Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report – January 7, 2020

Eastern Finger Lakes / Central New York Fishing Report

Mike Crawford of

The ice fishing is coming on slowly this season. Mild temperatures have not made the ice grow and the few locations in New York State with safe ice are seeing tremendous pressure.

ice fisherman
Photo by Upstate Guide Service

Fishing has seen a great resurgence in popularity. And nothing could be better than beginners taking up the pastime of angling and getting outside engaging nature. People getting into ice fishing for the first time should, however, use extreme caution.

ice fishing in shelter perch
Photo by Upstate Guide Service

There is little room for error or poor judgement when inexperienced find themselves traveling the frozen surface of a lake or pond. Uniform ice of a minimum of five inches thick is required before I will lead anglers to ice fish.

smelt on the ice
Photo by Upstate Guide Service

Exploring waters you are unfamiliar with is not recommended. Stay near the crowds and do not assume the ice is safe because a few anglers are upon it.

With some luck cold winter days and nights will thicken the ice in Central and Northern New York so all of us who enjoy ice fishing can do it safely. Stay tuned to this blog for updates and if you are interested in ice fishing or new to the sport, please visit my website and blogs for more detailed information at

Stay healthy and safe and on top of the ice!

Greater Niagara Region

Bill Hilts, Jr.

The lower Niagara River trout fishery is one of the best in the country when the conditions are right and, for boat fishermen, things are shaping up nicely with the mild weather in the forecast right now. Winter storms on Lake Erie can wreak havoc on conditions and shut things down when the water becomes too stained. Steelhead, lake trout, and brown trout are all cooperating right now, as well as a few salmon out on the Niagara Bar when Mother Nature will let you out there. Fish are being caught from Devil’s Hole to Lake Ontario with minnows, egg sacs or beads, Kwikfish and MagLips from boat. Chad Dauer of Tonawanda enjoyed a day on the lower Niagara River with his cousin, Capt. Richard Brant of Reel Action Charters, this week. He caught several steelhead using peach egg sacs in Devil’s Hole. It was a nice diversion since he will be shipping out with the Marines soon. On Tuesday, the Niagara Bar was producing a nice mix of lake trout and brown trout according to Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston. Minnows and jigs were both enticing fish to hit. If you have never done it before, go with a local guide to see what this magnificent fishery is all about. Check out for a list of skippers. For the shore guys, use spinners, Kwikfish and egg sacs or egg imitations like beads. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls reports that the water is becoming too clear up in the gorge for shore fishing, making it a bit more difficult for casting or floating. Above the power plant, visibility is about 7 foot. Below the power plant, visibility is roughly 4 feet. Tentative date for the Niagara River Anglers Association’s Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest is set for Feb. 27 this year. Follow the club’s Facebook page for further details.

Chad Dauer
Chad Dauer of Tonawanda enjoyed a day on the lower Niagara River with his cousin, Capt. Richard Brant of Reel Action Charters, this week. He caught the steelhead on a peach egg sac. He will be shipping out in the Marines soon.
Giancarlo Luorio
Giancarlo Luorio of the Town of Niagara with a lower Niagara River steelhead he caught in the gorge.
Mike Ziehm
Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls caught this nice male steelhead in the Niagara Gorge while casting a No. 5 spinner (silver with orange dots).

Trolling the shoreline for brown trout has been happening by some boaters taking advantage of the mild weather in the lake. Work inside of 20 feet with in-line boards, flat lines, or divers/riggers with stickbaits or spoons. Remember, it is the law to wear PFD’s during the winter months in boats 21-foot and under.

Mike Rzucidlo
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls with a lower river steelhead his caught this week from shore in the gorge with a No. 5 spinner.
Gabby Yip and her Dad, Tom Warda
Gabby Yip and her Dad, Tom Warda of Newfane, show off a brown trout double-header from the Lower Niagara River this week, fishing with Capt. Frank Campbell of Lewiston.

In the tributaries, Roy Letcher of Olcott reports that Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek is muddy. However, Keg, Hopkins, 12-Mile, and 4-Mile creeks are running decent. Fish were being caught at all places on eggs, jigs, and wax worms.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon


The water flow in streams is excellent, and with no shoreline ice fishing is easy. Some steelies were coming from Maxwell Creek. Some anglers were spin-casting on the south side of Lake Road where the current is excellent.

Use bright beads, egg sacs, or imitation egg. Cast out torpedo bobbers on the slower moving water on the Beechwood Park north section.

Pier Fishing is another option, however, make sure there is no ice build-up. Some sleet covered the pier over the weekend.

Currently, the Port Bay channel is blocked, however if the rising bay water opens the outlet, steelhead often come into the bay.


We are still in the transition mode for bay fishing. It is now 37 degrees which doesn’t make ice. If you decide to launch a boat, you can catch perch in Port and Sodus Bays. The ramps are there, however the docks have been pulled. Fish with a partner for safety.

The perch will hit small white jigs, white rubber bait, or live bait. Move around to find the larger fish. They tend to school by size.

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.

Erie Canal

Widewaters is still frozen, however not safe enough for walking on ice. Un-wrap your Christmas presents and re-spool. It will not be long. (I hope) The section under the Port Gibson bridge is ice free so you can fish from the canal trail on the north side.

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

“Happy Fishy New Year!
I’m coming back up to speed now after a short time off. After rain through the past weekend, all of the tributary flows came up high and dirty. For now everything is back on the retreat and wide open to fish – no icing that we are aware of. Flows in the Oak today are slightly high and dirty with about 1 foot or just better of visibility. Look for flows to hang in at least above medium and to slowly be on the clear. There is no overflow water at this time.

Jeff Sturgill
Courtesy of Jeff Sturgill

There were about a half dozen cars or so at the dam and just a few at the Park Ave fishing spot. Anglers report getting into some good steelhead and there should be the good chance for some fresh chrome on the ideal flows we have now. Weather, by January winter standards, is easy to take with forecast highs in the 30’s°F pretty well through the middle of next week. Other area smaller tribs are on the drop with medium flows and slightly stained water color.”

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