Upstate New York Fishing Report – December 31, 2020

Steelhead, brown trout, walleye, and perch continue to keep anglers busy in upstate New York.

Steelhead, brown trout, walleye, and perch continue to keep anglers busy in upstate New York.

Gary Laidman with a lower Niagara River steelhead he caught the day before Christmas with Capt. Chris Cinelli.

Greater Niagara Region

Bill Hilts, Jr.

When the calendar switches over to Jan. 1, remember that the walleye limit changes in the lower Niagara River, too. To help protect spawning females, the daily limit drops from 3 to 1 fish per person. The length limit remains 18 inches. In the meantime, boaters will have to wait a few days to fish because the winds and rains are causing muddy conditions again. There was some shore fishing action going on Monday, but it will probably be the weekend before casters will start catching trout again. Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston reports that spinners, egg sacs or egg imitations like beads will work best for the shore anglers. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls managed to catch a couple steelhead this week using No. 5 spinners that were dressed up with fluorescent pink with silver and black dots. He also added a little smelt scent to the lure. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls said it was about a foot of visibility or less by late Monday and that was when the strongest winds were going to show up. More wind is in the forecast. When the waters clear, the fish will be hungry.

Michael Walaczek with a bomber brown he caught in a favorite Lake Ontario tributary.
Michael Walaczek with a bomber brown he caught in a favorite Lake Ontario tributary.

Mike Walaszek of Burt reports that he was fishing with Jason Lewis Jr. this week and they went 3 for 6 with brown trout on 18 Mile Creek. They used marabou hair jigs. Water visibility was around 2 feet. With recent rains, you might want to check out some of the smaller Niagara County streams like 4 Mile, 12 Mile (both branches) and Keg to see what kind of flow there is and to see if it pulled any fish in. There are a couple fishing contests that will be starting up after the first of the year. Capt. Bob’s Outdoors, located at 10295 Main Street in Clarence, will be once again holding its Winter Fishing Derby from Jan. 2 through March 15, 2021. There are 7 different divisions for fish species and the entry fee is $20. Fish may be caught through the ice or in open water. All fish have a catch and release option with picture, tape measure, and witness. For more information call 407-3021 or visit The New York State Winter Classic fishing contest is back at it again, running from Jan. 1 through Feb. 28. Fish may be caught anywhere in the state. Entry fee is $25 and there will be weekly, monthly, and overall prizes throughout the 2-month long competition. For more information or to register, log on to

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


We have water. Yes indeed, there is finally great flows in Wayne County streams. After a dry October and November, recent rainfalls producing 3 to 4 inches have made stream angling come alive.

Maxwell Creek has decent flows on both sides of Lake Road. Last night’s lake effect snow has left shoreline snow, however no ice build-up.

Some steelhead are hitting live egg sacs. Imitations have some luck, but the real eggs are the best bait.

You can fish on both sides of Lake Road. The south side has been hit or miss; however, the flow is great and steelies like moving water.

The smaller streams in the county also have moving water. Try Bear Creek in Ontario and Salmon Creek in Pultneyville.


There is nothing happening in the bays. It is transition time between open water and ice. The constant wind has left bays open and it’s difficult to launch boats without the docks. We need cold temps and no wind. That will be our New Year’s list.

The perch are in the bays and as soon as we get safe ice (4 inches) the fun will begin. Check your jigging poles and re-spool with Sufix ice line.

Erie Canal

Widewaters is still frozen, however not safe enough for walking on ice. Un-wrap your Christmas presents and re-spool. It won’t be long (I hope)

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

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.

Orleans County

Ron Bierstin, Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge

The weather is a bit up and down and so are the water flows in the Oak.  Today flows are a real nice medium or close to slightly high.  There’s nice stain to the water with about 2-3 ft of visibility.  Flows look like they are responding to a little bit of snowmelt and rain and runoff of the past few days.  Not sure how long flows will stay up as upstream looks like flows are slowly retreating.  There are some milder temps forecast thru the mid and end of the week with some rain or showers thru later Wednesday that may slow the rate of fall of the flows.

Fishing pressure is not too bad, maybe a couple more guys out then you’d expect for end of December but it appears guys are off work and are out fishing around the holidays.

Recent catches in the Tribs, courtesy of Jeff Sturgill.

Most hook ups are on steelhead, and the flows today are plenty good enough to draw some fresh fish.  Guys also report a few browns and there’s been some post spawn Atlantics too.  All of the water is open to fish with no icing from the dam downstream to the frog water.  Other area smaller tribs look a little higher to the west then to the east and are at moderate to medium flows and slightly stained.  Careful drifts or swings in the smaller waterways are also producing a few drop back browns or steelhead.  Look for retreating and clearing flows for now in the smaller waterways and there’s no serious icing yet in any fast water stretches.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced new guidelines allowing out-of-state travelers to New York to “test out” of the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Travelers from states that are contiguous with New York will continue to be exempt from the travel advisory; however covered travelers must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form. Essential workers will continue to be exempt as well. The new protocol is effective Wednesday, November 4.   For more details, see the guidelines for the travel advisory update here (COVID-19 travel advisory).

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