Upstate New York Fishing Report – December 10, 2020

Jon Holden lake trout
Jon Holden of Lockport caught this 31-inch lake trout in the lower Niagara River on a Kwikfish recently. Lake trout season opened Dec. 1 in the lower river and Lake Ontario.

Greater Niagara Region

Bill Hilts, Jr.

Winter cold and biting winds have hampered fishing activities the past week. When the wind subsided and the Niagara River had a chance to settle down, the fish were the ones that were doing the biting. It was Sunday afternoon last weekend that we finally started to see some clearing, with steelhead and brown trout taking center stage. There are still some lake trout hanging around in the river, too. On Tuesday, Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston reports he hit the water of the lower river for a couple hours with Gary Hall of Niagara Falls, and they boated 8 steelhead, including 2 double headers using MagLips off three-way rigs. Monday afternoon there was about 3-4 feet of visibility up in the gorge for Mike Rzucidlo and Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls. Both were using No. 4 spinners from shore to catch steelhead up to 12 pounds. The John Henning Memorial Musky Tournament scheduled for last Sunday was a no-go due to the turbid water conditions. NY Power Authority fishing facilities are now closed for the season and will not reopen until April 1. The installation of the ice boom at the head of the river where it meets Lake Erie will begin on Dec. 10 if the weather cooperates. This is a bit earlier than normal due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

Mike Ziehm steelhead
Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls caught some big steelhead from shore in the Niagara Gorge using a No. 4 spinner.

Mike Rzucidlo steelhead
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a steelhead caught on the lower Niagara River on Monday of this week using a No. 4 spinner.
Gary Hall steelhead
Gary Hall of Niagara Falls caught this nice steelhead in the lower Niagara River on Tuesday afternoon with Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston.
Gary Hall  steelhead double header
Gary Hall of Niagara Falls holds up the two fish he caught with Capt. Frank Campbell on Tuesday afternoon using MagLip lures off three-way rigs.

There appears to be decent water flow in the larger tributaries off Lake Ontario, thanks in part due to the Erie Canal water releases. Karen Evarts at the Boat Doctor in Olcott reports that some trout are available in places like Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek. Best baits in the streams have been wax worms, flies, egg sacs, beads or other egg imitations and jigs. With the regular deer season ending on Sunday, look for activity in the streams to increase. We could be getting some more rain before we see any of the white stuff. Because it has been cold, Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters says it is sometimes better to wait until the afternoon and let the water warm up a bit. The streamer bite has been the ticket the past week or two for him. Ken Jackson of Sanborn sends word that several of the smaller creeks are still the lowest he has seen in years. Both jigs and egg sacs have been working for steelhead on the Lake Ontario tributaries for him.

With Christmas just a few weeks away, think about getting a gift certificate from your local tackle shops or charter captains. There is a complete list of both at

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


Maxwell Creek has a better flow than last week, however it is still slow-moving water. Some browns were caught fly fishing with egg sacs, but it was feeble bite.

Anglers were casting out at Bear Creek in Ontario. It’s a limited public access stream, nevertheless it has water flow being connected to the lake at its mouth.

Some steelhead have come from the Sodus Bay Channel. You can cast out into the water using heavy bright spoons. Kastmasters, Little Cleos, and some of the larger Sutton spoons all work. Wind and ice build-up will eventually curtail that type of fishing.


The perch are still scattered in Sodus and Port Bays. The year of class all look healthy, which is great news for the future. If you get into the smaller schools, you’ll have to move to find the 10-to-12-inch fish.

Most of the ramps are open, however, the docks have been pulled …so be careful launching. Fish with a partner is the smart way.

The perch will hit rubber shad, teardrop jigs tipped with perch eyes and spikes. Live bait would be perch minnows.

The regular bass fishing season ended November 30th. You can still fish and release bass using artificial lures only.

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.

The official rule-All persons on board a recreational vessel less than 21 feet in length (including canoes, kayaks, and rowboats) must wear a USCG–approved PFD from November 1 to May 1.

Check -out your ice fishing gear. Wax the bottom of your shanty. Open the “Clam” up and see where the mice have been living during the summer. Put new blades on your auger. It will not be long until we are on the ice.

Erie Canal

The Widewaters area has not been drained and you can fish from a boat or from the shore. The launch site at Widewaters is a great place to start with a boat. Just be careful because the docks have been pulled for the winter and it can be tricky without them.

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

Ron Bierstin, Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge

It’s chilly with near seasonable weather and temps so far this week with a slight warm up forecast through the end of this week. Then there’s a chance of rain or showers for the beginning part of the weekend going over to snow showers for the end of the weekend. There’s Lake Effect Snow tonight (Tuesday) with no significant accumulation expected here. According to USGS stations, there’s no great rise in flows yet in the Oak or other smaller tribs from the winter Canal drainage. Canal managers informed us that it is underway so a rise in flows is overdue and likely to come sooner then later. Flows in the Oak are almost medium and mostly clear – look for flows to go to slightly high and slightly stained if and when the Canal water hits below Waterport. Likewise look for the other area smaller tribs now at moderate and clear flows to go to medium and slightly stained.

Fishing pressure lessened some for the beginning of the week. Some cold night time temps have dropped water temperatures especially in the smaller waterways so brown trout action has been tougher but guys grinding it out are having fair action. A swing and grab is still not out of the question especially later in the day on slightly warming and more active fish. Steelhead are the wildcard, and in the Oak guys report as many or more steelhead hook ups as browns. Those Oak fish are probably a little more educated then when they were fresher a week or so ago. Persistent drifters changing up the drift speed and angle of presentation will get some hook ups over the course of a days effort as the fish turn on and off. Higher Canal flows to come should bring some fresh fish around or else redistribute fish in the waterways. Stained water color should put them in a better biting mode too.

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