Greater Niagara Region
Bill Hilts, Jr.
Take advantage of the next couple of days if you want to fish in the Niagara River before another winter storm blows in from the west. Action has been spotty, along with the weather, but some nice fish are available if fishing from a boat or from the shoreline in the gorge area.
Capt. Richard Brant of Tonawanda reports that he was out for 3 days in the lower Niagara River and did decently on trout. steelhead, brown trout, and lake trout are all available in the river system. Winds will dictate if you can get out on the Niagara Bar or not off the mouth of the river. The water was offering about 6 feet of visibility but cloudy. The northeast winds over the weekend made it difficult fishing from the boat. Early morning action has been slow from sunrise until 10 a. m. Water temperature is 33 degrees with very soft slow bites on plugs and egg sacs. A fresh push of fish came up the river last weekend. His parties landed close to 25 fish in 3 days as they used 3-way rigs to bounce the bottom. Shore anglers are still producing a few fish by casting spinners or jigs.
Remember that the Niagara River Anglers Association’s Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest is Feb. 27. For details go onto the club’s Facebook page or stop into Creek Road Bait and Tackle in Lewiston. You can also sign up there or sign up at the Lewiston launch ramp the morning of the contest.
For Lake Ontario and the tributaries, Roy Letcher of Newfane reports that fishing at Burt Dam and 18 Mile Creek has been decent recently. Eggs and jigs were working best there. Smaller tributaries are pretty much iced over. We are expecting some of the coldest temperatures of the winter next week, which should help lock in Wilson Harbor for some ice fishing. Olcott Harbor was still not safe as of this report.
Mark your calendars for the state’s next Free Fishing Weekend offering, set for Feb. 13 and 14. No fishing license is needed but you must abide by the rules and regulations for the body of water you intend to fish.
Stay safe out there!
David Owens of the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.
Oswego River Report
We have experienced a drop in the CFS since January 28th. The flow has mostly been well below 5000, with this morning’s reading at 3,660. Low flows and cold temperatures mean the river is mostly frozen to fishing opportunities. Although we do have some reports of people catching steelhead with jigs off the wall on the west side. Cold temperatures and snow fall are in the forecast well into next week.
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 was at 414 CFS as of this morning, while the dam discharge is at 350. Low temperatures and snow have led to a lot of slush, but it usually burns off by 10am or 11am.
Overall, we saw a few big steelhead last week, but the fish are generally less aggressive this time of year. We have reports of anglers having good success using stone flies, egg patterns, and egg sacks. If we had to pick a color, we would choose chartreuse or blue.
The upper section of the river remains steady, while the lower is experiencing a lot of shelf ice right now because of the CFS drop on Monday night. We recommend using extreme caution if you are fishing the lower section. Of course, the lower section does come with the benefit of solitude under these conditions.
Anglers that know their way around the lower section, places like the DSR, are better equipped to navigate. But no matter where you go, continue to be extra careful of the ice, including in the parking lots.
Oneida Lake Report:
Oneida Lake area has received anywhere between 11 and 13 inches of new snow in the last few days alone, and temperatures remain cold. We now have 6-7” of ice in most place, so we’re seeing machines on the ice more frequently.
We also saw a report of a hole that was cut off Phillips Point, just west of Constantia. This area is unmarked, and with the fresh snow we have a dangerous situation. We recommend staying clear of that area, even on foot.
As for the actual bite, we have received reports of a few people reaching their bag limits, but nothing close to how good the fishing was last week.
Sandy Pond Report:
There is a lot of ice on the north pond now. Like Oneida lake, we are starting to get reports of people bringing snowmobiles on as of last week. The pike bite remains hot, and the perch bit is picking up too. Northland eyeball jigs, slender spoons, and Swedish pimples would be our go-to recommendation this week.
The main points of ice access for Sandy Pond are: Greenpoint, “The Elms,” Wigwam, and the new DEC launch at Stanley Drive, which is now a free option for parking, but it is a bit further to walk.
Wayne County Fishing Update
Haven’t heard much about stream fishing this week. Most winter anglers are on the bays. If Wayne County streams stay open, the steelhead are waiting for your egg sacs. Today’s expected snow will limit access. The Sodus Pier is covered with ice and the wind is currently 20 mph from the northeast, so that option is not available.
There is safe ice on Port, Sodus, and Blind Sodus Bays. Five to six at the south end of Sodus Bay, and the same on the east side of Port Bay. Parking is limited on Port Bay; however, Sodus has parking at Davenports and Bay Bridge Sport Shop. You can also park along Shaker Heights Road at the south end of Sodus.
First ice is never uniform, especially near creek mouths and bubblers near residential docks. Today’s wind should help blow-off any snow, which tends to slow ice making.
The perch have not been hitting like last week and that could be from the many ice anglers drilling holes. Try to stay away from the crowd, but again…know where the ice is solid.
Use perch eyes on bright chartreuse jigs or go with perch minnows under tip-downs. Perch will school by size so you might have to move around to find the 10-inch fish.
Bright “eye poppers” have been taking fish or a smaller Tungsten jigs. (heavier than lead) Keep them perch colored and bright.
There is six to eight inches of ice at Widewaters. It is safe for shanties. You can catch perch, sunnies and bluegills in the canal. Fish the south shore where the weed beds are located.
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
The temps have moderated somewhat to seasonably cold – forecast through this mid week period with even a slight warm-up for the end of week. Long range forecast is for a return to cold temps after that. Snow or snow showers are expected today (Tuesday) on the backside of the N’orester. No significant accumulations beyond a few inches is expected here on the WNY Lake Ontario Plain. With a few inches of new snow today the area would ease up toward 6 – 8 inches total of snow pack and the greater chances for high flows to encourage fresh steelhead migrations on later warming weather. Most area smaller waterway drifts are iced in for now as well as the downstream slow water on the Oak. Anglers are still getting in some low and clear flow drifts at the dam scoring mostly recycled steelhead hook ups. Even some of the downstream fast water drifts on the Oak are going to show some icing when cold and snow and low flows hang in.