Upstate New York Fishing Report – August 20, 2020

Greater Niagara Region

Bill Hilts, Jr.

If you are looking for a trilogy of fishing contests on Lake Ontario and beyond, there are 3 big events that will be starting up this week. Two big fishing contests begin Friday the 21st. The Reelin’ for a Cure ladies tournament will be held out of Wilson and Olcott in Lake Ontario. We will have full results for you next week to see who caught the most weight for their best 6 fish. The Fall Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby kicks off August 21 and it runs through Labor Day. $25,000 is up for grabs for the largest salmon caught in the contest. You can sign up for the entire derby for $40 or fish just one day as long as you are registered prior to 7 a.m. on the day you intend to fish for just $20. Remember that you must be in it to win it! Check out for details. The third contest for the trifecta is the Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby for Erie, Niagara, and Orleans counties. The 9-day contest starts on August 22 and there are 7 different species categories for the adults and the kids. For the adults, lake trout, brown trout, steelhead, salmon, carp, smallmouth bass, and walleye divisions are available. For the kids it is panfish, sheepshead, carp, walleye, salmon, trout, and bass. The best part is that kids 15 and under can fish for free. Check out for details.

Julian Hardy
Julian Hardy of Niagara Falls caught this steelhead while fishing with Capt. Mike Johannes of On The Rocks Charters out of Wilson. It was a trip set up by the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs.

Frank from New Jersey
Frank from New Jersey caught this 18-pound steelhead out of Olcott fishing with Capt. Jim Gordon aboard the Hawg.
Jeff and Marty
Jeff and Marty from Pennsylvania caught some big steelhead out of Olcott this week with Capt. Jim Gordon aboard the Hawg.

Capt. Joe Oakes of Wilson sends word that the east wind has scattered the fish and pushed cold water into the inshore waters, so the most consistent fishing has been over 450 plus feet for a mix of kings and steelhead. The most productive baits are spoons and flasher-flies in the top 60 feet of water. Capt. Tim Sylvester with Tough Duty out of Olcott has had good success running baits over deep water and keep a mix of magnum Moonshine spoons in the top 50-60 feet of water. Orange was working for steelhead; glow was working for salmon. Riggers and divers were working, but when the fish are higher in the water column, he will shut the riggers down and keep everything up high with coppers and divers.

Rayn Cooper
Rayn Cooper of Ransomville with her steelhead on the Federation trip.
Vincent Ward
Vincent Ward of Lockport with his steelhead on the Federation trip.
Lucas Ward
Lucas Ward of Lockport also caught a steelhead on the same trip.

Walleye action continues to be decent on the Niagara Bar near the green buoy marker according to Lisa Drabczyk with Creek Road Bait and Tackle. Worm harnesses fished off 3-way rigs are the best approach. Bass fishing has started picking up a bit downriver around the fort and on the bar. If Ned rigs and drop-shot set-ups are not working, switch over to live bait like crayfish. The same concept applies in the upper river. One of the better bass spots has been near the round house at the head of the river.

Good luck and stay safe out there!

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Lake Ontario

The kings are very scattered. Some are in 500 to 700 fow and some have been caught 120 to 140 fow. Today’s west wind is making it a challenge if you have a smaller boat.
And…current has been “wicked” according to charter captains.

Flasher flies and meat rigs have been the bait. Riggers and dipsys have been the presentations. Some nice lakers have been caught near the bottom in 140 fow.

Don’t forget about the LOC Fall Derby which starts in 10 days. (August 21 through September 7th)


The warm water of the bays has created a feeding frenzy with the bass. In Sodus Bay the largemouths are in the four pound plus class.

Fish during the week when there are less recreational boats making it hard to stay on the weed beds. The bass are hitting spinnerbaits and worm rigs. If you can fish during the evening, try top water lures. Seeing a bass gobble a top water rig is exciting.

Don’t forget Port Bay, which has some nice largemouths. You can also catch pike at the south end of Port Bay…right next to the launch site.

Erie Canal

Anglers were fishing near the locks west of Lyons. When the locks open it stirs the bottom and the fish are waiting for a meal. Throw out worms and you’ll catch bass and panfish.

August is the time for channel catfish action. Anchor near any quiet water and throw out cut shrimp. The cats will take the bait and they will give you a nice fight.

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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