Greater Niagara Region
Bill Hilts, Jr.
We had a little blast of winter that blanketed Niagara Falls USA with up to 5 inches of the white stuff on Tuesday. Some cold temperatures are in the forecast and we may see some more snow by the weekend. The cold temperatures are locking up the smaller streams and your only tributary option may be Fisherman’s Park at Burt Dam in the Town of Newfane. Jigs, jigs tipped with a wax worm, egg sacs or egg imitations like beads are all good options if you fish there. Ice anglers are also waiting for Wilson and Olcott to lock up. Make sure you take all the necessary precautions if you see ice cover and want to give it a try.
Of course, the lower Niagara River is not a tributary and we have seen anglers back fishing again according to Lisa Drabczyk of Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. Conditions have been on and off as far as water clarity and the cooperation of the trout. Action has been decent for a mix of steelhead, lake trout and brown trout. Artpark has been one of the better spots for catching steelhead, although some are being caught in Devil’s Hole, too. From the boat, use live bait, eggs or beads. Capt. Ryan O’Neill of Orchard Park hit the Bar – that’s the Niagara Bar – Monday and found the action to be a little slow. He reported that the bait moved up into the river after the fast and dirty water pushed bait out last week. O’Neill thinks that the clearer conditions should hold up through the weekend if you want to battle the colder temperatures. Steelheads were hitting beads and minnows in the river and on the bar. From shore use spinners, jigs, jigs tipped with plastics shads, beads and sacs. Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls braved the cold on Monday and did okay in the gorge using jigs with a lake trout and a steelhead to show for his efforts. There was 3 feet of visibility from shore. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls reports he finally got out for some casting from shore on Monday. He landed 3 rainbows using spinners at Artpark along the gorge trails. Visibility was 3 to 4 feet.
Just a reminder that there are some free fishing days coming up in New York State on Feb. 13-14. No license is needed but you do have to abide by the regulations for the body of water you intend to fish in or on. Stay safe out there!
David Owens of the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.
Oswego River Report
The water flow has averaged about 5500 CFS since January 21st, with this afternoon’s flow at 4,340 CFS. This flow makes the river very accessible, but the colder temperatures mean the fish are generally less aggressive. Dedicated anglers are still finding some nice steelhead throughout the river. Cold temperatures and cloudy skies are in the forecast for the coming days.
Notice: There are mandatory personal flotation device (PFD) zones on the river. For more information, visit our website at visitoswegocounty.com and click on the Fishing Report along the top bar on the home page. The Oswego Fire Department offers loaner life jackets at no charge through its “Loaner for Life” program. For more information contact the fire station at 35 E. Cayuga St. by calling 315-343-2161.
Salmon River Report:
The Pineville gauge has mostly hovered below 500 CFS since January 21st, with this afternoon’s flow at 634 CFS. We’ve seen some bright chromers over the last few weeks! But cold temperatures mean the fish are generally less aggressive, especially on cold mornings. Fishing in the most popular spots has been consistent, but the more remote spots have even fewer anglers and are paying off for those willing to make the trek.
Some of the recently formed ice shelves have broken up over the last couple of days due to the increase in flow. Continue to be extra careful of the ice around the parking lots and riverbank.
Oneida Lake Report:
The cold air finally set over Oneida Lake! The wind has created some drifts, but we have reports of walleye, perch, and largemouth being caught. We now have 5-6” of ice making the lake accessible in most places. Recent nighttime single digit temperatures have been a big help in creating the ice base. Keep an eye on the weather as things could warm up by mid-next week.
Sandy Pond Report:
North pond reports indicate about 5-7” of ice as of today. We have reports that the perch bite is finally starting to pick up, as well as the bite for northerns and walleye.
Wayne County Fishing Update
There is some snow and ice build-up on Maxwell Creek, however the flow has been excellent. January and February are steelhead time.
Use egg sacs, bouncing the bottom on the south side of Lake Road. Some browns have also been caught.
Salmon Creek has open water under the bridge and Bear Creek in Ontario also has open water next to the launch site.
We have ice, nonetheless caution is always advised during early ice. The south end of Sodus Bay has four- plus inches, and the anglers are hitting perch.
The north end of Sodus Bay next to LeRoy Island also has safe ice. Between the island and the east shoreline has always produce pike. Use pike minnow under tip-ups in six to ten feet of water.
The south end access road to Port Bay is closed. DEC could be working on the launch ramp which is not in good shape.
The smaller ponds in Wayne County have safe ice. The Sodus Center pond has bluegills and sunnies. Parking is limited. Make sure you stay off the main road.
The Fair Haven pond (Cayuga County) has five to six inches of ice and the perch are hitting jigs tipped with perch eyes and spikes.
The snow predicted today will not help make thicker ice, however at least we have the colder temperatures.
There is six plus inches of ice at Widewaters. It is safe for shanties and the canal has plenty of panfish.
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.
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.
Ron Bierstin, Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge
Welcome to winter! Looks like we are settling into a bit of a cold-weather stretch. Area-wide snow is falling today (Tuesday) with a few inches or more expected. Expect cold temps after that at least through the weekend and a chance of snow showers at the end of the week. Below freezing temps for highs is expected so look for a lot of the tributary waters to be freezing up, especially with low and clear flows. Upstream reaches and at the dam on the Oak should stay mostly open. For guys braving the weather, there’s usually good chances for at least a few hookups at the dam. With any luck, now that cold weather is settling in, we will see some good snow accumulations for high water flows from runoff later this winter and spring. Watch for the February or March break in the weather and the chance for some high water fresh steelhead migrations in the Oak and other smaller tribs as they might open up too.