Upstate and Western New York Fishing Report – March 11, 2021

West Marine

Greater Niagara Region

Frank Campbell

Air temperatures are scheduled to break the 60 mark today so being outdoors is a must. While it will be cooling back into the 40s by the weekend, spring is just around the corner. March 15 is the final day for walleye, pike, pickerel, and tiger musky action in the state, but there is still plenty of trout fishing to be had here – in both the tributaries and the Niagara River. Our tip of the week comes for Captains Ernie and Nick Calandrelli, who took Kevin Kishel of East Aurora out on Tuesday in the lower Niagara. The trio did very well on steelhead using Kishel’s Fish Scent on MagLip plugs, and fished off 3-way rigs. It really seemed to make a difference. Lower Niagara River trout action is picking back up again and best baits have been egg sacs or egg imitations, minnows or shiners and any kind of a body bait like a Kwikfish or a MagLip from boats, all fished off 3-way rigs. Water clarity is good. Fish can be found through the river and the Stella drift was productive last weekend. Shore guys can still catch some trout consistently by tossing spinners or jigs according to Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls, who caught some good fish in the gorge on Monday. Drifting sacs or beads under a float will also catch fish. Rzucidlo even caught a nice chunky 5-pound rainbow just above the upper rapids above Niagara Falls on a spinner on Tuesday.

Capt. Ernie Calandrelli of Lewiston and Kevin Kishel
Capt. Ernie Calandrelli of Lewiston (left) and Kevin Kishel of East Aurora show off a lower Niagara River steelhead and a package of the Kishel’s fish scent that they were using on the MagLips plug.

Kevin Kishel steelhead
Kevin Kishel of East Aurora shows off a beautiful steelhead he caught in the lower Niagara River fishing with Captains Ernie and Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston.
Capt. Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston and Kevin Kishe
Capt. Nick Calandrelli of Lewiston (left) and Kevin Kishel of East Aurora with another steelhead caught on a MagLip lathered with Kishel’s Fish Scent.
Mike Rzucidlo steelhead on spinner
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught this 5-pound steelhead using a spinner in the upper rapids area above Niagara Falls.
Mike Rzucidlo steelhead
Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls caught this steelhead Tuesday in the lower Niagara River, casting a white hair jig from shore.
Mike Ziehm steelhead
Mike Ziehm of Niagara Falls with a lower Niagara River steelhead he caught from shore using a homemade spinner.

For the Lake Ontario tributaries, the warm rain in the forecast for late Thursday could be what the fish doctor ordered to pull fresh fish into the streams. Some reports on the sly show that action has already been picking up on 18 Mile Creek and Burt Dam. Egg sacs and egg imitations are good baits to start, but jigs tipped with a wax worm will also work. Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters reports that waters were cold Tuesday from ice melt. He will always make sure to fish his fly “low and slow” in these conditions.

One sure sign of spring is the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association’s pen rearing project preparation. Assembly for the pens will take place at the Town of Newfane Marina in Olcott on March 27 starting at 9:30 a.m. Dress warm and bring your side cutters to clip zip ties. The work party is early this year because of an earlier Easter.

Oswego County

David Owens of the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.

Oswego River Report

The CFS dropped this past week from a high of over 10,000. This morning’s reading was 6,180.

Temperatures have ben warm, mostly hovering in the 40’s, with today’s high as 61. However, we expect a slight drop Saturday through Monday.

Although fishing has picked up compared to the winter months, it’s still a “tough go” considering the higher water and lower visibility due to the ice melt. Drop backs will reward us soon!

Our “go to” bait on the Oswego River this week are eggs sacs (peach, pink, and white all do well), as well as jigs with colored heads. In the harbor, blades and rattle baits have been best.

Year-Round Notice: There are mandatory personal flotation device (PFD) zones on the river. For more information, visit our website at 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.

Click here for the Brookfield Varick Fish Safely brochure.

Click here for the current water flow.

Salmon River Report:

The Pineville gauge was at 907 CFS as of this morning. This is right where it has hovered for the past week. Despite the snow melt, the water remains relatively clear.

Temperatures are expected to hit 61 F today – which is quite the treat! The warm weather also means a lot more angler pressure. Yesterday morning, the DSR reported some anglers landing upwards of six fish. But the afternoon didn’t fair quite as well. We’re predicting things will only get better as we head toward dropback season.

By most accounts, egg sacs are doing better than egg patterns. Pink worms and beads fair well too.

Continue to watch water levels and check the USGS gauge as well as Safe Waters (Facility 42) for any updates in flows.

Oneida Lake Report:

The season has been a good one! But it’s been very warm lately. The shoreline is starting to be a real issue as cracks are opening things up. Although we did see a few anglers on the ice this week pulling sleds.

Sandy Pond Report:

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 further to walk.

All the recent warm weather means we’re getting a lot of shoreline break. Like Oneida lake, the pond won’t be fishable for much longer.

Wayne County Fishing Update

Chris Kenyon

Lake Ontario

The countdown continues for BT fishing the lake. April 1st is now only 21 days away. Many charters will be plying lake waters by April 1st. Ya hooo!


Port and Sodus bays still have 10 to 12 inches of good ice, however, keep in mind it’s now the second week in March. Safe ice can disappear rapidly.

Tomorrow and Thursday the temps will be in the 50’s. With sun and mild temps, the ice melts. What is worse is warm rain….so keep that in mind.

The perch are hitting in Port Bay on the east side, and the fishing on Sodus is better than last week. For Sodus you can still catch keepers straight out from Shaker Road. Fish 20 to 30 fow.

You can also catch them from straight out from the old malt house. Parking is available there and the lot at Margaretta Road.

Perch are also hitting on the east side. There is a small parking area south of Skipper’s Restaurant, however it fills-up fast.

The presentations have been mixed with small minnows and rosy-reds for live bait. Use small jigs for jigging. Keep the colors bright orange or chartreuse on one side and silver on the back.

On the ice “take-out what you bring-in.” There has been trash left on the ice and near the parking areas. Keep it clean.

Erie Canal

Bluegills, perch and sunnies are being caught on the canal near Widewaters. If you fish there you have more area to cover between locks and sections that are drained.

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

Orleans County

Ron Bierstin, Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge

Orleans County

Flows have been hanging on in the Oak while the other area smaller tribs have dropped back quite a bit lately. The previous cold and especially cold nights have dropped the smaller waterways to moderate and mostly clear flows. There’s been some re-icing while the fast water areas have pretty much stayed open. Forecast ahead, especially thru this mid and end of the week is warm with temps at or near 50°F. There’s a chance of rain or showers around Thursday. Flows in the Oak are slightly high with stained water color of about 2 feet of visibility. Flows could even drop back a little bit more to true medium thru this mid week period but look for a rise in flows again soon after that with the warmer and wetter weather ahead. There is still ice and snow to melt in the Oak swamp headwater areas. It’s hard to say how much of a bump up in flows the other area smaller local watershed tribs will have – probably not a blow out but something like back up to high–ish and stained. Some fresh fish are likely spread thru all the waterways with what has been just moderate fishing pressure. Hook ups in the Oak include older darker fish and seems like a few more fresh fish each day. Anglers are so far having to work for those fresh fish hook ups. The warmer weather and water temps ahead will hopefully bring on some more steelhead migrations and encourage some of the tardy fish hanging in frog water areas farther upstream to gravel spots. Warming water temps out of the low/mid 30’s and into the high 30’s near 40°F should set up some good spring action thru what’s left of March and into April.

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