishing on the river, avoid Canadian waters. The border is closed, even if you have a Canadian fishing license.

Luke Schrantz
8 year old Luke Schrantz out-dueled this 11 pound salmon fishing the Niagara Bar in Lake Ontario.
Mike Rzucidlo
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls holds up a longnose gar pike he caught on a rope fly in the Niagara Gorge from shore.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Lake Ontario

It was a great Sodus Pro-Am week. First place in the Pro Division was “Mister Squirrely” from Oswego. They took home $7000 for their effort. They came to the weigh-in with 12 fish Saturday and Sunday. They fished both days straight out from Port Bay.

In the Amateur Division Team Knot-4-Profit boxed-out both days and took home $2,500.

For the complete leaderboard check-out for current information.

Currently the kings are hitting east of Sodus Bay in 130 to 160 fow. They are hitting spoons…all UV. They have been mostly of the riggers down 50 to 60 feet.
The summer kings are back.

Some charters are also throwing out cut bait, however the spoons are working the best.


Bass fishing has been hot on both Port and Sodus Bays. Fish the docks and weed lines. Use heavy tackle with worm rigs. The largemouths have been four and five pounds from Sodus Bay.

Bluegills and sunfish are everywhere and easy to catch. “Take a Kid Fishing.”

Erie Canal

The bass boats were at Widewaters Sunday. The anglers usually fish the south side of the canal where the weed beds are located. If you launch at Widewaters you have a large area to fish between the locks.

You can also fish along the canal trail between Port Gibson and Newark or try next to the locks from Route 31.

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

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