Upstate New York Fishing Report – November 19, 2020

Greater Niagara Region

Bill Hilts, Jr.

Fishing in Niagara Falls USA is a little unsettled right now. After a windstorm that brought in gusts that neared 70 mph and additional winds that continued for several days, Lake Erie was one riled up mess that created some muddy conditions that impacted Niagara River water quality. With more winds in the forecast for Thursday and Friday this week, it might not be until next week that river fishing will pick back up. And with the opening of the regular big game season in the Southern Zone this Saturday, fishing action will probably be light. Prior to the blow, Joe Yaeger of Amherst reports that trout action was good to very good from his boat. His hot bait was 10 mm Lazy Larry’s hot yellow translucent beads fished off three-way rigs. Catches were split between lake trout and steelhead. Capt. Pete Alex of Erie, Pa. passed along that he had a couple great days of fishing with his friend Capt. Ken Nulph of Pittsburgh. They were 21 for 29 one day and the next day they were 18 for 26 on trout. Almost 80 percent of all their fish were caught on beads, 10 percent on brown trout egg sacs, and 10 percent on golden shiners. The beads were all Mad River brand in an 8 mm size. Best colors were chartreuse, mottled chartreuse, UV chartreuse and light orange colors. It was a mixed bag of lake trout, steelhead, and brown trout. They also caught 3 bass that were not part of their daily totals. All fish were released to fight another day. Anglers could be fishing by the weekend according to Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston, but we will have to see what happens with the wind. Shore anglers were picking up some steelhead and the occasional brown trout in Devil’s Hole and along Artpark. Beads, sacs, and spinners were being used. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls was using a No. 5 spinner to catch both steelhead and lake trout. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls used a jig to catch walleye and trout from the shoreline and even a king salmon. Remember that lake trout season in the lower river and Lake Ontario re-opens on Dec. 1 this year – a new regulation that was passed this year. Shore fishermen are usually fishing before the boat anglers after a mud event. The NYPA fishing platform is temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Also off-limits is the NYPA reservoir at Upper Mountain Road access and at reservoir park. Intake park in the upper river is also closed. Bass fishing has been crazy good from Youngstown to the Niagara Bar according to Drabczyk. Swim baits and Ned rigs or minnows and shiners. Muskellunge action in the upper river will be delayed until the water clears according to Capt. Connor Cinelli of Grand Island. Action should be good when it does. However, it might not be until next week. Remember that the season closes on the upper river and Lake Erie, along with most of the state, on Nov. 30. The only open waters will be the lower river and Lake Ontario, where the season will remain open through Dec. 15. The regular bass season also closes Nov. 30.

Lou Buchheit
Lou Buchheit of Cheektowaga caught this lake trout fishing with Capt. Jeff Draper of Grand Island recently.

Mark Plennert
Mark Plennert of Niagara Falls caught this steelhead off the NYPA fishing platform in the lower Niagara River. The platform is currently closed due to COVID-19.
Mike Ziehm
Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls caught this steelhead from shore, tossing a No. 5 spinner over the weekend.

For the Lake Ontario tributaries, Karen Evarts with the Boat Doctors in Olcott reports that there are still some salmon around, along with browns and steelhead. The combination of Erie Canal water releases and recent rains finally created some decent flows, and with it brought in some additional fish. Beads, wax worms, spikes, trout worms and egg sacs are all being talked about by anglers and there has not been much fishing pressure at 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam. Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reports he picked up a mixed bag of trout recently in some of the smaller creeks that have been pulsed with Erie Canal water, using a large bead head woolie bugger in olive. He fished it “on the swing,” casting and letting the fly slide across the creek at a 3/4 angle. Wilson Harbor was doing well on perch, bluegill, and the occasional brown trout according to Evarts.

Mike Rzucidlo
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a walleye he caught on a jig over the weekend.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Streams

Anglers fishing the mouth of Bear Creek have caught some BT’s using egg sacs and bright green beads. There is limited public access at Bear and Salmon Creek in Pultneyville. There is flow because both streams are close to the lake.

Maxwell Creek has slow moving water on the north side of Lake Road. The open water is Maxwell Bay so there are sections that are not dry. Again, the browns are the targeted species and they like egg sacs.

Pier fishing is an option at the Sodus channel and also the small outlet to Port Bay located at the end of West Port Bay Road. Cast out heavy spoons. Anything that is bright and glows works the best.

Bays

Bay water levels are low so use caution when launching and fishing the shorelines. The ramp at the south end of Port Bay is collapsing so make sure you don’t damage your trailer. Matter of fact…use the north ramp. The barrier road is bumpy, but the ramp is in good condition. Both locations are on West Port Bay Road.

The late season bass fishing has been strong, and the perch are in both bays. Perch are hitting rubber shad imitations and live bait. There is plenty of small fish so work the drop-offs until you find larger schools.

The regular season for bass ends Monday, November 30th.

Remember the important regulation regarding life jackets. (PFD’s) Use must wear your PFD from November 1st through May 1st if your boat is less than 21 feet. This means it must be worn…not lying in the bow of your boat.

Erie Canal

Widewaters has not been drained and you can still launch at the Wayne County park. Fish the south sections of the canal for bass and you’ll find perch and bluegills under the Port Gibson Bridge.

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 https://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026.

Orleans County

Ron Bierstin, Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge

We’ve had another stretch of cooler weather along with some brisk winds and rains over the past few days! Wind and rain has subsided though and for today (Tuesday) there is the chance for uncommon Lake Effect Snow showers off the big Lake O on a NW wind. No significant amounts are expected and then a warmup is forecast through the end of the week and weekend. Precipitation of a couple days ago is not enough to effect any big change in trib flows. Flows for now are still dominated by the first winter time drainage waters from the Erie Canal. The rate of drainage looks kind of slow and I see no big drawdown yet in Albion. With that observation, I’d look for continued drainage flows for at least a week+ unless Canal managers turn up the rate.

Fishing pressure is spread out now through other waterways besides the Oak, now that they have better fishable medium–ish, slightly stained flows. Its that time of the year too with holidays and big game seasons coming that guys start to stick closer to home. Oh yea, and then there’s Covid which may be factoring into peoples’ travel plans as well.

Flows in the Oak are looking like a notch above moderate – so that places most all area trib flows quite agreeable for legit drifting chances. Once the first winter-time drainage water runs its course, look for low and clear flows all around to return. A little bit tougher action for some on the Oak lately as the egg sack and fly drift bite gets harder. Most everyone is still getting some brown trout hook-ups though and bead guys are doing best usually perhaps targeting more of a dead egg drift. Browns may be less interested in a dead drift now that they are spawning, so try a swing. Then there’s always the post spawn brown trout bite soon-to-come where they become pretty gullible on most anything that looks like food. Zombie Kings and a few green ones are left in the Oak. There is always the chance for wildcard fresher salmon or cohos or, this year, the not uncommon Atlantics.

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